Skip to Content

Term Sheet — Tuesday, September 25

THE KING OF PRODUCTIVITY

Good morning, Term Sheet readers.

Just a month ago, workplace chat platform Slack snagged $427 million in funding — and it’s not wasting any time putting the capital to work.

Slack has acquired Astro, a Palo Alto-based productivity startup that uses AI to show you important information from your emails and calendar. Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but we do know this is Slack’s largest acquisition to date. Astro had raised approximately $8 million in venture funding from investors including Redpoint Ventures, Aspect Ventures, Harrison Metal, and Upside Partnership.

Astro is also Slack’s third acquisition of the summer. In July, it bought Missions, an app that allows users to build tools to automate simple routines without code. Later that same month, it acquired Atlassian’s workplace chat apps, HipChat and Stride for an undisclosed amount.

Stewart Butterfield spoke yesterday at Fortune’s Brainstorm Reinvent conference in Chicago hinting at the acquisition. He said, “Over the last 60 years, email has been the only real step forward until relatively recently. The change we’ll see over the next decade will be pretty dramatic. Within a decade, everyone will be using Slack or something like it because the advantages are so big.” (Watch the full video here.)

One of those advantages? Slack users will no longer have to leave the platform to go find info from their email or calendar — it can all be done inside the app. The acquisition better positions Slack to become the king of workplace productivity. Armed with SoftBank’s bazooka of capital, I’m sure this won’t be the last purchase Slack makes.

FILTERED OUT: Instagram’s co-founders are leaving the photo-sharing app, raising questions about the future direction of what has been a growth engine for parent company Facebook. Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said Monday evening in a blog post that he and chief technology officer, Mike Krieger, would step down from the social networking giant and are “planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again.”

Some media reports speculate that the departures stem from tension between Instagram and Facebook’s leadership regarding Instagram’s autonomy. In April, Jan Koum, the founder and CEO of Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp announced that he would step down. Koum did not divulge the reason, but reports attributed it to disagreements with Facebook executives over data privacy and encryption policies. Let’s see what happens from here. Read more at Fortune.

SOFTBANK ALERT: Like me, SoftBank never sleeps. The Vision Fund led a $1 billion investment in Indian hotel booking startup OYO Hotels that values the company at $5 billion, or almost six times its value from a fundraising deal last year.

WALMART’S DEALMAKER: Everything at Walmart is supersized — including its international business. The retail behemoth’s $118-billion-in-revenue international operation is the biggest business in the world that no one seems to pay very much attention to at all. Here’s some context — it generates more revenue than JPMorgan Chase, Boeing, and Alphabet. Investors largely overlooked it … until this year.

Since April, Walmart has undertaken a flurry of deals, including the bombshell one this summer where Walmart spent $16 billion for an approximately 77% stake in Flipkart, India’s biggest online retailer. The investment, which Bryan Roberts of retail marketing firm TCC Global calls “eye wateringly expensive,” is the biggest in Walmart’s history and the largest ever in the pure e-commerce sector.

Judith McKenna is the woman who has headed up Walmart’s international business since February. “It’s certainly been a busy four months,” she said. “I’m not necessarily recommending it as a way to come into a job.”

My colleague Beth Kowitt wrote a captivating profile on McKenna in this latest issue of Fortune. Read the full feature here.

THE LATEST FROM FORTUNE…

• Bumble Steels Itself to Fight Match—and for an IPO (by Emma Hinchliffe)

• Why Gen. Stanley McChrystal Threw Away His Picture of Robert E. Lee (by Michal Lev-Ram)

•This Type of Diversity Is Key to Alibaba—and Companies Are Totally Missing It (by Jen Wieczner)

• Weight Watcher’s CEO Talks About Reviving the Company After its “Near Death Experience” (by Kristen Bellstrom)

…AND ELSEWHERE:

Private equity turns to Big Data to find deals. Amazon made two approaches for Deliveroo. Jamie Dimon says it will take 25 years for bailouts to be forgiven. Private equity plays risky game of musical chairs. Google CEO Sundar Pichai to meet with top GOP lawmakers.

VENTURE DEALS

Renovia, a Boston-based provider of digital therapeutic and diagnostic devices, raised $42.3 million in funding. Perceptive Advisors and Ascension Ventures led the Series B funding, and was joined by investors including Longwood Fund, Inova Strategic Investments, Cormorant Asset Management, OSF Ventures and Western Technology Investment.

Highspot, a Seattle-based sales enablement platform, raised $35 million in Series C funding. OpenView led the round, and was joined by investors including Madrona Venture Group, Salesforce Ventures and Shasta Ventures.

