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Term Sheet — Wednesday, January 17

5 Qs WITH A DEALMAKER

Krishna Yeshwant is not your typical VC. In addition to practicing internal medicine, Yeshwant is a general partner at GV (formerly Google Ventures), where he heads the Life Sciences team. His portfolio includes companies like Flatiron Health, 23andMe, and LifeMine Therapeutics.

Yeshwant was drawn to venture capital after seeing the different processes that entrepreneurs and scientists go through in order to raise money for their ventures.

“I realized that the way we finance things in science is just completely crazy,” he said. “As an entrepreneur, I was part of a team where I could write a 10-page deck and raise tens of millions of dollars. And here I was in a lab, writing hundreds of pages of grant material just to get a couple of hundreds of thousand dollars. It was just kind of backwards.”

In an interview with Term Sheet, Yeshwant discusses innovations in life sciences, artificial intelligence, and immunotherapy. Below is an excerpt of our conversation:

Tell me about your investment thesis. What do you look for in a company before investing?

YESHWANT: I think a lot of people hear the words GV or Google Ventures and think we must be investing in digital health. While we certainly do make investments in IT areas, our investment thesis is quite broad. We invest essentially in all areas of healthcare, including areas that people wouldn’t traditionally associate with GV.

We are heavily invested across therapeutics, even therapeutics that have no IT or tech component to them. We look at IT as something we can organically integrate across all of those if it makes sense for the companies. We’re investing heavily across precision medicine. We believe it’s very hard to treat a disease if you can’t understand it, so we spend a lot of time and effort thinking about the underlying components of diseases, which can include large-scale sequencing, single-cell sequencing, and disease profiling.

What are some emerging trends in the life sciences space that Term Sheet readers should be paying attention to?

YESHWANT: One area that continues to be of interest today is immunotherapy. We’re also looking at the role the immune system has on cancer. This will be a phenomenal focus for a while to come. The next interesting question coming down the pike is: We’re all focused on cancer, but what other disease indications does the immune system have a role in? For example, we haven’t spent as much thinking about how a healthy immune system engages with the neurologic system, but it clearly does have a role as we look at neurodegenerative diseases. How does it interface into the infectious disease world? I think these are phenomenally rich areas that are only minimally explored, and those will continue to open up in the coming years.

The cancer immunotherapy market is projected to reach $111.23 billion by 2021 and there’s been plenty of VC activity there lately. Why are we seeing more of that now?

YESHWANT: It’s largely because we now have the ability to profile the immune system more carefully and we have the ability to edit the cells and change them. We just didn’t have that capacity 15 years ago. Immunotherapy in itself is not a completely new thing. The concept of using the immune system as a therapeutic is not new, but our ability to use the immune system to target things we’re interested in is novel. That’s attached to the progress of sequencing technology, the ability to edit cells, and other gene editing approaches have been transformative in the immunotherapy world in recent years.

More and more companies are working on building a brain-computer interface, which would allow the mind to connect with artificial intelligence. Facebook is building a BCI that would let people type with their mind, and Elon Musk launched Neuralink to create devices that can be implanted in the brain. What do you think about the future of these innovations?

YESHWANT: I think we’ll see more of it. But we’re left with this fundamental question around how information is encoded in the brain. That is still a research question — we’re still in the early days of answering it. I think [BCI] is less likely to be an area where we see commercial successes over the coming two or three years because we still don’t have the underlying tooling. We’re still looking for some of the core breakthroughs needed to unlock this field.

What do the next 10 years look like? Will we all have brain implants and be able to edit our genes as we wish?

YESHWANT: As I look at it, I’m a fundamental believer that’s transformative in our ability to discover new therapeutics that will not just treat, but cure, a variety of diseases. It’s not going to be everything, but I think there will be a lot of cures coming down the pike. And that’s very exciting from a biological and clinical perspective, but it’s going to beg this uncomfortable question of — how do we pay for cures? Historically, we’ve charged a lot for the cures. Similar to what we’ve seen in the tech world, there will be an explosion of business models and revenue models of how we pay for these things. I think there’s a lot of entrepreneurial opportunity around it, and I certainly hope it will make the whole thing a whole lot less painful for patients.

THE LATEST FROM FORTUNE…

• These are the biggest risks for businesses in 2018, according to the WEF (by Sy Mukherjee)

• Walmart takes on the opioid crisis with a new tool that destroys drugs (by Phil Wahba)

• Miramax is in talks to buy the embattled Weinstein Co.

• Is blockchain the answer to sexual consent? (by Valentina Zarya)

…AND ELSEWHERE

Bitconnect, which has been accused of running a Ponzi scheme, shuts down. Bitcoin sinks below $10,000. How cities are trying to woo Amazon.

VENTURE DEALS

Wattpad, a Canada-based storytelling and reading/viewing app that combines crowdsourced content with professionally produced material, raised $51 million (C$61.25 million) in funding. Investors include Tencent, Kickstart Ventures, and the Peterson Group.

CircleCI, a San Francisco-based continuous integration and delivery platform, raised $31 million in Series C funding. Top Tier Capital Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Industry Ventures, Heavybit, Scale Venture Partners, Baseline Ventures, Harrison Metal, and DFJ Ventures.

Bidgely, a Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of analytics for home energy management, raised $27 million in Series C funding. Georgian Partners led the round with participation from other investors that included Khosla Ventures, E.ON, Constellation Technology Ventures and Innogy.

