Aug 10, 2020

Axios Pro Rata

By Dan Primack
Dan Primack

Welcome back, readers! As Dan mentioned on Friday, I'll be your news captain this week while he drinks beer on a wraparound porch.

🚨 Join Axios' Joann Muller Tuesday at 12:30pm ET for a conversation on the future of autonomous vehicles with national president of MADD Helen Witty, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation Seleta Reynolds, and American University's Selika Josiah Talbott.

Top of the Morning

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Twitter is the latest to join the cast of the ongoing spectacle that is TikTok’s battle to stay open for business in the U.S., per a new report from the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: The saga to keep TikTok available to U.S. users is getting more complicated, with the company already in a President Trump-imposed time crunch and juggling a number of options.

Between the lines: Twitter’s interest is a tacit admission that it shouldn’t have failed Vine, a short video app it acquired that’s widely seen as TikTok’s precursor. Twitter shut down the app in early 2017.

  • Like other tech companies, Twitter has acquired a number of startups over the years, at times to gain their products and tech while others to gobble up talented employees.

State of play: Here’s a look at Twitter’s product-focused acquisitions...

  • Vine: Acquired in 2012, the app for making 7-second looping videos exploded in popularity and created a generation of video stars who made entertaining videos with nothing more than a smartphone. However, as the company failed to figure out how to help these users monetize their popularity, they fled to other services, and Twitter shuttered the app in 2017.
  • We Are Hunted: Twitter quietly acquired the startup in 2012 and repurposed it into a music discovery app it released the following spring. Despite the continued popularity of music artists on Twitter’s main service, the company shut down the separate app in early 2014.
  • Periscope: Acquired in early 2015 before it had even debuted its service, Periscope became Twitter’s answer to live video-streaming app Meerkat, which had exploded in popularity during SXSW. Though the app is still available, it’s not longer as popular and its leadership has moved onto higher-profile jobs within Twitter.
  • TweetDeck: Three years after its founding, Twitter acquired the beloved user dashboard. Today it’s still available, though some power users have been grumpy about various changes over the years.

Yes, but: Twitter is now a 14-year-old public company that’s hopefully learned from its mistakes and TikTok is already a well-formed product that Twitter wouldn’t have to build from near-scratch. (Twitter declined to comment on the reports of talks with TikTok.)

  • On the other hand, it’s also unclear how plausible the transaction would be — Twitter’s own market cap is at about $30 billion, with around $7.8 billion in cash and short-term investments as of June.
  • The price tag for TikTok could be as high as $30 billion, per media reports.

The bottom line: TikTok has until Sept. 15 to broker a deal — per President Trump — so the clock is ticking (pun very intended).


Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

CureVac, a German Phase 1 biotech company developing mRNA-based cancer therapies and vaccines as well as a potential COVID-19 vaccine, announced terms for its IPO.

  • Why it’s the BFD: COVID-19 is the biggest story in the world right now and any company that can potentially contribute to the fight is a big deal.
  • Terms: It plans to raise $200 million by offering 13.3 million shares at a price range of $14 to $16. The company plans to raise an additional $118 million in a concurrent private placement to insider Dietmar Hopp. At the midpoint of the proposed range, CureVac would command a market value of $2.6 billion. It plans to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol CVAC. BofA Securities, Jefferies, Credit Suisse, Berenberg and Kempen are the joint bookrunners on the deal.
  • The bottom line: The more vaccines in the pipeline, the better the chances of curbing this.
Venture Capital Deals

Skillshare, a NYC-based marketplace for online courses, has raised $66 million in new funding led by OMERS Growth Equity.

Oomnitza, a San Francisco-based maker of IT software, has raised $12.5 million in Series B funding led by Shasta Ventures and Riverside Acceleration Capital.

Routable, a San Francisco-based B2B payments company, has raised $12 million in Series A funding from Y Combinator, Founders Co-Op, Lee Fixel, Box Group, Liquid 2 Ventures, Jason Gardner, Gokul Rajaram, Aaron Schildkrout, Sam Hodges, Immad Akhund, and others.

Ironscales, an Atlanta-based provider of anti-phishing software, has raised $8 million in additional Series B funding led by Jump Capital.

Interlace, a NYC-based stealthy dating app, has raised $4.2 million in funding, per an SEC filing.

Mashroom, a U.K.-based maker of property management software, has raised £4 million in new funding from undisclosed investors and the U.K. Future Fund.

WorkPatterns, a San Francisco-based maker of employee management software, has raised $2.8M in seed funding from Javelin Venture Partners, Founders Fund’s Pathfinder, Merus Capital, Frank Blake, Auren Hoffman, Michael Stoppelman, Josh Jones, and PLG Ventures.

Private Equity Deals

ClearCourse has acquired Practice Point’s Assisi Veterinary System, a U.K.-based veterinary practice management system.

Infinedi has invested in Cultural Experiences Abroad, a Phoenix-based provider of study abroad programs for U.S. university students.

⛽️ NovaSource Power Services, backed by Clairvest Group, will acquire First Solar’s North American O&M business.

Roper Technologies, a U.S.-based software company, is in talks to acquire Vista Equity Partners and Bain Capital-backed insurance software vendor Vertafore for close to $5.5 billion, per Reuters.

Public Offerings

🚙 Xpeng, a Chinese electric luxury carmaker, filed on Friday to raise up to $100 million in an IPO. It plans to list on the NYSE under the symbol XPEV. Xpeng filed confidentially on June 2, 2020. Credit Suisse, JPMorgan and BofA Securities are the joint bookrunners on the deal.

KE Holdings, a Chinese housing transactions and services platform, announced terms for its IPO on Friday. It plans to raise $1.9 billion by offering 106 million ADSs at a price range of $17 to $19. Insiders intend to purchase $800 million worth of ADSs in the offering. At the midpoint of the proposed range, KE Holdings would command a fully diluted market value of $20.7 billion. It plans to list on the NYSE under the symbol BEKE. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, China Renaissance, JPMorgan and CICC are the joint bookrunners on the deal. It is expected to price during the week of August 10, 2020.

SPAC Stuff

Industrial Tech Acquisitions, a SPAC targeting a technology business operating in an industrial or energy area, filed to raise up to $60 million in an IPO.

Vistas Media Acquisition, a SPAC targeting the media and entertainment industry, raised $100 million by offering 10 million units at $10.


Share Ventures, a Los Angeles-based startup studio co-founded by Hamet Watt, has raised $10 million from Upfront Ventures, Alpha Edison, the general partners and founders of True Ventures, and a Korean family office.

It's Personnel

Aaref Hilaly has joined Bain Capital Ventures as partner. He was previously at Wing Ventures and Sequoia Capital before that.

Bharat Sajnani has joined Datadog as its head of corporate development. Previously he helped lead M&A at Square.

Wendell Brooks has resigned from Intel Capital, where he had been president since 2015.

Mitchell Mutz has joined Codon Capital as partner. Mutz was previously at Roche Venture Fund and founded Amplyx prior to that.

Final Numbers
Reproduced from IQVIA; Chart: Axios Visuals
Dan Primack

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