This week’s Women’s PE Briefs leads off with a bittersweet ending for Camille Samuels. In recent weeks, we’ve told you about women who have left Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Providence Equity Partners. This week, we’ll tell you about hires made by those two firms. Speaking of hires, you’ll get the information on the new CIOs for two New York colleges. Behshad Sheldon and Annie Thériault pull off rare doubles and appear in Women’s PE Briefs two weeks in a row for different reasons. You’ll also find items involving former New York Yankee great Derek Jeter; actors, and husband and wife, Will and Jada Smith; and cabbage — yes, cabbage. We also feature deals involving different women at Domain Associates and The Riverside Company, frequent references to Canada, and an item on someone who I enjoyed working under at Dow Jones: Clare Hart.
– David G. Barry
Avante Mezzanine Partners’ Jeri Harman — recently named one of the “Most Influential Private Equity Investors in L.A.” — discusses future interest rate hikes and the high valuation “frenzy.” Hear Jeri’s take on these topics, as well her perspective on the Women’s Private Equity Summit as a catalyst for women’s success in the field.
Tune in for the full interview.
In the Spotlight …
A company that venture capitalist Camille Samuels helped create is set to be sold for $2.1 billion. And, while calling the sale of publicly traded Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, Inc., to Allergan Plc “a great outcome,” Camille tells Women’s PE Briefs that the deal is somewhat bittersweet. The reason: Westlake Village, Calif.-based Kythera just received FDA approval in April for the first and only approved, non-surgical treatment to reduce fat under the chin, commonly called double chin. Camille said she would have enjoyed seeing the company’s management team — one she calls “the most extraordinary management team I’ve ever worked with” — get the chance to launch the injectable product. Camille’s confidence in the company and management team is illustrated by the fact that she stayed on Kythera’s board not only after it went public in 2012, but also after she had left her role as a managing director at Versant Ventures and became a partner at Venrock.
The groundwork for what became Kythera began more than a dozen years ago when Camille recruited Nathaniel “Ned” David to Versant as an entrepreneur-in-residence. Camille had come across him when Versant backed a company he co-founded — Syrrx, Inc., a biotech company later acquired by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. While at Versant, Ned, said Camille, attended the American Dermatology Conference and came back with an observation: innovation in the space was sorely lacking. “Lotions and potions” and reformulated old drugs were the primary tools of a dermatologist — or, simply, “innovation was about reformulating old drugs,” Camille recalled. There was going to be, he said, a big opportunity in developing treatments for this sector. As a result, Versant formed a shell company to focus on dermatology, and Camille headed out to recruit the management team. That team, in turn, found technology at the University of California-Los Angeles and Kythera was formed in 2005, with a $1-million, pre-money valuation. “We were off to the races,” she said. Kythera, which has yet to generate revenue, went public in 2012, and Versant ended up selling its shares when the company had about a $1-billion valuation. Camille said “she would have loved Versant to hold off,” but the firm was in the process of raising a new fund. Camille, herself, held just over 25,000 shares earlier this year — all rewards for serving as a board member.
Kythera is one of two companies that came out of Camille’s association with Ned at Versant. Another company that he co-founded and she backed, Achaogen, went public in 2013. And that partnership is far from over. Camille said another company that she is working on with Ned will come out of stealth mode, likely this fall. The company could have broad applications, including “longevity,” she said. Camille is also on the board of Spirox, Inc., Carmenta and RegenXBIO.
Next Acts: Women on the Move
Kathleen E. Jacobs and Anne Dinneen have each become chief investment officers and both are doing so at New York universities. Kathleen, who has been managing director in the Office of Investments at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, was named CIO of New York University. Anne, who has been director of investments for the James Irvine Foundation, has become CIO of Hamilton College. Kathleen will start at NYU in August. Tina Suhr was CIO of NYU for a decade, before deciding the time was right to leave late last year. NYU has a $3.5-billion endowment. Kathleen was with New York-Presbyterian for seven years and had a role in asset allocation and fund manager selection. She was involved in both public and private investments. Her background also includes roles with J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs and the Julliard School’s investment office. In announcing her appointment, the chair of the NYU board’s investment committee, Joel S. Ehrenkranz, said that Kathleen impressed them “with her good judgment, her equanimity, her record of successes, and her experience with the kind of strategies and assets that are relevant to the management of NYU’s endowment.” NYU’s endowment is ranked 27th overall among colleges and universities. The endowment is largely invested through managers, with 45 percent in equities, 44 percent in alternative and real assets, and 11 percent in fixed income. Anne joins Hamilton after spending 10 years with the San Francisco-based Irvine Foundation. The Clinton, N.Y.-based school has $922 million in endowment and planned giving assets. In announcing her arrival, Henry Bedford, chair of the college’s Trustee Committee on Investments, said that the college “was fortunate to have attracted someone of her talent and skill to manage Hamilton’s endowment as it approaches $1 billion in assets.” He called Anne “a sophisticated investment manager” who has a “track record of making prudent decisions that maximize growth and diversification.” Anne replaces Peter Tonetti, who retired as CIO after seven years in the role. Anne will work from New York City. Her background also includes roles with BlackRock, Barclays Global Investors, Thomas Weisel Partners and Banc of America Securities.
