Axios Pro Rata

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November 30, 2021

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Top of the Morning

An illustration of Jack Dorsey being pulled offstage with a cane
Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: James Brickwood/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Sing it with me one more time: Elliott Management gets what Elliott Management wants.

Driving the news: Jack Dorsey yesterday stepped down as CEO of Twitter, nearly two years after the activist investor began pushing for his ouster. His replacement will be longtime CTO Parag Agrawal.

  • Dorsey didn't mention Elliott in his resignation memo, instead going with some stuff about how it's important for companies to break free of their founders (you'll never guess who founded Square, where Dorsey remains CEO).
  • Reminder: Dorsey didn't have voting control at Twitter. He does have it at Square, plus a ton more equity value and fewer political headaches.

What happened: Dorsey seemed to save his skin last March when Twitter agreed to give Elliott a board seat and accept a large new investment/share repurchase agreement with private equity firm Silver Lake (which also joined the board).

  • Behind the scenes, however, Twitter's reconstructed board is said to have quickly formed a management structure committee.
  • Twitter disclosed last November in an 8-K filing that it had "updated the CEO succession plan in line with best practices."
  • That line was intentionally vague, but it basically meant that Twitter had launched a yearlong process to replace Dorsey, the culmination of which was made public yesterday.

Elliott stepped off the board earlier this year, but it continued to be involved — having signed a confidential information-sharing agreement with Twitter.

  • The upshot is that Elliott had wanted two things: New management and an increased pace of product innovation.
  • On the former, Dorsey is gone and there also have been changes at the chairman level. On the latter, Twitter has rolled out a series of products, including a subscription service called Blue and a Clubhouse knockoff called Spaces.

The bottom line: Elliott's asks often appear fanciful at first blush, whether the target is AT&T or Dell or eBay or Athenahealth or @jack. But, more often than not, its dreams become reality.


Illustration of a razor with a dollar bill for the blades
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Edgewell (NYSE: EPC), the Connecticut-based maker of Schick razors, acquired DTC women's razor maker Billie for $310 million in cash.

Why it's the BFD: This is the final move of an antitrust chess match in which Billie was a pawn.

Backstory: Billie agreed in early 2020 to be acquired by Gillette owner Procter & Gamble, with lots of industry chatter that the deal was primarily designed to put regulatory pressure on Edgewell's agreement to buy Harry's for $1.37 billion. And it worked. Yes, P&G also got blocked by the FTC from buying Billie, but that was a small price to pay.

ROI: Billie had raised $35 million in VC funding from firms like Silverton Partners, Goldman Sachs, Female Founders Fund, Lakehouse Ventures, Serena Ventures and ACME Capital.

Side note: The juxtaposition of a lead item on Jack Dorsey and a second item about razors is not lost on me.

The bottom line: "Billie will continue to be led by its co-founders, Georgina Gooley and Jason Bravman .... Edgewell expects the acquisition to be slightly positive to Edgewell's adjusted earnings per share during fiscal 2022. Billie plans to expand into brick-and-mortar retail next year." — Jonathan Roeder, Bloomberg 

Venture Capital Deals

Lessen, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based property services platform, raised $170 million in Series B funding at a valuation north of $1 billion. Fifth Wall led, and was joined by Khosla Ventures, General Catalyst and Navitas Capital.

Zepeto, a South Korean fashion metaverse platform, raised $150 million from SoftBank at a valuation north of $1 billion, per WSJ.

Via Transportation, a New York-based public transport app, raised $130 million at a $3.3 billion valuation. Janus Henderson led, and was joined by BlackRock, ION Crossover Partners, Koch Disruptive Technologies and insider Exor.

CloudTrucks, a "business in a box" startup for small trucking companies, raised $115 million in Series B funding at an $850 million post-money vauation. Tiger Global led, and was joined by Menlo Ventures and Flexport.

🚑 HotSpot Therapeutics, a Boston-based developer of allosteric therapies targeting natural hotspots, raised $100 million in Series C funding. Pivotal bioVenture Partners led, and was joined by LSP, B Capital Group, Monashee Investment Management, CaaS Capital Management, Revelation Partners, Pavilion Capital and insiders Atlas Venture, Sofinnova Partners, SR One, Tekla Capital Management and MRL Ventures Fund.

Tegus, a Chicago-based market intelligence startup, raised $90 million in Series B funding co-led by Oberndorf Enterprises and Willoughby Capital.

Mr. Yum, an Australian mobile ordering and payments platform for restaurants, raised A$65 million in Series A funding. Tiger Global led, and was joined by Commerce VC, VU Venture Partners and insiders TEN13 and AirTree Ventures.

