Term Sheet - Thursday, June 21

By POLINA MARINOVA June 21, 2018


Good morning, Term Sheet readers.

SCOOP: Stellar is in talks to acquire Chain, the San Francisco-based startup building blockchain technology for the financial industry, according to people familiar with the deal. Fortune understands the sale price to be ~$500 million in Stellar’s digital currency Lumens.

Chain previously raised more than $43 million in venture funding from investors including Khosla Ventures, RRE Ventures, Blockchain Capital, Pantera Capital, Nasdaq, Visa, Citi Ventures, Thrive Capital, BoxGroup, and Haystack.

GOLDMAN’S PLEDGE: Goldman Sachs will invest $500 million into companies led, founded or owned by women. The program will also help clients invest directly in private, late-stage companies or provide seed capital for women starting their own funds. The program, along with its 10,000 Women Initiative, aims to close the gender funding gap.

But will it work?

The strategy isn’t new. XFactor Ventures invests in companies with at least one female founder in their ranks, Female Founders Fund backs female-founded tech companies, Backstage Capital invests in companies founded by underrepresented entrepreneurs, BBG Ventures invests in startups with least one female founder, and Melinda Gates’ Pivotal Ventures is putting money behind female-led or minority-focused venture firms.

However, female-led and female-focused firms are relatively small when compared to the more traditional firms on Sand Hill Road. In other words, a $50 million fund has less cash to dole out than a $500 million fund.

While female- and minority-led companies could technically be well-funded in the early stages of the venture process, the funding tends to dry up as founders go out to raise further capital necessary to grow.

As Backstage Capital founder Arlan Hamilton told Fortune in January, “The reality is that the best and brightest and most deserving — even with the numbers, even with the traction — are being shut out. So I don’t know the answer to that until the larger investors really take this seriously and put money behind it.”

This is the gap that Goldman Sachs could potentially help fill. Armed with a $500 million war chest, the investment bank could write larger checks and pump additional capital into companies trying to accelerate growth. In this case, financing stage and check size matter.

ALIBABA VS. TENCENT: When I attended Fortune’s Global Forum in Guangzhou last December, one thing was clear — Alibaba and Tencent are locked in a heated rivalry for domination of China’s digital economy. At the summit, Tencent CEO Huateng “Pony” Ma compared his nemesis Alibaba CEO Jack Ma to a greedy landlord, saying that Alibaba’s market-leading Taobao e-commerce site charges merchants listing fees.

My colleague Adam Lashinsky wrote a spectacular feature on the relentless competition between two of the world’s richest and fastest-growing companies. From Adam’s story:

“[Alibaba and Tencent both] have market capitalizations that hover around half a trillion U.S. dollars. Both command sectors of the rapidly growing Chinese digital landscape: Tencent owns the leading gaming and messaging platform, while Alibaba rules e-commerce. Both are aggressive investors inside and outside China. Each is the pride of their not-quite-first-tier hometowns: Alibaba of the ancient city of Hangzhou near Shanghai and Tencent of shiny-new Shenzhen across the border from Hong Kong. Finally, both touch an astounding percentage of the world’s most populous country: Alibaba’s various online marketplaces count 552 million active customers; Tencent’s WeChat messaging service recently surpassed 1 billion accounts.

“For all these similarities, Tencent and Alibaba are sharply distinct companies, as different in culture, style, and approach as Apple is from Google. The duo sprang from the same era, the late 1990s, when China was discovering the Internet, and for years they built giant businesses more or less out of each other’s way. Yet as they’ve grown, each inevitably has begun to encroach on the other’s turf.”


• Swiggy, an India-based food ordering and delivery platform, raised $210 million in funding at $1.3 billion. Naspers led the round, and was joined by investors including DST Global, Meituan Dianping and Coatue Management.

• TouchBistro, a New York-based developer of iPad point of sale solutions, raised C$72 million ($54 million) in Series D financing. OMERS Ventures and JPMorgan Chase co-led the round, and were joined by investors including Napier Park Financial Partners, Recruit Holdings Co, Ltd, BDC IT Venture Fund, and Relay Ventures.

• Seal Software, a Walnut Creek, Calif.-based contract discovery and contract management software provider, raised $30 million in funding. Investors include Toba Capital.

• Bossa Nova, a San Francisco-based provider of product data for the global retail industry, raised $29 million in Series B-1 funding.Cota Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including China Walden Ventures and LG Electronics.

• SmartAsset, a New York City-based fintech company, raised $28 million in Series C funding. Investors include Focus Financial Partners, Javelin Venture Partners, TTV Capital, IA Capitaland Citi Ventures.

• Whistle Sports, a media entertainment company, raised $28 million in Series D funding. Investors include Aser, Liberty Media, Emil Capital, and Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo.

• Beamery, a London-based HR recruitment software provider, raised $28 million in funding. Investors include EQT Partners and M12.

• Calm, a San Francisco-based meditation and relaxation app, raised $27 million in Series A funding. Insight Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures and Harry Styles.

• Urban Airship, a Portland, Ore.-based digital growth company, raised $25 million in Series F funding. Foundry Group led the round, and was joined by investors including True Ventures, August Capital, Intel Capital, Verizon Ventures, QuestMark Partners and Franklin Park Associates.

• CloudBolt Software Inc, a Rockville, Md.-based developer of a self-service hybrid cloud platform, raised a $23 million in Series A funding. Insight Venture Partners led the round.

• Immuta, a College Park, Md.-based data platform, raised $20 million in Series B funding. DFJ Growth led the round, and was joined by investors including Dell Technologies Capital, Citi Ventures, Drive Capital and Greycroft.

• Blinkist, a Berlin-based micro-learning app and platform, raised $18.8 million in Series C funding. Insight Venture Partners led the round.

• SharesPost Inc, a San Francisco-based liquidity provider for the private technology growth asset class, raised $15 million in Series C funding. LUN Partners and Kenetic Capital led the round.

• MYCS, a Germany-based furniture e-commerce company, raised €10 million ($11.5 million) in funding. Beringea led the round, and was joined by investors including Zimmerman Investments.

• Stensul Inc, a New York City-based technology company focused on email marketing, raised $7 million in Series A funding. Javelin Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Arthur Ventures, First Round Capital, Uncork Capital, Lowercase Capital and Scott McCorkle.

• Scratchpay Financial, a Los Angeles-based provider of financial services for the veterinary care industry, raised $6.4 million in Series A funding. The Companion Fund led the round, and was joined by investors including TTV CapitalStruck Capital and SWS Venture Capital.

• Prifender, a Bellevue, Wash.-based provider of identity-aware technology, raised $5 million in seed funding. Firsttime VC led the round, and was joined by investors including Shaked Ventures and iAngels.

• TinyTap, a Tel Aviv-based educational game creation platform, raised $5 million in funding. Aleph led the round, and was joined by investors including Inimiti, Radiant and ReInvent.

• Finless Foods, a Berkeley, California-based maker of lab-grown seafood, raised $3.5 million in funding. Draper Associates led the round, and was joined by investors including Softmatter VCStarlightU-Start ClubBlue HorizonHemisphere VenturesBabel VenturesYakumi InvestmentOlive Tree Capital and Harrison Blue Ventures.

• StreetCred, a New York City-based mapping technology company for application developers, raised $1 million in seed funding. Investors include Bowery Capital and Notation Capital.

Kirby Ryan