Jessie Chenxian Gao joins Auda International as a senior associate in the firm’s Hong Kong office. Previously, Jessie was an investment executive with Partners Group. She has also held roles with KMPG Corporate Finance and AXA Private Equity. Auda was founded in 1989, as an investment company of the Harald Quandt family. It invests in private equity via primaries, secondaries and direct/co-investments, either through funds or on behalf of separate managed accounts. As of March 31, Auda manages $5.4 billion of private equity commitments.
After 13 years with Bay City Capital, Stacey Leanos has joined a publicly traded biomedical products company. Stacey, who was senior director of marketing and investor relations for the life science venture firm, is now associate director of investor and public relations for Cerus Corp. Based in Concord, Calif., Cerus is focused on blood safety.
Lisa M. Lee, who, as a managing director at CVC Capital Partners, directed the firm’s North American investor relations and fundraising activities, lands a new role. Lisa is now a managing director of business development for Providence Equity Partners. Lisa was with CVC for six years. In 2013, the London-based firm closed a $15-billion fund. It also raised a $3.5-billion fund in 2014. Prior to CVC, Lisa spent time with Merrill Lynch, in both their M&A group and private equity funds group.
Ruby Lee joins Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to help it deploy a new seed fund. Called The Edge Fund, the vehicle is being carved out of KPCB’s most recent venture fund. KPCB declined to say how big the fund will be, but reports pegged it at $4 million. The fund will invest in 15 to 20 companies in its first year, using uncapped convertible notes of up to $250,000. It will target an array of areas, including drones, bitcoin, virtual reality and digital health. The fund has already made four investments. In addition to capital, the fund will also seek to deliver tools and services to founders. Ruby, a product partner with the fund, was formerly an associate product manager with Google, and a member of the investment team of the Dorm Room Fund, First Round Capital’s student-focused fund.
Private equity advisory firm Campbell Lutyens promotes Chiara Magana to principal. Chiara joined the firm in 2010, and is on the firm’s fund placement team. She previously worked in the Private Funds Group at UBS. Founded in 1988, Campbell Lutyens focuses on private equity and infrastructure fund placements, and provides specialist advice on the sale or restructuring of portfolios of private equity fund or direct investments. It has offices in London, New York and Hong Kong.
Annie Thériault is leaving her role as senior investment manager with Export Development Canada and joining a financing provider. Annie is becoming a managing director with Grenville Strategic Royalty Corp. Based in Toronto, Grenville provides royalty-based finance structures by acquiring revenue streams generated by growing industrial and technology businesses. It focuses on well-managed companies generating up to $50 million in revenue with improving cash flow, but face difficulty securing financing. Grenville sees its financing structure as a means for these companies to bridge their financing needs until more traditional debt or equity is available at more attractive commercial terms. Annie recent led Export Development Canada — Canada’s export credit agency — in backing MineSense Technologies, Ltd., a provider of sensor-based, bulk-ore sorting solutions. Cycle Capital, founded by managing partner Andrée-Lise Méthot, also participated in backing MineSense with Cycle Partner Shirley Speakman taking a board seat. Prior to Export Development, Annie was at Northwater Capital Management. She also held role roles with TD Securities and Deloitte.
