Jul 6, 2020

Axios Pro Rata

Dan Primack

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Top of the Morning

Source: Giphy

Tensions between tech and tech media hit a boiling point over the weekend, in the latest fraying of a once-cozy relationship.

The shortest version is that N.Y. Times reporter Taylor Lorenz tweeted out some screenshots from the public Instagram of Away CEO Steph Korey, in which she criticized media coverage of her company.

  • Some tech investors and execs took exception to Lorenz’s characterization of Korey’s comments — and of amplifying them in the first place. The loudest opponent was crypto entrepreneur and former VC Balaji Srinivasan, who offered Bitcoin prizes to makers of memes about the episode (which, predictably, includes memes denigrating Lorenz).
  • This brouhaha extended from Twitter to techie voice chat app Clubhouse, a portion of which was leaked to Vice (don’t waste your time, the leak covered a pretty pedestrian hour of a longer conversation). Srinivasan has claimed Vice journalists themselves recorded the conversation, but has provided no evidence to back that up.

Some quick thoughts:

  1. Lorenz made a factual error in her initial tweet, related to Korey’s initial position at the company. She is a public figure, and scrutiny of such errors — and of her characterization of Korey's comments as "incoherent" — are fair game.
  2. Korey, as CEO of a (once) unicorn company, is also a public figure and her public comments are par for the course.
  3. Srinivasan escalated his longstanding critique of the media — and to the NYT in particular — into childish taunting and what could have become dangerous bullying. He also injected accusations of racial bias into the conversation, which was illegitimate.

Tensions between tech and those who cover it aren't new (see Wag, Valley). But there has been a ratcheting up of animosity and of assuming ill-intent. Not in all quarters, of course, but among some of the loudest and most influential voices in each realm.

  • [Disclaimer: I'm obviously a reporter, so think much of the meta media criticism reflects a lack of tech understanding about how media really works. but that's a different conversation for a different day.]

The bottom line: Everyone needs to take a breath. Tech's job is to build. Tech media's job is to report on all aspects of what's being built — for better or for worse. And when mistakes are made, reflexive defensiveness is the worst posture.


Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Uber (NYSE: UBER) agreed to buy food delivery rival Postmates for $2.65 billion in stock. Uber also will invest an undisclosed amount of money into Postmates ahead of the anticipated Q1 2021 close.

  • Why it's the BFD: This is Uber's set of steak knives, after failing last month to acquire Grubhub.
  • ROI: Postmates had raised over $900 million from firms like Founders Fund, Spark Capital, Uncork Capital, and Tiger Global Management. This includes a $225 million infusion last fall at a $2.4 billion post-money valuation. It had been in talks to raise another $100 million, but no such deal has occurred.
  • Market reax: Uber stock opened today up more than 8%.
  • The bottom line: It's not yet clear that consolidation can flip the upside-down economics of food delivery, despite what Uber says will be $200 million in synergistic savings. Well, outside of price increases that would draw the ire of antitrust regulators.
Venture Capital Deals

Caffeine, a Redwood City, Calif.-based social broadcasting platform focused on live rap competitions, raised $113 million from Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock, Fox Corp., Cox Enterprises, and Sanabil Investments. http://axios.link/kpB0

🚑 Annexon Biosciences, a South San Francisco-based antibodies maker, raised $100 million in Series D funding and filed for an IPO. Redmile Group led the round, and was joined by BlackRock, Deerfield Management, Eventide Asset Management, Farallon Capital Management, Janus Henderson, Logos Capital, and return backers Adage Capital Partners, Bain Capital Life Sciences, Blackstone Life Sciences, NEA, Satter Medical Technology Partners, and Surveyor Capital. http://axios.link/KchH

Payfazz, an Indonesian provider of consumer access to financial services, raised $53 million in Series B funding. B Capital and Insignia Ventures Partners co-led, and were joined by BRI Capital and return backers Tiger Global, YC, and ACE & Co. http://axios.link/kLWi

🚑 Evidation Health, a San Mateo, Calif.-based developer of digital biomarkers, raised $45 million in Series D funding. B Capital Group led, and was joined by McKesson Ventures, Section 32, and return backers Revelation Partners, Rethink Impact, and SV Health Investors. www.evidation.com

🚑 Mission Therapeutics, a British developer of inhibiting deubiquitylating enzymes, raised £12 million led by Pfizer Ventures. www.missiontherapeutics.com

Vendia, a San Francisco-based serverless code-sharing platform, raised $5.1 million in seed funding. Neotribe Ventures led, and was joined by Correlation Ventures, WestWave Capital, HWVP, Firebolt Ventures, Floodgate, and Future\Perfect Ventures. http://axios.link/ZTC8

Private Equity Deals

🚑 Apax Partners agreed to buy a 49% stake in InnovAge, a Denver-based in-home senior care provider, from Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe at a $950 million enterprise value, per PE Hub. http://axios.link/RsR9

Axcel is in talks to buy Swedish IT services provider AddPro from Adelis, per PE News. http://axios.link/ZhRu

