We’ve covered a lot of ground since our last feedback column. Here is a selection of your responses:
On the tech industry’s disappointed reaction to the election:
Jesse writes: As a society, this is what happens when you don't teach future generations how to lose. When you give everyone a trophy for participating and do not declare a winner/loser - you are depriving them of the ability to process losing that will inevitably come at some stage in life.
Meredith writes: Erin, As a white woman who didn't vote for Hillary, I am sick of being scolded by my peers and strangers alike for my "betrayal." But the chastisement that particularly rankles comes from Silicon Valley. As a woman in tech, I would like Silicon Valley to shut-up already about the latent sexism in America and focus on the latent sexism in their companies and board rooms where they have the education to know better and the resources to do better. All politics are local and until they stop celebrating Hillary, Sheryl, Marissa and Meg while promoting man after man after man their actions speak louder than their words. Good for Peter Thiel to brave the sting of the hypocrites to stand up for what he believes in.
On CALPERS and fee transparency:
Gene writes: VC fees have always seemed too high to me. Portfolio companies create the wealth, and if they do, the team gets about 20%. All of them working full time. The VC shows up for board meetings once a quarter. Plus they have a diversified portfolio of investments. Companies are all-in on one deal. VC success or lack thereof determines whether they can raise their next fund, and stay on the gravy train.
On whether Theranos is disproportionally criticized because Elizabeth Holmes is a woman:
Kevin writes: If a company is struggling, a female CEO is more likely to be the sole target of the blame compared to their male counterparts. Maybe male CEOs should be held more accountable or maybe public scrutiny should ease up on female CEOs themselves. I'm not personally sure what is best, but gender dynamics are certainly at play in how a company is evaluated.
On Snapchat’s IPO:
Josh writes: I think people misunderstand how much Snapchat has or hasn't cycled through execs. A lot of the core folks including Imran Khan, Nick Bell, their general counsel, and Timothy Sehn, their VP of Engineering, have been very stable for several years now. We get caught up in the myth (Emily White, Mike Randall came and left quickly) but it’s a lot more stable than people give Snapchat credit for.
On the “pipeline problem” for women on startup boards:
Gerry writes: I think your section on the lack of diversity on startup boards may have reflected your bias, when you stated that men believe it’s a pipeline issue, while women know it’s unconscious bias.
My opinion (as a male) is it’s a mix of both, but varies by sector. I certainly do not dismiss unconscious bias as a factor. I’m on the board of a company with strong broadcast media ties. There, we have a female outside board member, in part because the pipeline allowed it. But I’m on the board of a chemical company where the executive pipeline of females is very, very thin.
My response: To be clear, the First Round Capital State of Startups survey was focused almost entirely on enterprise and consumer tech startups, where there’s plenty of pipeline.
Tony writes: Technology will eventually replace all current jobs. If people still want to do what a machine can do (like driving), then people have not kept pace. Machines taking non-engaging jobs should be a relief, not a negative. Who really misses washing dishes or calculating the same numbers over and over because an assumption changes?
Adam writes: I think the less-explored issue is about the amorality of the social cost of change - whether tech or economic - as they both have significant political consequences. The challenge for innovation is exacerbated by the lack of acknowledgement of the outcomes. Which engineers - IT and financial - are generally not the most sensitive to or even aware of! Separately I have been surprised at how little coverage there has been on students’ ability to assess information credibility online. Without question it would seem that there will be a legitimate focus to regulate. Perhaps it is not scold/self-loathe but practicality that should prevail?
Vlad says: It sounds like you haven't read The Second Machine Age or Rise of the Robots. You're much too quick to dismiss the possibility that it truly might be different this time. Consider again.
Consider it reconsidered, Vlad!
Luke writes: I appreciated your commentary and insight with regards to this topic. I truly believe that those working in tech (both those at the bottom and those at the top) don’t understand when they realize that a lot of people look at startups with a mixture of skepticism and fear. I have been repeatedly woken up to that fact when I’ve chatted with people outside of the Bay Area and especially those outside of California. I have taken for granted that most people hold my views and that the West Coast POV is very clearly the view which should be championed above all others. It’s led to a barrier in understanding and relating to a significant amount of people and increasing separation with this small geographic region and others.
Jason writes: We’re turning into luddites.
