Term Sheet — Wednesday, August 1

August 1, 2018, 2:00 PM UTC


Good morning, Term Sheet readers.

EXCLUSIVE: Term Sheet has learned that Rubicon Global, an Atlanta-based waste management startup, has acquired RiverRoad Waste Solutions, a New Jersey-based waste and recycling company. RiverRoad confirmed the deal, though financial terms weren’t disclosed.

This is a rather surprising move as Rubicon has long marketed itself as the “Uber for trash,” and being a waste brokerage is a descriptor that the company has resisted. RiverRoad Waste is a registered waste broker. In other words, the company brokers agreements between business customers and trade waste removal companies.

You may remember Term Sheet’s coverage of Rubicon Global from last year. At the time, it had raised new funding that valued the tech company at $1 billion. Armed with ~$200 million in total venture funding at the time and a shiny new unicorn status, Rubicon claimed it was disrupting the $60 billion garbage industry with its proprietary tech.

In October, I reviewed multiple pitch decks presented to potential investors and spoke with former employees, former and current executives, potential investors who met the team and evaluated the company, and waste industry analysts. My research (as well as Bloomberg’s) raised concerns about the company’s growth and tech capabilities. One investor who passed on the company several times told me that Rubicon seemed like “a trash brokerage business masquerading as a tech company.” (You can read the full story here.)

With the new acquisition, it’s worth watching whether Rubicon pivots to a more traditional, brokerage business or whether it stays course as a sophisticated, high-growth startup.

Here’s an update on what has happened since we last wrote about Rubicon:

— More funding: It raised $65 million in funding from The New Zealand Super Fund, a $38 billion fund backed by New Zealand’s government. This is the second tranche as part of a larger round. The first tranche was a $50 million strategic investment from Mexican private equity firm Promecap. A detail that made me (and some of the VCs I spoke with) pause: While notable investors have participated, including Goldman Sachs, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Promecap, not a single top-tier VC firm chose to invest in a tech company valued at more than a billion dollars.

— Executive departure: Rubicon hired former Cars.com executive Elaine Richards as its new president in December. Her departure was announced on July 3, after a total of seven months on the job to “pursue other business opportunities,” according to a Rubicon press release. In her place, Rubicon hired Kim Rumph, who has served on the company’s board for the last three years. As noted previously, the company has experienced high executive turnover. Three chief operating officers have left since 2014, according to Bloomberg. Sources told me the company has also cycled through multiple chief financial officers.

At the ‘pre-IPO stage:’ Rubicon has hinted at an IPO since 2015 when Rubicon CEO Nate Morris told Fortune that its new CFO (who was only at the company for five months, according to LinkedIn) “could help position this business to be a public business in the near future.” That didn’t happen, and Rubicon went on to raise new rounds of funding.

Now, in its most recent Series E press release, Mark Fennell, the NZ Super Fund’s acting Chief Investment Officer, confirmed Rubicon is at a “pre-IPO” stage, saying it’s glad to “support growth companies such as Rubicon that, while established from a technology point of view, are pre-IPO.”

(Term Sheet has reached out to Rubicon Global for comment on these points and will update the story online when the company responds.)

As I’ve said before, Rubicon is not a trivial startup—it's valued at more than a billion dollars, with hundreds of millions of dollars raised and a history of talking seriously about an IPO. The company is a reminder that big ambitions, positive press, and slick marketing are not enough to stop investors and reporters from asking the hard questions.


SOFTBANK STRIKES: Brandless, a San Francisco-based e-commerce site selling unbranded household products, just got $240 million from Softbank to go head-to-head with Amazon. The new funding values valuing the company at approximately $500 million. This is only SoftBank’s second e-commerce investment in the U.S. The first was $1 billion in Fanatics Inc., the sports-apparel vendor. Read more.


Indra Nooyi: Recycling Rates Are Declining. PepsiCo Has a Plan to Change That (by Indra Nooyi)

Ancestry and 23andMe Agree to Rules on Providing DNA to Third Parties (by Emily Price)

Winter Is Coming for China's Tech Sector (by Clay Chandler)


Apeel Sciences, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based food tech company, raised $70 million in funding. Viking Global Investors and Andreessen Horowitz co-led the round.

Bulletproof 360 Inc, a Bellevue, Wash.-based food, beverage and content company, raised more than $40 million in funding. CAVU Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Trinity Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank.

Verana Health, a healthcare innovation platform, raised $30 million in Series C funding. GV led the round, and was joined by investors including Biomatics Capital, Brook Byers, GE Ventures and Lagunita Biosciences.

Espressive, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based artificial intelligence provider for enterprise service management, raised $23 million in funding. Investors include General Catalyst Partners and Wing Venture Capital.

Formlabs, a Somerville, Mass.-based designer and manufacturer of 3D printing systems, raised $15 million in funding. Investors include New Enterprise Associates. The company’s valued at more than $1 billion.

Naked Labs Inc, a Redwood City, Calif.-based provider of a 3D-body scanner for use in the home, raised $14 million in Series A funding. Founders Fund led the round, and was joined by investors including New Enterprise Associates, Lumia Capital, Venture 51, and Seabed VC.

DefinedCrowd Corp, a Seattle, Wash.-based smart data company for AI, raised $11.8 million in Series A funding. Evolution Equity Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Mastercard, Kibo Ventures, EDP, Sony, Portugal Ventures, Amazon, and Busy Angels.

Serverless Inc, a San Francisco-based company that offers developers an open source framework powered by AWS Lambda and AWS API Gateway, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Trinity Ventures.

