Good morning, Term Sheet readers.
A few readers have asked me why I sometimes write about cryptocurrencies and the blockchain. (Cheers to the Term Sheet reader who said: “I’m tired of this crap.”) While I empathize with that sentiment, here’s the reason: Traditional venture capitalists are watching the space closely and many partners have been incredibly thoughtful about making their crypto play (see: Venrock).
But another reason is that this space is getting bigger, blockchain-focused companies are raising serious amounts of capital (yes, through traditional VC rounds), and some startups are quietly turning into unicorns.
While no one was looking, Circle raised $110 million in funding at a nearly $3 billion valuation — that’s more than six times what it was worth in 2016. The deal comes just a few months after Circle purchased Poloniex, a Boston-based cryptocurrency exchange, for roughly $400 million. Bitmain, the biggest Bitcoin mining company in China, led the round, and was joined by investors including IDG Capital, Breyer Capital, General Catalyst, Accel, Digital Currency Group, Pantera, Blockchain Capital, and Tusk Ventures.
As my colleague Robert Hackett notes, the investment has linked two of the biggest cryptocurrency companies from the world’s two biggest markets.
IN OTHER RELATED NEWS: CityBlock Capital is a New York City-based venture capital platform issuing security tokens backed by equity in startups. It announced today NYCQ, a $20 million tokenized venture fund for investment into NYC startups. The company will source capital globally and allocate it to local investors. “Startups are seeking access to capital markets earlier in their life-cycles through token offerings, and there’s increased demand for liquidity among institutional investors,” said managing partner Rob Nance.
What is a tokenized venture fund, you may ask? Stay tuned as I will be publishing an explainer to tokenized securities & what they mean for venture capital and private equity this Friday.
IN OTHER UNRELATED NEWS: In a record NFL deal, hedge fund manager David Tepper has agreed to buy the Carolina Panthers from team founder Jerry Richardson, for a whopping $2.2 billion. The price tag is the most ever paid for an NFL franchise, eclipsing the $1.4 billion the Pegula family paid to purchase the Buffalo Bills in 2014. Read more.
THE LATEST FROM FORTUNE…
• The Supreme Court Killed a Prohibition on Sports Betting. Now Let the Mergers Begin
• SoftBank’s Founder Has Plans for Another Ginormous Tech Investment Fund
• Air France-KLM Thinks Having 3(!) CEOs Is a Great Idea (by David Meyer)
• Lyft Follows Uber in Ending Forced Arbitration For Sexual Harassment Claims (by Kirsten Korosec)
• Lulus, a Chico, Calif.-based digitally native apparel brand for women, raised $120 million in funding from IVP.
• Auth0, a Bellevue, Wash.-based Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) company, raised $55 million in Series D funding. Sapphire Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including World Innovation Lab, Bessemer Venture Partners, Trinity Ventures, Meritech Capital Partners, and K9 Ventures.
• MemSQL, a San Francisco-based provider of real-time databases for transactions and analytics, raised $30 million in Series D funding. Investors include GV, Glynn Capital, Accel, Caffeinated Capital, Data Collective, and IA Ventures.
• Aircall, a Paris-based provider of software for startups and small businesses, raised $29 million in Series B funding. Draper Esprit led the round, and was joined by investors including Balderton Capital, NextWorld Capital, eFounders, and Newfund.
• simplesurance, a Berlin-based smart insurance services platform provider, raised $24 million in Series C funding. Allianz led the round, and was joined by investors including Rheingau Founders and Rakuten Capital.
• Vesper, a Boston-based advanced sensor company, raised $23 million in Series B funding. American Family Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Accomplice, Amazon Alexa Fund, Baidu, Bose Ventures, Hyperplane, Sands Capital, Shure, Synaptics and ZZ Capital.
• KeyedIn, a Minneapolis-based provider of project management software, raised $15 million in Series C funding. Arrowroot Capital led the round.
• BriteCore, a Springfield, Mo.-based insurance software company, raised $13 million in funding from Radian Capital.
• Alloy.ai, a digital supply chain platform that connects consumer goods companies directly to end-consumer demand, raised $12 million in Series A funding. Menlo Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including 8VC.
