Hey Boston: Let's Get Liquid!
More than 350 of you already have purchased tickets to our next Liquidity Event, which will take place on Feb. 24 at the New England Aquarium in Boston. Be sure to join us by going to: http://GetLiquidBoston.eventbrite.com
Tickets cost just $15, plus a small service charge. All ticket proceeds will go to a local nonprofit, and you can vote for the "winner" when buying your ticket.
We can't do this without our sponsors, so a HUGE thanks to:
- Choate Hall & Stewart
- Citizens Bank
- .406 Ventures
- Murray Devine
- FKA (firm formerly known as Atlas Venture)
We’ve sold out every past Liquidity Event, and don’t expect this one to be any different. So get your ticket now.
• Let's try this again: Today's big deal is that Staples has agreed to buy rival office supplies retailer Office Depot for around $6.3 billion. As you might recall, this isn't the first time that the two companies have tried to hook up.
Back in 1996, Staples agreed to buy Office Depot for around $3.36 billion, but the deal couldn't pas FTC muster (following an intense lobbying campaign by consumer advocates like Ralph Nader). At the time, there were three major office supplies retailers (OfficeMax was the third), but Office Depot took out Office Max in 2013. So this would leave just one giant, albeit with all sorts of online competition from Amazon and the like.
I'm curious what Staples founder and former CEO Tom Stemberg thinks about all of this. Prior to the Office Depot/OfficeMax merger, he told me: "I think three companies ought to be two. And obviously I put my money where my mouth was way back when but it failed. I think the FTC was wrong, and I think the FTC knows it was wrong and that a merger would be an effective and productive in providing value to the American consumer.”
• Survey says: Each year, Semaphore conducts a “confidence survey” of private equity and VC professionals (pretty even split among respondents). Some highlights of the results:
- 93% are confident or somewhat confident in their own businesses, and 87% are confident in their overall industry.
- 57% have little to no confidence in the U.S. economy (43% are somewhat confident). A whopping 72% have no to little confidence in the international economy.
- President Obama has the confidence of just 39% of respondents, while Congress rates juuuuusssst a bit lower at 2%.
- 81% expect to make more in 2015 than they did in 2014. 73% reported having made more in 2014 than they did in 2013.
• Feedback: Yesterday I asked for your earliest memories of Radio Shack, and you delivered. I've published a number of my favorites, and you can read them by going here.
THE BIG DEAL
• Staples (Nasdaq: SPLS) has agreed to acquire Office Depot (Nasdaq: ODP) for approximately $6.3 billion in cash and stock. Read more.
VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS
• Taboola, an Israel-based content recommendation startup, has raised $117 million in new VC funding. Fidelity Investments led the round, and was joined by Comcast Ventures, Marker, Steadfast Capital, Groupe Arnault, Yahoo Japan, Advance Publications and Carlo De Benedetti. Read more.
• Revolution Medicines Inc. has been launched with $45 million in Series A funding from Third Rock Ventures. The company is led by Mark Goldsmith, and is designed to discover and develop new therapies derived from natural products. www.thirdrockventures.com
• Qumulo, a Seattle-based storage startup, has raised $40 million in Series B funding. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers led the round, and was joined by return backers Highland Capital, Madrona Venture Group and Valhalla Partners. Read more.