And one poor word choice on my part, from yesterday’s edition:
When referencing the paydays of private equity’s bigwigs, I said “salary” when I should have said “pay.” Steve Schwarzman makes a $350,000 salary, for example, but he took home $800 million last year from carried interest, personal investment profits, and mostly, dividends and distributions, according to the New York Times estimate. Some of you took issue with that.
Ray writes: So someone invests their own money … and then has a good year investing. And so makes a lot of money. Great point.
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• Why VCs are giving up on on-demand
What will you do with your extra second this year? The home office is dying. Tecent seeks Hollywood deals. Automation can create more jobs. Romney got played – is Carly next on the humiliation list? Goodbye, Net Neutrality.
• Jetsmarter, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based service for renting private and shared chartered jets, raised $105 million in Series C funding from the Saudi Royal Family, Jay Z, and other investors. The company is now valued at $1.5 billion.
• Iterable, a San Francisco-based marketing software company, raised $23 million in Series B funding. Index Ventures led the round, with participation from CRV and other existing investors.
• Nasuni, a Natick, Mass.-based cloud storage company, raised $17.5 million in Series E funding from Sigma Prime Ventures.
• ApplePie Capital, a San Francisco-based online lender, raised $16.5 million in Series B funding. QED Investors and Fifth Third Capital led the round, with participation from Colchis Capital Management and existing investors Signia Venture Partners, Freestyle Capital, and Ron Suber.
• Truecaller, a Stockholm-based developer of mobile services including caller-ID and spam protection, raised 100 million Swedish Krona ($10.9 million) from Zenith Venture Capital, according to Tech.eu. Read more.
• Boatsetter, a Miami-based peer-to-peer boat rental marketplace, raised $13 million in Series A funding. Investors include Great Oaks Venture Capital, Stanford University DAPER Fund, ZG Ventures, Peninsula Ventures, and several angel investors.
• Lygos, a Berkeley, Calif.-based biotech specialty chemicals company, raised $13 million in Series A funding. IA Ventures and OS Fund led the round, with participation from First Round Capital, the Y Combinator Continuity Fund, 50 Years, Vast Ventures, and angel investors.
• Socure, a New York City-based digital verification company, raised $13 million in funding. Flint Capital led the round, and was joined by Santander InnoVentures and Two Sigma Ventures.
• Clear Labs, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based provider of food analytics for retailers and manufacturers, raised $13 million in Series B funding. Wing VC led the round, with participation from GV, Tencent, Khosla Ventures, and Felicis Ventures.
• Signal Media, a U.K. AI-powered information intelligence company, raised £5.8 million ($7.3 million) in funding from MMC Ventures, Hearst Ventures, Frontline Ventures, Reed Elsevier Ventures and Local Globe.
• Lola, a New York City-based maker of organic tampons and pads, raised $7 million in Series A funding. Spark Capital led the round, and was joined by angel investors including Lena Dunham.
• Solvvy, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup that makes machine-learning software to help companies manage customer service, raised $4.5 million in seed funding. True Ventures led the round, with participation from Pear Ventures (formerly Pejman Mar Ventures), Carnegie Mellon University, Signatures Capital, Investment Group of Santa Barbara, and angel investors including Dan Rose and Hamid Barkhordar.
• SupportPay, a Sacramento-based app for managing child support payments and expenses, raised $4.1 million in Series A funding. Fenway Summer Ventures led the round, and was joined by Moneta Ventures and Continental Advisors.
• JumpCrew, a Nashville, Tenn.-based social media marketing company, raised $3.3 million in seed funding. David Pachter led the round, with participation from Jim Caden, Bob Pasker, and David Steinhardt.
• Plato, a San Jose, Calif.-based gaming app, raised $3 million in seed funding from unnamed angel investors.
• BreezoMeter, an Israeli air quality analytics provider, raised $3 million in Series A funding. Phi Square Holdings led the round, and was joined by Entrée Capital, Launchpad Digital Health and SeediL.
• Skupos, a San Francisco-based provider of retail distribution software for the convenience store industry, raised $2.4 million in seed funding. Dynamo Fund led the round with participation from Toba Capital.
• Privacy, a New York City-based developer of payments privacy software, raised $2.2 million in seed funding. Index Ventures led the round, with participation from Rocketship.vc and angel investors.
