Papa John’s Numbers Come Out Today, Belly Laughs are Group Therapy, Alion Acquires MacB, The Avis Audition and MoviePass’s Heavy Slash

Good Tuesday Morning,

Daylight – Papa John’s was Wall Street’s Drama Queen in July and will report their numbers today. Inside information: 4,700 franchisees require massive support and motivation. Before he was locked out of his office, the Founder was at the face and back of a highly motivated franchise network.

Board has other another side to the story – leaking to the media he had cultivated a frat house environment – largely exaggerated and different than the Nike guys who spent lavishly at certain clubs and clogged up the pipeline on promotions unless you were part of their clique.  

Papa John’s was more about having some fun while getting the work done, not perfect but an important part of a fast-growth atmosphere.

Culture – To break the tension of a high pressure/high performance culture, I used to imitate the CIOs like one guy who wore his pants too high. I’d walk around the office with them up to my neck. On Friday afternoons, I would comb my hair in a big whoop to look like a CIO we called Conway – guy had a huge chevelure.

Big belly laughs are group therapy whether you are delivering mother lodes of pizza or technology. Was it right? Probably not, but it worked and sometimes that is the best option when you are in over your head.  

M&A – CoolSys acquired Energy Squared, an energy design consulting engineering firm.

Guardian Capital made an investment in Direct Line, a provider of network cabling, infrastructure and staffing services to data centers and other mission critical environments.

Alion agreed to acquire MacB, a provider of complex engineering and mission critical technology solutions and services for national security missions.

Source Capital made an investment in Texan Allergy, a provider of management support services to affiliated allergy practices.

Style – I noticed Fortune’s “Morning Report” answered mine yesterday proclaiming, “No, meal kits are not over.” They cited the start-up Gobble which had signed a partnership deal with Walmart to sell meal kits on the retailer’s website. Really, you think selling a premium maker’s meal kit on a low-cost website is not DOA? Gobble better gobble up some of their freezer space with TV dinners instead.

Word of the Day: chevelure [shev-uh-loo r] noun
a head of hair

Economics – Property website operator Zillow to start offering mortgages. The move to issue loans and a lower profit forecast send shares sharply lower after-hours.

The top iPhone mobile gaming app in the US is Fortnite with a daily revenue of $1.92 million.

Peloton received $550 million. The fitness company, which has found success selling $1,995 stationary bikes and class subscriptions, plans to introduce a treadmill for $3,995 in the fall.

Live Rounds – First thing you learn on the farm is not to kick over an ant bed like Facebook did by deleting the so-called trolls who, by the way, won a big victory with the public flogging. Sows doubt to all other posts – ants come back many times over.

Note from Millennial Matt – Better than the NY Times with Chef’d, the rental car company Avis announced a new partnership with Lyft where the ridesharing app’s drivers can now reserve an Avis car. Sounds more like an audition for Avis to get bought than a show of force by the second option to Uber. Avis shares are down 20 percent.

Buzzard’s Roost – The Ferguson Fire has left Yosemite National Park empty during peak tourist season and visitors to Lake Tahoe are choking on smoke. I will get an update from Laura Zander.

MoviePass cancels price increase but will only include three movies per month for $10.

Hot – The implications of Microsoft’s latest change of course – Last month, Microsoft announced free access to Teams, the workplace messaging service it launched globally last year. While the move is a direct assault on a market dominated by Slack, it sends a very clear message about the company’s future direction and priorities.

Microsoft plans to crank up the pressure on Slack, and what it spells for enterprise users of messaging services.

Investment Banking – Strand Equity made an investment in Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, an artisan ice cream brand.

Hedge Funds – Oil slips out of favour with emerging market equity funds despite rally in crude.

Vista Equity Partners is considering selling Tibco Software, a provider of infrastructure and business intelligence software.

IPO – Arlo Technologies, a security camera firm spinning out of Netgear, raised $163 million in an IPO of 10.2 million shares priced at $16.

Venture Capital – Zola, a wedding startup with $140 million in funding, is going beyond wedding registries and websites: launching paper invitations. Tthe company will pre-address all the invitations for free thanks to an innovative digital guest-list manager integrated with all its products.

Samumed, a biotech company, raised $438 million.

Karuna Pharmaceuticals, a focused on targeting muscarinic receptors for treating disorders marked by psychosis and cognitive impairment, raised $42 million.

Surterra Wellness, a medical cannabis startup, raised $65 million.

Ample, a developer of a platform that delivers a full charge to electric cars, raised $31 million.

Worklete, a digital health platform designed to prevent musculoskeletal injuries among labor intensive workforces, raised $6.5 million.

Plantforce, a provider of heavy equipment rentals, raised $6.10 million.

Edmit, an edtech startup, raised $2.3 million

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And that’s what’s ahead, Cliff