Term Sheet — Wednesday, November 21

November 21, 2018, 2:21 PM UTC


Good morning, Term Sheet readers.

HOUSEKEEPING: As a reminder, Term Sheet won't be in your inbox this Thursday and Friday because of Thanksgiving. In other words, I’ll get to sleep in & not think about deals for a few days. If you really miss us over the weekend, you can find me on Twitter here. Have a great holiday, and see you next week!

SOFTBANK MONEY: Coupang, a South Korea-based e-commerce company, raised $2 billion in funding from SoftBank’s Vision Fund. The investment follows the $1 billion that SoftBank invested in Coupang in 2015 and values the company at around $9 billion, according to Reuters.

So here we are. The deal closed in the wake of a CIA report that concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (who contributed $45 billion to the SoftBank Vision Fund) ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. For all the space I wasted writing in Term Sheet that maybe founders would pause and think, “Hold on. Am I making money for a repressive government," and reject SoftBank's money on moral grounds, I was completely wrong.

Since the Khashoggi scandal first erupted, SoftBank has poured money into companies including Automation Anywhere, View, Zume, and now, Coupang.

Coupang CEO Bom Kim told The New York Times that he doesn’t expect backlash from the investment, claiming that the tension around Khashoggi’s death doesn’t “represent SoftBank or us.” ….I mean, come on.

Here’s the bottom line: SoftBank will continue deploying capital and founders will continue taking it. As Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said earlier this year — CEOs have no choice but to accept an investment from SoftBank. In one sentence, he summed it all up — "Rather than having their capital cannon facing me, I'd rather have their capital cannon behind me, all right.”

It does make you wonder — what could someone get away with before a founder finally has the fortitude to say, “No. I will not accept your billion-dollar investment in my company.” I was pretty certain this scandal had the power to freeze Softbank out of deals, affect future Vision funds, or even tarnish Son's reputation. I thought startup founders would rather their investors not have connections to a repressive foreign government.

But alas, given that SoftBank has closed four deals in the span of two months, my theory does not stand. We’ll see how this all shakes out, but I won’t be holding my breath for someone to turn down SoftBank dollars anytime soon.

THANKSGIVING READING: Fortune released a longform feature this morning on how Warren Buffett learned to love tech stocks. The piece explains that there is an ongoing debate about what the drivers of value are—of what constitutes value in the 21st-century economy—and what will drive both the economy and the market forward over the next generation.

From the story:

...For decades Buffett avoided technology stocks. There was growth in tech, for sure, but there was little certainty. Things changed too quickly; every boom was accompanied by a bust. In the midst of such flux, who could find a high-probability insight? “I know as much about semiconductors or integrated circuits as I do of the mating habits of the chrzaszcz,” Buffett wrote in 1967, referring to an obscure Polish beetle. Thirty years later, writing to a friend who recommended that he look at Microsoft, Buffett said that while it appeared the company had a long runway of protected growth, “to calibrate whether my certainty is 80% or 55% … for a 20-year run would be folly.”

Now, however, Apple is Buffett’s largest investment. Indeed, it’s more than double the value of his No. 2 holding, old-economy stalwart Bank of America. Why?

Not because Buffett has changed. The world has.

Read the full story here.


Workable, a Boston-based provider of a recruiting automation platform, raised $50 million in funding. Zouk Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including 83North, Balderton, Notion, TriplePoint, and Endeavor Catalyst.

ClearDATA, an Austin, Texas-based security and compliance company focused on the healthcare cloud, raised $26 million in funding. Investors include Humana Inc, Health Care Service Corporation, Norwest Venture Partners, Merck GHIF, Excel Venture Management, Heritage Group, HLM Venture Partners and Flare Capital Partners.

Zenjob, a Berlin-based demand staffing platform, raised 15 million euros ($$17.1 million) in Series B funding. AXA Venture Partners led the round.

Green Mountain CBD, a Vermont-based organic hemp grower and maker of CBD products, raised $7 million in funding from One Better Ventures LLC.

Dispatch, a San Francisco-based provider of tools for entrepreneurs and businesses to develop business solutions, raised $6 million in funding. Fenbushi Capital led the round.

Wild Friends Foods, a Portland-based clean-label food brand specializing in non-GMO nut and seed butters and nut butter-based breakfast items, raised $3.5 million in seed funding. Cambridge Companies SPG led the round, and was joined by investors including Katjesgreenfood, Echo Capital, the CircleUp Growth Fund and Portland Seed Fund.

Feedr, a U.K.-based intelligent lunch platform, raised 1.5 million pounds ($1.9 million) in funding. Investors include Episode 1 Ventures and Founders Factory.

Living Security, an Austin, Texas-based cybersecurity training company, raised $1.25 million in seed funding. Active Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Cathexis Ventures and Capital Factory.


Eos recapitalized LEGACY Supply Chain Services, a Reno, Nevada-based provider of customized, high-service 3PL solutions. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Congruex, which is backed by Crestview Partners, acquired White Construction, a Wisconsin-based telecom-focused self-perform construction company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Alpine SG, which is backed by Alpine Investors, acquired e-Courier Software LLC, a Loveland, Colo.-based last mile-delivery software company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Clearview Capital acquired Premiere Care and Maintenance and Recovery Services, both of which are providers of medication-assisted treatment for patients suffering with opioid use disorder. The seller of both companies was Community Medical Services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

BridgeTower Media, which is backed by New Media Investment Group, acquired Progressive Business Media, a Greensboro, N.C.-based media and communications company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


Babytree Group, a Chinese parenting website operator, will raised $217 million IPO of shares priced at about 87 cents (HK$6.80), the low end of its range, Reuters reports citing sources. Previously, Babytree was targeting $1 billion. Alibaba is an investor. Read more.

Tencent Music Entertainment, the Chinese music streaming titan, has reportedly discussed pushing its IPO into early 2019, Reuters reports citing sources. Read more.


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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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