October 28, 2021

🖥️ Axios today at 12:30pm ET hosts a virtual event on the future of personal finance in America. Guests include Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Financial Literacy for All co-founder John Hope Bryant. Register.

🚨 U.S. GDP grew at an annual rate of 2% in Q3, coming in below economist expectations.

Top of the Morning

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Today's planned column didn't quite come together in time, so just dipping into the notebook to kick us off:

💰 RIP billionaire's tax (2021-2021): It didn't even survive a full news cycle, before Sen. Joe Manchin murdered it with the same knife he used on paid family leave.

🥗 Salad spinner: Sweetgreen's IPO prospectus, filed on Monday, reveals that the company lied when it told various reporters that it was profitable. Instead, the restaurant chain reports net losses for each year between 2014 and 2020, and also is in the red through the first nine months of 2021.

🛢️ Shell stakes: Activist investor Dan Loeb has set its sights on Royal Dutch Shell, taking around a $750 million position and calling for the company to be broken up.

  • This comes after weaker-than-expected earnings, in part due to Hurricane Ida, and ahead of today's House hearing on allegations that Big Oil company like Shell have intentionally sown doubt about climate change.
  • Shell says it's talked with Loeb, but believes his plan would work much better on paper than in real life.

⚖️ Back in Black: Former buyout big Leon Black surprised many in the Beverly Hilton last week by showing up at the Milken Institute Global Conference, particularly given reporting by Vanity Fair that the Manhattan DA's Office has opened a criminal investigation into sexual assault allegations made against Black by two women in court filings.

  • Black has denied the civil charges. Apollo Global Management, meanwhile, created an "Our History" section on its website that doesn't once mention its co-founder and longtime CEO.

👱 Trump SPAC: We're still awaiting lots of details on the nascent business that Digital World Acquisition (Nasdaq: DWAC) agreed to buy, such as who'll be CEO, but there were a couple notable disclosures this week.

  • The merger defines a "material disruptive event" as occurring if former President Trump "announces that he is running for a public office," or if he "is personally convicted of a felony criminal offense." But, were an MDE to occur, Trump gets to retain his personal ownership stake (the size of which hasn't been disclosed).
  • We also got more details on the SPAC's potential earnouts, various versions of which kick in at share prices of between $15 and $30 (based on post-close trading periods). Yesterday it closed at $64.89 per share — well above its $10 pre-merger price but less than half of its intraday high last Friday (the same day that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene bought in).


Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Kebony, a Norwegian startup that modifies softwoods to behave like tropical hardwoods, raised €30 million co-led by Jolt Capital and Lightrock.

  • Why it's the BFD: This is less about the money, and more about an innovative effort to improve the construction industry's environmental efficiency and supply chains.

  • The bottom line: "Softwood grows a lot faster — in 'sustainable' forests — than hardwood. The latter is often found in bio-diverse old-growth forests like, um, the Amazon. So if you could make softwood behave like hardwood, you'd not only access more sustainable wood for construction, you’d also protect hardwood forests from destruction." — Mike Butcher, TechCrunch

Venture Capital Deals

🚑 Hinge Health, an S.F.-based provider of musculoskeletal pain solutions, raised $400 million in Series E funding at a $6.2 billion valuation co-led by Tiger Global and Coatue. It also completed a $200 million secondary deal with Alkeon and Whale Rock. http://axios.link/clDZ

🚑 Cardurion Pharma, a Boston-based cardiovascular biotech, raised $300 million from Bain Capital, Bain Life Sciences and insiders Takeda Pharma and Polaris Partners. http://axios.link/7ZG6

Acko, a Bangalore-based digital insurer, raised $255 million. General Atlantic and Multiples PE co-led, and were joined by CPPIB, Lightspeed and insiders Intact Ventures and Munich Re Ventures. http://axios.link/ggKR

Alchemy, a San Francisco-based blockchain developer platform, raised $250 million in Series C funding at a $3.5 billion valuation. Andreessen Horowitz led, and was joined by Lightspeed Venture Partners, Redpoint Ventures and insiders Coatue, Addition, DFJ and Pantera Capital. http://axios.link/W2m9

Amplify, a New York-based publisher of curriculum and educational assessment programs, raised $215 million. Learn Capital and A-Street Ventures co-led, and were joined by insider Emerson Collective. http://axios.link/U5XO