Cycode, an S.F.-based software supply chain security startup, raised $56 million in Series B funding. Insight Partners led, and was joined by insider YL Ventures.

Quinyx, a Stockholm-based provider of workforce management software, raised $50 million at a $550 million valuation led by Battery Ventures.

🚑 Virtual Incision Corp., a Lincoln, Neb.-based developer of miniaturized robots for laparoscopic surgery, raised $46 million in Series C funding. Endeavour Vision and Baird Capital co-led, and were joined by Bluestem Capital.

ThreeFlow, a Chicago-based provider of software to insurance brokers selling employee benefits products, raised $45 million in Series B funding. Accel led, and was joined by insiders Emergence Capital, Equal Ventures and First Trust Capital Partners.

iMile Delivery, a Dubai-based courier startup, raised $40 million in Series A at a $350 million valuation from backers like ByteDance, per Bloomberg.

Solutions by Text, a Dallas-based provider of messaging tools for consumer finance companies, raised $35 million. Edison Partners led, and was joined by Stifel Venture Bank and Lee Maschler’s family office.

YouTrip, a Singaporean challenger bank, raised $30 million in Series A funding from an unidentified family office.

Endowus, a Singaporean digital wealth app, raised $27 million co-led by Prosus Ventures, EDBI and Z Holdings.

Gradle, an S.F.-based provider of build automation tools for software developers, raised $27 million in Series C funding. Triangle Peak Partners led, and was joined by True Ventures, DCVC, Bain Capital Ventures, Harmony Partners and StepStone Group.

Abacum, a New York-based provider of FP&A software for tech finance teams, raised $25 million. Atomico led, and was joined by Creandum and S16VC.

Q-CTRL, an Australian quantum computing software startup focused on space, raised US$25 million in Series B funding. Airbus Ventures led, and was joined by Ridgeline Partners.

Mainframe Games, a European cloud-based MMO games studio, raised €20 million in Series B funding led by Andreessen Horowitz.

Pepper, a New York-based ordering system for food distributors, raised $16 million in Series A funding. Index Ventures led, and was joined by Greylock, Imaginary Ventures, BoxGroup and Moving Capital.

Raycast, a Claymont, Del.-based maker of developer-focused productivity tools, raised $15 million in Series A funding co-led by Accel and Coatue.

Stratio, a Portuguese provider of predictive maintenance solutions for fleets, raised $12 million in Series A funding. Forestay led, and was joined by Crane Venture Partners.

Azos, a Brazilian life insurance startup, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Prosus Ventures led, and was joined by Kaszek Ventures, Maya Capital and Propel.

• Sortera Alloys, a Fort Wayne, Ind.-based maker of sorting systems for aluminum waste, raised $10 million from Breakthrough Energy Ventures, per Axios.

Particular Audience, an Australian retail personalization startup, raised A$7.5 million in Series A funding. Equity Venture Partners led, and was joined by insider Carthona Capital.

GajiGesa, an Indonesian earned wage access startup, raised $6.6 million led by MassMutual Ventures.

Soveren, a London-based GDPR compliance automation startup, raised $6.5 million in seed funding led by Firstminute Capital.

Trustpage, a Detroit-based provider of SaaS security transparency solutions, raised $5 million in seed funding. Bonfire Ventures, Ludlow Ventures and Detroit Venture Partners co-led, and were joined by Entrée Capital, Basement Fund and GTMfund.

🚲 Upway, a France-based reconditioned e-bike marketplace, raised €5 million from Sequoia Capital and Global Founders Capital.

Cerbos, a London-based user permissions management startup, raised $3.5 million in seed funding. Crane Venture Partners led, and was joined by Earlybird Digital East, Seedcamp, 8-Bit Capital, Connect Ventures, OSS Capital, Acequia Capital, HelloWorld and Tiny.

RegScale, a Washington, D.C.-based compliance automation spinout from C2 Labs, raised $1.5 million from Virginia Innovation Partnership Corp. and New Dominion Angels.

Private Equity Deals

Chatham Asset Management sweetened its takeover offer for RR Donnelley & Sons Co. (NYSE: RRD) to $10.25 per share, shortly after the printing company said it was sticking with an $8.52 per share bid from Atlas Holdings.

Cross-Fire & Security, a Brooklyn-based portfolio company of AE Industrial Partners, acquired Alarm & Suppression, a Ballston Lake, N.Y.-based provider of fire and life safety equipment.

IK Partners agreed to buy Renta Group, a Finland-based provider of machine and equipment rentals, from Intera Partners.

🚑 Kohlberg & Co. bought Trinity Life Sciences, a Waltham, Mass.-based provider of life sciences commercialization solutions, from Parthenon Capital.