Lionano, a material manufacturing company, raised $22 million in Series B funding. Investors include WAVE Equity Partners, Helios Capital Ventures and NXT Ventures.

Snyk, a U.K.-based provider of a software platform, raised $22 million in Series B funding. Accel led the round, and was joined by investors including GV.

Shohoz, a Bangladesh-based online ride-sharing and ticketing platform, raised $15 million in funding. Golden Gate Ventures led the round.

Holmusk, a Singapore-based developer software for personalized healthcare, raised $9.75 million in pre-series A funding. Investors include Heritas Venture Fund.

Concirrus, a London-based InsurTech company leading the Marine and Motor Analytics market change, raised £5 million ($6.6 million) in funding. Investors include IQ Capital and Eos Venture Partners co-led the round.

Socotra, a San Francisco-based creator of an insurance core platform, raised $5.5 million in Series A funding. 8VC led the round.

DreamTeam, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based infrastructure platform and payment gateway for esports and gaming, raised $5 million in funding. Investors include Mangrove Capital Partners.

iFunded, a Germany-based online crowdfunding website for real estate investors, raised 4 million euros ($4.7 million) in pre-Series A round of funding. EVAN Group led the round, and was joined by investors including Citibank Fixed Income Asia, Creathor Ventures, Torsten Pfeifer, and Treuenburg Group.

Zencargo, a U.K.-based digital freight forwarder, raised more than $4 million in seed funding. LocalGlobe led the round, and was joined by investors including Samos Investments and Picus Capital.

Bleximo Corp, a Berkeley-based startup bringing quantum computing from the research lab to industry, raised $1.5 million in seed funding. Eniac Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Boost VC, Creative Ventures, KEC Ventures, and Gyan Kapur.

HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS

MeMed, an Israel-based diagnostics company, raised more than $70 million in funding. Investors include Ping An Global Voyager Fund, Foxconn, Caesarea Medical Holdings, Clal Insurance, Phoenix Insurance, OurCrowd, Social Capital, WTI and Horizons Ventures.

PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS

TPG is in talks to take over Abraaj Group’s $1 billion healthcare fund, according to The Wall Street Journal. TPG is looking to combine Abraaj’s healthcare assets with its Rise Fund. Read more.

Array Canada Inc, which is backed by The Carlyle Group, agreed to buy Willson & Brown, a Poland-based provider of point-of-sale programs in the cosmetics, beverage, consumer goods and consumer electronics sectors. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

OTHER DEALS

Cimpress N.V. (Nasdaq: CMPR) agreed to acquire BuildASign, an Austin, Texas-based provider of canvas-print wall décor and large-format printed products. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

IPOs

Exyte, the German maker of cleanroom tech, plans to IPO in Frankfurt in the next quarter, the Financial Times reports. Georg Stumpf, an Austrian entrepreneur, backs the firm. Read more.

Niu Technologies, a Beijing, China-based lithium-ion electric scooter maker, filed for a $150 million US IPO. It posted revenue of $116.3 million in 2017 and loss of $27.9 million. GGV (11.2% pre-offering) backs the firm. Credit Suisse and Citigroup are underwriters. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as NIU.” Read more.

Kodiak Sciences, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based Phase 1 biotech developing treatments for macular degeneration, plans to raise $126 million in an IPO of 9 million shares priced between $13 to $15. Baker Bros backs the firm. Morgan Stanley and BofA Merrill Lynch are underwriters. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “KOD.” Read more.

EXITS

Apax Partners acquired Authority Brands, a Columbia, Md.-based franchisor of home services, from PNC Riverarch Capital. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

ArcLight Capital Partners sold North Sea Midstream Partners, a London-based midstream infrastructure business, to the Kuwait Investment Authority. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Francisco Partners sold Crossmatch, a Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.-based provider of biometric identity management and secure authentication solutions, to HID Global. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Great Hill Partners agreed to sell its controlling stake in Ascenty Holdings, a provider of data center and fiber infrastructure services in Brazil, to Digital Realty. The deal would value the company at more than $1.8 billion.

PEOPLE

Sapphire Ventures appointed Michael Spirito as a partner.

Graycliff Partners promoted Garrett Wentzell to principal and Frank Cacace to vice president.

Mario De Barros joined Jaguar Growth Partners as a principal.

SHARE TODAY’S TERM SHEET

View this email in your browser.

Polina Marinova produces Term Sheet, and Lucinda Shen compiles the IPO news. Send deal announcements to Polina here and IPO news to Lucinda here.