Good morning, Term Sheet readers.
2018 is off to a fast start and the theme appears to be “Go Big.”
BIGGER ICOs: Let’s start with crypto. Some of you cringe when you hear “Initial Coin Offerings,” but it doesn’t appear they’re going away anytime soon.
Telegram, an encrypted messaging company, plans to launch its own blockchain platform and native cryptocurrency, according to TechCrunch. To fund the launch, the company will attempt to conduct one of the largest ICOs to date.
Note that time it really may be different. Telegram is a real platform with 180 million users — not just a white-paper filled with audacious promises. The company is reportedly raising as much as $500 million in the pre-ICO sale. The potential total token value lies between $3 billion and $5 billion. This would make Telegram’s fundraise larger than Tezos’s ICO, which raised more than $200 million in four days.
What’s in it for investors, you may ask? As I wrote previously, it’s all about profits and liquidity. Crypto investors have made significant returns, with faster liquidity, compared to the traditional IPO or acquisition. That is, only if they can stomach the risk.
BIGGER FUNDS: General Catalyst is raising $1 billion for its largest fund ever. Fund IX will combine several strategies under one roof, according to the Wall Street Journal. Expect to see many more mega-funds in the coming year.
Sequoia Capital is also in the early stages of launching a mega-fund — theirs will be $5 billion or more. 8VC is also reportedly targeting $600 million for its second fund. Although these funds would pale in comparison to SoftBank’s $100 billion Vision Fund, the overall trend is up and to the right.
This begs the question — what kinds of bombshell figures will other large VC firms target in order to keep up? This sentence from the WSJ story sums it up nicely: Many limited partners fret over the lack of liquidity in venture capital, as few startups go public or get acquired, but they continue investing in venture funds at a fast pace.
BIGGER DEALS: While companies and funds are raising larger dollar amounts, it will be important that exit amounts continue to rise as well. Lucky for the life sciences sector, 2018 is starting with a bang. Just today, there are two notable deals I want to put on your radar.
Celgene agreed to acquire Impact Biomedicines, a San Diego, Calif.-based developer of cancer treatments, for as much as $7 billion. Impact Biomedicines had raised approximately $112 million in venture funding from investors including Oberland Capital and Medicxi Ventures.
Secondly, Acorda Therapeutics Inc, a biopharmaceutical company with a market value of $970 million, is exploring a potential sale.
These two mega-deals aren’t outliers. According to PwC, deal activity in pharma & life sciences is likely to increase going forward. This is driven by potential for policy reform, more private equity interest in the sector, and the repatriation of overseas cash. “While debt markets may soften, robust deal funding will persist due to strong domestic and international cash balances,” according to the report.
PS: Georgia and Alabama face off tonight in the College Football Playoff National Championship. So to my fellow Bulldog Term Sheet readers, I say Go Dawgs. To the Alabama fans — please try to keep the Roll Tide gifs you send to a minimum.
THE LATEST FROM FORTUNE…
• Nvidia is teaming up with Aurora, Baidu & Uber to build next gen self-driving cars (by Kirsten Korosec)
• The 100 companies leading the way in A.I. (by Nicolas Rapp & Brian O’Keefe)
• Humanoid robot Sophia is learning to walk (by Kirsten Korosec)
• Technology is everywhere. Tech jobs? Not so much. (by Vauhini Vara)
Steve Bannon says sorry. Jared Kushner’s financial ties to Israel deepen. Google said it sold ‘tens of millions’ of home devices over the last year. GoPro is cutting 250 jobs.
• Collibra, a New York-based provider of enterprise data governance and catalog software, raised $58 million in Series D funding. Investors include ICONIQ Capital, Battery Ventures, Dawn Capital, Index Ventures and Newion Investments.
• BaishanCloud, a China-based provider of cloud data services, raised $50 million in Series C funding. Alpha Capital and Chunjia Capital led the round.
• Element Analytics, a San Francisco-based developer of analytics data management and integration software for industrial companies, raised $19.5 million in Series A funding. Investors include GE Ventures, Honeywell Ventures, ABB Technology Ventures, Mitsui & Co., Ltd., Aster and Blue Bear Capital, and Kleiner Perkins Green Growth Fund.
• StrongAuth, Inc, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based developer of enterprise key management solutions, raised $10 million in Series A funding. The investor was Systena Corp.
• Drop, a Dublin-based smart kitchen company, raised $8 million in Series A funding. Alsop Louie Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Frontline Ventures, Ross Lewis, and Domini Kemp.
• Finmkt, a New York-based provider of technology and infrastructure for the online lending industry, raised $5 million in funding. ManchesterStory Group led the round, and was joined by investors including West Loop Ventures, Perot Jain LP, and Vectr Ventures.
HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
• Immusoft, a Seattle-based gene therapy company, raised $3 million in Series B funding. 600 Mile Challenge Fund led the round.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Edward Don & Company, which is backed by Vestar Capital Partners, acquired Smith & Greene Company, a Kent, Wash.-based provider of food service equipment, supplies and design-build services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Align Capital Partners completed the majority recapitalization of International Systems of America, a Louisville, Ky.-based fire and life safety company, from Gen Cap America. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Valentus Specialty Chemicals, which is backed by Huron Capital, acquired US Coatings Inc, a St. Louis, Mo.-based provider of protective maintenance coatings for industrial, petrochemical, and oil and gas facility maintenance applications. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Marco Group International, a portfolio company of The CapStreet Group, acquired JAD Equipment Co, a Youngstown, Ohio-based distributor of surface preparation equipment and consumables. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Crown Laboratories, Inc, a Hildred Capital Partners portfolio company, acquired Vita Liberata, an Ireland-based company with advanced organic formulations, specializing in sunless tanning and skincare products. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Apex Group Ltd, Genstar Capital, and SALU Capital acquired M.M.Warburg & CO’s asset management and servicing business in Luxembourg. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Kunlun Group Limited acquired the remaining stake of Grindr LLC, a West Hollywood, Calif.-based LGBTQ mobile social network. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Iron Horse Acquisition, a New York City-based blank check company, filed for a $500 million IPO. Cerberus Capital Management executives formed the company. Citigroup and Goldman Sachs are underwriters in the deal. Iron Horse plans to list on the NYSE as “LOU.U.”
• Accruent acquired Kykloud, a U.K.-based provider of facility and asset surveying and management software. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Kykloud had raised approximately $1.6 million in venture funding from investors including Northstar Ventures.
• Hammond, Kennedy, Whitney & Company Inc sold Health Resources Inc, an Evansville, Indiana-based provider of dental benefit programs to employers in Indiana and Kentucky. The buyer was Paramount Health. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Audax Private Equity agreed to buy Corsearch, a New York-based developer and provider of clearance and protection software solutions. Wolters Kluwer N.V. is the seller. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• Centerfield Capital Partners, an Indianapolis-based private equity firm, raised $310 million for its fund, Centerfield Capital Partners IV, L.P.
• The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance is pooling $200 million in a new mobility tech fund, according to Reuters. Read more.
• Kazuki Kusaka joined MTS Health Partners as a partner. Previously, Kusaka was at Lazard.
• TA Associates promoted Patrick Sader to managing director and Max Cancre, John DiCola, Lovisa Lander, Alex Melamud and Amara Suebsaeng to senior vice president.
• VMG Partners promoted Robin Tsai to managing director.
• Peter Wood joined Aurelius Equity Opportunities SE & Co. as a principal.