March 22, 2024

πŸ€ Game time: We have nearly 1,300 readers in our March Madness contest, with a six-way tie for first place (including three who picked Oakland over Kentucky).

  • Yours truly is at No. 1,026. It's almost like I didn't watch any college basketball this year. But if this was a tournament of middle school basketball in suburban Massachusetts, I'd be dominating. ... OK, here we go:

Top of the Morning

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The IPO market has had itself a hell of a week, and not just in the U.S.

By the numbers: Global offerings raised more than $5.6 billion since Monday, with most issuers seeing strong gains in early trading.

Why it matters: We're done with "waiting until market conditions improve" or "uncertainty." If a company has the numbers or story to go public, the only impediment is inertia.

Domestic: Reddit deservedly got most of the headlines, raising $748 million and then closing up more than 48% from its IPO price on its first trading day. For more, check out my interview with Reddit CFO Drew Vollero (who was Snap's CFO when it went public in 2017).

  • There also was chipmaker Astera Labs, which raised $713 million in an upsized offering and then saw its shares climb more than 78% over two days. In fact, Astera has a higher market cap than does Reddit ($9.7b vs. $8b).
  • Auna, a Latin American hospital operator that lists today in New York, raised $360 million after pricing just below its offering range.

Switzerland: Galderma, a skin care company owned by EQT, raised the equivalent of $2.2 billion, with shares rising as much as 18% in its market debut. It was the largest Swiss franc-denominated IPO in seven years.

Japan: Discount retailer Trial Holdings raised the equivalent of $258 million in Tokyo's largest IPO so far this year, and saw its shares rise 29% on their first trading day.

UAE: Parkin, a Dubai-based public parking facilities operator, raised $429 million in an IPO that reportedly attracted a record amount of orders ($71 billion).

Germany: Douglas, a high-end cosmetics and perfume retailer owned by CVC Capital Partners, raised the equivalent of $967 million.

  • It was Germany's largest IPO of 2024, but also something of a disappointment β€” pricing at the bottom of its offering range and then watching its shares sink on both of its first two trading days.

The BFD

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Digital World Acquisition Corp. (Nasdaq: DWAC) shareholders today are expected to vote on the SPAC's proposed merger with Trump Media & Technology Group, the parent company of Truth Social.

Why it's the BFD: This is the potential end to a multiyear saga that's included civil lawsuits, criminal lawsuits, closing extensions, and vote postponements.

  • For timing context, when DWAC first agreed to buy TMTG, Twitter was still a public company that viewed Elon Musk as little more than a power user.

The intrigue: DWAC this week sued former CEO Patrick Orlando, in an effort to force him to vote his 14.77% stake in favor of the merger. So far, Orlando hasn't yet shown his cards, except to say he'll be at the shareholder meeting when it begins at 10am ET.

The bottom line: If the vote is successful, this could become the meme-iest of all meme stocks, an unprofitable social media company with billions in value on just single-digit millions in revenue.

  • It also could become a financial lifeline for Donald Trump, although he'd still be subject to lockup restrictions and questions about the depth of market liquidity.

Venture Capital Deals

β€’ Loyal, an SF-based developer of longevity drugs for dogs, raised $45m in Series B funding. Bain Capital Ventures led, and was joined by Khosla Ventures, First Round Capital, Box Group, Collaborative Fund, Quiet Capital, and Todd & Rahul's Angel Fund. https://axios.link/3TP6WCs

β€’ Pandion, an SF-based residential parcel delivery startup, raised $41.5m in Series A funding. Revolution Growth led, and was joined by Proof, Sentinel Global and insiders Playground Global, Prologis Ventures, Bow Capital, Telstra Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, and Schematic Ventures. https://axios.link/3VogZ2r

πŸš‘ Cureskin, an Indian dermatology startup, raised $20m in Series B funding. HealthQuad led, and was joined by by JSW Ventures, Khosla Ventures, and Sharp Ventures. https://axios.link/3TKC1a8

β€’ Firestorm Labs, a San Diego-based maker of unmanned ariel systems, raised $12.5m in seed funding led by Lockheed Martin Ventures. https://axios.link/4aGKXDl

β€’ Ediphi, a Boston-based provider of construction estimating software, raised $12m in Series A funding led by Norwest Venture Partners. www.ediphi.com

β€’ Legends, an SF-based kids confidence training startup, raised $6m in seed funding from Floodgate Capital, Reach Capital and Joe Liemandt. www.buildlegends.com

β€’ Tarsal, a New York-based security data movement startup, raised $6m in seed funding. Harpoon Ventures and Mango Capital co-led, and were joined by YC, Abstract Ventures, and Backend Capital. www.tarsal.co

