October 20, 2021

It's Wednesday — which means it's the last time I'm writing the newsletter this week, as Dan will be back in the saddle tomorrow (so direct all news to him).

Top of the Morning

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Cyngn, a company that began as an attempt to build a more open flavor of Android and later pivoted to autonomous driving tech, is set to begin trading today following its initial public offering.

Why it matters: While special purpose acquisition companies got a lot of flack over the past year for acquiring expensive pre-revenue companies — especially in the automotive space — Cyngn's deal suggests IPOs of nascent, futuristic tech businesses aren't limited to SPACs.

Zoom in: Cyngn is focused on industrial applications of autonomous driving (a trend I've previously highlighted as being much more attractive to AV investors these days, than building robotaxis).

  • The company also has no real revenue, and net losses of $​​9.3 million and $8.3 million for 2019 and 2020.

Between the lines: While investors in the slew of electric vehicle and other auto companies that merged with SPACs were pretty excited at the outset, that didn't last.

  • Shares of companies like Fisker, Canoo, Lordstown and Nikola plunged in the spring.
  • Meanwhile, the big automakers saw their stock prices go up following positive EV news.

Yes, but: As we've said in the past, risky, pre-revenue bets going public is common in sectors like biotech. Companies developing treatments and drugs are often still in the midst of their FDA approval process, which means that investors will either end up owning a piece of a company that succeeds at developing an effective drug — or one that fails.

  • Cyngn is valued at $420 million — modest compared to the billions we saw with EV companies.

What to watch: How investors react to Cyngn's quarterly reports — and, of course, whether Cyngn delivers.

The BFD

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Chicago Board Options Exchange (Cboe) has agreed to acquire ErisX, a crypto derivatives and spot market. Cboe invested in ErisX back in 2018.

  • Why it matters: The move underscores the increasing institutional interest in cryptocurrency investments.
  • Details: A group, including DRW, Fidelity Digital Assets, Galaxy Digital, Interactive Brokers, NYDIG, Paxos, Robinhood, Virtu Financial and Webull have agree to advise Cboe as part of a committee, and some participants also intend to acquire minority stakes in Cboe Digital (the ErisX rebrand).
  • The bottom line: "Cboe was among the first companies to try listing bitcoin futures in the U.S., taking its cash-settled futures product live at the end of 2017 just days before CME launched a similar product. ... 'That was an early entry and looking back at it, it was, it was a good entry ... we tend to iterate on products and usually the first iteration of a product is not perfect,' [Cboe COO Chris] Isaacson said." — Nikhilesh De, Coindesk

Venture Capital Deals

🚙 GoTo Group, an Indonesian internet giant, raised $400 million from Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. http://axios.link/mgaP

🚙 Flock Freight, an Encinitas, Calif.-based freight shipping company, raised $215 million in Series D financing led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, with Susquehanna Private Equity Investments, Eden Global Partners, SignalFire, GLP Capital Partners, and GV also participating. http://axios.link/TlHj

Aura, a Burlington, Mass.-based cybersecurity startup, raised $200 million in Series F funding at a $2.5 billion valuation led by Madrone Capital Partners. http://axios.link/wjjh

Rossum, a U.K. and Israel-based document AI software company, raised $100 million in Series A funding from General Catalyst, LocalGlobe, Seedcamp, Miton and Elad Gil. www.rossum.ai

Electric, a New York-based IT startup, raised $90 million in Series D funding led by GGV Capital, with Bessemer Venture Partners, Primary Venture Partners, Greenspring Associates, 01 Advisors, Atreides Management, Vintage Investment Partners and Slack also participating. http://axios.link/16FO

JumpCloud, a Louisville, Colo.-based IT security management startup, raised $66 million in extended Series F funding at a $2.6 billion valuation led by Sapphire Ventures, with Atlassian Ventures, CrowdStrike Falcon Fund, NTT Docomo Ventures, STEADFAST Capital Ventures, Waterman Ventures, and OurCrowd also participating. www.jumpcloud.com

