Axios Pro Rata

A green watering can with a dollar sign painted on it.
April 20, 2022

Top of the Morning

Photo illustration of Steve Young with money elements.
Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images

It isn't unusual for celebrities, and pro athletes in particular, to become private equity investors. In most cases, however, it's about gladhanding to seal a deal or fund commitment — maybe while taking a few selfies in a corporate box at the big game.

  • Steve Young is an exception, because he actually does the job. And that includes the outwardly boring stuff, like launching new investment platforms in non-sexy industries.

Driving the news: HGGC, the Utah-based firm Young co-founded more than a decade ago, tells Axios that it's allocating $300 million to back registered investment advisers.

  • The platform will be called Aspire Holdings, with Young serving as chair. Capital will come from HGGC's fourth fund, which is targeting a total of $2.25 billion (no final close yet).
  • Aspire isn't intended to be a consolidator, but rather will provide shared services to all of its companies. Plus to the three RIAs in which HGGC previously invested: Apella Capital, Merit Financial Group and WA Asset Management.
  • Each of those existing deals was done in partnership with a firm called Wealth Partners Capital Group, and HGGC says it's open to making future investments either solo or in tandem with third parties.

"RIAs often start with just a couple people, but then get to an inflection point in maturity where it can be difficult to scale without a platform like Aspire," Young says. "We think it's an opportunity that speaks to both sellers and market conditions."

The bottom line: Eyerolls are the reflex when famous folks move into finance, but that doesn't mean they're always deserved.


Illustration of a burger, drink, and fries, sitting on a cell phone as if it were a tray
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Just Eat (AMS: TKWY) said it's considering a full or partial sale of Grubhub, less than a year after completing its $7.3 billion purchase of the U.S. food delivery group.

Why it's the BFD: This would be the unwinding of a merger that kicked off a consolidation spree in the food delivery space. After Just Eat first announced its deal for Grubhub, Uber Eats agreed to buy Postmates for $2.65 billion, DoorDash took out Wolt for €7 billion and GoPuff acquired a pair of small British players.

Context: Just Eat has been under pressure from activist investor Lucerne Capital Management, which last week said it will vote against reappointment of the company's CFO and supervisory board.

The bottom line: Just Eat was viewed as one of the only viable suitors for GrubHub, because it didn't have a U.S. presence and some Democratic politicians were raising antitrust alarm bells about Uber. The big question now is if Just Eat can find a taker at almost any price, given those lingering headwinds.

Venture Capital Deals

• Beta Technologies, a Burlington, Vt.-based eVTOL startup, raised $375m in Series B funding co-led by TPG Rise Climate and Fidelity.

• Foodics, a Saudi payment platform for restaurants, raised $170m in Series C funding. Prosus and Sanabil Investments co-led, and were joined by Sequoia Capital India and insiders STV and Endeavor Catalyst.

Treinta, a Colombian financial superapp for small businesses, raised $46m. PayU led, and was joined by LionTree Partners, Ethos VC TEN13.

D-Matrix, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based compute platform for data centers, raised $44m led by Playground Global.

Fundguard, a New York-based investment management platform, raised $40m in Series B funding. Blumberg Capital led, and was joined by Citigroup and State Street.

🚑 Loop Health, an Indian health insurance startup, raised $40m in Series B funding. General Catalyst and Elevation Capital co-led, and were joined by Optum Ventures and Vinod Khosla.

🚑 Levels, a New York-based developer of metabolic biosensors, raised $38m in Series A funding at a $300m valuation. Backers include Andreessen Horowitz and individuals like Andrea Funsten, Ben Gilbert and David Rosenthal.

• Strivr, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based enterprise VR training startup, raised $35m in new Series B funding. Georgian led, and was joined by Elsewhere, Accenture Ventures, Workday Ventures and Gaingels.

Demostack, an Israeli demo experience platform for SaaS sales teams, raised $34m in Series B funding. Tiger Global led, and was joined by Bessemer Venture Partners, Amiti Ventures, GTMfund, Operator Collective and StepStone.

Gravity Sketch, a London-based provider of 3D design and modeling software, raised $33m in Series A funding. Accel led, and was joined by GV and insiders Kindred Capital, Point Nine and Forward Partners.

One More Game, a Seattle-based gaming studio, raised $22m in Series A funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners led, and was joined by Griffin Gaming Partners, Andreessen Horowitz, Animal Capital and Cleo Capital., a Los Altos-based presentation deck gamification startup, raised $20m in Series A funding. Greycroft led, and was joined by WestWave Capital and Emergent Ventures.

Neptune Robotics, a Chinese maker of robots for cleaning ship hulls, raised $17.25m. Sequoia China led, and was joined by Matrix Partners China and SOSV.

• Enso, a self-service enterprise data analytics and visualization platform, raised $16.5m from firms like SignalFire and Khosla Ventures.

Vitruvian, an Australian connected strength startup, raised A$15m in Series A funding from Larsen Ventures and Ten13.

🚑 Free Market Health, a Pittsburgh-based maker of specialty pharmacy routing technology, raised $13.5m in Series A funding led by Alta Partners.

• Everstage, a Wilmington, Del.-based sales commission platform, raised $13m led by Elevation Capital.

Themis, a New York-based collaborative governance, risk and compliance platform, raised $9m in seed funding. TTV Capital led and was joined by Felicis and Walkabout Ventures.

🦐 CellMeat, a South Korean alt shrimp maker, raised $8.1m in Series A funding from NauIB, BNK VC, Strong Ventures and Ryukyung PSG.

