Silicon Valley’s Big(ger) Data Problem
Last October I wrote a piece about how Silicon Valley’s usual optimism had been replaced by fear, and that private market valuations were beginning to contract.
It became my most-read post of 2015, and elicited two broad buckets of reaction: (1) Yup. (2) Where’s the data, you worthless hack?
The first group either was seeing the shift first-hand, or trusted that my reporting was based on conversations with dozens of people involved in such transaction. The latter was fixated on this admission, from within the post:
To be clear, I don’t have data backing any of this up. As the banker said, it’s too new a phenomenon and, of course, there will be notable exceptions.
Here was some of the blow-back (yeah, you need to turn images on):
Since then, it has become conventional wisdom that private market valuations have indeed pulled back (particularly for later-stage companies), and that unit economics have supplanted top-line revenue growth. Evidence includes a large rash of mutual fund mark-downs, plus “down rounds” for such companies as Foursquare and Jawbone. And the current stock market swoon ― which has been particularly harsh on VC-backed tech companies that went public over the past two years ― is also taking its toll. Moreover, Q4 saw fewer later-stage deals and dollars than in any of the prior four quarters (per Pitchbook), and fewer up rounds than in the prior two quarters. Yes, there are still new unicorns being minted ― but the general trend-lines no longer look like rocket ships.
Right now, you probably think the purpose of my post is something akin to “nah nah nah nah… I told ya so.” But it really isn’t. Instead, it’s to highlight what has become has become Silicon Valley’s religious adherence to numerical data at the sake of real-life observation. Rather than “I know it when I see it,” we’ve moved into “I know it when someone has calculated it.”
While data ― big and small ― certainly has enormous value, it is a bit odd that the ‘disruptive’ community so regularly relies on lagging indicators when it comes to its own financial health. We see it not only in this discussion, but also in how venture capital firms raise/deploy money in lockstep with macro economic cycles.
If you don’t peek up from your real-time dashboards and spreadsheets once and a while, you may miss what’s really going on. And then it will be too late.
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THE BIG DEAL
• TSYS (NYSE: TSS) has agreed to acquire TransFirst, a Hauppauge, N.Y.-based payment processing company owned by Vista Equity Partners. The deal is valued at approximately $2.35 billion in cash. TransFirst had filed for an IPO last fall, reporting a $1.9 million net loss on $742.6 million in revenue for the first six months of 2015. www.transfirst.com
VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS
• Adicet Bio Inc., a New YOrk-based developer of cell immunotherapies, has raised $51 million in Series A funding. OrbiMed Advisors led the round, and was joined by Novartis Venture Fund and Pontifax. The company also announced that it has acquired Applied Immune Technologies, an Israeli developer of immunotherapies directed to the intracellular proteome. No financial terms were disclosed, although OrbiMed, Novartis and Pontifax were all existing AIT investors. www.tcrl.co.il
• HighQ, a London-based provider of SaaS collaboration and content management solutions, has raised $50 million in growth equity funding from One Peak Partners, Morgan Stanley Merchant Banking and Goldman Sachs Private Capital. www.highq.com
• Tarveda Therapeutics Inc. (f.k.a. Blend Therapeutics), a Watertown, Mass.-based developer of targeted anti-cancer medicines for treating solid tumors, has raised $38 million in Series C funding co-led by Novo AS and return backer New Enterprise Associates. www.tarveda.com
• Branch Metrics, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based provider of mobile app referral solutions, has raised $35 million in Series B funding. Founders Fund led the round, and was joined by Madrona Venture Group and return backers New Enterprise Associates, Pejman Mar Ventures, Cowboy Ventures and Ben Narasin. Read more.
• ParkWhiz, a Chicago-based on-demand parking app, has raised $24 million in Series C funding. Baird Capital led the round, and was joined by Beringea and return backer Jump Capital. The company also announced that it would acquire New York-based peer BestParking for an undisclosed amount. www.parkwhiz.com
• Fireglass, a New York-based network security company focused on “eliminating web attack surfaces of both users and applications,” has raised $20 million in Series A funding. Backers include Norwest Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Singtel Innov8, Mickey Boodaei and Rakesh Loonkar. www.fire.glass
• FaceIt, a London-based e-sports platform, has raised $15 million in VC funding from Index Ventures, United Ventures and Anthos Capital. Read more.
