January 27, 2022

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Top of the Morning

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Federal securities regulators want more private equity disclosures, as the industry continues to expand into ubiquity.

Driving the news: The SEC voted 3-1 yesterday to propose changes to Form PF, a confidential form that certain PE funds have been required to file since after the financial crisis.

  • The stated goal is to help the SEC better assess systemic risk, and also to increase oversight and investor protection.
  • Hester Peirce, the commission's only Republican, was the lone dissenting vote.
  • Private equity doesn't seem too happy about this, judging by my inbox.

By the numbers: The SEC estimates that private equity now manages over $11 trillion, more than twice its size when Form PF was first put into effect.

The new rules would require funds to notify the SEC one business day after such events as: adviser-led secondary transactions, GP or LP clawbacks, GP removal or termination of a fund's investment period.

  • Yes, that sounds very fast. Maybe even unreasonably fast. But these aren't common events, so it shouldn't be too onerous.

Other changes would be to lower the AUM threshold for Form PF reporting to $1.5 billion from $2 billion, and to expand PE fund reporting obligations for portfolio company-level information like use of leverage.

  • There also would be new reporting requirements for hedge funds.

What's next: There will be a 30-day public comment period, once the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

The bottom line: The transparency train that left the station the moment that Gary Gensler was confirmed to lead the SEC. Private equity will either get on board, or get run over.


Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Pershing Square, the hedge fund led by Bill Ackman, disclosed that it acquired more than 3.1 million shares of Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX).

Why it's the BFD: This is a major vote of confidence in the current strategy of Netflix, whose shares have tumbled due to slowed subscriber growth. That said, investors will watch to see if Ackman agitates for a faster/slower move into gaming or alternate content areas like fitness.

What Ackman said: "I have long admired Reed Hastings and the remarkable company he and his team have built. We are delighted that the market has presented us with this opportunity."

Details: Ackman's has around a 0.68% stake in Netflix, making him a top 20 shareholder. His position was valued at nearly $1.2 billion as of Wednesday's market close, but shares were higher in pre-market trading today on the news.

The bottom line: "Ackman hasn't run a proxy fight since 2017 when he lost his bid for seats on the board of Automatic Data Processing Inc. Since then, he has moved to a less combative approach, talking up his recent investments in companies like Starbucks and Universal Music Group." β€” Lucas Shaw & Jessica Park, Bloomberg

Venture Capital Deals

β€’ Fireblocks, a New York-based infrastructure provider for digital assets, raised $500m in Series E funding at an $8 valuation. D1 Capital Partners and Spark Capital co-led, and were joined by General Atlantic, Index Ventures, Mammoth, CapitalG, Altimeter, Iconiq, Canapi Ventures and Parafi Growth Fund. Go deeper in today's Axios Pro Fintech Deals newsletter.

β€’ Skims, the shapewear brand co-founded by Kim Kardashian West, raised $240m at a $3.2b pre-money valuation. Lone Pine Capital led, and was joined by D1 Capital Partners, Thrive Capital, Imaginary Ventures, and Alliance Consumer Growth. The company declined to say if part of the round was a secondary. http://axios.link/XJad

β€’ Blockdaemon, a New York-based blockchain infrastructure company for node management and staking, raised $207m in Series C funding at a $3.25b valuation. Sapphire Ventures and Tiger Global co-led, and were joined by SoftBank, Boldstart Ventures, StepStone Group, Matrix Capital Management and Lerer Hippeau. www.blockdaemon.com

β€’ Esusu, a New York-based credit building startup, raised $130m in Series B funding at a $1b valuation. SoftBank led and was joined by Jones Feliciano Family Office, Lauder Zinterhofer Family Office, Schusterman Foundation, Related Cos. and Wilshire Lane Capital. http://axios.link/FfFb

β€’ CoinTracker, a crypto portfolio tracker and tax calculator, raised $100m in Series A funding. Accel led, and was joined by General Catalyst, Initialized Capital, Y Combinator Continuity, 776 Ventures, Coinbase Ventures, Intuit Ventures and Kraken Ventures. Go deeper in today's Axios Pro Fintech Deals newsletter.

