SCREWING UP THE CAP TABLE, THE SISTERHOOD, IPO POPS
Hello from day three of Brainstorm Tech. I’m running a few excerpts from my colleagues’ coverage Term Sheet-relevant sessions.
For seasoned venture capitalists and private equity firms, tech mania means a flood of dumb money is creating screwy valuations and power-mad founders.
“There’s too much tourist capital,” said Mood Rowghani, a general partner at the VC firm Kleiner Perkins. “It’s made a mockery of our craft because these people would write a check to anyone.”
For Rowghani, who made the remark at a roundtable at Fortune‘s Brainstorm Tech summit in Aspen, “these people” include sovereign wealth funds, high net-worth individuals, and others willing to rush into tech investing without a sound grasp of the industry.
He’s not the only one who holds this view. Rebecca Lynn, a general partner at Canvas Ventures, believes a reckoning is coming.
“A lot of silly money has come in, and the reset hasn’t come,” said Lynn, adding the flood of dumb dollars means many companies that should have bitten the dust often get “one more at bat.”
The phenomenon peaked during what Rowghani called the “looney tunes” days of 2014 and 2015, but is still ongoing. One side effect: “Series A is the new seed round,” meaning brand new companies were receiving funding rounds of $5 million or more, which were once reserved for companies that had passed a series of business milestones.
All of this is distorting the investment landscape. But if you want to look on the bright side, the madcap days of 2014 means there is a bumper crop of companies that took seed rounds a few years ago, which means opportunity for firms like Canvas Ventures that specialize in A and B Series funding rounds. The only catch, Lynn said, is there are now five startups instead of one for every conceivable tech category.
Meanwhile, larger tech trends mean many firms are struggling to grow into their valuations. This is especially the case, said Maha Ibrahim of VC firm Canaan Partners, when it comes to enterprise software firms that being forced to reduce product prices due to their clients looking to replace expensive licenses with open-source software or Software-as-a-Service arrangements.
According to Vincent Letteri, a director at private equity firm KKR, the overall U.S. economy remains strong even after an unprecedented period of growth.
Letteri added that investment opportunities still abound even if his job is complicated by a host of sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, and other entities willing to throw down money at the drop of a hat.
“They don’t usually take up board seats at least, but they might screw up the cap table,” Letteri said. “They’re putting terms sheets on the table without any work.”
The temperature was immediately cranked up when Jonathan Sposato, the chairman of PicMonkey and an angel investor, suggested that one of the factors driving tech’s gender problem is that “women don’t always support each other.”
Taking the mic, OpenTable CEO Christa Quarles called the theory “bullshit.”
“In Silicon Valley today there is a sisterhood of women who are supporting each other, telling each other about board opportunities, giving each other business ideas,” she continued. “There’s a sisterhood.”
While Quarles, who is in her 40s, sees this support system within her own generation, she believes its ties are only growing stronger. “What you see from the millennial population is the most exciting of all,” she said, choking up. “I’m seeing these young women come up, rise up.”
Part of the tide stems from women like Niniane Wang, who are courageous enough to go on record about their experiences with sexual harassment in Silicon Valley. Such public disclosures put the industry “on notice,” said Quarles.
“I’ve worked in Wall Street for 20 years—talk about sexual harassment,” Quarles said. “You name it, it has happened to me… It has to stop.”For the full exchange, watch the above video.
And the last is from Robert Hackett on tech startups’ obsession first-day IPO share price pop:
Greg Schott, CEO of MuleSoft, an enterprise software company that went public earlier this year, summed up the room’s sentiment. “Why are we so fixated on our pop?” he asked, referring to the bump in price some stocks see after they list on an exchange.
It’s bizarre, Schott said, that when IPO shares are accurately priced, some people consider them failures because they do not garner the same media attention and apparent demand. “I don’t blame the bankers,” he said. “I think it’s Silicon Valley’s need for the pop.”
Lise Buyer, a partner at Class V Group, an advisory firm that consults on IPOs, countered this point. “The bankers are in part responsible,” she said. “They want to give a small amount of shares to all clients,” she said, a practice that pays dividends in kickbacks and commissions to the banks when a newly public company’s stock price increases upon a debut.
