Term Sheet — Friday, February 24

February 24, 2017, 3:28 PM UTC
fortune logo


Scoop: Roku is in advanced discussions to raise at least $200 million in new funding at a post-money valuation of approximately $1.5 billion, according to sources familiar with the situation. The company received a term sheet this week. The round will be led by U.S.-based investors, one source says, but “not standard Silicon Valley venture firms.” The total raise could go above $200 million because a portion of the deal may include secondary sales by existing investors.

Based in Los Gatos, Calif., Roku makes connected TV hardware. The startup has raised $210 million in funding so far from investors including News Corp, Fidelity Investments, Menlo Ventures, Hearst Ventures, Viacom, Fox Networks, and Netflix.

Roku competes in a crowded market; Google, Amazon, Apple and the cable providers all offer their own connected TV products. The company is known as “Switzerland” in the market – a neutral player -- because it doesn’t have its own content to push users toward. A Roku representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment this morning.

Self-Downloading Car: Here’s a bombshell from last night: Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car subsidiary, has sued Uber and Otto, the self-driving truck startup it acquired last year. At the heart of the lawsuit is Anthony Levandowski, co-founder of Otto and former leader of the self-driving car unit at Google/Alphabet.

Waymo accuses Levandowski of downloading 14,000 design files -- 9.7 gigabytes worth – from the company six weeks before he resigned. It accuses other former employees that are currently at Otto and Uber of theft as well. A few thoughts:

 The suit is for misusing trade secrets and infringing patents. Worth noting that despite all the patent hatred in Silicon Valley, they’re still important weapons of defense. (Remember those salad days of 2013, when patent warfare was the tech world’s biggest issue?) Google made a patent non-assertion pledge in 2013, promising to not use certain patents to sue other companies. The pledge includes at least 245 patents, a small portion of the company’s overall patent portfolio.

 Waymo stops short of accusing Levandowski and Uber of conspiring from the beginning (i.e., Uber approaching Levandowski while he was still at Google, and Otto being part of the plot to lure him over), but by stringing the following timeline together, it certainly implies it:

In February 2015, Uber started working on self-driving cars. A month later reports said the company’s self-driving partnership with Carnegie Mellon had “stalled." In December 2015, Levandowski left Google. In January 2016, Levandowski confided to Waymo colleagues that he planned to “replicate” Waymo’s technology at a competitor, the lawsuit accuses. In May, Otto launched publicly. In August, Uber paid $680 million to acquire Otto. “Notably, Otto announced the acquisition shortly after Mr. Levandowski received his final multi-million dollar compensation payment from Google, ” the lawsuit states.

 Reminder of how awkward this lawsuit is: Alphabet is suing its most valuable portfolio company. GV, the venture arm of Waymo parent company Alphabet, invested $258 million into Uber in 2013. It was GV’s largest deal ever; David Drummond, Alphabet’s SVP of corporate development, even took a board seat. But by August 2016, it became clear that Alphabet’s self-driving car subsidiary and Uber’s self-driving car efforts would be competitive and Drummond stepped off of Uber’s board. “Our parent company Alphabet has long worked with Uber in many areas, and we didn’t make this decision lightly,” the Waymo said in a blog post about the lawsuit.

 This lawsuit was likely in the works for some time, but the timing could not be worse for Uber, coming off the #DeleteUber immigration protests and this week’s accusations of widespread sexism and gender discrimination. Reactions to the latter, such as this letter from early investors Mitch and Freada Kapor, or this detailed report of how widespread the problems are, continue to pour in.

All AI Everything: Outlier.ai, an artificial intelligence startup created by Flurry co-founder Sean Byrnes, has raised $2.2 million from Susa Ventures, Homebrew and First Round Capital.

Alongside co-founder Mike Kim, Byrnes started the company because, in the ten years he worked on Flurry (before selling it to Yahoo for a reported $240 million in 2014), he heard a common complaint about “big data” from customers: What does it all mean?

“Today every part of your business is a fountain of data and it has gotten so bad that the companies don’t know what to look for,” Byrnes says. This idea might sound familiar to Term Sheet readers. Last week, the founders of Fika Ventures gave me a nearly identical quote. That’s no accident. Eva Ho of Fika is an investor in Outlier via her prior firm, Susa Ventures.

Outlier’s software, which integrates across all of a company’s various tools (ZenDesk, Adwords, Adobe Analytics, etc), spits out “stories” about the data that allows workers – not just statistics experts – to use it to make decisions. The company’s tools compete with offerings from IBM, Google Analytics and Mixpanel, but has an advantage because those tools do not work across many different systems. “In five years, we will look back at companies that had five dozen dashboards, and it will look as outdated as using a paper map,” Byrnes says.

Based in Oakland, Outlier has been offering its product to six customers in private beta since last year. It opens up to the general public today.

Layoff watch: JackThreads, the onetime e-commerce arm of Thrillist Media Group, is for sale. My colleague Jen Wieczner has the scoop:

A little more than a year after being spun out of Thrillist Media Group, Ben Lerer's e-commerce startup JackThreads is preparing to cease operations as an independent company, Fortune has learned.

The online menswear retailer has cut its staff down to a skeleton crew with mass layoffs over the past two weeks, and is in discussions to sell the company, a spokesperson for JackThreads has confirmed. The layoffs include much of the customer service staff as well as certain high-ranking employees. Jen has more details here.

Surprise: The Snap IPO is oversubscribed👻


 Unpacking big food’s big dilemma.

 It’s time for Sam Adams to admit it’s no longer a craft brewer.

 Demystifying the dark web.

 Companies are using cash handouts to stop people from working overtime.

