Axios Pro Rata

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October 21, 2021

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Top of the Morning

Illustration of a happy Facebook emoji that resembles Donald Trump
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

For months I've resisted the urge to call peak SPAC, despite the plethora of celebrity advisors and flying taxi mergers. That changes today. We have arrived.

Driving the news: Former President Trump last night announced plans to launch a digital media network called "Truth Social," and said it would go public via a SPAC called Digital World Acquisition (Nasdaq: DWAC).

What to know: So far, this is a joke.

  • The press release didn't contain even basic information, such as the new company's CEO. In fact, the only execs mentioned are Trump (as chairman) and veteran TV producer Scott St. John as head of a subscription streaming service.
  • There's no PIPE financing disclosed, even though redemptions could eat into Digital World's $293 million in reserves (caveat: the SPAC is soaring in early trading, likely on retail demand from Trump fans).
  • Oh, and there's a mention of the whole thing being worth $1.7 billion, "depending on the performance of the stock price post-business combination" — without any details of what type of stock performance would trigger that "additional earnout," or if it would be Trump himself who benefits.
  • Digital World filed an 8-K this morning with the SEC, but without the customary investor presentation attached.

There is a 22-page pitch-deck on the new website for Trump Media Group, although it's much more sizzle than steak. And it looks very familiar to a deck Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva reported on earlier this year (one slide is actually identical).

  • A "pre-order" option for Truth Social is available in the App Store, with a screenshot that basically looks like reskinned Twitter. The press release says the company plans to launch in early 2022, which means the company would seek to go public without a commercialized product.

About the SPAC: Digital World was formed earlier this year by Patrick Orlando, who has raised several SPACs but has yet to successfully bought a company. He did have one merger signed, with Giga Energy, but it was later terminated.

  • Its CFO is a member of Brazil's National Congress, and an ally of Jair Bolsonaro. There are no women in its exec ranks or on its board.

Spokespeople for Trump and the SPAC declined to comment beyond the press release.

The bottom line: This appears to be a shell company buying a shell company.

The BFD

An illustration of a phone with a Pinterest app that includes an invest button
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

PayPal (Nasdaq: PYPL) is in early talks to buy Pinterest (NYSE: PINS), per multiple reports.

  • Why it's the BFD: This could bring Pinterest closer to becoming the e-commerce company it's always wanted to be, while giving PayPal a large new stream of payments volume.
  • Trader reax: Pinterest shares rose 12.8% on the news, bringing its market cap past the $40 billion mark, while PayPal shares sank by 4.9%. Pinterest's largest outside shareholder is T. Rowe Price, with a 7.2% stake.
  • The bottom line: "PayPal rode a wave of digital-payment adoption over the course of the coronavirus pandemic to post record numbers of users and transaction volumes. That has propelled the stock, which would likely be used to help pay for any Pinterest deal, and given the company a market value of some $300 billion." — Dana Cimilluca and Cara Lombardo, WSJ

Venture Capital Deals

360Learning, a French P2P corporate learning platform, raised $200 million from Sumeru, SoftBank, Silver Lake Waterman and insiders Bpifrance, XAnge and Educapital. http://axios.link/kybd

Candy Digital, an NFT unit of Fanatics, raised $100 million in Series A funding at a $1.5 billion valuation. Insight Partners and SoftBank co-led, and were joined by Connect Ventures, Will Ventures, Gaingels, Com2Us, Chaos Ventures and Peyton Manning.

🚑 Bardavon Health Innovations, a Kansas City-based worker's comp and musculoskeletal health company, raised $90 million in Series C funding. Matrix Capital Management led, and was joined by WestCap. http://axios.link/mpbB

🚑 ReCode Therapeutics, a Menlo Park-based genetic medicines developer, raised $80 million in Series B funding. Pfizer Ventures and EcoR1 Capital co-led, and were joined by Sanofi Ventures, Tekla Capital Management, Superstring Capital, NS Investment and insiders OrbiMed, Vida Ventures, MPM Capital, Colt Ventures, Hunt Technology Ventures and Osage University Partners. www.recodetx.com

