Apr 13, 2021

Axios Pro Rata

🎧 Axios Re:Cap digs into why the U.S. can't contractually share any surplus vaccine. Take a listen.

🖥️ You're invited to an Axios virtual event tomorrow at 12:30pm ET on the future of the flexible workplace, featuring conversations with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Twitch chief people officer Lenke Taylor. Register here.

Top of the Morning

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The FDA this morning recommended an immediate halt to use of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine, and many states and pharmacies have already begun complying by canceling existing appointments.

Why it matters: Capital markets have ignored COVID-19 for the past year, save for when they've profited from it, but Main Street needs widespread vaccination in order to fully recover. Today's news is a significant glitch in that economic glidepath.

What we know: Six women, aged 18–48, developed a "rare blood-clotting disorder" called CVST within two weeks of being jabbed. At least one of the women died.

  • It should be emphasized that this is an extremely small number of CVST cases, given that nearly seven million Americans have received the J&J vaccine. The FDA says it made the move out of an "abundance of caution."
  • That said, don't be surprised if the FDA announcement results in some additional cases being reported by physicians.

The bigger picture: J&J to date has represented a small fraction of the U.S. vaccine effort, with 26 times more Moderna and Pfizer shots having been distributed. And the White House this morning says the news won't negatively impact President Biden's pledge to have 200 million shots administered in his first 100 days.

  • But the real issue may be what happens after that 100 days, particularly as the supply dichotomy was expected to flip by around June.
  • Part of this relates to harder-to-reach populations, where J&J is already the vaccine of choice. But a bigger worry relates to vaccine hesitancy, as today's news may prompt some Americans to wait until they can get a Pfizer or Moderna shot.

The bottom line: The markets still don't seem to care much, as both the Dow and Nasdaq have moved less than as point so far this morning. But for those of us who haven't yet been vaccinated, and for the countless jobs that rely upon bridging that gap, it could matter an awful lot.


Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Grab, the Singapore-based "super-app" maker, agreed to go public at a pro forma valuation of $39.6 billion, via a SPAC called Altimeter Growth Corp. (Nasdaq: ACG).

  • Why it's the BFD: It's the largest SPAC merger ever announced, by a longshot, and is even a bit bigger than expected.
  • Details: The deal includes a PIPE of more than $4 billion, with Altimeter agreeing to a three-year lockup for its sponsor promote shares. PIPE investors include Fidelity, BlackRock, Counterpoint Global, T. Rowe Price, Mubadala, Nuveen, Permodalan Nasional Berhad and Temasek.
  • Next up: Grab late last year was in talks to merge with rival Gojek, which now reportedly is in talks for a pre-IPO merger with Indonesia's Tokopedia.
  • Bottom line: "Throughout the pandemic, Southeast Asia saw a surge in the use of digital services like e-commerce, food delivery and online payments. As many as 40 million people in six countries across the region — Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand — came online for the first time in 2020, according to a report from Google, Temasek and Bain & Co." — Riley de León, CNBC
Venture Capital Deals

🎮 Epic Games, the Cary, N.C.-based maker of Fortnite, raised $1 billion in new funding at a $28.7 billion valuation, including $200 million from Sony. Other backers include Appaloosa, Baillie Gifford, Fidelity, GIC, T. Rowe Price Ontario Teachers’, BlackRock, Park West, KKR, AllianceBernstein, Altimeter, Franklin Templeton and Luxor Capital. http://axios.link/WF4s

SambaNova Systems, a Palo Alto-based developer of machine learning and big data analytics platforms, raised $676 million in Series D funding at a valuation north of $5 billion. SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led, and was joined by GIV, Temasek and insiders BlackRock, Intel Capital, GV, Walden International and WRVI. www.sambanova.ai

Clearcover, a Chicago-based car insurance startup, raised $200 million in Series D funding at a valuation north of $1 billion, per Reuters. Eldridge led, and was joined by insiders American Family Ventures, Cox Enterprises and OMERS Ventures. http://axios.link/KSsq

🚑 Repertoire Immune Medicines, a Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech focused on immune synapses, raised $189 million in Series B funding from SoftBank Vision Fund 2, PSP Investments, Alaska Permanent Fund, Invus and founding backer Flagship Pioneering. www.repertoire.com

🚑 Arcellx, a Gaithersburg, Md.-based cell therapy startup, raised $115 million in Series C funding. Samsara BioCapital and CAM Capital co-led, and were joined by Adage, Asymmetry, CaaS Capital, Cambrian Bio, Sixty Degree, Soleus Capital, Surveyor Capital, Suvretta, Terra Magnum Capital Partners and insiders NEA, Novo Holdings, SR One, Takeda Ventures, LG Tech and Clough Capital. www.arcellx.com

