In March we wrote about how Pinterest had made a major move in the interest of employee justice, allowing workers with at least two years of service to retain vested stock options for up to seven years after departure (voluntary or not), rather than the traditional 90 days. This was a big deal because many tech startup workers are heavily compensated by stock options, but are forced to either exercise or lose vested options upon departure — something that not only requires enough cash to purchase the options, but also to pay the onerous tax bill.
Here’s how I ended the piece: “The big question now is if other Silicon Valley “unicorns” will follow Pinterest’s lead.”
The basic answer was negative. To my knowledge, not a single other major startup has done the same. Well, until today.
Coinbase, a digital wallet company that has raised over $100 million in VC funding, today will announce a similar program for new employees (i.e., those joining this month and onward). My guess is that they’ll also figure out something for existing employees who want to move on, but that’s a bit trickier from a regulatory perspective. Coinbase currently has around 100 employees, and plans to add at least another 25 over the next year.
“This is a lot more meaningful for employees than giving them something like free massages,” says Coinbase co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong, who says he was influenced by the Pinterest decision.
Armstrong adds that no current Coinbase employee had agitated for the change, but that he became more aware of the “golden handcuffs” problem when trying to recruit from other startups. “One candidate even mentioned the Pinterest thing on the phone with me during an interview, and said he never again wanted to work for a company that locked him in.”
Kudos to Coinbase for doing right by its employees. Now what is everyone else waiting for?
• Update: On Tuesday we mentioned that Weld North had sold New York-based juice and sandwich chain Organic Avenue to Vested Capital Partners. Now we’ve got some additional details.
• Clarification: Yesterday I discussed how private equity firms were beginning to exit the final mega-buyouts of the so-called “Golden Age,” particularly as we await IPOs for Albertson’s, First Data, Sungard and Univision.
As many of you correctly pointed out, of course, such offerings don’t actually mean that private equity will completely liquidate such holdings, as it takes a while (often years) to bleed out from majority-owned companies. My intended point was that there’s now a tangible map to the end of the tunnel, rather than to suggest that the journey was over. For more, I’ve posted a chart of the 25 largest LBOs from between 2005-2008, along with their current status.
THE BIG DEAL
• Practo, an Indian search portal that matches physicians with patients, has raised $90 million in Series C funding. Tencent led the round, and was joined by Google Capital, Yuri Milner, Sofina, Altimeter Capital and return backers Sequoia Capital and Matrix Partners. The company had raised a $30 million Series B round back in February. Read more.
VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS
• Enjoy, the Ron Johnson-led provider of on-demand high-end electronics sales, delivery and set-up services, has raised $50 million in new VC funding. Highland Capital Partners led the round, and was joined by return backers Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Oak Investment Partners. Read more.
• Skyroam, a San Francisco-based provider of personal Wi-Fi hotspots for global travelers, has raised $23.5 million in Series B funding. Lenovo Group led the round, and was joined by CBC Capital, GSR Ventures and Vickers Venture. www.skyroam.com
• SavingGlobal, a Berlin-based online marketplace for foreign fixed deposits, has raised €20 million in Series B funding. Ribbit Capital and Index Ventures co-led the round, and were joined by Yuri Milner and Tom Stafford. www.savingglobal.com
• TreeHouse, an Austin, Texas-based home improvement retailer led by The Container Store co-founder Garrett Boone, has raised $16 million in new funding from undisclosed investors. www.treehouse.co
• MediaPlatform Inc., a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based enterprise video and webcasting platform for corporate communications, training and collaboration, has raised $12 million in growth equity funding. TVC Capital led the round, and was joined by return backers Barshop Ventures and Jim McGovern. www.mediaplatform.com
• Virtual Incision Corp., a Lincoln, Neb.-based developer of robotically-assisted surgical devices, has raised $11.2 million in new VC funding. Bluestem Capital led the round, and was joined by return backers like PrairieGold Venture Partners. www.virtualincision.com
• Jibo, a Boston-based developer of “social robots” for homes, has raised $11 million in new VC funding. The round is designed to help Jibo expand into Asia, and included participation by Acer, Dentsu Ventures, KDDI, LG Uplus and NetPosa. Jibo raised $23.5 million earlier this year from RRE Ventures and seed backer CRV. Read more.