🌎 Jupiter Intelligence, a San Mateo, Calif.-based climate risk analytics company, raised $54 million in Series C funding co-led by ClearVision Ventures and MPower Partners, per Axios. http://axios.link/3KHs

Honeycomb, an SF-based observability platform, raised $50 million in Series C funding. Insight Partners led, and was joined by Scale Venture Partners, Headline, Storm Ventures, Industry Ventures and NextWorld Capital. www.honeycomb.io

Embrace, a Culver City, Calif.-based observability and data platform, raised $45 million in Series B funding. NEA led, and was joined by insiders AV8, Greycroft and Eniac Ventures. http://axios.link/Lqu1

SkyHive, a Palo Alto-based provider of workforce transformation and labor market development SaaS, raised $40 million in Series B funding. Eldridge led, and was joined by Allegis Cyber, Accenture Ventures, Workday Ventures and the Partnership Fund For New York City. www.skyhive.ai

🌎 Via Separations, an MIT spinout focused on reducing energy use in manufacturing, raised $38 million in Series B funding. NGP ETP led, and was joined by 2040 Foundation and insiders The Engine, Safar Partners, Prime Impact Fund, Embark Ventures and Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. http://axios.link/AZ9v

🌎 CabonCapture, a Pasadena, Calif.-based maker of machines that remove carbon from the atmosphere, raised $35 million in Series A funding. Prime Movers Lab led, and was joined by Rio Tinto, Idealab and Time Ventures. http://axios.link/Rzhu

Pomelo, a Buenos Aires-based embedded finance startup, raised $35 million in Series A funding. Tiger Global led, and was joined by Monashees, Index Ventures, Insight Partners, QED, SciFi, Greyhound and Box Group. www.pomelo.la

Anello Photonics, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based optical gyroscope startup, raised $28 million in Series A funding. New Legacy Ventures led, and was joined by Lockheed Martin Ventures, Catapult Ventures, JS Capital and HCVC. www.anellophotonics.com

Metrolink.ai, an Israeli data management platform, raised $22 million in seed funding. Grove Ventures led, and was joined by insider Eclipse Ventures. www.metrolink.ai

UpEquity, an Austin, Texas-based digital mortgage company, raised $20 million in Series B equity funding and $30 million in debt. S3 Ventures led, and was joined by Next Coast Ventures, BP Capital Management, Alumni Ventures, Gaingels, Launchpad Capital and Early Light Ventures http://axios.link/45Tb

Yummy, a Venezuelan delivery super app, raised $18 million in Series A funding. Anthos Capital led, and was joined by JAM Fund. http://axios.link/k0xy

Resistant AI, a Prague-based provider of fintech anti-fraud tools, raised $16.6 million in Series A funding. GV led, and was joined by insiders Index Ventures, Credo Ventures and Seedcamp. http://axios.link/wq1a

B12, a New York-based online platform for professional services firms, raised $15.7 million. Tola Capital led, and was joined by Breyer Capital, Naval Ravikant and General Catalyst. www.b12.io

SMBX, an SF-based fintech marketplace for small businesses bonds, raised $11.5 million in seed funding. Group 11 led, and was joined by Better Ventures, IAF and Unpopular Ventures. www.thesmbx.com

SOC Prime, a Boston-based threat detection marketplace, raised $11 million in Series A funding. DNX Ventures led, and was joined by Streamlined Ventures and Rembrandt Venture Partners. http://axios.link/akij

🍷 BOXT, an Austin, Texas-based DTC winery, raised $9.4 million in equity and debt funding. Next Coast Ventures led, and was joined by WX Brands and SVB. http://axios.link/JJuU

🚑 Open, a mindfulness app, $9 million in Series A funding co-led by A.Capital Ventures and Founders Fund. http://axios.link/vKXy

Doyobi, a Singapore-based professional development platform for STEM teachers, raised $2.8 million in seed funding led by Monk’s Hill Ventures. http://axios.link/KlKh

Brass, a Nigerian provider of digital banking services to SMEs, raised $1.7 million from backers like Ventures Platform, Acuity Ventures and Hustle Fund. http://axios.link/zdy9

