President Obama got Silicon Valley buzzing last week, by suggesting to Bloomberg that he might have post-presidency interest in some sort of venture capital effort. From the interview:
“The skill set of starting my presidential campaigns—and building the kinds of teams that we did and marketing ideas—I think would be the same kinds of skills that I would enjoy exercising in the private sector… The conversations I have with Silicon Valley and with venture capital pull together my interests in science and organization in a way I find really satisfying.”
Obama would hardly be the first well-known politician to enter the venture capital or private equity market. Al Gore at Kleiner Perkins is the most notable example, but there are plenty of others — and he could always ask Tim Geithner (Warburg Pincus) or Deval Patrick (Bain Capital) for their thoughts on the matter. But he would be market’s the first ex-president.
What’s particularly amusing, however, is all of the VCs who have said either publicly (via Twitter) or privately (I’ve had a bunch of these conversations) that Obama wouldn’t be a shoe-in for a GP role at their firm, should he have interest. You’re either lying to me, or to yourselves.
To be clear, I don’t expect Obama to join an existing firm. If he does go down this path, I’d see him launching something of his own, based in D.C. with more of a social responsibility angle. But with the possible exception of firms tied to Peter Thiel, every single existing VC firm would welcome Obama with open arms. We’re well past the days where firms only hire partners with investment experience, and Obama clearly has plenty of executive experience. More importantly, a lot of today’s VC world is about getting meetings with the hottest young entrepreneur, and it’s hard to imagine most founders turning down a pitch session with Obama (it’s the difference between Silicon Valley star power, and actual star power).
Again, this is just a thought experiment. But if for some reason Obama does want to join Term Sheet’s Evian-washed masses, the door will be open.
• Speaking of Obama: There is an interesting Politico piece this morning about Vistria Group’s involvement in a proposed buyout of the parent company of University of Phoenix. You might recall that we’ve discussed Vistria before, given that the Chicago-based private equity firm was founded by President Obama’s best friend, and now also includes former members of his Administration. There is no evidence of impropriety, but some believe that Vistria’s involvement raises the de facto specter of conflict, let alone the irony of former members of this particular White House entering a for-profit education space that the Administration has routinely singled out for criticism. Read the story here.
• Today in Theranos: Brooke Buchanan, the former Walmart PR maven (and ex-John McCain spokeswoman) who joined Theranos last November, has left the controversial blood-testing company. No word on why. Actually, we probably all know why, at least in the abstract sense. It’s probably more accurate to say: We don’t know the specific circumstances.
It’s also worth noting that Legendary Entertainment won the rights to the in-development film about Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, who will be played by Jennifer Lawrence. Expect that to be part of our Brainstorm Tech conversation in two weeks with Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Mary Parent…
• Where in the world? I’m about to drive down to New York for a series of meetings (and then drive back home, primarily because I’m not always the best planner). So preemptive apologies for being slow on return emails today.
• Correction: Yesterday’s issue had a typo on the number of expected layoffs related to Dow Chemical’s deal to assume full control of Dow Corning. The correct figure is 2,500.
THE BIG DEAL
• Airbnb is seeking a new round of equity funding at a $30 billion valuation, according to the NY Times. This is on top of a $1 billion debt facility that the company reportedly secured last month, and comes after Airbnb raised $1.6 billion in Series E funding last fall at a $25.5 billion post-money valuation.
Existing shareholders include Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, General Atlantic, Tiger Global Management and Sequoia Capital. Read more.
VENTURE CAPITAL DEALS
• Keen IO, a San Francisco-based cloud analytics startup, has raised $14.7 million in Series B funding. Pelion Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by Sequoia Capital, Rincon Venture Partners, Amplify Partners, Rothenberg Ventures, Techstars, 500 Startups, Heavybit and Galvanize Ventures. www.keen.io
• Ancera, a Branford, Conn.-based provider of microbial risk assessment solutions, has raised $8.9 million in Series A funding. Existing backer Glass Capital led the round, and was joined by Metabiota and Packers Sanitation Services. Read more.
• Perthera Inc., a McLean, Va.-based provider of cancer analysis solutions for physicians, has raised $8.7 million in Series A funding led by Pilot Growth Equity. www.perthera.com
• What3Words, a UK-based addressing platform, has raised $8.5 million in Series B funding. Aramex led the round, and was joined by Intel Capital, Over Mass Capital and Mustard Seed. Read more.
