March 24, 2022

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🏀 Sweet 16 games begin tonight, and our contest's current co-leaders have identified themselves: Mike Doyle (ex-CEO of COTA Healthcare and QPID Health) and Scott Millimet (ex-PIMCO).

Top of the Morning

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

For years, public market investors like hedge funds and mutual funds have flooded into the private markets. Now we may see money flow in the other direction.

Driving the news: Lux Capital, a 22-year-old venture capital firm, has launched a digital health ETF.

  • This comes a few years after Lux launched a series of indexes, based on various tech themes. Initial investments will come from Lux partners, rather than from Lux funds.
  • The ETF is being done in partnership with First Trust Advisors, and was enabled by a new, Lux-incubated startup called Thematic.

What they're saying: "Venture capitalists make speculative bets on specific companies, but we also develop points of view on how we expect various industries to develop and play out over longer periods," explains Lux co-founder and managing partner Peter Hebert. "That could become an edge in public market investing, just like Tiger and Coatue believe their perspectives give them an edge in private market investing."

  • Hebert adds that several VC firms reached out after Lux launched its public equity indexes, and believes they too may create ETFs.

The bottom line: Lux isn't the first VC firm to dabble in direct public equities (e.g., Sequoia Capital Global Equities). But the branded ETF is a new development, and signals a deepening of the convergence between public and private markets.


Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Toshiba (Tokyo: 6502) shareholders today rejected two rival proposals, one supported by management that would have spun off the company's devices unit and another supported by activist investors that would have solicited takeover offers.

Why it's the BFD: This keeps the Japanese giant stuck in strategic limbo, after several years of scandal, shareholder fights and spurned private equity advances.

The bottom line: "Opposition to Toshiba's plans to break up the company had been widespread and included proxy advisory firms, and its failure comes as no surprise. But the outlook for Singapore-based 3D Investment Partners' proposal that Toshiba solicit private equity buyout offers or a minority investment had been less clear cut." Reuters

Venture Capital Deals

Tarana Wireless, a Milpitas, Calif.-based fixed wireless access company, raised $170m at a $1b valuation co-led by Axon Capital, Khosla Ventures and Prime Movers Lab.

TemperPack, a Richmond, Va.-based maker of packaging alternatives to Styrofoam, raised $140m in Series D funding. Goldman Sachs led, and was joined by Grosnevor, Harbert Growth Partners, Tao Capital Partners, Revolution Growth, SJF Ventures and Arborview Capital.

• Worldcoin, a cryptocurrency startup co-founded by Sam Altman, raised $100m via a token sale from backers like Andreessen Horowitz and Khosla Ventures, per The Information., an SF-based electrification startup, raised $90m in Series B funding. Fifth Wall and Wellington Management co-led, and were joined by Angeleno Group, FootPrint Coalition, Obsidian Investment Partners and A/O PropTech.

🚑 Celsius Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech whose first candidate is to treat IBD, raised $83m. Casdin Capital led, and was joined by Amgen Ventures, Amplitude Ventures, Catalio Capital, Co-Win Ventures, Fast Track Initiative, Section 32 and insiders Alexandria Venture Investments, GV, Heritage Provider Network and Third Rock Ventures.

🚑 Osso VR, an SF-based VR surgical training platform, raised $66m in Series C funding. Oak HC/FT led, and was joined by Signalfire, GSR Ventures, Tiger Global Management and Kaiser Permanente Ventures.

• Digits, an SF-based provider of real-time accounting software for SMBs, raised $65m in Series C funding at a $565m valuation. SoftBank led, and was joined by 20VC Growth, GV and Benchmark.

• Nasuni, a Boston-based file data services firm, raised $60m from Sixth Street Growth.

• HeyJobs, a Berlin-based talent platform, raised $47m in Series B funding. Digital+ and FMZ Ventures co-led, and were joined by insiders Notion Capital, Heartcore Capital and Creathor Ventures.

• Weglot, a French provider of translation solutions for websites, raised €45m in Series A funding from Partech.

🌎 Kayrros, a French climate analytics and modeling startup, raised €40m from French Tech Souveraineté, EIB, NewSpace Capital and Opera Tech Ventures.

Spectro Cloud, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based Kubernetes management platform, raised $40m in Series B funding. Stripes led, and was joined by Sierra Ventures, Boldstart Ventures, WestWave Capital, T-Mobile Ventures and Alter Venture Partners.

Tome, an S.F.-based slidedeck platform, raised $32.3m co-led by Greylock and Coatue.

Kargo, an S.F.-based supply chain visibility startup, raised $25m in Series A funding. Sozo Ventures led, and was joined by Founders Fund, Activant, Human Capital, Strike Capital, Lineage Ventures and Flexport.

Smarter Sorting, a consumer product intelligence startup, raised $25m led by G2 Venture Partners.

Nucleus Security, a Sarasota, Fla.-based vulnerability management and process automation startup, raised $20m in Series B funding. Lead Edge Capital led, and was joined by insider Arthur Ventures.

Simetrik, a Colombian payments infrastructure startup, raised $20m in Series A funding. FinTech Collective led, and was joined by Tiger Global, Moore Strategic Ventures, Cometa and Monashees.

Saphyre, a pre-trade data digitization startup, raised $18.7m in Series A funding. HCAP Partners led, and was joined by JPMorgan and BNP Paribas.

