Oct 27, 2020

Axios Pro Rata

🎧 Axios Re:Cap digs into the art and business of political polling. Listen via Apple, Spotify, or Axios.

🖥️ You're invited to an Axios virtual event tomorrow at 12:30pn ET about the pandemic's impact on the energy industry and environment, with Sunrun CEO Lynn Jurich and New York's deputy secretary for energy and environment Ali Zaidi. Register here.

Top of the Morning

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

U.S. coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are surging, with cold weather arriving before even the best-case scenario for a widely distributed vaccine.

  • Now we're also beginning to see an increase in coronavirus-related startup funding, focused on both testing and pharma.

Driving the news: Gauss, a Silicon Valley computer vision startup focused on health care, tells Axios that it's raised $10 million to accelerate development and commercialization of an at-home rapid antigen test for COVID-19.

  • Gauss was founded in 2011 to focus on surgical bleeding, but earlier this year signed a partnership with biotech Cellex to create what would be the first rapid COVID-19 test that can be fully performed at home without involving a lab.
  • CEO Sid Satish says that Gauss will file with the FDA for an emergency use authorization "in days not weeks" and will release its data soon.
  • The 4100 Group led the round, and was joined by return backers SoftBank Ventures Asia, Northwell Health, Providence Health and Services, OSF Healthcare, and Polaris Partners.

Other deals have included a $215 million infusion for antiviral treatment developer Atea Pharma (which is now nearing an IPO) and a $100 million deal for portable testing company Cue Health.

Between the lines: The big concern for venture capitalists is that some startups will put too many eggs in the COVID-19 basket, and then be stuck when demand shifts.

  • Satish says his company is trying to mitigate that risk by maintaining its pre-pandemic products and customers, but adds that controlling spread is just an initial application for COVID-19 testing.
  • "You'll need some overlap of testing as a safety net and bridge to when a significant portion of people have been vaccinated. And, even with a vaccine, I think easy rapid testing will be a long-term necessity as a risk reduction method."
Also...

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We're one week from election day, and Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva writes about each presidential candidate's potential impact on venture capital:

  • "Joe Biden appears to align with more VC and startup industry priorities than does Donald Trump, despite the latter's dedication to cutting personal and business taxes."

Go deeper.

The BFD

A different kind of "CHiPs"

Advanced Micro Devices (Nasdaq: AMD) agreed to buy rival U.S. chipmaker Xilinx (Nasdaq: XLNX) for $35 billion in stock.

  • Why it's the BFD: AMD is expanding at the same time that rival Intel is divesting, using the nearly $40 billion in market cap it's gained so far in 2020. The deal also reflects rapid growth of the data center market, due to increased demand from cloud computing giants like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.
  • Details: AMD is paying the equivalent of $143 per share, representing nearly a 25% premium to yesterday’s closing price for Xilinx stock. The deal requires regulatory approval, including in China, with AMD estimating that it may not close until early 2022. AMD would be required to pay Xilinx $1.5 billion if it terminates the transaction, while Xilinx would pay $1 billion were it to terminate.
  • The bottom line: "The deal will give [AMD CEO Lisa] Su more of the pieces she needs to break Intel’s stranglehold on the profitable market for data center computer components. Xilinx... makes field programmable gate arrays, or FPGAs. That kind of chip is unique because its function can be altered by software, even after it’s been installed in a piece of machinery." — Ian King, Bloomberg
Venture Capital Deals

🚑 Caris Life Sciences, an Irving, Texas-based precision medicine company, raised $235 million in equity funding. Highland Capital Management and Coatue Management co-led, and were joined by T. Rowe Price, OrbiMed, Millennium Management, Neuberger Berman, ClearBridge Investments, First Light Asset Management. Caris also secured $75 million in new debt financing from Sixth Street. www.carislifesciences.com

Eightfold AI, a Mountain View, Calif.-based talent intelligence platform, raised $125 million in Series D funding at valuation north of $1 billion. General Catalyst led, and was joined by return backers Capital One Ventures, Foundation Capital, IVP, and Lightspeed Venture Partners. www.eightfold.ai

FreshToHome, an Indian produce and meat e-commerce company, raised $121 million in Series C funding. Investment Corp. of Dubai led, and was joined by Investcorp, Asscent Capital, U.S. DFC, and Allana Group. http://axios.link/PXD0

SimilarWeb, an Israeli digital market intelligence firm, raised $120 million at a valuation north of $1 billion co-led by ION Crossover Partners and Viola Growth. http://axios.link/EoKk

