April 11, 2022

🏆 Huge congrats to the Chicago Booth team for winning the VCIC global finals this weekend.

Top of the Morning

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photos: Patrick Pleul - Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Elon Musk has channeled his best Emily Litella impression, reversing his decision to join the board of Twitter.

Why it matters: This will restart speculation that Musk plans to launch a takeover bid for the social media giant; something Twitter had sought to tamp down by bringing him into the fold.

What to know: Musk last week signed a standstill agreement with Twitter, saying he wouldn't accumulate more than a 14.9% stake in Twitter, either individually or as part of a group, while he was on the board or for 90 days thereafter. But he never actually joined the board, so the standstill is moot.

  • Twitter first had a conduct a background check, which was completed on Saturday. A source says that Musk passed, but told the company he'd changed his mind.
  • In between Musk's filing and his reversal, he made several tweets critical of the company.

Investor reax: Twitter stock opened down 1%, while shares of the SPAC buying Truth Social opened unchanged.

Background: Musk disclosed a 9.2% ownership stake in Twitter on April 4, arguably later than was legally required, and it's unknown if he's added any shares since.

  • A proposed SEC rule would require more timely disclosures, but it's not yet in effect and is being opposed by several big-name activist investors.

The big question: Does Musk actually want to help fix what he believes to be problems with Twitter, including deplatforming, or does he prefer the dopamine rush of getting likes on his trolling tweets?

  • His change of heart would seem to indicate the latter, unless Musk bailed after internalizing that he'd have been just one of a dozen voices (and votes) on Twitter's board. And that the best way to break it is to buy it.


Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Thoma Bravo agreed to buy Austin, Texas-based enterprise cybersecurity firm SailPoint Technologies (NYSE: SAIL) for $6.9 billion. The deal includes a 35-day go-shop provision, and works out to $65.25 per share (31.6% premium to Friday's close).

Why it's the BFD: Private equity is entering a new normal on debt financing, preferring private credit over bank loans that may struggle to get syndicated due to geopolitical instability. For Thoma Bravo, that means tapping the same lenders that it used for the recent $10.7 billion Anaplan buyout: Golub Capital, Blackstone Credit and Owl Rock.

History: Thoma Bravo previously bought SailPoint from venture capital funds in 2014 for an undisclosed amount, and then took it public in 2017 at $12 per share.

The bottom line: The massive price appreciation is chalked up to SailPoint converting much of its business from on-premise to SaaS, plus increased CISO focus on identity governance. A source says that Thoma Bravo's plan is to finish the SaaS conversion, and to help SailPoint become a consolidator of the broader identity access management market.

Venture Capital Deals

🐉 Epic Games, the Cary, N.C.-based maker of Fortnite, raised $2b in new funding at a $31.5b post-money valuation from existing backer Sony Group and new investor KIRKBI (aka LEGO Group). http://axios.link/a6e8

🚑 Triana Biomedicines, a Boston-based "molecular glues" startup, raised $110m in Series A funding. Atlas Venture, Lightspeed Venture Partners and RA Capital co-led, and were joined by Pfizer Ventures, Surveyor Capital and Logos Capital. http://axios.link/KReF

🚑 Ansa Biotechnologies, an Emeryville, Calif.-based developer of enzymatic DNA synthesis tech, raised $68m in Series A funding. Northpond Ventures led, and was joined by RA Capital, Blue Water Life Science Advisors, Altitude Life Science Ventures, Fiscus Ventures, PEAK6 Strategic Capital, Carbon Silicon Ventures, Codon Capital and insiders Mubadala Capital, Humboldt Fund, Fifty Years and Horizons Ventures. www.ansabio.com

🚑 Ensem Therapeutics, a Boston-based oncology biotech, raised $67m in Series A funding. GGV Capital led, and was joined by Pavilion Capital, Cenova Capital, Mitsui & Co. and CBC Group. http://axios.link/QlTH

Tive, a Boston-based supply chain visibility startup, raised $54m in Series B funding. AXA Venture Partners led, and was joined by Sorenson Capital, Qualcomm Ventures, Fifth Wall, SJF Ventures and Floating Point Ventures. http://axios.link/OtJt

🚑 Vytalize Health, a Hoboken, N.J.-based provider of value-based senior care solutions, raised $53m in Series B funding, per Axios Pro. Enhanced Healthcare Partners led, and was joined by Kittyhawk Ventures, Kawn Ventures and North Coast Ventures. http://axios.link/aNyo

The Fabricant, a metaverse digital fashion house, raised $14m. Greenfield One led, and was joined by Sound Ventures and Red DAO. http://axios.link/Pejx

Creative Juice, an Austin, Texas-based creator economy banking startup, raised $15m in Series A funding led by Acrew Capital. http://axios.link/4ju9

Sigo Seguros, an Austin, Texas-based insuretech focused on Latinx and immigrant communities, raised $5.4m in seed funding. Listen Ventures and Chingona Ventures co-led and were joined by Rise of the Rest, Remarkable Ventures and Kern Venture Group. www.sigoseguros.com

Coda Payments, a Singapore-based online payment processor, is raising new funding at around a $2.5b valuation, per Bloomberg. Possible backers include Advent International and Primavera Capital, while Goldman Sachs is managing the process. http://axios.link/GRVp

