July 09, 2021

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Top of the Morning

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

President Biden has decided to become the antitruster-in-chief, today signing a sweeping executive order that could limit corporate consolidation.

The big picture: Biden is explicitly asking regulators to not only block new mergers, but also to consider unwinding prior mergers that were not challenged by past administrations.

Impact on tech deals: The EO implements a "greater scrutiny of mergers, especially by dominant internet platforms, with particular attention to the acquisition of nascent competitors, serial mergers, the accumulation of data, competition by 'free' products, and the effect on user privacy."

  • It also asks the FTC to establish new rules on data accumulation and surveillance.

Impact on healthcare deals: The EO takes aim at hospital mergers, directing the DOJ and FTC "to review and revise their merger guidelines to ensure patients are not harmed by such mergers."

  • It also directs HHS to finish implementing federal legislation to limit surprise hospital billing, something that's been prevalent at private equity-owned facilities.

Impact on transportation deals: The EO argues that the airline, maritime shipping and freight railroad industries have become too consolidated, and puts new restrictions on fees and rights of way.

Impact on financial deals: The EO argues that the banking sector has become too consolidated because of mergers (resulting in closures that disproportionately impact rural areas and communities of color). It asks several agencies to "update guidelines on banking mergers to provide more robust scrutiny of mergers."

The bottom line: None of this changes actual antitrust law, to which judges remain beholden. But Biden is staking out a political philosophy that consolidation is antithetical to competition, and likely believes that the threat of regulatory action could scare off some deals from getting signed.


Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Thoma Bravo agreed to buy Stamps.com (Nasdaq: STMP), an El Segundo, Calif.-based provider of e-commerce shipping solutions, for $6.6 billion.

  • Why it's the BFD: Stamps.com is an e-commerce pioneer, part of the original dotcom wave. Unlike many of its peers that also went public in 1999, however, Stamps.com survived and even thrived in the subsequent internet eras, hitting an all-time high valuation last year.
  • Details: Thoma Bravo will pay $330 per share in cash, representing a 67% premium on yesterday's closing price. The deal includes a 40-day "go shop" period.
  • The bottom line: "Thoma Bravo has carved out a niche within the buyout industry, focusing on cloud software businesses that draw steady, recurring sales in the form of subscriptions." β€” John J Edwards III, Bloomberg

Venture Capital Deals

β€’ Ola, an Indian ride-hail firm, raised $500 million from Temasek and Warburg Pincus. http://axios.link/hvqG

β€’ Kurly, a South Korean grocery delivery startup, raised $200 million in Series F funding at a $2.2 billion valuation co-led by insiders by Aspex Management, DST Global, Sequoia Capital China and Hillhouse Capital. Also participating were CJ Logistics and Millennium Management. http://axios.link/2cFV

⚑ Enpal, a German photovoltaic systems provider, raised €100 million. HV Capital led, and was joined by E.R. Capital, FRIBA Investment and Heliad Equity Partners. http://axios.link/g8Nq

πŸš‘ Thrive, a New York-based employee wellness company founded by Arianna Huffington, raised $80 million in Series C funding led by Kleiner Perkins. http://axios.link/vl1X

πŸš‘ Muna Therapeutics, a developer of treatments for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases, raised $73 million in Series A funding from Novo Holdings, Sofinnova Partners, Droia Ventures and LSP Dementia Fund. http://axios.link/tv5b

πŸš‘ Xilis, a Durham, N.C.-based organoid-generating platform for cancer treatment, raised $70 million in Series A funding. Mubadala Capital led, and was joined by GV, Felicis Ventures and LSP. http://axios.link/JL4c

β€’ Instawork, a San Francisco-based job marketplace, raised $60 million in Series C funding. Craft Ventures led, and was joined by Greylock and Benchmark. www.instawork.com

β€’ Didomi, a Paris-based consent and preference management platform, raised $40 million in Series B funding co-led by Elephant VC and Breega. www.didomi.io

β€’ Made Renovation, a San Francisco-based home renovation startup, raised $23 million in Series A funding. Insight Partners led, and was joined by insiders Base10 Partners, Founders Fund and Felicis Ventures. www.maderenovation.com

β€’ Otter, a child care marketplace that matches kids with stay-at-home parents, raised $23 million in Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital. http://axios.link/O6Xo

β€’ Popshop Live, a Los Angeles-based livestream shopping platform, raised around $20 million in Series A funding. Benchmark led, and was joined by TQ Ventures, Mantis, Access Industries, SV Angel and insiders Floodgate, Abstract Ventures and Long Journey Ventures. http://axios.link/SE3X

β€’ Lula, a Miami-based insurance infrastructure startup, raised $18 million in Series A funding co-led by Founders Fund and Khosla Ventures. http://axios.link/SxZy

β€’ PowerZ, a French ed-tech gaming startup, raised $8.3 million from Bpifrance Digital Venture, RAISE Ventures, Bayard, Educapital and Hachette Livres. http://axios.link/Ojcu

β€’ Talkshoplive, a Los Angeles-based livestream shopping platform, raised $6 million in new seed funding led by Raine Ventures. http://axios.link/Fsy9