Moxie Capital Co-Founder Lauren Cooks Levitan moves to the online world. Lauren is now CFO of Fanatics, Inc., an online retailer of sports merchandise. The company is based in Jacksonville, Fla., but Lauren will be located in Silicon Valley. She will oversee the company’s accounting, financial planning, strategic analysis and investor relations. Lauren founded Moxie with Bo Arlander in 2009. Bo tells Women’s PE Briefs that Moxie will continue under her guidance and that Lauren will continue to stay involved in an investment made by the firm last year: Crew Knitwear, LLC. The firm focuses on lower middle-market deals in the consumer and retail sectors. Prior to Moxie, Lauren was a managing director and senior research analyst at Cowen & Co.
PE | VC | Hedge | Real Estate | Debt | Infrastructure | Real Assets
Keynote Speakers Just Announced!
- Barbara Byrne, Vice Chairman, Barclays Capital
- Deborah Goldberg, Treasurer, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
- Blythe Masters, Chief Executive Officer, Digital Asset Holdings
- Rebecca Patterson, Managing Director and Chief Investment Officer, Bessemer Trust
- and others to be announced!
Click the link to view the most current list of Summit speakers.
Don’t miss the 7th annual Women’s Alternative Investment Summit! This high-level, content-rich event for women in private equity and other alternatives is being held at The Pierre in Midtown Manhattan, New York City on November 5 – 6, 2015 — Register Now!
Women Investing in Women
Vanedge Capital Principal Amy Rae leads her firm in backing an online payment platform founded by Kathryn Loewen. Vanedge and BDC Capital led a $1.5-billion seed round for Control Mobile Inc. Based in Vancouver, B.C., Control enables merchants to monitor, measure and manage their online payments from a single dashboard. The company’s tool has been used by some 20,000 businesses globally. It was named among the coolest female-founded startups by Product Hunt. Kathryn, who founded Control in 2014, has been working in the payment space for more than 15 years at companies including Citigroup and SAP, working on solutions for such brands as Apple, Toyota and Oakley. She also ran her own payment consultancy. With the financing, Amy joined Control’s board. Prior to Vanedge, she was vice president and general manager of mobile and social commerce with Ziplocal (U.S.A.). Her background includes serving as an associate with JLA Venture Partners, where she was co-managing partner of the Blackberry Partners Fund. https://www.getcontrol.co/.
A social enterprise company co-founded by Suzi Sosa secures seed funding from a group of investors that include Zita Cassizzi, chief digital officer of TOMS shoes; Donna Wilkins, CEO of Charity Dynamics; Pamela Ryan, co-founder and chair of the Tingari-Silverton Foundation; and Lisa Graham of the Graham Family Foundation. Verb, which Suzi co-founded with Tom Meredith in 2013, raised $2.3 million from a group that also included John Thornton of Austin Ventures, Matthew Down of Paradox Capital, David Hunt of Petro-Hunt, L.L.C., and Herbert Simon of Simon Property Group. The Austin, Texas-based company connects large corporations and foundations to social entrepreneurs through competitions and a proprietary technology platform. Focused on solving “wicked” problems, Verb partners with clients who want to run competitions, tackling social and environmental issues. Suzi and Tom founded Verb after running a seven-year competition at the University of Texas called the Dell Social Innovation Challenge. Last year, Verb was recognized when Suzi was named “Social Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst & Young. Suzi’s background includes serving as an the associate director of the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service at the University of Texas at Austin and being founder and president of the MPOWER Foundation. http://www.goverb.com/.
Kate Storey, a vice president with Renewal Funds, brings the Canadian venture fund to the table to back an award-winning food company founded and led by Kathryn Lukas. The amount invested in Farmhouse Culture, Inc., was not disclosed. Among the investors joining Renewal in the financing was White Road Investments, which is headed by the founders of Clif Bar. Based in Santa Cruz, Calif., Farmhouse sells raw, organic sauerkraut and kimchi flavors, as well as Gut Shot, a probiotic-rich beverage made in the sauerkraut production process. Farmhouse was ranked first in How Good’s The Great Food Report, and received the NEXTY Editors’ Choice award for innovation in food and beverages. Kathryn founded the company in 2008, utilizing fermenting traditions from around the world. Her background includes serving as chef-owner of Das Augustenstüble in Stuttgart, Germany. Renewal, which has $98 million under management, backs businesses at the forefront of social and environmental innovation. Renewal Funds Vice President Nicole Bradbury tells Women’s PE Briefs that the firm invested, “because the main input is locally grown organic cabbage, which is a low impact crop.” Renewal, Nicole added, also liked the management team, the company’s existing investors and the products, which she called “inventive and delicious.” Nicole said Kate led Renewal’s due diligence efforts on the investment. Kate is on the board of Renewal portfolio company Better Bean and a board observer for Sweet Earth Natural Foods. She joined the Vancouver, B.C.-based firm in 2012, from CIBC World Markets, where she worked in both the equity and debt capital markets. http://www.farmhouseculture.com/.