Bison Capital sponsored a recapitalization of FTR Group, a provider of recording and transcription tech and services. www.fortherecord.com

The Carlyle Group acquired a majority stake in Czech translation software company Memsource. http://axios.link/KcHg

Casual Dining Group, a British restaurant chain operator owned by KKR, filed for bankruptcy. Alix Partners was named administrator, and will seek to find a buyer. http://axios.link/IBiF

Intel Capital invested $254 million into Indian telco Reliance Jio Platforms. http://axios.link/Rrsq

Intriva Capital acquired Lending Works, a British consumer credit and P2P lending company. http://axios.link/qUMw

🚑 KKR agreed to buy a 54% stake in Indian drugmaker J.B. Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals for around $500 million. http://axios.link/gLxn

Lucky Brand Dungarees, a jeans retailer owned by Leonard Green & Partners, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. SPARC Group, the Authentic Brands-owned operator of Aéropostale and Nautica brands, has made a $140 million takeover offer. http://axios.link/SDIa

Public Offerings

🚑 Inozyme, a Boston-based developer of treatments for mineralization disorders, filed for an $86 million IPO. The pre-revenue company plans to trade on the Nasdaq (INZY), and raised $115 million from Longitude Venture Partners (15.6% pre-IPO stake), NEA (15.6%), Novo Holdings (15.6%), Sofinnova Ventures (11.3%), Pivotal bioVentures (10%), RA Capital Management (10%), and Cowen Healthcare (6%). http://axios.link/1SLF

🚑 Nahdi Medical, Saudi Arabia’s largest drug store chain, is speaking to banks about an IPO, per Reuters. http://axios.link/0nWC

🚑 Nkarta, a South San Francisco-based developer of natural killer cell therapies to fight cancer, set IPO terms to 10 million shares at $14-$16. It would have a fully diluted value of $426 million, were it to price in the middle, and plans to trade on the Nasdaq NKTX). The pre-revenue company raised $125 million in VC funding from RA Capital (13.5% pre-IPO stake), Novo Holdings (13.3%), SR One (13.3%), Samsara BioCapital (9.5%), Deerfield Management (8.4%), and Life Sciences Partners (8.4%). http://axios.link/kwES

🚑 Nurix Therapeutics, a San Francisco-based oncology biotech, filed for a $100 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq (NRIX) with J.P. Morgan as lead underwriter. The company raised $224 million in VC funding from such firms as The Column Group (26% pre-IPO stake), Third Rock Ventures (20.9%), and Foresite Capital (7.5%). http://axios.link/1hEY

🚑 Poseida Therapeutics, a San Diego-based developer of CAR-T product candidates, set IPO terms to 10 million shares at $12-$14. The pre-IPO company would have an initial market cap of $867 million, were it to price in the middle, and plans to list on the Nasdaq (PSTX). It raised over $210 million from Malin Corp. (23.2% pre-IPO stake), Novartis (14.9%), Longitude Venture Partners (6.2%), Aisling Capital, Pentwater Capital Management, Perceptive Advisors, Vivo Capital, and Boxer Capital. http://axios.link/zBXe

Smoore International, a Chinese e-cigarette and vaping company, raised $918 million in a Hong Kong IPO. http://axios.link/fJVs

Vertex, a King of Prussia, Penn.-based provider of business tax software, filed for a $100 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq (VERX) with Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley as lead underwriters, and reports $7.3 million of net income on $75 million in revenue for Q1 2020. http://axios.link/z8Cj

Liquidity Events

EQT is seeking a buyer for Synagro Technologies, a Baltimore-based waste management company that could fetch at least $500 million, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/BRei

Maersk agreed to buy Sweden-based customs broker KGH Customs Services for $281 million in cash from Bridgepoint Development Capital. http://axios.link/5D6M

Thrive Causemetics, a Los Angeles-based vegan cosmetics company, hired Goldman Sachs to explore a sale or IPO, per Bloomberg. Shareholders include Trinity Ventures. http://axios.link/AehP

More M&A

Dominion Energy (NYSE: D) agreed to sell its natural gas transmission and storage assets to Berkshire Hathaway’s (NYSE: BRKa) energy unit for $10 billion.

  • Go deeper: The deal comes as Duke Energy Corp. and Dominion Energy canceled their plans for the $8 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline following a Supreme Court ruling. It's also Berkshire's biggest bet in four years.

Sony (Tokyo: 6758) is considering a takeover bid for Chinese gaming company Leyou Technologies (HK: 1089), per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/omNx


CVC Capital Partners raised €21.3 billion for its eighth flagship buyout fund, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/jdqr

Hamilton Lane raised $95 million for its first social and environmental impact fund, which will make both direct and fund investments. www.hamiltonlane.com

Indies Capital Partners, a Singapore-based structured credit and private equity firm, held a first close on more than $100 million for its third fund, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/TCCs

Final Numbers: Food delivery
Source: Source: Uber analysis, Cowen, Morgan Stanley Feb 21, 2020 Research Report
Dan Primack

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