Term Sheet — Thursday, January 5

January 5, 2017, 2:48 PM UTC
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Visions: SoftBank has been purposely opaque about many aspects of Vision Fund, its $100 billion (!) tech investment fund, in part, because the fund isn’t closed yet and general solicitation rules prevent it from sharing much. (The company expects to announce a first close this month.) Yesterday the Vision Fund announced a few new LPs: Apple is putting in $1 billion; Qualcomm, Foxconn, and Larry Ellison will also invest.

What’s in it for Apple? A chance to get a piece of SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son’s renowned investing instincts, for one. Son is known for his long-term vision and his oft-impulsive deals. Often, like with Alibaba and Yahoo, they have paid off handsomely. Other times they have led to prolonged misery and massive debt. (Ahem, Sprint.)

Of course, there are other theories: Is this a cynical political play? Is investing with a Friend-Of-Trump the new lobbying? Son has promised to deliver Trump 50,000 jobs. If Apple can take credit for those by association, could it take the heat off the company for its overseas manufacturing?

But two big questions stick out to me:

  1. How will the shareholders of publicly traded corporate entities like Apple, Qualcomm and anyone else who invests, feel about together, paying Softbank approximately $1.6 billion a year in fees? The $100 billion fund is understood to have a traditional “2 & 20” fund structure, as Term Sheet has previously noted.
  2. How will Softbank decide which investments to make with the Vision Fund and which ones to do from its balance sheet? Just in December, SoftBank invested in $1 billion of its own cash into OneWeb, a New Jersey-based satellite company. Why not do that deal with the Vision Fund?

This answer (“unclear”) is complicated by how interconnected all the players are here. I attempted to draw a crude map of a few of the ride-sharing conflicts. Here are some other attempts to visualize this market. Everyone involved – Apple, Didi, Uber, SoftBank, Alibaba, Grab, Lyft, Ola, ARM Holdings, 99, Google, is in some way connected by investment to a competitor, a supplier, an investor or an ally. In some cases, all of the above. With the Vision Fund, this tangled web raises more questions about conflicts of interest (and even outright conflicts). It would be especially ugly if SoftBank decides to use the fund for acquisitions. I’m told Apple and the other investors will not be active LPs in the Vision Fund, which is an important distinction. But given the scope of the players involved and the size of the fund, each deal announcement will be a new ball of yarn to untangle.

Layoff Watch: Medium has cut 50 staffers, or a third of its employees, as part of its year-end soul-searching. In a blog post, CEO and founder Evan Williams said the company had veered from its goal of defining a new model for online media. What this means for Term Sheet readers: Medium is valued at $600 million, not on the promise of its pretty content management system (and it is a very pretty one), but on the promise it will deliver a revolutionary new business model to the media industry. Williams has decided the answer is not in the model his company has been trying to fix – advertising – but something entirely new.

IPO Watch: Lise Buyer of Class V Group published an op-ed on Fortune arguing that 2016 was actually a good year for tech IPOs, if you look at performance instead of volume. She writes:

Investors had 21 opportunities to participate in the tech IPO market in 2016, according to Renaissance Capital. Had they been brave enough to participate in all 21, they would have owned a basket of stocks that finished the year 39.8% above where they debuted.

For those keeping track, that is more than 5 times the returns on the NASDAQ composite index, which finished the year up a very healthy 7.5%. There’s not a long-only portfolio manager or a shareholder on the planet who would call that performance anything other than fabulous. Read the rest here.

Quote of the day, CES edition: “Once everything is smart, nothing is.” –Matt Braun


 Amazon and Forever 21 are looking at bankrupt American Apparel.

 The complicated reasons TV advertising isn't dead.

 Trump nominates Jay Clayton to lead the SEC.

 More on Magento’s big funding. (This item has been updated. A previous version of the post misidentified the company receiving funding.)

 10 global risks of 2017.

 Yep, your company needs a Chief AI Officer.

 Why the stagnant smartphone market may rebound this year.

 A legal system with justice for some.

 Why the Fed is worried about Trump.


Ladies-only co-working. Men's jobs are disappearing, while jobs done by women are expanding -- but men don't want women's jobs. No one wants to pay $9.99 for your remix


99, a Brazilian on-demand ride company, raised more than $100 million in funding. Didi Chuxing, China's largest ride-hailing company, led the round. Read more at Fortune.

Neon Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based immuno-oncology company developing therapeutic vaccines and T cell therapies to treat cancer, raised $70 million in Series B funding. Partner Fund Management led the round, and was joined by Third Rock Ventures, Access Industries, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Wellington Management Company, Inbio Ventures, and Nextech Invest.