• Lysosomal Therapeutics Inc., a Cambridge, Mass.-based developer of therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases, has raised $20 million in Series A funding. Return backers include Atlas Venture, Hatteras Venture Partners, Lilly Ventures, Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures, Roche Venture Fund, Partners Innovation Fund, Orion Equity Partners and LTI co-founders Henri Termeer and Bob Carpenter. www.lysosomaltx.com
• Skimlinks, a London-based affiliate linking service for online publishers, has raised $16 million in Series C funding. Frog Capital led the round, and was joined by return backers Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, Greycroft Partners, Sussex Place Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank. Read more
• FiscalNote, a Washington, D.C.-based real-time government policy analysis platform, has raised $10 million in Series B funding. Renren led the round, and was joined by return backers Visionnaire Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, AME Cloud Ventures, Steve Case and Mark Cuban. www.fiscalnote.com
• BucketFeet, a Chicago–based footwear brand, has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding. Jumpstart Ventures led the round, and was joined by Yunsan and Crate & Barrel founder Gordon Segal. www.bucketfeet.com
• Casetext, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based free legal research website, has raised $7 million in Series A funding. Union Square Ventures led the round, and was joined by Formation 8 and Tom Glocer. The company previously raised $1.8 million in seed funding. www.casetext.com
• Derby Games, a New York-based legal online gambling company has raised $6.5 million in new VC funding. Bullpen Capital led rthe round, and was joined by Muskateer Capital, Lightbank and return backers like Andlinger & Co. and Alexis Ohanian. www.derbygames.com
• DesignCrowd, an Australia-based design crowdsourcing platform, has raised A$6 million in Series B funding. AirTree Ventures led the round, and was joined by Starfish Ventures. www.designcrowd.com
• Liftoff, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based provider of mobile advertising solutions, has raised $5 million in Series A funding. Baseline Ventures led the round, and was joined by Harrison Metal and individual angels. www.liftoff.io
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Binswanger Glass, a portfolio company of Grey Mountain Partners, has acquired Illinois Glassworks LLC, a Glenview, Ill.-based installer of custom shower enclosures, mirrors, tabletops, and architectural glass and glazing. No financial terms were disclosed. www.greymountain.com
• BlueLine Rental, a Shippensburg, Penn.-based equipment rental company owned by Platinum Equity, has agreed to acquire Trico Equipment Inc., a Vineland, N.J.-based rental company specialized in aerial lift equipment. No financial terms were disclosed. www.tricoequipment.net
• Boxwood Capital Partners has acquired SweetFrog Enterprises LLC, a Richmond, Va.–based operator of self-serve frozen yogurt stores. www.sweetfrogyogurt.com
• Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co. and Performance Equity Management have acquired Eos Fitness Holdings LLC, a Phoenix-based fitness chain operating 16 clubs in Arizona, Las Vegas and California. No financial terms were disclosed. www.eosfitness.com
• Golden Gate Capital completed its previously-announced acquisition of Angus Chemical Co. from Dow Chemical Co. (NYSE: DOW) for $1.215 billion. www.dow.com/angus
• LG lugar de gente, a Brazilian HR software company owned by H.I.G. Capital, has acquired W3net, a provider of SaaS human capital management systems. No financial terms were disclosed. www.lg.com.br
• PAI Partners has agreed to acquire A.S. Adventure Group, a European retailer of outdoor equipment and clothing, from Lion Capital. No financial terms were disclosed. www.asadventure.com
• RCP Advisors has acquired Atlas Diligence, a Chapel Hill, N.C.-based provider of due diligence and research solutions for the identification and evaluation of private capital fund opportunities. No financial terms were disclosed.
• Revelstoke Capital Partners has acquired Career Step LLC, a Provo, Utah-based provider of online career training programs in the healthcare sector. No financial terms were disclosed. www.careerstep.com
• TPG Capital has agreed to sell 48% of its stake in American Tire Distributors Inc., a Huntersville, N.C.-based ire distributor, to Ares Management. In a statement, Ares said its equity investment would be around $620 million, while American Tire is prepping an $805 million junior debt offering that would partially be used to pay a dividend to TPG. Read more.
• Bellerophon Therapeutics Inc., a Hampton, N.J.-based developer of drugs focused on cardiopulmonary and cardiac diseases, has set its IPO terms to 4 million shares being offered at between $14 and $16 per share. It would have an initial market cap of approximately $179 million, were it to price in the middle of its range. Bellerophon plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol BLPH, with Leerink Partners and Cowen & Co. serving as lead underwriters. Shareholders in the pre-revenue company include New Mountain Partners (47.94% pre-IPO stake), Linde (16.08%), ARCH Venture Partners (9.52%) and Venrock (9.49%). www.bellerophon.com
• MaxPoint Interactive Inc., a Morrisville, N.C.-based provider of business intelligence and marketing automation software, has filed for a $75 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol MXPT, with Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank serving as lead underwriters. Shareholders include Trinity Ventures (32.3% pre-IPO stake), Madrona Venture Group (23.6%) and Performance Equity Management (16.3%). www.maxpoint.com
• Blackboard, a provider of software for the education industry, has acquired Schoolwires, a State College, Penn.–based provider of website hosting and content management solutions to K-12 schools and districts. No financial terms were disclosed. Blackboard is a portfolio company of Providence Equity Partners. Sellers include Kennett Partners. www.blackboard.com
• Clayton Dubilier & Rice is considering the sale of its two-thirds stake in French business services company Spire SA, after canceling last year’s IPO plans, according to Bloomberg. Read more.
