You're invited: David Hogg, the Parkland shooting survivor who became a key organizer of Saturday's #NeverAgain march, will join Axios tomorrow morning to discuss gun policy. So will Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). RSVP here.
Top of the Morning
Blockchain Capital, an investor in such companies as Coinbase and Ripple, has raised $150 million for its fourth fund, Axios has learned.
- This appears to be the largest venture capital fund raised to focus exclusively on blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies.
- It's also not an ICO structure, like Blockchain Capital's third fund. Co-founder Bart Stephens explains: "Most institutional investors want to invest cash and get cash in return."
• Defy-iant: Catherine Hoke has resigned as CEO of Defy Ventures, following recently-published allegations of sexual harassment and other misdeeds. But she is adamantly denying the charges. Hokes writes, in part:
I have never once sexually harassed, or assaulted, a current or former staff member or current or former EIT. These false claims are categorically untrue and deceitful. Further, I have been a faithful wife to my husband, to whom I have been married since 2013... Defy’s work is too important to let personal attacks against me jeopardize Defy’s mission. Therefore, I am voluntarily resigning as the CEO. Stepping down as CEO is the most difficult decision I have ever made.
• Acela corridor: A last-minute addition to the omnibus spending bill will allow PE-controlled business development companies to borrow more money and increase their lending, which is a big (and unexpected) win for firms like Apollo and Ares.
- Quasi-related: Apollo CEO Leon Black said yesterday that he doesn't yet see enough incentive for his firm to follow Ares' lead by converting into a C-corp.
• IC😱: Russia's Supreme Court ruled that Telegram must share its encryption keys with the country's spy agency, although Telegram founder Pavel Durov pledged that his company continues to fight and "will stand for freedom and privacy."
- A reminder that Telegram is in the midst of the largest initial coin offering in history, with Silicon Valley venture firms like Benchmark and Sequoia Capital already on board.
• Today in Theranos: WSJ scribe John Carreyrou's book on Theranos, Bad Blood, has had its publication date moved up from October to May.
• Painful: Meredith announced it will lay off 1,200 employees from Time Inc., and formally announced its efforts to sell Time, Fortune, Money and SI. But at least Time Inc.'s outgoing C-suite got their bonuses...
• For the record: An Alliance of American Football spokeswoman took issue with my referring to the new league as an NFL "rival," saying: "We’ve made it very clear we are complimentary to the NFL."
• Seed stuff: Semil Shah, the seed-stage investor who runs Haystack Capital, has quietly joined Lightspeed as a venture partner. This is a part-time job swap for Shah, who previously was a venture partner with GGV Capital.
- "I originally created my own firm because no one would hire me," Shah tells Axios, adding that he still expects to do deals with GGV. "They really treated me like a founder, and that's the same feeling I get at Lightspeed, which I really just felt would be a good long-term fit for me."
Blade, a short-distance aviation company known for helicopter rides from airports into city centers, has raised around $38 million in Series B funding, Axios has learned. Colony NorthStar and Lerer Hippeau Ventures co-led, and were joined by Airbus Helicopters and LionTree Ventures
- Why it's the BFD: Blade is more focused on transportation infrastructure than any particular type of vehicle, and believes its landing zones will eventually be used by eVTOLs (a.k.a. flying taxis).
- Bottom line: Blade doesn't actually own any helicopters, instead contracting out to local fleets. If and when eVTOL technology is commercialized, it would view the transition as an equipment swap. What wouldn't change for Blade would be exclusive landing spots, which elevates the value of Colony NorthStar's participation in the funding.
Venture Capital Deals
🚑 TCR2 Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based immune-oncology startup, has raised $125 million in Series B funding co-led by 6 Dimensions Capital and Curative Ventures. http://axios.link/lQgT
• eToro, a London-based social trading and investment platform, raised $100 million in Series E funding. China Minsheng Financial led, and was joined by SBI Group, Korea Investment Partners and World Wide Invest. http://axios.link/Cmpi
🚑 Rheos Medicines, a Cambridge, Mass.-based immunometabolism startup, has launched with a $60 million investment from Third Rock Ventures. www.rheosrx.com
• Sift Science, a San Francisco-based fraud prevention and risk management solutions, has raised $53 million in Series D funding. Stripes Group led, and was joined by return backers Union Square Ventures, Insight Venture Partners and Spark Capital. http://axios.link/p4Jc
• CommonBond, a New York-based student lending startup, has raised $50 million in Series D funding. Fifth Third led, and was joined by First Republic Bank, Columbia Seligman Investments and return backers Neuberger Berman, August Capital and Nyca Partners. http://axios.link/7bkB
• Pairwise Plants, a San Diego-based gene editing agtech startup, has raised $25 million in Series A funding co-led by Deerfield Management and Monsanto Growth Ventures. It also has signed a $100 million strategic agreement with Monsanto. http://axios.link/GjD6
• Virsec, a San Jose, Calif.-based cybersecurity startup focused on real-time protection in memory, has raised $24 million in Series B funding. BlueIO led, and was joined by Artiman Ventures, Amity Ventures, Raj Singh, and Boston Seed Capital. www.virsec.com