β€’ Firebolt, an S.F.-based cloud data warehouse, raised $100m in Series C funding at a $1.4b valuation. Alkeon Capital led, and was joined by Sozo Ventures, Glynn Capital, and existing investors Zeev Ventures, Angular Ventures, Dawn Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, K5 Global and TLV Partners. http://axios.link/LCo4

πŸš‘ Septerna, a South S.F.-based biotech targeting G protein-coupled receptors, raised $100m in Series A funding. Third Rock Ventures led, and was joined by Samsara BioCapital, BVF Partners, Invus, Catalio Capital Management, Casdin Capital and Logos Capital. www.septerna.com

β€’ Veriff, an Estonian identity verification startup, raised $100m in Series C funding at a $1.5b valuation. Alkeon and Tiger Global co-led, and were joined by insiders Accel and IVP. http://axios.link/ZY6Z

πŸš‘ Distalmotion, a Swiss maker of robotic surgery devices, raised $90m in Series E funding led by Revival Healthcare Capital. http://axios.link/d4A9

β€’ Cowboy, a Brussels-based e-bikes maker, raised $80m in Series C funding. Exor, HCVC and Siam Capital co-led, and were joined by Tiger Global, Index Ventures, Eothen, Isomer Opportunities Fund, Future Positive Capital and Triple Point Capital. http://axios.link/2xRJ

β€’ BasicBlock, a Lincoln, Neb.-based fintech focused on the trucking industry, raised $78m in equity and debt funding from Autotech Ventures, Clear Haven Capital Management, Emergent Ventures, Nelnet, Rise of the Rest, SaaS Ventures and TNT Ventures. www.basicblock.io

β€’ Vecna Robotics, a Waltham, Mass.-based maker of autonomous warehouse forklifts, raised $65m in Series C funding. Tiger Global led, and was joined by Lineage Logistics, Proficio Capital Partners and Impulse. http://axios.link/ovLf

β€’ PortalOne, an Oslo-based immersive gaming startup, raised $60m in Series A funding. Tiger Global led, and was joined by Coatue, TQ Ventures, Temasek, Avenir, Founders Fund, Talis Capital, Connect Ventures, Animoca Brands and Access industries. http://axios.link/cIpe

β€’ HackerOne, an SF-based bug bounty company, raised $49m in Series E funding. GP Bullhound led, and was joined by insiders Benchmark, NEA, Dragoneer, and Valor Equity Partners. http://axios.link/HELR

β€’ Cialfo, a Singapore-based school application platform for students, raised $40m in Series B funding. Square Peg and SEEK Investments co-led, and were joined by insiders SIG Global, DLF Ventures and January Capital. http://axios.link/WabD

β€’ Compound, an SF-based wealth management platform for tech founders and employees, raised $37m co-led by Greenoaks and Lachy Groom. www.withcompound.com

β€’ Polly, an S.F.-based mortgage capital markets SaaS, raised $37m in Series B funding. Menlo Ventures led, and was joined by Movement Mortgage, First American Financial, FinVC and insiders 8VC, Khosla Ventures and Fifth Wall. http://axios.link/gyun

β€’ Slim.ai, an Acton, Mass.-based container security startup, raised $31m in Series A funding. Insight Partners and StepStone Group co-led, and were joined by Knollwood. http://axios.link/R29K

β€’ Ascend, a BNPL commercial insurer tool, raised $30m in Series A funding led by Index Ventures and $250m in debt facilities from HSCM Bermuda. http://axios.link/Ym4S

β€’ Censys, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based IoT search engine, raised $35m in Series B funding led by Intel Capital and named ex-OneLogin CEO Brad Brooks as its new CEO. http://axios.link/BPoh

πŸš‘ Mayd, a Berlin-based on-demand medicine delivery startup, raised €30m in Series A funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners led, and was joined by Target Global, 468 Capital and Earlybird VC. http://axios.link/VkP3