β€’ Nsave, a Swiss savings app for people living in unstable economies, raised $4m in seed funding. Sequoia Capital and TQ Ventures co-led, and were joined by YC, SV Angel, and FONGIT. https://axios.link/3venLNF

πŸš‘ Conduce Health, a value-based care marketplace, raised $3m in seed funding. Connecticut Innovations led, and was joined by AlleyCorp and CityLight. www.conducehealth.com

Private Equity Deals

β€’ Apex Capital agreed to buy Clorox's (NYSE: CLX) operations in Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. https://axios.link/3VvMQhA

β€’ Greater Sum Ventures acquired Strax, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based provider of sensor fusion and collaboration software. www.straxintelligence.com

πŸš‘ Persistence Capital Partners completed its C$1.2b take-private buyout of Toronto-based pharmacy chain Neighbourly Pharmacy. https://axios.link/3TLR2bE

β€’ Platinum Equity invested in TAK Communications, a Sioux Falls, S.D.-based provider of communications and broadband infrastructure services. www.takcommunications.com

β€’ PSG invested in Packback, a Chicago-based AI-enabled student writing and discussion platform. www.packback.co

β€’ Servpro, a portfolio company of Orangewood Partners, acquired Live Oak Restoration, a Charleston, S.C.-based Servpro franchisee. www.servpro.com

πŸš‘ Waud Capital Partners acquired Senior Helpers, a Charlotte-based provider of home care and wellness offerings for seniors, from Advocate Health. www.seniorhelpers.com

β€’ TA Associates invested in SER, a German provider of enterprise content automation software whose existing backers include Carlyle. www.sergroup.com

Public Offerings

πŸš‘ Boundless Bio, a San Diego-based oncology drug developer focused on extrachromosomal DNA, set IPO terms to 6.3m shares at $15-$17. It would have a $396m fully diluted value, were it to price in the middle, and plans to list on the Nasdaq (BOLD). The company raised around $250m from firms like Arch Venture Partners, Fidelity, RA Capital, Bayer, Nextech, and Vertex Ventures. https://axios.link/3ILVFfR

Liquidity Events

πŸš‘ Enhanced Healthcare Partners is seeking to sell Eventus WholeHealth, a Chapel Hill, N.C.-based elderly and disabled care provider, per Axios Pro. https://axios.link/4a3XjVV

β€’ Q.Digital, an LGBTQ+ publisher, acquired Outsports from Vox Media in an all-stock deal. https://axios.link/3x5Sn4t

More M&A

⚑ Niagara Energy is seeking to buy the Peruvian power generation unit of Enel (Milan: ENEL) https://axios.link/43uZUFX

β€’ Rush Street (NYSE: RSI), a Chicago-based online gambling firm with a $1.4b market cap, reached out to DraftKings (Nasdaq: DKNG) as it explores a possible sale, per Bloomberg. https://axios.link/3VwQgRc

β€’ U.K. antitrust officials launched an antitrust investigation into Vodafone's (LSE: VOD) planned $19b merger of its British operations with Three UK, a unit of CK Hutchison (HK: 0001). https://axios.link/3VAOjTI

Fundraising

β€’ Goldman Sachs Asset Management raised over $700m for a fund that will co-invest with hedge funds in both public and private markets. https://axios.link/4aroV75

🌎 World Fund, a German climate tech VC firm, raised €300m for its debut fund. https://axios.link/499rJom

β€’ Zero Prime Ventures (fka Data Community Fund) raised $48m for its second fund. www.zeroprime.vc

It's Personnel

β€’ Andy Canovali joined Performance Equity Management as a principal. He previously was with Goldman Sachs Asset Management. https://axios.link/4amoivQ

β€’ Pantheon named Kathryn Leaf as its first CEO, with managing director Paul Ward transitioning into an executive chair role. https://axios.link/3vmDp9x

Final Numbers

Reddit stock price
Data:Β Ycharts; Chart: Axios Visuals

Remember when Facebook went public, and then the Nasdaq systems vomited on themselves and shares didn't begin trading until 11:30am?

  • It was a big story, and the wait felt interminable. Same went for Uber a few years later, when its shares didn't begin trading until nearly noon.
  • Reddit's first trades yesterday came at 1:15pm, or after more than half the market day was done. When I asked CFO Drew Vollero about why shares seem to be coming out later post-IPO, he basically shrugged and said to ask the bankers.
  • So that's what I'm doing (because I kind of forgot until just now). Dear IPO bankers, why is the process taking so much longer than ever before?

Thanks for reading Axios Pro Rata! And thanks to copy editor Bryan McBournie, who unfortunately picked Kentucky to win it all. Please ask your friends, colleagues, and weekend warriors to sign up.