Private Equity Deals

🚑 The Carlyle Group agreed to buy Abingworth, a London-based life sciences VC and PE firm with over $2b in AUM. http://axios.link/ZQZZ

🚑 Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and GTCR have expressed interest in buying Merit Medical Systems (Nasdaq: MMSI), a South Jordan, Utah-based medical device maker with a $3.85b market cap, per Reuters. http://axios.link/tJUa

KKR agreed to buy a 9.99% stake in Indian general insurer Shriram General Insurance. www.kkr.com

New Mountain Capital agreed to buy a majority stake in Citrin Cooperman, a New York-based advisory, tax and assurance firm. www.citrincooperman.com

Perforce Software, a Minneapolis-based portfolio company of Francisco Partners and Clearlake Capital, agreed to buy Puppet, a Portland, Ore.-based provider of infrastructure automation software that had raised over $170m from firms like Cisco, Kleiner Perkins, True Ventures, EDBI, VMWare and Section Partners. www.perforce.com

Public Offerings

Three companies plan to go public on U.S. exchanges this week, led by LNG services operator Excelerate Energy. If successful, it would be the first U.S. IPO to raise over $100m in more than two months. http://axios.link/NdV4

🚑 LinkDoc Technology, a Chinese oncology big data platform, formally withdrew its IPO registration. It previously postponed the offering due to the Chinese government’s crackdown on foreign issues, and has raised nearly $300 million in VC funding from backers like NEA, China Broadband Capital and Alibaba.

Mindbody, a B2B discovery and booking engine for boutique fitness providers, is prepping an IPO, per the FT. The company, taken private by Vista Equity Partners in 2019, last year bought ClassPass, a monthly subscription service for fitness classes also has raised funding from Apax Digital, L Catterton, General Catalyst and Sixth Street. http://axios.link/FmqK

📺 The U.K. government is prepping an IPO of Channel Four Television if unable to find a buyer, per The Times of London. http://axios.link/mb0x

SPAC Stuff

Advancit Acquisition I, a media and tech SPAC led by Jon Miller and sponsored by Shari Redstone's Advancit Capital, withdrew registration for a $350m IPO. http://axios.link/wE6f

• Feutune Light Acquisition, a SPAC led by Tony Tian (US Tiger Securities), filed for an $85m IPO. http://axios.link/kDhM

Graf Acquisition III, an industrials SPAC led by James Graf, withdrew registration for a $300m IPO. http://axios.link/1xBh

Liquidity Events

🚑 Cressey & Co. hired Harris Williams to find a buyer for People Pets & Vets, an Olympia, Wash.-based animal hospital chain with around $80m of EBITDA, per Axios Pro's Sarah Pringle. http://axios.link/lKHx

London & Co. is in talks to merge with rival British home mortgage broker Habito, whose backers include Atomico, Mojo Capital and Augmentum Fintech, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/uolL

Partners Group hired Macquarie Capital to find a buyer for its CWP Renewables business in Australia, which could fetch around A$3b, per The Australian. www.cwprenewables.com

Toscafund is seeking a buyer for TalkTalk Telecom Group, a British low-cost internet service provider that could net £3b, per Sky News. Interested suitors include Comcast and Vodafone. http://axios.link/pOX9

More M&A

Accenture (NYSE: ACN) agreed to acquire Avieco, a London-based sustainability consultancy. http://axios.link/9Mgn

Discovery (Nasdaq: DISCA) completed its merger with WarnerMedia, which had been a unit of AT&T (NYSE: T). http://axios.link/uFaN

Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) agreed to buy NN Investment Partners of The Netherlands for around €1.7b. http://axios.link/1EnC

GrubMarket, an S.F.-based fresh food supply marketplace valued by VCs at $1.25b, acquired Regatta Tropicals, a fresh fruit distributor. http://axios.link/HlFS

🚑 Fresenius of Germany hired BofA and JPMorgan to find a buyer for a minority stake in Helios, a European private hospital operator that could be valued at more than €15b (including debt), per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/UkYP

J&F Investimentos is prepping a bid for a control stake in listed Brazilian petrochemical firm Braskem, per O Globo. http://axios.link/p9FS

Société Générale (Paris: GLE) agreed to sell its stake in Russia's Rosbank to Interros Capital, an investment group tied to Russian nickel mining magnate Vladimir Potanin. http://axios.link/YBu6


Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

Affinity Partners, the private equity firm founded by Jared Kushner, secured a $2b limited partner commitment for its debut fund from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, per the NYT. The fund is targeting up to $7b, but so far only has around $3b in commitments.

  • The same report said that former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's Liberty Strategic Capital secured $1b from PIF, as part of its $2.5b debut fund.
  • Neither Kushner nor Mnuchin returned Axios' requests for comment.

Elevation Capital, an India-focused VC firm, raised $670m for its latest fund. http://axios.link/RKmM

Osage University Partners is raising $350m for its fourth fund, per an SEC filing. www.oup.vc

Final Numbers

Venture capita industry AUM.
Source: Preqin Q1 2022 Venture Capital Report.

Venture capital industry AUM has topped $2 trillion for the first time ever, as of Q3 2021, according to a new report from Preqin.

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