Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Farmers Business Network, a farmer-to-farmer information network, financing and e-commerce platform, raised $250 million in Series F funding led by BlackRock at a reported $1.75 billion valuation.

Why it matters: The pandemic has caused great hardship for many independent farmers, particularly those who sell into food-service segments or who grow commodity crops, so even marginal savings on things like seed can go a long way.

  • Other investors included Baron Capital Group, Balyasny Asset Management, Mandi Ventures, Lupa Systems, Ron Shaich, Fidelity Investments Canada, and return backers DBL Partners, Temasek, GV, Expanding Capital, Kleiner Perkins, and T. Rowe Price.

The bottom line: "Farmers Business Network has built a group of 12,000 members, covering 40 million acres of farmland across the U.S., Canada and Australia," Bloomberg's Katie Roof reports.

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Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Aug 26, 2020 - Economy & Business

Desktop Metal to go public via reverse merger

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Desktop Metal, a Burlington, Massachussetts-based maker of 3D metal printing systems, agreed to go public via a reverse merger with Trine Acquisition, a SPAC formed last year by veteran telecom investor Leo Hindery. It would give Desktop Metal an initial market value of around $2.5 billion.

Why it matters: This was the result of a formal, bank-led auction among SPACs, CEO Ric Fulop tells Axios, without Desktop Metal also running a parallel IPO or private equity process. That's unusual, but likely to become more common as SPACs proliferate.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Aug 26, 2020 - Economy & Business

Venture capital firms to include "diversity riders" in term sheets

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Ten venture capital firms on Wednesday will announce that they're now including "diversity riders" in term sheets submitted to startups, requiring that best efforts are made to bring underrepresented investors into the deals.

Why it matters: This is a tangible effort to diversify cap tables and, in so doing, expand access to investors who have historically been excluded.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
1 hour ago - Science

The murder hornets are here

A braver man than me holds a speciment of the Asian giant hornet. Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Entomologists in Washington state on Thursday discovered the first Asian giant hornet nest in the U.S.

Why it matters: You may know this insect species by its nom de guerre: "the murder hornet." While the threat they pose to humans has been overstated, the invading hornets could decimate local honeybee populations if they establish themselves.