Good morning, Term Sheet readers.
It’s been a tumultuous few months for Blue Apron since its public debut in June. Blue Apron’s stock is down almost 50% since its IPO, and it’s struggling to hold on to its unicorn status. The company is now laying off 6% of its employees, or approximately 300 people, across its fulfillment centers and corporate offices. Blue Apron CEO Matt Salzberg described the layoffs as a “company-wide realignment,” in an email to the staff.
Although it’s easy to blame the all-powerful Amazon for rattling the newly-public company, Blue Apron has had a host of other issues that have nothing to do with Amazon. It encountered warehouse delays and employee training problems, some of which caused late delivery and wrong ingredients. In a domino-like effect, Blue Apron then ran into significant challenges around acquiring and retaining customers. It’s not easy being public. Read more at Fortune.
Here’s some more termination news from the last few days:
• ‘Performance-related’: Tesla dismissed an estimated 400 to 700 employees for poor performance, the company said. But reports emerged contradicting the claim that employees were fired following their annual performance reviews. A new report from CNBC suggests that some employees were terminated without being told of performance issues; that some had previously scored very highly on performance; and that many were “generally the highest paid in their position.” In other words, CNBC’s sources claim that the company is trying to disguise layoffs by calling the widespread terminations “performance-related.” More here.
• ‘Unfortunate, but necessary’: Blue Apron may have had a tough few months, but SeaWorld has had a tough few years. To cut costs, the theme park and entertainment company is laying off 350 workers as a result of low park attendance. SeaWorld’s attendance for the first half of 2017 decreased by approximately 353,000 guests compared to the first half of 2016. SeaWorld hasn’t quite been able to recover after the release of ‘Blackfish,’ a 2013 documentary about the company’s treatment of its killer whales.
And it’s not just the industry giants that are struggling.
• ‘We have run out of time’: Jinn, a London-based on-demand delivery startup, shut its doors and let go its 15 remaining employees, according to TechCrunch. The company reportedly met with three food delivery rivals in hopes to strike a potential acquisition deal, but ran out of time to sell itself. Jinn had raised more than $19 million in venture funding from investors including Bull Partners, JXC Ventures, and Samaipata Ventures.
• ‘Very proud of what we achieved’: Atlas Informatics, a Seattle-based developer of an encrypted personal search engine, has pulled the plug. Led by Napster co-founder Jordan Ritter, the startup created a tool that would help users quickly locate information within files, emails, and other sources. It raised more than $20 million in venture funding from investors including Microsoft and Aspect Ventures. The reason for the shutdown is unclear, but the company says it is ‘very proud of of what we achieved.’
HATS & HOT DOGS: If I’ve successfully depressed you, here’s something fun — or more depressing, depending on how you look at it. Tech companies are getting creative. In a fundraising effort, Elon Musk is now selling $20 hats with The Boring Company logo. But my personal favorite is Snap’s $80 dancing hot dog Halloween costume. Jeff Jordan’s words about Snap CEO Evan Spiegel still ring in my ear: “I think Evan [Spiegel] is showing to be one of the best product builders of his generation in the Valley.” He adds: “I think he’s creative enough to continue to put out some interesting things.” Enter dancing hot dog.
MarketWatch’s tech editor sums up today’s theme pretty nicely with this tweet, “Blue Apron is laying people off, and Snap is resorting to hot dog costumes for extra revenue. Been a great year for tech IPOs, guys.”
HOT TAKE: This week’s question is: What applications in the field of artificial intelligence are you most excited about?
THE LATEST FROM FORTUNE…
• The Fortune Future 50 List is out (by Martin Reeves)
• HPE launches $2 billion stock buyback plan this year (by Barb Darrow)
• How CEO Marc Benioff drives relentless forward thinking at Salesforce (by Adam Lashinsky)
• Why Cindy Crawford became an entrepreneur (by Andrew Nusca)
• What the heck is going on with Obamacare? A guide for the confused (by Sy Mukherjee)
The secretive family making billions from the opioid crisis. Investors don’t care about backlash against Big Tech. American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault to step down. One of the biggest ICOs crashes before it even launched. Puerto Rico faces a demographic disaster.
• GuiaBolso, a Brazil-based personal finance management platform, raised $39 million in funding. Vostok Emerging Finance led the round, and was joined by investors including Ribbit Capital, IFC, QED Investors, Endeavor Catalyst and Omidyar Network.
• Movinga, a Germany-based platform for house removals, raised funding up to €22 million ($26 million), according to TechCrunch. Santo Venture Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Earlybird Venture Capital and Rocket Internet. Read more.
• Mya Systems, a San Francisco-based developer of an AI-recruiter, raised $18 million in Series B funding. Foundation Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Emergence Capital.
• Hiya, a Seattle-based provider of caller profile products, raised $18 million in Series A funding. Balderton Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Nautilus Venture Partners and Lumia Capital.
• Veo Robotics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based company creating intelligent, human-aware systems for industrial robotics, raised $12 million in Series A funding. Lux Capital and GV led the round, and were joined by investors including Next47.
• PayKey, an Israel-based fintech startup bridging the gap between banking and social, raised $10 million in Series B funding. MizMaa led the round, and was joined by investors including SBI Group, Digital Ventures, SixThirty, Fintech71, and The FinLab.
• BaseHealth, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based developer of an integrated health management platform, raised $8.5 million in Series C funding. HBM Healthcare Investments led the round.
• LevelTen Energy, a Seattle-based electric utility company, raised $6.8 million in funding. Investors include Prelude Ventures, Techstars Venture Capital Fund, Founders’ Coop, Wireframe Ventures, Element 8 Fund and Avista Development.
