Good morning, Term Sheet readers.
We now know what Garrett Camp (Expa founder; Uber co-founder) has been up to since he returned from his “eye-opening trip” to Africa in November.
My colleague Robert Hackett discovered that Camp has been sketching out plans for a new cryptocurrency called “Eco” that aims to fix challenges plaguing existing projects like Bitcoin and Ethereum. He told Fortune that he hopes to create an instant, affordable, and borderless means of payment for the masses.
From the story:
A few differentiators set the Eco protocol apart from the tech underlying other cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin. First off, Eco’s blockchain, or shared ledger system, is designed to run on “verified nodes,” rather than on the machines of an anonymous network of volunteers.
What the system loses in resilience and security, it gains in efficiency and coordinated governance. The trade-off strikes “more of a middle ground,” as Camp puts it, between decentralization (like Bitcoin) and centralization (Visa).
Garrett emphasizes the virtual currency is in the very early design stages, and the team hasn’t written much code yet. We’ll see whether the hype holds up or whether Eco, like many others, falls into crypto-land obscurity.
IN OTHER NEWS…
…. Just days after a deal had nearly fallen through and the Weinstein Company was looking to file for bankruptcy, the investor group led by Maria Contreras-Sweet swooped in with a last-minute deal. The group agreed to acquire assets of Weinstein Co. for approximately $500 million, including the assumption of $225 million in debt. Contreras-Sweet, who was the former Small Business Administration chief, promised to save 150 jobs, create a majority female board and set up a victim’s fund. Read more.
… Blackstone Group CEO and co-founder Stephen Schwarzman got paid more than $786 million for 2017. It wasn’t based on his salary, though. The bulk of Schwarzman’s payout—$661 million—came in the form of dividends from his stake in the company, of which he owns around 19%. Read more.
… Michael Dell is beginning to iron out details of a reverse merger with VMware in an effort to take Dell Technologies public again, according to CNBC. The two companies are considering an equity exchange that would combine the companies as a new publicly traded entity. Read more.
THE LATEST FROM FORTUNE…
• Bitcoin Transaction Volume Is Puzzling Investors
• How Donald Trump’s Steel and Aluminum Tariffs Could Start a Trade War (by David Meyer)
• Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey Wants the Public’s Help In Measuring Twitter’s ‘Health’ (by Jonathan Vanian)
• 5 Ways Augmented Reality Is Disrupting the Supply Chain (by Jay Samit)
• Perfect Day, a San Francisco-based producer of animal-free dairy proteins, raised $24.7 million in Series A funding. Temasek led the round, and was joined by investors including Horizons Ventures, Continental Grain, Iconiq Capital and Lion Ventures.
• Trizic, a San Francisco-based provider of digital workflow and automation technology for the wealth industry, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Sorenson Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including FIS, Freestyle Capital, Broadhaven Capital Partners, PEAK6 and Commerce Ventures.
• Scalefast, a Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based direct-to-consumer digital commerce platform for lifestyle brands, raised $8 million in Series A funding. BGV led the round, and was joined by investors including Adara Ventures, B&Y, French Partners and CIC Capital.
• Ascent Technologies, a Chicago-based regulatory technology company, raised $6 million in Series A funding. Alsop Louie Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Randall Kroszner.
• TigerWit, a financial tech firm, raised $5 million in funding. The investor was Susquehanna International Group.
• Tagnos, an Irvine, Calif.-based developer of a clinical logistics automation solution for hospitals and clinics, raised $5 million in funding. Investors include Benhamou Global Ventures, Morpheus Ventures and Zebra Ventures.
• TickX, a U.K.-based search engine and discovery platform for events and attractions tickets, raised £3 million ($4.1 million) in Series A funding. BGF Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Ministry of Sound and 24Haymarket.
• Saturas Ltd, an Israel-based agricultural startup, raised $4 million in funding. Investors include Hubei Forbon Technology Co. Ltd, Gefen Capital and Ramat Magshimim.
• EnsoData, a Madison, Wisc.-based healthcare artificial intelligence company, raised $1.5 million in seed funding. Colle Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including HealthX Ventures, Sternhill Associates, Wisconsin Investment Partners, and M25 Group.
• FreshAddress, a Newton, Massachusetts-based email marketing database services provider, raised funding of an undisclosed amount from TZP Growth Partners.
HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
• Helix, a provider of DNA-powered products, raised $200 million in Series B funding. DFJ Growth led the round, and was joined by investors including Illumina, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Mayo Clinic, Sutter Hill Ventures and Warburg Pincus.
• Rubius Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based creator of cellular therapies, raised $100 million in funding. The investors were not named.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Platinum Equity acquired Highway Toll Administration LLC, a Roslyn Heights, N.Y.-based provider of electronic toll collection and violation management solutions for fleets. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Platinum Equity is merging HTA with portfolio company American Traffic Solutions‘ fleet services unit.
• Abris Capital Partners agreed to acquire a majority stake in Velvet Care, a Poland-based maker of personal hygiene products. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Carlyle Group made an investment in CFGI, a Boston-based provider of technical accounting and finance advisory services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Pamlico Capital made a growth equity investment in Silverline, a New York City-based Salesforce platinum consulting partner. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
Tribus Aerospace LLC acquired Precision Aerospace Corp, a Kirkland, Wash.-based manufacturer and designer of aircraft components, and Precision Micro Mill LLC, a captive contract manufacturer to PAC specializing in small volume, short lead time parts. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Shore Capital Partners acquired Network Medical Products, a U.K.-based developer of surgical products. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• MTN Nigeria, the country’s largest telecom provider, is seeking a $400 million IPO in Nigeria, Reuters reports citing documents. Read more.
• Helios Towers Africa, a telecom tower operator on the continent, is seeking an IPO in London and Johannesburg, coming early April, Bloomberg reports. The listing comes as Soros Fund Management reduces its stake in the firm. The company plans to offer 25% of shares at minimum. Read more.
• An investor group led by Bernhard Capital acquired W.A. Chester, a Lanham, Md.-based electrical contractor for installation, maintenance and repair of underground high voltage cable transmission and distribution systems, from Exelon Corp. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Paychex Inc acquired Lessor Group, a Denmark-based provider of payroll and human capital management. software solutions. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Lessor was owned by Axcel.
• Argonaut Private Equity sold Falcon Flowback Services LLC, an Oklahoma City, Okla.-based provider of flowback and well testing services, to Oil States International Inc. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.