The Dish on the Deal
Soo Boon Koh, founder and managing partner of iGlobe Partners, guides her firm into a large Series A round for a company helping consumers navigate key financial decisions. NerdWallet raised $64 million in financing from a group that in addition to iGlobe also included IVP, RRE Ventures and angle investors. It is the first venture capital round for the San Francisco-based company, which also obtained a $33-million flexible loan facility from Silicon Valley Bank. Founded in 2009, NerdWallet is profitable. Through free, accessible tools, research and expert advice, the company seeks to give consumers clarity about such things as credit cards, bank accounts, mortgages, insurance, loans or expenses like hospital costs and medical bills. Nearly 30 million consumers visited NerdWallet in 2014. With the financing, Soo Boon becomes a board observer. Singapore-based iGlobe also recently invested in Scanadu, Inc., a Mountain View, Calif.-based developer of mobile medical products. Other investments made by the firm in 2015 include StarMaker, a San Francisco-based digital-first music talent platform, and Ginkgo Bioworks, a Boston synthetic biology company. Soo Boon, a speaker at this year’s 2015 Women’s Private Equity Summit, founded iGlobe in 1999. It has a presence in Silicon Valley, Shanghai and Auckland, NZ and has been sponsored by the Economic Development Board of Singapore, which is responsible for enhancing Singapore’s global economic and business position. iGlobe also has a fund which is a joint venture with the New Zealand government. Prior to starting iGlobe, Soo Boon held executive management positions with Vertex Management Inc., the venture capital arm of Singapore Technologies. She is on the boards of Fortemedia, Sparky Animation, Anacle Systems, Verisilicon, which filed to go public last fall, and u-blox AG, which is publicly traded.
Ticketmaster, the world’s largest ticketing marketplace, has acquired a portfolio company of Real Ventures General Partner Janet Bannister. The price paid by Ticketmaster, a unit of Live Nation Entertainment, for Universe was not disclosed. Based in Toronto, Universe provides event organizers with marketing and management tools. The company’s ticket-sales platform allows event organizers to embed a customizable “buy now” button to sell tickets on any website with no redirect to Universe. Earlier this year, Janet led Real Ventures into two companies seeking to disrupt the financial services sector: Dream Payments and FundThrough. She also has been involved with GymTrack and Vantage Analytics. Janet’s background includes launching and leading Kijiji.ca, a Canadian online classified destination, serving as an executive at eBay and being CEO of The Coveteur, an online fashion destination.
Domain Associates Managing Director Debra Liebert brings her firm north for its latest investment. Domain led Milestone Pharmaceuticals’ $17-million Series B round. The Montreal-based company’s existing investors also participated. They include: Fonds de solidarité, Pappas Ventures, GO Capital, iNovia Capital and BDC Capital. The capital will be used to complete Phase 2 clinical development of Milestone’s lead drug, a novel and potent, short-acting calcium channel antagonist for the treatment of a potentially debilitating cardiac arrhythmia. It is being developed as a self-administered intranasal spray for patients to terminate the problem at the onset of episodes. There are some 1.7 million people afflicted with the condition, known as Paroxysmal Supraventricular Tachycardia, or PSVT. With this condition, heart rates increase dramatically and can exceed 200 beats per minutes. Though not life threatening, the condition does lead to emergency visits, where patients are given intravenous drugs. Milestone’s treatment would alleviate such visits. With the financing, Debra joins Milestone’s board, which also includes Ela Borenstein, a partner with BDC Health Venture Fund. Debra has been with Domain since 2007, becoming a managing director last year. She previously served as an observer of Atara Biotherapeutics, Sonexa Therapeutics and Tobira Therapeutics. She has also contributed to the creation of such companies as Calixa Therapeutics and Sonexa. Prior to Domain, Debra provided development and business consulting services to the biotech and pharmaceutical industries. In addition, her background includes roles with CancerVax Corp., Atairgin Technologies and Trega Biosciences. Founded in 1985, Domain is a health care-focused venture firm that has raised more than $2.7 billion and been involved in the formation of more than 250 companies.
