February 2016

No IPOs may indicate slowing year for Silicon Valley

  |   Allegis News, The Latest

By: Marisa Kendall | San Jose Mercury News | Posted: 28 Feb 2016

San Jose software company Apigee began trading on the Nasdaq on April 24, 2015. The company raised $87 million in its initial public offering, the second IPO of last year from a Silicon Valley tech company. (Nasdaq Creative Services)

San Jose software company Apigee began trading on the Nasdaq on April 24, 2015. The company raised $87 million in its initial public offering, the second IPO of last year from a Silicon Valley tech company. (Nasdaq Creative Services)

The first quarter is halfway over and the markets have yet to see a single IPO out of Silicon Valley, news that seems to confirm gloomy predictions some analysts have made about the tech industry’s coming year.

Some companies, such as San Jose-based cloud storage company Nutanix, apparently are delaying their Wall Street debuts. Nutanix, which had filed for a $200 million IPO in December, has yet to go public and may be waiting for better market conditions, experts said.

But the IPO climate may not improve any time soon. The stock market has been a roller-coaster ride this year as the market responds to fears about everything from China’s economic slowdown, to the drop in oil prices, to the refuge crisis in Europe. Twitter and GoPro shares fell to an all-time low this month, and LinkedIn lost $10 billion in value.

“This is the weakest start of the year since 2009,” said Kathleen Smith, a principal at Renaissance Capital, which tracks public offerings.

A look at eight of last year’s biggest U.S. tech IPOs shows six of the companies were trading below their offer prices Friday afternoon — including Etsy, Box, Fitbit and Match Group, which owns Tinder. Last year industry experts wondered if 2016 would be the year tech bubble bursts, or the year the market sees more “unicorpses” than unicorns. The IPO scene this year seems to reflect that uncertainty.

The only public offerings so far have been from four biotech companies based in Illinois, Massachusetts and China, and Silver Run Acquisition Corporation, a Houston-based energy-focused acquisition company. Silver Run raised $450 million in its Tuesday IPO.

IPO 022916Last year, 24 companies had priced initial public offerings through the end of February, according to Renaissance Capital data. That includes Redwood City-based Box, which provides an online file-sharing service for businesses. The four 2016 biotech IPOs — AveXis, Proteostasis Therapeutics, BeiGene and Editas Medicine — are what Smith calls “quasi IPOs” because they relied heavily on insider buying.

Massachusetts-based Syndax Pharmaceuticals announced its plan to launch an IPO next week. Others, such as Southern California-based orthopedic health company Ellipse Technologies, are choosing acquisition. Ellipse filed for a $75 million IPO in October but reversed course last month and announced it was being acquired by NuVasive, a San Diego medical device company, for $380 million.

Another six companies postponed IPOs this year that had been pegged to raise $1.3 billion, according to Renaissance Capital data. That list includes Oakland-based construction company Shimmick Construction. The Silicon Valley IPO market hasn’t seen much action since Square went public in November. Square saw a first-day return of 45 percent, after discounting its shares by about a quarter.

Private companies aren’t the only ones getting nervous. Investors have pulled back on their spending, raising the bar for startups to get funded, said ClearPath Capital Partners managing partner Paul James Boyd.

“We have also heard that when companies are out looking for capital, a couple we’ve run in to have not been able to get the whole amount they wanted,” he said.

That means investors may be less likely to fund riskier companies going forward, said Robert Ackerman Jr., founder of Allegis Capital, and they may shy away from Silicon Valley’s most innovative new startups.

Norwest Venture Partners managing partner Jeff Crowe disagrees. There’s still plenty of seed and early-stage funding to be had, he said.

“What I do think it means, is that companies that have scaled to a large size without a prudent business model, they can have trouble,” he said.

The year’s biggest deal so far seems to be Florida-based virtual reality startup Magic Leap, which earlier this month announced a new $793.5 million round of funding led by Alibaba Group.

PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Thomas Ciccolella said “megadeals” of $100 million or more are a positive sign because they show investors still are willing to bet on innovation.

“It says there’s ripe opportunity for entrepreneurs, or for things to be changed in the current environment, especially in tech,” he said. “That helps us gauge the appetite for new and innovative technology.”

Ackerman described the market slowdown not as a tech bubble bursting, but as “a lot of air being let out of the balloon.” The market is correcting itself after years of overexcitement and runaway valuations, he said. But the slowdown may open up opportunities for some savvy investors.

“You can argue when nobody’s investing in anything is a phenomenal time to make an investment,” Ackerman said. “But that requires you to look past your fear.

Kendall, Marisa. “No IPOs may indicate slowing year for Silicon Valley.”  Mercury News. Feb 28, 2016. Web. Feb 29, 2016.