• Codecheck, a Switzerland-based developer of a smartphone app that provides product descriptions and ingredients when consumers scan items as they shop, raised $1.3 million in funding from Polytech Ecosystem, among other investors.
• Maropost, a Toronto-based developer of email and digital marketing automation software, has secured an undisclosed amount of funding from Elephant and Highland Europe.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• RS Energy Group, backed by Warburg Pincus, has acquired NavPort, a provider of data analytics software for the oil and gas industry. Financial terms were not disclosed.
• Ranch Creek Partners has acquired a majority stake in Apposite Technologies, a Los Angeles-based a maker of network simulation products. Financial terms were not disclosed.
• Altamont Capital Partners has acquired Maxi Canada, a St-Lin-Laurentides, Qc.-based manufacturer of frozen poultry products. Financial terms were not disclosed.
• Contegix, a Saint Louis, Mo.-based cloud computing company backed by Strattam Capital, has acquired Admo.net Web Services, a Kansas City cloud and managed services provider.
• Equistone Partners Europe, a European mid-market private equity firm, has acquired Group of Butchers, a Dutch producer of meat products.
• Finalsite, an East Hartford, Conn.-based developer of educational software backed by Bridge Growth Partners, has acquired School Website, a SaaS-based CMS software provider to schools in the UK.
• H.I.G. Capital, a Miami-based private equity firm, has agreed to buy Lionbridge Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq: LIOX) for around $369 million. Lionbridge shareholders will receive $5.75 in cash per share, a 3.2% premium over the company’s Friday close.
• Pace Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ:PACE), a blank-check company backed by private equity firm TPG, has agreed to buy Playa Hotels & Resorts B.V., an Amsterdam-based owner, operator, and developer of resorts. The combined company will be publicly listed with an estimated enterprise value of around $1.75 billion. It will retain the Playa name.
• Anheuser-Busch InBev (ENXTBR:ABI) has agreed to sell five of its European beer brands to Asahi Group Holdings (TSE:2502) for €7.3 billion ($7.8 billion). Read more at Fortune.
• Google (NasdaqGS:GOOGL) has acquired Cronologics, a San Mateo, Calif.-based developer of a software platform for smart watches. Financial terms were not disclosed, but Cronologics co-founders Lan Rcohe, Leor Stern, and John Lagerling, all ex-Google employees, will rejoin the company working under its Android Wear division. Read more at Fortune.
• Bow Street, a New York City-based hedge fund, has offered to buy NorthStar Realty Europe Corp (NYSE:NRE) for $13 per share, in a deal valued at about $728 million, according to Reuters. Read more.
• Cloudflare, a San Francisco-based Internet performance and security company, has acquired Eager Platform, a Cambridge, Mass.-based service for building web applications. Financial terms were not disclosed.
• First Republic Bank, a San Francisco-based bank, has acquired Gradifi, a Boston-based student loan repayment company. Financial terms were not disclosed.
No IPO news today.
• KKR (NYSE:KKR) and KSL Capital Partners, a Denver-based private equity firm, have agreed to acquire Apple Leisure Group, a Newtown Square, Penn.-based tour operator, from Bain Capital Private Equity. Financial terms were not disclosed. This item has been corrected to state that Bain Capital is the seller and KKR and KSL are the acquirers.
• California Cryobank, a Los Angeles-based provider of donor sperm and eggs, as well as stem cell services backed by Longitude Capital and NovaQuest Capital Management, has agreed to acquire Donor Egg Bank USA, a Rockville, Md.-based provider of frozen donor sperm and eggs.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• Apple (NASDQ: AAPL)is considering investing up to $1 billion in SoftBank’s upcoming $100 billion Vision Fund. Read more at Fortune.
• Matthew G. Harrison and Seth R. Pearson have been promoted to partners at Wellspring Capital Management, a New York City-based private equity firm. Both were previously principals at the firm.
• Peter Flint is joining NFX Guild, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based early-stage venture capital fund and accelerator program for startups, as managing partner. Flint co-founded Trulia, a San Francisco-based real estate website.
• Jacob Mullins has joined Shasta Ventures, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm, as a principal to lead a new program focused on augmented reality and virtual reality, according to the Wall Street Journal. Mullins co-founded Exitround, a San Francisco-based mergers and acquisitions marketplace. Read more.
• Leonardo DiCaprio has joined the advisory board of Data Point Capital, a Boston-based venture capital firm.
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