Today's largest VC deal is a $76.5 million Series E round for Blue Jeans Network, a Silicon Valley provider of cloud-based videoconferencing solutions. Some notes on this deal, based on a conversation last night with NEA partner, and Blue Jeans board member, Jon Sakoda:
1. Blue Jeans is known for its cloud-based, hardware-agnostic videoconferencing service. But Sakoda says that it began being used for videoconferences with hundreds or thousands of people -- including Mark Zuckerberg's Friday beer bashes and Sheryl Sandberg's all-hands meetings -- which really were more like events than they were internal corporate meetings. So Blue Jeans recently launched a new product called Primetime, which is designed to essentially blend videoconferencing with webcasting. Kind of like Periscope or Meerkat, but with a specific set of functionality for live event organizers (moderation, etc.).
2. The Primetime product is why Derek Jeter, the former NY Yankees shortstop and current founder of The Players' Tribune (which Sakoda and NEA also backed), invested in this round. "We had a vision of athletes connecting with fans, beyond just 140 characters or the asynchronous nature of YouTube, and he realized that this product could be a new way of imagining interactive broadcasting."
3. The last time I wrote about Blue Jeans was two years ago, just after it raised $50 million in a deal led by Battery Ventures. At the time, Battery's Roger Lee said he viewed it as a "pre-IPO round." Sakoda cited the trend of tech startups staying private longer (read: easy money) and the company's product expansion as reasons for the change in plans. Sakoda also declined comment on valuation, saying that such discussions have "become a bad habit among companies and VCs... No one ever used to talk publicly about valuation, and there were very good reasons for that."
• Stating the obvious: There is yet another prominent publication that has published a long piece about how many later-stage VC rounds are structured with all sorts of down-side protections for investors, such as liquidation preferences and the like. How can I put this gently: THIS IS NOT NEW!!!!! Okay, I feel better now.
• Unicorn IPO drought, Part XVIII: I spent some time on the phone late last week with Garvis Toler, global head of capital markets at the NYSE. I'll do a full post about our conversation later today, but one thing he said of particular note was that he couldn't guarantee that we'd see any IPO filings from 'unicorn' companies this year. Toler added that he knew of at least a couple that seemed pretty serious about getting their public S-1 docs out for calendar 2015 listings, but none that were sure bets. And, again, just a couple out of the 100+ current unicorns (minus Pure Storage, which remains in active registration).
• Busted: Quirky filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday, and agreed to sell its Wink home automation hub to Flextronics for around $15 million.
This comes after the company raised more than $180 million in VC funding from firms like Andreessen Horowitz, General Electric, Kleiner Perkins, Norwest Venture Partners and RRE Ventures. It also comes just four months after Quirky founder and CEO Ben Kaufman told me that the company was just days away from securing new funding.
Of course, we knew that latter deal had fallen through when Kaufman sat on our Brainstorm Tech stage in Aspen and admitted that the company had already run out of cash. If you haven't yet viewed that video, check out this click atop our story on the bankruptcy. One of the few times I've ever seen an entrepreneur publicly acknowledge an ongoing failure in such a venue.
• #GetLiquid: Next month's Liquidity Event in San Francisco is sold out, but we're still hoping to pull some folks off the wait-list (sign up here). BIG thanks to sponsors TPG Growth, Winmark Capital, Gunderson Dettmer, PitchBook Data and Andreessen Horowitz.
THE BIG DEAL
• Citrix Systems (Nasdaq: CTXS) is making a last-ditch attempt to find a buyer -- having reached out to both private equity firms and tech companies like Dell -- according to Reuters. If the $11.5 billion company, which has been targeted by activist investor Elliott Management, cannot find a buyer, it is expected to launch asset sales. Read more.
VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS
• Blue Jeans Network, a Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of cloud-based video collaboration services, has raised $76.5 million in new VC funding. NEA led the round, and was joined by fellow return backers Accel Partners, Battery Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners. New investors included Glynn Capital, Quadrille Capital and Derek Jeter. www.bluejeans.com
• Scribble Technologies (dba ScribbleLive), a Toronto-based digital content marketing company, has raised C$35 million in new VC funding. The OpenText Enterprise Apps Fund led the round, and was joined by Emerillon Capital, Blue Cloud Ventures, Northleaf Venture Catalyst Fund and return backers Rogers Ventures, Summerhill Venture Partners, Georgian Partners, Export Development Corp. of Canada and Waterloo Innovation Fund. www.scribblelive.com
• Zscaler, a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of cloud security solutions, has raised $25 million in new Series D funding from Google Capital. This brings the round total to $125 million, including a prior close with TPG Growth, EMC and Lightspeed Ventures. www.zscaler.com
• The Hearst Corp. has invested $21 million for a minority equity stake in Complex Media, a New York-based network of video-heavy sites focused on millennials. No financial terms were disclosed. Existing Complex backers include Iconix Brand Group, Accel Partners, Austin Ventures and Tritium Partners. Read more.
