Vice Buys Refinery29 As the Great Digital Media Consolidation Continues: Term Sheet

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It’s tough out there for a media company.

Vice Media Group acquired Refinery29, a New York-based lifestyle site that caters to millennial women. The deal values Refinery29 at about $400 million, while the value of the combined online publishers is pegged at approximately $4 billion.

In total, Refinery29 had raised approximately $133.4 million in venture funding from investors including Turner Broadcasting, the Stripes Group, Scripps Networks, WPP Ventures, Floodgate, and Hearst Communications. 

Refinery29 publishes entertainment content aimed at women, which is an audience that Vice lacks. “With this acquisition, we’ll be growing our investment in premium content production across all our divisions,” Vice CEO Nancy Dubuc wrote in a statement. Vice’s readers are mostly young millennial men. One source in The New York Post likened the cultures of Vice and Refinery29 as “oil” and “water.” 

It’s a sad, sad state of affairs for digital media publishers. Vice, which was once valued at nearly $6 billion, recently pulled the plug on IPO plans and fell short of its revenue goals in 2018, posting a loss of approximately $50 million. Disney, which is one of Vice’s key backers, wrote down the value of its $400 million investment. Vice has also been undergoing cost-cutting and layoffs. It eliminated 250 jobs across all departments — roughly 10% of its workforce — and de-emphasizing its focus on Vice’s web properties. 

Just last week, Vox acquired New York Media, the media firm behind New York Magazine, Vulture and the Cut. I have a feeling the Great Consolidation isn’t over yet.

A DIGITAL OUTLET MALL: Simon Property Group, a top U.S. developer of shopping centers, and digital commerce pioneer Rue Gilt Groupe, the owner of Rue La La and Gilt, are jointly building up an e-commerce marketplace that will cater to outlet mall shoppers. In addition, Simon is taking a 50% stake in a new entity encompassing Rue Gilt and that website for $280 million. Read more.

A BILLION-DOLLAR PLEDGE: “In 2018, there were more men named James running Fortune 500 companies than there were women.” That’s how Melinda Gates began her Time op-ed announcing that she is committing $1 billion over the next decade to expand women’s power and influence.

Through her investment firm Pivotal Ventures, Gates will focus on three areas: dismantling the barriers to women’s professional advancement, fast-tracking women in sectors with outsized impact on our society, and, amplifying external pressure, via shareholders, consumers, and employees, on companies and organizations.

I spoke with Gates last year about the role that limited partners play in the venture ecosystem, the long-lasting effects of the #MeToo movement, and what industry she’d like to see backed by more venture dollars. “I think real change can occur when the VC community starts to demand that the people it invests in have diversity, the right values, and the right behavior,” she said. “When they start demanding that, then you’re going to see some real change.”

‘A BIGGER FRAUD THAN ENRON:’ Who’s right about General Electric? Accounting sleuth Harry Markopolos believes GE is engaged in accounting fraud so vast that the storied conglomerate will soon be forced into bankruptcy. Markopolos was the lone person to sound the alarm on Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi operation, and gained fame and credibility by turning out to be spectacularly right, raising fears he could be right about GE as well.

Fortune’s legendary reporter Shawn Tully conducts a lengthy investigation into GE’s accounting practices that revealed some surprising findings about the company—and Markopolos, who is charging that GE is “a bigger fraud than Enron.” Read the story here.

VENTURE DEALS

Udaan, an India-based business-to-business e-commerce platform, raised $585 million in Series D funding. Investors include Tencent, Altimeter, Footpath Ventures, Hillhouse, GGV Capital, Citi Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and DST Global. 

SnapLogic, a San Mateo, Calif.-based provider of an intelligent integration platform, raised $72 million in funding. Arrowroot Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Golub Capital.

NS1, a New York-based developer of a cloud-first DNS traffic management platform, raised $33 million in Series C funding. Dell Technologies Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Cisco Investments, GGV Capital, Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, Flybridge Capital Partners, Sigma Prime Ventures, Telstra Ventures, Two Sigma Ventures, Mango Capital, and Entrée Capital. 

​Mercury​, a San Francisco-based bank for startups, raised $20 million in Series A funding. Charles River Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Andreessen Horowitz.

ControlRad Inc, an Atlanta-based medical tech company, raised $15 million in Series B funding. Questa Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Rapha Capital Management LLC.

Meditrina Inc, a Cupertino, Calif.-based women’s healthcare company, raised $13 million in funding. ShangBay Capital LLC and Aethan Capital Inc led the round.

SaaSOptics, an Atlanta-based subscription management platform for emerging and growth B2B SaaS and subscription-based businesses, raised $12 million in Series B funding. Fulcrum Equity Partners led the round.