β€’ Vesta, an SF-based mortgage infrastructure startup, raised $30m in Series A funding. Andreessen Horowitz led, and was joined by Zigg Capital and insiders Conversion Capital and Bain Capital Ventures. http://axios.link/5PGX

β€’ Parsyl, a Denver-based supply chain insurer, raised $25m in Series B funding. HSCM Ventures led, and was joined by Lineage Logistics, Flexport, GLP Capital Partners and Luna. www.parsyl.com

β€’ Stonly, a French customer onboarding platform, raised $22m in Series A funding. Northzone led and was joined by insider Accel. http://axios.link/9RSo

β€’ Atrium, an S.F.-based provider of sales performance analytics, raised $20m in Series A funding. Craft Ventures led, and was joined by insiders Bonfire Ventures, BullPen Capital and CRV. http://axios.link/DR4U

β€’ Revelstoke, a San Jose, Calif.-based security orchestration automation and response startup, raised $13m in Series A funding from ClearSky, CrossLink Capital and Rally Ventures. http://axios.link/bYEm

β€’ Alta, a VR metaverse studio, raised $12.4m in seed funding co-led by Makers Fund and Andreessen Horowitz. http://axios.link/3LpK

β€’ Pimloc, a British AI service for anonymizing video, raised $7.5m. Zetta Venture Partners led, and was joined by Amadeus Capital Partners and Speedinvest. http://axios.link/V5WS

β€’ Pluto, a corporate card and spend management platform for the MENA region, raised $6m in seed funding. GFC led, and was joined by Soma Capital and Graph Ventures. www.plutocard.io

β€’ Vest, a Latin American brokerage for U.S. stocks, raised $6m in seed funding led by Founders Fund. http://axios.link/p0qR

β€’ NALA, a Tanzanian cross-border payments startup, raised $10m from Amplo, Accel, Bessemer Venture Partners and DFS Labs. http://axios.link/tft3

β€’ Scribe Security, an Israeli supply chain security startup, raised $7m in seed funding from Elron Ventures and Tal Ventures. http://axios.link/ABkL

πŸ‘ Black Sheep Foods, an S.F.-based maker of plant-based lamb, raised $5.25m in seed funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners. http://axios.link/96Uw

β€’ Byteboard, a Fremont, Calif.-based engineer hiring platform, raised $5m in seed funding led by Cowboy Ventures. http://axios.link/PpgC

β€’ Nvisionx, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based data risk intelligence platform, raised $4.6m from Morgan Stanley, PBJ Capital and CreativeCo Capital. www.nvisionx.ai

β€’ The.com, an S.F.-based website building startup, raised $4.4m in seed funding. NFX led, and was joined by Sound Ventures, VSC Ventures, Village Global and Harry Stebbings. www.the.com

πŸš€ Epsilon3, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based developer of spacecraft operations software, raised $2.8m in seed funding from Stage Venture Partners, MaC VC, Lux Capital, Village Global, YC, Pioneer Fund, Soma Capital and Broom Ventures. http://axios.link/Mjwf

Private Equity Deals

β€’ Altice Europe canceled efforts to sell its Portuguese business, after bids from PE firms like EQT and CVC Capital Partners came in lower than expected. http://axios.link/XXyL

πŸš‘ Broad Sky Partners bought Thomas Scientific, Swedesboro, N.J.-based provider of life sciences lab supplies equipment, from The Carlyle Group. www.thomassci.com

πŸš‘ Eurazeo is investing over $200m to buy a majority stake in Cranial Technologies, a developer of treatments for flat head syndrome in infants. www.cranialtech.com

β€’ Marlin Equity Partners invested $150m for a minority stake in Reputation, a San Ramon, Calif.-based reputation experience management company. www.reputation.com

β€’ PSP Capital acquired Ntiva, a McLean, Va.-based managed IT services provider. www.ntiva.com

β€’ Tencent will seek to take Chinese videogame streamer DouYu (Nasdaq: DOYU) private, per Reuters. It currently has a 37% stake in the company, whose market cap is $740m, and is seeking a PE partner. http://axios.link/R9t3

Axios Pro Recap

Confused What Happened GIF by The Animal Crackers Movie - Find & Share on GIPHY
Source: Giphy

Highlights from yesterday's Axios Pro newsletters

πŸ’° Fintech: Scoop on a top Airbnb exec heading to crypto VC land, plus more on the FTX US funding.