• Beautiful.AI, a San Francisco, Calif.-based company that uses artificial intelligence to automate the visual design process, raised $11 million in Series B funding. Trinity Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Shasta Ventures and First Round Capital.
• PriorAuthNow, a Columbus, Ohio-based platform for connecting the healthcare landscape using automated prior authorization solutions, raised $10.5 million in Series A funding. BIP Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including NCT Ventures and Detroit Venture Partners.
• ShotTracker, a Merriam, Kansas-based basketball technology that captures stats and analytics in real-time, raised $10.4 million in Series A funding. Ward.Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Greycroft, Elysian Ventures, KC Rise Fund, Irish Angels and SeventySix Capital.
• BrainQ, an Israel-based digital therapeutics company, raised $8.8 million in funding. Investors included Qure Ventures, OurCrowd.com, Norma Investments and IT-Farm.
• DashDash, a Berlin-based developer of software solution that enables its users to create web apps, raised $8 million in Series A funding. Accel led the round, and was joined by investors including Cherry Ventures and Atlantic Labs.
• Cambridge Blockchain Inc, a Cambridge, Mass.-based developer of blockchain-based identity management software, raised $7 million in Series A funding. HCM Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Partech and Digital Currency Group.
• OspreyData, a Houston, Texas and Orange County, Calif.-based provider of machine-learning-based predictive analytics platform for the oil and gas sector, raised $5 million in Series A funding. Houston Ventures led the round.
• Thryve, a provider of microbiotics and microbiome testing, raised $1.4 million in funding. Investors include PivotNorth Capital, Unilever Ventures, Darling Ventures, Candela Paramount, Abstract Ventures and Joyance Partners.
HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
• Ansun BioPharma, a San Diego-based developer of anti-viral biologic therapeutics to combat severe viral respiratory tract infections, raised $85 million in Series A funding. Sinopharm Healthcare Fund and Lilly Asia Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Lyfe Capital, Yuanming Capital, Matrix Partners China, 3e Bioventures Capital, Oceanpine Capital, VI Ventures and Joincap Investment.
• Genoox, an Israel-based genomic analysis company, raised $6 million in funding. Triventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Inimiti Capital and Glilot Capital Partners.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• O2 Investment Partners invested in 1 Priority Environmental Services, a provider of asbestos abatement and related environmental services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• O2 Investment Partners invested in EMEX LLC, a Houston-based energy-focused services provider. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• The KELA Group, an Israel-based provider of advanced cyber intelligence software and solutions, raised $50 million from Vector Capital.
• International Market Centers, which is backed by Blackstone and Fireside Investments, agreed to acquire AmericasMart, an Atlanta-based wholesale marketplace that hosts trade markets and trade shows. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• NovaQuest Capital Management LLC acquired a majority of Clinical Ink, a Winston Salem, N.C.-based provider of clinical research technology. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• DCP Capital agreed to invest in Venus Medtech, a China-based developer of heart valves. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Iterum Therapeutics, a Dublin-based firm for drug-resistant bacterial infections, said it plans to raise $79.5 million in an IPO of 5.3 million shares priced between $14 to $16 apiece. The firm posted revenue of $508,000 in 2017. Advent Life Sciences (8.1% pre-offering), Arix Bioscience Holdings (8.9%), and Canaan (15.7%) back the firm. Leerink Partners and RBC Capital Markets are underwriters in the deal. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “ITRM.” Read more.
• EQT agreed to sell HTL-Strefa SA, a Poland-based medical device company, to Investindustrial. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Palladium Equity Partners sold the parent of Jordan Health Services, a home care provider, to Kelso & Company and Blue Wolf Capital Partners.
• SunTx Capital Partners sold Carolina Beverage Group, a Mooresville, N.C.-based operator of a co-packing producer, to Brynwood Partners. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• Silverton Partners, an Austin-based venture capital firm, raised $108 million for its fifth fund.
• Lerer Hippeau, a New York-based venture capital firm, raised $60.6 million for its second “select fund” for follow-on investments.
• Greylock Partners named Sarah Guo a general partner.
• Pitango Venture Capital appointed Guy Ezekiel as a general partner. Previously, he was a venture partner at Pitango.
• Steve Sachman joined Benefit Street Partners as a managing director in the private debt group.