A bunch of notes to kick off your Wednesday:
• Fund scoop: Amplify Partners has closed its second fund at its $125 million hard cap, Fortune has learned. This is a big bump from the $50 million that it raised for its debut fund in 2013, but the investment strategy will remain the same: Seed and Series A investments in startups that focused on information security, distributed infrastructure and the “data revolution” (data infrastructure and applications of data in vertical software markets).
Amplify was formed in 2012 by Sunil Dhaliwal, a former partner with Battery Ventures, while fellow Battery veteran Mike Dauber joined last summer. The firm also features principal David Beyer, co-founder and former CEO of Chartio.com.
Dhaliwal says that the fund size hike is to help Amplify have plenty of reserve capital for follow-on rounds, but initial check sizes aren’t expected to change. “Out view of the data economy has changed a bit since the first fund was raised,” Dhaliwal explains. “We’re now more bullish on the application of data, analytics and AI, whereas previously we had a heavier emphasis on data infrastructure.”
• Just asking: Ever since the JOBS Act passed in 2012, companies with less than $1 billion in revenue have been allowed to file their initial IPO docs confidentially with the SEC. And hundreds of companies have done so, not all of which have followed through with publicly-available S-1 registrations (let alone priced actual IPOs). Recently, I’ve been hearing about how many companies are using the confidential registration process as a carrot to entice prospective buyers. More specifically, certain M&A boutiques are trying to step on I-bank toes, creating a dual-track process in which fees are up for grabs.
But here’s the thing: Every time a company files confidentially, the SEC is required to do work (providing feedback, etc.). The idea is that actual S-1 docs will be cleaner, but what if the confidential filing process is sometimes being done more for the purpose of M&A than IPO? Should the SEC really be spending money to help smooth the sale process for privately-held businesses? At the very least, shouldn’t companies be required to publicly disclose that they filed confidentially (sans underlying financials), perhaps as a discouragement to such behavior? Interested in your thoughts to my not-entirely-formed thoughts on the matter…
• He’s ba-ack: The last time we checked in with Roland Van der Meer, he was closing up shop at Fuse Capital. That’s the defunct VC firm previously known as Velocity Interactive and, before that, ComVentures (which Van der Meer co-founded back in 1987). In short: He was a partner destructor, leaving a long trail of angry ex-colleagues and, in the end, limited partners (here’s some background from what were still quasi-happier times).
Anyway, Van Der Meer has quietly formed a new firm called Ultra Capital, which is focusing on “small and mid-size sustainable real asset projects in agriculture, energy, water and waste.” It is unclear if Ultra has raised any third-party capital yet or done deals — there is no mention of the firm yet in SEC databases — but it already has put together a 9-person investment team (including co-founder Andrew Klein, who previously co-founded SkyBridge Capital with Anthony Scaramucci). I’ve requested comment, but none has come through yet…
• Follow-up: A lot of you emailed about last Friday’s CalPERS column, so we’ll do a mailbag soon. Two side notes that didn’t make the original piece:
(1) Most CalPERS investments into private equity come via comingled funds, but it does have some exclusive contracts and custom accounts. For those non-comingled commitments, CalPERS does not permit fee waivers to be used.
(2) CalPERS private equity staff, led by Real Desrochers, was initially rejected when they recommended a $400 million commitment to the eighth flagship fund from energy-focused private equity firm First Reserve. Probably because the two prior funds were underwater and there had been some top-level turnover. But somehow they got the deal through on their second try, even though First Reserve only managed to raise $3.4 billion of its $5 billion target (which itself was a far cry from the $9 billion it had raised for Fund VII). One source says that the key was expanding the performance history average to include four funds (instead of three). In a (very) side note, peHUB reports this morning that two First Reserve fundraising pros — Neil Horn and William Pearce — recently left the firm.
• Personal note: Happy anniversary to J, my best friend for the past 20 years (14 with rings on our fingers, as of today). Thanks for the best (almost) half of my life…
THE BIG DEAL
• The Blackstone Group has agreed to acquire luxury hotel operator Strategic Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: BEE) for approximately $6 billion (including assumed debt), or $14.25 per share. Read more.
VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS
• Didi Kuaidi, the Chinese rival to Uber, confirmed that it has raised $3 billion in new funding. China Investment Corp, Capital International Private Equity Fund, Ping An Ventures were joined by return backers Alibaba Group, Tencent Holdings, Temasek and Coatue Management
• AveXis Inc., a Dallas-based developer of gene therapies for patients with severe genetic and orphan diseases like spinal muscular atrophy, has raised $65 million in Series D funding. T. Rowe Price Associates led the round, and was joined by Janus Capital Management LLC, Adage Capital Management, L.P., RA Capital Management, QVT Financial, Rock Springs Capital Management, Foresite Capital Management, RTW Investments, Boxer Capital and return backers Deerfield Management, Roche Venture Fund and Venrock. www.avexisbio.com
• Chef, a Seattle-based provider of DevOps automation solutions, has raised $40 million in Series E funding. DFJ Growth led the round, and was joined by Millennium Technology Value Partners, Hewlett Packard Ventures and return backers Battery Ventures, Citi Ventures, DFJ, Ignition Partners and Scale Venture Partners. www.chef.io
• Proteostasis Therapeutics Inc., a Cambridge, Mass.-based developer of therapeutics to treat diseases caused by defects in protein processing, has raised $37 million in Series B funding. Cormorant Asset Management led the round, and was joined by Rock Springs Capital Management and return backers New Enterprise Associates, Elan Science One, HealthCare Ventures, Fidelity Biosciences, Novartis Bioventures, Novartis Venture Fund and Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures. Leerink Partners served as placement agent. www.proteostasis.com
• The Black Tux, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based suit and tuxedo rental company, has raised $25 million in Series B funding. Stripes Group led the round, and was joined by return backers First Round Capital and Menlo Ventures. www.theblacktux.com
• Primus Power, a Hayward, Calif.-based developer of grid-scale energy-storage technology, has raised $25 million in Series D funding. I2BF Global Ventures led the round, and was joined by the Russia-Kazakhstan Nanotechnology Fund and return backers Anglo American Platinum, Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital and DBL Partners. www.primuspower.com
• Discern, a San Francisco-based “signals-as-a-service” startup for investment professionals, has raised $20 million in Series A funding led by Artiman Ventures. www.discern.com
• Lesara, a Berlin-based online fashion and lifestyle retailer, has raised €15 million in new VC finding. Northzone led the round, and was joined by Vorwerk Ventures and return backer Mangrove Capital. Read more.
• Apperian Inc., a Boston-based provider of enterprise mobile application management solutions, has raised $12 million in new VC funding. First Floor Capital (Malaysia) led the round, and was joined by return backers Bessemer Venture Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, North Bridge Venture Partners, Intel Capital and CommonAngels. www.apperian.com
• GrubMarket, a San Francisco-based delivery service for locally-sourced organic foods, has raised just over $10 million in new VC funding, according to a regulatory filing. Fosun Group was joined by return backers like GGV Capital. www.grubmarket.com
• Lalamove, a China-based on-demand delivery van service, has raised $10 million in new VC funding. MIndWorks Ventures led the round, and was joined by AppWorks and Crystal Stream. Read more.
• MetaCommunications Inc., an Iowa City-based developer of software solutions for marketing and creative teams, has raised $8 million in growth equity funding led by Next Level Ventures. www.metacommunications.com
Crunchbase, a San Francisco-based provider of startup data, is in the process of raising upwards of $7 million to spin out from AOL, according to TechCrunch. Emergence Capital Partners is leading the deal, after which AOL would remain a “significant” investor. Read more.
• Electric Objects Inc., a New York-based maker of high-res digital art frames, has raised $5 million in new VC funding, according to a regulatory filing. Existing shareholders include Betaworks, RRE Ventures, First Round Capital, Red Sea Ventures and SV Angel. www.electricobjects.com
• Routehappy, a New York-based “product differentiation platform for air travel,” has raised $3 million in VC funding, according to a regulatory filing. Existing shareholders include Contour Venture Partners and Primary Venture Partners. www.routehappy.com
• Eden, a Mountain View, Calif.-based on-demand tech help service, has raised $2 million in new VC funding. Backers include SV Angel, Redpoint Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Slow Ventures, Comcast Ventures, Index Ventures and Canvas Venture Fund. Read more.
