Axios Pro Rata

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January 27, 2021

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Top of the Morning

An illustration of a map outline of California set against a green screen background of code

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The new king of SPACs has his eyes on a different title: Governor of California.

Driving the news: Chamath Palihapitiya is very seriously considering a run for gov, if incumbent Gov. Gavin Newsom succumbs to a burgeoning recall effort.

Who? Chamath Palihapitiya is an early Facebook executive who went on to found a VC firm called Social Capital, which he later turned into a something akin to a family office. He's also become a prolific SPAC sponsor (both via his own vehicles and through PIPEs), and just yesterday made headlines for buying call options on GameStop.

Three things to know:

1. This isn't a joke, or a rich man's fleeting aspiration. Chamath has a track record of following through once he sets his mind to something, no matter how much critical noise it generates.

2. He has a platform as unconventionally bold as his business history, including an elimination of state income taxes that Chamath believes would be offset by a rush of businesses into the state. The basic pitch would be that this could reverse the recent trend of tech company/investor departures.

  • Plus, he wants state-backed income share agreements to fight future student debt, higher minimum teacher salaries, and $2,000 checks per child born in-state.

3. He has major political liabilities, given that voters are likely to first be introduced to him as a Silicon Valley billionaire (or, worse, a Facebook billionaire).

Caveat on repeat: Newsom is under pressure for his pandemic response management, but that could wane if the vaccination process improves. No recall, no Chamath campaign.

The bottom line: This is California politics. Never say never.


Animated illustration of two computer chips, one with American coloring and one with Chinese coloring. Their circuits are spreading out in different directions.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Ant Group, the Chinese fintech affiliate of Alibaba (NYSE: BABA), is seeking a buyer for Kansas City-based biometric security firm EyeVerify, per the FT.

  • Why it's the BFD: This reflects festering tech tensions between Beijing and D.C., particularly when it comes to things like facial recognition software. It's also part of Ant's efforts to generate liquidity after being forced to scrap what was to be the largest-ever IPO.

Venture Capital Deals

Loanpal, a point-of-sale payment platform for solar and other home efficiency solutions, raised more than $800 million. NEA and WestCap Group co-led, and were joined by Brookfield Asset Management and Riverstone Holdings.

DriveNets, a developer of software-based routing solutions for service providers, raised $208 million in Series B funding at a post-money valuation north of $1 billion. D1 Capital Partners led, and was joined by return backers Bessemer Venture Partners, Pitango and Atreides Management.

Fast, a developer of platform-agnostic login and checkout services, raised $102 million in Series B funding led by existing backer Stripe.

Albert, a Walnut, Calif.-based financial advisory platform, raised $100 million in Series C funding. General Atlantic led, and was joined by CapitalG.

🦏 Rhino, a New York-based deposit insurance startup, raised $95 million led by Tiger Global at a $500 million post-money valuation.

Booksy, a Chicago-based booking platform for beauty companies, raised $70 million in Series C funding. Cat Rock Capital led, and was joined by Sprints Capital, OpenOcean, Piton Capital, VNV Global, Enern, and Manta Ray Ventures.

ShipMonk, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based provider of e-commerce fulfillment solutions, raised $65 million from Periphas Capital.

🚑 Nuvalent, a New York-based developer of lung cancer drugs for patients whose disease has proven resistant to current options, raised $50 million from Deerfield Management.

Splashtop, a San Jose, Calif.-based remote access and support platform for businesses, raised $50 million at a $1 billion valuation. Sapphire Ventures led, and was joined by Storm Ventures, NEA and DFJ DragonFund.

Literati, an Austin, Texas-based book club subscription service, raised $40 million in Series B funding. Felicis Ventures led, and was joined by 01 Advisors, Founders Fund, General Catalyst, Shasta Ventures, Silverton Partners, Springdale Venture and Stephen Curry.

Ukko, a Palo Alto-based biotech focused on eliminating food allergies and sensitivities, raised $40 million in Series B funding. Leaps by Bayer led, and was joined by Continental Grain Co., PeakBridge Ventures, Skyviews Life Science, Fall Line Capital and return backers Khosla Ventures, Innovation Endeavors and Marc Benioff.

SetSail, a San Mateo, Calif.-based sales comp platform, raised $26 million in Series A funding. Insight Partners led, and was joined by insiders Wing VC, Team8 and Operator Collective.

