Top of the Morning
And here we are again: The SEC vs. Elon Musk.
- The SEC has asked a federal judge to hold the Tesla CEO in contempt for violating a settlement reached last year, in regards to inaccurate tweets about his company.
- You'll recall this as the "funding secured" controversy, when Musk claimed to have money lined up to take Tesla private, even though he didn't.
- Part of the agreement was that Tesla would establish an internal review process before Musk tweeted potentially material (and false) information about the company.
- But last week he misstated Tesla's target deliveries for 2019, in a tweet that the company admits it didn't vet.
- Musk later tweeted out the correct number, but also took a childish shot at the SEC — noting that the correct figure was in Tesla's earnings transcript. So, apparently, shame on them for not reading it and favoring it over Musk's tweet?
- As I've written before: Elon Musk is the most consequential tech executive of this era. But he'd be well advised to delete his account.
• Update: In December we wrote about Third Love, the online bra-seller that's seeking to take down Victoria's Secret. In that piece, we noted that "a big raise could be around the corner."
- This morning the company announced $55 million in new funding at a reported post-money valuation north of $750 million, led by L Catterton. TechCrunch has more.
🎧 Podcast: Our latest episode focuses on the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, with a focus on what happens next. Listen here.
Motif Ingredients, a Boston-based protein alternatives startup being spun out of Ginko Bioworks, raised $90 million in Series A funding from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Louis Dreyfus Co., Fonterra and Viking Global Investors.
- Why it's the BFD: Because the idea is to supercharge the meatless protein market, by basically creating an outsourced supplier, and it comes just as Beyond Meat prepares to test the public market's appetite.
- Bottom line: "Predictions about the future often turn out to be false, but I'm going to risk predicting a rapid switch away from meat at some point. It's rocket-science hard, but no harder, and there is a huge amount of money to be made. Ergo it will happen." — Paul Graham
Venture Capital Deals
• Vast Data, a New York-based storage architecture startup, raised $80 million in Series A and Series B funding from Norwest Venture Partners, Dell Technologies Capital, 83 North, Goldman Sachs and TPG Growth. www.vastdata.com
• YieldStreet, a New York-based alternative investment platform, raised $62 million in Series B funding. Edison Partners led, and was joined by Greenspring Associates and Raine Ventures. http://axios.link/9s2k
• Kryon, a New York-based robotic process automation company, raised $40 million in Series C funding. Oak HC/FT led, and was joined by return backers Aquiline Technology Growth and Vertex Ventures. www.kryonsystems.com
• Botify, a Paris-based search marketing startup, raised $20 million in Series B funding. Idinvest Partners led, and was joined by Ventech. www.botify.com
• Tulip, a Somerville, Mass.-based manufacturing app platform, raised $18.4 million in Series B funding from Vertex Ventures US, NEA and Pitango Ventures. www.tulip.co
• Zededa, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based provider of edge virtualization software, raised $16 million in Series A funding co-led by Energize Ventures and Lux Capital. www.zededa.com
• GoExpedi, a Houston-based provider of digital procurement solutions for industrial and energy MRO, raised $8 million in Series A funding. Crosslink Capital led, and was joined by Bowery Capital, Blue Bear Capital, Hack VC, and SaaS Ventures. www.goexpedi.com
• Codecool, a Budapest-based coding school, raised €3.5 million in Series B funding led by Lead Ventures. http://axios.link/C5pY
• Dray Alliance, a Los Angeles-based provider of “docks-to-logistics center” solutions for short-haul transport, raised $3.5 million in seed funding from Craft Ventures. http://axios.link/8ecS
• Zone7, a Palo Alto-based provider of predictive analytics for pro sports injury risk, raised $2.5 million in seed funding led by Resolute Ventures. www.zone7.ai
Private Equity Deals
• KKR acquired Universum Film, a German film rights company, from broadcaster RTL. www.universumfilm.de
• TAIT, a Lititz, Penn.-based provider of live event staging solutions, raised an undisclosed amount of growth funding from Providence Equity Partners. www.taittowers.com
• Warburg Pincus agreed to buy a majority stake in Kestra Financial, an Austin, Texas-based broker-dealer, from Stone Point Capital (which will retain a minority stake). http://axios.link/537s
🚑 Quad-C Management agreed to sell a majority stake in U.S. pet hospital chain Compassion-First Pet Hospitals to JAB Inc. at an enterprise value of $1.22 billion. http://axios.link/sDnJ
• Walmart (NYSE: WMT) acquired Aspectiva, an Israeli provider of tech analysis of user-generated content that raised over $3 million from JVP, LivePerson and Global Brain. http://axios.link/zkPW
• Blossom Capital, an early-stage European VC firm, raised $85 million for its debut fund. http://axios.link/sXht
• Strattam Capital closed its second fund with $230 million in capital commitments. www.strattam.com
• Stone Point Capital is raising $5.75 billion for its eighth fund, per PE International. http://axios.link/3vwg