Term Sheet — Friday, May 4

May 4, 2018, 1:09 PM UTC


Good morning, Term Sheet readers.

Here are some sobering numbers to wake you up on this Friday morning:

— $150 million: The Walton Family, heirs to Walmart Founder Sam Walton
— $125 million: Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp
— $100 million: Betsy DeVos & her family, Secretary of Education
— $100 million: The Cox family, owners of media properties
— $96 million: Partner Fund Management, investment management firm
— $70 million: Shareholders who invested through venture funds
— $30 million: Carlos Slim, media investor
— $25 million: Andreas Dracopoulos, Greek shipping heir
— $20: The Oppenheimer family, former owners of De Beers
— $6.2 million: Riley Bechtel, former chairman of Bechtel Corp
— $1 million: Robert Kraft, owner of New England Patriots
(*Not included: Earlier investors who invested nearly $100 million in Theranos before 2013.)

That’s a total of more than $700 million that business figures, government officials, and international magnates invested in an ambitious company promising to revolutionize blood testing. Enter Theranos.

The Wall Street Journal’s John Carreyrou got his hands on previously sealed documents that show just how much capital has sank with the Theranos ship. The documents are part of a lawsuit alleging that the company made false and misleading claims about its operations and technology while soliciting money from investors. (Theranos has denied the suit’s allegations.)

I feel uneasy every time I see a star-studded investor list for a startup that has raised hundreds of millions of dollars. The uneasy factor goes up when you realize none of the investors have deep medical or biotech expertise. Remember when GV’s Bill Maris said the firm passed on investing back in 2013 because it had a lot of questions about the company’s technology?

Maris said, "We looked at it a couple times, but there was so much hand-waving — like, Look over here!— that we couldn't figure it out. So, we just had someone from our life-science investment team go into Walgreens and take the test. And it wasn't that difficult for anyone to determine that things may not be what they seem here."

At Fortune’s 2016 Brainstorm Tech conference, TPG’s David Trujillo made the point that people were simply not doing their diligence. “It’s just taking what a management team says at face value and not being able to follow up with it,” he said. “Part of it is the competitive dynamic of sources chasing opportunity that has created companies not having to share quite as much as they would outside this bubble we’ve been in.”

The hand-waving. The trade secrets. The competitive advantage. The revolutionary technology. For years, Holmes successfully dazzled investors, reporters, and the public.

As we’ve previously noted, the notoriously private company would use the sanctity of trade secrets as an excuse to run an operation shrouded in secrecy. When hundreds of millions of dollars are on the line, however, investors should expect transparency — not slippery & confusing language masquerading as industry jargon.

I’ll leave you with this remark by a Term Sheet reader: “How are these not lessons that [Silicon Valley] should not already know? Do your diligence, understand the tech, don’t accept ‘trade secret’ BS, and check out board oversight.”

As we now know, it was a very, very expensive lesson to learn.

NEWSLETTER ALERT: The first edition of “The Ledger,” a newsletter focused on cryptocurrency and the blockchain, comes out today. Sign up at fortune.com/gettheledger.


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Freeda Media, an Italy-based media company, is raising $10 million in Series A funding. Alven Capital will lead the round, according to TechCrunch. Read more.

Loom.ai, a San Francisco-based provider of mobile solutions for building and animating personalized 3D avatars, raised $3 million in seed funding. The investor was Samsung Venture Investment Corporation.


Casma Therapeutics Inc, a Cambridge, Mass.-based biotechnology company, raised $58.5 million in Series A funding. The investor was Third Rock Ventures.


Source Capital LLC acquired M&M Refrigeration LLC, a Federalsburg, Md.-based provider of industrial refrigeration equipment and control systems for cold storage, food processing and other industrial applications. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Francisco Partners agreed to acquire Renaissance, a Wisconsin Rapids, Wisc.-based provider of pre K-12 learning analytics. The sellers include Hellman & Friedman. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Aterian Investment Partners acquired Vander-Bend Manufacturing, a San Jose, Calif.-based maker of precision products. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

HCS Capital invested $1 million in Ceptinel, a reg-tech company serving the financial industry with risk management and compliance platforms.

TPG Capital will acquire a minority stake in Rodan + Fields LLC, a San Francisco-based skincare brand. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


Vivo Energy, an Amsterdam-based petroleum firm focused on Africa, plans to raise 650 million pounds ($882.4 million) in the largest Africa-focused IPO since 2005. Vitol, Helios Investment Partners, and Shell back the firm. Read more.

Carbon Black, a Waltham, Mass.-based cloud-based security software maker, said it plans to raise $152 million in an IPO of 8 million shares priced at $19 apiece, above its $17 to $18 range. The firm posted revenue of $162 million and loss of $55.2 million in 2017. Atlas Venture (17% pre-IPO), Highland Capital Partners (14.9%), Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (8.8%), Point 406 Ventures (7.7%), and Sequoia Capital (9.9%) back the firm. Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan are underwriters in the deal. The firm plans to list on the Nasdaq as “CBLK.” Read more.

Construction Partners, a Dothan, Ala.-based road and infrastructure company, plans to raise $135 million in an IPO of 11.25 million shares priced at $12, below its previously stated range of $15 to $17 apiece. SunTx backs the firm. Baird, Raymond James, and Stephens are underwriters in the deal. The firm plans to list on the Nasdaq as “ROAD.” Read more.

Arco Educação, a Brazilian for-profit education company, plans to file for an IPO in the U.S. this year, Reuters reports citing sources. Read more.


IK Investment Partners will acquire a majority stake in Mademoiselle Desserts, a France-based company in the frozen bakery industry. Equistone Partners Europe was the seller.


Foresite Capital, a San Francisco-based healthcare and life sciences investment firm, raised $668 million for its fourth fund.

Salesforce Ventures raised $100 million for its Canada Trailblazer Fund, a fund that will invest in Canadian startups.


AJ Murphy is joining Silver Lake as a managing director. Previously, Murphy was the head of global markets at Bank of America.


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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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