Axios Pro Rata

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January 25, 2023

Top of the Morning

Illustration of a piano keyboard made of a hundred dollar bill.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

I spent yesterday in meetings and lunches and drinks and dinners. In other words, no cohesive column this morning. Instead, a few quick items:

🎵 Musical note: Hipgnosis, the music investment fund backed by Blackstone, confirmed its acquisition of Justin Bieber's publishing and recording rights.

  • No financial terms were disclosed, although multiple reports put the price tag north of $200 million.
  • That would make it the largest such deal for an artist of Bieber's era, although that record is unlikely to stand for long. The music rights investment space is fairly young, and spent its early years focused almost exclusively on artists whose biggest hits were in the 1960s–1980s.

⚖️ Courthouse: Elon Musk completed his "funding secured" trial testimony yesterday. No new ground was broken. A bit more conversation on CNBC earlier this morning.

  • Elsewhere: Harrison Metal, the VC firm led by Michel Dearing, is suing the founder and CEO of portfolio company Mixmax for breach of fiduciary duty.
  • In short, Dearing is accusing Olof Mathé and co-founder Brad Vogel of lying about what they did with PPP loan proceeds (in order to enrich themselves) and of making materially false statements to Dearing and other company investors.
  • Dearing also takes more than a few shots at a couple fellow investors who he believes enabled the misdeeds, although they aren't named as defendants.

👊 Activism: Capricorn Energy, a London-listed oil and gas company, gave in to pressure from Pallister Capital to overhaul leadership —with five directors stepping down (including its chair and CEO).

  • The upshot from a deal perspective is that this is likely to sink Capricorn's planned merger with Israel-listed NewMed Energy, which Pallister has opposed.

💰New firm alert: Dimension, a VC firm focused on the intersection of tech and life sciences, this morning announced that it raised $350 million for its debut fund.

  • This is the effort we briefly noted last March, when Zavain Dar and Adam Goulburn both left Lux Capital and Nan Li departed Obvious Ventures.
  • The thesis is that there's an emerging class of founders trying to digitize medicine, who aren't adequately served by VC firms that focus primarily on software or on molecules.

The BFD

Illustration of a fox with a $100 bill in its mouth.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Rupert Murdoch no longer is pursuing a reunification of Fox Corp. (Nasdaq: FOXA) and News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA), both of which he chairs, per a regulatory filing.

Why it's the BFD: It had looked like Logan Roy's inspiration was getting his gang back together, minus the Fox assets sold to Disney, after having broken up his corporate empire nearly a decade ago. But he faced stiff investor opposition.

Related: News Corp. is in talks to sell its stake in Move, the parent company of Realtor.com, to CoStar (Nasdaq: CSGP) for a reported $3 billion. News Corp. and Australia's REA Group bought Move in 2014 for $952 million.

The bottom line: "Murdoch, 91, was presumably looking to begin succession planning. His four children — Lachlan, Elisabeth, James and Prudence — are equal beneficiaries of a trust that own a 39% voting stake in News Corp. and a 42% voting stake in Fox Corp." — Tim Baysinger & Sara Fischer, Axios

Venture Capital Deals

QuickNode, a Sunny Isles Beach, Fla.-based blockchain development platform, raised $60m in Series B funding at an $800m valuation. 10T Fund led, joined by Tiger Global, 776 and QED. https://axios.link/3QZpRr3

Scythe Robotics, a Longmont, Colo.-based developer of landscaping robots, raised $42m in Series B funding. Energy Impact Partners led, and was joined by ArcTern Ventures, Alumni Ventures and Amazon’s Alexa Fund. www.scytherobotics.com

🚑 Precision Neuroscience, a New York-based brain–computer interface startup, raised $41m in Series B funding from Forepont Capital Partners. Mubadala Capital, Draper Associates, Alumni Ventures, re.Mind Capital and insiders Steadview Capital and B Capital Group. https://axios.link/3WDlQcM

🚑 Atomic AI, an SF-based RNA drug discovery startup, raised $35m in Series A funding. Playground Global led, and was joined by 8VC, Factory HQ, Greylock, NotBoring and AME Cloud Ventures. www.atomic.ai

Memfault, an SF-based IoT reliability platform, raised $24m in Series B funding. Stripes led, and was joined by 5G Open Innovation Lab and insiders Partech Partners and Uncork Capital. www.memfault.com

DevZero, a Seattle-based code building and testing platform, raised $21m in Series A funding. Anthos Capital led, and was joined by Foundation Capital. Fika Ventures, Foundation Capital and Madrona Venture Group. https://axios.link/3DbNyXo

Gemba, an London-based corporate VR training platform, raised $18m in Series A funding led by Parkway Venture Capital. https://axios.link/3WCusjW

Ampeco, a Bulgarian EV charging management platform, raised $13m in Series A finding. BMW i Ventures led, and was joined by LancHub Ventures and Cavalry Ventures. https://axios.link/3XZ4Zm7

Accord, a Walnut, Calif.-based collaboration platform for B2B sales, raised $10m in Series A funding from Matrix Partners, Nat Friedman and YC. https://axios.link/3ZTZJ53

SYKY, a web3 fashion platform, raised $9.5m in Series A funding. Seven Seven Six led, and was joined by Brevan Howard Digital, Leadout Capital, First Light Capital Group and Polygon Ventures. https://axios.link/3kGsi5O