πŸš‘ Health Tech: Uber's health plans and scoop on TPG investing in a chain of pediatric care clinics.

πŸ›’ Retail: Digging into Mattel's licensing deal with Disney and why Lids is levering up.

Public Offerings

β€’ WeRock, owner of the WeTransfer file service, canceled an Amsterdam IPO that had been set to raise up to €716m. Backers include HPE Growth and Highland Europe. http://axios.link/LTmk

SPAC Stuff

πŸš€D-Orbit, an Italian space logistics firm, agreed to go public at an implied $1.28b valuation via Breeze Holdings Acquisition Corp. (Nasdaq: BREZ). http://axios.link/ntM1

β€’ Kin Insurance, a Chicago-based insure-tech company, canceled its deal to go public at an implied billion $1 billion valuation via Omnichannel Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: OCA), due to "unfavorable market conditions." Kin has raised over $160 million from firms like Commerce Ventures, Senator Investment Group, Hudson Structured Capital and August Capital and golfer Rory McIlroy.

β€’ Brand Velocity Acquisition, a SPAC formed by Brand Velocity Partners, withdrew its $200 million IPO. The firm had signaled these intentions earlier this month, when adding Eli Manning as a partner.

β€’ Do It Again, a restaurant SPAC led by former Sonic CEO Clifford Hudson, withdrew registration for its $125m IPO. http://axios.link/Ea3U

β€’ Murphy Canyon Acquisition, a real estate SPAC formed by Presidio Property Trust, withdrew its withdrawal of a $150 million IPO, saying its filing was made in error. Oops. http://axios.link/ioqP

β€’ Sound Point Acquisition I, a credit markets SPAC, filed for a $200m IPO. http://axios.link/12Gh

Liquidity Events

β€’ SAP (NYSE: SAP), agreed to buy a majority stake in Taulia, an S.F.-based financial supply chain platform that had raised over $220m from firms like QuestMark Partners, Trinity Ventures, Matrix Partners, JPMorgan, Zouk Ventures, Ping An Insurance and Gaingels. http://axios.link/xGGh

β€’ UBS (NYSE: UBS) agreed to buy Wealthfront, a Palo Alto-based robo-advisor, for $1.4b in cash. Wealthfront had raised around $200m from Index Ventures, Ribbit Capital, Launch Fund, Social Capital, Tiger Global, Spark Capital, Dragoneer, DAG Ventures and Greylock. http://axios.link/p2cr

β€’ Wella, a Geneva-based haircare company backed by KKR, is prepping a $989m dividend recap, the largest such deal in Europe since 2017. http://axios.link/dMQB

More M&A

πŸš‘ Cigna (NYSE: CI) recently approached rival health insurer Centene (NYSE: CNC) about a takeover, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/37B8

β€’ Citigroup (NYSE: C) agreed to sell its Taiwan consumer finance unit to Singapore’s DBS Group, per Reuters. http://axios.link/6D0K

β€’ Mercedes-Benz, a unit of Daimler, agreed to invest "high double-digit" million euros into Taiwanese battery maker ProLogium, as part of a strategic agreement. http://axios.link/e5Zg

β€’ Schneider Electric (Paris: SU) is seeking a buyer for Telemecanique, an industrial automation and control business that could fetch around $1b, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/97n4


🌎 Indico Capital Partners of Lisbon raised €50m for a climate tech fund. http://axios.link/50Bs

It's Personnel

πŸš‘ Scott Barclay, a former partner with Point72 Ventures and DCVC, joined Insight Partners to focus on health deals. www.insightpartners.com

β€’ Brett Rochkind, a growth equity veteran of General Atlantic and CRV, has joined SoftBank Vision Fund, Axios has learned.

Final Numbers

Credit: Axios Visuals. Data through Jan. 26, 2022.

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