Cometeer, a Gloucester, Mass.-based frozen coffee company, raised $35 million in Series B funding from D1 Capital, Elephant, Tao Capital, Addition Ventures, Avenir, Greycroft Partners, and TQ Ventures. http://axios.link/2HvF

Picus Security, a San Francisco and Turkey-based cybersecurity company, raised $24 million in Series B funding led by Turkven, with Earlybird Venture Capital and Nathan Dornbrook also participating. www.picussecurity.com

Deci, an Israeli AI startup, raised a $21 million Series A round led by Insight Partners, with Square Peg, Emerge, Jibe Ventures, Samsung Next, Vintage Investment Partners, and Fort Ross Ventures also participating. http://axios.link/t3dO

SUPERPLASTIC, a Burlington, Vt.-based maker of digital characters, raised $20 million in Series A funding from GV, Index Ventures, Founders Fund, Craft Ventures, Galaxy Digital, Mantis VC/The Chainsmokers, Kakao, LINE Friends, Austin Rosen/Electric Feel Entertainment, Day One Ventures, Betaworks, Shrug Capital, TLF Ventures, Sean Qiao Ventures, Gaingels and individual investors including Cyan Bannister, Jared Leto, Chamillionaire, Justin Timberlake, Scooter Braun, Scott Belsky and others. www.superplastic.co

Embed, a Vancouver, Wash.-based securities custodian-and-clearing firm, raised $20 million in Series A funding from The Treasury, GFC, Torch Capital, TI Platform Management, PruVen Capital, Fin VC, Bain Capital Ventures, and SWS Ventures. www.embed.com

Hex Technologies, a San Francisco-based data management software startup, raised $16 million in Series A funding led by Redpoint Ventures, with Amplify Partners, Data Community Fund, Geometry, Operator Collective, Tokyo Black, Vandelay Ventures, XYZ Venture Capital and others also participating. www.hex.tech

Praxis Labs, a New York-based diversity VR startup, raised $15.5 million in Series A funding led by Norwest Venture Partners and Emerson Collective, with Penny Jar Capital, Concrete Rose Capital, SoftBank’s SB Opportunity Fund, Ulu Ventures, Precursor Ventures, and Firework Ventures also participating. www.praxislabs.co

Hofy, U.K.-based IT company for remote employees, raised $15.2 million in funding from Stride.VC, Kindred Capital, Activum SG Ventures, TrueSight Ventures, 20 VC, and Day One Ventures. http://axios.link/96mc

Multiverse Computing, a Spanish quantum computing startup, raised €10 million (USD $11.55 million) in seed funding led by JME Ventures, with Quantonation, EASO Ventures, Inveready, Mondragón Fondo de Promoción, Ikerlan, LKS, and Penja Strategy also participating. www.multiversecomputing.com

Wakeo, a French overseas transport tracking company, raised $11 million in Series A funding from 360 Capital and Promus Ventures. www.wakeo.co

Element Finance, a San Francisco-based open-source protocol for fixed and variable yield markets, raised $32 million in Series A funding led by Polychain Capital, with Andreessen Horowitz, Placeholder, A_Capital, and Scalar Capital. http://axios.link/A6vg

Skyflow, a Mountain View, Calif.-based secure data storage company, raised $45 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners. http://axios.link/v2xV

🚙 Dellfer, a San Mateo, Calif.-based automotive cybersecurity software company, raised $8 million from DENSO and Option3. www.dellfer.com

BondAval, a U.K.-based insuretech startup, raised $7 million in seed funding led by Octopus Ventures. http://axios.link/6D8h

RodRadar, an Israeli sensor company, raised $6 Million in Series A funding led by Brick & Mortar Ventures. http://axios.link/T5gC

Credo AI, a San Francisco-based AI startup, raised $5.5 million in seed funding from Decibel, Village Global, and AI Fund. http://axios.link/8tPX

Bluepallet, an Austin-based chemical marketplace startup, raised $5 million in funding led by Vinmar Ventures. http://axios.link/Lc5U

