Hey there! This is Matt Heimer, filling in temporarily this morning for the irreplaceable Jessica Mathews.
Startup stories tend to mythologize and lionize founders—the ambitious, inspiration-driven geniuses who turn good ideas into great companies. But by the time you first learn about a startup, here in Term Sheet or anywhere else, those founders have already surrounded themselves with an invaluable supporting cast: a board of directors.
Great boards can elevate startups into juggernauts; weak ones look the other way and miss warning signs as dysfunction leads to dumpster fires. And as enterprises grow to greater scale, their boards become even more important, offering strategic advice and reality checks to executives as their companies expand their reach and responsibilities.
This week, Fortune is recognizing these best supporting actors and actresses in the corporate drama with a new list: The Fortune Modern Board 25, a ranking of the S&P 500 companies with the most innovative boards of directors.
The guiding principle behind the Fortune Modern Board 25 is a simple one: It matters who’s in the room. As my colleague Aman Kidwai writes in an essay accompanying the list, directors (and the leaders they advise) are being asked to take on more issues and represent more stakeholders than ever before. “Boards are taking on a more active role in corporate affairs,” Aman notes, “weighing in more often on matters like succession, diversity, recruiting, and environmental impact.”
The boards that score highest are the ones that bring a wider range of voices into those conversations. Diversity matters, in the broadest sense—of gender and nationality, as well as of age and professional expertise. And so does independence: Your business-school buddies and retirees from your own C-suite may be amazing people, the thinking goes, but they won’t have the objectivity to give you the best advice. (Aman and Fortune lists editor Scott DeCarlo developed the Modern Board ranking in collaboration with the corporate-governance software company Diligent; you can read more about our methodology here.)
Our No. 1 finisher, Microsoft, is a case study in such breadth. Its 12 board members include eight who identify as women or people of color. But it also includes executives who hold or have held C-suite posts in finance and pharma, as well as at other tech giants—people whose points of view aren’t shaped by spending their careers in the land of Windows, Halo, and Azure.
We hope the list sparks your imagination when it comes to what to look for in an advisory team, whether you’re an investor, a founder, both or neither. Let us know what you think!
Senior Features Editor
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Jackson Fordyce curated the deals section of today’s newsletter.
- CoinDCX, a Mumbai-based cryptocurrency exchange, raised more than $135 million in Series D funding. Pantera and Steadview led the round and were joined by investors including Kingsway, DraperDragon, Republic, Kindred, B Capital Group, Coinbase, Polychain, and Cadenza.
- Fortress Information Security, an Orlando, Fla.-based supply chain cybersecurity provider, raised $125 million in funding from funds managed by the private equity business within Goldman Sachs Asset Management.
- SEON, a London-based online fraud detection and prevention company, raised $94 million in Series B funding led by IVP and was joined by investors including Creandum, PortfoLion, and other angels.
- HomeTown Ticketing, a Columbus, Ohio-based digital ticketing and event software for schools, districts, conferences, and associations, raised $75 million in funding from Nexa Equity.
- Unlearn.ai, a San Francisco-based machine-learning platform developer creating digital twins of patients in clinical trials, raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners and was joined by investors including Radical Ventures, 8VC, DCVC, DCVC Bio, and Mubadala Capital Ventures.
- GRUBBRR, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based self-ordering systems and kiosk software provider, raised $35 million in funding from Aon.
- Demostack, a San Francisco and Tel Aviv-based demo experience platform for SaaS sales teams, raised $34 million in Series B funding led by Tiger Global Management and was joined by investors including Bessemer Venture Partners, Amiti Ventures, GTMfund, Operator Collective, and StepStone.
- Air Company, a New York-based carbon-negative alcohols and consumer products creator, raised $30 million in Series A funding led by Carbon Direct Capital Management and was joined by investors including Toyota Ventures, JetBlue Technology Ventures, and Parley for the Oceans.
- A SHOC Energy, a Newport Beach, Calif.-based energy drink company, raised $29 million in Series B funding from investors including Keurig Dr Pepper, 7-Ventures, professional baseball player Aaron Judge, retired football player Michael Strahan, professional golfer Lexi Thompson, and other angels.
- One More Game, a Seattle-based game studio, raised $22 million in Series A funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and was joined by investors including Griffin Gaming Partners Andreessen Horowitz, Animal Capital, Cleo Capital, and others.
- Enso, a San Francisco-based data processing and visualization platform, raised $16.5 million in funding from SignalFire, Khosla Ventures, Day One Ventures, Decacorn Capital, Y Combinator, Samsung Next, Harvard’s Endowment, West Coast Endeavors, Innovation Nest, and others.
- Soter Analytics, a London-based global ergonomic technology company, raised $12 million in Series A funding led by AV8 Ventures and was joined by investors including OTB Ventures, btov Industrial Technologies Fund, Verve Ventures, and Startup Wise Guys.
- Speckle, a London-based 3D data platform, raised $5.5 million in seed funding. Frontline Ventures and Matrix Partners led the round and were joined by investors including Foundamental and other angels.
- Trust, a Los Angeles-based network for brands, raised $5 million in funding from investors including Sapphire Sport and former Venmo COO Michael Vaughan.
- Vyng, a Los Angeles-based bitcoin dialer and caller I.D. company, raised $5 million in funding from investors including March Capital Partners, Newbound Venture Capital, Alpha Edison, and Omidyar Network.
- Experify, a Zürich-based product review platform connecting buyers with purchasers, raised $4 million in seed funding led by Vertex Ventures US and was joined by investors including Sonae Investment Management and the Berkeley SkyDeck Fund.
- Encore, a Stockholm-based backend development engine for distributed systems, raised $3 million in seed funding led by Crane Venture Partners and was joined by investors including Acequia Capital, Essence Venture Capital, Third Kind Venture Capital, and others.
- ArchiMed Group acquired Natus Medical, a Middleton, Wis.-based maker of medical devices for diagnosing and treating disorders affecting the brain and nervous systems, for approximately $1.2 billion.
- Patriot Pickle, a Swander Pace Capital portfolio company, acquired the pickle assets of Farm Ridge Foods, a South Islandia, N.Y.-based food provider. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Cryoport acquired Cell&Co BioServices, a Clermont-Ferrand, France-based bioservices company providing biorepository, kitting, and logistics services to the life sciences industry. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Robinhood agreed to acquire Ziglu, a London-based crypto and payments company. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Blockchain.com, a Miami-based crypto startup, is in talks to go public sometime this year, according to Bloomberg. Lightspeed Venture Partners and Baillie Gifford back the company.
FUNDS + FUNDS OF FUNDS
- Mainsail Partners, an Austin and San Francisco-based growth equity firm, raised $915 million for a sixth fund focused on founder-led software companies.
- Conductive Ventures, a Palo Alto-based venture capital firm, raised $200 million for a third fund focused on early growth companies in software, hardware, technology-enabled services, and blockchain.
- Ara Partners, a Boston, Dublin, and Houston-based private equity firm, promoted Katy Boettcher to principal and hired Ken Nguyen as senior associate. Formerly, he was with Altos Partners.
- Redpoint Ventures, a Woodside, Calif.-based venture capital firm, hired Meena Clark as principal. Formerly, she was with Obvious Ventures.
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