Axios Pro Rata

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July 15, 2019

🎫 DC readers: You're invited to a live Axios event tomorrow morning, focused on U.S. foreign policy and news of the day.

  • Mike Allen will interview Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Brian Hook, U.S. special representative to Iran, Michèle Flournoy, former undersecretary of defense for policy, and McKinsey Global Institute partner Susan Lund.
  • RSVP here

Top of the Morning

Google logo in a spotlight.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Venture capitalist Peter Thiel last night told a conference audience that Google should be investigated by federal authorities ⁠— specifically the FBI and CIA ⁠— for allegedly working to help the Chinese military, Axios' David McCabe reports.

  • Yes, this is nakedly self-serving, given that Thiel is a longstanding director at Facebook.
  • But it still has rhetorical resonance, given that Thiel is the tech industry's highest profile supporter of President Trump. There had been some reporting that the pair's relationship has cooled over the past year, but Thiel's decision to give the opening keynote at the National Conservatism Conference, a new event that bills itself as being focused on Trump-era nationalism, suggests the fissure was either overstated or has healed.
  • Other scheduled speakers include Tucker Carlson, who has railed against big tech on his Fox News program, and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who is seeking to strip major web platforms of certain legal protections (including FB, even though Hawley once received a campaign contribution from Thiel).

Bottom line: These messages likely will work their way from the stage to the Oval Office, in the midst of antitrust investigations and hearings that could eventually reshape global tech.


New firm alert: Intimate Capital is launching to invest in sexual wellness companies, firm founder Roi Carthy tells Axios.

  • Carthy, a serial CMO who also once led a VC firm focused on Israel and Brazil, says that sexual wellness startups struggle to get funding unless they're focused on fertility or ED. And, even if they can snag a seed or Series A round, follow-on money is particularly difficult to come by.
  • Intimate is structuring itself like an investment company, rather than an LP/GP fund, much like what we've seen with Privateer and others in the cannabis space. Its initial raise is designed to secured $20 million.
  • Carthy says he has a partner, but isn't disclosing their identity until Intimate's official launch. He also says the plan is to invest globally, even though he's based in Israel.

Tarang "Taz" Katira is out at alternative investment giant Hamilton Lane, where he was a London-based principal focused on EMEA fund investments, after pleading guilty to assault charges.

  • Katira, who joined Hamilton Lane in 2011, had been put on leave last November after being charged, and was terminated last week after informing the firm that he'd plead guilty. The WSJ has more.

• Last week we discussed how private equity titan Leon Black had once employed Jeffrey Epstein as a director of his family foundation, but claimed that a clerical error was to blame for Epstein continuing to be listed for six years after pleading guilty to a state charge of soliciting prostitution from underage girls.

  • Our story referenced to a 2015 memo, signed by both Epstein and Black, that says Epstein actually resigned as that 2007 case was pending.
  • The NY Times reported this weekend that Epstein created a foundation in 2015 that received a $10 million donation. The source of the money was an LLC located in the same NYC building as is Black's family foundation, and Black is now at least 48 hours into not commenting on what is, at best, an unfortunate coincidence.

🎧 Pro Rata Podcast focuses on how the changing, more "fluid" nature of fandom poses an existential problem for the live sports industry. My guest is Angela Ruggiero, the four-time Olympian and Ice Hockey Hall of Famer who currently runs the Sports Innovation Lab. Listen here.


Illustration of a broken Budweiser bottle spraying beer.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest beer brewer, canceled the $9 billion-plus Hong Kong IPO of its Asia-Pacific business, due to weak investor demand.

  • Why it's the BFD: It was supposed to have been the year's largest global IPO, but instead became the year's largest global IPO flop. It's also a caution against breathless headlines about "oversubscribed" floats before they actually price.
  • Bottom line: It will be harder for InBev to reduce its $100 billion debt-load, and is likely to slow planned expansion in The Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Venture Capital Deals

Amperity, a Seattle-based customer data platform, raised $50 million in Series C funding from Tiger Global Management, Goldman Sachs, Declaration Partners, Madera Technology Partners, Madrona Venture Group and Lee Fixel.

BriteCore, a Springfield, Mo.-based provider of insurance policy administration and processing software, raised $47.5 million. Warburg Pincus led, and was joined by return backers Radian Capital and WCF Mutual Insurance.

Pipefy, a San Francisco-based lean management platform, raised $45 million in Series B funding. Insight Partners led, and was joined by return backers OpenView and Trinity Ventures.

🚑 Orchestra BioMed, a New Hope, Penn.-based maker of devise for treating high blood pressure and blocked arteries, raised $34 million in Series B-1 funding. Backers include Perceptive Advisors, RTW Investments, Soleus Capital, Terumo and SternAegis Ventures.

Lendbuzz, a Boston-based car financing platform, raised $20 million in new equity funding led by 83North. It also secured $130 million in new debt funding co-led by BHI, ConnectOne Bank, IDB Bank and Viola Credit.

Igloohome, a Singapore-based smart-access startup, raised $15 million. Backers include Insignia Ventures Partners, Wavemaker Partners, Seeds Capital, Kickstart Ventures, TH Capital, Pine Venture Partners, On Asset Management, InnoVen Capital, Singtel Innov8 and Great Noble International.