DriveWealth, a Chatham, N.J.-based developer of global digital trading tech, raised $56.7 million in Series C funding. Point72 Ventures led, and was joined by Mouro Capital, Fidelity, Raptor Group, SBI Holdings, and Route 66 Ventures. http://axios.link/yf3u

🚑 Be Biopharma, a Cambridge, Mass.-based developer of engineered B-cell therapies, raised $52 million in Series A funding. Atlas Venture and RA Capital Management co-led, and were joined by Alta Partners, Longwood Fund, and Takeda Ventures. http://axios.link/PZBT

Eagle Eye Networks, an Austin, Texas-based cloud video surveillance company, raised $40 million in Series E funding from Accel. http://axios.link/R0Is

Rockset, a San Mateo, Calif.-based real-time indexing database company, raised $40 million in Series B funding. Sequoia Capital led, and was joined by Greylock. www.rockset.com

TechSee, an Israeli developer of intelligent visual assistants for field work, raised $30 million in Series A funding from OurCrowd, Salesforce Ventures, Telus Ventures, Scale Venture Partners, and Planven Entrepreneur Ventures. http://axios.link/Y1wN

🚑 Primmune Therapeutics, a San Diego-based biotech focused on acute viral diseases and cancer, raised $27.4 million in Series A funding. CAM Capital and Polaris Partners co-led, and were joined by Samsara BioCapital and Oberland Capital, McDermott, BioRock Ventures, and BioBrit. www.primmunerx.com

Salto, an Israeli startup for configuring SaaS platforms, raised $27 million in Series A funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Salesforce Ventures. http://axios.link/mIoN

Toka, an Israeli “cyber capacity-building” startup, raised $25 million in Series B funding. Eclipse Ventures led, and was joined by Andreessen Horowitz, Dell Technologies Capital, and Entrée Capital. www.tokagroup.com

🚑 Prokarium, a London-based developer of immunotherapies and vaccines, raised $21 million in Series B funding. Korea Investment Partners led, and was joined by Future Fund, Flerie Invest, and Riyadh Valley Co. www.prokarium.com

InVideo, a Mumbai-based video creation and editing platform, raised $15 million in Series A funding. Sequoia Capital India led, and was joined by Tiger Global, Hummingbird, RTP Global, and Base. http://axios.link/HxQc

Theta Lake, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based provider of collaboration security and compliance solutions, raised $12.7 million in Series A funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners led, and was joined by Cisco Ventures. www.thetalake.com

🚑 NeoLight, a Pittsburgh-based developer of in-home neonatal care technologies, raised $7 million from Dignity Health, Honor Health Systems and Ben Roethlisberger. http://axios.link/tMCq

Datafleets, a Palo Alto-based federated learning startup, raised $4.5 million in seed funding from firms like AME Cloud Ventures, Morado Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Peterson Ventures, LG, and Stanford-StartX. http://axios.link/5Q70

Tül, a Bogota-based supply chain logistics startup, raised $4 million led by Vine Capital Management. http://axios.link/DGaf

🚑 Journey, a psychedelic medicine startup, raised $3 million from Sam Altman’s Apollo Projects. http://axios.link/NCgf

🚑 Psyomics, a British developer of proteomic diagnostics for mental health, raised £1.5 million led by Parkwalk. www.psyomics.com

Cognite, an Oslo-based industrial SaaS company, raised an undisclosed amount of Series A funding led by Accel at a valuation of $550 million. www.cognite.com

Private Equity Deals

Atwater Capital acquired a minority stake in Freepik, a Los Angeles-based provider of digital visual content that’s majority-owned by EQT Partners. www.freepik.com

Auxo Investment Partners acquired GC Dies, an Elmhurst, Ill.-based steel rule die manufacturer. www.gcdies.com

Cohere Capital invested in Sonobi, a Winter Park, Fla.-based ad platform for digital media. www.sonobi.com

Francisco Partners agreed to buy Forcepoint, an Austin, Texas-based cybersecurity company, from Raytheon (NYSE: NTX). www.forcepoint.com

KPS Capital Partners was named stalking horse bidder for bankrupt auto supplier Garrett Motion, despite opposition from current Garrett shareholders and creditors. KPS originally offered $2.1 billion for Garrett, but later upped its bid to $2.6 billion. http://axios.link/C5WL

Lion Equity Partners acquired TY-Harbor, a Marlton, N.J.-based provider of linens to the hospitality and hospital markets, from Bed Bath & Beyond (Nasdaq: BBBY). www.tyharbor.com