• Homesuite, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based corporate housing startup, has raised $10.4 million in new VC funding, according to a regulatory filing. Backers include Foundation Capital. www.homesuite.com
• Cold Genesys Inc., a Santa Ana, Calif.-based oncolytic immunotherapy company, has raised $10 million in Series B funding. Ally Bridge Group and WI Harper Group co-led the round, and were joined by Whitesun Healthcare Ventures and Song Hong Fang. www.coldgenesys.com
• InfoBionic Inc., a Lowell, Mass.-based developer of patient monitoring solutions for chronic disease management, has raised $8 million in Series B-1 funding. Safeguard Scientifics led the round, and was joined by return backers like Excel Venture Management and Zaffre Investments. www.infobionic.com
• Sonobi, a New York-based provider of publisher-focused ad tech, has raised $5.4 million in Series A funding from Safeguard Scientifics. It also secured another $5 million in unspecified financing. www.sonobi.com
• Avitide Inc., a Lebanon, N.H.-based developer of on-demand affinity purification solutions for the biopharma industry, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series C funding. NeoMed Management led the round, and was joined by return backers Polaris Partners, OrbiMed Advisors, SV Life Sciences and Borealis Ventures. www.avitide.com
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Domaine Select Wine Estates, a New York-based importer and distributor of fine wines and artisan spirits, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Walden Capital Management. www.domaineselect.com
• EQT Partners has acquired Nordic Aviation Capital, a Denmark-based lessor of turboprop aircraft. No financial terms were disclosed. NAC founder Martin Møller will remain chairman and will retain a significant minority equity position. www.nac.dk
• Mavis Tire Supply LLC, a portfolio company of ONCAP, has acquired Somerset Tire Service Inc., a tire retailer with 157 stores in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. www.mavistire.com
• Maxcess, an Oklahoma City-based portfolio company of Bertram Capital, has agreed to acquire Valley Roller Co., an Appleton, Wisc.-based rolling company for the paper converting industry. No financial terms were disclosed. www.valleyroller.com
• Sienna Sky Jewelry, a Longmont, Colo.-based portfolio company of Succession Capital, has acquired Lemon Tree Jewelry, a Longmont, Colo.-based manufacturer and distributer of fashion jewelry. No financial terms were disclosed. www.lemontreejewelry.net
• Silver Oak Services Partners has sponsored a recapitalization of Butler Burgher Group LLC, a Dallas-based provider of commercial real estate appraisals and assessments. No financial terms were disclosed. www.bbgres.com
• Aimmune Therapeutics, a Brisbane, Calif.-based developer of an oral immunotherapy to desensitize peanut allergies, raised $160 million in its IPO. The company priced 10 million shares at $16 per share (high end of $14-$16 range), for an initial market cap of around $651 million. It will trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol AIMT, with Bof A Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse and Piper Jaffray serving as lead underwriters. Shareholders include Longitude Capital (23.16% pre-IPO stake), Foresite Capital (12.28%), Fidelity (8.57%), Food Allergy Research & Education (8.37%), Aisling Capital (7.14%), Adage Capital, RA Capital Management and Palo Alto Investors. Read more.
• Planet Fitness, a Newington, N.H.-based health club chain, raised $216 million in its IPO. The company priced 13.5 million shares at $16 per share (high end of $14-$16 range), for an initial market cap of around $564 million. It will trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol PLNT, while J.P. Morgan was listed as left lead underwriter. The company reports $37.3 million in net income on $279.8 million in revenue for 2014, compared to $25.8 million of net income on $211 million in revenue for 2013. Shareholders include TSG Consumer Partners. www.planetfitness.com
• Adidas (DB: ADS) has acquired Runtastic, an Austrian maker of fitness tracking apps, for €220 million. Runtastic had raised an undisclosed amount of VC funding from Axel Springer Venture and i5invest Beratungs. Read more.
• Impax Asset Management has agreed to sell a 13.8MW wind farm in Picardie, France to Swiss utility BKW. No financial terms were disclosed. www.impaxam.com
• Metro, a listed German retailer, has agreed to acquire Classic Fine Foods Group, a UK-based provider of gourmet food products, from EQT Partners for upwards of $328 million (including a $290m upfront payment). Read more.
• Adidas (DB: ADS) has retained Guggenheim Partners to explore a sale of its golf brands. Read more.
• Affirm, the lending startup launched by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, has acquired talent from LendLayer, an online social lending startup that had been seeded by Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins and Google Ventures. Read more.
• CF Industries Holdings (NYSE: CF) has agreed to acquire the U.S. and European assets of Dutch fertilizer maker OCI NV (Amsterdam: OVI) for around $8 billion (including assumed debt). Read more.
• EMC (NYSE: EMC) is considering a sale of itself to VMware, the data center virtualization company that EMC is a majority owner of, according to Re/Code. Read more.
• Fraser & Neave (Singapore: F99) has agreed to sell its 55% stake in Myanmar Brewery to its government-linked joint venture partner Myanma Economic Holdings, at a reported enterprise price of around $560 million. Read more.
• Marvell Technology Group (Nasdaq: MRVL) is “considering selling control of its wireless chip business” for around $1 billion, according to Bloomberg. Possible suitors include Chinese companies Leadcore Technology Co. and Shanghai Pudong Science & Technology Investment Co. Read more.
• OriginClear Inc. (OTC: OOIL), a Los Angeles-based provider of water treatment solutions, has agreed to acquire Dallas-based Progressive Water Treatment Inc. No pricing terms were disclosed. www.originclear.com
• Bill Ackman‘s Pershing Square Capital Management disclosed a 7.5%, or $5.5 billion, stake in Oreo-maker Mondelez International (Nasdaq: MDLZ). Read more.
FIRMS & FUNDS
• The Abraaj Group is raising up to $600 million for its second Latin America-focused fund, according to a regulatory filing. So far it has closed on around $75 million. www.abraaj.com
• American Capital Ltd. (Nasdaq: ACAS) said that it expects to close within 90 days on a new $450 million fund that will invest in equity tranches of collateralized loan obligations. www.americancapital.com
MOVING IN, UP, ON & OUT
• Gerard Arpey has been named to the board of The Home Depot (NYSE: HD), where he will serve on the company’s finance, nominating and corporate governance committees. Arpey is currently a partner with private equity firm Emerald Creek Group, and previously served as chairman and CEO of AMR Corp. and American Airlines. www.homedepot.com
• William Axtman has joined Jones Day as a Pittsburgh-based partner in the law firm’s M&A practice. He previously was with K&L Gates. www.jonesday.com
• Charlie Cole has joined Maveron as an entrepreneur-in-residence. The retail and e-commerce vet is former CEO of The Line. www.maveron.com
• Jarrett Vitulli has joined Evercore as a New York-based managing director in its private capital advisory business. He previously was a managing director at Landmark Partners. www.evercore.com
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