Congratulations to Beme for being an Inception-like failure within a failure. Little more than a year ago, the ubiquitous Casey Neistat (of "Bike Lanes" fame (video)) sold his company Beme to CNN for $25mm in what, to those who track these things, was very clearly an acqui-hire rather than a legit acquisition. Neistat and his team were meant to be a boost of steroids for CNN's burgeoning digital content plans. Instead, he's gone and Beme is officially toast. Perhaps the shortest acqui-hire of all time.
But at least Beme wasn't a $100mm bust. So, there's that. In contrast, Primary Data, a California-based data virtualization startup crashed and burned this week after 4 years of hype, $80mm in venture capital, $20mm in venture debt, and (practically) zero minutes of actual product delivery. Apple's Steve Wozniak was the company's data scientist. Notable VCs include Litespeed Venture Partners and Accel Partners.
And then there is Loot Crate, a monthly subscription service that sends video games and other nerdy gear to customers. Per Reuters, the company is a cesspool of controversy: it is the defendant in a sexual harassment lawsuit; and it had three non-exec Board members resign in recent weeks (including the high profile Mark Suster of Upfront Ventures). Consequently, it has hired Dendera Advisory LLC, a merchant bank of sorts, to raise new funds. We guess that means that, after $18.5mm of venture capital funding and Suster running for the exits, VC is no longer an option. Meanwhile, Dendera is apparently no stranger to distressed situations; it advised Sports Direct International in its purchase of Eastern Mountain Sports and invested in Performance Sports Group.
Getting us progressively closer - but not quite in - to bankruptcy court, is Outcome Health, a medical advertising company that deploys technology (read: uh, tv screens) to doctor's offices. The company has (apparently) avoided a chapter 11 filing after settling fraud allegations Goldman Sachs and Google Capital lobbed at the company's founders. Jones Day, Rothschild and FTI Consulting were all reportedly laying in wait for a potential bankruptcy filing. The company has several million dollars of debt. As part of the settlement, the defendants and others will infuse the company with additional liquidity.
And, finally, further busting the everybody-gets-rich-off-of-tech narrative, Practice Fusion, a medical records startup, has sold for $100mm to AllScripts Healthcare Solutions Inc. ($MDRX) at a mere fraction of the once-heralded $1.5b valuation the company reportedly enjoyed. While management - including a General Counsel making $2.2mm - are getting enriched, employees taxed on earlier exercised stock options are getting shafted hard. It's a rough story. Peter Thiel (of Gawker fame) and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers were large investors.
PETITION NOTE: Startups fail all of the time. We note it only because, eventually, interest rates will rise, the bubble will burst, venture capital money will dry up, and EVEN MORE startups and tech companies will go "bust." A number of these companies - unbeknownst to many who don't follow tech - actually have venture debt (like Primary Data above) and valuable IP. Stay tuned. And imagine how long this section will be when that all that happens.