The Riverside Company’s origination principal Amy Margolis facilitates the sale of a portfolio company to another private equity firm. Riverside sold its stake in Emerging Communications Network to Veritas Capital. Terms were not disclosed. Based in Ormond Beach, Fla., ECN has developed technology that allows government and businesses to rapidly communicate with constituents, thus facilitating awareness of emergencies and other important events. Since being acquired by Riverside in 2011, ECN has made six add-on acquisitions. Amy joined Riverside in 2006, and has been involved in the sales of: FoodState, Inc., DISA Global Solutions, Precision Wire Components, Thibault, Profitsystems, UltraVolt, Fairplay Solutions, AIA Corp., AERCO International and OnCourse Learning Corp. Amy also originated the firm’s investment in Tate’s Bake Shop, Inc. Founded in 1988, Riverside has invested in more than 390 transactions.
Jane Reoch, investment director at the Cass Entrepreneurship Fund, leads the fund in backing a family travel media business. Cass joined with the Angel Co-Fund and individual angel investors to put 750,000 pounds into Family Traveller. Founded by former Harrods’ and News Corp.’s marketing executive Andrew Dent in 2013, Family Traveller features content designed to provide inspiration and advice for vacationing with children of different age groups, as well as multi-generational travel. It targets 28- to 45-year-old females with children, and attracts such advertisers as: British Airways, Club Med, Hertz, Disney, American Express and Estée Lauder. The London-based company distributes 65,000 copies of its magazine and attracts 100,000 monthly unique visitors to its website. Family Traveller is on track to have revenue in excess of one million pounds this year. The investment marks nine made by the 10-million pound Cass Entrepreneurship Fund since it was established in 2010, with the support of Peter Cullum. The fund is connected with London’s Cass Business School. Jane has spent 10 years working with growth companies, including such entities as Panoramic Growth Equity, the Business Growth Fund and BoS Growth Equity.
Dwyer Group, Inc., a portfolio company of The Riverside Company’s partner Sarah Roth, makes a significant acquisition. A franchising company of trade service brands, Dwyer acquired Service Brands International, a multi-concept franchise system that includes Molly Maid, Mr. Handyman and ProTect Painters. Combined, the two companies will have $283 million of system-wide sales and more than 2,100 franchisees. Among those at Riverside working with Sarah on the transaction were senior associate Meranee Phing and partner Anne Hayes. Dwyer’s concepts include Mr. Rooter, a plumbing provider; Aire Serv, a provider of HVAC Services; Glass Doctor, a full-service glass repair provider; and Mr. Appliance, an appliance repair service. The acquisition of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Service Brands is the largest ever for the Dwyer Group, whose co-chair is Dina Dwyer-Owens. Dina served as CEO from 1999 until early 2014. Dwyer Group was founded by her father in 1981. Riverside owned the Waco, Texas-based company between 2003 and 2010, sold it to TZP Group, and then repurchased it last year. The acquisition marked the first time that Riverside had bought back a former portfolio company.
For the second time in the past six months, a company that Ethos Private Equity Associate Titi Sekhukhune is involved with is sold. Ethos, a South African firm, confirmed that it is selling Plumblink to The Bidvest Group, Ltd. The sum was not disclosed. Plumblink is a plumbing and bathroom merchant with 61 locations throughout South Africa. Ethos originally acquired the company in 2006. Titi, who joined Ethos in 2012, was assigned to the company as a board member. She was also a board member of TiAuto, which was sold in December to The Carlyle Group and Old Mutual Private Equity. Titi is also on the board of House of Busby. Previously, she worked as a transactor on the corporate finance team at Nedbank Capital, involved in advising boards of companies. Founded 30 years ago, Ethos is currently investing its sixth fund, which has 7.9 billion rand of committed capital. The firm has made 103 investments, and, with the Plumblink sale, will have exited 90 of them.
The family foundation of actress Jada Smith and her husband, actor Will Smith, powers up an energy storage startup. The Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation joined with the Sorenson Impact Foundation, and individual investors, in backing Quidnet Energy. Based in Boston, Quidnet is developing ultra-low-cost, grid-scale energy storage. The company stores electricity in large capacities by utilizing pressurized water within natural geologic formations. The investment was facilitated by nonprofit PRIME Coalition, which seeks to bring philanthropic capital to energy innovation, and whose executive director is Sarah Kearney.