• Atigeo, a Bellevue, Wash.-based developer of a big data analytics pattern, has raised $18.4 million in new VC funding led by Ascension Ventures. www.atigeo.com
• Whoop, a Boston-based performance optimization system for athletes and teams, has raised $12 million in Series B funding. Two Sigma Partners led the round, and was joined by Mousse Partners, Accomplice, Promus Ventures, Valley Oak Investments, and NextView Ventures. www.whoop.com
• Datiphy, a San Jose, Calif.-based data behavior analysis and security startup, has raised $7 million from Highland Capital Partners in first round funding. www.datiphy.com
• Expway, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based provider of long-term evolution multicast solutions, has raised $3.3 million in new VC funding from Isatis Capital. www.expway.com
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Antin Infrastructure Partners has acquired the 15% stake it did not already hold in FPS Towers, the “largest independent telecom tower company in France.” The position was purchased from Bouygues Telecom. No financial terms were disclosed. www.fpstowers.fr
• The Blackstone Group has pulled out of the auction for listed ATM maker NCR, according to the New York Post. Read more.
• Cision, a PR software maker owned by GTCR, is working on a bid for New York-based financial news service PR Newswire Association, according to Reuters. Current PR Newswire owner UBM PLC (LSE: UBM) reportedly is seeking more than $700 million. Read more.
• Founders Equity has recapitalized existing portfolio company Stone Source, a New York-based supplier of natural stone and other decorative surface products. No financial terms were disclosed, except that Graycliff Partners provided subordinated debt in support of the recap. www.stonesource.com
• Holley Performance Products, a Bowling Green, Ky.-based portfolio company of Lincolnshire, has acquired MSDP Group LLC, an El Paso, Texas-based maker of fuel and ignition systems. from Z Capital Partners. No financial terms were disclosed. www.holley.com
• Parthenon Capital Partners has agreed to invest an undisclosed amount in Millennium Trust Co., an Oak Brook, Ill.-based provider of enabled asset custody solutions for institutions, advisors and individuals. www.mtrustcompany.com
• Sentinel Capital Partners has acquired Driven Performance Brands, a Santa Rosa, Calif.-based provider of automotive aftermarket products, from Dubin Clark & Co. www.bmracing.com
• No IPO news this morning.
• The Carlyle Group has agreed to sell Landmark Aviation, a Houston, Texas-based provider of fueling and ground support services to the general and commercial aviation markets, to BBA Aviation (LSE: BBA). The deal is valued at around $2.1 billion. Read more.
• Cinven has agreed to sell Guardian Financial Services, a British provider of life insurance and pension products, to Swiss Re (SWX: SREN) for around £1.6 billion. Read more.
• Hannover Finanz, a German private equity firm, is exploring strategic options for cable equipment maker Schlemmer, according to Reuters. A sale could value the company at more than $550 million. Read more.
• Quad-C Management has sold A. Stucki Co., a Pittsburgh-based manufacturer and supplier of new and reconditioned railcar components, to Stone Canyon Industries. No financial terms were disclosed. Harris Williams & Co. managed the process. www.stucki.com
• Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) has acquired PunchTab, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based engagement and insights platform for retail and CPG brands. No financial terms were disclosed. PunchTab has raised in VC funding from Mohr Davidow Ventures, Hightail and CrunchFund. www.punchtab.com
• Danske Bank has agreed to sell its retail banking business in Lithuania and Latvia to Swedbank for an undisclosed amount. www.swedbank.com
FIRMS & FUNDS
• Ignite Farm, a Walnut Creek, Calif.-based VC firm focused on the consumer packagerd goods and digital media sectors, is targeting upwards of $50 million for its second fund, according to a regulatory filing. www.ignitefarmfund.com
MOVING IN, UP, ON & OUT
• Brian Bolcar has joined the North Carolina Treasury as a private equity portfolio manager, according to peHUB. He previously was with placement agency SixPoint Partners and, before that, was a private equity portfolio manager with the Virginia Retirement System. Read more.
• Brian Kerr has joined the mezzanine and private equity group of ORIX USA as a Philadelphia-based director. He previously was a managing director with Cornerstone Capital Holdings. www.orixmpe.com
• Sam Kwon has joined American Capital’s sponsor finance group as a New York-based managing director. He previously was a principal with The Carlyle Group. www.americancapital.com
• Arielle Zuckerberg has agreed to join Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as a junior partner, according to TechCrunch. She is the younger sister of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and most recently was senior project manager at Humin. Read more.
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