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Signifyd Raises $20 Million in Series B Funding to Ensure E-Commerce Merchants Never Pay A Chargeback Again

  |   Portfolio News, The Latest

Currently, more than 3000 e-commerce companies rely on Signifyd’s intelligent machine-learning platform to eliminate fraud-related chargebacks from their businesses


San Jose, Calif. – February 25, 2016 – Signifyd today announced it has closed $20 million in Series B funding led by Menlo Ventures, with additional participation from Allegis CapitalIA VenturesQED InvestorsBill McKiernan and Tim EadesPravin Vazirani, a general partner at Menlo Ventures, will also join its Board of Directors. This new round brings Signifyd’s total funding to $31 million to date. The company will use the funds to accelerate growth, scale its infrastructure, and continue to expand its team of world-class fraud experts.

Signifyd has created a new class of risk-assessment technology designed to leverage the data of the programmable web. Today the platform is used to protect thousands of e-commerce merchants from credit card chargebacks with a 100% financial guarantee. E-commerce fraud costs the industry $9 billion a year and $120 billion in lost revenue. Existing solutions only provide retailers with a cryptic score and rely on human expertise alone to ultimately decide whether or not to accept a transaction. For the first time, merchants of any scale now have the option to receive a 100% financial guarantee against fraud using Signifyd’s machine learning technology and behavioral analytics.

“We’re saving our customers millions of dollars in revenue and merchants of all sizes are taking note,” said Signifyd co-founder and CEO Rajesh Ramanand. “We raised our Series A just 7 months ago and our traction has been tremendous. What’s more, we believe the technology we’re applying to e-commerce is the technical foundation for the next-generation of insurance products.”

In 2015, Signifyd:

  • Increased to a run rate of $5.6 billion in transaction volume, with an 8X year-over-year revenue growth.
  • Grew to more than 3000 customers adding marquee clients such as LacostePeet’s CoffeeShane Co. and Jet.com.
  • Tripled the number of employees, including the addition of executives from AxcientCitrixand PayPal.

“Over the last year Signifyd has shown tremendous growth and great unit economics with very little capital raised,” said Pravin Vazirani, general partner at Menlo Ventures. “Signifyd has permanently altered the course of the fraud detection industry. There used to only be software providers who didn’t back their product with a guarantee. Signifyd’s ability to give a guarantee at the scale and precision of millions of events from thousands of customers is truly unique. I believe Signifyd is primed to not only solidify its place in e-commerce fraud detection but change the way we think about more traditional insurance markets.”

New board member Vazirani has been a Managing Director with Menlo Ventures for the past 15 years and focuses on the e-commerce, SaaS and cloud sectors. His current and past investments include Carbonite (NASDAQ: CARB), Edgecast Networks (acquired by Verizon), Like.com (acquired by Google), vArmour, Stance, and Poshmark. Menlo Ventures had previously invested in HNC Software, the market-leading decision management software used by the banking industry to prevent credit card fraud, that was acquired by Fair Isaac in 2002. Signifyd also recently announced the addition of Bill McKiernan, founder of CyberSource Corporation, to its Board earlier this year. McKiernan led CyberSource to its $2 billion acquisition by Visa in 2010.

About Signifyd

Signifyd was founded on the belief that e-commerce businesses should be able to grow without fear of fraud. Signifyd solves the challenges that growing e-commerce businesses persistently face: billions of dollars lost in chargebacks, customer dissatisfaction from mistaken declines, and operational costs due to tedious, manual transaction investigation. E-Commerce Assurance, Signifyd’s financial guarantee protecting online retailers in the case of chargebacks, is supported by a full-service cloud platform that automates fraud prevention allowing businesses to increase sales and open new markets while reducing risk. Signifyd is in use by multiple companies on the Fortune 1000 and Internet Retailer Top 500 list. Signifyd is headquartered in San Jose, CA.

For more information about Signifyd, please visit www.signifyd.com.

Signifyd Raises $20 Million in Series B Funding to Ensure E-Commerce Merchants Never Pay A Chargeback Again.” Signifyd. 25 Feb 2016. Web.


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The Fiscal Times | Cyber security startups face funding drought

  |   Allegis News, The Latest

Cyber security startups face funding drought

By Heather Somerville & Jim Finkle, Reuters
February 23, 2016


matrixThe U.S. cyber security industry, once one of the hottest targets for venture capitalists, is now grappling with a funding slump that has forced some startups to sell themselves or cut spending.

Amid widespread concerns about cyber attacks and data breaches, hundreds of security startups have sprung up in recent years, promising “next-generation” technologies to fight cyber criminals, government spies and hacker activists.

But many of the new ventures have struggled to gain traction, finding it difficult to stand out from the crowd and provide customers with sophisticated enough security solutions to match the increasingly advanced cyber attacks they face.