Radar Relay, a Fort Collins, Colo.-based wallet-to-wallet decentralized trading platform, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Blockchain Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Tusk Ventures, Distributed Global, Reciprocal Ventures, and Collaborative Fund.

CrowdStreet, a Portland, Ore.-based commercial property investment marketplace and software company, raised $8 million in Series B funding. Grotech Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Rally Ventures, Seven Peaks Ventures and Green Visor Capital.

Xwing, a San Francisco-based autonomous aviation company, raised $4 million in seed funding. Eniac Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Array Ventures.

Blueprint Power, a New York-based real estate and energy tech company, raised $3.5 million in Series A funding. Congruent Ventures, MetaProp Ventures, Fred Wilson and Brad Burnham led the round, and were joined by investors including Fifth Wall Ventures.

Veritonic, a New York-based audio measurement platform, raised $3.5 million in seed funding. Newark Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Imagination Capital, Kiwi Venture Partners, MDC Ventures and SWaN & Legend Venture Partners.

FloodFlash, a U.K.-based insurtech startup, raised £1.9 million ($2.5 million) in seed funding. Investors include LocalGlobe, Pentech Ventures and InsurTech Gateway.

Clare, a direct-to-consumer paint brand, raised $2 million in seed funding. Investors include First Round Capital, Imaginary Ventures, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures, Bullish, Able Partners and angel investors Neil Parikh and Luke Sherwin, co-founders of Casper, and Jeff Raider and Andy Katz-Mayfield, co-founders of Harry's.


Omniome Inc, a San Diego-based developer of a new DNA sequencing platform, has raised $60 million in financing. Decheng Capital and Hillhouse Capital Group led the round, and were joined by investors including Lam Research Capital, Nan Fung Life Sciences, ARCH Venture Partners, Domain Associates, Biomatics Capital Partners and Altitude Life Science Ventures.

Mammoth Biosciences, a San Francisco-based which developer of CRISPR-based disease detection platform, raised $23 million in Series A funding. Mayfield led the round, and was joined by investors including NFX and 8VC.

NED Biosystems, a Cambridge, Mass.-based clinical-stage biotech company developing an oral oncologic combination treatment, raised more than $2 million in Series B funding. Investors include Benjamin Griswold IV.


Access, which is backed by Berkshire Partners and GI Partners, acquired Arkive, an Atlanta-based provider of records management solutions. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Compass Group Equity Partners acquired EPIC Systems Inc, a St. Louis, Mo.-based engineering company, industrial automation engineering and fabrication firm. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Magnitude Software, a portfolio company of Audax Private Equity, acquired Every Angle, a Gouda, Netherlands-based provider of self-service reporting and analytics solutions for any SAP system. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Resource Label Group, which is backed by First Atlantic Capital and TPG Growth, acquired Ingenious Packaging, a Canada-based labeling solutions provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

The Rise Fund, which is managed by TPG Growth, agreed to invest $130 million in DreamBox Learning, a Bellevue, Wash.-based K-8 digital math program.

ATL Partners acquired a majority stake in Rock-It Cargo, a Los Angeles and New York-based provider of mission-critical international freight forwarding solutions. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Crane 1 Services, a portfolio company of Pfingsten, acquired Absolute Crane, a Houston-based provider of overhead crane services and equipment. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Salary.com, a portfolio company of H.I.G. Capital LLC, acquired Compdata Surveys & Consulting, an Olathe, Kansas-based compensation and data consulting firm. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Motive Partners agreed to acquire a “significant” stake in Global Shares, an Ireland-based provider of equity compensation management solutions to global corporations. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Pfingsten Partners LLC acquired Quality Valve Inc, a Mobile, Ala.-based provider safety and relief valve parts. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Belcan, a portfolio company of AE Industrial Partners, acquired Omega Engineering Services Limited, a provider of engineering and manufacturing services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


Amadeus IT Group is in talks to acquire TravelClick, a New York-based provider of online reservation systems to hotels. TravelClick could fetch up to $3 billion, according to Bloomberg. The seller would be Thoma Bravo. Read more.

Kontron acquired Inocybe Technologies, an open networking technology provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


Amalgamated Bank, a New York-based union-owned commercial bank, said it plans to raise  $107 million in an offering of 6.7 million shares priced between $15 to $17. The firm posted interest income of $139.1 million in 2017. Barclays, J.P. Morgan, and Keefe Bruyette Woods are underwriters. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “AMAL.” Read more.

China Tower, the Chinese telecom giant, raised $6.9 billion in a Hong Kong IPO, Reuters reports citing sources. Read more.

Sinochem Energy, a Chinese commercial fuel storage firm, plans to raise $2 billion in a Hong Kong IPO, the South China Morning Post reports citing sources. Read more.


Vonage agreed to acquire TokBox, a San Francisco-based provider of programmable video and WebRTC, for $35 million in cash. TokBox had raised approximately $26 million in funding from investors including Sequoia Capital, SV Angel, Bain Capital Ventures, and DAG Ventures.

DocuSign Inc agreed to acquire SpringCM, a Chicago-based cloud-based document generation and contract lifecycle management software company, for approximately $220 million. SpringCM has raised more than $120 million in venture funding from investors including Crestline Investors Inc, Wellington Financial, and Foundation Capital.

Pollen Street Capital acquired a majority stake in BIK, a Poland- based insurance services provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed.  The seller was Syntaxis Capital.

Genstar Capital has agreed to sell Accruent, an Austin, Texas-based provider of physical resource management solutions, to Fortive Corporation for $2 billion.


Felicis Ventures, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based venture capital firm, raised $270 million for its sixth venture fund.


Victoria Treyger joined Felicis Ventures as its fourth managing director.


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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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