A company developing treatments for cystic fibrosis and acne gets the attention of Domain Associates Partner Nicole Vitullo. Domain led Celtaxsys, Inc.’s $40-million Series D financing. Others participating include Lumira Capital. Based in Atlanta, Celtaxsys is in Phase 2 trial with a once-daily, oral, anti-inflammatory medicine aimed at preserving lung function in cystic fibrosis patients. The drug has been granted orphan drug designation in both the United States and Europe. It is also in the midst of a Phase 2 trial aimed at patients with moderately severe acne vulgaris. With the financing, Nicole joined Celtaxsys’ board. In recent years, Nicole has been more active exiting then investing. During a two-year stretch between July 2012 and July 2014, she had four portfolio companies go public: Marinus Pharmaceuticals Inc., Esperion Therapeutics, Celator Pharmaceuticals and Durata Therapeutics. Nicole, who spoke at the 2013 Women’s Alternative Investment Summit, joined Domain in 1999, and became a partner in 2004. She is also on the board of another publicly traded company, Achillion Pharmaceuticals, as well as VentiRx Pharmaceuticals.
Anne Portwich, a partner with venture firm Life Science Partners, backs a company seeking to improve clinical outcomes for stroke patients. LSP led Neuravi’s 19-million euro Series B financing. Series A investors Fountain Healthcare Partners, Delta Partners and the Western Development Commission also participated. Based in Galway, Ireland, Neuravi will use the capital to advance its minimally invasive thrombectomy device for acute ischemic stroke. Caused by blockages in vessels supplying blood to the brain, ischemic strokes account for 87 percent of all strokes. Physicians, following a stroke, use minimally invasive thrombectomy devices to remove clots and reopen cerebral blockages to restore blood flow to the brain. Neuravi’s technology is designed to capture and remove the clots, while reducing the opportunity for embolization of clot particles that can potentially cause a new stroke in another territory. In a prepared statement, Anne said the Neuravi team has impressed her firm “with its thorough approach,” and “collaborations with leading experts in the treatment of stroke.” With the financing, Anne joins Neuravi’s board. She is also on the board of Mint Solutions Holding BV. One of her companies, ActoGeniX NV, was acquired earlier this year, and another, Sapiens Steering Brain Stimulation BV, was acquired last year by Medtronic, Inc., for about $200 million in cash. Anne has been with LSP since 2001, and has been a partner since 2011. Known previously as Life Science Partners, the venture firm has offices in Amsterdam, Munich and Waltham, Mass.
Anna Fang, general manager of the Zhenfund, leads the China venture fund in backing a mobile credit app company. Zhenfund and Ceyuan provided $2 million in seed funding to Pier, Inc. Based in San Francisco, Pier has developed technology allowing consumers in the United States and China to apply for and spend credit from their mobile devices. By streamlining the issuing process, Pier is able to significantly cut processing costs for merchants utilizing its product. The product is specifically aimed at the 60 percent of U.S. consumers, ages 18 to 30, who do not have a plastic credit card, as well middle-class consumers in China who find getting a credit card challenging and slow. Founded in 2014, Pier plans to launch later this year in the U.S. and China. In announcing the financing, Anna said, “Pier has the potential to improve lives by safely and quickly processing and approving credit applications.” Prior to joining Zhenfund, Anna was an associate at GE China and an investment banker at J.P. Morgan. Zhenfund is a seed fund founded by New Oriental co-founders Xu Xiaoping and Wang Qiang. The seed fund was established in 2011, in collaboration with Sequoia Capital China, with the aim of promoting innovation among China’s youth.
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Backstory: Industry Data and Analysis
No items this week.
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Stepping Out in Public
Behshad Sheldon, a venture partner with Apple Tree Partners, has a portfolio company file to go public. Cerecor, Inc., is seeking to raise up to $31.6 million, according to a filing. The Baltimore-based company would trade on Nasdaq under the symbol CERC. A developer of treatments for nervous systems disorders, Cerecor reported a loss of $16 million in 2014, and has an accumulated deficit of $46.3 million. Behshad joined Cerecor’s board last year, after Apple Tree participated in the company’s Series B round. Apple Tree, New Enterprise Associates and MPM Capital all hold 13 percent of the company’s pre-IPO shares. Behshad also serves as CEO of another Apple Tree portfolio company, Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, which recently delivered positive topline results in a Phase 3 study for its treatment of opioid addiction. Prior to her roles with Braeburn and Apple Tree, Behshad served in executive roles with Otsuka Pharmaceuticals. She also held key roles with SmithKline Beecham and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Founded in 1999, Apple Tree invests in pharmaceuticals, biotech, medtech and health care services. It is investing out of a $1.5-billion capital pool that was closed in 2012.
