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Term Sheet — Tuesday, March 28


SecNav: GV, venture the investment arm of Alphabet, has added four new advisors to its stable: Craig Kornblau, former president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Guillaume Le Cunff, president of Nespresso USA, Sanyin Siang, the executive director of the Coach K Center on Leadership & Ethics (COLE) at Duke, and former Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. I spoke with Mabus yesterday, who told me he plans to help GV portfolio companies scale their teams, instill cultures, and run large organizations. (As SecNav, he led an organization of 900,000 that had an annual budget of $170 billion.)

That could include mentoring GV companies on how to the complicated world of defense contracts and procurement, though Mabus notes that he’s prevented from approaching the government on anyone’s behalf for two years because ethics rules.

Mabus is one in a pattern of Obama administration officials to make the jump to Silicon Valley. (One could argue former members of the George W. Bush administration preferred private equity.) Asked about the growing DC-SV connection, Mabus said, “the energy, the intellectual capital that is there, the intensity of these founders and companies that GV is invested in, it’s very appealing to me, much more appealing than maintaining something that’s already gotten there.”

On the prowl: Bustle, the female-focused media company founded by Bryan Goldberg, has raised $12 million in new funding, bringing its total funding to $50.5 million. The round values the company in the range of $200 million, according to a source familiar with the situation. Last year Bustle broke even on $30 million in revenue, which raises the question as to why it needs more money.

Goldberg tells Term Sheet he is on the prowl for acquisitions. “The digital media industry is entering a consolidation moment, and scale matters more than ever,” he says. He’ll be looking for vertical media brands with female-leaning audiences, which the company can sell ads against with using its existing sales infrastructure.

Regarding job opportunity: The private equity recruiting scam continues. Here’s the latest email (enable images or click here):

Think big: Venture capital pushes entrepreneurs to think big. So big that often, startup pitchdecks can border on parody, advertising ridiculous-sounding numbers like a TRILLION DOLLAR MARKET OPPORTUNITY. “Imagine if we took just 1% market share,” the startup CEO declares at demo day.

Then again, as software moves into every industry, the opportunities are indeed getting bigger. A press release issued this morning made that clear: Turvo, a Sunnyvale-based startup, announced it is DISRUPTING THE $8 TRILLION LOGISTICS INDUSTRY. Commensurate with the size of the opportunity, Turvo has raised a giant Series A round of funding to the tune of $25 million. Activant Capital led the round alongside existing investors Felicis Ventures, Upside Partnership, Slow Ventures and Tony Fadell.

It’s worth noting that Felicis Ventures, which led the seed round, was also an early investor in Flexport, the “Uber of oceans.” It has also backed several companies working on hardware for the trucking industry.

Given the conversations swirling this week about AI, and Elon Musk’s fear of it, and Steve Mnuchin’s dismissal of it (which kicked the AI hype machine into overdrive), and the trucking industry’s cautious embrace of it, I asked Felicis partner Wesley Chan whether this is another company designed to displace blue-collar jobs. Chan said no: “The company isn’t replacing or displacing any jobs, but rather making booking, dispatching, and tracking shipments on trucks way more efficient. Trucking is a paper and pencil business, so adding technology will be huge. No robots in this one.”

CEO Eric Gilmore echoed the sentiment: “Our approach is to give people superpowers through AI-powered software and eliminate or automate all of the countless hours spent on redundant manual tasks.”

Valuation was not disclosed but Chan said it is “proportional to the round size.” “This is a big, huge play so we wanted to make sure Eric and the company was well capitalized,” he added.

PS. If you’re interested in shipping containers and their role in globalization (I won’t lie, I am), Fusion’s Alexis Madrigal has a podcast focused on that exact industry called… Containers.


• Senators are “increasingly concerned” about Carl Icahn profiting from his role as a Trump advisor.

• Jack Dorsey hints there could be “synergies” between Twitter and Square.

• Lunch is dead. (Death by Millennial.)

• Corporate scientists go to Washington.

• Why isn’t big pharma excited that Trump is slashing FDA rules?

• Q&A with Brian Chesky of AIrbnb.

• The Senate has voted to remove online privacy protections.

• President Trump nominates Makan Delrahim to lead antitrust division of justice dept. (He’s previously said he’d cool with the AT&T Time Warner deal.)

• Credit Suisse deciding on capital raising plans “ASAP.”

• Canadian marijuana stocks soar on reports of legalization.

• Elon’s new startup.

• Jared Kushner’s many roles at the White House.


How to avoid executive burnout? A physiologist, a dietitian, an executive coach, and $100,000 in special services. “The old ways of hedge funds taking money out of the markets just are not as effective anymore.” GenZennials! Why do patent trolls love Texas? The minimum price a founder can sell for. The world record for running a half marathon in a suit.


Didi Chuxing, a Beijing-based ride-sharing company, is considering whether to take $6 billion in funding from SoftBank, according to Bloomberg. Read more.

•  Grab, a ride-sharing company serving Southeast Asian markets, plans to raise more than $1.5 billion in a funding round led by SoftBank, according to Bloomberg. The company last raised $750 million in September at a post-valuation of more than $3 billion. Read more.