Monomoy Capital Partners agreed to buy Thetford, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based maker of sanitation products for the RV market, from Dyson-Kissner-Moran.

🚑 Marathon Asset Management acquired Kaléo, a Richmond, Va.-based drugmaker, for $310 million in cash (plus up to $70m in earnouts).

One Equity Partners agreed to buy Norit, a Dutch maker of activated carbon for purification solutions, from Cabot (NYSE: CBT).

Prytek, a Singapore-based developer of supply chain solutions for universities and financial institutions, raised $107 million from Davidson Kempner.

Quality Valve, a Mobile, Ala.-based portfolio company of Pfingsten, acquired Griffco Valve, an Amherst, N.Y.-based provider of back pressure valves, pressure relief valves and pump system accessories.

Searchlight Capital Partners invested in Greek cruise line Celestyal Cruises.

Vingroup, Vietnam’s largest conglomerate, is in talks with BlackRock and others to raise around $1 billion for its auto unit, per Reuters.

Public Offerings

HashiCorp, an S.F.-based provider of multi-cloud automation software, set IPO terms to 15.3 million shares at $68–$72. It would have a $14.2 billion fully diluted value, were it to price in the middle, and plans to list on the NYSE (HCP). The company reports a $40 million net loss on $142 million in revenue for the first six months of 2021 and raised around $350 million in VC funding, most recently at a $5.1 billion valuation, from backers like Mayfield, GGV Capital, Redpoint Ventures, True Ventures, Franklin Templeton, T. Rowe Price, Geodesic Capital and IVP.

Phoenix Motor, an e-vehicle and electric drive system company being spun out of SPI Energy (Nasdaq: SPI), filed for a $150 million IPO.

Liquidity Events

🚑 Blueprint Medicines (Nasdaq: BPMC) agreed to buy Lengo Therapeutics, a Menlo Park-based developer of a lung cancer therapy, for upwards of $465 million (including $250m upfront). Lengo this year raised nearly $18 million in Series A funding led by Frazier Healthcare Partners.

Chegg (NYSE: CHGG) agreed to buy Busuu, a London-based language learning startup, for €385 million in cash. Busuu raised $11 million from backers like GP Bullhound, McGraw-Hill Education and PROfounders Capital.

KKR hired Goldman Sachs to find a buyer for German market research provider GfK, which it bought for €1.6 billion in 2017, per Bloomberg.

Pacific Equity Partners agreed to sell Australian car accessories maker AutoPacific Group to GUD Holdings (ASX: GUD) for A$745 million.

Thoma Bravo is seeking a buyer for Kofax, an Irvine, Calif.-based automation software company that could fetch $3 billion (including debt), per Bloomberg.

More M&A

Doctor Who Reaction GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
Source: Giphy

U.K. antitrust regulators have directed Meta (Nasdaq: FB) to sell Giphy, which it bought last May for $400 million.

Bluebell Capital Partners is calling on Glencore (LSE: GLEN) to spin off its thermal coal business.

eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) acquired Sneaker Con Digital’s authentication business.

Impala Platinum upped its takeover offer for smaller South African miner Royal Bafokeng Platinum to $2.7 billion, topping a rival bid from Northam Platinum.

Lundin Energy (ST: LUNE), a Swedish oil and gas company valued at nearly $11 billion, is considering a sale, per Bloomberg.


Bessemer Venture Partners raised $220 million for an India-focused fund.

Differential Ventures, a New York-based seed firm focused on B2B SaaS startups, raised $60 million for its second fund.

FTAC Ventures, a fintech VC firm co-led by SPAC vet Betsy Cohen, is raising $300 million for its debut fund, per Bloomberg.

Partech, a Paris-based VC firm, raised $750 million for its second growth equity fund.

Sapphire Ventures raised $2 billion for its sixth fund and associated co-investment vehicles.

🌎 Speedinvest, a European VC firm, raised €80 million for a climate tech fund.

It's Personnel

Matthew Colford joined Human Capital as an investment partner. He previously was with Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners.

Melvin Hibberd joined Hunter Point Capital, a GP stakes firm, as a managing director. He previously spent seven years with Blackstone.

Final Numbers: Giving Tuesday

Reproduced from Benevity; Chart: Axios Visuals
  • Go deeper: Corporate giving takes a dive
  • Bonus: Groundswell, a corporate philanthropy program that turns donor-advised funds (DAFs) into an employee benefit, has raised $15 million in seed funding. GV led, and was joined by Human Ventures, Moonshots Capital, Felicis Ventures and Core Innovation Capital. We profiled Groundswell, led by Team Rubicon co-founder Jake Wood, in September.

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