Too often, founders consider the IPO as the be-all end-all. “It’s not the exit. It’s what happens after that’s so much more important,” Buyer said.
“A lot of people think it’s this big celebration and endpoint, but you still have to come in the next day,” said John Tuttle, global head of listings at New York Stock Exchange. “It’s a great milestone, but it’s not the finish line.”
THE LATEST FROM FORTUNE…
• Target’s CEO on the risk in innovation.
• Four forces revolutionizing marketing.
• Bank of America’s CEO finally delivers.
• The dollar dives to a 10-month low after Trump’s healthcare bill collapses.
• Hackers stole $7 million in Ethereum cryptocurrency heist.
• Vets First Choice, a Portland, Maine-based provider of healthcare technology to veterinary practices, raised $223 million in funding, according to Reuters. Investors include Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, Hillhouse Capital Group, Viking Global Investors, Wellington Management Company, Rock Springs Capital, and Sequoia Heritage. Read more.
• Nauto, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based autonomous vehicle technology company, raised $159 million in Series B funding. A subsidiary of SoftBank Group Corp. and Greylock Partners led the round, and were joined by investors including BMW iVentures, General Motors Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures, the venture unit of Allianz Group, Playground Global and Draper Nexus.
• Native, a Oklahoma City, Okla.-based oil and gas exploration company, raised $140 million in funding. Investors include Kayne Anderson.
• Brain Corp, a San Diego-based developer of autonomous navigational technologies, raised $114 million in Series C funding, according to TechCrunch. SoftBank’s Vision Fund led the round, and was joined by Qualcomm Ventures. Read more.
• Artsy, a New York City-based platform for discovering and collecting art, raised $50 million in Series D funding. Avenir Growth Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including L Catterton, Thrive Capital and Shumway Capital.
• Venus Concept, a Toronto-based aesthetic technology company, raised $38 million in funding. EW Healthcare Partners led the round, and was joined by HealthQuest Capital and Madryn Asset Management.
• Lever, a San Francisco-based recruiting software, raised $30 million in Series C funding. Adams Street Partners led the round, and was joined by Matrix Partners and Scale Venture Partners.
• Particle, a San Francisco-based Internet of Things device platform for businesses, raised $20 million in Series B funding. Spark Capital led the round.
• Workato, a Cupertino, Calif.-based intelligent automation platform, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Storm Ventures led the round, and was joined by Salesforce Ventures and Workday Ventures.
• Rentomojo, an India-based furniture rental website, raised $10 million in Series B funding, according to TechCrunch. Bain Capital Ventures led the round, and was joined by Renaud Laplanche, Accel and IDG. Read more.
• Form3, a London-based platform for global payments processing, raised $5 million in funding. Investors include Barclays and the Angel CoFund.
• Contego Fraud Solutions, a U.K.-based provider of automated compliance solutions, raised 3.5 million pounds ($4.6 million) in funding. Investors include Maven Capital Partners and NVM Private Equity.
Protenus, a Baltimore, Md.-based cloud-based analytics platform that helps healthcare organizations monitor and protect patient privacy, extended its Series A funding round with $3 million in funding. Kaiser Permanente Ventures and F-Prime Capital Partners led the round. This brings the Series A round to a total of $7 million.
• Tomorrow, a Seattle-based financial and legal planning app for families, raised $2.6 million in seed funding. Investors include Maveron, CFSI, Echelon Capital, Clocktower Technology Ventures, Allianz Life, Plug And Play, Flying Fish Partners, and Curious Capital.
• lvl5, a San Francisco-based developer of advanced computer vision software and crowdsourced HD maps for autonomous cars, raised $2 million in funding. Investors include 9Point Ventures and Paul Buchheit.
• Neurovalens, an Ireland-based health tech startup, raised £1.1 million ($1.4 million) in seed funding, according to Tech.eu. Investors include Angel CoFund, Beltrae Partners, and TechStart NI. Read more.
• Utility Associates, a Tucker, Ga.-based video evidence platform for police officers, raised funding of an undisclosed amount. Investors include Hicks Holdings LLC, Braemar Energy Ventures and Treeter Holdings.