Namely, a New York City-based online human resource software platform for small and medium-sized businesses, raised $50 million in Series D funding. Altimeter Capital and Scale Venture Partners led the round, with participation from Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners, True Ventures, Greenspring, and Four Rivers.

scPharmaceuticals, Inc., a Boston-based biopharmaceutical company developing products for subcutaneous delivery, raised $45.6 million in Series B funding. OrbiMed and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries led the round, with participation from 5AM Ventures and Lundbeckfond Ventures.

Fugue, Inc., a Frederick, Md.-based operating system for managing cloud-based workloads, raised $41 million in Series D funding. New Enterprise Associates led the round, and was joined by Maryland Venture Fund and Future Fund.

Cerêve, a Pittsburgh-based company developing an FDA-cleared insomnia device, raised $38 million in Series B funding. KKR (NYSE:KKR) led the round, and was joined by Versant Ventures, Arboretum Ventures, and Partner Ventures.

NeRRe Therapeutics, a U.K.-based company developing preclinical and clinical neurokinin receptor antagonists, raised £23 million ($28.3 million) in Series B funding. Fountain Healthcare Partners, Forbion Capital Partners, and OrbiMed led the round, with participation from Advent Life Sciences and Novo A/S.

Reputation.com, a Redwood City, Calif.-based provider of online reputation management services, raised $20 million in funding. Ascension Ventures led the round, and was joined by August Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, Icon Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, and Focus Ventures.

Exact Imaging, a Markham, Canada-based developer of micro-ultrasound systems used for prostate biopsies, raised C$21.5 million ($16 million) in a Series C funding. Lumira Capital and Vesalius Biocapital led the round, with participation from PMV and iGan Partners/Rowanwood Ventures.

Avidity Biosciences, a La Jolla, Calif.-based biotech company developing precision medicines for the treatment of cancer, raised $16 million in Series B funding. Takeda Pharmaceuticals led the round, and was joined by Alethea Capital, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Brace Pharma, EcoR1 Capital, F-Prime Capital, Moore Venture Partners, and Tavistock Life Sciences.

Tracx, a New York City-based social media management company, raised $12.5 million in funding. Camden Partners led the round, and was joined by Edison Partners and Tracx CEO Rick Rudman.

Zagster, a Cambridge, Mass.-based bike sharing company, raised $10 million in Series B funding. Edison Partners led the round.

Klipfolio, an Ottawa-based provider of cloud-based business intelligence dashboards, raised C$12 million ($9 million) in a Series B funding. OMERS Ventures led the round, and was joined by BDC Capital, Mistral Venture Partners, Fundfire, BOLDstart Ventures, Acadia Woods, and Converge Venture Partners.

NGDATA, a Belgian developer of data management systems, raised $9.4 million in Series B funding. Idinvest Partners led the round, and was joined by Pamica, SmartFin Capital, Capricorn Venture Partners, Nausicaa Ventures, and angel investors.

Molecular Stethoscope, a San Diego, Calif.-based biotechnology company developing blood-based early detection and disease monitoring tests, raised $8.2 million in seed financing from DCVC, Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), and Index Ventures.

Show My Homework, a London-based homework management platform, raised £2.4 million ($3 million) in seed extension funding. LocalGlobe led the round.

ekWateur, a Paris-based alternative electricity and gas supplier, raised €2 million ($2.1 million) in Series A funding. Aster led the round, and was joined by BNP Paribas Développement and Bouygues Telecom Initiatives.

ClearScholar, an Indianapolis, Ind.-based developer of student engagement software, raised $1.25 million in funding from High Alpha Capital, Elevate Ventures, Butler University, and several angel investors.

Avizia, a Reston, Va.-based telehealth platform, raised an additional $1 million in Series A funding, closing the round at $18 million. Investors include Northwell Ventures, HealthQuest Capital, and NewYork-Presbyterian.

Slack, a San Francisco-based chat platform for team collaboration, invested an undisclosed amount in 11 bot startups via its venture capital arm, the Slack Fund. Read more at Fortune.


The Carlyle Group (NasdaqGS:CG) has completed its acquisition of Claritas, which provides consumer segmentation analysis for marketers, from Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN). Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

NewSpring Holdings, a division of NewSpring Capital, has acquired Vertical Management Systems, a Pasadena, Calif.-based provider of accounting and securities process-and-control services.

KKR (NYSE:KKR) has made a $60 million investment in Slayback Pharma, a Princeton Junction, N.J.-based pharmaceutical company.

