Feb 18, 2021

Axios Pro Rata

Welcome to Thursday. I'm filling in last minute for Dan. Don't worry, he'll be back for tomorrow's newsletter.

  • Axios Re:Cap digs into what this experience should teach Texas and other states about the future, with Andrew Freedman, deputy weather editor of the Washington Post (and former Axios journalist). Listen here.

🚨Situational awareness: Apollo Global Management has added former SEC chairman Jay Clayton to its board as its lead independent director as part of an overhaul following the exit of CEO Leon Black.

Onto more news...

Top of the Morning

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Later today, the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services will take a stab at questioning various players in the recent GameStop stock trading saga—and there's little consensus about what went wrong, if anything, writes Axios' Courtenay Brown.

Why it matters: "What went wrong depends on where you sit," Larry Tabb, head of market structure at Bloomberg Intelligence, tells Axios. Any of the witnesses set to appear could be targeted, and there's not much clarity about what direction Congress might go in response.

Where it stands: Regulators — and reportedly the Justice Department — are looking into whether anything unlawful happened in the wild days of trading that caused GameStop's stock to surge as much as 2,000% before falling back down to earth.

What to watch: Key sticking points for lawmakers include payments for directing trades to the likes of Citadel Securities, the length of trade settlements, market manipulation (on and off Reddit), and the rise of platforms that make it easy to trade.

A sign of the tension: "The Robinhood interface should not be providing visual rewards for day trading," referring to the confetti that appears when you make your first trade, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), a member of the Financial Services Committee, which is holding today's hearing, tells Axios.

  • Sherman adds: "There's been a stick it to the man idea here, and if you want to stick it to the short sellers then come to us with proposals on how to limit short selling. Don't buy a stock for more than you think it's worth."

The bottom line: The meme-stock phenomenon is over, for now. The next big question is whether the hearing will lead to legislation, and experts say that's unlikely.

  • "We need to listen to determine if there were situations where existing rules and regulations failed — and then pursue aggressively ... but it may turn out that the system worked as designed," Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), another member of the panel, tells Axios.

🚨Check back on the Axios website to follow along with our coverage of the hearing!

The BFD

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: PL Gould/Images/Getty Images

Kalshi, an online trading startup for wagering on questions about future events, from economics to the weather and public health, has raised $30 million in Series A funding from Sequoia Capital, Charles Schwab, Henry R. Kravis, an SV Angel.

  • Why it's the BFD: Online betting and futures trading has exploded in popularity recently, largely via the GameStop trading saga. Kalshi got approval from the CFTC in November to run an derivatives exchange.
  • Bottom line: "[Co-founder Tarek] Mansour said Kalshi was partly inspired by his experiences at Goldman in 2016, when some clients asked the bank to help them hedge against the risk that the U.K. would vote to leave the European Union. Goldman devised derivatives products that were based on complex models of how various markets would react if Brexit passed. Wouldn't it be simpler, Mr. Mansour said he thought, if the contracts simply paid out in the event of a 'leave' vote?" — Alexander Osipovich, WSJ
Venture Capital Deals

🤖 Locus Robotics, a Wilmington, Mass.-based autonomous robot startup, has raised $150 million in Series E funding at a post-money valuation of $1 billion co-led by Tiger Global Management and Bond. http://axios.link/4mGu

Blockchain.com, a London-based cryptocurrency wallet and exchange company, has raised $120 million in funding from Moore Strategic Ventures, Kyle Bass, Access Industries, Rovida Advisors, Lightspeed Venture Partners, GV, Lakestar, and Eldridge, among others. http://axios.link/qSAS

Red Canary, a Denver, Colo.-based enterprise security software startup, has raised $81 million in Series C funding led by Summit Partners, with Noro-Moseley Partners and Access Venture Partners also participating http://axios.link/ix7k

Professional Fighters League, a New York-based MMA fighting league, has raised $65 million in funding led by Ares Capital, Elysian Park Ventures, and Knighthead Capital. www.pflmma.com

Sentry, a San Francisco-based provider of software for monitoring app performance, has raised $60 million in Series D funding at a post-funding valuation of $1 billion led by Accel and New Enterprise Associates, with Bond also participating.

