Term Sheet — Wednesday, August 16

August 16, 2017, 2:38 PM UTC


$12 BILLION: Thanks to SoftBank’s gigantic pile of Vision money, there is an actual scenario where Travis Kalanick could conceivably return to Uber. Bloomberg reports that the company is in talks with SoftBank, General Atlantic, Didi and Dragoneer to raise as much as $1 billion to $1.5 billion in new funding, alongside another $2 billion to $10 billion in secondary funding. This could be used to buy out at least some of the stock from disgruntled shareholders like Benchmark and other early investors who no want to dive off this ship before it sinks any further. Er, I mean, “lock in gains.” (Read all about the complications and the board battles this deal would cause here.)

Setting aside whether or not I think Kalanick should be allowed to return to the company, I’m most curious about whether any of the secondary stock will allow employees to cash out. There is huge demand for liquidity from them, even at a lower valuation than Uber’s latest one, one investor I spoke with noted.

Uber is famous for paying lower salaries and making up for it in stock. It’s also famous for not allowing those employees to sell any shares. It doesn’t even allow them to use services that make loans in exchange for shares. Until very recently, Uber had a very strict 90-day policy for employees who leave to exercise their options. In other words, many of them were sitting on huge paper gains and can’t afford pay the taxes on them if they leave. They were “handcuffed to Uber.” In May the company extended that to seven years for employees with three years at Uber. (This item has been updated to include Uber's change in policy.) 

More progressive companies like Pinterest and Airbnb allow their employees to wait many years to exercise their options.

Will a secondary sale cause an employee exodus? Maybe! But Uber still has a toxic culture problem on its hands, and the company could stand to clean house. Meanwhile, it doesn’t hurt to show the employees that it wants to keep that it values them for sticking with it through all this turmoil.

PR VC: There are so many classic “signs we’re in a bubble” tropes. One is “equity swaps,” where agencies (advertising, consulting, development, PR, etc.) accept startup equity for their work instead of fees. You can see how, in a bubble scenario, that might end badly.

But this time around, they’re being a bit smarter about it and raising separate funds. Tusk Ventures is one example. Now Derris, a well-known PR firm in New York, is another. The firm raised $10 million from Local Rich Man Stephen Ross to invest in the startups it works with (and ones it can’t). More details below.

HYPE: Gartner released its emerging tech hype cycle this morning. Connected homes and machine learning are at the peak and blockchain is already on its way down. Smart dust is ascending.

TRADITION: It’s to dust off the semi-regular “Mashable is for sale” story! It ran in 2012 (price tag: $200 million), and again in 2015 (price tag: $300 million). This time around, reports have not listed a price tag. The company recently did that whole “pivot to video” thing that’s popular in media.  (See more below.)


Trump vs. Amazon.

Riding the fizzy water wave.

Fiat Chrysler, BMW join autonomous alliance.

A new board leader for Wells Fargo.

Why Amazon wins even when you watch Hulu live TV.


Anti-tourism marches in Europe. Americans love ordering pizza on Facebook. Texts between Travis Kalanick and Anthony Levandowski. The new innovator’s dilemma: When customers won’t pay for better. Self-driving car test drivers are dressing as car seats. David Sacks is into cryptocurrency. An unequivocal boost to white supremacists. Shervin vs. Arianna.


Uber Technologies Inc, a San Francisco-based ride-hailing company, is in exclusive talks to raise as much as $12 billion, according to Bloomberg. Approximately $1 to $1.5 billion of the offers would be primary offers for new equity, and $2 to $10 billion would be for secondary shares. Investors could include SoftBank Group, Didi Chuxing, Dragoneer Investment Group, and General Atlantic. Read more at Fortune.

China Unicom, a China-based telecom company, is raising $11.7 billion from investors including Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings, according to Reuters. Read more.

Options, a provider of cloud-enabled managed services with offices in London and New York, raised $100 million from Bregal Sagemount.