🚑 Immunai, an Israeli immune system mapping startup, raised $215 million in Series B funding. Koch Disruptive Technologies led, and was joined by Talos VC, 8VC, Alexandria Venture Investments, Piedmont and Icon Ventures. http://axios.link/oFCy

Dragos, a Hanover, Md.-based cybersecurity startup focused on industrial controls, raised $200 million in Series D funding at a $1.7 billion valuation. Koch Disruptive Technologies led, and was joined by BlackRock, Emerson, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Allegis Cyber, Canaan, DataTribe, Energy Impact Partners, National Grid Partners, Schweitzer Engineering Labs, Global Reserve Group and Rockwell Automation. http://axios.link/cr4J

InCloudCounsel, an S.F.-based legal management platform, raised $200 million in Series B funding. Blackstone Growth led, and was joined by Battery Ventures and Mile Paulus. http://axios.link/zqxo

Yugabyte, an open source SQL database, raised $188 million in Series C funding at a $1.3 billion valuation. Sapphire Ventures led, and was joined by Alkeon, Meritech Capital Partners, Wells Fargo and insiders Lightspeed Venture Partners, 8VC, Dell Technologies Capital and Wipro Ventures. http://axios.link/Rtq2

Rad Power Bikes, a Seattle-based e-bike brand, raised $154 million. Fidelity led, and was joined by fellow insiders T. Rowe Price, Morgan Stanley’s Counterpoint Global, Vulcan Capital, Durable Capital Partners and The Rise Fund. http://axios.link/ZJ2W

🍦 N!ck’s, a Swedish “better for you” ice cream brand, raised $100 million in Series C funding co-led by Kinnevik, Ambrosia and Temasek. http://axios.link/gYkJ

Abacus.ai, an S.F.-based API platform for ML model creation, raised $50 million in Series C funding. Tiger Global led, and was joined by Coatue, Index Ventures and Alkeon Capital. http://axios.link/ps74

Gluware, a Sacramento-based network automation startup, raised $43 million in equity and debt. Bain Capital led, and was joined by Acadia Woods Partners. http://axios.link/l3xB

Drip Capital, a Palo Alto-based cross-border trade finance platform for SMBs, raised $40 million in Series C funding. TI Platform led, and was joined by insiders Accel, Sequoia Capital, Wing VC, Irongrey and GC1 Holdings. The company also secured $135 million in warehouse debt facilities. www.dripcapital.com

🚑 FemTec Health, a Houston-based women’s healthcare data analytics platform, raised $38 million from Longmont Capital, Ithaca LifeSciences, Unilever Ventures, Estee Lauder, Shiseido, e.Ventures, Viking Global and Trinity Capital. www.femtechealth.com

🚑 Magnus Medical, a Burlingame, Calif.-based developer of neurostimulation devices for severe depression, raised $25 million in Series A funding co-led by Jazz Venture Partners and Red Tree VC.

Fellow, a Canadian meeting productivity and team management platform, raised US$24 million in Series A funding. Craft Ventures led, and was joined by iNovia, Felicis Ventures, Garage Ventures, Formentera and SVB. http://axios.link/pM2B

Autofleet, an Israeli fleet optimization platform, raised $20 million in Series B funding. Keyframe Capital led, and was joined by Goodyear and insiders Mizmaa Ventures, Maniv Mobility and Next Gear Ventures. www.autofleet.io

Rowan, a New York-based ear piercing startup, raised $20 million in Series B funding. VMG Partners led, and was joined by Thirty Five Ventures, Table Management, Beechwood Capital, Silas Capital and Goldcrest Capital. www.heyrowan.com

Moralis, a Swedish decentralized app development platform, raised $13.4 million in seed funding led by EQT Ventures. www.moralis.io

Xeal, an L.A.-based EV charging tech startup, raised $11 million in Series A funding. ArcTern Ventures and Moderne Ventures co-led, and were joined by LPC Ventures, Harrison Street, Hunt Companies and Align Real Estate. www.xealenergy.com

Friends With Benefits, an art and culture DAO, raised $10 million led by Andreessen Horowitz. http://axios.link/ValC

Viakoo, a Mountain View, Calif.-based enterprise IoT security automation startup, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Shasta Ventures led, and was joined by Stanley Black & Decker, PivotNorth Capital and Blue Fog Capital. http://axios.link/ZuTq

Gringo, a Brazilian driver assist app, raised $8 million. Kaszek led, and was joined by GFC and OneVC. http://axios.link/Orro