Playvox, a Colombian customer service monitoring startup, raised $25 million in Series A funding from Five Elms Capital.

Vectorized, a San Francisco-based streaming data tool, raised $15.5 million in seed and Series A funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners led, and was joined by GV.

Token, a London-based open banking payments platform, raised $15 million in Series B funding. SBI Investment and Sony Innovation Growth co-led, and were joined by Octopus Ventures, EQT Ventures, BNP Paribas and Opera Tech Ventures.

KeraCel, a San Jose, Calif.-based multimaterial 3D printing company, raised $14 million in Series A funding led by Musashi Seimitsu Industry Co.

Usermind, a Seattle-based journey orchestration platform, raised $14 million. WestRiver Group led, and was joined by return backers Andreessen Horowitz and Menlo Ventures.

Classiq, an Israeli software development platform, raised $10.5 million in Series A funding. Team8 Capital and Wing Capital co-led, and were joined by Entrée Capital, OurCrowd and Sumitomo.

Apiture, a Wilmington, N.C.-based provider of digital transformation solutions for financial institutions, raised $10 million from Bankers Healthcare Group.

Oncue, an Oakland-based booking platform for the moving industry, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Rethink Impact led, and was joined by Crosslink Capital and Bowery Capital.

🚑 Vessel, a San Diego-based at-home wellness tracker, raised $8 million led by Monogram Capital Partners.

Mealco, a new restaurant launch platform for chefs, raised $7 million in seed funding. Rucker Park Capital led, and was joined by FJLabs, Reshape,, Oceans Ventures and WLP.

🚑 Parse Biosciences, a Seattle-based provider of single-cell sequencing solutions for researchers, raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Bioeconomy Capital.

💅 Preemadonna, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based maker of an at-home manicure device, raised $5.6 million in seed funding led by Halogen Ventures.

Talent Hack, a New York-based B2C platform for fitness instructors and studios, raised $4.7 million in seed funding led by Global Founders Capital.

S’More, a New York-based dating app, raised $2.1 million in seed funding from backers like Benson Oak Ventures, Workplay Ventures, Gaingels VC and Loud Capital/Pride Fund.

Private Equity Deals

Allstate (NYSE: ALL) agreed to sell its life insurance business to The Blackstone Group for $2.8 billion.

ASG, a Walnut Creek, Calif.-based portfolio company of Alpine Investors, acquired Visual Matrix, a Richardson, Texas-based provider of hotel property management software.

Intersect Power, a San Francisco-based developer of utility-scale renewable energy, raised $127 million from Climate Adaptive Infrastructure and Trilantic North America. It also secured a $482 million debt facility from Generate Capital and CarVal Investors.

🚑 Nordic Capital offered to buy London-based specialty pharma company Advanz Pharma for $846 million.

Peraton, a Herndon, Va.-based portfolio company of Veritas Capital, agreed to buy government services provider Perspecta (NYSE: PRSP) for $7.1 billion in cash, or $29.25 per share.

Shamrock Capital acquired Bayard Advertising, a New York-based recruitment marketing company.

Shore Capital Partners invested in Tandem, a Westchester, Ill.-based provider of HR solutions to SMEs.

SSP Innovations, a Centennial, Colo.-based portfolio company of Warren Equity Partners, acquired 3-GIS, a Decatur, Ala.-based provider of fiber network management software.

Sycamore Partners will retain control of department store operator Belk, as part of a pre-packaged bankruptcy that will include $225 million of new capital.

Tailwater Capital agreed to buy Tall Oak Midstream II (operating in the Arkoma Basin) and Tall Oak Midstream III (Mid-Continent) from EnCap Flatrock Midstream.

Public Offerings

Shoals Technologies Group, a Portland, Tenn.-based provider of electrical balance-of-system products for solar projects, raised $1.9 billion in its IPO. It priced at $25 (above upwardly revised range), will trade on the Nasdaq (SHLS) and reports $30 million of net income on $137 million in revenue for the first nine months of 2020. The company is backed by Oaktree Capital Management.

SPAC Stuff

Illustration of two dice with dollar symbols on them

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Playstudios, a Las Vegas-based social casino games company, is in talks to go public via Acies Acquisition (Nasdaq: ACAC), a SPAC chaired by ex-MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren, per Bloomberg. Playstudios has raised over $30 million, from firms like Icon Ventures, MGM Resorts and Incendium Capital.

🚑 Sharecare, an Atlanta-based health and wellness engagement platform, is in talks to go public via reverse merger with Falcon Capital Acquisition (Nasdaq: FCAC), a SPAC led by veteran investment banker (and famous brother) Alan Mnuchin. Sharecare has raised nearly $400 million, plus got a PPP loan. Backers include Galen Partners, Tivity Health, New Evolution Ventures, Claritas Capital, Heritage Group and Aflac.

Broadscale Acquisition, a decarbonization SPAC, filed for a $250 million IPO.

🚑 CA Healthcare Acquisition, a health care-focused SPAC led by Larry Neiterman (ex-Deloitte), raised $100 million in its IPO.

Climate Real Impact Solutions II, a SPAC formed by PIMCO and led by ex-NRG Energy CEO David Crane, raised $210 million in its IPO.

Constellation Acquisition I, a SPAC led by former Arconic and Alcoa CEO Klaus Kleinfeld, raised $300 million in its IPO.

DiamondHead Holdings, a SPAC led by David Hamamoto (ex-Colony Capital), raised $300 million in its IPO.

Fortistar Sustainable Solutions, a sustainability-focused SPAC formed by Fortistar, raised $225 million in an upsized IPO.

🚑 HealthCor Catalio Acquisition, a health care-focused SPAC, raised $180 million in an upsized IPO.

🚑 FS Development II, a health care SPAC formed by Foresite Capital, filed for a $100 million IPO.

ION Acquisition 2, an Israeli tech SPAC formed by ION Asset Management, filed for a $220 million IPO.

Live Oak Mobility Acquisition, a tech SPAC formed by Live Oak Merchant Partners, filed for a $200 million IPO.

Powered Brands, a consumer-focused SPAC formed by Greycroft and Clique Brands CEO Katherine Power, raised $200 million in its IPO.

Liquidity Events

🚑 The Carlyle Group is seeking a buyer for Swiss health clinic chain Ameos, which could fetch up to €1.3 billion, per Reuters.

L Catterton Asia Advisors and Mitsui & Co. are considering a sale of Japanese eyewear retailer Owndays, which could be valued at around $300 million, per Bloomberg.

Levine Leichtman Capital Partners sold ZorgDomein, a health care referral platform in the Netherlands, to Rabobank.

🚑 TPG Growth hired Goldman Sachs and Evercore to find a buyer for Medical Solutions, an Omaha-based nurse staffing firm with EBITDA north of $150 million, per PE Hub.

More M&A

🚑 Precision Nanosystems, a Canadian biotech whose candidates include a COVID-19 vaccine, is seeking a buyer, per Bloomberg. It’s raised around US$25 million from firms like 5AM Ventures, Telegraph Hill Partners, Discovery Parks and Rising Tide Fund.


NextView Ventures, a Boston-based seed and pre-seed firm, raised $100 million for its fourth fund.

Prime Movers Lab, a VC firm focused on deep tech, raised $245 million for its second fund.

SER Capital Partners, a sustainability-focused private equity firm, is raising $450 million for its debut fund ($500m hard cap), per Buyouts.

TCV raised $4 billion for its eleventh flagship venture capital fund.

It's Personnel

Indhira Arrington joined Ares Management as a managing director and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. She previously was with Wells Fargo.

Foundation Chen promoted Joanne Chen to general partner.

🚑 Chris Hocevar joined health care-focused VC firm Flare Capital Partners as an executive partner. He previously was president of Cigna’s U.S. business segments and specialty businesses.

• Bryan Kim joined Andreessen Horowitz as a partner, per his LinkedIn. He previously was CFO at Bungalow and, before that, was Snap’s senior director of growth and product ops.

• Steven Lee joined SV Angel as a partner. He previously was with Bain Capital Ventures.

Sapphire Ventures promoted Cathy Gao and Laura Thompson to partners.

• Kelly Toole joined Index Ventures as a principal. She previously was a software engineering manager at Apple.

• Windjammer Capital Investors promoted Ryan Pertz to managing director.

Final Numbers: Space startup investments

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