Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
When venture capitalist Aileen Lee coined the term "unicorn" five years ago, there only were 39 such companies founded in the prior decade. And that included both private and public VC-backed companies valued at $1 billion or more (e.g., Facebook was on the list, despite having already IPO'd).
This will be the year that many minotaurs and their growth equity backers either get validated or exposed, with expected IPOs for such $1 billion+ raisers as Uber, Lyft, Slack, Pinterest and Palantir.
• Trend watch: Leveraged buyout firms are using less leverage, particularly on large deals in the tech sector. Per Reuters:
"Wall Street bankers have been referring to the Ultimate Software, Ellie Mae and Scout 24 deals as equity buyouts."
🌊 Testing the waters: SEC chairman Jay Clayton wants more companies to go public, and now his agency has proposed new rules that would allow all potential issuers to communicate with certain accredited and institutional investors prior to filing. More from Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva:
• Just linking around: Some weekend reads for you:
🌎 Pro Rata Podcast: Our latest episode focuses on a possible tipping point in the U.S. debate over climate change. Listen here.
Panda Selected, a shared kitchen operator in China, raised $50 million in Series C funding. Tiger Global led, and was joined by return backers DCM and Glenridge Capital.
• Casavo, an Italian online real estate buying platform, raised $7.9 million in new funding led by Project A Ventures. http://axios.link/VQTa
• Zenloop, a German provider of customer experience management software, raised $6 million led by Nauta Capital. http://axios.link/0jsj
• WaitWhat, a New York-based podcast startup whose titles include Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale, raised $4.3 million in Series A funding co-led by Cue Ball and Burda Principal Investments. http://axios.link/S7ar
• Back to the Roots, an Oakland-based indoor organic gardening startup, raised $3 million in Series C funding. Central Garden & Pet led, and was joined by Blue Scorpion Investments. http://axios.link/ArpW
• Zoba, a Boston-based provider of demand prediction analytics for mobility companies, raised $3 million in seed funding led by CRV. http://axios.link/xBEP
• Ardian agreed to buy a majority stake in Study Group, a -based operator of educational courses for students wishing to enter English-speaking universities, from Providence Equity Partners. http://axios.link/qTgg
• Red Collar Pet Foods, a Franklin, Tenn.-based portfolio company of Arbor Investments, acquired Hampshire Pet, a Joplin, Mo.-based maker of baked and cold formed pet products and treats. www.redcollarpet.com
🚑 Centogene, a German rare disease diagnostics startup, is prepping a New York IPO for later this year, per Reuters. It raised a €25 million Series A round in 2017 led by TVM Capital Life Science. http://axios.link/jMv0
• Pinterest filed confidential IPO docs with the SEC, with plans to be initially valued at a minimum of $12 billion, per the WSJ. http://axios.link/LytV
• BlackBerry (TSX: BB) completed its $1.4 billion purchase of Irvine, Calif.-based cybersecurity company Cylance which had raised over $320 million from firms like The Blackstone Group, Insight Venture Partners, Capital One Growth Ventures, Citi Ventures, KKR, Asadel Venture Partners, In-Q-Tel, Draper Nexus, Ten Eleven Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Fairhaven Capital Partners, DFJ Growth and Founders Equity Partners. http://axios.link/1aLQ
• Corsair Components, a Fremont, Calif.-based keyboard and computer peripherals maker owned by Hauser Private Equity, is considering a sale or IPO that could value the company north of $1 billion, per Reuters. http://axios.link/B9vO
⛽ DoublePoint Energy is considering a sale process that could fetch upwards of $5 billion (including debt), per Reuters. The Permian Basin oil producer is owned by Apollo Global Management, GSO Capital, Magnetar Capital and Quantum Energy Partners. http://axios.link/Rz1l
• Uber is in talks to sell its Indian Uber Eats business to local rival Swiggy, per The Economic Times. http://axios.link/7iDN
• Coinbase, the digital currency change most recently valued at $8 billion by its VCs, acquired Neutrino, an Italian blockchain analytics platform. http://axios.link/r5p6
🚑 Merck & Co. (NYSE: MRK) is launching a tender offer to buy Seattle-based vaccine and immunotherapy company Immune Design (Nasdaq: IMDZ) for around $300 million, or $5.85 per share (premium of over 300%). http://axios.link/vQg1
• Non-Standard Finance (LSE: NSF) offered to buy rival UK consumer lender Provident Financial (LSE: PFG) for £1.3 billion. http://axios.link/sqfL
• Saputo (TSX: SAP), Canada’s largest milk processor, agreed to buy UK-based Dairy Crest Group (LSE: DCG) for £975 million. http://axios.link/2g1i
• Jerusalem Venture Partners raised $220 million for its eighth fund. www.jvpvc.com