September 15, 2021

Top of the Morning

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New regulations on the SPAC market have been slow to come, but SEC chair Gary Gensler yesterday assured Congress that they are indeed coming.

Why it matters: SPAC volume has skyrocketed in the past two years, but their rules haven't evolved.

What Gensler said, in response to a question from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio):

"I think the risks are to investors and the disclosure to the investors. I've asked staff to serve up recommendations that we can consider as a Commission.
"But in essence there's a lot of costs in these. Secondly, they usually have a two-year fuse and in that two-year fuse they try to go out and buy something. And a lot of the institutional investors, when that happens, sell. It's called a redemption right, and retail investors are often left holding the dilution, or the significant costs of the bankers and the promoters.
"So we're looking at greater disclosures and if there's inherent conflicts along the way. And then try to put this out to notice and comment and rule-making."

The big picture: SPACs are still going strong, despite talk that we're past the peak.

  • Four different SPACs priced IPOs in just the past day, raising $850 million. There also was a major SPAC merger (Pagaya) and several new SPAC formations.

The big risk for Gensler is that there will be a major SPAC debacle that could have been prevented by more timely rulemaking. But based on yesterday's hearing, in which crypto questions dominated, Congress would also take some heat.

The bottom line: The more things stay the same, the more they will eventually change.


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Canva, an Australian design software company, raised $200 million at a $40 billion valuation led by T. Rowe Price.

  • Why it's the BFD: This makes Canva the world's fifth most valuable private startup, behind Klarna and ahead of Instacart. It also stands apart by being profitable, led by a woman CEO and based in Sydney.
  • Other investors include Franklin Templeton, Sequoia Capital Global Equities, Bessemer Venture Partners, Greenoaks Capital, Dragoneer Investments, Blackbird, Felicis and AirTree Ventures.
  • The bottom line: "Originally known as a tool for amateur designers or small businesses, Canva's freemium software is used by more than 60 million monthly users. But more than 500,000 paying teams now use Canva, too, including companies like American Airlines, CBRE, Intel, Kimberly-Clark and Zoom, for everything from social media assets to sales and human resources presentations, or, in the case of Live Nation, assets for upcoming rock concerts." — Alex Konrad, Forbes

Venture Capital Deals

SmartNews, a Japanese news discovery app, raised $230 million in Series F funding at a $2 billion post-money valuation from Princeville Capital, Woodline Partners, JIC Venture Growth Investments, Green Co-Invest Investment, Yamauchi-No.10 Family Office and insiders ACA Investments and SMBC VC.

Nextiva, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based business communications provider, raised $200 million in its first outside funding round at a $2.7 billion valuation led by Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

Sendcloud, a Dutch e-commerce shipping platform, raised $177 million in Series C funding. SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led, and was joined by L Catterton and HPE Growth.

Matillion, a cloud data integration platform with offices in Denver and the U.K., raised $150 million at a $1.5 billion valuation. General Atlantic led, and was joined by Battery Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, Scale Venture Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Persona, a San Francisco-based identity infrastructure startup, raised $150 million in Series C funding. Founders Fund led, and was joined by Meritech Capital Partners, BOND and insiders Coatue and Index Ventures.

SkyKick, a cloud automation startup, raised $130 million in equity and debt funding led by Morgan Stanley.

Unifonic, a Saudi customer communications platform, raised $125 million. SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led, and was joined by Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund.

1047 Games, a Nevada-based multiplayer game developer, raised $100 million in third-round funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners led, and was joined by Insight Partners, Anthos Capital and insiders Galaxy Interactive, VGames, Human Capital, Lakestar, DraperDragon and Draper University.

EnerVenue, a Fremont, Calif.-based developer of metal-hydrogen batteries, raised $100 million in Series A funding from Schlumberger led, and was joined by Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures.

Stord, an Atlanta-based cloud supply chain startup, raised $90 million in Series D funding at a $1.1 billion post-money valuation led by insider Kleiner Perkins. Other backers include Lux Capital, D1 Capital, Palm Tree Crew, BOND, Dynamo Ventures, Founders Fund, Lineage Logistics, Susa Ventures, Michael Rubin, BoxGroup and Revolution and Rise of the Rest.

Zonos, a George, Utah-based provider of cross-border sales software, raised $69 million led by Silversmith Capital Partners.