Armilla AI, a Toronto-based AI governance platform, raised $1.5 million from backers like Spearhead, C2 Ventures and Two Small Fish Ventures. www.armilla.ai

Batch, a French customer engagement platform, raised €20 million in first round funding. Expedition Capital led, and was joined by Orange Ventures. http://axios.link/rDIx

Private Equity Deals

Acrisure, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based insurance brokerage backed by BDT Capital Partners, agreed to buy It’sSeg, a Brazilian insurance brokerage and benefits management firm. www.acrisure.com

🚑 Altius Group, an Australian-based portfolio company of The Riverside Co., acquired Nabener, an Australian provider of injury management and occupational rehabilitation services. www.altius-group.com.au

Bain Capital and French financial services firm Fimalac reportedly are bidding together to buy Engie's (Paris: ENGI) Equans services unit, rivaling offers from Bouygues (P: EN) and Eiffage (P: FGR). A deal could be worth between €5 billion and €6 billion. http://axios.link/qjt0

The Blackstone Group agreed to buy a majority stake in Atlanta-based shapewear company Spanx at a $1.2 billion valuation. http://axios.link/zOPU

🚑 The Carlyle Group led a $430 million acquisition of Saama Technologies, a Campbell, Calif.-based data analytics platform for streamlining clinical trials (including Pfizer’s COVID vax trials). Co-investors include Amgen Ventures, Intermountain Ventures, Merck Global Health Innovation Fund (“Merck GHI”), McKesson Ventures, Northpond Ventures, Pfizer Ventures and Population Health Partners. http://axios.link/vVKe

CGI Automated Manufacturing, a Romeoville, Ill.-based portfolio company of CORE Industrial Partners, acquired Chippewa Falls, Wis.-based provider of metals-focused contract manufacturing solutions. www.laser27.com

Gilde Buy Out Partners launched a takeover effort for Italian fintech TAS Group (Milan: TAS). http://axios.link/dFRD

Pfingsten bought New England Electrical, a Kingston, Mass.-based provider of electrical services to the telecom, EV charging and utility markets. www.pfingsten.com

Sovos, a Wilmington, Mass.-based portfolio company of HgCapital, agreed to buy Digital Planet, a Turkish provider of cloud compliance solutions for continuous transaction controls. www.sovos.com

StoicLane acquired Lender's Valuation Services, a Roseville, Calif.-based appraisal management company. www.lvs-amc.com

Trilantic North America invested in WebFX, a Harrisburg, Pa.-based provider of digital marketing services to SMBs. www.webfx.com

Public Offerings

Enfusion, a Chicago-based provider of investment management SaaS, raised $319 million in its IPO. It priced at the high end of its $15-$17 range, will trade on the NYSE (ENFN) and reports $8 million of net income on $51 million in revenue for the first half of 2021. Backers include FTV Capital and Iconiq. http://axios.link/f6FQ

HireRight, a Nashville-based provider of background screening and identity verification services, set IPO terms to 22.2 million shares at $21-$24. It would have a $1.8 billion fully diluted value, were it to price in the middle, plans to list on the NYSE (HRT), and reports a $16 million net loss on $327 million in revenue for the first half of 2021. Backers include General Atlantic and Stone Point Capital. http://axios.link/cX0L

• Houzz, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based home design platform valued by VCs at $4 billion, hired Goldman Sachs to lead its IPO, per Reuters. http://axios.link/gb2q

P10, a Dallas-based provider of investment solutions to alt asset managers, raised $240 million in its IPO. It priced at $12 (below $14-$16 range), will list on the NYSE (PX), and reports $5 million of net income on $67 million in revenue for the first half of 2021. http://axios.link/WWD3

• Portillo's, a fast casual restaurant chain known for Chicago-style hot dogs, raised $405 million in its IPO. It priced at the high end of its $17-$20 range, will list on the Nasdaq (PTLO) and reports $14 million of net income on $258 million in revenue for the first half of 2021. Shareholders include Berkshire Partners. http://axios.link/DCXk