🚑 Eden Health, a New York-based primary care company, has raised $60 million in Series C funding led by Insight Partners, with Amigos Health, Aspect Ventures, Company Ventures, Flare Capital, Flexcap Ventures, Max Ventures and PJC also participating. www.edenhealth.com

Ally.io, a Seattle-based goal-management software startup, has raised $50 million in Series C funding led by Green Oaks Capital, Madrona Capital and Tiger Global Management. http://axios.link/yZ2H

🚙 Recogni, a San Jose, Calif.-based developer of vision recognition chips for autonomous driving, has raised $48.9 million in Series B funding from WRVI Capital, BMW i Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures, Robert Bosch Venture Capital and Continental. http://axios.link/LFch

Unybrands, a Miami-based acquirer of e-commerce businesses, has raised $25 million in funding from Nordstar, Dia Ventures, Nathan Blecharczyk, 166 2nd Financial Services, Day One Ventures, and Benvolio Group. http://axios.link/nu8a

Peak AI, a U.K.-based AI startup, has raised $21 million in Series B funding led by Oxx, with Arete, MMC Ventures and Praetura Ventures also participating. http://axios.link/2viP

Replit, a San Francisco-based programming software startup, has raised $20 million in Series A funding led by A.Capital Ventures, with Andreessen Horowitz, YCombinator, Reach Capital, Bloomberg Beta, Paul Buchheit, Gmail Founder, and Paul Graham also participating. www.repl.it

Reprise, a Boston-based maker of no-code tools for sales and marketing, has raised $17 million in Series A funding led by Bain Capital Ventures, with Glasswing Ventures and Accomplice VC also participating. www.getreprise.com

1Kosmos, a Somerset, N.J.-based passwordless software startup, has raised $15 million in Series A funding from ForgePoint Capital. http://axios.link/GyKM

SeedFi, San Francisco-based lending startup, has raised $15 million in funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. http://axios.link/ykGr

Grip, a U.K.-based event networking startup, has raised $13 million in Series A funding led by Kennet Partners. http://axios.link/5T8a

Strata, a Boulder, Colo.-based identity management startup, has raised $11 million in Series A funding led by Menlo Ventures. http://axios.link/jgTZ

Artie, a Los Angeles-based platform for mobile games, has raised $10 million in funding from Mark Pincus, Thirty Five Ventures, Raised In Space, Jon Oringer, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, Susquehanna International Group, and others. http://axios.link/D6sm

Cambridge GaN Devices, a U.K.-based transistors and integrated circuits maker, has raised $9.5 million in Series A funding led by IQ Capital, Parkwalk Advisors and BGF, with Foresight Williams, Cambridge Enterprise, Martlet Capital, Cambridge Angels and Cambridge Capital Group also participating. www.camgandevices.com

Edgybees, a Gaithersburg, Md.-based video geotagging startup, has raised $9.5 million in Series A funding led by Seraphim Capital, with Refinery Ventures, LG Technology Ventures and Kodem Growth, OurCrowd, 8VC, Verizon Ventures and Motorola Solutions Venture Capital also participating. http://axios.link/ZW3M

Spectral, an Israel-based data management software startup, has raised $6.2 million in seed funding led by Amiti and MizMaa. http://axios.link/B8tT

Gravy, an Atlanta-based payments startup, has raised $4.5 million in Series A funding led by Arlington Family Partners. http://axios.link/KIQ1

Reflaunt, a U.K.-based fashion resale software company, has raised $2.7 million in funding led by the investment arm of MadaLuxe Group, with Pierre Denis, Nicolaj Reffstrup, Textile Innovation Fund, Piquadro, Bluebell Group and sustainable fashion accelerator Fashion For Good also participating. www.reflaunt.com

Nomad Labs, a Denver, Colo.-based real estate platform, has raised $2 million in seed funding from Range Ventures, Kickstart, Peterson Ventures, 8Z and Planomatic. www.nomadlease.com

YBVR, a San Jose, Calif.-based virtual reality video distribution company, has raised $1.5 million in funding from Verizon Ventures, Telefonica’s Wayra and Tech Coast Angels. http://axios.link/MXkI

Private Equity Deals

Triton has agreed to acquire IK Investment Partners’ stake in Schock, a Germany-based kitchen sink company. www.schock.de/en

MAPAL Group, backed by PSG, has acquired GetCompliant, a Sweden-based compliance and operations management solution provider in the Nordics. www.mapal.com

🚑 Battery Ventures has invested in Welligent, a Norfolk, Va.-based cloud-based, electronic-health records company, and DATIS HR Cloud, a Tampa, Fla. provider of cloud-based, HR and payroll software via a new entity, Behavioral Holdings. www.battery.com