Lonsdale Capital Partners completed a management buyout of P2 Consulting, a London-based project management company. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Clayton, Dubilier & Rice closed its previously announced investment in Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare, a Port Washington, N.Y.-based medical equipment distributor and manufacturer. Terms were not disclosed.

W.W. Williams, a Columbus, Ohio-based industrial products distributor backed by One Equity Partners, has acquired Desert Fleet-Serv Inc, a Phoenix-based mobile provider of maintenance and repair services for diesel trucks and trailers. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Kenex Holdings has acquired Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream & Desserts, an Aiea, Hawaii-based manufacturer of mochi ice cream.

Dash Financial, a Chicago-based trading tech provider, and LiquidPoint, Convergex‘s options trading and tech business, have agreed to merge. The combined financial tech company will operate as Dash Financial Technologies. Convergex is a GTCR portfolio company, and Dash Financial Technologies will be majority-owned by the firm. Financial terms were not disclosed.

North American Substation Services, an Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based provider of repair and maintenance services for high voltage equipment, has acquired Nomos Systems, a Quebec City-based maker of control cabinets for high-voltage electrical equipment including transformers and breakers. North American Substation Services is backed by Industrial Growth Partners. Financial terms were not disclosed.

BelHealth Investment Partners has acquired Care Advantage Inc, a Richmond, Va.-based provider of home healthcare and related services. Financial terms were not disclosed.

JMI Equity has invested in Healthx, Inc., an Indianapolis, Ind.-based healthcare technology company.

Frontier Capital has acquired a majority stake in AccessOne, a financial engagement platform that helps patients manage their out-of-pocket healthcare costs.

Ardian has acquired a minority stake in Piz’wich, a French frozen snack manufacturer.


Gartner (NYSE:IT) has agreed to acquire CEB Inc. (NYSE:CEB) for $2.6 billion. CEB shareholders will receive $77.25 for each CEB share ($54 in cash and 0.23 Gartner shares), which represents a premium of about 25% to CEB’s closing price on Wednesday.

Amazon (NasdaqGS:AMZN) and Forever 21 Inc are among the companies considering bids to acquire American Apparel, a Los Angeles-based fashion retailer that filed for bankruptcy in November. Read more at Fortune.

Stanley Black & Decker (NYSE:SWK) has agreed to purchase Sears’ (NasdaqGS:SHLD) Craftsman tool line for $900 million, according to Reuters. Read more.

China Mengniu Dairy (SEHK:2319) has made an offer to acquire China Modern Dairy Holdings (SEHK:1117) for $826 million, according to Reuters. Read more.


Castlight Health, Inc. (NYSE: CSLT) has agreed to acquire Jiff, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based HIPAA-compliant social network and digital health apps platform. Jiff raised $67.5 million from investors including Venrock, GE Ventures, and Aeris Capital.

Comcast (NasdaqGS:CMCS.A) has acquired Watchwith, a San Francisco-based native digital video ad platform, according to Variety. Watchwith raised around $15 million from investors including Rogers Venture Partners, Samsung, Arris Group and Gracenote. Read more.

Solera Holdings, Inc., a Westlake, Texas-based risk and asset management software company, has agreed to buy Autodata, a U.K.-based provider of technical information for the automotive aftermarket, from Bowmark Capital and Rothschild & Co’s Five Arrows Principal Investments. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Speyside Equity has acquired Western Industries, Inc., a Watertown, Wis.-based manufacturer of consumer packaged products, from Graham Partners.


Neuberger Berman, a New York City-based investment manager, raised $2.5 billion for its fourth private equity secondary fund.

Apple (NasdaqGS:AAPL) will invest $1 billion in a tech fund being set up by SoftBank Group Corp. (TSE:9984). Read more at Fortune.

Samsung NEXT, Samsung’s (KOSE:A005930) investment arm, raised $150 million for a fund that will finance early-stage startups specializing in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and Internet-connected devices. Read more at Fortune.

Digitalis Ventures, a New York City-based venture capital firm, raised $100 million for a fund that will invest in seed and early-stage healthcare companies.


Elizabeth Stewart has joined Fenwick Brands as director of investments. Stewart previously worked at Harbert Management Corporation.

Tim Lawler has joined Waud Capital Partners as principal of human capital. Previously, Lawler founded T4 Capital Talent, an executive search firm serving private equity funds and their portfolio companies.

Ira Wolfson has joined Evercore’s (NYSE: EVR) investment banking business as a senior managing director. Wolfson was previously an executive vice chairman at Rothschild & Co in New York.

Carol Lindstrom has joined Carrick Capital Partners as a special adviser. Lindstrom was previously vice chairman of Deloitte LLP.



Term Sheet is produced by Laura Entis. Submit deal items here.

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