• Matillion, a UK-based provider of cloud data integration tools, has raised $20 million in Series B funding. Sapphire Ventures led, and was joined by Scale Venture Partners and return backer YFM Equity Partners. www.matillion.com
🚑 Careworx, an Ottowa-based provider of managed services software for senior care businesses, has raised C$17 million from Kayne Partners. http://axios.link/k1nm
• Burrow, a Casper-style sofa maker, has raised $14 million in Series A funding. NEA led, and was joined by Correlation Ventures and return backers Red & Blue Ventures and YC Continuity. http://axios.link/ktEv
• Bestmile, a Swiss autonomous vehicle fleet management platform, has raised $11 million in Series A funding. Road Ventures led, and was joined by Partech Ventures, Groupe ADP, Airbus Ventures, Serena Capital and the Mobility Fund. www.bestmile.com
• Amper Music, a New York-based AI music creation platform, has raised $4 million in seed funding. Horizons Ventures led, and was joined by Two Sigma Ventures, Advancit Capital, Foundry Group and Kiwi Venture Partners. www.ampermusic.com
• CoEdition, an e-commerce site for women’s apparel sizes 10-26, has raised $4 million in seed funding. NEA led, and was joined by General Catalyst, BBG Ventures and Primary. http://axios.link/Rdml
• AdStage, a San Francisco-based reporting and automation platform for paid marketers, has raised $3 million in funding from Forté Ventures, HubSpot and Verizon Ventures. http://axios.link/ulL4
• Vangst, a Denver-based employment platform for the cannabis industry, raised $2.5 million in seed funding. Lerer Hippeau led and was joined by Casa Verde Capital. http://axios.link/IawE
Private Equity Deals
🚑 Anju Software, a New York-based portfolio company of Providence Equity Partners, has acquired the assets of Sylogent, a Newtown, Penn.-based provider of SaaS solutions to the pharma market. www.sylogent.com
• Apollo Global Management has completed its $305 million purchase of Qdoba, a Tex-Mex fast-food chain, from Jack in the Box (Nasdaq: JACK). http://axios.link/4s4Z
• Averys, a French portfolio company of Equistone, has acquired Storax, a Portuguese provider of industrial racking and shelving systems, from Ramada Acos Group. http://axios.link/dGYv
☕ McCarthy Capital has acquired a minority stake in Boundless Enterprises, an Omaha-based operator and franchisor of over 180 Scooter’s Coffee store. www.scooterscoffee.com
• GI Partners has agreed to acquire two eDiscovery businesses — Consilio (Washington, D.C.) and Advanced Discovery (Austin, Texas) — and merge them. Consilio is being sold by Shamrock Capital Group, while Advanced Discovery is being sold by Trivest Partners. www.consilio.com
• Hanover Partners has acquired BDI, a Reno, Nev.-based maker of jet blast deflectors ground run-up enclosures. Co-investors were Greyrock Capital Group and Northstar Capital. www.blastdeflectors.com
🚑 Nordic Capital has bowed out of the auction for Sanofi’s European generics business, which is expected to fetch around €2 billion, per the FT. http://axios.link/q2FY
• PAG Asia Capital is in talks to acquire Australian entertainment ticketing company TEG Group from Affinity Private Equity for around A$1.2 billion, per The Australian.
🚑 Palm Medical Centers, a South Florida medical center network owned by MBF Healthcare Partners, has acquired Angel Medical Center, a primary care practice in Hialeah, Florida. www.palmmedicalcenters.com.
• Red River, a Claremont, N.H.-based IT services firm, has raised an undisclosed amount of growth equity funding from Acacia Partners. www.redriver.com
• Altran (Paris: ALTT) has completed its €1.7 billion acquisition of Redwood City, Calif.-based design and engineering firm Aricent from an investor group led by KKR. www.aricent.com
• Ardian has hired Rothschild to sell its 49% stake in British airport Luton, per Reuters. http://axios.link/yUXO
• The Blackstone Group and Thomson Reuters are considering either a sale or IPO for their stake in bond-trading platform Tradeweb Markets, according to Bloomberg. http://axios.link/wQpY
• Dogan Holding of Turkey is in talks to sell its media arm to Demiroren for around $890 million, with what Reuters reports is “seen as further cementing media support for President Tayyip Erdogan.” http://axios.link/AwWA
• Pandora (NYSE: P) has agreed to acquire AdsWizz, a Belgian digital audio advertising firm, for $145 million in cash and stock. http://axios.link/o3uN
🚑 Reckitt Benckiser Group (LSE: RB) has left the auction for Pfizer’s (NYSE: PFE) consumer health business, ahead of a binding offer deadline, per Reuters. GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) is still expected to bid on the business, for which Pfizer had hoped could fetch $20 billion. http://axios.link/jj88
⛽ Rio Tinto has agreed to sell its 75% stake in a Queensland, Australia coal project to Whitehaven Coal (ASX: WHC) for A$200 million. http://axios.link/YYXj
• Pioneer Fund has held an initial close on its debut fund, which is targeting $20 million, Axios has learned. The investors are all Y Combinator alumni, and the investment strategy is to back other YC alumni companies. Read more.
• ATX Seed Ventures of Austin, Texas is raising up to $75 million for its second fund, per an SEC filing. www.atxseedventures.com
• Standard Chartered (LSE: STAN) has launched a sale process for its private equity unit, which has around $3.5 billion in AUM, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/ZPzV
• Isabel Bescos (ex-head of corp strategy for BlaBlaCar) and Cayetana Hurtado (ex-Goldman Sachs) have joined London-based VC firm Baldteron Capital.
• Jason Dorsey, president and co-founder of The Center for Generational Kinetics has joined Next Coast Ventures as a venture partner.