The Strand 🌴 - April 21, 2019

Sound Ventures invests in fertility startup Carrot Fertility, Apollo purchases Smart & Final for $1.12B, Conversionpoint files for $40M IPO, and The Wing opens first LA location in West Hollywood.

Welcome to the thirty-first edition of The Strand, a weekly-ish newsletter covering venture capital, private equity, and general business news from around the Los Angeles area. My name is Brendan Boken, a native of Southern California. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, send deals/news to

Venture Capital Funding

Bev, a two-year-old, Los Angeles, California-based canned rosé brand, has raised $7 million in seed funding led by Founders Fund. Forbes

Carrot Fertility, a three-year-old, San Francisco, California-based startup that helps companies customize fertility coverage for employees, has raised $11.5 million in Series A funding led by CRV. Los Angeles-based Sound Ventures, Y Combinator, and Uncork Capital also joined the round. Business Insider

Flowspace, a two-year-old, Culver City, California-based startup selling on-demand warehousing and fulfillment services of all sizes, has raised $12 million in Series A funding. Canvas Ventures led the new round, with participation from Moment Ventures, 1984 Ventures, and Y Combinator. American Shipper

Gen.G, a two-year-old, Los Angeles, California-based global e-sports organization, has raised $46 million in funding from investors including Will Smith, MasterClass CEO David Rogier, NEA, and Stanford University, among others. CNBC

Lyric, a nearly-five-year-old, San Francisco, California-based hospitality platform for business travelers, has raised $160 million in equity and debt financing. Airbnb led the round, with other investors participating including Tishman Speyer, RXR Realty, Obvious Ventures, SineWave, Dick Costolo, Adam Bain. Earlier backers also participating in the round include Barry Sternlicht, NEA, SignalFire, Los Angeles-based Fifth Wall Ventures, and Tusk Ventures. TechCrunch

PopBase, a two-year-old, Burbank, California-based startup that creates interactive fan clubs for social media influencers, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Queen City Angels. PE Hub

Slingshot Aerospace, a two-year-old, El Segundo, California-based analytics company, has raised $5 million in seed funding. ATX Venture Partners led the round. Other investors include Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Okapi Capital, Stage Venture Partners, Sway Ventures, and Techstars Ventures. FinSMEs

Private Equity Funding

Apollo Global Management agreed to buy Smart & Final (NYSE: SFS), a Commerce, California-based food retailer, for $1.12 billion (including debt). The $6.50 per share deal represents a 20.6% premium over Monday’s share price. Apollo previously owned the company, but sold it in 2012 to Ares Management, which still holds a 58% stake, per Axios Pro Rata. Winsight Grocery Business

Butterfly Equity agreed to buy Bolthouse Farms, a Bakersfield, California-based producer of healthy products, from Campbell Soup Company, for $510 million in cash. BevNet

Liquidity / Exits / M&A

Sho Products, a Los Angeles, California-based maker of cannabis accessories, acquired Master Minded Distribution, a wholesale cannabis distributor. Financial terms were not disclosed. PE Hub

New Funds

No LA-based firms announced new funds this past week.


ConversionPoint, a 3.5-year-old, Newport Beach, California-based SaaS platform for marketing and e-commerce, has filed with the SEC to raise up to $40 million in an initial public offering. NASDAQ

On The Move

No Los Angeles-based companies or firms gained notable new employees this past week.

Featured Jobs

Honk, a fast growing technology company focused on the roadside assistance space, is hiring a Product Manager in the company’s Santa Monica office.

Ladder, a lifestyle and nutrition brand founded by Lebron James, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cindy Crawford, and Lindsey Vonn, is hiring a Strategy and Business Operations Manager in the company’s Santa Monica office.

Well Health, a modern communications platform for the healthcare industry, is hiring a Business Development Representative in the company’s greater LA office.

News, Resources, & Required Reading

A giant six-engine aircraft with the world’s longest wingspan landed its first flight after taking off from Mojave Air and Space Port, after climbing into the desert sky 70 miles north of Los Angeles. The company that built the plane, Stratolaunch, was founded by former Microsoft executive Paul Allen. NBC Los Angeles

Blackstone, the world’s largest private equity firm, has raised $126 billion in capital over the last 12 months, bringing total AUM at the firm to more than half a trillion dollars ($512 billion). Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone, has said the process of raising so much capital so quickly has been “like an out-of-body-experience”. Bloomberg

Opportunity and acceptance: 4 local technologists share what makes LA a unique city for women in tech. Built in LA

The Wing has opened a women-focused co-working space in West Hollywood. The location features 11,000 square feet of working space and amenities tinged with the flavor of Southern California. It is the The Wing’s seventh location, joining league with collaboration stations in New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and most recently, Chicago. Built in LA

The Writers Guild of America, who represents about 13,000 screenwriters-some 8,500 of who have agents-sued the four biggest talent agencies (WME, Creative Artists Agency, ICM Partners, and United Talent Agency) on the grounds that their packaging practices violate California and federal laws by pitting the financial interests of the agencies against those of their clients. The Atlantic

Tennis star Serena Williams has launched a venture firm for investing in women, people of color, and young entrepreneurs. The early-stage venture firm is called Serena Ventures and has already invested in more than 30 companies, including The Wing, MasterClass, and Brandless. Business Insider

With a new CEO and fresh funding from Los Angeles-based Upfront Ventures, healthy prepared food delivery service Territory Foods looks to grow. TechCrunch

Take a Break

Chinese billionaire Yan Bin is selling his Beverly Hills mansion for $25 million.

The most luxurious gyms in America.

The 12 hottest cocktail spots in Los Angeles right now.

1970’s photos capture a vanishing LA.

What I’m Listening To

@OverheardLA Posts of the Week

Unsplash Photos of the Week