Waycare, an Israel-based AI-based connected mobility platform for transportation agencies, raised $7.25 million in Series A funding. SJF Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including UpWest, Next Gear Ventures, Innogy, Spider Capital, Goldbell, Zymestic Solutions, and Janom.

X1, a Pasadena, Calif.-based software company, raised $5.1 million in Series B funding. Palisades Growth Capital led the round.

Fyle, an India-based expense management platform, raised $4.5 million in funding. Investors include Steadview Capital, Tiger Global, Freshworks, and Pravega Ventures.

Mon Ami, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based company focused on social isolation in aging, raised $3.4 million in seed funding. Freestyle Ventures and Cowboy Ventures co-led the round, and was joined by investors including Maverick Ventures, Felicis Ventures, and Bruce Dunlevie.  

Amped Innovation, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based designer and manufacturer of solar-powered appliances and solar energy generation and management equipment, raised more than $3.3 million in Series A funding. ENGIE Rassembleurs d’Energies led the round, and was joined by investors including Schneider Electric Ventures and FINCA Ventures

Diligent Robotics, an Austin, Texas-based developer of hospital service robots, raised $3 million in seed funding. True Ventures and Ubiquity Ventures co-led the round, and was joined by investors including Next Coast Ventures, Capital Factory, Pathbreaker Ventures, Boom Capital, and Grit Ventures.

ReFirm Labs, a Fulton, Md.-based provider of IoT and firmware security solutions, raised $2 million in funding. DataTribe and New Dominion Angels led the round, and was joined by investors including TEDCO and Tysons Angel Investors.

SmartRent, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based provider of smart home automation for property managers and renters, raised funding of an undisclosed amount, from Amazon Alexa Fund.

nCino, a Wilmington, N.C.-based provider of cloud-based bank operating solutions, raised funding of an undisclosed amount. T. Rowe Price Associates led the round, and was joined by investors including Salesforce Ventures.

Percipient.ai, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based artificial intelligence, machine learning and – computer vision firm, raised Series B funding of an undisclosed amount. Investors include Lupa Systems, Venrock and Valor Equity Partners.

HEALTH & LIFE SCIENCES DEALS

Tenaya Therapeutics, Inc, a San Francisco-based developer of curative therapies that target the underlying causes of heart disease, raised $92 million Series B funding. Investors include Casdin Capital, GV, and The Column Group.

PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS

Warburg Pincus acquired Petplan, a Newton Square, Penn.-based pet health insurance provider. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. 

Vision Innovation Partners acquired Metropolitan Ophthalmology Associates, a Chevy Chase, Md. and McLean, Va.-based ophthalmology practice. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. 

Ciena Corporation (NYSE: CIEN) agreed to acquire Centina, a Plano, Texas-based provider of service assurance analytics and network performance management solutions. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. 

NexPhase Capital made an investment in Popcornopolis, a Vernon, Calif.-based manufacturer of ready-to-eat popcorn. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. 

ICV Partners made an investment in Horizon Air Freight, Inc, a New York-based specialized freight forwarder focused on the marine industry. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. 

OTHER DEALS

FLEETCOR Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: FLT) acquired Travelliance, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based provider of airline lodging programs. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. 

IPOs

ADC Therapeutics SA, a Switzerland-based biotech focused on antibody therapies for cancer, withdrew its $150 million IPO. It posted revenue of $1.1 million and losses of $123.1 million in 2018. Auven Therapeutics and AstraZeneca back the firm. It plans to list on the NYSE as “ADCT.” Read more.

Aprea Therapeutics, a Boston-based firm focused on cancer therapies, plans to raise $85 million in an IPO of 5.7 million shares priced at $15 apiece. It has yet to post a revenue, and posted losses of $15.5 million in 2018. Karolinska Development, Versant Venture Management, and 5am Ventures back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “APRE.” Read more.

Viela Bio, a Gaithersburg, M.D.-based biotech developing therapies for autoimmune diseases, raised $150 million in an initial public offering of 7.9 million shares priced at $19, the low end of its range. It has yet to post a revenue and posted a loss of $19 million in 2018. AstraZeneca (38.4% pre-offering), Boundless Meadow (18.4%) and 6 Dimensions Capital (8.7%) back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “VIE.” Read more.

Frequency Therapeutics, a Woburn, Mass.-based firm focused on degenerative diseases, raised $84 million in an IPO of 6 million shares priced at $14, the low end of its range. It has yet to post a revenue, and posted losses of $19.2 million in 2018. Perceptive Advisors and Taiwania Capital back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “FREQ.” Read more.

PEOPLE

AE Industrial Partners promoted Jon Nemo to senior partner, and Charlie Compton, Kirk Konert and Peter Schumacher to partner. 

Rally Ventures named Justin Kaufenberg as a partner.

David Wadhwani joined Greylock as a venture partner.

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