AllBright, a London-based all-female members’ club (i.e., The Wing UK), raised £13 million led by Cain International.

Paragraf, a British graphene startup, raised £12.8 million in Series A funding. Parkwalk led, and was joined by IQ Capital Partners, Amadeus Capital Partners and Cambridge Enterprise.

Xolo, an Estonian platform for launching one-person businesses, raised €6 million in Series A funding. Karma Ventures led, and was joined by Vendep Capital and Leap Ventures.

Swiggy, an Indian food delivery company, is in talks to raise up to $500 million in new funding (possibly including both primary and secondary capital), per The Economic Times. Existing backers Naspers and Tencent are expected to lead, with Swiggy reportedly in talks with several South Korean investment firms. The company has raised around $1.3 billion to date, most recently at a valuation north of $3 billion.

Private Equity Deals

Autokiniton, a portfolio company of KPS Capital Partners, agreed to buy Tower International (NYSE: TOWR) for around $900 million in cash, or $31 per share (70% premium to last Thursday’s closing price). Tower is a Livonia, Mich.-based maker of automotive structural metal components and assemblies.

Drilling Tools International, a Houston-based portfolio company of Hicks Equity Partners, acquired WellFence, a Houston-based provider of security and credentialing services for the oil and gas industry.

Life House, an operator of tech-enabled, boutique hotels, secured $100 million in equity commitments from Blue Flag Partners.

Syndigo, a Chicago-based portfolio company of The Jordan Co., acquired WiseBase, product information database.

Public Offerings

Ten companies expect to go public on U.S. exchanges this week, including IPOs for DouYou, Medallia and Genmab, plus the direct listing for iHeartMedia.

CloudMinds, a Chinese end-to-end cloud robotics system, filed for a $500 million IPO. It plans to trade on the NYSE (CMDS) with Citi as lead underwriter. The company raised over $300 million from firms like SoftBank Vision Fund (34.6% pre-IPO stake) and Keytone Ventures (5.1%).

🚑 Health Catalyst, a Salt Lak City-based provider of healthcare data warehousing and analytics, set IPO terms to 6 million shares at $20-$23. It would have a fully-diluted value of $826 million, were it to price in the middle, and plans to trade on the Nasdaq (HCAT) with Goldman Sachs as lead underwriter. The company reports a $62 million net loss on $112 million in revenue for 2018, and has raised nearly $400 million from firms like Sequoia Capital (21.9% pre-IPO stake), Norwest Venture Partners (21%) and UPMC (6.3%).

🚑 Livongo Health, a Mountain View, Calif.-based digital health startup focused on managing chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension, set IPO terms to 10.7 million shares at $20-$23. It would have an initial market cap of $1.9 billion, were it to price in the middle, and plans to trade on the Nasdaq (LVGO) with Morgan Stanley as lead underwriter. The company reports a $30 million net loss on around $71 million in revenue for the six months ending June 30, 2019, and raised $237 million from firms like General Catalyst (25.4%), Kinnevik (12%), Kleiner Perkins (8.9%), Merck (7.6%) and 7WireVentures (7.1%).

OneWater Marine, a Buford, Ga.-based recreational boat retailer, filed for a $100 million IPO. It plans to trade on the Nasdaq, with Goldman Sachs and Raymond James as lead underwriters, and reports a $439,000 net loss on $285 million in revenue for the six months ending March 31, 2019.

Liquidity Events

The Blackstone Group and Kirkbi are considering a sale of Armacell International, a German maker of insulation materials that could fetch upwards of €1.5 billion, per Bloomberg.

🍔 The Blackstone Group has canceled plans to sell the Burger King business in New Zealand, after buyers reportedly balked at the US$115 million asking price, per The Australian.

More M&A

Barneys New York, a luxury department store operator, is considering a bankruptcy filing, per Reuters.

🚑 Gilead Sciences (Nasdaq: GILD) agreed to invest up to $5.1 billion to increase its stake in listed Belgian-Dutch biotech Galapagos from 12.3% to 22%.

MLU, the Russian joint ride-hail venture between Uber and Yandex, acquired local rival Vezjet for around $204 million.

🚑 Sofinnova Partners invested €12 million for more than a 10% stake in listed French drug developer Abivax, whose lead candidates are focused on ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease.


Insignia Venture Partners, a Singapore-based VC firm focused on Southeast Asia, raised $150 million for its second fund, per DealStreetAsia.

RA Capital Management raised over $300 million for its first dedicated VC fund.

It's Personnel

James Cocker joined Charterhouse Capital Partners as a partner, per the WSJ. He previously spent 13 years with Lion Capital.

Paul Willard stepped down as a partner with Storm Ventures, just 15 months after joining from Subtraction Capital, per his LinkedIn profile.

• Bank of America named Neil Kell as head of its global TMT equity capital markets business, per the NY Times.

Final Numbers

Data: Cognito Media; Table: Axios Visuals
Data: Cognito Media; Table: Axios Visuals

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