Very early delivery this morning, as I need to be in Boston for something at 8am. On the upside, my Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through lady said that I was her first customer. Pretty sure there should be a FourSquare badge for that (Most Justifiably Caffeinated). Moving on…
*** One of the more buzzworthy talks at TED 2009 came from David Merrill, whose MIT research project revolved around cookie-size “smart” tiles that could be used as the basis for a tabletop gaming console. Not like an iPad or those old sit-down Pac-Man games, but rather something that melds the best of offline educational gaming with modern technology.
For example, imagine you’re playing Scrabble, but each of your letter tiles light up when you put them in a dictionary-approved order. Moreover, the tiles keep changing every few minutes in order to enable new game-play (so maybe more a merger of Boggle with Scrabble). And the smart tiles – or “Siftables” – can be used for all sorts of games by displaying numbers or other images (one demo from TED showed some tiles as solid colors and others as paint ca! ns, where kids had to “pour” paint to make non-primary colors).
Merrill and co-founder Jeevan Kalanithi moved from the lab to the board room last July, in order to commercialize their technology. Their company, Sifteo, quietly raised $1 million in Series A funding from True Ventures (complimenting grants from the National Science Foundation).
I bring all of this up today because we’ve learned that Sifto recently raised $9 million in Series B funding from Foundry Group and True Ventures (wow, talk about burying the lead). No official word yet on the company’s website, but we’d expect some shortly.
In the meantime, we’ve posted video of Merr! ill’s TED talk here. I promise you’ll be intrigued…
*** Last month I wrote about Corefino, an outsourced accounting company that was heading toward a divorce with its venture capitalists. And, like with most splits, each side blamed the other (CEO felt VCs didn’t understand the biz, VCs felt CEO couldn’t run lean enough ship).
Now we have resolution, with the company expected to announce that most of its assets have been acquired by a group of private investors led by Virginia Turezyn, a former venture capitalist with American Capital Strategies, Constellation Ventures and Infinity Capital. Also participating is Corefino CEO Karen Watts and Renee Courington, founder of IT support company All Covered. Both Turezyn and Courington will join the Corefino management team.
No financial terms we! re disclosed for the transaction, except that VC firms Bay Partners and Opus Capital will retain “some residual equity.” The two firms had funded a $13.6 million Series A round in 2008.
Turezyn has spent the past year or so as a consultant to Bay Area startups, and says that she had been looking for an opportunity like Corefino. “There are significant assets here, plus customers and revenue,” she explains. “Our goal is to do for accounting what ADP did for payroll, so that CFOs can spend less time on financials and more time thinking strategically.”
*** The search is still on for Erin’s replacement on the private equity beat at peHUB, although the vacancy should be filled by the end of this week. In the interim, I’m very pleased to announce that Heidi Moore will be pinch-hitting.
For those who don’t know Heidi, she’s a former private eq! uity reporter/blogger for the Wall Street Journal, who now regularly p ops up at places like The Big Money and NPR’s Marketplace. She also may be the most prolific financial tweeter around, @moorehn. Expect her first posts later today…
Goodman Global Inc., a Houston, Texas-based manufacturer of residential and light commercial heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment, has filed for a $500 million IPO. The company was taken private in 2008 by Hellman & Friedman for $2.65 billion. It reports $1.85 billion in sales and $99 million in net income for 2009, compared to $1.88 billion in sales and negative $39 million of net income in 2008. Goodman Global plans to trade on the Nasdaq, with J.P. Morgan, Barclays Capital, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank Securities serving as co-lead underwriters. www.goodmanglobal.com
CVC Asia Pacific reportedly has agreed to buy the Asia assets of fastening systems maker Acument Global Technologies from Platinum Equity, in a deal valued at more than $300 million. BoA Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan are providing the debt financing. Other bidders for the assets had included KKR and Unitas Capital.