Newlight Partners invested in Pondurance, an Indianapolis-based provider of managed detection and response services. www.pondurance.com

Stone Point Capital acquired Lone Wolf Technologies, a Canadian provider of residential real estate software, from Vista Equity Partners. www.lwolf.com

SPAC Stuff

Genius Sports Group, a London-based sports data company owned by Apax Partners, agreed to go public via a reverse merger with dMY Technology Group II (NYSE: DMYD), at a $1.5 billion value (including debt). http://axios.link/4jjQ

Breeze Holdings Acquisition, an oil and gas-focused SPAC, filed for a $100 million IPO. http://axios.link/YbE9

Gores Holdings VI, a SPAC formed by The Gores Group, boosted its proposed IPO size from $300 million to $525 million. http://axios.link/MDmF

🚑 Health Assurance Acquisition, healthtech-focused SPAC formed by VC firm General Catalyst, filed for a $500 million IPO. http://axios.link/9Kzr

Leo Holdings II, consumer business-focused SPAC formed by Lion Capital, filed for a $350 million IPO. http://axios.link/33Ly

🚑 Lux Health Tech Acquisition, a healthtech-focused SPAC formed by VC firm Lux Capital, raise $300 million in its IPO. http://axios.link/gGE3

OTR Acquisition Corp., a SPAC formed by Nicholas Singer’s Purchase Capital, cut its proposed IPO size from $250 million to $115 million. http://axios.link/K32H

Liquidity Events

Akamai (Nasdaq: AKAM) acquired Asavie, an Ireland-based platform for managing IoT and mobile service security and performance policies. Asavie had been seeded by Enterprise Ireland. www.akamai.com

More M&A

American International Group (NYSE: AIG) said it plans to spin off its life and retirement units, although it didn’t provide information on timing or structure. http://axios.link/LVjS

Ansys (Nasdaq: ANSS) agreed to buy Analytical Graphics, an Exton, Penn.-based provider of modeling and simulation software, for $700 million in cash and stock. http://axios.link/WQas

🍰 B&G Foods (YSE: BGS) agreed to buy shortening brand Crisco from JM Smucker (NYSE: SJM) for $550 million in cash. http://axios.link/ew1w

🎲 Las Vegas Sands (NYSE LVS) is seeking a buyer for its Las Vegas casinos, which could fetch around $6 billion, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/69Oz

Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) is seeking a buyer for its corporate trust business and also is considering a sale process for its student-loan portfolio, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/pfxI

NewEgg, an Industry, Calif-based e-commerce company focused on IT products for small and mid-sized businesses, agreed to go public via a reverse merger with Chinese medical products company Lianluo Smart (Nasdaq: LLIT). http://axios.link/YfqR

Fundraising

Bread & Butter Ventures of Minneapolis is raising $25 million for its third fund, per an SEC filing. www.breadandbutterventures.com

The Engine, a hard tech VC firm spun out of MIT, raised $230 million for its second fund. www.engine.xyz

HomeTeam Ventures, a San Francisco-based firm led by New Story co-founder Alexandria Lafci, is raising $10 million for its debut fund, per an SEC filing. www.hometeam.vc

Impact Engine raised $31.5 million for its first private equity vehicle, which will make both direct and fund-of-funds investments. http://axios.link/ymHY

🚑 Intuitive (Nasdaq: ISRG) formed a $100 million VC firm focused on minimally-invasive care startups, co-led by Julian Nikolchev (Intuitive SVP of corp dev) and Oliver Keown (ex-GE Ventures). www.ventures.intuitive.com

• Quadrant Private Equity of Australia is targeting A$1 billion for its seventh flagship fund, per The Australian. www.quadrantpe.com.au

• Veritas Capital, a private equity firm focused on government tech, raised $400 million for its first credit fund. http://axios.link/Ed9B

• Unigestion of Switzerland held a first close of nearly €500 million on its second direct investment fund, which is targeting €600 million, per Buyouts. http://axios.link/l0Ts

It's Personnel

Matt Cashion joined Pantheon as a partner on its global co-investment team. He previously was with GoldPoint Partners, where he led ESG efforts. www.pantheon.com

Upfront Ventures promoted Kara Nortman to co-managing partner. http://axios.link/sKGu

Final Numbers
Source: Refinitiv Deals Intelligence. Data through 10/22/20.

✔️ Thanks for reading Axios Pro Rata! Please ask your friends, colleagues, and Erik Estrada to sign up.