It is Friday! Our relief knows no boundaries. Hope you have a wonderful weekend, everyone!:)
Top News in the A.M.
Snapchat has raised $175 million in fresh funding from Fidelity Investments, valuing the messaging company at the same $16 billion valuation from one year ago, reports the WSJ.
Microsoft eyed Slack as a potential acquisition target for as much as $8 billion, says a TechCrunch source. An internal campaign around making an offer failed to drum up support, though. More here.
This LP Has Millions to Give U.S. Venture Firms (Now!)
Peakview Capital is the investment advisory arm of Shengjing Group and the largest global fund of funds in China.
It also has millions of dollars to invest in U.S.-based venture capital funds, it says. This year. Right now.
It’s a very different message than VCs are receiving from many other institutions, judging by our recent conversations with them.
According to a variety of sources, the many brands talking with LPs include Andreessen Horowitz, Menlo Ventures, Eight Partners, True Ventures, and First Round Capital (to name but a handful). But some investors aren’t happy with the founder-friendly approach that many VCs have taken in recent years. As one investor told us earlier this week, speaking on background: “A lot of VCs have ‘returns’ but they’re mostly unrealized; it’s not like they were pumping these [portfolio companies] out [onto the public market] as soon as they could. And now the IPO market has collapsed.”
Erik Lassila, a longtime VC who is now the U.S.-based managing partner of Peakview, understands his peers’ frustration. There’s a big — and often costly — divide between paper and realized gains. But as part of an organization that plans to invest $1 billion in venture funds — including “hundreds of millions of dollars” in the U.S., a smaller percentage in Israel, and the rest back home in China — Lassila doesn’t have to worry about VCs’ mistakes in recent years. He’s working with a “blank slate,” as he puts it.
Autolus, a 1.5-year-old, London-based biopharmaceutical company working to develop next-generation engineered T-cell therapies for haematological and solid tumors, has raised £40 million ($56.8 million) in Series B funding, including from Woodford Investment Management and Perceptive Bioscience Investments. More here.
Exo, a nearly three-year-old, New York-based startup that’s developing insects as an alternative protein source (think cricket flour protein bars), has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by AccelFoods, with participation from Collaborative Fund, Start Garden, and individual investors Tim Ferriss, Nas, and Amelia Boone. Vator has more here.
Phenom People, a 5.5-year-old, Philadelphia, Pa.-based talent relationship marketing company, has added $2.7 million to its Series A financing, bringing funding for the round to $7.6 million. The new capital came from Sigma Prime Ventures. More here.
SourceKnowledge, a 6.5-year-old, Montreal, Quebec-based performance video technology company, has raised $1.5 million in funding from BDC Capital. More here.
Terbium Labs, a nearly three-year-old, Baltimore, Md.-based company whose product, Matchlight, alerts clients the instant their stolen data appears on the dark web, has raised $6.4 million in new funding led by .406 Ventures. The company has now garnered $9.7 million altogether. The Baltimore Sun has more here.
Aberdeen Venture Partners is looking to raise up to $200 million for a new fund of funds, shows an SEC filing. Earlier last year, FLAG Capital Management — an asset manager that had backed a long list of top venture firms, including Accel Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Redpoint Ventures, Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures — was acquired by the British fund manager. In December, we talked with the head of its global venture capital practice, Peter Denious (a FLAG exec who stayed on), about Aberdeen’s 2016 outlook.
Eight Partners, a venture firm launched by serial entrepreneur Joe Lonsdale, has closed on more than $300 million in a first close just a few months after coming to market, according to the WSJ. The fund’s target is $400 million, and its hard cap is $420 million. (For what it’s worth, we’ve heard that this fund is already oversubscribed.)
Hummer Winblad Venture Partners is looking to raise up to $125 million for its seventh fund, shows an SEC filing. The firm, whose founders, John Hummer and Ann Winblad, stopped actively investing on its behalf some time ago, is these days run by three managing directors: Lars Leckie, Mitchell Kertzman and Steve Kishi. We talked with Leckie about Hummer’s “reboot” in April of last year.
Messaging app operator Line, owned by South Korea’s largest web portal operator, Naver Corp, plans an IPO of up to $3 billion in New York and Tokyo, the IFR reported today. More here.
Docker, a six-year-old, San Francisco-based open-source data platform, has the orchestration startup Conductant. No financial terms were disclosed, but Conductant appears to have been bootstrapped. Docker has meanwhile raised $180 million, shows CrunchBase, including from Greylock Partners, Sequoia Capital, and Insight Venture Partners. TechCrunch has more here.
First Round Capital has written to its LPs its view that the valuation pullback is “not a temporary blip.”
Oculus cofounder Palmer Luckey says his Rift virtual reality headset will (still) only support Windows PCs at launch. It can’t support the Mac, though it Apple ever releases a “good computer, we will do it.” Ars Technica has more here.
Marissa Mayer is secretly trying to sell a “package deal” that would keep her as Yahoo CEO, according to a new report. The deal is being pitched by Frank Quattrone, the famous banker Mayer has hired.
AltSchool founder Max Ventilla tells the New Yorker what inspired him to launch his young (well-backed) educational franchise: “A three-year-old today isn’t that different” today, he tells the outlet. But, largely because of technology, “a thirteen-year-old is really different.”
A running list of Apple’s allies in its fight with the FBI.
Bitcoin’s nightmare scenario has come to pass, with the network’s capacity to process transactions maxed out.
Poor sleep gives you the munchies, a new study confirms.
The world’s richest auto magnates, 2016 edition.
Why Wall Street’s iconic steakhouses are empty.