Opus Capital, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based VC firm focused! on early-stage tech companies, is raising upwards of $175 millio n for its new fund, according to a regulatory filing. The fund is officially listed as Opus Capital VI, but is the firm’s second fund since Weiss, Peck & Greer Venture Partners split into two firms (Lightspeed Venture Partners is the other). Opus Capital’s first independent fund closed in 2006 with $280 million. www.opuscapital.com
CardioMEMS Inc., an Atlanta-based developer of wireless medical pressure sensors, has raised $37.88 million in seventh-round funding, according to a regulatory filing. The deal includes nearly $25 million worth ofconverted promissory notes and accrued interest. The company previously had raised over $107 million, from Arcapita Ventures, Boston Millennia Partners, Medtronic, Easton Capital Partners, Foundation Medical Partners, Arboretum Ventures, Deerfield Capital Management, Vision Capital Advisors, Aperture Venture Partners and Rockport Venture Securities. www.cardiomems.com
Redline Trading Software, a Woburn, Mass.-based provider of market data solutions for latency and throughput-sensitive trading applications, has raised $7.45 million in equity funding, according to a regulatory filing. Board members include James Bertelli, executive chairman at Mercury Computer Systems,. and Daren Cohen of Goldman Sachs. www.redlinetrading.com
WordStream Inc., a Boston-based provider of productivity tools for paid and natural search engine marketing, has raised $6 million in Series B funding. Egan-Managed Capital led the round, and was joined by return backer Sigma Partners. The company prev! iously raised $4 million. www.word stream.com
Woozworld, operator of a virtual world for tweens, has raised $3 million in Series A funding, according to TechCrunch. iNovia Capital and ID Capital co-led the round, which spins Woozworld out of former parent company Tribal Nova. www.woozworld.com
Groupalia, a Barcelona-based group purchaser that offers daily discount coupons to users, has raised €2.5 million in first-round funding from Nauta Capital! , according to TechCrunch. www.groupalia.com
Tossed, a UK-based restaurant chain focused on healthy foods, has raised £1.5 million in VC funding from Detroit-based VC firm Beringea.
Goldman Sachs is nearing a deal to provide $2.2 billion in leveraged financing to one of the groups bidding for hotel chain Extended Stay, according to the Wall Street Journal. The equity consortium is being led by Starwood Capital Group, which is competing against a group led by Centerbridge Partners and Paulson & Company.
Sony Music is considering an investment in British rival EMI Group, which is owned by Terra Firma Capital Partners.
Virgin Money is no longer i! n the running to buy 318 bank branches being sold by Royal Bank of Scotland, after being informed that it hadn’t made the cut. This follows the recent exclusion of a joint bid between The Blackstone Group and The Wellcome Trust. Remaining bidders are Santander Bank, BBVA and National Australia Bank.
Wintegra Inc., an Austin, Texas-based provider of access processing semiconductors, has filed for a $115 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq under ticker symbol WNTG, with Barclays Capital and Deutsche Bank Securities. The company reports $12 million in 2009 revenue, compared to around $6 million in 2008 revenue. Net income moved from a small loss to a small gain. Wintegra had withdrawn a previous IPO registration in 2006. It has raised around $26 million in VC funding from firms like Magnum Communications Fund, Concord Ventures, Texas Instruments, Genesis Partners and China Development Industrial Bank. www.wintegra.com
Access Industries, a holding company for Russian billionaire Len Blavatnik, has dropped out of the auction for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which is currently held by Providence Equity Partners, TPG Capital, Quadrangle Group, DLJ Merchant Banking Partners, Sony Corp and Comcast Corp. MGM creditors now are considering a standalone plan.
Firms & Funds
Acton Capital Partners has closed its debut fund with €150 million in capital commitments. The Munich-based growth equity firm is focused on “Internet and mobile-based consumer-oriented businesses.” Its team previously ran the corporate VC unit of Hubert Burda Media. www.actoncapital.de
Global Infrastructure Partners plans to begin raising between $5 billion and $6 billion for its second fund, according to the FT. The firm closed its $5.64 billion debut fund in 2008. www.global-infra.com
Edwin Cox and William Graham have agreed to forfeit $39 million that prosecutors say is related to fraud at defunct futures and commodities trader Refco, where both men served as directors.