Marlin Equity Partners has invested in Lengow, a France-based e-commerce automation software platform. http://axios.link/MO5P

🚙 Carlyle Group has agreed to invest $200 million in Kakao Mobility, the transportation arm of South Korea-based Kakao chat app, valuing the firm at 3.42 trillion won ($3.09 billion). http://axios.link/ifYe

Bharti Airtel, an Indian telecom company, has agreed to acquired Warburg Pincus’ 20% stake in its direct-to-home television arm for 31.26 billion rupees ($429.31 million). http://axios.link/9Mh4

Public Offerings

WingArc1st, a Japan-based software company backed by Carlyle Group, on Thursday filed for an IPO worth up to ¥18.2 billion ($171.8 million), and will list on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on March 16. http://axios.link/1FO8

SPAC Stuff

Software Acquisition Group III, the third blank check company led by Jonathan Huberman and other Ooyala officers targeting a software company, filed to raise up to $200 million in an IPO. http://axios.link/2Om8

Northern Genesis Acquisition III, a blank check company targeting sustainability and societal infrastructure, filed to raise up to $150 million in an IPO. http://axios.link/F3dr

Twist Investment, a blank check company formed by the founder of Twist Capital targeting the tech sector, filed to raise up to $175 million in an IPO. http://axios.link/wnYh

Supernova Partners Acquisition III, a third blank check company formed by Spencer Rascoff and Alexander Klabin, filed to raise up to $250 million in an IPO. http://axios.link/ZsA9

Kismet Acquisition Three, the third blank check company led by the former CEO of Russia's MegaFon targeting a European business, raised $250 million in an IPO. http://axios.link/PW64

Kismet Acquisition Two, the second blank check company led by the former CEO of Russia's MegaFon targeting a European business, raised $200 million in an IPO. http://axios.link/UI7u

FinServ Acquisition II, a blank check company targeting the fintech industry, raised $265 million in an IPO. http://axios.link/5hZp

Alpha Partners Technology Merger, a blank check company targeting technology, filed to raise up to $250 million in an IPO. http://axios.link/ln3i

🚑 European Biotech Acquisition, a blank check company formed by LSP targeting the life sciences industry in Europe, filed to raise up to $100 million in an IPO. http://axios.link/10XQ

Tailwind Two Acquisition, a blank check company formed by Casper CEO Philip Krim targeting a technology business, filed to raise up to $300 million in an IPO. http://axios.link/fEJZ

Forum Merger IV, the fourth blank check company formed by SPAC veterans David Boris and Marshall Kiev, filed to raise up to $300 million in an IPO. http://axios.link/gJgB

Advancit Acquisition I, a blank check company sponsored by Shari Redstone’s Advancit Capital and targeting media and technology, filed to raise up to $350 million in an IPO. http://axios.link/MBCZ

BlackSky Holdings, a Herndon, Va.-based satellite imagery and data company, has agreed to merge with SPAC Osprey Technology Acquisition Corp in a deal valuing the combined entity at $1.5 billion. http://axios.link/Pk1Y

Quantum-Si, a Guilford, Conn.-based chip-based protein sequencing company, has agreed to merge with SPAC HighCape Capital Acquisition Corp in a deal that values the combined company at $1.46 billion. http://axios.link/BSbX

Liquidity Events

CrowdStrike has agreed to acquire Humio, a U.K.-based provider of cloud log management and observability technology, for about $400 million. www.humio.com

Fundraising

Boldstart Ventures, a New York-based software venture capital firm, has raised $230 million for its fifth flagship fund and an opportunities fund. www.boldstart.vc

Earlybird Digital East Fund, a raised €200m ($242m) for a second fund focused on early-stage startups in Central and Eastern Europe. http://axios.link/jjek

It's Personnel

Sapphire Sport has hired Chloe Steinberg as a partner. She was previously a principal at Equinox Ventures. www.sapphireventures.com

Terence Lee has resigned from KKR as managing director for Asia Pacific after 10 years, according to Bloomberg. http://axios.link/9Hv0

Brightwood Capital Advisors, a New York-based private credit firm, has promoted Russell Zomback to chief financial officer, Mike Katz to managing director of investments, and Chris Malone to director of investments. www.brightwoodlp.com

Final Numbers

Chart: Courtesy of eMarketer/InsiderIntelligence.com

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