Usermind, a Seattle-based developer of a customer engagement hub, raised $23.5 million in Series C funding. Northgate Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Menlo Ventures and CRV.

Razorpay, an India-based payments solutions provider, raised $20 million in funding. Tiger Global and Y Combinator led the round, and were joined by investors including  Matrix Partners.

VDOO, a cybersecurity company innovating in the movement to secure the Internet of Things (IoT), raised $13 million in funding. 83North led the round, and was joined by investors including Dell Technology Capital.

Bringg, an Israel-based delivery logistics platform for businesses, raised $12 million in funding. Investors include Dr. Shmuel Harlap, Eyal Ofer and Salesforce Ventures.

Owkin, a New York-based predictive analytics company, raised $11 million in Series A funding. Otium Venture led the round, and was joined by investors including Cathay Innovation, Plug and Play and NJF Capital.

Closetbox, a Denver-based storage company, raised $7.3 million in Series A funding. The investors were not named.

Tissue Analytics, a Baltimore, Md.-based developer of a mobile app that measures chronic wounds, burns, and skin conditions, raised $5 million in Series A funding. DigiTx Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Tencent, Dreamit, Molnlycke Health Care, Intermountain Healthcare, and Penn Medicine.

Finery, a New York-based automated online wardrobe platform with predictive analytics for styling and shopping, raised $5 million in seed funding. New Enterprise Associates led the round, and was joined by investors including Farfetch, BBG Ventures, Adrian Cheng through C Ventures, Correlation Ventures, Next Coast Ventures and Halogen Ventures.

Data Nerds, a Canada-based operator of an API for real estate and property data, raised $3 million in Series A funding. Investors include Foundry Group and Techstars Ventures.

LumaTax, a Seattle and San Diego-based provider of software that streamlines sales tax reporting for small business owners , raised $3 million in funding. Cowboy Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Madrona Venture Group, Greycroft Partners and Vulcan Capital.

understand.ai, a machine-learning startup for training and validation data in autonomous vehicles, raised$ 2.8 million in seed funding. LEA Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Frontline Ventures, Synapse Partners and Agile Partners.

Hyr,  a New York-based platform that connects traditional businesses with hourly paid workers to fill shifts on-demand, raised $1.3 million in funding. Flybridge led the round, and was joined by investors including XFactor Ventures and Newark Venture Partners.

HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS

Aprinoia Therapeutics Inc, a Canada-based clinical-stage neuroscience biotech company, raised $11.1 million in Series B funding. KTB Network and DCI Partners led the round, and were joined by investors including ShangPharma Investment Group and TaiAn Technologies.

PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS

Halo Branded Solutions, a portfolio company of Audax Private Equity, acquired Caliendo-Savio Enterprises, a New Berlin, Wisc.-based provider of promotional merchandise and workwear products. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Synova Capital agreed to buy Mintec, a Czech-based provider of pricing data and intelligence for non-traded food ingredients, for an estimated £30 million ($41.3 million). Read more.

Pacific Growth Investors LLC made an investment in Originate Inc, a San Francisco-based software innovation studio. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Diversis Capital acquired Marketron, a Hailey, Idaho-based provider of revenue management and audience engagement software for media companies. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

George Industries LLC, a portfolio company of Orangewood Partners, acquired the assets of Numerical Precision, a Wheeling, Ill.-based manufacturer of components for satellites, aircraft and defense programs, from QCC.

Clearlake Capital Group LP agreed to buy Janus International Group LLC, a Temple, Ga.-based manufacturer of doors, hallway systems, locks, and interior solutions. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Omni Eye Services, a portfolio company of New MainStream Capital, acquired Phillips Eye Center, an Elmwood Park, N.J.-based provider of eye care. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

HC Private Investments acquired Kruger Plastic Products, a Bridgman, Mich.-based custom injection molding manufacturer of niche products and components. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Spectrum Equity made an investment in The Expert Institute, a New York-based online platform for law firms to find and connect with expert witness candidates. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

OTHER DEALS

Nestle (SWX:NESN) agreed to sell its U.S. confectionery business to Ferrero for $2.8 billion. Read more at Fortune.

Celgene Corp is in talks to buy Juno Therapeutics Inc (Nasdaq: JUNO), according to the Wall Street Journal. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Read more.

Grab acquired iKaaz, an India-based provider of a mobile payment platform. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Nomad Foods Limited (NYSE: NOMD) agreed to acquire Green Isle Foods Ltd, an Ireland-based frozen food producer, from a subsidiary of Boparan Holdings Ltd. for approximately €225 million ($275 million).

EXITS

Affinity Equity Partners is nearing a deal to buy Trimco International Holdings Ltd, a garment label maker, according to Bloomberg. Sellers could include Partners Group Holding AG, and a deal could value Trimco at more than $500 million. Read more.

FIRMS + FUNDS

Round Hill Music Royalty Partners, a New York-based private equity firm focused on music copyrights, raised $263 million for its second fund.

Kickstart Seed Fund, a Salt Lake City, Utah-based venture capital firm, raised $74 million for Fund IV.

PEOPLE

Insight Venture Partners appointed Anika Agarwal, Rachel Geller and Ross Devor to managing director and Matt Gatto, Kevin Hurth, Philip Vorobeychik, and Teddie Wardi to principal.

BDC Industrial, Clean and Energy Technology Fund promoted Mark Trevitt to principal.

Trident Capital Cybersecurity promoted Will Lin to principal.

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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.