Private Equity Deals

T. Rowe Price agreed to buy private equity investment firm Oak Hill Advisors for $4.2 billion in cash and stock. http://axios.link/Jjqx

Brookfield Business Partners agreed to buy the lottery business of slot machine maker Scientific Games (Nasdaq: SGMS) for up to $6.05 billion. http://axios.link/RbiZ

Cuadrilla Capital acquired Agilence, a Mt. Laurel, N.J.-based retail data management and analytics SaaS platform. www.agilenceinc.com

H.I.G. Capital invested in 3Pillar Global, a Fairfax, Va.-based digital transformation company. www.3pillarglobal.com

Insightsoftware, a Raleigh, N.C.-based portfolio company of HgCapital and TA Associates, agreed to buy Magnitude Software, an Austin, Texas-based provider of data management software solutions, from 3i for $477 million. www.magnitude.com

Vertical Aerospace, a London-based developer of eVTOLs, raised $200 million from Mudrick Capital Management. www.vertical-aerospace.com

Public Offerings

Arhaus, a Boston Heights, Ohio-based home furnishings retailer owned by Freeman Spogli, set IPO terms to 22.9 million shares at $14–$17. It would have a $2.2 billion market cap, were it to price in the middle, plans to list on the Nasdaq (ARHS) and reports $16 million of net income on $355 million in revenue for the first half of 2021. http://axios.link/dZ8M

🚑 Ensemble Health Partners, a Cincinnati-based provider of revenue cycle management software owned by Golden Gate Capital, postponed an IPO that had been slated to raise around $605 million. http://axios.link/E3hv

GlobalFoundries, a U.S. chipmaker backed by Mudabala Investment Co., raised $2.6 billion in its IPO, pricing at the top of its $42–$47 range. It has around a $26 billion initial market cap. http://axios.link/WT23

Solo Brands, a Southlake, Texas-based maker of branded fire pits and camp stoves, raised $219 million in its IPO. It priced at the high end of its $14–$17 range, for a $1.6 billion market cap, will list on the NYSE (DTC) and reports $42 million of net income on $158 million in revenue for the first half of 2021. Shareholders include Summit Partners. http://axios.link/dQEL

SPAC Stuff

Tikehau Capital of Paris applied to list a SPAC on the Singapore Exchange, per Reuters. http://axios.link/Fvff

Liquidity Events

🚑 Centerbridge Partners and Vistria Group are seeking to sell a "sizable minority equity stake" in Sevita, a Boston-based provider of home and community care services, per PE Hub. http://axios.link/zXcu

🚑 Takeda (Tokyo: 4502) agreed to buy the stake it doesn't already hold in GammaDelta Therapeutics, a London-based developer of gamma-delta T cell therapies for cancers. GammaDelta had raised over $30 million from firms like Takeda and Abingworth Management. http://axios.link/RunS

Vistaprint, a unit of Cimpress (Nasdaq: CMPR), agreed to buy New York-based stock photo repository Depositphotos, including online graphic design editor Crello, for $85 million. Sellers include TMT Investments and AVentures Capital. http://axios.link/m9k8

More M&A

FirstCash (Nasdaq: FCFS), a pawn shop operator, agreed to buy American First Finance, a Dallas-based BNPL company, for $1.17 billion. http://axios.link/0UE7

Mimecast (Nasdaq: MIME), a London-based email security software company with a $4.5 billion market cap, is considering a sale process, per WSJ. http://axios.link/ArdM

Synthomer (LSE: SYNT) agreed to buy the adhesive resins unit of Eastman Chemical Co. (NYSE: EMN) for $1 billion. http://axios.link/cwpX


Fifty Years, an S.F.-based "deep tech" VC firm, raised $90 million for its third fund. http://axios.link/2le7

🚑 Frazier Healthcare Partners raised $830 million for a long-only biotech public equities fund. www.frazierhealthcare.com

Ironwood Capital is targeting $500 million for its fifth mezzanine fund, per a public pension report. www.ironwoodcap.com

Nautic Partners, a Providence, R.I.-based midmarket buyout firm, raised $3 billion for its tenth fund. www.nautic.com

It's Personnel

Matthew Herman joined Goldfinch Partners as a partner and general counsel. He was previously with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. www.goldfinchpartners.com

Steve Spinner, former CEO of United Natural Foods, joined MidOcean Partners as an operating partner. www.midoceanpartners.com

Final Numbers

IPO cash in trust vs. unit price
Reproduced from SPAC Research; Chart: Axios Visuals

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