β€’ Rootly, builder of an incident response solution inside of Slack, raised $3.2 million in seed funding. XYZ VC led, and was joined by 8VC and YC. http://axios.link/YRfv

β€’ Z1, a Sao Paulo-based digital bank, raised $2.5 million. Homebrew led, and was joined by Mantis, Clocktower Ventures, Goodwater, Gaingels, Soma Capital and Rebel Fund. http://axios.link/yoiS

β€’ Cross River Bank, a Fort Lee, N.J.-based lender to fintech companies, is raising around $200 million at a $2.5 billion valuation, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/0wOF

Private Equity Deals

β€’ GovernmentCIO, a Washington, D.C.-based portfolio company of WCAS, agreed to buy Salient CRGT, a Fairfax, Va.-based provider of IT solutions to federal government clients, from Bridge Growth Partners and Frontenac. www.salientcrgt.com

β€’ Norwest Venture Partners invested in AbsenceSoft, a Golden, Colo.-based provider of employee absence and leave management SaaS. www.absencesoft.com

Public Offerings

β€’ Noom, a New York-based weight and wellness app, hired Goldman Sachs to lead its IPO, per Reuters. The company recently raised $540 million in a Series F round led by Silver Lake. Others backers include Oak HC/FT, Temasek, Novo Holdings, Sequoia Capital, RRE Ventures and Samsung Ventures. http://axios.link/u3k0

πŸš‘ Sera Prognostics, a Salt Lake City-based developer of diagnostic tests for pregnancy complications, set IPO terms to 4.7 million shares at $15-$17. It would have a $564 million fully diluted value, were it to price in the middle, and plans to list on the Nasdaq (SERA). The company raised over $160 million from firms like Blue Ox Healthcare (17.1% pre-IPO stake), Domain Associates (9.9%), InterWest Partners (9.8%), Labcorp (6.4%), Vivo Capital (6.2%), aMoon (6.2%) and Baker Bros. (5.4%). http://axios.link/UCar

πŸš‘ Sight Sciences, a Menlo Park-based developer of ophthalmology and optometry devices, set IPO terms to 7 million shares at $20-$23. It would have a $1 billion fully diluted value, were it to price in the middle, and plans to list on the Nasdaq (SGHT). The company raised around $140 million from firms like D1 Capital Partners (14.6% pre-IPO stake), Hicks Equity Partners (12.5%) and Allegro Investment Fund (10.2%). http://axios.link/nRHO

SPAC Stuff

β€’ Equinox, the high-end gym chain and owner of Soulcycle, ended talks to go public at around a $7.5 billion valuation via Chamath Palihapitiya's Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. VI (Nasdaq: IPOF), per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/NOVI

β€’ AltC Acquisition, a tech SPAC formed by Michael Klein and Sam Altman, raised $450 million in its IPO. It originally filed to raise $1 billion, but later cut the target to $400 million. http://axios.link/1k8k

β€’ AxonPrime Infrastructure Acquisition, a SPAC formed by Axon Capital and Prime Movers Lab, filed for a $150 million IPO. http://axios.link/kJbY

β€’ Millstreet Capital Acquisition, a distressed business SPAC, filed for a $125 million IPO. http://axios.link/qLEy

β€’ Parsec Capital Acquisitions, a space transport SPAC led by Patricia Trompeter (ex-CFO of GE Capital), filed for a $50 million IPO. http://axios.link/WCpO

Liquidity Events

πŸš‘ EQT agreed to sell a majority stake in Spanish molecular diagnostics company Igenomix to Sweden's Vitrolife (STO: VITR) at a €1.25 billion enterprise value. http://axios.link/Nm5a

More M&A

β€’ Caixabank (Madrid: CABK) agreed to sell two businesses recently acquired from Bankia β€” a retail payments processor and a pre-paid card unit β€” to Global Payments (NYSE: GPN) for a total of €277 million. http://axios.link/aDtI

πŸš‘ Philip Morris (NYSE: PM) agreed to buy British inhaled medicines company Vectura (LSE: VEC) for Β£1.05 billion, topping a rival bid from The Carlyle Group. http://axios.link/s7qg


β€’ Peter Boyce stepped down as a partner with General Catalyst to launch a VC firm called Stellation Capital, which is raising $40 million for its debut fund. http://axios.link/eDOV

β€’ DN Capital, a London-based VC firm, raised $350 million for its fifth fund. www.dncapital.com

β€’ Redpoint Ventures raised $725 million for its fourth growth equity fund. It also added GitHub CTO Jason Warner as a partner. www.redpoint.com

It's Personnel

β€’ Yossi Cohen, the retiring head of Israel's spy agency, agreed to open an Israel office for SoftBank, per Globes. http://axios.link/uhV5

β€’ Hummingbird VC promoted Firat Ileri to managing partner. http://axios.link/OhYG

Final Numbers

Source: Refinitiv Deals Intelligence. Data through July 8, 2021.

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Editor's note: The Private Equity Deals section was corrected to show it was Norwest Venture Partners that invested in AbsenceSoft.