October 31, 2019

Top of the Morning

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

DraftKings is in talks to go public via a reverse merger with a blank-check acquisition company called Diamond Eagle, as first reported by Bloomberg and confirmed by Axios.

  • If this sounds familiar, it's because Diamond Eagle's management had a prior blank-check company called Platinum Eagle that kicked tires on FanDuel (which was later acquired by Paddy Power Betfair).
  • DraftKings and FanDuel had once agreed to merge, but were blocked by federal antitrust regulators.
  • Diamond Eagle, led by veteran media executive Jeff Sagansky and aided by former MGM CEO Harry Sloan, raised $350 million in its IPO earlier this year. DraftKings hit a peak valuation of around $2 billion in 2015, but later pulled back.
  • Diamond Eagle is currently the clubhouse leader for DraftKings, but word is that there also have been discussions with other strategic and private equity suitors. Not yet hearing anything on price. Expect resolution of some sort by year-end.

🚗 It's official: Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot owner PSA Group announced their mega-merger, which would create the world's fourth-largest automaker by sales.

  • Unlike when Fiat Chrysler tried to merge with Renault earlier this year, the Peugeot deal is expected to get French government approval.

💸 Today in SoftBank: Scott Painter is out as founding CEO of Fair, the subscription-style service for car ownership that was valued by Vision Fund at $1.2 billion less than a year ago.

  • He'll be succeeded on an interim basis by Adam Hieber, a SoftBank operating partner who previously spent nine years at Cerberus Capital Management.
  • This comes just days after Fair laid off 40% of its staff.
  • Prior to founding Fair in 2016, Painter had founded and led TrueCar.
    • Also: SoftBank CEO Masa Son reportedly did not mention Vision Fund 2 while on stage this week at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia.
    • Also II: WeWork added Raine & Co. co-founder Jeff Sine to its board, which will eventually total 10 directors.

🎧 Pro Rata Podcast digs into the future of parking garages, which may be urban America's greatest redevelopment opportunity. Listen here.


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Crunchbase, a private company information database that spun out of TechCrunch in 2015, raised $30 million in Series C funding led by OMERS Ventures.

  • Why it's the BFD: For starters, Crunchbase is an essential part of putting Pro Rata together each morning. Second, I really wanted to use that GIF. Third, Crunchbase is one of several upstarts — PitchBook, CB Insights, etc. — that recognized how private market data providers Dow Jones and Thomson Reuters were resting on their legacy laurels.
  • Return investors include Emergence Capital, Mayfield, Cowboy Ventures, and Verizon Ventures.
  • Bottom line: "LinkedIn does have company data, but its focus has been too specific to individuals and recruitment, Crunchbase's CEO said, making it an add-on, not a focus. He's banking on a gap (+ demand) for more developed market intelligence around the businesses themselves." — Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch

Venture Capital Deals

🚑 Tmunity Therapeutics, a Philadelphia-based developer of T-cell immunotherapies, raised $75 million in Series B funding. Andreessen Horowitz led, and was joined by Westlake Village BioPartners, Gilead Sciences, UPenn, Be The Match BioTherapeutics, and the American Cancer Society. www.tmunity.com

b8ta, a San Francisco-based retail-as-a-service startup, raised $50 million in Series C funding. Evolution Ventures led, and was joined by Macy’s, Khosla Ventures, and Peak State Ventures. www.b8ta.com

Brut, a Paris-based digital content startup that focused on short-form social video, raised $40 million in Series B funding co-led by Red River West and Blisce. http://axios.link/N7QH

Namogoo, an Israeli startup that prevents ecommerce customers being “hijacked” by other sites, raised $40 million in Series C funding. Oak HC/FT led, and was joined by return backers GreatPoint Ventures, Blumberg Capital, and Hanaco Ventures. http://axios.link/yUlS

Particle, a San Francisco-based platform for IoT devices, raised $40 million in Series C funding. Qualcomm Ventures and Energy Impact Partners co-led, and were joined by return backers Root Ventures, Bonfire Ventures, Industry Ventures, Spark Capital, Green D Ventures, Counterpart Ventures, and SOSV. http://axios.link/re4R

Mirror, a New York-based maker of at-home “mirrors” that stream studio fitness classes, raised $34 million in Series B-1 funding. Point72 Ventures led, and was joined by Lululemon, LionTree and return backers Spark Capital and Lerer Hippeau. http://axios.link/cVAb

Curated, a personalized online shopping platform, raised $27.5 million in a combined seed and Series A funding. Forerunner Ventures led the Series A. http://axios.link/KAgv

Stampli, a Mountain View, Calif.-based accounts payable automation and communications platform raised $25 million in Series B funding. SignalFire led, and was joined by NextWorld Capital and return backers Bloomberg Beta and Hillsven Capital. http://axios.link/SEKK

Toca Football, a Costa Mesa, Calif.-based soccer training startup, raised $25 million in Series D funding co-led by insiders WestRiver Group and RNS Partners. http://axios.link/PU9t

DotData, a San Mateo, Calif.-based data science automation startup, raised $23 million in Series A funding. JAFCO led, and was joined by Goldman Sachs and seed backer NEC Corp. www.dotdata.com

Duality Technologies, a Newark, N.J.-based provider of data encryption solutions, raised $16 million in Series A funding. Intel Capital led, and was joined by Hearst Ventures and return backer Team8. http://axios.link/u1ip