🚑 CeQur, a Swiss developer of insulin-delivery medical devices, raised $115 million. Credit Suisse Entrepreneur Capital and Endeavour Vision co-led, and were joined by Tandem Diabetes Care, Ypsomed Group, Federated Hermes Kaufmann Funds, Kingdon Capital, GMS Capital and insiders Schroder & Co. Bank and VI Partners. www.myceqursimplicity.com

Dealshare, an Indian social commerce site, raised $100 million in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, per TechCrunch. http://axios.link/LAdv

🚑 Antios Therapeutics, a Mendham, N.J.-based biotech focused on chronic hepatitis B, raised $96 million in Series B funding. Soleus Capital led, and was joined by RA Capital Management, Adage Capital Management, Pontifax, Aisling Capital, Altium Capital, Amzak Health, Granite Point Capital Management, LifeSci Venture Partners and insiders Lumira Ventures, CAM Capital, Delos Capital, Domain Associates and Sixty Degree Capital. www.antiostherapeutics.com

🚑 Memic Innovative Surgery, an Israeli developer of a transvaginal robotic surgery system, raised $96 million in Series D funding. Peregrine Ventures and Ceros co-led, and were joined by OurCrowd and Accelmed. http://axios.link/jllM

Vegamour, a DTC provider of plant-based hair products, raised $80 million from General Atlantic. www.vegamour.com

GumGum, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based contextual advertising firm, raised $75 million from Goldman Sachs Growth. www.gumgum.com

Hazel Technologies, a Chicago-based startup focused on mitigating food waste, raised $70 million in Series C funding. Pontifax AgTech and Temasek co-led, and were joined by S2G Ventures, Pangea Ventures, Rhapsody Venture Partners, Asahi Kasai Ventures, Jordan Park Group and the Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Foundation. www.hazeltechnologies.com

ConsensSys, an Etherium startup studio, raised $65 million from J.P. Morgan, Mastercard, UBS, CMT Digital, Greater Bay Area Homeland Development Fund, Quotidian Ventures, and Liberty City Ventures, Protocol Labs, the Maker Foundation, Fenbushi, The LAO and Alameda Research. http://axios.link/Tnbl

🚑 THM, a San Francisco-based marketplace for connecting healthcare payors and providers, raised $30 million in Series C funding led by Artis Ventures. www.transparenthealthmarketplace.com

🚑 Cohere Health, a Boston-based provider of digital health authorization solutions, raised $36 million in Series B funding. Polaris Partners led, and was joined by Longitude Capital, Deerfield Management and insiders Flare Capital Partners and Define Ventures. www.coherehealth.com

🚑 Vericred, a New York-based platform for quote-to-card experiences in health insurance and benefits, raised $23 million in Series B funding. Aquiline Technology Growth led, and was joined by Echo Health Ventures, MassMutual Ventures, Guardian Strategic Ventures and insiders Riverside Acceleration Capital, FCA Venture Partners and First Health Capital Partners. www.vericred.com

Battery Resourcers, a Worcester, Mass.-based battery recycling process, raised $20 million in Series B funding. Orbia Ventures led, and was joined by At One Ventures, TDK Ventures, TRUMPF Venture, Doral Energy-Tech Ventures and InMotion Ventures. http://axios.link/JYvA

Grover, a Berlin-based consumer electronics rental service, raised €15 million in Series B equity funding and another €45 million in debt. JMS Capital-Everglen led, and was joined by Viola Fintech, Assurant Growth and insiders Augmentum Fintech, Circularity Capital, Seedcamp and Samsung Next. http://axios.link/avHr

Meroxa, a San Francisco-based, real-time data platform raised $15 million in Series A funding. Drive Capital led, and was joined by insiders Root, Amplify, and Hustle Fund. www.meroxa.com

Hack The Box, a cybersecurity training startup, raised $10.6 million in Series A funding. Paladin Capital Group led, and was joined by Osage University Partners, Brighteye Ventures and insider Marathon VC. http://axios.link/hiMW

EcoCart, a San Francisco-based e-commerce enablement startup, raised $3 million in seed funding led by Base10 Partners. www.ecocart.io

Dat Bike, a Vietnamese electric bike startup, raised $2.6 million led by Jungle Ventures. http://axios.link/1p6i

Mound, a farming-focused DeFi startup, raised $1.6 million in seed funding. Binance Labs led, and wass joined by IDEO CoLab and SparkLabs Korea. http://axios.link/sl9c

Private Equity Deals

A&R Logistics, a portfolio company of Wind Point Partners, acquired Luckey Trucking, a Streator, Ill.-based provider of transportation, warehousing and logistics services to the chemical industry. www.ardoingitright.com

The Carlyle Group acquired a majority stake in Beautycounter, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based maker of "clean beauty" products, at a valuation north of $1 billion. Beautycounter had raised over $100 million from firms like FS Investors, Mousse Partners and TPG Growth. http://axios.link/W5n6