🚑 Allay Therapeutics, a Menlo Park-based developer of analgesic products, raised $60 million in Series C funding. Arboretum Ventures led, and was joined by NEA, Temasek, Pavilion Capital, Brandon Capital Partners, Vertex Growth, Vertex Ventures HC and WTT Investment.

Measurabl, a San Diego-based ESG tech platform for real estate, raised $50 million in Series C funding. Energy Impact Partners led, and was joined by Starwood Capital Group, Colliers, Cushman & Wakefield, Stone Point Capital and S&P Global, Salesforce Ventures, Sway Ventures, Constellation Technology Ventures and Building Ventures.

Landed, a San Francisco-based, raised $31 million in Series B equity and debt funding. Learn Capital and Navitas Capital co-led, and were joined by First American, MassMutual Ventures and insiders OMERS Ventures, Initialized Capital and Ulu Ventures.

💩 Who Gives A Crap, an Australian maker of environmentally-friendly toilet paper, raised US$30.7 million in Series A funding led by Verlinvest.

Ever After, an Israeli customer onboarding SaaS startup, raised $13 million co-led by TLV Partners and Vertex Ventures.

Sourceful, a British supply chain sustainability startup, raised $12.2 million in seed funding. Index Ventures led, and was joined by Eka Ventures and Venrex., a social commerce platform for athletes, raised $10 million led by Volition Capital.

Chaldal, a Bangladesh-based grocery delivery startup, raised $10 million in Series C funding led by Wise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus.

TomoCredit, a San Francisco-based credit card for first-time borrowers, raised $10 million in Series A funding co-led by Kapor Capital and KB Investment.

Kewazo, a Munich-based construction robotics startup, raised $5 million in Series A funding. True Ventures led, and was joined by MIG AG.

Releaf, a Nigerian food processing startup, raised $2.7 million in seed funding co-led by Samurai Incubate Africa, Future Africa and Consonance Investment Managers.

Private Equity Deals

Bain Capital agreed to buy British bakery chain Gail's at around a £200 million valuation from Risk Capital Partners (which retains a 15% stake).

The Blackstone Group and Fortress Investment Group each bid on Japanese golf assets from MBK Partners that could fetch more than $3 billion, per Bloomberg.

The Blackstone Group completed its $1.4 billion purchase of Sphera, a Chicago-based provider of ESG software and consulting services, from Genstar Capital.

Boyne Capital acquired a majority stake in Sonic, a Houston-based provider of support services to the commercial nuclear power industry.

Crestview Partners acquired TenCate Grass, a Dutch artificial grass and yarn backing manufacturer, from a portfolio company of Gilde Buy Out Partners.

Fairbanks Morse Defense, a Beloit, Wis.-based portfolio company of Arcline, acquired Hunt Valve Co., a Salem, Ohio-based provider of fluid power engineering solutions, from May River Capital.

🧃 Full Sail IP Partners, a joint venture between Warburg Pincus and brand licensing consultant LMCA, bought discontinued juice and smoothie brand Odwalla from Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO).

KKR walked away from takeover talks with Zooplus, a listed German online pet supplies retailer, after rival bidder Hellman & Friedman raised its offer to €3.29 billion from €3 billion. EQT continues to circle.

Thoma Bravo agreed to buy HCSS, a Sugar Land, Texas-based provider of estimating, operations, and fleet management software.

Public Offerings

Dutch Bros, a Grants Pass, Ore.-based drive-thru coffee chain with over 450 shops, raised $484 million in its IPO. It priced at $23 (above range), for a $3.8 billion valuation, plans to list on the NYSE (BROS), and reports $6 million of net income on $181 million in revenue for the first half of 2021. Backers include TSG Consumer Partners.

On Holding, a Swiss sneaker and athletic apparel brand, raised $746 million in its IPO. The company priced at $24 (above $18–$20 range), for a market cap north of $6 billion, plans to list on the NYSE (ONON) and reports $4 million of net income on $315 million in revenue for the first half of 2021. Backers include Stripes Group and Hillhouse Capital.

Thoughtworks, a Chicago-based software development and digital transformation consultancy, raised $774 million in its IPO. It priced at $21 (above $18–$20 range), for a $6.4 billion market cap, will list on the Nasdaq (TWKS) and reports $37 million of net income on $498 million in revenue for the first half of 2021. Backers include Apax Partners and Siemens.