• PitchBook Data Inc., a Seattle-based provider of private markets research, has raised $10 million in new VC funding from existing backer Morningstar Inc. The deal values PitchBook at $160 million. www.pitchbook.com
• 360incentives, a Canadian cloud-based incentives software platform, has raised C10 million in new VC funding. Leaders Fund led the round, and was joined by Economic Development Canada and return backers OMERS Ventures and Klass Capital. www.360incentives.com
• StatMuse, a San Francisco-based provider of a cloud platform for analyzing sports statistics, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. Backers include The Walt Disney Co., TechStars. Allen & Co., Greycroft Partners, Promus Ventures, Haas Portman, Deep Fork Capital, United Talent Agency, David Stern and Bee Partners. www.statmuse.com
• PanOpen, a New York-based open educational resource platform, has raised $4.5 million in second-round funding fled by Zen Group. www.panopen.com
• Vestorly Inc., a New York-based content marketing platform for financial services, has raised $4.1 million in Series A funding led by Sigma Prime Ventures. www.vestorly.com
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Dominus Capital has acquired Complete Nutrition, an Omaha, Neb.-based franchisor of health-focused retail stores and distributor of nutritional supplements. No financial terms were disclosed. www.completenutrition.com
• HGGC has completed its acquisition of Instantly Inc., an Encino, Calif.-based provider of online and mobile audiences and insights technology tools. No financial terms were disclosed. Simultaneously, HGGC has merged Instantly with existing portfolio company Survey Sampling International. www.instant.ly
• Oak Hill Capital Partners has agreed to acquire Imagine Print Solutions, a Minneapolis-based provider of printed in-store marketing solutions. No financial terms were disclosed. Following the deal, IPS founder Bob Lothenbach will retain a “significant minority ownership position.” www.imagineps.com
• Summit Sports, a Bloomfield, Mich.-based portfolio company of Digital Fuel Capital, has acquired Austin Canoe & Kayak, an omnichannel outfitter of kayak, camping and outdoor adventure gear. No financial terms were disclosed. Cascadia Capital managed the process. www.summitonline.com
• Ameriquest Inc., a Cherry Hill, N.J.-based provider of business process outsourcing solutions, has postponed an IPO that had been expected to price this week, according to Renaissance Capital. The company had filed to offer 6.15 million shares at between $11 and $13 per share, which would have meant a $228.5 million initial market cap in the middle of its range. Raymond James and Stephens are serving as lead underwriters. Ameriquest reports $4.2 million of net income on $65 million in revenue for the first nine months of 2015. www.ameriquestcorp.com
• Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, a San Diego-based craft brewer, withdrew IPO registration after being acquired for around $1 billion by Constellation Brands (NYSE: STZ). www.ballastpoint.com
• AppDirect, a San Francisco-based provider of cloud service commerce solutions, has acquired RadialPoint, a Canadian provider of cloud and technical support services for small businesses and consumers. No financial terms were disclosed. AppDirect has raised over $240 million in VC funding from such firms as Foundry Group, Mithril Capital Management, StarVest Partners, J.P. Morgan and iNovia Capital. RadialPoint had raised over $100 million from firms like Highland Capital Partners, Aragon Ventures, Fonds de Solidarite and TA Associates. Read more.
• Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR) has agreed to acquire BTI Systems, an Ottawa-based provider of cloud and metro networking systems and software to content and service providers. No financial terms were disclosed. BTI Systems has raised over $120 million in VC funding from firms like Bain Capital Ventures, BDC Venture Capital, EDC Equity, GrowthWorks, Industry Ventures, Kodiak Venture Partners, Purple Angel, Blue Cloud Ventures and VenGrowth. www.btisystems.com
• SunEdison Inc. (NYSE: SUNE) is seeking buyers for some rooftop solar assets of Vivint Solar Inc. (NYSE: VSLR), according to Bloomberg. SunEdison had agreed last summer to purchase Vivint Solar for $1.9 billion from shareholders like The Blackstone Group, but has not yet closed the deal. In the interim, the value of SunEdison stock has fallen by more than 90%. Read more.
• Nexstar Broadcasting Group (Nasdaq: NXST) has formally agreed to acquire Media General (NYSE: MEG) for $2.3 billion in cash and stock. The deal comes after Media General terminated a $2.4 billion agreement to purchase magazine publisher Meredith Corp. (NYSE: MDP), with Meredith receiving a $60 million termination fee and the “opportunity to negotiate for the purchase of certain broadcast and digital assets currently owned by Media General.” www.nexstar.tv
• Terex (NYSE: TEX), a Westport, Conn.-based maker of cranes and construction machinery, has rejected a $3.2 billion cash takeover offer from China’s Zoomlion (SZSE: 000157), according to Bloomberg. Instead, Terex plans to continue pursuing a previously-announced agreement to merge with Finland’s Konecranes (Helsinki: KCR1V). Read more.
• Toyota (Tokyo: 7203) said that it is considering acquiring the 48.8% equity stake it doesn’t already hold in Japanese compact car maker Daihatsu (Tokyo: 7262), in what would be around a $3.2 billion deal. Read more.
FIRMS & FUNDS
• HarbourVest Partners is in advanced talks to acquire a $2.2 billion portfolio of companies from British private equity firm Bridgepoint, according to Bloomberg. Read more.
Moving In, On & Up
• Sutian Dong has joined Female Founders Fund as a partner. She previously was with FirstMark Capital. www.femalefoundersfund.com
• HCAP Partners (f.k.a. Huntington Capital) has promoted Hope Mago to principal. Mago has been with the firm since 2009. www.hcapllc.com
• Gregory Peter has joined Horizon Technology Finance Corp. as a managing director, according to his LinkedIn profile. He previously was with Valuation Research Corp. www.horizontechnologyfinancecorp.com
• Todd McGuire, former SVP of corporate development and strategy with First Data Corp., has launched Inergi Advisors, a consulting firm focused on the financial services sector.
• Saban Capital Group has promoted Fred Gluckman to executive VP. He also will continue to serve as the investment firm’s chief financial officer. www.saban.com
• Mike Sommers, former chief of staff to John Boehner, has agreed to become CEO of the Private Equity Growth Capital Council. He succeeds Mike Judge, who stepped down last summer. Read more.
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