Good morning, Term Sheet readers.
GOOGLE MAKES FRIENDS IN CHINA: Google continues to increase its presence in China. The tech giant agreed to invest $500 million in Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com as part of a strategic partnership. By merging JD’s supply chain & logistics expertise with Google’s market reach, they plan to offer JD.com products for sale on the Google Shopping platform across the world.
Obviously, the bigger takeaway is that Google wants to unlock the Chinese market. Many Western companies have found China to be a difficult market to crack, and Google is no exception. The search giant has global ambitions, but those are hard to achieve when you’re facing government censorship in the world’s second-largest economy. Read more.
MORE FRAUD: Another day, another Theranos scandal. On Friday, Elizabeth Holmes stepped down from the CEO role, and she and Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani were indicted on federal wire fraud charges. These criminal charges are separate from the civil ones filed in March by the SEC.
In this case, there are a total of 11 charges — two for conspiracy to commit wire fraud (against investors, and against doctors and patients) and the remaining nine are wire fraud, with amounts ranging from the cost of a lab test to $100 million. If convicted the two could each face up to 20 years in prison, fines of $250,000, and restitution to every individual they allegedly ripped off.
As I’ve noted in Term Sheet many times before, it’s my opinion that when hundreds of millions of dollars are on the line, investors should expect accountability, transparency, and verification. This is becoming harder and harder as private companies actively work to maintain secrecy. Yet the hype builds, the money pours in, and whistleblowers are dismissed as “disgruntled former employees.”
Check out this warning to Silicon Valley from the Justice Department:
“Investors large and small from around the world are attracted to Silicon Valley by its track record, its talent, and its promise. They are also attracted by the fact that behind the innovation and entrepreneurship are rules of law that require honesty, fair play, and transparency. This office, along with our other law enforcement partners in the Bay Area, will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who do not play by the rules that make Silicon Valley work.”
In other words, there’s a difference between promises and false claims. The message to both startups and investors is the same: Tread carefully.
So, Holmes is out as CEO, Theranos laid off the majority of its staff, bankruptcy is an imminent threat, and there are now criminal charges levied against officers or directors.
Who is running the place? Why is Holmes remaining chairman of the board? What are people working on? At what point do investors and company leadership throw in the towel and call it quits?
THE LATEST FROM FORTUNE…
• Citibank Fined $100 Million for Manipulating Key Global Interest Rate (by David Z. Morris)
• Why Audi CEO Rupert Stadler Was Just Arrested (by Natasha Bach)
• Melania Trump Says She “Hates To See” Family Border Separation in Rare Policy Statement (by Natasha Bach)
• Rules for Cryptocurrency Investing: Circle’s Rachel Mayer Has Some Ideas (by Jeff John Roberts)
• TrustToken, a San Francisco-based asset tokenization platform and creator of the TrueUSD stablecoin, raised $20 million in funding. Investors include Andreessen Horowitz, BlockTower Capital, and Danhua Capital.
• Tessian, a London-based startup deploying machine learning to improve email security, raised $13 million in Series A funding. Balderton Capital and Accel co-led the round, and were joined by investors including Amadeus Capital Partners, Crane, LocalGlobe, Winton Ventures, and Walking Ventures.
• Influential, a Las Vegas-based AI-powered influencer marketplace, raised $12 million in Series B funding. Capital Zed and Europlay Capital Advisors led the round, and were joined by investors including WME.
• RideOS, a San Francisco-based technology platform designed to accelerate the roll-out of self-driving vehicles, raised $9 million in Series A funding. Sequoia Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Graph Ventures and SV Angel.
• Live Better With, a London-based curated e-commerce and community platform dedicated to making day-to-day life better for people living with long-term conditions, raised $7 million in Series A funding. Downing Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Forward Partners and dmg ventures.
• CHEQ, an Israel-based cybersecurity company, raised $5 million in Series A funding from Battery Ventures.
• Pulumi, a Seattle-based cloud application development company, raised $5 million in seed funding. Madrona Venture Group led the round, and was joined by investors including Tola Capital.
• Zenaton, a cloud-based developer tool company focused on workflows, raised $2.35 million (€2 million) in seed funding. Accel and Point Nine Capital co-led the round, and were joined by investors including the Slack Fund and Kima Ventures.
• Gamurs, an Australia-based esports media network, raised $2.2 million in funding. Investors include Alium Capital.
• Elucidata Corporation, a data science company focused on developing tools and software solutions for drug discovery, raised $1.7 million in seed funding. Hyperplane Venture Capital led the round.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Oak Hill Capital recapitalized VetCor, a Hingham, Mass.-based operator of veterinary hospitals in the U.S. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• BJ’s Wholesale Club, a Westborough, Mass.-based firm, priced its IPO, saying it plans to raise $600 million in an offering of 37.5 million between $15 to $17. The firm posted revenue of $12.8 billion in the 12 months ending Feb. 3, 2018. On earnings of $50.3 million. CVC Capital and Leonard Green & Partners back the firm. BofA, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, and J.P. Morgan are underwriters in the deal. The fund plans to list on the NYSE as “BJ.” Read more.
• Navios Maritime Container, a Monaco-based shipping container maker, filed an $100 million IPO. The firm posted revenue of $39.2 million in the eight months ending Dec. 31. Navios Maritime Partners backs the firm. J.P. Morgan, BofA, Citigroup, and Clarksons Platou are underwriters. The firm plans to list on the Nasdaq. Read more.
• New State Capital Partners sold Central Conveyor Company LLC, a Brighton, Mich.-based manufacturer of automotive and industrial conveyor systems, to U. S. Tsubaki Holdings, Inc, for approximately $140 million.
• Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) acquired Flipgrid Inc., a Minneapolis-based social learning platform. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Flipgrid had raised approximately $17 million in funding from venture investors including Arthur Ventures and Brighstone Venture Partners.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• Cressey & Company LP, a Chicago-based healthcare-focused private investment firm, raised a total of $1.1 billion, including $995 million for Cressey & Company Fund VI as well as $105 million for a related co-investment vehicle.
• PPM America Capital Partners, a Chicago-based investment firm, raised $648 million for its seventh private equity co-investment fund.
• Primary Venture Partners, a New York-based venture capital firm, raised $100 million for its second fund.
• Malcolm Nicholls joined Gunderson Dettmer as a partner. Previously, he was the co-head of Proskauer Rose’s Private Investment Funds Group.
• Daniel Roever joined Boro Capital as a managing partner. Previously, Roever was at Aflac Global Investments.