Private Equity Deals

A Metamorph Partners-led syndicate acquired Fluxx, a San Francisco-based leading collaborative grantmaking platform. www.fluxx.io

🚑 Cranemere has acquired Outpatient Imaging Affiliates, a Nashville, Tenn.-based chain of medical imaging centers. www.oiarad.com

Britannia Financial Group has acquired Arbitral Securities, a Bahamas-based brokerage business. www.arbitral.com

Public Offerings

🚙 AutoStore, a Norwegian robotics company, priced its IPO on Euronext's Oslo Stock Exchange at 31 Norwegian crowns per share, the top of its target range, valuing it at 103.5 billion Norwegian crowns ($12.4 billion). http://axios.link/2nsE

🚑 LianBio, a Princeton-based biotech therapies company focused on the Chinese market, said it plans to raise $325 million by offering 20.3 million ADSs at a price range of $15 to $17. At the midpoint, it would have a fully diluted market value of $1.8 billion. It plans to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol LIAN. Goldman Sachs, Jefferies, and BofA Securities are the joint bookrunners on the deal. It is expected to price during the week of Oct. 25. http://axios.link/9ZR2

AirSculpt Technologies, a Miami-based body contouring company, said it plans to raise $160 million by offering 10 million shares (84% secondary) at a price range of $15 to $17. At the midpoint, it would command a market value of $886 million. It plans to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol AIRS. Morgan Stanley, Piper Sandler, and SVB Leerink are the joint bookrunners on the deal. It is expected to price during the week of Oct. 25. http://axios.link/0Q8p

Udemy, a San Francisco-based online education marketplace, said it plans to raise $406 million by offering 14.5 million shares at a price range of $27 to $29. Caledonia Investments intends to purchase $75 million worth of shares (18% of the deal). At the midpoint, it would command a fully diluted market value of $4.3 billion. It plans to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol UDMY. Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Citi, BofA Securities, Jefferies, and Truist Securities are the joint bookrunners on the deal. It is expected to price during the week of Oct. 25. http://axios.link/zxDZ

SPAC Stuff

InFinT Acquisition, a blank check company targeting financial technology businesses, lowered the proposed IPO size to $150 million by offering 15 million units at $10. http://axios.link/jYFh

Seaport Calibre Materials Acquisition, a blank check company formed by SGAM and Calibre Group targeting the steel, metals, and metal processing sector, lowered the proposed IPO size to raise $130 million by offering 13 million units at $10. http://axios.link/QJcb

McLaren Technology Acquisition, a blank check company targeting fintech and Insuretech, lowered the proposed IPO size to raise $175 million by offering 17.5 million units at $10. http://axios.link/JhIz

Newcourt Acquisition, a blank check company targeting digital financial services and fintech businesses, raised $220 million by offering 22 million units at $10. http://axios.link/IE6W

🚑 Artemis Acquisition, a blank check company targeting health care in the U.S. and Europe, filed on Wednesday with the SEC to raise up to $200 million in an initial public offering. http://axios.link/yVF8

More M&A

Instacart acquired Caper AI, a New York-based maker of smart carts and checkout systems, for $350 million in cash and stock. http://axios.link/1hhv

Appspace acquired Beezy, a San Francisco and Spain-based IT startup. www.beezy.net

Fundraising

Patron has closed $90 million from Invesco, Horsley Bridge Partners, and VCs (including from Andreessen Horowitz, FirstMark Capital and Union Square Ventures), for "Web 3" startups. http://axios.link/YXkX

It's Personnel

Monroe Capital appointed Zia Uddin, currently a partner and manager for institutional portfolios, as its president. www.monroecap.com

Menlo Ventures promoted Croom Beatty to partner and Grace Ge to principal. www.menlovc.com

Final Numbers

Number of U.S. IPOs
Data: PwC; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

🙏 Thanks for reading Axios Pro Rata! Please ask your friends, colleagues and autonomous driving enthusiasts to sign up.