June 01, 2022

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Top of the Morning

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Tuesday said she'll soon introduce a bill to regulate SPACs, and also released a 26-page presentation on how SPACs "tilt the playing field and enrich Wall Street Insiders."

Why it matters: Warren's bill, the text of which hasn't yet been released, would codify the SEC's recently proposed rules and then go several steps further.

  • For example, it would require additional disclosures, extend the SPAC sponsor's lockup period and increase liabilities for both sponsors and underwriters.

Why it matters less: Warren hasn't had success in getting her Wall Street bills taken up by the Senate, let alone passed into law.

  • This is the fundamental problem with covering, or caring about, her legislative proposals — whether or not one believes she's accurately diagnosed problems and prescribed proper remedies.
  • Warren's much-hyped Stop Wall Street Looting Act, which sought to crack down on private equity, went nowhere. Same goes for her sweeping antitrust proposals, whereas a tech-specific antitrust effort led by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) might actually reach the floor this summer.
  • A Warren spokesman defended her record, texting that the SEC is rule-making "on climate disclosure that the Senator has advocated for years," and that the White House has incorporated some of her private equity and housing reforms in its agenda (with PE's role in nursing homes on the horizon). None of that, however, involved Congressional votes.

The bottom line: Warren has become more of a thought leader than a legislator on capital markets issues, with SPACs likely to be the latest example.

The BFD

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Ultima Genomics, a Newark Calif.-based gene sequencing startup, exited stealth with around $600m in venture capital funding.

Why it's the BFD: Ultima claims it can sequence an entire genome for just $100, which is an affordability advancement that could significantly accelerate genomic research. It's also seeking to challenge Illumina, an incumbent valued at more than $37 billion.

Investors include General Atlantic, Andreessen Horowitz, D1 Capital, Khosla Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Marius Nacht, aMoon, Playground Global and Founders Fund.

The bottom line: "In 2001, sequencing one person’s genome cost $95 million, according to data from the National Human Genome Research Institute. By last year, that cost had fallen to $562... The price of sequencing a genome will have to come down even further to enable data analysis at the scale dreamed of by scientists." — Michelle F. Davis, Bloomberg

Venture Capital Deals

Acrisure, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based insurance brokerage once owned by Genstar Capital, raised $725m in Series B-2 funding at a $23b valuation. Abu Dhabi Investment Authority led, and was joined by Guggenheim Investments and Oak Hill Advisors. http://axios.link/8ugL

Rimac, a Croatian hypercar maker and EV components supplier, raised €500m in Series D funding at a €2b valuation. SoftBank and Goldman Sachs co-led, and were joined by Porsche. http://axios.link/feoy

Coralogix, an Israeli log analytics platform, raised $142m in Series D funding. Advent International and Brighton Park Capital co-led, and were joined by Revaia and insiders Greenfield Partners, Red Dot Capital Partners, O.G. Tech, StageOne Ventures, Joule Capital Partners and Maor Investments. http://axios.link/OOVL

InfStones, a Palo Alto-based web3 infrastructure startup, raised $66m. SoftBank and GGV Capital co-led, and were joined by INCE Capital, 10T Fund, SNZ Holding and A&T Capital. http://axios.link/5WBA

Odilo, a Madrid-based white-label platform for e-learning, raised €60m. Bregal Milestone led, and was joined by insiders Swanlaab and CDTI. http://axios.link/3UvE

Slice, an Indian digital credit card provider, raised $50m in Series C funding at more than a $1.5b valuation (per TechCrunch) from GMO Venture Partners and insiders Insight Partners and Moore Strategic Ventures. http://axios.link/2rxu

FarmWise, an SF-based farm automation startup, raised $45m in Series B funding. Fall Line Capital and Middleland Capital co-led, and were joined by GV, Taylor Farms, Calibrate Ventures, Playground Global and Wilbur Ellis' VC arm. www.farmwise.io

WIN Reality, an Austin, Texas-based VR training and assessment platform for athletes, raised $45m from Spectrum Equity. www.winreality.com

Mondu, a Germany-based B2B BNPL startup, raised $43m in Series A funding. Valar Ventures led, and was joined by Cherry Ventures and FinTech Collective. http://axios.link/Fl2W

Ordr, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based connected device cybersecurity startup, raised $40m in Series C funding. Battery Ventures and Ten Eleven Ventures co-led, and were joined by Northgate Capital, Wing VC, Unusual Ventures, Kaiser Permanente Ventures and Mayo Clinic. http://axios.link/L1Sg

Hourly.io, a Palo Alto-based payroll and comp app for hourly workers, raised $27m. Glilot Capital Partners led, and was joined by S Capital, Vintage Investment Partners and J-Ventures. http://axios.link/sPDU

Upway, a French seller of used and refurbished e-bikes, raised $25m in Series A funding co-led by Exor Seeds and Sequoia Capital. http://axios.link/UNSf

🚑 Air Doctor, an Israeli travel care startup, raised $20m. Lightspeed Venture Partners led, and was joined by Vintage Investment Partners, Munich Re Ventures, The Phoenix and insider Kamet Ventures. www.air-dr.com

