Term Sheet — Friday, April 8

April 8, 2016, 2:14 PM UTC

Random Ramblings


Hi Term Sheet readers, this is Erin Griffith filling in for Dan. Direct feedback to me via email or find me on Twitter.

Yahoo’s Very Optimistic Bankers: The auction for Yahoo is a leaky one, and I get the sense that Yahoo’s sell-side bankers are eager to make the bidding seem competitive. (We all know in our hearts it’s going to Verizon, right?) Why else would we get updates naming new, unlikely bidders on the daily?

For example, the New York Post last week reported that SoftBank was working on a bid. That seems unlikely given (A) the complications involved with SoftBank’s own stakes in Yahoo Japan and Alibaba, (B) the fact that SoftBank’s leader-in-waiting Nikesh Arora passed on the chance to run Yahoo because, in his words, he didn’t know how to fix it, and (C) the fact that SoftBank leadership is slightly pre-occupied with another tech turnaround -- Sprint.

Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Google parent Alphabet is considering a bid for Yahoo. That also seems unlikely: Google is still undergoing antitrust investigation for its dominance of the search market in Europe, so it’s likely to steer clear of anything that looks like search or digital advertising (ahem, Yahoo). Beyond that, the company's M&A machine slowed down significantly in 2015, making it the company’s slowest year for deals since 2009. Call it “digestion” or call it Ruth Porat’s new era of fiscal responsibility. Either way, Alphabet is more focused on making its “moonshot” and “other bet” acquisitions profitable, not rescuing competitors from Silicon Valley’s island of misfit toys.

Lastly, this morning we have a slightly desperate-sounding gem from the Post about Yahoo’s patent “gold mine,” which is worth $3 billion to $4 billion and has bidders in a tizzy. Any buyer that wants Yahoo for its patents is not interested in saving this company. Yahoo may have some new, valuable patents, but my guess is that, like the ones AOL divested for $1.1 billion in 2012, most of them are from the '90s and so vague they could encompass any activity on the Internet. Meaning only a troll would try to enforce them. Yahoo even tried its hand at patent trolling in 2012 on Facebook. It didn’t yield any notable windfall; the lawsuit was settled out of court a few months after CEO Scott Thompson was pushed out for lying on his resume.

TS Book Club: Earlier this week Dan Primack wrote about Disrupted: My Year in Startup Hell, the controversial expose about Boston marketing technology startup HubSpot, by Dan Lyons. Dan Primack said everyone working in tech should read it. I have a slightly different opinion. You can read my entire review on Fortune.com later today, but a few takeaways are below:

Do not let the excerpt from “Disrupted: My Year in Startup Hell” that recently ran in Fortune trick you into thinking the entire book is equally as entertaining. Each individual sentence in the excerpt is from a different chapter of the book, and most of the book’s best jokes, moments, and details are contained in this excerpt.

However, Disrupted is worth a read for anyone interested in startup culture and its effect on labor. The book made me fearful of the fact that startup culture has become aspirational to many corporations. It’s also a vivid reminder that many startups -- not just HubSpot -- are fueled by hype.

Another reason to read Disrupted is if you want to hire some older workers and aren’t sure how to work with them. Disrupted is the exact inverse of all the clichéd books about how to work with millennials. Lyons spends a lot of time discussing how badly he was treated by his young co-workers, while constantly reminding the reader of how important he used to be. Even though many of his jokes revolve around him acting like a jerk in meetings, he only once considers that maybe "some of" his not fitting in could have to do with his personality. But he doesn’t dwell on it. No, the problem is definitely ageism.

Yale Mode: Has any other pension fund, endowment, university, or other limited partner ever matched Yale’s highly risky, but apparently killer track record in venture capital?

Correction: A funding note in Yesterday’s Term Sheet included an erroneous description and link. See Jane Run is the parent company of Sawyer, a subscription startup for children’s services. www.hisawyer.com/


Ant Financial, the finance affiliate of Alibaba Group, has increased the amount of funding it is raising to $3.5 billion, according to Bloomberg. The deal could value the company at $60 billion. China Investment Corp. and an investment vehicle of China Construction Bank Corp. are leading the funding. Read more.


Managed by Q, a New York City-based platform for office management, has raised $25 million in venture funding led by GV, formerly known as Google Ventures, and Kapor Capital. https://managedbyq.com/


Adavium Medical, a Brazilian medical equipment and clinical diagnostics company, raised $21 million in Series C funding from CVF LLC and existing investors Venrock, Aberdare Ventures, and Arboretum Ventures. Along with funding, The company also announced that it acquired Brazilian clinical diagnostic companies Alka Tecnologia and Hemogram Industria e Comercio. www.adavium.com/

RideCell, a San Francisco-based provider of mobility services, has raised $11.7 million in Series A funding round led by BMWi Ventures with the participation of Khosla Ventures and angel investors. www.ridecell.com/

Mizzen+Main, a Dallas-based men’s apparel maker, raised $3 million in venture funding from VTF Capita, formerly VegasTechFund, and angel investors. www.mizzenandmain.com/

Karamba Security, a Detroit and Tel Aviv-based maker of in-car security systems, Israel, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by YL Ventures with participation from GlenRock. https://www.karambasecurity.com/

Dispatch, a San Francisco-based delivery robot, raised $2 million in seed funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. Read more.


Renovo Capital has made investment of undisclosed size in Dimont & Associates, Inc., a provider of specialty insurance and loan administration to residential and commercial financial services industry. www.dimont.com

Strattam Capital has agreed to buy a majority stake in Blacksmith Applications, a Lawrence, Massachusetts, developer of software for the consumer-packaged-goods industry. Terms weren’t disclosed. www.blacksmithapps.com/

Golden Gate Capital has agreed to convert 65% of the debt of Pacific Sunwear of California Inc. into equity and provide $20 million in capital as it enters Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The firm previously lent $60 million to the apparel retailer in 2011.   Read more.


  BNP Paribas SA, the French Bank, plans to take its subsidiary, First Hawaiian Bank, public as early as June. First Hawaiian would raise around $1 billion in an offering, making the company worth $4 billion and $5 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. Read more.

 MGM Growth Properties LLC priced its IPO at $18 to $21 a share. The real estate income trust, which includes nine MGM casino resorts, could raise as much as $1.2 billion at that price.


Tower Three Partners has sold The Paslin Company, a Warren, Mich.-based a robotics integrator for the automotive market, to Zhejiang Wanfeng Technology Development Co. www.paslin.com/


Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors and NewRoad Capital Partners have formed a new fund to invest in early-stage technology-enabled businesses in retail and other categories. The fund, named Kayne NewRoad Ventures Fund II LP, has $90 million in commitments from NewRoad Ventures Fund I, the Arkansas Venture Development Fund and other investors. kaynecapital.com/


General Catalyst announced the following promotions: Niko Bonatsos, a venture partner, has been promoted to managing director. Deepak Jeevankumar, a principal, has been promoted to partner. Spencer Lazar, a principal, has been promoted to partner. Gabe Ling, a principal, has been promoted to partner.

Ana Sirbu has joined BlueVine, a Palo Alto, California, provider of working-capital financing to small businesses, as VP of finance and strategy. Sirbu previously worked at Google Capital.

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