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Term Sheet — Thursday, September 22

Random Ramblings

Last week we reported on Asenqua Ventures, an elaborate hoax that involved a federal prisoner, a dead reality VC star, venture capital and even a Guns ‘n Roses reference. Today we’ve published Part II, which involves a different “venture capital firm,” two bogus recruiting firms and a much more insidious scam that duped dozens of Term Sheet readers (let alone how many unknown others).

Yes, the two situations are related. This one has taken us from San Diego to Texas to Dubai to Pakistan, and involved a phone call from an anonymous “attorney” who was very interested in learning what I had uncovered. Within the past 24 hours, most of the related websites have gone offline. Here you go: The Ghost in the VC Machine.

• Personnel notes: Bill Siegel has stepped down as head of NASDAQ Private Market (which he joined via the SecondMarket acquisition), in order to join cyber-security startup SecurityScorecard as CFO. In other personnel news, GTCR has quietly promoted Benjamin Daverman and Lawrence Fey to managing directors, and Stephen Jeschke to principal.

• Quiz time: Can you name the “unicorn” that just held a closing dinner for its latest mega-funding, even though the entire deal isn’t entirely closed?

• Making the grade: Fortune‘s latest 40 Under 40 list was released this morning. Only two financiers — Goldman banker Kim Posnett and hedge fund manager Ides McKeever — but plenty of CEO types whose names will be familiar to Term Sheet readers. Here is the full list.


• E.L.F. Beauty, an Oakland, Calif.-based cosmetics company, raised around $142 million in its IPO. The company priced 8.33 million shares at $17 per share (above $14-$16 range), for an initial market cap of approximately $754 million. It will trade on the NYSE under ticker symbol ELF, while J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley served as lead underwriters.

E.L.F. reports $1.1 million of net income on $97 million in revenue for the first half of 2016, compared to $2.7 million of net income on $75 million of revenue for the year-earlier period. TPG Growth holds a 56.8% ownership stake, based on an early purchase from TSG Consumer Partners for an undisclosed amount. Read more.


• Avalara Inc., a Seattle-based provider of tax compliance automation software, has raised $96 million in new growth equity funding ($46 million of which is a secondary to repurchase shares from early investors). Return backers include Warburg Pincus, TCV and  Sageview Capital.

• Centec Networks, a China-based provider of of Ethernet switching silicon and SDN white b ox solutions, has raised $47 million in Series E funding led by China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund.

• BrightFarms Inc., a New York-based national brand of local produce, has raised $30.1 million in Series C funding. Catalyst Investors led the round, and was joined by return backers WP Global Partners and NGEN Partners.

• Brightline, a New York -based provider of “advanced TV” solutions, has raised $20 million in Series A funding led by Joe Moglia (chairman of TD Ameritrade and Fundamental Global Investors).

• InfluxData, a San Francisco-based developer of an open-source platform for managing “time-series” data, has raised $16 million in Series B funding. Battery Ventures led the round, and was joined by return backers Mayfield, Trinity Ventures and Bloomberg Beta.

• Operator, a China-based personal shopping assistant chatbot, $15 million in Series B funding at a $100 million pre-money valuation. GGV Capital led the round, and was joined by Formation8, Morningside Ventures, Horizons Ventures and return backers Greylock Partners and Expa. Read more.

• Mavrx, a San Francisco-based provider of aerial imagery technologies for the agriculture market, has raised $10 million in Series A funding. Eclipse Ventures led the round, and was joined by Bloomberg Beta and Visionnaire Ventures.

• Sonder, a San Francisco-based P2P “homtel” platform for travelers (i.e., Airbnb plus hotel hospitality), has raised $10 million in Series A funding. Spark Capital led the round, and was joined by Thayer Ventures, Real Ventures and BDC Capital. It previously raised $5 million.

• GameCo., a Las Vegas-based developer of “skill-based video game gambling machines,” has raised $8.25 million in seed and Series A funding. Javelin Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by Courtside Ventures, QB1 Ventures, New York Angels, Steel Partners and individual angels.

• TrueFacet, a New York-based online marketplace for used jewelry and watches, has raised $6 million in Series A funding. Maveron led the round, and was joined by Freestyle Capital, Social Leverage, Founders’ Co-op, Trilogy, Liquid2 Ventures and individual angels.

Vina, a new social network for girls, has raised $1.4 million in seed funding from Greylock, NEA, Wildcat Venture Partners and Tinder. Read more.


• GI Partners has completed its previously-announced acquisition of Daxko Inc., a Birmingham, Ala.-based provider of software to member-based health and wellness organizations, from Pamlico Capital. No financial terms were disclosed.

• Harley-Davidson Inc. (NYSE: HOG) stock climbed nearly 7% in early trading yesterday, on renewed rumors about buyout interest from KKR. It closed the day up 3.93%, giving it a market cap of $9.45 billion. Read more.

• Prospect Partners has acquired an undisclosed equity stake in All Glass & Windows, a Sarasota, Fla.-based installer and distributor of distributes impact-resistant glass and glass-related products for general contractors and builders. No financial terms were disclosed.

• Solina Group, a UK-based food ingredient solutions company owned by Ardian, has agreed to acquire New Ivory, a maker of culinary sauces. No financial terms were disclosed.


• SenesTech Inc., a Flagstaff, Ariz.-based developer of fertility control solutions for animal pest populations, has filed for a $28.75 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol SNES, with Roth Capital Partners serving as underwriter.


• Airware, a Newport Beach, Calif.-based drone OS and hardware startup, has acquired Redbird, a provider of drone analytis, for an undisclosed amount. Airware has raised around $82 million in VC funding from firms like Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Redbird had raised over €2 million from groups like ENGIE NewVentures. Read more.

• EQT Partners has hired J.P. Morgan to find a buyer for German healthcare BSN Medical, according to Bloomberg. The deal could be valued at around €3 billion, with several private equity firms reported to have interest. Read more.


• A.P. Moller-Maersk, a listed Danish conglomerate, said that it will split into separate transport and energy companies. Read more.

• Yum China Holdings, the China business being spun off by KFC owner Yum Brands (NYSE: YUM), has filed to issue 10 million shares to select participants in Yum incentive plan. Read more.


• FountainVest Partners has closed its third China-focused private equity fund with $2.1 billion in capital commitments, according to the WSJ. Read more.

 Signia Venture Partners has closed its second early-stage tech VC fund with $85 million in capital commitments. Read more.


• Gianluca D’Angelo has joined fund placement firm Eaton Partners as a managing director and head of Europe. He previously was a partner with Probitas Partners UK. Eaton also has added James Townend (ex- Nomura Asset Management) as a director.

• Eyal Malinger has joined VC firm Beringea as a UK-based investment director. He previously led property technology investments for Countrywide PLC. Beringea also has added both Olivia Cramer (ex-BofA Merrill Lynch) and Philip Edmondson-Jones (ex-OC&C Strategy Consultants) as associates.

• Don Sturdivant, former CEO of FleetPride, has joined private equity firm Snow Phipps Group as an operating partner focused on the packaging industry.

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