It's a Wrap: Fund Closures
ARC Financial Corp., an energy-focused private equity firm whose team includes managing directors Nancy Smith and Nancy Lever, closes its eighth fund. The Calgary, Alberta-based firm raised $1.5 billion to continue its focus on Canadian growth exploration and production, and oilfield service companies. Founded in 1989, ARC has now raised more than $5 billion and made more than 170 investments. Nancy Smith has been with the firm since 1999. Her responsibilities include investor relations, finance and risk management, strategic planning, and legal and regulatory matters. A member of ARC’s executive and investment committees, Nancy is on the boards of Canbriam Energy, Inc., and Corinthian Oil Corp. Nancy Lever has been with ARC since 1993, and is involved in origination, structuring, execution, monitoring and exiting of investments. ARC’s team also includes vice presidents Wendy Liu and Jackie Forrest. Wendy has been with ARC since 2011, and focuses on micro-level industry trends and provides senior analytical support to ARC’s investing activities. Jackie joined last year, and actively monitors emerging strategic trends related to Canadian oil and gas.
Shoreline Capital Management, Ltd., a China-based private equity firm co-founded by Xiaolin Zhang, closes its third fund. Focused on Chinese distressed debt and special situation investments, Shoreline closed the fund at $500 million. Founded in 2004, Shoreline has focused on illiquid credit-related opportunities arising from the inefficiencies in China’s financial system. Half of the new fund has already been invested in several transactions, with almost 1,000 non-performing loans in the portfolio. As a result of the quick pace, the firm said it held a first close on an overflow fund at $115 million. The firm manages close to $1 billion of capital. Xiaolin manages the company’s operations and investment projects, and has been involved in every aspect of the firm’s distressed acquisitions and disposals. She previously started and ran a real estate development firm in China. Shoreline’s team also includes chief financial officer Ada Bi.
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Leading Ladies: Women-Run Companies in the News
Arrowlytics, LLC, whose co-founder is Richelle Cox, lands funding. A group of strategic investors led by Surgical Care Affiliates provided the $3 million. Based in Charlotte, N.C., Arrowlytics provides business intelligence and analytics solutions for health care providers. The company will use the financing to expand marketing, sales and production capabilities. Richelle, who serves as chief operating officer, previously served as director of clinic operations with OrthoCarolina and director of performance improvement with Piedmont Healthcare. http://www.arrowlytics.com/
Fetch Robotics, which earlier this year named Melonee Wise as CEO, maneuvers to raise Series A funding. SB Group US, Inc., led the $20-million round, which also included additional capital from seed investors O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and Shasta Ventures. The two firms put $3 million in seed financing into the San Jose-based company earlier this year. Fetch is developing robots for the logistics and light industrial markets. In April, the company unveiled a system that enables its robots to work in a warehouse setting, and perform repetitive tasks, such as warehouse delivery, pick and pack, and more. Melonee was formerly CEO and co-founder of Unbounded Robotics, and, before that, spent six years with Willow Garage, a pioneering personal robotics company. http://www.fetchrobotics.com/.
A company founded by Tanya Shaw that is able to take precise body measurements finds a fit with investors. Unique Solutions Design, Ltd., also known as Me-Ality, secured $15 million in an equity private placement, exceeding its $10-million target. The financing was led by Northwater Capital Management and Skip Battle, chairman of Fair Isaac Corp. The Dartmouth, Nova Scotia-based company intends to use the capital to commercialize its handheld body scanner in international markets. Its technology has potential in several industries, including the clothing industry, where body dimensions can be matched to clothing specifications. The company’s technology can be used while people are fully clothed. Me-Ality also has the largest database of body dimensionality. Tanya, who serves as the company’s chairman, founded Me-Ality in 1994. http://www.me-ality.com/
Personali, co-founded by Keren Zimmerman, raises Series B funding. The $12-million round was led by Norwest Venture Partners. Cedar Fund, Gemini Venture Partners, with participation from private angel investors. The New York-based company has developed a platform that allows online retailers to directly engage with consumers by allowing shoppers to personalize their own prices. Its technology enables shoppers to pay a variety of prices within limits controlled by the retailers, thus protecting profit margins and increasing sales. Personali will use the funding to expand global sales and marketing, grow product offerings and hire technicians. Keren, who serves as chief product officer, was previously vice president of Oberon Media. http://www.personali.com/.
