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The bloodletting from Theranos’ fallout didn’t stop at big name investors

November 12, 2021, 4:02 PM UTC

“The Great Resignation” has been one of the biggest economic themes to come out of the pandemic, with journalists including myself finding facets of it in almost every business story.

It’s funny to suddenly become part of the theme that you’ve been writing about.

Yes, I am leaving Fortune after nearly six amazing years working alongside some of the most knowledgeable, talented, industrious, and humble folks in the industry. I’ve been lucky enough to see my byline on everything from newsletters to magazine stories, and my face—somewhat unfortunately (I still can’t bear to watch myself)—in videos and on our conference stages. 

This was by no means an easy decision to make: I will miss Fortune immensely and I cannot say thank you enough to my current and former colleagues who believed in me beyond my wildest dreams. I continue to feel incredibly excited, watching the business embark on a new era under the capable hands of its new fearless Editor-in-Chief, Alyson Shontell

But I’m also keen to try something new and set off on a new chapter of my own: I am joining media startup Axios, where I’ll be helping launch a newsletter product diving into the Fintech dealmaking world. Eagle-eyed readers of this newsletter know I’ve tended to favor the topic in this particular space.

In short: This is by no means goodbye. Moreover, I plan to see my duties as a co-chair at our Brainstorm Tech Conference through the start of December, meaning you’ll see my byline under Fortune’s banner for a while (though I will be taking a break around Thanksgiving to deal with personal matters). Stay tuned for more on who will be taking over Term Sheet after that.

But onto the news.

HOLMES OFFERED TO PAY OFF A PROBING INVESTOR: Don’t bite the hand that feeds. The founder of blood testing startup Theranos and her boyfriend apparently did not take that adage to heart, according to testimony from Alan Eisenman, a former money manager from Houston who held a $1.2 million stake in the company when the company collapsed.

According to Bloomberg coverage of the ongoing trials, Eisenman began developing misgivings about the business long before Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyou wrote his bombshell, 2016 expose of the startup. But when he sought out additional information from the company, both Elizabeth Holmes and her then boyfriend and President Sunny Balwani grew hostile, culminating this bizarre email from Balwani in 2015 some nine years after Eisenman made his first investment, per Bloomberg

Your emails are insulting, full of inaccurate statements and wasteful of our time,” Balwani wrote back. “Our next response to this email and all your future emails will come from our counsel.”

I wouldn’t have been surprised if this had been a response to Carreyou or perhaps even to an employee raising concerns about the company. But this was to an investor with a vested stake in the business. Not to mention, this all came as Holmes sought to pay Eisenman more than five times what he paid for his stake to make the questions stop.

This story also matters for another reason: It’s a stark and necessary reminder that there were smaller, far less well protected investors and likely employees who were hurt by the fallout and deception. It’s a simple but important fact that gets lost in all the focus on big name investors around Holmes like Henry Kissinger, Rupert Murdoch, DFJ, and Walmart’s Walton Family—and as some startup investors have busied themselves with distancing their industry from the story altogether in the hopes of keeping the scrutiny from reaching venture capital’s way of life.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: 
@shenlucinda
Email: 
lucinda.shen@fortune.com

VENTURE DEALS

- Applied Intuition, a Mountain VIew, Calif.-based autonomous vehicle software maker, raised $175 million in Series D funding, valuing it at $3.6 billion. Elad Gil, Coatue, and Addition led the round.

- Alt, a remote-first alternative asset investing platform, raised a $75 million in Series B funding valuing it over $325 million. AngelList founder Naval Ravikant and Accomplice founder Jeff Fagnan's Spearhead led the round and were joined by investors including 776.

- Neo4j, a San Francisco-based graph tech maker, raised $66 million in extended Series F funding. Inovia Capital led the round.

- Puls Technologies, a Livermore, Calif.-based home repair company, raised $15 million. Hanaco Venture Capital led the round.

- Flywheel, a Minneapolis-based data management platform for biomedical research and collaboration, raised $5.5 million in additional Series C funding. Intuitive Ventures invested.

- Zebec Protocol, a San Francisco-based cash flow protocol on Solana, raised $6 million. Republic Capital, Shima Capital, and Breyer Capital led the round and were joined by investors including Resolute Ventures, Launchpad Capital, Backend Capital, Meltem Demirors, Gemini Frontier Fund, Infinity Ventures Crypto, Wave 7, Cadenza Ventures, Hack VC, and Joe McCann. 

- Uiflow, a San Francisco-based platform for development teams, raised $5.2 million in seed funding. Addition led the round and was joined by investors including YC Continuity.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- Blackstone Infrastructure Partners acquired Carrix, a marine terminal operator. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Thoma Bravo invested $100 million via secondaries in Pendo, a product analytics and digital adoption platform. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Svoboda Capital Partners recapitalized TVA2, a Winston-Salem, N.C.-basd digital advertising agency. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- SportPet, a Topspin Consumer Partners portfolio company, acquired Mission Pets, a San Francisco-based pet goods maker. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

EXIT

- The Carlyle Group and Stellex Capital Management acquired IMIA, a provider of services for the construction of United States Navy vessels, from J.F. Lehman & Company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- The largest shareholder in ICA Gruppen, a Swedish grocer, plans to take the business private in a deal valuing it at 107.4 billion crowns ($12.5 billion).

OTHER

- CooperCompanies (NYSE: COO) will acquire Generate Life Sciences, a Los Angeles-based provider of donor egg and sperm for fertility treatments, for $1.6 billion.

- Altus Group (TSX: AIF) agreed to acquire Scryer, a housing data company, for $201.5 million (approximately C$249.5 million). Financial terms weren't disclosed.

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