• Dronomy, an Israeli drone technology startup, has raised $1.5 million in VC funding led by Battery Ventures. www.dronomy.com
• Fresco News, a New York-based network of citizen photojournalists, has raised $1.2 million in seed funding. Backers include 1517 Fund, Social Starts, Wavemaker Partners, Reese Schonfeld (co-founder, CNN), Laurel Touby (founder, Media Bistro), Ross Levinsohn (ex-Yahoo CEO), and Jonathan Miller (NewsCorp, AOL). www.fresconews.com
• Cool Planet, a Greenwood Village, Colo.-based developer of green fuel and biochar products, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series D funding from existing shareholders Northbridge Venture Partners and Yung’s Enterprise. www.coolplanet.com
• Groundwork BioAg Ltd., an Israel-based manufacturer of mycorrhizal inoculants for agriculture, has raised an undisclosed amount of Series B funding. Backers include ICV, Middleland Capital, SRK Management Co. and F&C Climate Opportunity Partners. www.groundworkbioag.com
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Accella Performance Materials, a Maryland Heights, Mo.-based manufacturer of polyurethanes and recycled rubber products, has acquired Premium Spray Products, a Marietta, Ga.-based manufacturer of spray foams for insulation and roofing . No financial terms were disclosed. APM is a portfolio company of Arsenal Capital Partners. www.accellacorp.com
• Binswanger Glass, a Memphis, Tenn.-based portfolio company of Grey Mountain Partners, has acquired the assets of Signature Glass Inc., a Houston, Texas-based contract glazing business. No financial terms were disclosed. www.binswangerglass.com
• Canada Pension Plan Investment Board said that it is part of the MBK Partners-led group that is acquiring Homeplus, the South Korean business of Tesco PLC (LSE: TSCO), for $6.1 billion. CPPIB will invest US$534 million for around a 21.5% stake. www.cppib.com
• The Carlyle Group has acquired an undisclosed stake in Metropolis Healthcare Ltd., an India-based multinational chain of pathology laboratories, from Dr. GSK Velu and his affiliates. No financial terms were disclosed. www.metropolisindia.com
• Datapipe, a Jersey City, N.J.–based managed services provider owned by ABRY Partners, has acquired DualSpark, a startup founded by former Amazon Web Services engineers to ease the migration of business application to the Amazon cloud. No financial terms were disclosed. Read more.
• Envision Pharma Group, a Philadelphia-based scientific communications company, has acquired Alligent Biopharm Consulting LLC, a Stirling, N.J.-based developer of medical communications solutions to the biopharma industry. No financial terms were disclosed, except that the deal was supported via an investment in Envision Pharma by the Halifax Group. www.envisionpharmagroup.com
• Epic Health Services Inc., a Dallas-based provider of pediatric nursing and therapy, has acquired Option 1 Healthcare Solutions, a Chandler, Ariz.-based provider of enteral therapy services. No financial terms were disclosed. Epic Health is a portfolio company of Webster Capital. Sellers include Thompson Street Capital Partners. www.option1nutrition.com
• KKR has agreed to acquire a 24.9% stake in Marshall Wace LLP, a London-based investment firm with over $22 billion in assets under management (predominantly in equity long/short strategies). No financial terms were disclosed, except that the deal included both cash and KKR common units. KKR will have the option to later increase its ownership stake to 39.9%. www.kkr.com
• Privet Capital has acquired Pyser-SGI Group Ltd., a UK-based maker of precision optical, electro-optical and infrared night vision equipment and associated components. No financial terms were disclosed, except that Praesidian Capital Europe provided growth capital, senior debt and subordinated debt. www.pyser-sgi.com
• PSP Investments has acquired two run-of-the-river hydroelectric power facilities on the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania from Ares-EIF Group and Northbrook Energy for an undisclosed amount. www.aresmgmt.com
• Shore Capital Partners has sponsored a recapitalization of Florida Autism Center, a provider of applied behavior analysis treatment services to children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. No financial terms were disclosed. www.shorecp.com
• Super Color Digital, an Irvine, Calif.-based provider of “grand-format” graphics and other visual solutions for Fortune 500 corporations and trade show managers, has secured an undisclosed amount of financing from Graycliff Partners. www.graycliffpartners.com
• Willis Stein & Partners has sponsored a recapitalization of Education Corporation of America, a Birmingham, Ala.-based operator of private, accredited career colleges. The deal was backed by a $72 million senior credit facility and preferred stock investment from Monroe Capital. Willis Stein first backed ECA back in 2005. www.ecacolleges.com
• EQT Partners has picked Morgan Stanley, SEB and Jefferies to lead a flotation for Dometic, a Swedish maker of refrigerators and other products for leisure vehicles, according to Reuters. The IPO could value Dometic at around $2 billion (including debt). Read more.