CellSavers, a San Francisco-based instant services company for smart devices that rebranded as Puls, raised $25 million in funding. Red Dot Capital Partners led the round, and was joined by Samsung NEXT, Maverick Ventures, Kreos Capital Sequoia Capital and Carmel Ventures.

Artemis Health, a Salt Lake City, Utah-based health data analytics company, raised $16 million in Series B funding. F-Prime Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Maverick Ventures and Kickstart Seed Fund.

Respond Software, a Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of automated cyber security threat protection, raised $12 million in Series A funding. CRV and Foundation Capital led the round.

SnapApp, a Boston-based provider of a SaaS platform for business-to-business marketers, raised $10.2 million in Series B funding from Providence Strategic Growth.

Phil Inc., a San Francisco-based end-to-end prescription management and delivery service connecting patients with local pharmacies, raised $10 million in funding. Crosslink Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Eniac Ventures, Softtech VC, Forerunner Ventures, SV Angel, Silicon Valley Bank, and Transmedia Capital.

Altaeros, a Somerville, Mass.-based developer of wind turbine technology, raised $7.5 million in funding from SoftBank.

OneSignal, a Santa Clara-based mobile application solutions provider, raised $7 million in Series A funding, according to TechCrunch. SignalFire led the round. Read more.

Minibar Delivery, a New York-based marketplace for wine, beer and spirits, raised $5 million in funding. Corigin Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Female Founders Fund, Winklevoss Capital, LaunchCapital and RiverPark Ventures.

Lightneer, a Finland-based learning game studio, raised $5 million in funding. GSV Acceleration led the round, and was joined by investors including IPR.VC, Brighteye VC and Reach Capital.

GeoTix, a Traverse City, Mich.-based provider of SaaS solutions that generate non-advertising revenue streams for media companies, raised $1 million in funding from Boomerang-Catapult and Casey Cowell.


CureMatch, a San Diego, Calif.-based digital health company focused on personalized medicine and combination therapy in oncology, raised funding of an undisclosed amount from investors including Serra Ventures.


KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc agreed to buy Cain Brothers & Company, a New York City-based healthcare-focused M&A investment firm. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

An investor group led by Weller Equity Partners acquired a majority stake in Vogt Ice, a Louisville, Ky.-based ice equipment provider. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Blackstone Group has pulled out of discussions to buy part of Israeli mobile surveillance software maker NSO Group, according to Reuters. Read more.

ESolutions, a portfolio company of Francisco Partners, acquired RemitDATA Inc, a Memphis, Tenn.-based healthcare technology company. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

The Results Companies, a portfolio company of One Equity Partners, acquired USA800, a Kansas City, Mo.-based employee-owned call center services business. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Mercer Advisors Inc, a portfolio company of Genstar Capital, acquired Blue Moon Wealth Advisory LLC, a Bellevue, Wash.-based provider of financial planning and investment management services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Rotunda Capital Partners acquired IF&P Foods, LLC, an Indianapolis-based produce distributor. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.


Boulevard Acquisition Corp II, a blank check company from Avenue Capital Group, is combining with Estre Ambiental SA, a Brazil-based environmental services company, to form a public company with an initial enterprise value of $1.1 billion. Existing Estre shareholders will own 43% of the public company, while existing Boulevard stockholders will own the rest.

Air Berlin (XFTRA:AB1) filed for bankruptcy protection after shareholder Etihad Airways withdrew funding following years of losses, according to Reuters. Read more.

Mashable Inc, a New York-based online news company, is exploring strategic options including the sale of all or part of company, according to Bloomberg. Mashable had raised approximately $46 million in venture funding from investors including Turner Broadcasting, Time Warner Investments, and Tribune Digital Ventures.

LPL Financial acquired National Planning Holdings, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based broker-dealer network, for at least $325 million.