Unleash, an Oslo-based open-source feature management platform, raised $14m in Series A funding. Spark Capital led, and was joined by Frontline Ventures, firstminute capital, Alliance Venture and Arkwright X.

Handle, an S.F.-based construction payment compliance startup, raised $10m in Series A funding co-led by Energize Ventures and Ironspring Ventures.

SparkMeter, a Washington, D.C.-based grid management startup, raised $10m from Accurant International, Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Clean Energy Ventures.

Rugged Robotics, a Houston-based maker of construction robots, raised $9.4m. Bold Capital Partners and Brick & Mortar Ventures, co-led, and were joined by Riot Ventures, Morpheus, Embark, Consigli Construction Co. and Suffolk Technologies.

BriteCo, a Chicago-based DTC jewelry and watch insurance startup, raised $9m in Series A funding. Brand Foundry Ventures led, and was joined by Western Technology Investment and Hyde Park Angels.

Reach, an S.F.-based virtual workplace cloud platform, raised $7m in Series A funding co-led by Grayhawk Capital and Pritzker Group VC.

Ride1Up, a San Diego-based e-bike maker, raised $6.5m in Series A funding led by Ecosystem Integrity Fund, as first reported by Axios Pro.

SucceedSmart, an S.F.-based career platform and peer network, raised $6m. Storm Ventures led, and was joined by Tau Ventures.

Kwik, a Nigerian provider of last-mile logistics to B2B merchants, raised $2m in Series A funding led by XBTO Ventures.

Cymbio, an Israeli marketplace and drop ship automation platform, raised funding from PayPal Ventures.

Private Equity Deals

Clayton, Dubilier & Rice may face an in-depth UK antitrust investigation into its £7b buyout of supermarket chain Morrisons (LSE: MRW).

Kore Power, an Idah0-based battery cell developer backed by Cleanhill Partners, bought Waterbury, Vt.-based storage developer Northern Reliability, which was seeded by The Flex Fund.

🚑 Palex, a Spanish med-tech equipment distributor owned by Fremman Capital, acquired Italian peer Gada.

SPAC Stuff

🚑 Ligand Pharma (Nasdaq: LGND) is spinning out its antibody discovery unit (OmniAb) into a public company via Avista Public Acquisition Corp. II (Nasdaq: AHPA), at an implied $850m valuation.

RF Acquisition, a Southeast Asian SPAC led by Tse Ng (Ruifeng Wealth Management), raised $100m in its IPO.

Liquidity Events

🚑 Ardian is seeking a buyer for Dedalus, an Italian health care admin software firm that could fetch €3b, per Bloomberg.

Snap (NYSE: SNAP) agreed to buy is NextMind, a Paris-based neurotech startup that had raised around $13m from backers like Nordic Makers and Sisu Game Ventures.

More M&A

• Altivia, a Houston-based water treatment chemicals firm, is seeking a buyer for more than $1b, per Bloomberg.

• Autodesk (Nasdaq: ADSK) agreed to buy The Wild, a Portland, Ore.-based extended reality platform for the architecture, engineering and construction market.

Casino Guichard-Perrachon (Paris: CO), a French retailer, is considering a sale of all or part of its 73% stake in renewable energy group GreenYellow, which could be valued north of €1b, per Bloomberg.

• FTX acquired Good Luck Games, the Olympia, Wash.-based creator of Storybook Brawl.

• Lightricks, an Israeli content creation tools company valued by VCs at $1.8b, agreed to buy Popular Pays, a Chicago-based startup that connects brands with creators, as first reported by Axios Pro's Kerry Flynn.


• Bedrock, an Austin, Texas-based VC firm, is raising up to $650m for its fourth fund, per an SEC filing.

FTV Capital, an enterprise tech and fintech growth equity firm, raised $2.3b for its seventh fund.

Knox Lane, a growth equity firm founded by ex-TPG Growth partners John Bailey and Shamik Patel, raised $610m for its debut fund.

Markd, a Boulder, Colo.-based VC firm focused on insurance tech, raised $100m for its debut fund.

Motive Partners, a fintech investor partly owned by Apollo Global Management and Capital Constellation, raised the hard cap on its latest fund to $2b from $1.5b, per the WSJ.

Nexo, Swiss crypto exchange, launched a $150m VC arm.

Redalpine, a Zurich-based VC firm, is launching a $1.07b fund that will have an evergreen structure.

UC Berkeley Skydeck raised $60m for its second fund.

It's Personnel

Jesse Cole joined State Street as global head of private markets. He previously was with Goldman Sachs as a managing director of global shareholder and fund services.

Mila Ferrell, a founding member of Zoom’s product team, joined VC firm Cervin as a partner.

🚑 Jesse Hunter joined Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe as a healthcare operating partner. He previously was with Centene Corp. as chief strategy officer and EVP of M&A.

Jim Stoneham, former CMO of Stripe, joined VC firm SignalFire as an operating partner.

Final Numbers

Private equity allocation targets chart.
Source: McKinsey Global Private Markets Review. Data via Preqin. Note: Allocations are as of year-end 2021.

Private equity fundraising hit all-time records in 2021 and, at year-end, institutional investors appeared to have plenty of dry powder for 2022, per the above chart provided by McKinsey & Co.

  • The big question, however, is if the recent public equities pullback has created a denominator effect to the point of eliminating that allocation gap (or even inverting it).

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