“Investors are looking at balance sheets and saying, ‘You raised $100 million and you have nothing to show for it?'” said Promod Haque, senior managing partner at Norwest Venture Partners, which manages about $6 billion in capital.

Private investors pumped a record $3.3 billion into 229 cyber security deals last year, according to data from CB Insights. Venture capitalists, dealmakers and entrepreneurs said funding is drying up for all but the most mature cyber startups with substantial sales.

“Almost every other company I knew who was on the road raising money at the same time had to pull their rounds back and were not able to close,” said Michael DeCesare, chief executive of ForeScout Technologies Inc, a network security firm.

ForeScout reported more than $125 million in 2015 revenue and finalized a $76 million financing round last month. Other deals this year include $96 million in funding for risk analytics firm Skybox Security Inc, and Fidelity Investments’ $50 million investment in anti-virus software maker Malwarebytes.

It now takes six to eight months to close deals, up from about three to four months a couple years ago, said Sean Cunningham, managing director at Trident Capital Cybersecurity.

The founder of a cyber startup that raised money two years ago said he sought additional financing for several months but then gave up. The firm, which did not want to be identified, cut spending and plans to seek financing again in about six months.

Other startups are looking for buyers. A dealmaker at a large security company, who declined to be identified, said the number of incoming inquiries from businesses looking to sell themselves is up 40 percent this year, compared to the same time in 2015.

Last month, iSight Partners – which has uncovered major cyber campaigns from Iran, Russia and other nations – sold itself to FireEye Inc for $200 million in cash plus another $75 million in cash and stock if it meets certain sales targets. Last August, iSight Chief Executive John Watters told Reuters he planned to take the company public in 2016 at a valuation of at least $1 billion.

After the FireEye deal was announced, Watters said his plan changed because market conditions shifted, making it more difficult to raise capital to remain independent. FireEye CEO Dave DeWalt said the tough funding environment would spawn more deals. FireEye also bought tiny security software maker Invotas for $30 million last month.

The value of cyber M&A activity more than doubled last year to $26.8 billion from $10.3 billion in 2014, according to data from consulting firm EY. The number of deals increased 46 percent to 287.


Cyber stocks had rallied in 2013 and 2014 on expectations the industry would benefit from a seemingly endless streak of headline-grabbing cyber attacks. Private investors, seeing the opportunity, piled onto startups. “You had a lot of indiscriminate capital that came into the space,” said Bob Ackerman, founder of Allegis Capital and a longtime security expert. The boom in cyber investing showed signs of faltering last year as earnings of publicly traded cyber companies missed expectations.

Too many startups copied technology already on the market, or products that hackers had figured out how to circumvent. Some highly touted products sold by private companies were found to be “obsolete from the moment they were launched,” said David Cowan, a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners.

Cyber stocks have since underperformed the broader market. FireEye, which this month warned that growth in cyber spending could slow this year, has fallen 35 percent over the past three months, compared to a 12 percent decline in the Nasdaq Composite Index. Qualys Inc tumbled 38 percent over the same period, while Palo Alto Networks Inc dropped 26 percent and the Pure Funds ISE CyberSecurity ETF fell 21 percent.

Robert Thomas, CEO of cloud security firm CloudPassage, which raised $36 million last July, said he expects the funding crunch for startups to last. “I feel fortunate that we got in under the wire and were able to raise (money) for the next two years to carry us through,” he said.

(Reporting by Heather Somerville in San Francisco and Jim Finkle in Boston; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Tiffany Wu)

Cyber security startups face funding drought” The Fiscal Times. Web. 23 Feb 2016.

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WSJ | Increased Spending in Cybersecurity Drives Surge in Funding

  |   Allegis News, The Latest


As funding from venture capitalists tapered off in the fourth quarter of 2015, investment in the cybersecurity sector continued to boom.

Venture capitalists invested $675.43 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, up from $522.41 million in the same quarter a year before, according to data from Dow Jones VentureSource. Total annual venture capital funding in cybersecurity increased 76 %, to $3.34 billion, in 2015.

In the wake of high-profile hacks and increased activity from state actors, companies are increasing their spending on security. Gartner predicts the world-wide cybersecurity market will increase to $170 billion by 2020, up from $75.4 billion in 2015. Investors see that boom as an opportunity, despite public security stocks struggling since the start of the year.

Experienced venture capitalist investors in security predict investment in the sector won’t rise as rapidly in 2016 as market conditions cool. They view security as a viable sector largely insulated from the recent market turmoil, but say the sky-high funding rounds that became common in 2015 will be more rare. Investors predict a similar number of cybersecurity investments will occur in 2016, but the total dollars in the sector may not be as high because fewer large institutions will drive up funding rounds.