Solo Brands, a Southlake, Texas-based maker of branded fire pits and camp stoves, set IPO terms to 12.9 million shares at $14-$17. It would have a $1.5 billion market value, were it to price in the middle, plans to 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

🚑 Ventyx Biosciences, an Encinitas, Calif.-based biotech focused on autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, raised $152 million in its IPO. The pre-revenue company priced in the middle of its $15-$17 range, will list on the Nasdaq (VTYX) and raised VC funding from New Science Ventures (42.5% pre-IPO stake), VenBio Partners (11.9%), Third Point Ventures (8.5%) and Citadel (5.2%). http://axios.link/br3n

🥥 Vita Coco, a New York-based coconut water company, raised $173 million in its IPO. It priced at $15 (below $18-$21 range), will list on the Nasdaq (COCO) and reports $9 million of net income on $177 million in revenue for the first half of 2021. Backers include Verlinvest. http://axios.link/0HNh

Winc, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based wine producer and distributor, postponed its $75 million IPO. Backers include Bessemer Venture Partners, Shining Capital and Cool Japan Fund. http://axios.link/XYkG

SPAC Stuff

Illustration of the wework on the side of a building logo reading "wetrade"
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

WeWork today begins trading on the NYSE under ticker symbol WE, following the completion of its acquisition by a SPAC sponsored by Vivek Ranadivé's Bow Capital Management. http://axios.link/Deqy

7 Acquisition, a SPAC chaired by Craig Cogut (ex-CEO of Pegasus Capital Advisors), filed for a $200 million IPO. http://axios.link/m20Y

Western Acquisition Ventures, a SPAC led by Stephen Christoffersen (KushCo), filed for a $150 million IPO. http://axios.link/NsUz

Liquidity Events

The Carlyle Group is seeking a buyer for the Precoat Metals unit of portfolio company Sequa, a Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.-based industrial conglomerate, per Bloomberg. A deal could be worth around $1.5 billion. http://axios.link/V77Q

🚑 Oak Street Health (NYSE: OSH) acquired RubiconMD, a a New York-based e-consultant for specialist health care, for $130 million. RubiconMD had raised $37 million from Deerfield Management, Optum Ventures, HLM Venture Partners, Waterline Ventures, and Heritage Provider Network. www.oakstreethealth.com

Susquehanna International Group is seeking a buyer for around a $500 million take in ByteDance, the China-based TikTok owner, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/GEnM

Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) acquired Sphere, a London-based groups chat app that had raised around $30 million from firms like Index Ventures and LocalGlobe. http://axios.link/siAC

More M&A

FlixMobility, a Munich-based transport company valued by VCs at $3 billion, bought U.S. intercity bus operator Greyhound at a $46 million enterprise value from FirstGroup (LSE: FGP). http://axios.link/DoAf

Malarkey Roofing Products, a family-owned company based in Portland, Ore., is seeking a buyer for around $1.5 billion, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/WLIe

Shinsei Bank (Tokyo: 8303) said it opposes a $1.1 billion unsolicited takeover offer from SBI Holdings, but said it is open to a sweetened bid. http://axios.link/kOw5

Stripe agreed to buy Recko, an Indian reconciliation software startup that had raised around $7 million from firms like Vertex Ventures and Prime Movers Lab. http://axios.link/eLBj

Fundraising

Form Ventures, a British VC firm focused on regulated industries, raised £30 million for its second fund. http://axios.link/edBE

Knightsbridge Advisers raised $255 million for its second VC secondaries fund. www.knightsbridgevc.com

White Oak raised $1.3 billion for its fifth set of private credit funds. www.whiteoaksf.com

It's Personnel

Bill Binch joined Battery Ventures as an operating partner. He previously was chief revenue officer at Pend.io. www.battery.com

Edison Partners promoted Gregg Michaelson to general partner, Jennifer Lee to partner and Joe Giquinto to CFO. www.edisonpartners.com

Jon Skinner joined PSP Partners as CEO, with Kevin Poorman transitioning to senior advisor. Skinner previously was vice chair of investment banking at William Blair. www.psppartners.com

Final Numbers

Data: YCharts. Chart: Axios.
Data: YCharts. Chart: Axios.

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