Term Sheet — Monday, January 28

January 28, 2019, 2:43 PM UTC


Good morning, Term Sheet readers.

Here’s something to think about: In 2018, all female founders combined received $10 billion less in funding than e-cigarette company Juul took in by itself.

That’s the lead of my colleague Emma Hinchliffe’s report on the state of female founder funding. She reports that U.S. women entrepreneurs raised $2.88 billion last year split across 482 teams, according to data from PitchBook and All Raise. That’s 2.2% of the $130 billion total in venture capital money invested over the year—the exact same percentage that Fortune reported for 2017.

However, she notes, from a pure dollar perspective, 2018 did represent a step forward. As a whole, companies led by a single female founder or an all-female team of founders raised nearly $1 billion more in 2018 than in 2017 ($2.88 billion vs. $1.9 billion). Yet the percentage of the total VC pie given to female founders did not budge.

One possible explanation is the increased frequency of so-called mega-rounds, which nearly always go to male founders and continue to grow the size of the VC pool. Take SoftBank and its $100 billion Vision Fund — of the Japanese firm’s top 25 investments as measured by PitchBook, only two went to a company with a female co-founder (both to Grab, co-founded by Tan Hooi Ling and not included in this data as a non-U.S. company).

A few more interesting insights from Emma’s reporting:

 All-male teams got 76%, or $109.36 billion, of the total $130 billion invested in 2018. Companies with at least one female founder received $15.76 billion, or 12%, of last year’s venture capital (a number that includes the 2.2% that went to companies with exclusively female founders).

The 10 biggest deals of 2018 all went to companies founded by men. The largest venture capital raise last year for a female-led startup went to Minted, the social commerce company co-founded by Mariam Naficy and Melissa Kim.

 The highest-valued female-founded companies of the year, PitchBook reports, were Pat McGrath Labs, Humacyte, and Rent the Runway.

 New Enterprise Associates closed the most deals with female founders.

 In 2018, Silicon Valley added 36 women as investment partners at venture capital firms—the most ever in a single year.

Read the full story here.


‘A stampede for shares:’ There’s been increased interest in private trades of some of the world’s biggest unicorn companies ahead of their IPOs. Hedge funds, wealthy individuals and family offices—as well as some large institutions—are lining up to buy shares that VC firms, company employees and others are trying to cash out of, according to the WSJ. At least $80 million worth of shares of ride-hailing giant Uber, which plans to go public this year, changed hands in recent months.

Where’s Logan Green? Lyft CEO Logan Green has a problem: Lyft seems ... too nice. And it begs the question — Can a ‘nice’ company take on the ruthless competitor that is Uber as the two companies race to go public? “While Lyft has racked up more than one billion rides and become a strong No. 2 to Uber in the United States and Canada, it has not shaken off its cuddly image,” reads a New York Times article. Logan, who has largely stayed out of the spotlight, must prove that he’s assertive, aggressive, and ready to take on the 800-pound gorilla.


Exclusive: Hanson Robotics Names Jeanne Lim As CEO (by Lisa Marie Segarra)

One Country's Solution to a Teacher Shortage: Cold, Hard Cash (by Grace Dobush)

Meet Uber’s First-Ever Chief Privacy Officer (by Danielle Abril)

SEC Investigating Nissan Over Carlos Ghosn’s Pay (by Grace Dobush)


Are ICO tokens securities? Former Toys ‘R’ Us execs gearing up for a comeback. China created a unicorn every 3.8 days in 2018. The facts about Facebook (according to Zuck). Lack of transparency in healthcare startups risks another Theranos implosion. Naspers takes full control of Russian classifieds site Avito in $1.16B deal.


Memebox, a K-beauty brand, raised $35 million in Series D funding. JJDC led the round, and was joined by investors including Formation Group and Goodwater Capital.

BRD, a Switzerland-based secure cryptocurrency mobile wallet, raised $15 million in Series B funding. SBI Crypto Investment led the round, and was joined by investors including SBI Holdings.

NumberAI, an Oakland, Calif.-based provider of AI-driven smart messaging services for small businesses, raised $10.5 million in Series A funding. Investors include Costanoa Ventures, DFJ, and Gradient Ventures.

Obo, a San Mateo, Calif.-based provider of a product design system, raised $8.2 million in funding. Wildcat Venture Partners and TDF Ventures co-led the round.

Renewal Mill, a food ingredients company, raised $2.5 million in seed funding. Investors include HG Ventures.

AirWorks Solutions, a developer of autonomous processing software for aerial mapping and surveying, raised $2.3 million in seed funding. Innospark Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including MetaProp, FM Global, and Rough Draft Ventures.

SkenarioLabs, a Finland-based startup that provides AI-based data services to the real estate industry, raised funding of an undisclosed amount. innogy Innovation Hub led the round.


Syntax Systems, a portfolio company of Novacap, acquired EmeraldCube Solutions, an Atlanta-based provider of business tech solutions to JD Edwards customers. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Waterland Private Equity will acquire a majority stake in Rehacon, a Germany-based provider of physiotherapy services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Sentry Energy Solutions, which is backed by Intervale Capital, acquired Himarc Environmental Solutions, a provider of natural gas engine emissions testing and onsite gas leak detection services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

EverZinc, which is backed by OpenGate Capital, acquired GHC, a Saint Hyacinthe, Quebec-based maker of French process zinc oxide products. The sellers were Stephan Tabah and Philippe Bailet. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Gryphon Investors acquired RoC Skincare, an anti-aging skincare brand, from Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


Saudi Aramco plans to invest up to $1.6 billion for a nearly 20% stake in Hyundai Oilbank, a South Korea-based refiner, according to Reuters. Read more.


Maoyan Entertainment, a Chinese movie-ticketing platform, raised $250 million in a Hong Kong IPO after pricing at the bottom of its range, Reuters reports. The firm had reportedly been seeking to raise $500 million to $1 billion. Tencent backs the firm. Read more.


Dropbox, Inc. (NASDAQ: DBX) agreed to acquire HelloSign, a San Francisco-based eSignature and document workflow platform, for $230 million. HelloSign had raised approximately $16 million in venture funding from investors including Khosla Ventures, U.S. Venture Partners, Greylock Partners, and Foundry Group.

Eureka Equity Partners sold West Academic Publisher, a St. Paul, Minn.-based provider of legal textbooks, casebooks, and study guides, to Levine Leichtman Capital Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


New Energy Capital Partners, a Hanover, N.H.-based private equity firm, raised $500 million for its fifth fund.


Rachel Arnold, Justin Cho, Kevin Sofield and John Stalder were promoted to partner at Vista Equity Partners.


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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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