Microsoft acquired Cycle Computing, a Stamford, Conn.-based provider of software tools and solutions for computation and data management. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Imperial Holdings acquired Pentagon Motor Holdings, a U.K.-based automotive dealer group for 493 million rand ($36.97 million), according to Reuters. Read more.


Zai Lab, a biotech based out of Shanghai, China, filed for an IPO Tuesday. The company says it plans to raise up to $115 million in an offering of ADSs. The company, which focuses on autoimmune diseases, lost $37.5 million in 2016 and has yet to post a revenue. Backed backed by QM 11 (25.3% pre-offering), the biotech is also partly owned by Maxway Investment(16.6%), The Z Trust (9.6%), Sequoia Capital (9.6%), and Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (9.3%). J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, and Leerink Partners are named underwriters. Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed.

MongoDB, a New York-based cloud company, has filed confidentially for an IPO, according TechCrunch sources. The company, which is valued at about $1.6 billion, is backed by investors including Sequoia Capital, Intel Capital, and NEA. MongoDB serves clients including Adobe, eBay, and Citigroup.

JBS, the world’s largest meatpacker, is continuing with a listing of its U.S.-based unit in New York, Reuters reports. The company previously considered suspending the plans after a corruption scandal, but has decided to proceed on the $1 billion IPO when the conditions are right. The IPO could come at the end of next year.


Ares Management LP is buying DuPage Medical Group, a Downers Grove, Ill.-based multi-specialty physician group, in a deal valued at $1.45 billion. Sellers include Summit Partners.

O2COOL, which is backed by LKCM Headwater Investments, acquired Bobble, a Shelby, N.C-.based provider of reusable drinkware. The seller was Unilever subsidiary Seventh Generation Inc. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Workday acquired the team behind Pattern, a Redwood City, Calif.-based financial management and HR software vendor. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Pattern had raised approximately $2.5 million in venture capital from investors including Felicis Ventures, First Round Capital, and SoftTech VC.

Wynnchurch Capital sold Senco Brands Inc, a Cincinnati-based maker of fasteners and tools for the powered fastening industry, to Kyocera Corp. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Netservice acquired Mixpo, a Seattle-based provider of video advertising solutions. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Mixpo raised more than $10 million in venture funding from investors including GrowthWorks Capital, Madrona Venture Group, and Yaletown Partners.

Credit Suisse Asset Management’s NEXT Investors sold FastMatch, a New York-based electronic communication network in the spot foreign exchange market. The buyer was Euronext. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Summit Park sold its portfolio company Control Company, a Webster, Texas provider of private label and branded lab equipment, to Cole-Parmer. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.


Charlesbank Capital Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm, is seeking to raise up to $2.75 billion for its ninth fund, Charlesbank Equity Fund IX LP, according to The Wall Street Journal. Read more.

Calera Capital Partners, a Boston and San Francisco-based private equity firm, raised more than $330 million for its fifth fund, according to an SEC filing.

The AI Fund has set out to raise a $150 million venture fund, according to an SEC filing. The fund is being managed by Andrew Ng, co-founder of Coursera.

645 Ventures, a New York-based venture capital firm, filed to raise $30 million for its second fund, according to an SEC document.

Derris, a New York-based PR, branding, and content agency, raised $10 million, according to Recode. Read more.


Nicole Sanchez joins XFactor Ventures as an investment partner. Previously, Sanchez was the CEO of Credit Hero.

Brian Little joined Duff & Phelps as a managing director in the consumer, food, restaurant and retail M&A advisory practice. Previously, Little was at Imperial Capital.

Angeles Equity Partners LLC hired Maxwell Schechter as vice president of business development and James Lee and Shan Siddiqui as associates. Previously, Schechter was at Lindsay Goldberg, Lee was at Jefferies, and Siddiqui was at Credit Suisse.


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Polina Marinova produces Term Sheet, and Lucinda Shen compiles the IPO news. Send deal announcements to Polina here and IPO news to Lucinda here.

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