SubscribeArrow

Hello, readers! I'm back again, filling in for Dan. The three-day weekend is coming up soon so let's get to it. As always, send me your best scoops at kia@axios.com or via Twitter DM.

Here we go...

Top of the Morning

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Since venture capitalist Aileen Lee coined the term "unicorn" in 2013 for tech companies valued at more than $1 billion — she counted 39 at the time — hundreds more have sprung up.

  • By the numbers: Today, there are 187 private tech unicorns in the U.S., with an aggregate valuation of just over $600 billion, according to a new PitchBook report.
  • And the pace of minting new ones is accelerating — 71 current U.S. unicorns reached that status less than a year ago, and 55 did so between one and three years ago.
  • Still, the average and median number of years it takes private U.S. tech companies to cross the $1 billion valuation mark is just above seven years.
  • It's becoming "more expensive" to become a unicorn: The median amount of VC funding raised prior to a company's joining the unicorn club has been on a steady climb, hitting about $126 million in mid-2019.
  • So, is this the new normal? Dozens of tech unicorns are being minted faster and faster. Is this how it's going to be from here on out? I'll be exploring that in the very near future, but do send me your thoughts on the subject.

Elsewhere in Axios: My colleagues have some great reads this morning:

🎧 Podcast: Dan talks trade and the U.S. economy with hedge fund manager and former Trump adviser turned critic Anthony Scaramucci. Listen here.

The BFD

Photo: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Philip Morris International and Altria are in talks for an all-stock merger, the former confirmed on Tuesday morning. The companies cautioned that there's no guarantee a deal would be struck.

  • Why it's the BFD: This would result in a mega-tobacco company, reuniting PMI and Altria more than a decade after they split. While Altria has focused on the U.S. market, PMI has been mostly selling overseas. Both have made moves into e-cigarettes.
  • Bottom line: "While Altria is helping Juul expand its reach in the U.S., the company has little help to offer overseas. Combining with PMI could change that," Angelica LaVito and David Faber write on CNBC.
Venture Capital Deals

• CRED, an India-based startup helping users manage their finances, has raised $120 million in Series B funding at a reported post-money valuation between $430 million to $450 million, according to TechCrunch. Sequoia Capital, Ribbit Capital and DST Global's Gemini Investments led the round, with Tiger Global Management, Hillhouse Capital, General Catalyst, Greenoaks Capital and Dragoneer also participating. http://axios.link/z8Hc

• Procore, a Carpinteria, Calif.-based maker of cloud-based construction management software, is looking to raise up to $112.5 million in Series H1 funding at a post-money valuation of about $3.3 billion, according to PitchBook. http://axios.link/NVNf

• Groups360, a Nashville, Tenn.-based service for booking meeting and event space , has raised $50 million from Marriott International, InterContinental Hotels Group,Accor, and Hiltn. http://axios.link/ipNg

• Platform9, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based maker of cloud infrastructure software, has raised $25 million in Series D funding led by NGP Capital, with Mubadala Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Menlo Ventures, Canvas Ventures, and HPE Pathfinder also participating. www.platform9.com

• Mux, a San Francisco-based maker of video API tools, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Evolution Media, with Accel and Y Combinator also participating. http://axios.link/EtBM

• Axonius, a New York-based cybersecurity asset management company, has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by OpenView, with Bessemer Venture Partners, YL Ventures, Vertex, WTI, and Emerge also participating. www.axonius.com

• Stylitics, a New York-based maker of outfit-based shopping recommendation tech for online retailers, has raised $15 million in Series B funding led by PeakSpan Capital. http://axios.link/yUdQ

• Hedvig, a Sweden-based insurance startup, has raised $10.4 million in new funding led by Obvious Ventures, with D-Ax and Cherry Ventures also participating. http://axios.link/o5aE

• Bond, a San Francisco-based maker of software tools to connect banks and companies, has raised $10 million in seed funding led by Canaan Partners, with Coatue, Sarah Friar, Eric Yuan, and Ryan Peterson also participating.

• Inzpire.me, a Norway-based marketplace for online influencer marketing, has raised $1.3 million (€1.2 million) in new funding led by Schibsted Media Group, with SNÖ Ventures, Thomas Falck and Martin Ingemansson also participating. www.inzpire.me

Private Equity Deals

🚑 Water Street Healthcare Partners and JLL Partners have acquired THREAD, a Tustin, Calif.-based provider of virtual research technology for clinical studies and registries.www.threadresearch.com

🚑 Ben Franklin Technology Partners has invested in ERApeutics, a Lancaster, Pa.-based manufacturer of supplements. www.erapeutics.com

• PWP Growth Equity has invested in Allow Die Casting Co., a Buena Park, Calif.-based provider of manufacturing and supply chain services. www.alloydie.com

• TA Associates has invested in Gong Cha Group, a Hong Kong-based chain of "bubble tea" shops. www.gong-cha-usa.com

• Lion Capital plans to put Grenade, a sports nutrition company, up for sale later this year after acquiring it two years ago, according to the Telegraph. http://axios.link/6A5H

• Satori Capital has increased its investment from $20 million to $30 million in Cicero Capital Partners, a Columbia, Md.-based manager of commercial mortgage-backed securities and other real estate assets. www.cicerocapitalpartners.com

🚑 Warburg Pincus has acquired a stake in WebPT, a Phoenix-based maker of software for rehab-therapy, from Battery Ventures and others. www.webpt.com

Public Offerings

• Megvii, a China-based company known for its facial recognition tech, has filed to go public in Hong Kong, potentially raising up to $1 billion. http://axios.link/k1bz

Liquidity Events

• Cisco has acquired CloudCherry, a Salt Lake City-based customer analytics startup backed by Microsoft. http://axios.link/qow6

More M&A

• Airship has acquired Apptimize, a San Francisco-based startup that provides A/B testing and optimization tools for apps. www.apptimize.com

• Raisin has acquired Fairr, a Germany-based startup tackling pensions, according to TechCrunch. http://axios.link/JKhU

• Festicket has acquired Event Genius, a U.K.-based ticketing and cashless point-of-sale (POS) platform. http://axios.link/zjQw

• Blue Ocean has acquired Beam, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based maker of "telepresence" robots, from Suitable Technologies. http://axios.link/wrvr

Fundraising

• CrowdStrike and Accel have set up Falcon Fund, a $20 million early-stage investment fund for security startups. http://axios.link/HqHs

• Presight Capital, the venture arm of Apeiron Investment Group, has closed $80 million in capital commitments for its first fund. http://axios.link/VdN8

It's Personnel

• Jessica Straus has joined Dundee Venture Capital as a venture partner. She was previously an entrepreneur-in-residence at GE Ventures. http://axios.link/CCGh

• Republic has appointed Bianca Caban to CEO of SheWorx, an events network for female entrepreneurs it recently acquired. www.sheworx.com

• Victress Capital has promoted Madeline Keulen to vice president. She was previously an MBA associate at the firm. www.victresscapital.com

Final Numbers
Expand chart
Data: U.S. Dept. of Commerce; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios