November 15, 2023

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Top of the Morning

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

It's been more than two years since a blank-check company called Digital World Acquisition Corp. agreed to buy Trump Media & Technology Group, which hadn't yet even launched its flagship Truth Social product.

  • Now we finally know some of TMTG's financials, via a DWAC disclosure, and it's emblematic of the blank-check market boom and bust.

Driving the news: TMTG reports only $5.58 million in total revenue for the period between inception in February 2021 and the end of June 2023. That includes just $1.4 million in revenue for all of last year, despite the unveiling of Truth Social and former President Trump announcing his re-election campaign.

  • Operating loss during that time period was around $35 million, although the figure was significantly lower in the first half of 2023 than it was in the first half of 2022.
  • For context, DWAC was valued at around $3.6 billion shortly after the original merger announcement. Today it has around a $580 million market cap, which is a steep decline but still a stupefying price given the TMTG's meager performance.

In the weeds: It's also worth noting that the new DWAC disclosure mixes realized and unrealized financials when it comes to net profit/loss.

  • Specifically, it includes "change in fair value of derivative liabilities," which appears to relate to convertible promissory notes whose value can change due to "market conditions." One possibility is that a listed $75.8 million "gain" on said liabilities in 2022 is tied to the DWAC share price, but a TMTG spokesperson didn't return my texts or emails.
  • There's also a line in the filing about how "TMTG has an ongoing disagreement with the holder of one of the TMTG Convertible Notes arising from differing interpretations of certain terms of the note in question, and is attempting to resolve such disagreement."
  • Were these liabilities — plus some significant 2023 interest payments — to be included, TMTG's net loss since inception through Q2 2023 comes to around $31.55 million.

Backstory: TMTG's road to the public markets has been bumpy, beyond its actual performance problems.

  • Since the merger was announced, DWAC changed its CEO, had a director hit with insider trading charges, was subject of federal investigations, settled with federal investigators, disavowed its audited financials, repeatedly persuaded shareholders to delay the merger closing date, lost most of its $1 billion in PIPE financing, and then announced plans to cancel the remainder.

The bottom line: SPAC has become a four-letter word in the capital markets, with a graveyard of busted deals and withered stocks. Trump's deal still looks like the boom's last stand, where the valuation and underlying financials are decoupled.

The BFD

Illustration: Tiffany Herring/Axios

European antitrust regulators soon will seek to block Adobe (Nasdaq: ADBE) from completing its $20 billion takeover of Figma, a San Francisco-based maker of an in-browser interface design platform, per the FT.

Why it's the BFD: This poses a major threat to what would be the largest acquisition of a privately held software company, with both U.S. and U.K. antitrust regulators also in the midst of investigations.

The bottom line: VCs have a lot riding on this sale. Figma had raised around $330 million, most recently via a Series E round in 2021 led by Durable Capital Partners at a $10 billion valuation.

  • Other backers include Index Ventures, Greylock, Kleiner Perkins, OATV, Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund, Fuel Capital, Sequoia Capital, Counterpoint Global, Geodesic Capital, Base10 Partners, WndrCo, IVP and TeleSoft Partners.

Venture Capital Deals

• Urbanic, a London-based fashion brand, raised $150m in Series C funding from such backers as Mirabaud, D1 Capital Partners, JAM Fund, Nexus Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital. https://axios.link/3MHI5fL

• Blockchain.com, a London-based digital assets platform, raised $110m in a first close of its Series E round. Kingsway Capital led, and was joined by Baillie Gifford, Lakestar, LSVP, GV, Access Industries, Moore Capital, Prudence, Freeman Capital, Coinbase Ventures and Pledge Ventures. https://axios.link/49yOLGN

🐶 Petvisor, a San Diego-based provider of veterinary and pet services business management and client engagement software, raised $100m. Apax Digital led, and was joined by Frontier Growth and PeakSpan Capital. www.petvisor.com

• Puzzle, a generative accounting platform, raised $30m from Section32, XYZ and General Catalyst. www.puzzle.io

🚑 Vida Health, an SF-based provider of virtual cardiometabolic services, raised $28.5m from insiders General Atlantic, Ally Bridge, Canvas Ventures and Hercules Capital. https://axios.link/3MKfZR8

• OfferFit, a Boston-based automated experimentation platform for marketers, raised $25m in Series B finding. Menlo Ventures led, and was joined by Ridge Ventures, Capital One Ventures and insiders Canvas Ventures, Harmony Partners, Alumni Ventures Group, Carbide Ventures and Burst Capital. www.offerfit.ai

🚑 Kythera Labs, a Franklin, Tenn.-based health data analytics startup, raised $20m co-led by BIP Ventures and CIBC. https://axios.link/47sb3Is

• Virdee, an Austin, Texas-based provider of guest experience and check-in automation solutions, raised $12.4m in Series A funding. Moneta Ventures led, and was joined by Silverton Partners, Koch Real Estate Investments, Alumni Ventures, DJR Advisors and Capital Factory. www.virdee.io

🚑 Sunnyside, an SF-based developer of an app that helps people build healthier habits around alcohol, raised $11.5m in Series A funding. Motley Fool Ventures led, and was joined by Will Ventures, Uncork Capital, Offline Ventures, Joyance Partners, Wisdom Ventures, Eudemian Ventures, Adjacent, Scribble Ventures, Cooley and MyFitnessPal founder Michael Lee. www.sunnyside.co

• Apiture, a Wilmington, N.C.-based provider of digital banking solutions, raised $10m led by T. Rowe Price. www.apiture.com

• Defacto, a Paris-based embedded B2B lending platform, raised €10m in Series A extension funding from Citi Ventures and insiders Northzone, Headline and Global Founders Capital. www.getdefacto.com

• Retorio, a German AI coaching platform, raised $10m in Series A funding. SquareOne led, and was joined by Porsche Ventures and Storm Ventures. www.retorio.com

• AllCity Network, a digital sports network, raised $9.4m in Series A funding led by Mosaic. https://axios.link/3MGA5eN

• Radicl, a Boulder, Colo.-based provider of cyber threat protection for SMBs, raised $9m. Paladin Capital Group led, and was joined by Access Ventures and DA Ventures Seed Fund. www.radicl.com

⚡ Zero Emission Industries, an SF-based developer of hydrogen solutions for maritime applications, raised $8.75m in Series A funding. Chevron New Energies led, and was joined by Trafigura and Crowley. www.zeroei.com

• Pippin Title, a New York-based title tech and mortgage service information provider, raised $8m in seed funding. Deciens Capital led, and was joined by Caruso Ventures, NKM Capital, U Chicago Endowment and Morningstar founder Joe Mansueto. www.pippintitle.com

• Tanda, a collective savings startup, raised $4.5m in seed funding from Initialized Capitaland Sequoia Arc. https://axios.link/49F4UL4

• Tradespace, an SF-based IP management platform, raised $4.2m in seed funding. Eniac Ventures led, and was joined by Abstract Ventures, Amplo VC and Scrum Ventures. www.tradespace.io

🚑 Fortuna Health, a New York-based Medicaid navigation startup, raised $4m in seed funding, per Axios Pro. Andreessen Horowitz led, and was joined by BoxGroup and YC. https://axios.link/47zE6JY

🚑 Layer Health, a clinical note analysis platform, raised $4m in seed funding from GV, General Catalyst and Inception Health. https://axios.link/40BHO3E

• Fractl, a Cupertino, Calif.-based "AI-powered programming language" for SaaS development, raised $1m in pre-seed funding. WestWave Capital led, and was joined by January Capital and Arka Venture Labs. www.fractl.io

Private Equity Deals

• Bison Capital Partners invested in Wyo-Ben, a Billings, Mont.-based producer of bentonite products for industrial and pet care applications. www.wyoben.com

⚡ DSD Renewables, a Schenectady, N.Y.-based solar energy developer, raised $250m from Cox Enterprises. https://axios.link/3FZCLAI

🚑 Flourish Research, a New York-based clinical trial group backed by NMS Capital, acquired Merritt Island Medical Research, a Florida-based clinical research site focused on neuroscience. www.flourishresearch.com

• Data Clean, a Des Plaines, Ill.-based portfolio company of Angeles Equity, acquired Sealco, a Houston-based environment cleaning business for data centers. www.sealco.net

⚽ DFL Deutsche Fussball Liga, the governing body for Germany's top pro soccer league, is seeking for the third time to sell a media rights stake for upwards of €1b, per Bloomberg. https://axios.link/46eAGeI