• Dalian Wanda Group Co. has agreed to acquire Swiss sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media AG from Bridgepoint at an enterprise value north of $1 billion, according to Reuters. Read more.
• The J.M. Smucker Co. (NYSE: SJM) has agreed to acquire Big Heart Pet Brands for $5.8 billion in cash and stock from KKR, Vestar Capital Partners and Centerview Capital Partners. Read more.
• Silicon Labs (Nasdaq: SLAB) has acquired Bluegiga, a Finland–based provider of wireless solutions to Internet-of-Things applications, for approximately $61 million in cash. Bluegiga had raised VC funding from such firms as Aura Capital and Magnolia Ventures. www.bluegiga.com
• Lear Corp. (NYSE: LEA) is under pressure from activist investor Marcato Capital Management to split up the auto parts maker’s seating and electrical business. Read more.
• Macy’s (NYSE: M) has agreed to acquire Bluemercury, a Washington, D.C.-based beauty and spa chain, for $210 million. Sellers include SilverHaze Partners and Bethany Partners. Read more.
• Synchronoss (Nasdaq: SNCR) has agreed to acquire the personal cloud assets of Finland-based F-Secure Corp. for an undisclosed amount. www.synchronoss.com
• ThinkingPhones, a Cambridge, Mass.-based provider of unified communications as a service, has acquired Contactive, a New York-based big data company that connects online profiles to telephone numbers to create identify graphs. No financial terms were disclosed. ThnkingPhones recently raised $57 million in Series D funding from Technology Crossover Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners. www.thinkingphones.com
• Tronox (NYSE: TROX) has agreed to acquire the alkali chemicals unit of FMC (NYSE: FMC) for $1.64 billion. Private equity firms also had attempted to buy the business. Read more.
• Valeant Pharmaceuticals is considering a takeover offer for Raleigh, N.C.-based drugmaker Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (Nasdaq: SLXP), according to Bloomberg. Valeant is fresh off its inability to buy Botox maker Allergan, while Salix recently hired Centerview Partners to explore strategic options, including a possible sale. Salix has a current market cap of around $8.9 billion. Read more.
• Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) plans to include its Yahoo Small Business unit, which provides online services for small enterprises, in its tax-free spin off of its stake in Alibaba Group. Read more.
FIRMS & FUNDS
• Goldman Sachs said that it s entering negotiations to buy an 18% stake in Turkish private equity manager Global Yatirim Holding AS. Read more.
• TA Associates is targeting $4 billion for its next flagship private equity fund, according to Bloomberg. Read more.
• Walden Venture Capital has closed its seventh fund with $107 million in capital commitments. The San Francisco-based firm will continue to focus on early-stage deals in the digital media and cloud services sectors. www.waldenvc.com
MOVING IN, UP, ON & OUT
• Veronica Eng and Charles Sherwood are planning to retire from Permira later this year, according to Dow Jones. Eng leads the private equity firm’s Asia business, while Sherwood leads its consumer sector team. Read more.
• Jeff Howe has joined AlixPartners as a managing director, and head of private equity firm coverage. He previously was with Jefferies and Credit Suisse. AlixPartners also has hired Shiv Shivaraman (ex-A.T. Kearny) as a U.S.-based managing director of enterprise improvement and Cosmo Takamatsu (ex-Fast Retailing) as a Japan-based managing director of enterprise improvement. www.alixpartners.com
• Mike Magluilo has rejoined Baird as a Boulder, Colo.-based managing director of tech and services investment banking. He worked with board between 2004 and 2009, and most recently was a principal with private equity firm Delta-v Capital. www.rwbaird.com
• Alice “A.J.” Murphy has agreed to rejoin Bank of America as co-head of global leveraged finance, according to the WSJ. She is a former BofA banker who left last year to join Goldman Sachs. Read more.
• Greylock has promoted Elisa Schreiber from VP of marketing to marketing partner. www.greylock.com
• Paul Sekhri, a former venture capitalist and serial healthcare entrepreneur, has been named president and CEO of Lycera Corp., a VC-backed developer of medicines to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases. www.lycera.com
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