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A storied venture capitalist won’t be joining Benchmark’s next fund

April 23, 2020, 1:46 PM UTC

What a shakeup.

One of the most storied venture capitalists, Bill Gurley, will not be joining his firm Benchmark Capital as an investor in its next fund. 

The 53-year-old investor, known for his bets in Uber, Stitch Fix, and Grubhub among others, won’t be a partner in Benchmark’s tenth fund, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Sources confirm to Term Sheet that the fund plans to raise about $425 million—some of which may be deployed to late stage or public tech companies in order to take advantage of lower valuations amid the coronavirus.

Gurley led Benchmark’s 2011 investment in Uber’s $11 million Series A round—a deal that’s led to massive gains for the firm despite the exhausting legal fallout. And in recent years, Gurley has been known for his outspoken views: He’s lambasted  companies for staying private for too long, and more recently championed direct listings.

Granted, Gurley is expected to still be involved in Benchmark. He is still on the board of some 11 companies and is expected to continue influencing investing decisions. And while such a move typically signals a shift towards retirement for venture capitalists—he will continue to influence in Silicon Valley.

“Given his insatiable curiosity I’m sure he has plenty more ideas to come,” says Stitch Fix CEO and founder Katrina Lake. Gurley was an early investor in the firm and now sits on the board.

Benchmark’s tenth fund will be managed by four general partners, at least from the outset: Peter Fenton, Eric Vishria, Sarah Tavel, and Chetan Puttagunta.

How to walk away from an acquisition: That’s a huge question as the pandemic razes valuations, especially in the retail and hospitality sectors.

Retail and consumer private equity firm Sycamore Partners is seeking to end its takeover of Victoria’s Secret, per a lawsuit filed by Sycamore in Delaware court Wednesday.

Just before the coronavirus hit the country full force, Sycamore agreed to acquire a majority stake in Victoria’s Secret, from L Brands, for $525 million. But as the pandemic hit, Sycamore tried to renegotiate at a lower price—which didn’t work, per reports. 

Interestingly enough, the acquisition agreement specifically excluded pandemics from being a “material adverse effect” that could instantly kill the deal. So Sycamore is arguing that Victoria’s Secret violated terms by furloughing employees and making other changes related to the coronavirus that don’t follow the “ordinary course” of business.

L Brands says it will “vigorously defend the lawsuit and pursue all legal remedies to enforce its contractual rights.” 

Lessons from Seattle: The west-coast city was the first epicenter of the coronavirus in the U.S—and it’s been surprisingly successful at containing the pandemic compared to other cities, thanks in part to strong coordination between government and mega corporations. So how do you flatten the curve, and hopefully keep it flat? Senior writer Erika Fry has an excellent conversation with executive editor Adam Lashinsky (over Zoom) about what it takes.

VENTURE DEALS

- Noah, a San Francisco-based company for equity sharing contracts among homeowners, raised $150 million in funding. Institutional investors including pension funds participated.

Accent Therapeutics, a Lexington, Mass.-based biopharmaceutical company developing treatments for cancer patients, raised $63 million in Series B funding. EcoR1 Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including GV, AbbVie Ventures, The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research, NS Investment, and Droia Ventures.

- SwanBio Therapeutics, a Bala Cynwyd, Penn.-based developer of adeno-associated virus based gene therapies for neurological diseases, raised $51 million in expanded Series A funding. Syncona was the investor.

- Nitrome Biosciences, a San Francisco, Calif.-based biopharmaceutical company targeting Parkinson’s disease and other age-related disorders, raised $38 million in Series A funding. Sofinnova Partners and AbbVie Ventures led the round, and were joined by investors including Dementia Discovery Fund, Mission Bay Capital, and Alexandria Venture Investments.

- FreeWire Technologies, a San Leandro, Cali.f-based maker of power solutions for the grid edge, raised $25 million in Series B and venture debt funding. Existing investor BP Ventures led the round, and was joined by existing investors including ABB Technology Ventures and Energy Innovation Capital.

- Fishtown Analytics, a Philadelphia-based company behind open-source data engineering tool dbt, raised $12.9 million in Series A funding. Andreessen Horowitz led the round. Read more.

- Peak, a Manchester, U.K.-based enterprise AI system, raised $12 million in extended Series A funding. MMC Ventures and Praetura Ventures led the round.

- MigVax Corp., an Israel-based biopharma firm which plans to develop a novel COVID-19 vaccine and is an affiliate of the The Migal Galilee Research Institute, raised $12 million in funding. OurCrowd led the round.

- Granulate, an Israel-based firm which aims to optimize infrastructure performance and costs through AI, raised $12 million in Series A funding. Insight Partners led the round.

- Laird Superfood, an Sisters, Ore.-based firm that creates plant-based food products, raised $10 million in funding. Danone Manifesto Ventures was the investor.

- Form, a Vancouver-based maker of AR-enhanced swim goggles, raised $8.5 million ($12M CAD) in Series A funding. Investors included Silicon Valley Bank. Read more.

- XRHealth, a Boston-based VR telemedicine platform, raised $7 million in funding. Investors include Bridges Israel, Flint Capital, and 20/20 HealthCare Partners. Read more.

- Hugo, a San Francisco-based connected meeting notes platform,raised $6.1 million in seed funding. Gradient Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Slack Fund, Founder Collective and Entrée Capital.

- DbVis Software, a Stockholm-based database management and analysis tool, raised €5.3 million ($5.7 million) in funding. Industrifonden and Fairpoint Capital led the round.

- Paige, a New York-based provider of computational pathology for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, raised an additional $5 million in Series B funding. Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division invested, bringing the round total to $50 million.

- Comet.ml, a New York-based machine learning experimentation platform, raised $4.5 million from existing investors including Trilogy Equity Partners, Two Sigma Ventures, and Founder's co-op.

- Reworks, a Helsinki-based mobile games studio, raised €4 million ($4.3 million) in funding. EQT Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Play Ventures and Anton Gauffin, CEO of Huuuge Games. 

- ampUp, a Cupertino, Calif.-based maker of electric vehicle charging tech, raised an undisclosed amount. Investors include SAIC Motors, Hyundai Motor Company, and Forest Ventures.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- Apollo Global Management, Oaktree Capital Management and BGH Capital are reportedly among those interested in restructuring Virgin Australia Holdings, per Reuters citing sources. Read more.

- Prometheus Group, backed by Genstar Capital, acquired WorkTech, a Cambridge, Mass.-based provider of contractor management and productivity solutions software. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Maxburg Capital Partners acquired a majority stake in Saracus Consulting, a German IT consultancy. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

OTHERS

- Medallia plans to acquire Voci Technologies, a Pittsburgh, Penn.-based speech-to-text startup, for $59 million in cash.

- Even Financial acquired LeapLife, a San Francisco-based insurtech platform and digital life insurance agency. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- TapClicks acquired AdStage, a San Francisco-based provider of marketing and advertising intelligence solutions for campaign optimization. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Asklepios BioPharmaceutical acquired BrainVectis, a Paris-based gene therapy company focused on restoring brain cholesterol metabolism as a treatment for Huntington's disease. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

F+FS

- York Capital Management announced capital commitments of about $800 million for York Special Opportunities Fund III.

- Venrock raised $447 million via its Venrock Healthcare Capital Partners fund. Read more.

- Brewer Lane Ventures raised $120 million for its first fund. The fund is targeting $200 million. Read more.

 

PEOPLE

- York Private Equity hired Harish Nataraj as a Managing Director. He was previously Partner and Managing Director at Angelo Gordon’s Private Equity Group.

- Mayfield Equity Partners promoted Paul Reading to Managing Director.