Good morning, Term Sheet readers.
It had been a little while since SoftBank pumped an absurd amount of money into a company. But today, Masayoshi Son’s Vision Fund said it plans to invest $2.25 billion into GM’s self-driving car unit Cruise to help bring fleets of autonomous vehicles to market faster.
Cruise will remain a GM unit, but SoftBank will own 19.6% of the company. As part of the deal, GM will also invest $1.1 billion into Cruise.
The GM and SoftBank Vision Fund investments are expected to provide the capital needed to commercialize a fleet of a self-driving, ride-hailing service beginning in 2019.
The investment will be made in two parts. The first tranche of $900 million will be made at the closing of the transaction. Once Cruise’s autonomous vehicles are ready for commercial deployment, Softbank will complete the second investment of $1.35 billion. Softbank and GM Cruise have agreed to a 7-year term before either party can seek liquidity outside of the partnership.
Let’s not forget that SoftBank’s investments include major ride-hailing companies such as Uber, Didi Chuxing, Grab, Ola, and 99. All of these relationships are getting tangled, and I’m having a hard time keeping them separate. Remember that GM invested $500 million in Lyft in early 2016 and owns about 9% of the company?
Who cares which company will win the ride-hailing / autonomous vehicle arms race? SoftBank certainly doesn’t. When you’ve made a bet on an entire ecosystem, you’re bound to emerge victorious.
….SPEAKING OF RIDE-HAILING, here’s an interesting tidbit: Warren Buffett offered to invest $3 billion in Uber, but the two sides couldn’t agree on the terms. Bloomberg reports that Berkshire Hathaway would have provided a convertible loan to Uber that would have protected Buffett’s investment should Uber hit financial straits, while providing significant upside if Uber continued to grow in value.
If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is.
Buffett had proposed similar terms to Goldman Sachs during the financial crisis. He invested $5 billion after the collapse of its rival Lehman Brothers in late 2008. In exchange, Buffett’s company got preferred stock that resulted in more than $1.6 billion in profit.
Bloomberg writes, “Buffett would have effectively lent Uber his sterling reputation, along with some capital, in exchange for cushy deal terms.” But talks died when Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tried to decrease the size of the deal down to $2 billion, and the two parties could not come to consensus on the terms.
THE LATEST FROM FORTUNE…
• Trump Predicts ‘Massive Drops in Prices’ for Drugs. Here’s Why That Probably Won’t Happen (by Sy Mukherjee)
• AI Is Better at Diagnosing Skin Cancer Than Your Doctor, Study Finds (by Emily Price)
• IBM Pledges $30 Million for Techies to Fight Natural Disasters (by Robert Hackett)
• Will He or Won’t He? Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky Teases a 2019 IPO (by Natasha Bach)
• Signifyd, a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of guaranteed fraud protection for e-commerce businesses, raised $100 million in Series D funding. Premji Invest led the round, and was joined by investors including Bain Capital Ventures, Menlo Ventures, American Express Ventures, IA Ventures, Allegis Cyber and Resolute Ventures.
• Paxos, a New York-based financial technology company offering a blockchain-powered trust, raised $65 million in Series B funding. Investors include Liberty City Ventures, RRE Ventures, and Jay Jordan.
• Klaxoon, a France-based digital learning agency that develops interactive learning tools, raised $50 million in Series B funding. Idinvest Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Bpifrance, Sofiouest, Arkea and White Star Capital Fund.
• Ava, a Switzerland-based women’s reproductive health company and maker of the cycle tracking Ava bracelet, raised $30 million in Series B funding. Investors include btov and SVC also joining the round.
• Nova Credit, a San Francisco-based provider of credit reporting solutions, raised $16 million in Series A funding. General Catalyst and Index Ventures co-led the round, and were joined by investors including First Round Capital, Nyca and Y Combinator.
• Coffee Meets Bagel, a San Francisco-based dating app, raised $12 million in Series B funding. Atami Capital led the round.
• SnackNation, a Los Angeles-based snack delivery service, raised $12 million in Series B funding. 3L Capital led the round.
• Curai, a machine learning-driven startup focused on healthcare, raised $10.7 million in Series A funding. General Catalyst led the round, and was joined by investors including Khosla Ventures.
• imToken, a China-based Ethereum wallet, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Investors include IDG Capital.
• Pixoneye, a U.K.-based artificial intelligence insights business, raised £6 million ($8 million) in Series A funding from Octopus Ventures.
• Modern Fertility, a San Francisco-based women’s health company that makes fertility information more accessible, raised $6 million in seed funding. Investors include Maveron, Union Square Ventures, Sound Ventures, SV Angel, and #Angels.
• Voltaiq, a Brooklyn-based provider of data visualization and analytics tools for batteries, raised $6.6 million in Series A funding. Anzu Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Bee Partners, SJF Ventures, and UL Ventures.
• Neighborhood Goods, an immersive retail and social alternative to the department store, raised $5.75 million in seed funding. Forerunner Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Maveron, CAA Ventures, Global Founders Capital, and NextGen Venture Partners.
• Karnott, a France-based agriculture technology startup, raised €2.5 million ($2.9 million) in funding round to boost its international development. Partech and Leap Ventures, partner from the outset.
• CyberSaint, a Boston-based cyber-resilience, compliance and risk management platform, raised $3 million in funding. Audeo Capital and BlueIO led the round.
• Cursor, a San Francisco-based collaborative analytics platform, raised $2 million in seed funding. Toba Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Ride Ventures.
HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
• CAMP4 Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based platform aiming to discover effective treatment approaches for diseases, raised $30 million in Series A funding. Investors include Polaris Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, and The Kraft Group.
• Ancora Heart, Inc., a Santa Clara, Calif.-based company developing a novel therapy to address heart failure, raised $17.8 million in funding. Savitr Capital led the round.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• LNK Partners invested $100 million in Schweiger Dermatology Group, a New York-based provider of medical, cosmetic and surgical dermatology services.
• Abris Capital Partners acquired a majority stake in Velvet Care, a Poland-based maker of personal hygiene products. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Marlin Equity Partners acquired FrontStream, a Reston, Va.-based provider of software solutions for non-profit fundraising and corporate giving. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• BrightView Holdings, a Plymouth Meeting, Penn.-based landscaping service, filed for a $100 million IPO. The firm posted revenue of $2.2 billion in 2016. KKR (75% pre-offering) backs the firm. Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, KKR, and UBS are among bookrunners in the deal. The firm plans to list on the NYSE as “BV.” Read more.
• Provention Bio, an Oldwick, N.J.-based developer of autoimmune disease therapies, filed for a best efforts IPO of between $40 million to $50 million. The firm plans to offer up to 12.5 million shares at $4 a piece. MDB Capital Group (10.8% pre-offering), Vactech (9.4%), and Johnson and Johnson (11.2%) back the firm. MDB Capital is underwriter in the deal. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “PV.” Read more.
• Cushman & Wakefield, the New York-based real estate firm, is gearing up for an IPO filing in June, Real Deal reports citing sources. DTZ, backed by TPG, acquired the firm in 2015 for $2 billion. Read more.
• Bear Creek Mining, a Canadian mining firm, will likely IPO its Peruvian unit in Lima. Read more.
• Medical Properties Trust, Inc. agreed to sell its interest in Ernest Health, a Albuquerque, N.M. operator of long-term acute care facilities, to One Equity Partners. MPT expects its portion of proceeds to be $175 million and to generate an approximate 13% unlevered internal rate of return on its original $96 million investment.
• Motion Equity Partners, acquired Holweg Weber, a France-based producer of paper bag manufacturing machines, from Azulis Capital and co-investors. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.