• Dymon Asia is backing a CEO-led takeover offer for Singapore-listed hotel group Amara Holdings. https://axios.link/3SAsP8e

• F2i is in talks to buy around €800m of Italian assets from payments firm Nexi (Milan: NEXI), per Bloomberg. https://axios.link/47bjdFf

• MCCi, a Tallahassee, Fla.-based portfolio company of Century Park Capital Partners, acquired GovBiult, a Manhattan, Kan.-based low-code/no-code case management platform. www.govbuilt.com

• PMA Industries, a portfolio company of Ancor Capital Partners, acquired United Western Enterprises, a Camarillo, Calif.-based maker of thin photochemically etched metal parts. www.pmaindustriesinc.com

SPAC Stuff

• Global Lights Acquisition, a Beijing-based SPAC focused on sustainability, raised $60m in its U.S. IPO. https://axios.link/3rptEpg

Liquidity Events

• Airbnb (Nasdaq: ABNB) acquired Gameplanner.ai, a stealthy startup co-founded by Siri co-founder Adam Cheyer, for just under $200m, per CNBC. Gameplanner was seeded by Mayfair Global Ventures. https://axios.link/40ELtO9

• Antin Infrastructure Partners is seeking to sell French district heating operator Idex, which could fetch more than €3b, per Bloomberg. https://axios.link/3QwE8vi

• ByteDance, the VC-backed owner of TikTok, is considering a sale of Shanghai Moonton Technology, the gaming studio it bought in 2021 for around $4b, per Bloomberg. https://axios.link/3R2LI2A

🚑 UpLift, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based telemental health startup that's raised around $30m from firms like Ballast Point Ventures, acquired women-focused online therapy provider Minded, which raised over $25m from firms like Streamlined Ventures, Link Ventures, Unicorn Ventures and Trousdale Ventures, per Axios Pro. https://axios.link/3QHgg8o

More M&A

🚑 Telix Pharma (ASX: TLX) offered to buy Austin, Texas-based QSAM Biosciences, an OTC-listed developer of radiopharmaceuticals for bone cancer, for $33.1m. https://axios.link/3udVuFY

🚑 Tsuruha (Tokyo: 3391), a Japanese pharmacy chain under activist investor pressure, is exploring a sale that could fetch at least $4b, per Bloomberg. https://axios.link/40CgMZS

Fundraising

• Avra, a new growth equity firm co-founded by former YC Continuity head Anu Hariharan, is targeting $350m for its debut fund, per TechCrunch. https://axios.link/46eYI9l

• Brinley Partners of New York is targeting at least $1b for its second private credit fund, per Bloomberg. https://axios.link/3SJzAEG

• Kinderhook Industries raised $1.3b from Carlyle unit AlpInvest for a continuation fund that will acquire nine portfolio companies from Kinderhook's fourth and fifth funds. The raise includes $300m of unfunded capital for portfolio company growth and acquisitions. www.kinderhook.com

• Tenity, a Swiss VC firm focused on fintech and insurtech, acquired Hackquarters, a London and Istanbul-based startup accelerator. https://axios.link/468apig

It's Personnel

• Sanjiv Aggarwal, head of Asia energy investments for Actis, is the frontrunner to lead India's $4.9b National Investment & Infrastructure Fund, per Bloomberg. https://axios.link/3G0hNBy

• Jonathan Rash joined Ropes & Gray as a Washington, D.C.-based partner focused on private fund formation. He previously was with Fried Frank. www.ropesgray.com

• David Wah, a former Credit Suisse banker, is joining PJT Partners as a partner focused on tech companies, per Bloomberg. https://axios.link/3QWhMVw

In Memoriam

Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Peter Seidler, a private equity investor and owner of the San Diego Padres, died yesterday at the age of 63. He reportedly had been battling an illness for months, and the family requested that the cause of death remain private.

  • Seidler, who was born into a baseball family, launched Marina Del Rey, Calif.-based Seidler Equity Partners with his brother Bob in 1992.
  • It primarily focuses on midmarket deals, and reports $5 billion in assets under management — including via a $1.25 billion eighth fund that closed earlier this year with Peter and Bob each listed as managing members (alongside Eric Kutsenda, who joined in 1999).
  • "His impact on the city of San Diego and the baseball world will be felt for generations," Padres CEO Erik Greupner said in a statement.

Peter is survived by his wife and three children.

Final Numbers

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

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