BioFlyte, an Albuquerque-based biological threat detection startup, raised $6.1m. Cottonwood Technology Fund led, and was joined by insider Anzu Partners.

Strike Security, a continuous penetration testing startup, raised $5.4m in seed funding. Greyhound Capital led, and was joined by from FJ Labs, Canary, NXTP, VentureFriends, Magma Partners, Latitud and Orok Ventures.

Glacier, an SF-based recycling robotics startup, raised $4.5m in seed funding led by NEA.

Superjoi, a fan funding platform for creators, raised $2.5m from Ascension, QED Investors, Systema VC, Tomahawk and Modern Venture Partners.

Etap, a Nigerian auto insurance startup, raised $1.5m in co-led by Toyota’s Mobility 54 and CFAO Group.

The Sandbox, a virtual asset trading and monetization startup backed by SoftBank, is seeking to raise $400m at a $4b valuation, per Bloomberg.

Private Equity Deals

🚑 KKR offered to buy Australian hospital operator Ramsay Health Care (ASX: RHC) for approximately A$14.8b.

Apollo Global Management acquired Tony’s Fresh Market, a Chicago-based grocery retailer.

Arcline Investment Management will pay $525m to buy Omega Engineering, a Stamford, Conn.-based process measurement and control instrumentation business, from Spectris (LSE: SXS).

Corporate Visions, a Reno, Nev.-based portfolio company of The Riverside Company, bought DSG Consulting, a Little Rock, Ark.-based provider of outsourced sales training, from Stone-Goff Partners.

The Jordan Company bought Communications & Power Industries, a Palo Alto-based maker of electronic components, subsystems and antenna systems, from Odyssey Investment Partners.

🚑 Main Capital Partners bought a majority stake in VideoVisit, a Finnish provider of software for virtual healthcare visits.

Ontario Teachers agreed to invest up to US$175m into KKR’s road platform in India, including Highway Concessions One.

The Pritzker Organization agreed to acquire Epic Staffing Group, an LA-based provider of outsourced employment to the biopharma and health care industries, from Webster Equity Partners.

Ripple Industries bought Schumacher, a Dallas-based maker of power supply products, from Lincolnshire Management.

Public Offerings

ForU Worldwide, a Chinese freight transportation platform, withdrew IPO registration papers it filed in May 2021. It had planned list on the Nasdaq (FOYO), while shareholders include Legend Capital and Matrix Partners China.

Kingsoft Cloud (Nasdaq KC) demoted JPMorgan from left lead on its upcoming Hong Kong listing, after a bank analyst slashed the company’s share price outlook, per Bloomberg.

SPAC Stuff

Avanea Energy Acquisition, an energy tech SPAC led by investors at Presidio Partners Management, withdrew registration for a $200m IPO.

Gateway Strategic Acquisition, a tech SPAC formed by Gaw Capital, withdrew registration for a $300m IPO.

Laris Media Acquisition, a music and audio SPAC led by Darren Throop (Entertainment One CEO), withdrew registration for a $250m IPO.

Yotta Acquisition, a tech SPAC, raised $100m in an upsized IPO.

Liquidity Events

KV Asia Capital is seeking a buyer for Asia Pacific Education Holdings, a Malaysian post-secondary education group that could fetch around $350m, per Bloomberg.

🚑 Level Equity is seeking a buyer for Newport Beach, Calif.-based dental software company Planet DDS, which could fetch more than $500m, per Axios Pro’s Sarah Pringle.

More M&A

Alphamin Resources (TSX: AFM), a Canadian tin miner with around a C$1.65b market cap, is seeking a buyer, per Bloomberg.

BR Malls, a listed Brazilian shopping mall operator, agreed to a sweetened $2.6b merger from rival Aliansce Sonae.

🚲 Lyft (Nasdaq: LYFT) agreed to buy bikeshare equipment maker PBSC Urban Solutions.

Royal DSM agreed to sell its protective materials unit to Avient (NYSE: AVNT) for €1.33b.


Construct Capital, a VC firm focused on "foundational industries," raised $300m for its second fund.

EQT set a €21.5b hard cap for its 10th flagship buyout fund, which is targeting €20b.

🌎 Evok Innovations closed on around $150m for its $300m-targeted industrial decarbonization VC fund.

Framework Ventures raised $400m for a fund focused on early-stage web3 and blockchain gaming startups.

KuCoin, a Seychelles-based crypto exchange, launched a $100m Creators Fund aimed at early-stage web3 projects.

It's Personnel

B Capital Group hired Elizabeth Wahab (ex-Cornell Capital) as global COO and Cecilia Kwan (ex-Vista Equity) as CFO. It also promoted Ted Hill to chief administrative officer and Mark Cho to partner.

Tim Brady is stepping down as a partner with Y Combinator, which he joined in 2016.

🚑 Enhanced Healthcare Partners promoted Brandon Einstein to partner and Jeff Chen to principal.

Origin Ventures promoted Jacquie Marshall Siegmund to principal.

Final Numbers

Data: Netflix earnings reports; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios

Netflix yesterday announced its first quarterly subscriber loss in a decade.

Be smart: This is more about increased streaming competition than password sharing, and will require Netflix to push deeper into areas like gaming (and maybe fitness). That last part means Netflix could up its M&A game, although don't be surprised if sellers prefer cash to stock.

Thanks for reading Axios Pro Rata! Please ask your friends, colleagues and registered investment advisors to sign up.