Truecaller, a Stockholm-based caller ID service, plans to raise $116 million at a $3 billion valuation in its IPO on the Nasdaq Stockholm. The company raised over $90 million in VC funding from backers like Balderton Capital, Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital.

SPAC Stuff

Pagaya, an Israeli asset management tech platform for institutional investors, agreed to go public at an implied $8.5 billion valuation via EJF Acquisition Corp. (Nasdaq: EJFA). The company in June raised $102 million in Series D funding from GIC, Aflac, Paolim Capital Markets, Viola, Oak HC/FT, Harvey Golub, Call Insurance, GF Investments, and Siam Commercial Bank.

🚑 Arbor Rapha Capital Bioholdings I, a biopharma SPAC led by Ivan Kaufman (CEO of Arbor Realty Trust), filed for a $150 million IPO.

Renewable Energy Acquisition, renewable energy SPAC led by Xiaofeng Peng (CEO of SPI Energy), filed for a $75 million IPO.

Rose Hill Acquisition, a Latin America SPAC led by Udi Margulies (The Palladium Group), filed for a $125 million IPO.

Liquidity Events

Bain Capital is in talks to sell Apex Tool Group, a Sparks, Md.-based power tool maker, to Chinese conglomerate Wanxiang Group for between $2 billion and $2.5 billion, per Bloomberg.

Glassdoor, a subsidiary of Recruit Holdings (Tokyo: 6098), acquired Fishbowl, an SF-based social network for company employees that had raised around $8 million from backers like GGV Capital, Arena Ventures, Lerer Hippeau and Binary Capital.

🚑 Mesa Labs (Nasdaq: MLAB) agreed to buy Agena Bioscience, a San Diego-based genetic testing company, for $300 million in cash. Sellers include Telegraph Hill Partners.

Weezy, a British on-demand express supermarket, hired Evercore to find a buyer, per Bloomberg. It recently raised $20 million in Series A funding from DN Capital, Left Lane Capital and Heartcore Capital.

More M&A

Allegro, a Polish e-commerce company, reportedly is in talks to buy Czech online retailer Mall Group.

🚂 Canadian National Railway (TSX: CNR) said it would not proceed with its efforts to buy freight railroad operator Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU), paving the way for Canadian Pacific (TSX: CP) to prevail with its $31.1 billion cash and stock bid.

Citrix Systems (Nasdaq: CTXS) is again considering a sale process, as its stock is down over 14% year-to-date, per Bloomberg.

Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) agreed to buy GreenSky (Nasdaq: GSKY), an Atlanta-based home improvement loan platform, for $2.24 billion in stock.

Teck Resources (TSX: TECK), a Canadian miner, is considering a sale of spinoff of its metallurgical coal unit, which could fetch up to US$8 billion, per Bloomberg.


Flexpoint Ford, a PE firm focused on financial services and healthcare, raised $825 million for its second asset investment fund.

Inspired Capital, a VC firm co-founded by Alexa von Tobel and Penny Pritzker, raised $281 million for its second fund.

Jump Capital, a Chicago-based VC firm, raised $350 million for its seventh fund.

🚑 Lightstone Ventures, a life sciences VC firm, raised $375 million for its third fund.

Matchstick Ventures, a VC firm with offices in Colorado and Minnesota, raised $55 million for its third fund.

It's Personnel

John Cordo joined cybersecurity-focused VC firm NightDragon as a principal. He previously was with ClearSky.

Andrew Gorrin, former CMO at ShopKeep, joined Great Hill Partners as a growth partner.

Kate Hechinger Ivers joined Antara Capital as head of biz dev and investor relations. She previously was with Anchorage Capital Group.

Jonathan Shriftman, founder of Humin (acquired by Tinder) and Snaps (acquired by Quip), joined growth equity firm Expanding Capital as a partner.

Terry Wetterman joined ArcLight as director of investor relations. He previously was with ATP Fund Advisory.

Vistria Group promoted Jon Maschmeyer and Rob Parkinson to senior partners, and hired Jesse Ruiz (most recently Illinois’ deputy governor for education) as general counsel and chief compliance officer.

Morty White (ex-Wynnchurch) joined Instar as its second managing partner.

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