ECL, a Mountain View, Calif.-based data center-as-a-service startup, raised $7m in seed funding co-led by Molex Ventures and Hypewise Ventures. www.ecldc.com

House of Blueberry, a web3 fashion startup, raised $6m in seed funding. Makers Fund led, and was joined by Everblue Management. https://axios.link/3R3Sgfp

🚑 Oneleaf, a Paris-based self-hypnosis startup, raised $5.1m. VC First led, and was joined by Kima Ventures and Raise Ventures. www.oneleafhealth.com

The Ish Company, a Rockland, Del.-based maker of plant-based foods, raised $5m in seed funding led by Acceler8. www.ishfood.com

Asset Reality, a British digital asset recovery startup, raised $4.9m in seed funding. Framework Ventures led, and was joined by TechStars, The Fund and SGH Capital. www.assetreality.com

🚑 Crescendo Health, an SF-based health data startup focused on aiding clinical trials, raised $3.4m in seed funding led by Define Ventures. https://axios.link/3ZZVqFl

Grilla, a Miami-based platform for skill-based games, raised $3m from Tusk Venture Partners. www.grilla.gg

Wafec, a Dubai-based accounting and financial compliance startup, raised $3m in seed funding. Raed Ventures led, and was joined by Wamda Capital. https://axios.link/3XOv9rK

🚑 Parable, an Atlanta-based maker of nutritional supplements for brain health, raised $2.75m in seed funding co-led by M13 and Break Trail Ventures. https://axios.link/3DcTzD5

Tyba, an Oakland-based developer of predictive models for solar and storage projects, raised $2.25m in seed funding. Powerhouse Ventures and Wireframe Ventures co-led, and were joined by Lorimer Ventures, MKT1 Capital and Virta Ventures. https://axios.link/3HukMUz

Raise Robotics, an SF-based maker of construction site robotics startup, raised $2.2m in pre-seed funding from Cyberntetix Ventures, Union Labs VC and Zacua Ventures. www.raiserobotics.ai

Argilla, a labeling platform for natural language processing, raised $1.6m in seed funding from Zetta Venture Partners and Caixa Capital Risc. www.argilla.io

Hatchfi, a Modesto, Calif.-based crypto integration platform, raised $1.2m in pre-seed funding from Golden.com CEO Jude Gomila, Delta Blockchain Fund and OrangeDAO. www.hatchfi.co

Private Equity Deals

Boyne Capital acquired Flatworld Solutions, a Princeton, N.J.-based provider of business process outsourcing and automation solutions. www.flatworldsolutions.

Eureka Equity Partners acquired Synergi, a Finland-based engineering and construction services firm focused on modular staircases and architectural features. www.synergi.so

InnovateMR, a Calabasas, Calif.-based portfolio company of CVC Capital Partners, acquired Ivy Exec, a New York-based expert network of B2B professionals. www.innovatremr.com

🚑 Radon Medical Imaging, a Moneta, Va.-based portfolio company of 5th Century Partners, acquired Premier, a Rome, Ga.-based provider of maintenance services and sales for imaging and biomedical equipment. www.radonmedicalimaging.com

Public Offerings

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is among the big investment firms seeking to buy into a $2.5b share sale from Indian conglomerate Adani Enterprises, but the effort could be hindered by a scathing report on Adani released this morning by short-seller Hindenburg Research.

Virgin Australia, an air carrier owned by Bain Capital, next month will begin interviewing IPO bankers, per Bloomberg. https://axios.link/3JazRff

More M&A

Floor, a New York-based NFT price tracking startup that last year raised $10m led by 6th Man Ventures, acquired NFT analytics firm WGMI.io. https://axios.link/3XylFRx

Sea Ltd. Of Singapore is considering a sale of Canadian games developer Phoenix Labs, per Bloomberg. https://axios.link/3HF4W9P

Walker Sands, a Chicago-based portfolio company of Stone-Goff Partners, acquired KoMarketing, a Boston-based B2B demand generation firm. www.komarketing.com

Fundraising

Kearny Jackson, a VC firm led by Sriram Krishnan (ex-Spotify, Tinder) and Sunil Chhaya (Menlo Ventures), raised $14m for its second fund. https://axios.link/3XQVBRg

Sterling Investment Partners raised $934m for its fourth flagship fund. www.sterlinglp.com

It's Personnel

Barclays named Taylor Wright and Cathal Deasy (ex-Credit Suisse) as co-heads of investment banking, per Bloomberg. No word yet on future roles for John Miller and Jean-Francois Astier, who currently hold the positions. https://axios.link/3HutkdS

• John Mendell joined Comvest Partners as a managing director focused on investor relations. He previously was with BlackRock. https://axios.link/3WKxV0c

Jack Nadal joined The Stephens Group as a managing director. He previously was with Liberty Hall Capital Partners. www.stephensgroup.com

Epic Ventures promoted Jack Boren to managing partner, and Riley Jarman to associate. www.epicvc.ocm

RCP Advisors promoted Michael Rice and Jon Soffer to partners, Peter Jasaitis and Andrew Ogletree to principals, Julie Douglass to manager and Alex Williams to VP. www.rcpadvisors.com

Final Numbers

Source: Axios Visuals
Source: Axios Visuals

The U.S. Justice Department and eight states yesterday filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google parent company Alphabet, related to its digitial advertising practices.

  • If successful, the suit could force Google to sell off much of its ad business.
  • This comes as Alphabet continues to defend itself from an antitrust suit over its search business.
  • Go deeper.

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