🚑 Cytovale, a San Francisco-based developer of biomarkers for early detection of sepsis, raised $15 million in new Series B funding (round total $22.4m) from Breakout Ventures, Blackhorn Ventures, and Western Technology Investment. www.cytovale.com

Freetrade, a UK-based no-commission stockbroker app, raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Draper Esprit. http://axios.link/Xkv0

Muy, a cloud kitchen startup focused on Latin America, raised $15 million in Series B funding. ALLVP led, and was joined by return backer Seeya. http://axios.link/IyZY

Folloze, a San Mateo, Calif.-based B2B hyper-personalization startup, raised $11 million in Series B funding. BGV led, and was joined by Canvas Ventures, Cervin Ventures, Grayhawk Capital, and SVB. http://axios.link/ktVD

Stardog, an Arlington, Va.-based enterprise data unification platform, raised $9 million in Series B funding. Tenfore Holdings led, and was joined by Grotech Ventures, Boulder Ventures, and Core Capital. www.stardog.com

🚑 Inne, a Berlin-based maker of mini-labs for women to track hormones and fertility, raised €8 million in Series A funding. Blossom Capital led, and was joined by Monkfish Equity. http://axios.link/eSLR

Link3D, a New York-based provider of additive MES workflow software, raised $7 million led by AI Capital. www.link3d.co

Ruti, a Belmont, Calif.-based fashion brand for women over 35, raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Viola Ventures. http://axios.link/qAh0

Capital, a New York-based venture debt lender, raised $5 million from Greycroft, Future Ventures, Wavemaker Ventures, and Disruptive. http://axios.link/n1Dk

Workiz, an Israeli provider of field service management software, raised $5 million in Series A funding. Magenta Venture Partners led, and was joined by Aleph. http://axios.link/qUs2

Private Equity Deals

The Carlyle Group, KKR, and Triton each made it to the second round of an auction for Rank, the transmission-making company being sold by Volkswagen for around €700 million, per Reuters. http://axios.link/wF3Y

🚑 Eversana, a Chicago-based portfolio company of Water Street Healthcare Partners and JLL Partners, agreed to buy Cornerstone Research Group, a Canadian provider of health economics and outcomes research services. www.eversana.com

Fedrigoni, an Italian paper packaging company owned by Bain Capital, agreed to buy Italian self-adhesive products maker Ritrama for nearly €300 million, per Reuters. http://axios.link/pQUf

Graham Partners bought Gatekeeper Systems, a Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based provider of shopping cart containment systems for retailers, from HKW. www.gatekeepersystems.com

Rockbridge Growth Equity acquired ProSites, a Temecula, Calif.-based online marketing firm, from The Riverside Company. http://axios.link/HYgJ

Public Offerings

🚑 Alphamab Oncology, a Chinese immuno-oncology startup, is prepping a $350 million Hong Kong IPO, per Reuters. The company recently raised $60 million in Series B funding led by Hudson Bay Capital. http://axios.link/7SrO

Meili Auto Holdings, a Chinese vehicle finance company for prime borrowers, filed for a $100 million IPO, It plans to trade on the NYSE (ML) with UBS as lead underwriter, and reports $34 million of net income on $143 million in revenue for the first half of 2019. http://axios.link/Righ

Tyro Payments, an Australian payments company, is prepping a A$1.5 billion IPO for December, per Reuters. Backers include TDM Growth Partners and Tiger Global Management. http://axios.link/gFr0

Liquidity Events

Epiris agreed to sell TI Media, a UK-based consumer magazine and digital publisher, to Future PLC (LSE: FUTR) for £140 million. http://axios.link/XPtJ

🍕 EQT is seeking a buyer for China F&B Group, the operator of Papa John’s and Dairy Queen stores in China, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/4dMh

Francisco Partners and Elliott Management are seeking a buyer for Quest Software, an Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based IT management software company that could fetch around $3.5 billion (including debt), per Bloomberg.

North Castle Partners is considering a sale process for Barry’s Bootcamp, a fitness studio chain that could fetch around $700 million, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/OIf3

More M&A

Bombardier (TSX: BBD) is in talks to sell three manufacturing plans to Spirit AeroSystems (NYSE: SPR) for more than $1 billion, per Reuters. http://axios.link/MXk8

The Chinese government “is close to abandoning” a proposed $100 billion merger between state-owned ChemChina and SinoChem, per the FT. http://axios.link/zrX3

It's Personnel

Zubaid Ahmad, founder and managing partner of New York-based merchant bank Caravanserai Partners, joined CPPIB as a U.S. senior advisor. www.cppib.com

Jud Linville, former CEO of global cards and consumer services for Citigroup, joined General Atlantic as a senior advisor. www.generalatlantic.com

Yngve Slyngstad will step down as CEO of Norway’s $1.1 trillion sovereign wealth fund. http://axios.link/3IEl

Cack Wilhelm quietly stepped down as a San Francisco-based partner with Accomplice. She had joined the Boston-based VC firm in 2017 from Scale Venture Partners. No word yet on future plans.

Hansong Zhu will step down as co-head of China investment banking for Goldman Sachs, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/Xjhl

Final Numbers

Reproduced from IHS Markit; Chart: Axios Visuals

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