 Don’t hold your breath for Trump’s huge tax return.

 More animal-on-drone warfare.

 Google gives $11.5 million to groups fighting racial inequality.

 Why Symntec’s deal talks with FireEye went nowhere.

 The ten biggest pharma deals of 2016.


The 43 most powerful female engineers of 2017. Marc Andreessen returns to Twitter. Do all these mega-mergers mean we’re at a market peak? Trump support and disharmony at work. The capital markets industry is addressing its lack of gender diversity. A reality check for the Saudi oil industry. China considers faster IPO approvals.


Layer, a San Francisco-based developer of an open communications layer platform, raised $15 million in Series B funding. Greycroft Partners led the round, and was joined by Microsoft Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, and other previous investors.

Enbala Power Networks, a Vancouver, Canada-based provider of of distributed energy resource management services, raised $12 million in Series B funding. ABB Technology Ventures led the round, and was joined by National Grid, GE Ventures, Chrysalix Venture Capital, and Obvious Ventures.

Bexio, a German provider of cloud-based software for SMEs, raised €7 million ($7.4 million) in funding from Swisscom Ventures, Redalpine Venture Partners AG, and Armada Investment AG, according to Tech.eu. Read more.

Tantalus Systems, a Raleigh, N.C.-based smart grid solution provider, raised $6 million in funding from investors including CT Innovations and Vareco Holdings.

24 Storage, a Swedish platform for finding storage units raised €5 million ($5.3 million) in funding from existing investors, according to Tech.eu. Read more.

Mercatus, a San Francisco-based developer of an energy investment management software platform, raised $5.1 million in additional Series B funding, which brings the round to $16.8 million. TPG led the new investment.

TripleMint, a New York City-based online real estate brokerage company, raised $4.5 million in Series A funding. DN Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Summit Action Fund and b-to-v ventures.

Fossa, a San Francisco-based developer of an open source management and license compliance tool, raised $2.2 million in seed funding. Bain Capital Ventures led the round, and was joined by angel investors including Marc Benioff, Steve Chen, Jaan Tallinn, and Justin Mateen.

Hiatus, a New York-based startup that allows users to manage monthly paid subscriptions, raised $1.2 million in seed funding, according to TechCrunch. Read more.

Pindrop Security, an Atlanta-based phone fraud-fighting startup, raised an undisclosed amount in funding from John Chambers, executive chairman and former CEO of Cisco Systems (Nasdaq:CSCO). Read more at Fortune.


PMV Pharmaceuticals, a Cranbury, New Jersey-based developer of drugs to treat cancer, raised $74 million in Series B funding. Topspin Biotech Fund led the round, and was joined by Euclidean Capital, InterWest Partners, OrbiMed Advisors, and Osage University Partners.


The Jordan Company agreed to recapitalize Quick International Courier, a New York City-based provider of priority shipping and logistics services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Advent International has made a €3.6 billion ($3.8 billion) takeover bid for Stada Arzneimittel (DB:SAZ), according to Reuters. The company’s management has until Monday to respond. Advent has been in bidding competition with Cinven and Bain Capital to acquire the company. Read more.

Clearlake Capital Group portfolio companies Globe Energy Services and Light Tower Rentals, both oilfield services providers in the Permian Basin, have merged and will operate as GlobeLTR Energy. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. This item has been corrected to reflect that Clearlake already owned these companies.

Blue Point Capital Partners acquired Fire & Life Safety American, a Richmond, Va.-based provider of fire protection services.

Sterling Partners invested in Grand Rapids Ophthalmology, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based eye care provider.


Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) agreed to sell its Atlanta television station to Meredith (NYSE:MDP) for $70 million as it prepares for its $85 billion sale to AT&T (NYSE:T), according to the Journal. Read more.

Arris Technology (Nasdaq: ARRS) agreed to buy Ruckus Wireless, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based WiFi provider, from Broadcom (Nasdaq: AVGO) for $800 million. Read more.

Bonduelle (ENXTPA:BON) agreed to buy Ready Pac Foods, an Irwindale, Calif.-based producer of fresh, prepared salads and other produce, according to Reuters. Read more.


Ardian sold its stake in frostkrone Beteiligungs GmbH, a European provider of frozen convenience food products, to Emeram Capital Partners. Terms weren’t disclosed.

Axway (ENXTPA:AXW) acquired Syncplicity, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based file sharing and collaboration service for enterprises, from Skyview Capital in an all-cash deal. Terms weren't disclosed.

Madison Dearborn Partners agreed to acquire BlueCat Networks, a Toronto-based provider of IP address management services. As part of the deal, existing backers Trident Capital and Northleaf Capital Partners will exit the company. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

STG Group (OTC: STGG) agreed to acquire Preferred Systems Solutions, a McLean, Va.-based provider of IT, engineering and staffing services to government agencies and commercial clients, from CM Equity Partners for about $119 million. Read more.

Wix.com (Nasdaq: WIX) acquired DeviantArt, a Hollywood, Calif.-based online social network for artists, for $36 million in cash, according to Reuters. DeviantArt raised $13.5 million in VC funding from backers including DivX, Autodesk, and Travis Kalanick. Read more.

Layer, a San Francisco-based developer of an open communications layer platform, acquired Cola, a San Francisco-based messaging startup. Cola raised $1.3 million in VC funding from angel investors including Steve Case.


Vanedge Capital Partners, a Vancouver, Canada-based early-stage venture capital firm, raised $161 million for its latest fund, Vanedge Capital II Limited Partnership.


Term Sheet is produced by Laura Entis. Submit deal items hereView this email in your browser.

Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.

Read More

CryptocurrencyInvestingBanksReal Estate