HitPay, a Singapore-based SME payments startup, raised $15.8m in Series A funding. Tiger Global led, and was joined by Global Founders Capital and HOF Capital. http://axios.link/wfN0

Felt, a Walnut, Calif.-based collaborative mapping tool, raised $15m in Series A funding led by Footwork. www.felt.com

🎧 Vibenomics, an Indianapolis-based retail audio advertising startup, raised $12.3m in Series B funding led by Panoramic Ventures, per Axios Pro. http://axios.link/Oi7C

Code Intelligence, a German automated security testing platform, raised $12m in Series A funding. Tola Capital led, and was joined by insicers LBBW, Occident, Verve Ventures and HTGF. www.code-intelligence.com

Kryptomon, a play-and-earn NFT gaming project, raised $10m in Series A funding. NFX led, and was joined by PlayStudios, Fininvest and Vikram Pandit. www.kryptomon.com

Tandym, a Chicago-based private-label credit card company, raised $10m in equity funding led by Gradient Ventures with Obvious Ventures also participating. The company also secured $50m in debt led by Rivonia Road. www.bytandym.com

Merge, a London-based crypto payments startup, raised $9.5m in seed funding. Octopus Ventures led, and was joined by Hashed, Coinbase Ventures, Alameda Research and Ethereal Ventures. http://axios.link/XwNf

CloseFactor, a Palo Alto-based B2B sales acceleration startup, raised $4.5m in seed funding led by Sequoia Capital. www.closefactor.com

Lively Root, a San Diego-based horticulture lifestyle brand, raised $4m in seed funding from angels like former Jack in the Box CEO Jack Goodall. www.livelyroot.com

Talk360, a payments and international calling startup focused on Africa, raised $4m in seed funding led by HAVAÍC. http://axios.link/nsdv

Parvis Invest, a Vancouver-based real estate investment platform, raised C$2.7m in Series A funding led by Gravitas Securities. www.parvisinvest.com

Betastore, an Africa-focused B2B retail marketplace, raised $2.5m in from 500 Global, VestedWorld and Loyal VC. http://axios.link/Y12q

Koban, a Bolivian fintech, raised $2.3m in seed funding from such backers as Precursor Ventures, FJLabs, Goldtruck and Class 5 Global. http://axios.link/0lQX

iFarmer, an Bangladeshi software platform for farmers, raised $2.1m led by IDLC Ventures. www.ifarmer.asia

Digiphy, an LA-based contextual marketing, commerce and traceability startup, raised $1.5m from Gaingels, M13, Builders & Backers, Eyrir Venture and Sify Ventures. www.digiphy.it

Private Equity Deals

Align Capital Partners acquired StenTech, a Canadian provider of surface mount technology stencils, pallets and tooling. www.stentech.com

🚑 Aquiline Capital Partners invested in Planet DDS, a Newport Beach, Calif.-based provider of cloud software for dental practices. www.planetdds.com

🚑 Blackstone is in advanced talks to buy Advarra, a Columbia, Md.-based drug research services firm, from Genstar Capital for around $5b, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/ucq9

🌎 Blackstone is in talks to invest in carbon trading platform Xpansiv, which recently shelved plans to list in Australia at an A$2b valuation, per Australian media reports. http://axios.link/h0ZH

CGI Automated Manufacturing, a Romeoville, Ill.-based portfolio company of Core Industrial Partners, acquired Elite Manufacturing Technologies, a Bloomingdale, Ill.-based maker of precision sheet metal components and assemblies. www.emt333.com

Clayton, Dubilier & Rice agreed to buy a 51% stake in the industrial unit of Roper Technologies (NYSE: ROP), including its entire process technologies business, for approximately $2.6b. http://axios.link/dRTP

Corsair bought a majority stake in HungerRush, a Houston-based cloud POS system for restaurants, from CapStreet Group. www.hungerrush.com

Luminate Capital Partners invested in Suralink, a Salt Lake City-based based provider of request list and workflow management software for professional services firms. www.suralink.com

• One Rock Capital Partners completed its acquisition of Therm-O-Disc, a Mansfield, Ohio-based maker of thermostats and related products, from Emerson (NYSE: EMR).

Peninsula Capital agreed to buy Italian packaging firm ISEM Bramucci for around €90m. http://axios.link/G4a8

RedBird Capital Partners agreed to buy AC Milan for €1.2b from Elliott Management. http://axios.link/EPNX

ReliaQuest, a Tampa, Fla.-based cybersecurity firm backed by investors like KKR, FTV Capital and Ten Eleven Ventures, agreed to buy Digital Shadows, a London-based provider of threat intelligence for security, for $160m. Digital Shadows had raised nearly $60m from firms like Octopus Ventures, Storm Ventures, Trinity Ventures and World Innovation Lab. www.reliaquest.com

WHP Global, a brand management firm backed by Oaktree Capital Management, agreed to buy a 70% stake in fashion brand Isaac Mizrahi for around $68m (including $46.2m in cash) from Xcel Brands (Nasdaq: XELB). www.whp-global.com

SPAC Stuff

The SEC's ongoing investigation into the timing of conversations between Digital World Acquisition Corp. (Nasdaq: DWAC) and Trump Media & Technology Group also included a request for records from Benessere Capital (Nasdaq: BENE), another SPAC formed by DWAC's Patrick Orlando.