• Snaps, a New York-based conversational marketing platform for consumer brands, raised $6 million in Series A funding. Investors include Signal Peak Ventures.
• Bespoke Post, a New York City-based e-commerce service, raised $6 million in Series A funding. Investors include Walden VC, Scout Ventures and Kiwi Venture Partners.
• Equinom, an Israel-based technology seed breeding company focused on the development of specialized crops for the food industry, raised $4 million in funding from Fortissimo Capital.
• Honcker, a New York-based car leasing marketplace, raised $3.6 million in seed funding. Evolution Corporate Advisors led the round, and was joined by investors including Lead Edge Capital.
• Feather, a New York-based furniture rental company, raised $3.5 million in funding. Kleiner Perkins and Bain Capital Ventures led the round.
• Fluent City, a New York-based provider of language training programs, raised $3 million in funding. Lerner Enterprises led the round, and was joined by investors including New Ground Ventures, ZG Ventures and WorldQuant Ventures.
• NeuroFlow, a Philadelphia-based digital health provider that analyzes real-time biometric data for mental health and performance applications, raised $1.25 million in seed funding. Investors include Safeguard Scientifics, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania and Independence Health Group.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• FirstLight, which is backed by Oak Hill Capital Partners, acquired 186 Communications, a Nashua, N.H.-based operator of a fiber optic network. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Investcorp agreed to acquire Kee Safety, a U.K.-based provider of fall protection solutions. The deal is valued at $370 million.
• Topspin Partners made an investment of an undisclosed amount in Bear Down Brands, a Santa Ana, Calif.-based developer and marketer of branded home, health and wellness products.
• Evoqua or EWT Holdings, a Pittsburgh, Penn.-based water treatment company, said it plans to raise $500 million in an IPO of 27.8 million shares(70% insider) between $17 to $19 a piece. The company had revenue of about $1.2 billion in the 12 months ending September 2016, with loss of $86.1 million. AEA Investors(58.5% pre-offering), British Columbia Investment Management Corporation(11.2%), Temasek Holdings(7.7%), and Pictet Private Equity Investors(9.4%) back the company. Credit Suisse and J.P. Morgan are underwriters in the deal. The company plans to list as “AQUA.”
• MongoDB, a New York-based cloud company, raised $192 million in an offering of 8 million shares at $24 a piece, above its range of $20 to $22. In 2016, the company posted revenue of $101.4 million and loss of $86.7 million. The company, which is valued at about $1.6 billion, is backed by investors including Sequoia Capital(16.9% pre-offering), Flybridge Capital(11.6%), Union Square Ventures(9.7%) and NEA(7.2%). MongoDB serves clients including Adobe, eBay, and Citigroup. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Allen & Company, Stifel, Canaccord Genuity, and JMP Securities are named underwriters in the deal. The company plans to list on the Nasdaq as “MDB.”
• SendGrid, a Denver, Colo.-based email marketing company, filed for an $100 million IPO. In 2016, the company posted loss of $3.9 million on revenue of $79.9 million. Bain Capital(7%), Bessemer Venture Capital(22.5%), Foundry Group Funds(29.6%), and Highway 12 Ventures(13.9%) back the company. Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan are joint bookrunners in the deal. The company plans to list on the NYSE as “SEND.”
• ACM Research, a Fremont, Calif.-based semiconductor cleaner, said it plans to raise $17 million in an offering of 2 million shares between $7.50 to $9.50 a piece. The company posted revenue of $27.4 million and income of $1 million. Shanghai Science and Technology Venture Capital Co. (18.2% pre-offering), Pudong Science and Technology(12.2%), H.L. Hsieh(10.9%), and Zhangjiang AJ (8.6%) back the company. Roth Capital is bookrunner in the deal. The company plans to list as “ACMR.”
• RWS agreed to acquire Moravia, a Czech Republic-based globalization solutions provider. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Moravia was backed by Clarion Capital Partners.
• L Catterton sold Ferrara Candy Company, an Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based non-chocolate confectionary company, to the Ferrero Group. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• AEA Investors agreed to acquire Excelitas Technologies, a Waltham, Mass.-based provider of photonics technology solutions. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Excelitas was backed by Veritas Capital.
• ASSA ABLOY agreed to acquire August Home, a San Francisco-based smart lock business. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. August Home had raised approximately $73 million in venture funding from investors including Bessemer Venture Partners, Rho Ventures, Cowboy Ventures, and SoftTech VC.
• Cisco agreed to acquire Perspica, a San Jose, Calif.-based artificial intelligence powered analytics company. Cisco intends to fold Perspica’s team into AppDynamics. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Perspica had raised approximately $8.5 million in venture funding from investors including The Hive, The Fabric, and March Capital Partners.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• The Halifax Group, a Washington D.C.-based private equity firm, raised $650 million for its latest fund, Halifax Capital Partners IV LP.
• Owl Ventures, a San Francisco-based investor in education technology, raised $185 million for its second fund.
• Tom Willerer will join Venrock as a partner. Previously, Willerer was the chief product officer at Coursera.
• Dan Gaspar joined TZP Group as a partner. Previously, Gaspar was at High Road Capital Partners.
• Comcast Ventures named Gil Beyda as a managing director and promoted Daniel Gulati to partner.
• Miguel Roman joined Cowen’s investment banking team as a managing director. Previously, Roman was at RBC Capital Markets.
• Suzanne Brenner joined Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. as a managing director and chief investment officer and Donald Hardie joined as managing director and portfolio manager.