• Enaltus, a Suwanee, Ga.-based portfolio company of HealthEdge Investment Partners, has sold ScarAway, an OTC scar management brand, to Perrigo Company PLC (NYSE: PRGO) for an undisclosed amount. www.enaltus.com
• Flex (Nasdaq: FLEX) has agreed to acquire NEXTracker, a Fremont, Calif.-based provider of solar tracking solutions, for upwards of $330 million ($245m in cash up-front, plus possible earnouts). NEXTracker has raised over $40 million in VC funding from SJF Ventures, Tennenbaum Capital Partners, Sigma Partners and DBL Investors. www.NEXTracker.com
• Littlejohn & Co. has sold Henniges Automotive Inc., an Auburn Hills, Mich.-based provider of vehicle sealing and anti-vibration to the auto market, to Aviation Industry Corp. of China. No financial terms were disclosed. www.hennigesautomotive.com
• LNK Partners has agreed to sell Niman Ranch, an Alameda, Calif.-based maker of all-natural fresh and prepared protein products, to Perdue Farms for an undisclosed amount. www.nimanranch.com
• TDC AS, a Danish telecom provider has held recent talks to acquire listed Swedish cable company Com Hem AB, which has a current enterprise value of around $2.9 billion, according to Bloomberg. Com Hem’s largest current shareholder is BC Partners, which a 36% stake. News of a potential merger first arose late last year, via a Reuters report. www.tdc.com
• Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings (NYSE: AJRD) has bid around $2 billion for United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) and Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT) that supplies rockets to the U.S. Department of Defense, according to The Wall Street Journal. Read more.
• Heineken NV has acquired a 50% stake in Petaluma, Calif.-based Languinitas Brewing Co. for an undisclosed amount. www.lagunitas.com
FIRMS & FUNDS
• J.C. Flowers & Co. disclosed that it did not use $2.6 billion of a $3.2 billion commitment it received in 2008 from China Investment Corp. to invest in distressed financial companies. Read more.
• Neuberger Berman has raised $620 million for a new fund that will invest in the debt of private equity-backed companies. www.nb.com
• Sequoia Capital is planning to begin raising its next India-focused fund with an $800 million target, according to VCCircle.com. Read more.
MOVING IN, UP, ON & OUT
• Louis Chenevert, former chairman and CEO of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX), has joined the merchant banking unit of Goldman Sachs as an “exclusive advisor” focused on the aerospace and industrials sector. www.goldmansachs.com
• Bertrand Julien-Laferrière, former CEO of Société Foncière Lyonnaise (Paris:FLY), has joined Ardian to launch a European, non-residential real estate investment group. www.ardian-investment.com
• Justin King has joined Terra Firma Capital Partners as vice chairman and head of the private equity firm’s portfolio businesses. He previously served as CEO of British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s between 2004 and 2014. www.terrafirma.com
• Michael Langdon has joined the Oregon State Treasury as head of private equity investing, filling a position that had been empty since Jay Fewel retired at the end of last year. His first day was September 1. Langdon previously was head of the Americas for Hermes GPE. www.oregon.gov/treasury
• Jason Kustka and David Gagliardi have joined Fort Point Capital as a vice president and associate, respectively. Kustka is a former associate with Sverica Capital Management, while Gagliardi previously was with Stifel. www.fortpointcapital.com
• Chris McCrory has joined 50 South Capital Advisors, a wholly owned subsidiary of Northern Trust Corp., as a vice president on the firm’s private equity team. He previously was with Pamlico Capital. www.50southcapital.com
• Greg Mendelson has agreed to join J.P. Morgan as a managing director in its tech investment banking group, according to the NY Times. He has spent the past decade with BofA Merrill Lynch. Read more.
• Gary Swart has been named a general partner with Polaris Partners. He joined the firm last year as a venture partner, after having served as CEO of ODesk (leaving after the company merged with Elance). www.polarispartners.com
• Leda Trivinos has joined Flagship Ventures as an in-house partner focused on intellectual property. She previously was chief patent counsel for Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc. www.flagshipventures.com
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