• Two Hat Security, a Canadian provider of community management software, has raised C$1.6 million in seed funding led by iNovia Capital. The company also secured C$900,000 in debt financing from Comerica. www.communitysift.com
• HealthUp, a Polish developer of a small, smart spirometer, has raised $1.1 million in seed funding led by the Joint Polish Investment Fund. www.myspiroo.com
• Abreos Biosciences, a San Diego-based startup focused on precision dosing of biologics, has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Triton Technology Fund. www.abreos.com
• Scoot Networks, a San Francisco-based operator of a smartphone-activated electric scooter network, has raised an undisclosed amount of new equity funding from Mahindra Partners and Vision Ridge Capital. www.scoot.co
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Addison Lee, a London-based executive car operator backed by The Carlyle Group, has acquired smaller rival Tristar Worldwide. No financial terms were disclosed. Sellers include Octopus Ventures. www.addisonlee.com
• Bain Capital, BC Partners and The Carlyle Group all remain in the bidding process for the IP and Science division of Thomson Reuters Corp. (NYSE: TRI), which could be valued at around $3 billion, according to Bloomberg. British business information company Informa PLC (LSE: INF) also has reached out to the private equity suitors, offering to help finance the winning offer. Read more.
• Insurity Inc., a Hartford, Conn.-based provider of core insurance processing software and data integration, has raised an undisclosed amount of growth equity funding from General Atlantic. Existing shareholders include Genstar Capital and TA Associates. www.insurity.com
• Lone Star Funds and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have agreed to acquire Propertize BV, a Dutch ‘bad bank’ that holds around EUR 5.5 billion in loans and real estate assets, for around EUR 895 million. Lone Star and JPM beat out a rival bid from Cerberus Capital Management and Goldman Sachs. Read more.
• McKesson Corp. (NYSE: MCK) has agreed to merge its IT unit with Change Healthcare, in a transaction that would create a new company with combined pro forma annual revenue of $3.4 billion. Change Healthcare previously was known as Emdeon, before being acquired in 2011 for $2.2 billion by The Blackstone Group. Read more.
• Ship Supply, a Miami, Fla.-based portfolio company of H.I.G. Capital, has acquired R.S. Stern Inc., a Baltimore-based ship chandler. No financial terms were disclosed. www.higcapital.com
• The XLerate Group, a Charleston, S.C.-based auto auction company owned by Huron Capital Partners, has acquired EPI-El Paso, an El Paso, Texas-based operator of weekly financial institution, fleet/lease and dealer consignment sales. No financial terms were disclosed. www.xlelerategroup.com
• Talend SA, a French provider of big data integration software, has filed for an $86.25 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol TLND, with Goldman Sachs serving as left lead underwriter. The company reports a $5.3 million net loss on $22.8 million in revenue for Q1 2016, compared to a $5.9 million net loss on $17 million in revenue for the year-earlier period. Talend has raised around $125 million in VC funding from firms like Silver Lake Sumeru (25.4% pre-IPO stake), Idinvest Partners (20.1%), Balderton Capital (20%), Galileo Partners (8.2%) and Bpifrance (6.9%). www.talend.com
• GIC, a Singapore sovereign wealth fund, is in talks to acquire Yes Communities, a Denver-based owner of manufactured home communities, from Stockbridge Capital Group, according to the WSJ. The deal could be valued at more than $2 billion. Read more.
• Madison Dearborn Partners has completed its previously-announced sale of Quickplay Media Inc., a Toronto-based provider of over-the-top video solutions, to AT&T (NYSE: T). No financial terms were disclosed. www.quickplay.com
• Sterne Agee CRT, a Stamford, Conn.-based broker-dealer acquired last year by Aquiline Capital Partners, is shutting down, according to the WSJ. The move results in the layoff of around 200 employees. Read more.
• Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (TSX: CM) has agreed to acquire Chicago-based PrivateBancorp (Nasdaq: PVTB) for around $3.8 billion in cash and stock. Read more.
FIRMS & FUNDS
• Broadwell Capital, a new Guernsey-based investment firm focused on “complex, illiquid opportunities,” has closed its debut fund with $1 billion in capital commitments. www.broadwellcapital.com
• Cinven has closed its sixth flagship private equity fund with EUR 7 billion in capital commitments. www.cinven.com
• GAM (SWX: GAM) has agreed to acquire Cantab Capital Partners, a UK-based systematic asset manager with around $4 billion in assets under management. No financial terms were disclosed. www.cantabcapital.com
• Origami Capital Partners, a Chicago-based firm that buys “assets trapped in complex legal structures or difficult ownership situations,” has closed its third fund with $371 million in capital commitments. Sixpoint Partners served as placement agent. www.origamicapital.com
• TorQuest Partners, a Toronto-based private equity firm focused on the middle markets, has closed its fourth fund with C$925 million in capital commitments. www.torquest.com
MOVING IN, ON & UP
• Steve Hinrichs has joined Monroe Capital as a Los Angeles-based managing director, and group head for Southern California. He previously was a managing director with Capital One Business Credit. www.monroecap.com
• Jack Nadal has joined Liberty Hall Capital Partners, a private equity firm focused on the defense and aerospace industries, as a principal. He previously was a senior vice president with Insight Equity. www.libertyhallcapital.com
• Holger Weiss has joined German VC firm Target Partners as a Berlin-based venture partner. He previously was CEO of connected car company Aupio (sold in 2013 to Panasonic Auto Systems). www.targetpartners.de
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