When Elon Musk took Twitter private late last year, he did so with the help of a handful of investors, at least one of which appears to have skimped on due diligence.
Now we’re getting an idea of whether that buyout deal for the social media company was a good investment—at least according to one of Twitter’s shareholders. As my colleague Luisa Beltran reported earlier this week, one of Fidelity’s growth stock-focused mutual funds, the Fidelity Blue Chip Growth Fund, wrote down its stake in Twitter by approximately 56% since October—downgrading the value of its holdings from $19.7 million at the end of October to $8.6 million as of Nov. 30.
All of this comes after Musk swept into Twitter, parted ways with roughly three-quarters of the staff, installed hotel-like rooms in the office, and put espresso machines and sculptures up for auction.
As a reminder, two prominent venture capital firms jumped on board to back Musk’s bid for Twitter: Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz. That’s in addition to other investors including Brookfield, Binance, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, the Qatar Investment Authority, and Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud. In total, investors agreed to pour $7.1 billion into taking Twitter private, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure filed ahead of the acquisition. Here’s a look at the largest investors that were disclosed ahead of the transaction, as I wrote about last year:
Firms like a16z or Sequoia wouldn’t have to proactively write down their investments until a formal liquidity event. While VCs are required to report the “fair value” of their investments to LPs, “fair value” can be highly subjective. But the writedowns from a Fidelity mutual fund, which answers to investors carrying public stocks, is notable. I know, I know: Venture capitalists have a long time horizon and they don’t get worked up over monthly or quarterly price movement. And, yes, few tech companies are notching lofty valuations given the current state of the markets anyway. (Spokespersons at Sequoia and a16z didn’t respond to a request for comment)
But Elon Musk is reportedly looking for a new chief executive after respondents to his Twitter poll suggested he move on from the role. A majority of Twitter’s staffers are gone, and the company has split ways with several members of its executive team. VC investors are notoriously focused on the people running the company: the founders. If you look at the broader market, venture capitalist funds have generally performed quite well. The rate of success for their participation in buyout deals, particularly when you are putting together an entirely new management team, is less clear.
All of this points to a much larger looming question that is worth asking. Because, just as hedge funds, mutual fund managers, or sovereign wealth funds have tried their hand in the opaque world of privates in recent years, VCs have dappled in the public ones. They are holding shares—and buying up more—in their private darlings well beyond the IPO date (a strategy some argue is backfiring in the current market), or even launching buyout funds. Sequoia Capital has its own crossover fund.
Are venture capitalists good at taking big swings at public companies that have already scaled to thousands of employees, or at tinkering in the world of private equity-esque buyouts? It’s an interesting question. And Twitter looks to be a fascinating case study to shed light on an answer.
See you tomorrow,
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Clarification, Jan. 6, 2023: The online version of this newsletter has been clarified to make it clear that VCs report the fair value of their investments to LPs.
Jackson Fordyce curated the deals section of today’s newsletter.
- Cardiac Dimensions, a Kirkland, Wash.-based cardiovascular treatment company, raised $35 million in Series D funding. Horizon 3 Healthcare and an undisclosed investor co-led the round and were joined by investors including Arboretum Ventures, Hostplus, EQT Life Sciences, Lumira Ventures, and M. H. Carnegie & Co.
- AVS, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based medical device company treating calcified arterial disease, raised $20 million in Series B funding led by BioStar Capital.
- LinusBio, a New York-based exposome sequencing company, raised $17.5 million in Series A funding. GreatPoint Ventures and Bow Capital co-led the round and were joined by investors including Divergent Investments, the David Bellet Family Office, and other angels.
- Crescendo Health, a San Francisco-based health data company, raised $3.4 million in funding from Define Ventures and other angels.
- Arlington Capital Partners acquired Avian Vaccine Services, a Norwich, Conn.-based vaccine and therapeutics manufacturer and developer. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Café Valley, a Swander Pace Capital portfolio company, acquired the assets of Freed’s Bakery, a Las Vegas-based iced mini cupcakes manufacturer. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Catalio Capital acquired the investment team of HealthCor Management, a New York-based health care hedge fund. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Gridiron Capital acquired a majority stake in Esquire Deposition Solutions, an Atlanta-based court reporting, video, and interpreting services provider for corporate and law firm clients. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Healthcare Linen Services Group, backed by York Private Equity, acquired Linen King, a Tulsa, Okla.-based health care laundry services provider. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Highlander Partners acquired DZYNE Technologies, an Irvine, Calif.-based unmanned aircraft systems manufacturer and designer. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Planet DDS acquired Cloud 9 Software, a Roswell, Ga.-based practice management system for dental health professionals, from Accel-KKR. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Redwood Software, backed by Turn/River Capital, acquired Tidal Software, a Chicago-based workload automation platform. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Cressey & Company and Health Enterprise Partners acquired The InterMed Group, an Alachua, Fla.-based health care technology management services provider, from Granite Bridge Partners. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Dedrone acquired Aerial Armor, a Phoenix-based drone detection and counter systems company. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Management and existing shareholders of Titan Frozen Fruit, Vestar Capital Partners, and Windhover Capital agreed to recapitalize Titan, a Santa Maria, Calif.-based frozen berry processor and ingredient provider. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Kenvue, the Skillman, N.J.-based consumer health business of Johnson & Johnson, filed for an initial public offering.
- Achieve Partners, a New York-based private equity firm, promoted Corinne Spears to principal.
- DeepWork Capital, an Orlando-based venture capital firm, promoted Ken Hall to principal.
- Macquarie Capital, the investing arm of Sydney-based Macquarie Group, hired Eric Jacobs and Vince Lambert as managing directors and co-heads of U.S. health care. Formerly, the two were with Nomura.
- Oak HC/FT, a Stamford, Conn.-based venture capital and growth equity firm, promoted Eliza Adams to vice president, health care, Tess Munsie to vice president, fintech, and Stephen Dierks to director, head of talent, fintech.
- Silversmith Capital Partners, a Boston-based growth equity firm, promoted Danielle Waldman to principal and Shelby Herrington to vice president.
- Trilantic North America, a New York-based private equity firm, promoted Dan Siegman to partner.
Correction, Jan. 6, 2023: The digital version of this newsletter has been updated to reflect that Titan is headquartered in Santa Maria, not Santa Monica.
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