• Appiphony, a Chicago-based product development outsourcer for Salesforce applications, raised funding of an undisclosed amount from Salesforce Ventures.
HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
• Rapid Medical, an Israel-based developer of neurovascular interventional devices, raised $9 million in funding. BRM and Shanghai-Israel Investment Fund co-led the round, and were joined by Winnovation and Gefen Capital.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Hellman & Friedman, BC Partners and Apax are preparing binding offers for Shop Direct, a U.K.-based online retailer. The company is valued at up to 3 billion pounds ($3.90 billion), according to Reuters. Read more.
• AAC Capital will sell Envirotainer, a Sweden-based company renting cold containers for shipping temperature-sensitive healthcare products, sources familiar with the matter said. Envirotainer could be worth at least 800 million euros ($925 million), according to Reuters. Read more.
• One Equity Partners will make a minority investment in Sanken North America, a subsidiary of Sanken (TSE:6707). Sanken will conduct a private placement of 28.8% of newly issued shares to be purchased by One Equity Partners for $291 million.
• MPE Partners made an investment of an undisclosed amount in DreamLine, a Warminster, Penn.-based maker of shower products.
• University Ventures acquired Avenica (previously known as GradStaff), an entry-level hiring and recruiting firm. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Providence Strategic Growth acquired a majority stake in Patron Technology, a New York-based provider of tech solutions for arts and culture organizations. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Infogix Inc, a portfolio company of Thoma Bravo, acquired Data Clairvoyance, a Bloomington, Ind.-based data strategy consultancy. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Arlon Group acquired a minority stake in Betânia, a Brazil-based dairy company. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Sciens Building Solutions, which is backed by Huron Capital, acquired Sabah International, a Pleasanton, Calif.-based provider of fire detection and security services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• ConvergeOne, which is backed by Clearlake Capital, acquired Annese & Associates Inc, a New York-based integrated communications systems provider. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Crown Castle International Corp (NYSE:CCI) will buy Lightower Fiber Networks, a Boxborough, Mass.-based fibers networking solutions provider, for about $7.1 billion in cash, according to Reuters. Read more.
• Avast acquired Piriform, the U.K.-based software company behind CCleaner. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• BP, the U.K.-based petroleum company, is considering an IPO for its some of its assets in the U.S. The spin off would include crude oil, natural gas, and refined product pipelines located in the Midwest and on the U.S. Gulf Coast. It would be dubbed BP Midstream Partners.
• Carrefour Brasil, the Brazilian unit of the French retailer, priced its offering in Sao Paulo at 15 reais, or $4.76 a share. The company and its shareholders raised about 5.12 billion reais or $1.6 billion, with the offering of about 205.8 million shares from the company, and 91.2 million shares from existing shareholders.
• Evoqua or EWT Holdings, a Pittsburgh, Penn.-based water treatment company, said it had filed confidentially for an IPO with the SEC. The company had revenue of about $1.3 billion in 2016. Pricing terms have yet to be disclosed.
• Landis+Gyr, Toshiba’s smart meters unit, has reportedly narrowed the range of its IPO to 78 to 82 Swiss francs per share, according to people with knowledge of the matter to Reuters. That’s at the high end of its previously estimated range of 70 francs to 82 francs a share, or about $73 to $85. The shares are set to be sold on the Swiss Exchange starting July 21.
• Waud Capital Partners acquired ChiroTouch, a San Diego, Calif.-based chiropractic software technology developer, from K1. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Gamut Capital Management, agreed to acquire JPW Industries, a La Vergne, Tenn.-based manufacturer, designer and distributor of machinery and equipment, from Tenex Capital Management.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• WM Partners, a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based private equity firm, raised $307 million for its first fund, HPH Specialized Fund 1, LP.
• Oak HC/FT promoted Matt Streisfeld to principal and Vignesh Chandramouli to vice president.
• Justine Mannering joined Alantra as managing director. Previously, Mannering was at BDA Partners.
• Finistere Ventures hired David Duncan as a venture partner. Previously, Duncan was at the Nidus Center.
• Broadhaven Capital Partners named Todd G. Owens as a partner. Previously, Owens was the CEO of Fifth Street Finance Corp.