  • That's according to a May 16 regulatory filing from Benessere, spotted by the NY Times' Matthew Goldstein. It says that Benessere, which is in the process of buying eCombustible Energy, is not the focus of the SEC's investigation.

🚑 Cardio Diagnostics, a Chicago-based developer of precision cardiovascular medicines, agreed to go public at an implied $175m valuation via Mana Capital Acquisition Corp. (Nasdaq: MAAQ). www.cardiodiagnosticsinc.com

Freightos, an Israel-based freight booking and payment platform, agreed to go public at an implied $435m enterprise valuation via Gesher Acquisition Corp. (Nasdaq: GIAC). Freightos raised just over $100m from firms like Aleph, Israel Cleantech Ventures, Singapore Exchange, Saints Capital, GE Ventures, FedEx and Qatar Airways. http://axios.link/OWcF

• Rally, a New York-based mass mobility marketplace, agreed to go public at an implied $208m enterprise value via Americas Technology Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: ATA), a SPAC led by Lisa Harris (Align Capital) and Jorge Marcos (Fifth Partners). Rally investors include Daimler Truck, Avalancha Ventures and Liil Ventures. www.rally.co

More M&A

🥃 Diageo India is selling 32 liquor brands to Inbrew Beverages for $106m. http://axios.link/7rPU

Franklin Templeton (NYSE: BEN) agreed to buy Alcentra, the European credit and debt subsidiary of Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE: BK). The deal is valued at up to $700m, including $350m upfront in cash. http://axios.link/i3l4

Frasers (LSE: FRAS) bought online women's fashion retailer Missguided out of bankruptcy for around £20m. http://axios.link/zLdY

McKinsey & Co. acquired Caserta, a New York-based data and design strategy firm. www.caserta.com

Puig of Spain acquired a majority stake in Swedish luxury perfume maker Byredo for a reported €1b. http://axios.link/oeNV

Saint-Gobain (Paris: SGOB) agreed to buy Kaycan, a Canadian maker of siding and other exterior building materials, for US$928m in cash. http://axios.link/ds93

Tullow Oil (LSE: TLW) agreed to an all-stock merger with Capricorn Energy (LSE: CNE) valued at £660m. http://axios.link/aQgZ

WSP Global (TSX: WSP) agreed to but the environmental consulting unit of British energy services group Wood PLC (LSE: WG) for $1.9b. http://axios.link/gmQe

Fundraising

Alven, a French VC firm, raised €350m for its sixth fund. http://axios.link/8Z5A

Binance Labs, the crypto exchange's VC arm, raised $500 million from outside LPs for a new fund. http://axios.link/eUBg

Designer Fund, an SF-based VC firm, is raising $40m for its third fund, per an SEC filing. www.designerfund.com

Hannah Grey, a consumer VC firm led by Kate Beardsley (ex-Lerer Hippeau) and Jessica Peltz-Zatulove (Stagwell Group), raised $52m for its debut fund. http://axios.link/WrN3

Inner Loop Capital, a Baltimore-based VC firm, is raising $30m for its second fund, per an SEC filing. www.innerloopcap.com

Section Partners, a Palo Alto-based firm that provides liquidity solutions for startup founders and employees, is raising $300m for its fifth fund, per an SEC filing. www.sectionpartners.com

Tuesday Capital, an SF-based venture firm led by Patrick Gallagher, is raising $30m for its fifth fund, per an SEC filing. www.tuesday.vc

It's Personnel

• Jake Reynolds won't be a general partner on the next fund raised by TCV, after 25 years with the growth equity firm. He tells Axios: "I'll remain a GP in all of our current funds, remain in all of my current boards, and hopefully be of value as a mentor to the younger generation of TCV." 

• Paris Heymann joined Index Ventures as a New York-based partner. He previously was a partner with Arena Holdings. www.indexventures.com

• Rebekah Goshorn Jurata joined the American Investment Council, private equity’s top trade group, as general counsel. She's a former SEC and Treasury Dept official who most recently was special assistant to President Trump for financial policy. www.investmentcouncil.org

• John Koch, former president and CEO of PODS Enterprises, joined Clayton Dubilier & Rice as an operating advisor. www.cdr-inc.com

Sydney Thomas stepped down as a principal with Precursor Ventures in order to launch her own pre-seed fund. http://axios.link/Ok3F

Mickey Weatherston joined Churchill Asset Management as a principal and head of sustainability and ESG integration. He previously was with Muzinich & Co. www.churchillam.com

Barclays named Joel Fleck as global co-head of its financial institutions group, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/Ps6S

500 Global MENA promoted Amal Dokhan to general partner. www.500.co

Palladium Equity Partners promoted managing directors Deborah Gallegos and Carlos Reyes to co-heads of the firm's sustainability and ESG efforts. www.palladiumequity.com

Final Numbers

Mentions of “labor shortages” on company earnings calls
Data: AlphaSense; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

Go deeper: The labor market is getting healthier

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