There’s a new unicorn on the block. Glossier, the direct-to-consumer beauty brand, raised $100 million in Series D funding at a $1.2 billion valuation. Sequoia Capital led the round, and was joined by a star-studded list of investors including Tiger Global Management, Spark Capital, Forerunner Ventures, Thrive Capital, IVP, and Index Ventures.
The company also announced that it hired Vanessa Wittman as its chief financial officer. Wittman has previously served as a CFO of Oath, Dropbox, and Motorola Mobility. At Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in 2018, Glossier founder and CEO Emily Weiss revealed that the company had surpassed $100 million in revenue by selling products such as facial cleansers, makeup, and fragrances. In addition to Glossier’s permanent retail stores in New York City and Los Angeles, the company plans to open five temporary locations in cities across the U.S. later this year.
Weiss, who was named to Fortune’s 40 Under 40 list last year, has figured out how to get people to buy beauty products without trying them first, which is rare in the cosmetics industry. That happened after years of building trust with the consumer. The Glossier you know today began as a blog called Into the Gloss, a side project Weiss launched in 2010 when she was working as a fashion assistant at Vogue. The blog’s readership grew, and people came to deeply trust Weiss’ curated recommendations. She learned about the market, raised money from investors, and turned the blog into a brand of proprietary, highly Instagrammable beauty products with names like “Milky Jelly Cleanser” and “Cloud Paint.”
Forerunner Ventures’ Kirsten Green, who was Glossier’s first investor and also participated in this round, told me last year that Weiss had “the right balance between an astute take on the market and her ability to connect to the consumer.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, Weiss declined to discuss whether Glossier has plans to go public anytime soon. She said, “We are certainly in a position where…we are able to do that.” Last year, Stitch Fix CEO Katrina Lake joined Glossier as the first independent director on the company’s board. At the time, Weiss tweeted that “Katrina is the only woman to lead a tech IPO last year.”
Weiss could be next. (Before you email me, yes, Glossier considers itself a tech company.)
BACKSTAGE TROUBLES: Backstage Capital, a firm that invests in companies founded by women, people of color, LGBTQ company founders, or any combination of the three, is having some serious problems. According to Pro Rata’s Dan Primack, Backstage founder Arlan Hamilton has been unable to raise a new $36 million fund she touted last summer. Dubbed the “It’s about damn time fund,” the vehicle would invest exclusively in startups founded by black female entrepreneurs. Hamilton tells Primack that “two separate anchor investors fell through,” and the company has changed strategy and undergone layoffs as a result. Hamilton last year told media that she planned to “make multiple investments out of the fund by the end of the year,” so I also wonder how this affected founders who were counting on an investment from her fund.
PAID FAMILY LEAVE: In a Fortune column, Houseparty co-founder Sima Sistani writes about her effort to start a campaign to urge Silicon Valley founders, chief executives, and venture capitalists to provide paid family leave to their employees, no matter how early-stage the startup is. While many of the companies she approached expressed interest, in the end, only six would sign on. She writes, “Until we make family leave a norm, companies will continue to find ways—whether intentionally or unintentionally—to punish those who take leave.” Read the full op-ed at Fortune.com
PEOPLE MOVES: Alex Tepper, GE’s former global director of innovation and managing director of GE Ventures, has joined Human Ventures as a senior managing partner. Human Ventures, a New York-based startup studio incubator firm that recently raised $50 million for its debut fund, has been beefing up its staff. It recently hired Nick Bell, the former VP of content at Snap, and Ashlyn Gentry, the former SVP of commercial growth & strategy at Palantir. The latest to join is Tepper, who will be responsible for launching a new business unit called Human Enterprise, which will develop partnerships with Fortune 100 companies in effort to help them enter new markets.
• Theranica, an Israel-based biomedical technology company developing electroceuticals for migraine and other prevalent diseases, raised $35 million in Series B funding. aMoon led the round, and was joined by investors including Lightspeed Venture Partners, LionBird, Corundum Open Innovation and Takoa.
• Peakon, a Denmark-based analytics dashboard that helps users to improve employee engagement and retention, raised $35 million in Series B funding. Atomico led the round, and was joined by investors including EQT Ventures, IDInvest Partners, Balderton Capital, and Sunstone.
• Abstract, a git-enabled design workflow platform, raised $30 million in Series C funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Scale Venture Partners, Amplify Partners, and Cowboy Ventures.
• LeanData, a San Jose, Calif.-based provider of lead-to-account matching, routing and marketing attribution solutions, raised $27.5 million in funding. Tenaya Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Industry Ventures, Shasta Ventures, Sapphire Ventures and Correlation Ventures.