Benson Hill Biosystems, a St. Louis agricultural technology company, raised $25 million in Series B funding. Lewis & Clark Ventures and Prelude Ventures led the round, with participation from Fall Line Capital, S2G Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments, Cultivation Capital, iSelect Fund, Mercury Fund, Middleland Capital, Missouri Technology Corporation, Prolog Ventures, and TechAccel.

Turvo, a Sunnyvale, Calif. logistics startup, raised $25 million in Series A funding. Activant Capital led the round, and was joined by Felicis Ventures, Upside Partnership, Slow Ventures, and angel investors including Tony Fadell and Aaron Levie.

Industrious, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based workspace provider, raised $25 million in Series B funding. Riverwood Capital led the round.

Creamfinance, a Riga, Latvia-based consumer finance provider, raised €21 million ($22.8 million) in Series B funding. Capitec Bank Holdings led the round.

Tenfold, an Austin, Texas cloud-based revenue performance platform, raised $15.8 million in funding, according to the San Antonio Business Journal. Investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Geekdom Fund, and Pat Condon. Read more.

Squatty Potty, a St. George, Utah toilet stools manufacturer, raised $15.7 million in funding, according to an SEC filing.

Cloudvirga, a Irvine, Calif. cloud-based mortgage platform, raised $15 million in Series B funding. Incenter, a Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX) portfolio company, led the round.

Bustle, a New York media company aimed at millennial women, raised $12 million in Series D funding. GGV Capital led the round, and was joined by TimeWarner (NYSE:TWX), Social Capital, General Catalyst Partners, and Saban Capital.

Cognoa, a Palo Alto, Calif. developer of an app that helps parents assess and monitor the cognitive development of their children, raised $11.6 million in funding from Morningside.

Wrench, a Seattle car repair startup, raised $4 million in Series A funding. Madrona Venture Group led the round.

Lightform, a San Francisco augmented reality startup, raised $2.6 million in seed funding. Lux Capital and Seven Seas Partners led the round, with participation from angel investors and the National Science Foundation.










• Solina, a French producer of savory ingredients for the food industry backed by Ardian, agreed to acquire Supremia Grup, a Romanian producer of food ingredients.

• Clairvest Group, which already owns a majority of Discovery Air (TSX:DA.A), agreed to acquire the remaining stake for $0.20 per share in a take-private deal.

• Kerr Consulting, backed by Proviso, acquired Software Link, an Atlanta provider of Sage software services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

• Orion, which is backed by Potomac Equity Partners, acquired Structured Network Solutions, a Melville, N.Y. provider of technology integration services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.


• HNA Group, a Chinese conglomerate, is considering a takeover bid for a controlling stake in the publisher of Forbes magazine, according to Reuters. The Forbes family sold the publication to a group of Hong Kong investors for a reported $415 million in 2014. Read more at Fortune.

Dufry (SWX:DUFN) will bid to purchase the outstanding shares of World Duty Free, a Novara, Italy-based airport retail operator, according to the New York Times. This follows Dufry’s agreement to acquire a 50.1% stake in the company for €10.25 ($11) a share, a deal that values World Duty Free at €3.6 billion ($3.9 billion), including debt. Read more

• American Airlines (Nasdaq:AAL) agreed to acquire a $200 million minority stake in China Southern (SHSE:600029), China’s biggest airline, according to the New York Times. Read more.

• Ferrocarril Mexicano, Mexico’s largest railroad operator, is close to reaching a deal to acquire Florida East Coast Railway, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based rail system operator, for more than $2 billion, including debt, according to Reuters. Read more.


• Hess Midstream Partners, a Houston natural gas processing company, set its IPO terms. It is seeking to sell 12.5 million shares between $19 and $21 per share, and plans to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol HESM.


• Darden Restaurants (NYSE: DRI) agreed to acquire Cheddar’s, an Irving, Texas-based operator of fast casual restaurants, for $780 million in cash from L Catterton and Oak Investment Partners. Read more at Fortune.

• Genstar Capital acquired Bracket, a Boston provider of  clinical trial technology and specialty services, from Parthenon Capital Partners.

• Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), acquired Torax Medical, a Shoreview, Minn. developer of a management system that treats gastroesophageal reflux disease, from Sanderling Ventures.

• Amazon (Nasdaq:AMZN) agreed to buy, a Dubai-based online retailer, beating out a last-minute $800 million acquisition offer from Emaar Malls. Amazon is reportedly paying less than that, which means the acquisition price is significantly lower than the company’s $1 billion valuation when it raised funding last year. Souq raised $425 million from Tiger Global Management, Naspers, and other investors. Read more at Fortune.


Phoenix Venture Partners, a San Mateo, Calif.-based venture capital firm, raised an undisclosed amount for its first fund. Limited partners include Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), 3M (NYSE:MMM), Corning Incorporated, and Solvay Group S.A.


• Irfhan Rawji has joined Relay Ventures as a venture partner, where he will lead the firm’s market development in Western Canada and the US Pacific Northwest

• Safa Mahzari has joined TVC Capital as an associate.


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