Phoenix Tower International, which was co-founded by Natalya V. Kashirina and is backed by Blackstone’s Tactical Opportunities business, makes an acquisition in Brazil. An owner and operator of towers and wireless infrastructure throughout Latin America and the United States, Phoenix acquired T4U Holding Brasil, S.A. The acquisition will be structured as a merger of T4U into PTI’s existing Brazilian tower business. The combined business will own and operate 529 wireless infrastructure assets, with a pipeline of more than 250 wireless towers under construction. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Based in Boca Raton, Fla., PTI counts Telefonica, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint-Nextel and Verizon among its customers. Natalya founded the company with CEO Dagan T. Kasavana. She serves as the company’s vice president of mergers and acquisitions, overseeing all of Phoenix Tower’s acquisition activities. Natalya previously worked at Global Tower Partners as a merger and acquisition analyst. http://www.phoenixintnl.com/
PolicyGenius, led by co-founder Jennifer Fitzgerald, uses its genius to secure funding. The $5.3-million Series A round was led by Karlin Ventures and Susa Ventures. AXA Strategic Ventures and Transamerica Ventures also participated. PolicyGenius will use the funding to strengthen its existing products, refining individual insurance quote engines, and scaling marketing and production teams. Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., PolicyGenius provides an insurance checkup system, which guides users through a simple Q&A to develop a personalized review of their insurance needs. From there, the platform offers personalized quotes and offers side-by-side comparisons of insurance policies. Jennifer, who serves as CEO, was previously an associate principal at McKinsey & Company. https://www.policygenius.com/
A company borne out of Lisa Fraser’s interest in helping people with special needs lands seed financing. Snug Vest, which has developed an inflatable vest that provides anxiety relief, secured $500,000 in seed financing. The Vancouver, B.C.-based company’s funding was led by Arc Capital Development. Others participating included VANTEC Entrepreneurs Fund, Pique Venture Investments and Sunshine Coast Venture Partners. Providing relief through a clinical method called deep pressure therapy, the vest is especially effective for individuals managing autism, high levels of stress or sensory processing disorders. The design stimulates a hug and is used by occupational therapists, teachers, adults and children. The innovative design of the vest has won many awards for the company, including the Red Dot Product Design Award. Affiliated with Wearable Therapeutics, Inc., Snug Vest intends to use the capital to increase marketing in North America and invest in the development of technology, clinical research and general operations. Lisa, who serves as CEO, founded the company in 2011. She previously worked with children with special needs. In a prepared statement, she said “it’s been very exciting” to see the company “grow from a concept developed in design school to a full-fledge product that is helping change the lives of people affected by anxiety, autism and sensory disorders.” http://www.snugvest.com/
Clare Hart sees the background screening company she leads get new owners. The Merchant Banking Division of Goldman Sachs and La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec agreed to acquire SterlingBackcheck, replacing Calera Capital. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Calera acquired the company in 2010. The company was founded in 1975 as a polygraph business to help businesses manage the risks associated with theft and fraud. Today, 25 percent of the Fortune 100, and more than 20,000 organizations use the company to hire and retain the right people. It employs almost 3,000 employees in five countries. In a prepared statement, Clare called the investment “an inflection point” for the company, citing Goldman Sachs’ expertise in helping growth companies “reach their full potential.” Clare became CEO of SterlingBackcheck earlier this year after joining the company as president. Her background includes serving as CEO and president at infoGROUP, Inc., and being an executive vice president of Dow Jones & Co. http://www.sterlingbackcheck.com/.
The Players’ Tribune, a sports-oriented media company founded by New York Yankees great Derek Jeter and overseen by Jaymee Messler, scores with investors. New Enterprise Associates led a $9.5-million Series B funding round for the New York-based company, which posts content from athletes. Joining the round were existing investors, including Thomas Tull of Legendary Entertainment. The new capital will allow The Players’ Tribune to continue delivering content across a variety of channels, including written, photography, podcasts, radio, and live, interactive video. Jaymee, who has been president of the company since January, formerly spent 15 years with Excel Sports Management. http://www.theplayerstribune.com/.
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