• Marketing Evolution, an El Dorado Hills, Calif.-based provider of powerful marketing measurement and optimization solutions, raised $26.1 million in funding. Energy Impact Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Insight Venture Partners and Zetta Venture Partners.
• Ease, an HR and benefits software solution for small businesses, insurance brokers, and insurance carriers, raised $19 million in Series B funding. Centana Growth Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Propel Venture Partners, Compound Ventures, Freestyle Capital and Upside Partnership.
• Automata, a London-based robotics company, raised $7.4 million in funding. Hummingbird Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including firstminute Capital, Hardware Club, LocalGlobe, ABB, and Entrepreneur First.
• FrontdeskAI, an India-based developer of artificial intelligence assistants for small businesses, raised $2 million in seed funding, bringing its total seed funding to $4.2 million. pi Ventures led the round.
• CoinNess, a Hong Kong-based blockchain information platform, raised Series A funding of an undisclosed amount in the “millions of dollars” range. Investors include ShunWei Capital, QF Capital, and FreesFund.
HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
• Karuna Therapeutics Inc, a company focused on targeting muscarinic cholinergic receptors for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders, raised $68 million in Series B funding. ARCH Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Fidelity Management & Research Co, Eventide Asset Management, Pivotal bioVenture Partners, Partner Fund Management, Wellcome Trust, Sands Capital, Alexandria Venture Investments, and PureTech Health.
• Imara Inc, a Cambridge, Mass.-based biopharmaceutical company focused on sickle cell disease, raised $63 million in Series B funding. OrbiMed Advisors and Arix Bioscience plc co-led the round, and were joined by investors including RA Capitaland Rock Springs Capital. Existing investors New Enterprise Associates, Pfizer Venture Investments, Lundbeckfonden Ventures, Bay City Capital, and Alexandria Venture Investments also participated.
• Cold Genesys Inc, a clinical-stage oncolytic viral immunotherapy company, raised $22 million in a Series C funding. ORI Healthcare Fund LP led the round, and was joined by investors including Perseverance Capital Management.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Beekman Group recapitalized Convenient Payments LLC, a provider of software-based payment solutions. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Continental Services, a portfolio company of New Heritage Capital, acquired Sterling Services, a Canton, Mich.-based provider of corporate food services including dining, micro markets, vending and office coffee. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• MUIS Software, which is backed by Main Capital Partners, will buy Ctrl BV, a Netherlands-based provider of an online collaboration platform for financial service provider. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Deloitte was the seller.
• Ardian acquired a minority stake in Eloquant, a SaaS software publisher specializing in multichannel customer relations management. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• ParkerGale acquired DealerBuilt, a Mason City, Iowa-based provider of a dealer management system for auto dealers. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• 3i Group plc will invest $179 million in Magnitude Software Inc, an Austin, Texas-based provider of unified application data management solutions. The deal values the company at $340 million.
• Smile Brands Inc, a portfolio company of Gryphon Investors, acquired Gateway Dental, a Seattle-based provider of general preventative and restorative care, specialty care, cosmetic dentistry and emergency services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Cresset Asset Management acquired Evanston Advisors, a Chicago-area SEC registered investment advisor. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Brigham Minerals, an Austin-based oil and gas firm, filed for a $100 million IPO. Warburg Pincus backs the firm. Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs are underwriters.It plans to list on the NYSE as “MNRL.” Read more.
• 36Kr, a Beijing-based TechCrunch rival, is reportedly seeking an $100 million IPO in the U.S. as early as this year, Bloomberg reports citing sources. Read more.
• Roper Technologies will buy Foundry, a provider of high-end visual effects and 3D design software, for 410 million pounds ($544.5 million). HG was the seller.
• Atlassian acquired AgileCraft, a Georgetown, Texas-based service that helps enterprises plan their strategic projects and workstreams, for approximately $166 million, with $154 million in cash and the remainder in restricted shares. AgileCraft had raised approximately $10 million in venture funding from investors including Crane Nelson.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• Accel, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based venture capital firm, raised $2.5 billion for its latest series of funds, including $525 million for its fourteenth early-stage fund, $1.5 billion for its fifth growth fund and $500 million for its second Leaders Fund.
• Israel Infrastructure Partners, an Israel-based investment fund, raised $350 million for its debut fund, IIP I.
• Monroe Capital named Carey Davidson and Karina Stahl as partners.
• Jason Franklin joined Wisconn Valley Ventures as a managing director.