🚑 Charter Health Care Group, a Colton, Calif.-based post-acute care provider owned by Pharos Capital Group, acquired Houston-based Providence Home Health and Hospice. www.charterhcg.com

Rainier Partners acquired Calpine Containers, a Clovis, Calif.-based packaging distributor for the agriculture industry. www.calpinecontainers.com

TZP Group acquired a majority stake in Akerson Enterprises (dba Kindred Bravely), an Oceanside, Calif.-based provider of maternity and nursing apparel. www.kindredbravely.com

Public Offerings

The Bountiful Co., a Ronkonkoma, N.Y.-based maker of wellness products under brands like Nature's Bounty and Puritan’s Pride, filed for an IPO. It plans to list on the NYSE (BTFL) and reports $70 million of net income on $2.1 billion in revenue for the year ending Sept. 30, 2020. KKR holds a majority stake, while The Carlyle Group holds a minority position. http://axios.link/gJjj

🚑 Recursion Pharma, a Salt Lake City-based digital biology company, set IPO terms to 18 million shares at $16-$18. It would have a fully diluted market value of $3 billion, were it to price in the middle and has raised nearly $500 million from Lux Capital, Bayer, Casdin Capital, Catalio Capital, Laurion Capital, Samsara BioCapital, Baillie Gifford, Mubadala, DCVC, Obvious Ventures, Felicis Ventures, EPIC Ventures, Two Sigma Ventures, Advantage Capital and Intermountain Ventures. http://axios.link/QaMF

TaskUs, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based outsourcing firm owned by The Blackstone Group, filed for an IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (TASK) and reports $35 million of net income for 2020 on $478 million in revenue. http://axios.link/rLGs

VinFast, the car unit of Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup JSC, is considering a U.S. IPO that could value the business at around $60 billion, per Reuters. http://axios.link/Hjdf

SPAC Stuff

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There's only been one new SPAC formation so far this week, and it may not much to do with oversupply or investor fatigue.

Driving the news: The SEC issued new guidance that SPAC warrants may need to be accounted for as liabilities instead of as equities, as first reported by Bloomberg.

  • This means a ton of paperwork for SPAC lawyers and accountants on already-formed vehicles, plus revisions for anything already in the pipeline. If the issue isn't addressed, the SEC is unlikely to declare registration statements effective.
  • The only exceptions would be warrantless SPACs, which are few and far between.
Liquidity Events

Pine Labs, a Singapore-based merchant commerce platform valued by VCs at around $2 billion, acquired smaller rival Fave for more than $45 million in cash and stock. Fave has raised from firms like Pine Labs, Sequoia Capital India, SIG Asia Investments and Venturra Capital. http://axios.link/4RIu

Tipalti, a San Mateo, Calif.-based accounting automation company valued by VCs at more than $2 billion, acquired Approve.com, an Israeli cloud procurement solutions provider that had raised $5 million in seed funding led by Aleph. www.tipalti.com

🐛Ynsect, French insect protein farm startup agreed to buy Protifarm, a Dutch supplier of insects for animal feed. Ynsect has raised over $370 million in VC funding, while Protifarm had raised $11 million from firms like Oost NL. http://axios.link/t1el

More M&A

Berlin Brands Group raised $240 million in debt to buy Amazon marketplace companies in Europe and the U.S. Lenders are UniCredit, Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank. http://axios.link/ILTg

🚑 DiaSorin (Milan: DIA) agreed to acquire Austin, Texas-based molecular test maker Luminex (Nasdaq: LMNX) for around $1.8 billion, or $37 per share (12% premium to Friday’s closing price). http://axios.link/Ud5H

Ozon, a Russian e-commerce company, agreed to pay $10 million in cash to buy Moscow-based Oney Bank. http://axios.link/3nKV

🚑 Siemens Healthineers is considering a sale of its ultrasound unit, which could fetch around $1 billion, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/RBm3


Crosspoint, a cybersecurity software-focused PE firm founded by Greg Clark (ex-CEO of Symantec and Blue Coat Systems), raised $1.3 billion for its debut fund. www.crosspointcapital.com

Decarbonization Partners is raising $1 billion for a debut fund focused on later-stage companies with carbon-cutting tech, including $300 million cornerstone commitments from BlackRock and Temasek. http://axios.link/f7wJ

Generation Food Rural Partners has launched as a $125 million VC fund, sponsored by Big Idea Ventures, to focus on the commercialization of university-developed IP in rural areas. www.bigideaventures.com

LocalGlobe of London raised $150 million for its next flagship seed fund, plus $220 million for its Series B sister vehicle (Latitude). www.localglobe.com

TDK Ventures, the Silicon Valley-based corporate VC arm of Japanese electronics firm TDK, formed a $150 million second fund. http://axios.link/2YqL

Final Numbers
Data: PitchBook; Chart: Axios Visuals

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