For many, a sign that valuations in the cybersecurity sector may have gone too far was FireEye Inc.’s acquisition of iSight Partners Inc . for as much as $275 million, based on certain milestones. The company’s sale, which security executives said was far below a sought-after higher valuation multiple, showed that even strong companies may not live up to the lofty valuations set in 2015.

Bob Ackerman, the managing director of Allegis Capital, said when everything is on the rise, investors tend to pile on. He expects firms that don’t have a history of investing in security to pull back from the sector.

“In a market like this people talk about a flight to quality, but generally there’s also a flight to comfort,” said Mr. Ackerman. “Investors go back to the thing that they know best.”

But funds are increasingly specializing in the sector. Mr. Ackerman’s fund focuses on cybersecurity startups, as does TenEleven Ventures and Trident Capital Cybersecurity. Menlo Ventures plans to dedicate 25% of its latest fund to security companies.

Trident Capital’s newest partner, Sean Cunningham , said he isn’t worried about the increasing number of funds specializing in cybersecurity. Mr. Cunningham said that because there was so little investment in the sector for many years, venture capitalists are now playing catch up from when cybersecurity investment dropped between 2004 and 2010.

“The sector has actually been underfunded in some regards,” Mr. Cunningham said. “You could argue that we’re going to make up for some of that.”

Mr. Cunningham said Trident passed on a number of deals in 2015 when term sheets came back with valuations the company felt were inflated. He said there will likely be a similar number of cybersecurity deals in 2016, but the total capital deployed in those deals may be lower.

In 2016, investors expect an increase in mergers and acquisitions within the sector. Mr. Cunningham expects traditional public security companies will likely be actively acquiring startups.

Investors predict that given current public market conditions, most companies that are ready to go public will wait it out. Public security companies’ stocks took a beating in early 2016, with FireEye and Imperva Inc . down more than 40% since the start of the year.

Venky Ganesan, a partner at Menlo Ventures , said because so much capital flocked to cybersecurity in recent years, many “clones” were funded. He said time will tell which companies truly own their valuations.

“When the tide goes out, you can see who’s wearing shorts and who is really naked,” Mr. Ganesan said.

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“The Daily Startup: Increased Spending in Cybersecurity Drives Funding Surge” Wall Street Journal, 17 Feb, 2016. Web.

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Silcon Valley Business Journal | “VC confidence rebounds as late-stage venture competition eases”

  |   Uncategorized
Silicon Valley Business Journal, By: Cromwell Schubarth | Posted: 4 Feb 2016

Logo_SVBJVenture investors may be taking hope in the dwindling interest in their portfolio that they are seeing among hedge funds, private equity and mutual fund investors.

VC confidence ended a three-quarter slide at the end of last year, according to a quarterly survey done by Mark V. Cannice, a professor at the University of San Francisco.

“VCs tend to see hope when there is a bit of panic and have caution when the punch bowl is full,” Cannice told me, explaining that his survey of investors looks ahead at what they think is coming in the next six to 18 months.

Recent reports on startup investing in the fourth quarter and start of this year indicate that fewer deals are being done while valuations and amounts invested are dropping slightly.

A 5-point index from the survey, where 5 indicates high confidence, came in at 3.59 in the fourth quarter. That’s up from a three-year low of 3.39 in the third quarter but below recent highs above 4 in 2013 and 2014.

Venky Ganesan of Menlo Ventures and chairman-elect of the National Venture Capital Association said the late stage market has been due for a correction, urging, “Caution ahead!”

“The heady cocktail of easy money due to the Fed, high burn rates, and questionable gross margins is going to give a massive hangover to a bunch of companies,” Ganesan said in the report. “We will see a pullback in late stage financings and even some layoffs, but the long-term value proposition of technology driven change remains intact.”

“The public markets cannot possibly absorb the current batch of unicorns at their current valuations, not to mention the thundering herd of unicorn wannabes,” he said. “There will be more disappointment than celebration over the next 18 months. Still, there is plenty of room for creating real value and building great companies. We just need to adjust expectations.”

Dixon Doll, DCM founder emeritus, said, “In this frothy environment with way too many unicorns and public markets receding, I’m long-term optimistic … short term pessimistic because of contracting liquidity alternatives.”

Bob Ackerman of Allegis Capital wrote, “All that glitters is not gold and the hens of excess are coming homing to roost. The massive influx of outside capital into the venture ecosystem, which has inflated a broad spectrum of valuations, has once again validated the ‘Greater Fool Theory.” The venture community is actively pulling in its investment horns which will reinforce the inevitability of the correction. The good news – with the reset come excellent opportunities for those that know the difference between FeS2 and Au.”

“VC confidence rebounds as late-stage venture competition eases.” Silicon Valley Business Journal, 4 Feb 2016. Web. 5 Feb 2016. 

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