May 23, 2024

Top of the Morning

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The future of private equity will be tokenized.

The big picture: This is about how individuals and institutions invest in private equity, rather than the sorts of companies and projects in which private equity invests.

  • Hirsch believes that putting LP interests on the blockchain would expand retail investor participation in private equity (i.e., the industry's holy grail), by simplifying both onboarding and secondaries.
  • He also believes that institutions would eventually follow suit, even though to date they've forgone a lot of innovation. "We still get documents faxed to us," Hirsch noted.

Zoom in: Hirsch was, to some extent, talking his book. Hamilton Lane is among the investors in Securitize, a Bay Area startup that tokenizes fund interests and other "real-world assets."

  • But it's also been a customer, having launched a group of tokenized feeder funds in late 2022. Hirsch acknowledges that customer uptake has been "slow," but that he expects comfort levels to accelerate (a bit like online purchase curves in the aughts).
  • Others testing the water have included KKR, which has tokenized access to both a health-care growth equity fund and a tech growth fund. It used Securitize for the former, and Singapore-based ADDX for the latter.
  • There's also an industry group focused on developing a single distributed ledger for the entire private alts ecosystem. It's led by iCapital, with participants including KKR, Apollo, Blackstone, BlackRock, and WestCap.

The bottom line, per Hirsch: "This industry has changed very little in the last 40 years, getting them to completely rethink how it works is going to take some time. ... We're going from basically writing checks to getting people to be used to using Apple Pay. That will take some time, but there will be an inflection point and it will happen."


Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

National Football League owners yesterday chose not to vote on a proposal to allow private equity investment in franchises, although negotiations are continuing.

Why it matters: The NFL is the last major U.S. sports league to eschew private equity, with even college sports cashing in.

The latest: NFL owners did make headway during their two-day annual meeting, working toward an NBA-type structure whereby a handful of private equity firms would have pre-approval to buy minority stakes.

  • Expect a lot of the same names that already have been active in the NBA and English Premier League, but that sovereign wealth funds wouldn't be part of an initial cohort.
  • NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he would "expect there to be something by the end of the year."
  • Owners did agree to increase the amount of debt that can be used to finance a team acquisition to $1.4 billion from $1.2 billion.

The bottom line: Private equity will come to the NFL, but with a delayed kickoff.

Venture Capital Deals

DeepL, a German language translation AI, raised $300m at a $2b valuation. Index Ventures led, and was joined by Iqoniq Growth, Teachers' Venture Growth, and existing investors IVP, Atomico, and WiL.

Colendi, a Turkish fintech, raised $65m in Series B funding at a $700m valuation. Citi Ventures led, and was joined by Migros Ticaret, Sepil Ventures, Re-Pie Asset Management, Finberg, and Hedef Holding.

🚑 Grey Wolf Therapeutics, a British biotech focused on immune dysfunction in oncology and autoimmunity, raised $50m in Series B extension funding. ICG led, and was joined by Pfizer Ventures, Andera Partners, Canaan, Earlybird Venture Capital, Oxford Science Enterprises, and British Patient Capital.

Hydrolix, a Portland, Ore., streaming data lake platform, raised $35m in Series B funding. S3 Ventures led, and was joined by insiders Nava Ventures, Wing Ventures, AV8 Ventures, and Oregon Venture Fund.

Lumos, an SF employee identity management startup, raised $35m in Series B funding. Scale Venture Partners led, and was joined by a16z, Harpoon Ventures, and Neo.

Finout, an Israeli cloud cost optimization startup, raised $26.3m in Series B funding. Red Dot Capital led, and was joined by Maor Investments and insiders Team8, Pitango First, and Jibe Ventures.

SOCRadar, a provider of threat intelligence and brand protection solutions, raised $25.2m in Series B funding. PeakSpan Capital led, and was joined by Oxx.

Orca AI, a London-based developer of autonomous shipping tech, raised $23m co-led by OCV Partners and MizMaa Ventures.

Enifer, a Finnish developer of mycoproteins, raised €15m in Series B funding. Taaleri Bioindustry Fund led, and was joined by Nordic Foodtech VC, Voima Ventures, and Valio.

Bolster, a Santa Clara, Calif., provider of multi-channel phishing protection, raised $14m in Series B funding. M12 led, and was joined by insiders Thomvest Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Liberty Global Ventures, Cheyenne Ventures, Cervin Ventures, and Transform Capital.

🚑 Radar Therapeutics, a Berkeley, Calif., developer of programmable medicines, raised $13.4m in seed funding. NfX led, and was joined by Eli Lilly, Biovision Ventures, KdT Ventures, PearVC, and BEVC.

Footprint, a New York identity verification startup, raised $13m in Series A funding. QED Investors led, and was joined by Index Ventures, Lerer Hippeau, Operator Partners, BoxGroup, Palm Tree Capital, Definition, Neo, and Animal Capital.

Harbinger, an LA-based electric truck maker, raised $13m from Coca-Cola's sustainability fund.

Majority, an immigrant-focused neobank based in Miami, raised $12.5m in equity funding. Klarna co-founder Victor Jacobsson and Swedish serial founder Hjalmar Winbladh co-led, and were joined by Valar Ventures, Heartcore Capital, Avid Ventures, and iZettle co-founders Magnus Nilsson and Jacob de Geer.

WeatherXM, a Swiss hyperlocal weather data provider, raised $7.7m in Series A funding. Lightspeed Faction led, and was joined by Protocol Labs, Borderless Capital, Arca, Alumni Ventures, Placeholder VC, Red Beard Ventures, Metaplanet, GS Futures, Consensys Mesh, Westerly Ventures, and Dlab.

ThinkLabs AI, a power grid automation spinout of GE Vernova (NYSE: GEV), raised $5m. Powerhouse Ventures and Active Impact Investments co-led, and were joined by Blackhorn Ventures, Amplify Capital, and Mercuria Energy.

STRATxAI, a Irish investing platform, raised €1.5m from Delta Partners and Furthr VC.

Private Equity Deals

Anton Capital Entertainment, a London film and TV studio, raised €100m led by BlackRock.

Deutsche Bahn, Germany's national railroad, has received multiple takeover offers for its DB Schenker logistics unit, per Bloomberg. This includes a €15b joint bid from Carlyle and CVC Capital Partners, plus strategic offers from DSV, AP Moeller-Maersk, and MSC Mediterranean Shipping. BFD flashback

Hargreaves Lansdown (LSE: HL), a British investment platform, rejected a £4.7b takeover offer from CVC Capital Partners, Nordic Capital, and IDIA.

KPS Capital Partners agreed to buy the 49.7% stake it doesn't already hold in Primient, a Decatur, Ill. maker of plant-based food and industrial ingredients, from Tate & Lyle (LSE: TATE).

PestCo, a portfolio company of Thompson Street Capital Partners, acquired the assets of Enviro-Safe, a Perrineville, N.J., provider of commercial pest control services.

Renovus Capital Partners acquired Case Works, an Austin, Texas-based legal services provider.

San Francisco Equity Partners formed a new food service brokerage called Xceed, via investments in both Sales Concepts (Roswell, Ga.) and Donovan Food Brokerage (Rosemont, Ill.).

Public Offerings

Bowhead Specialty, a New York property and casualty insurer, raised $128m in its IPO. It priced 7.5m shares at $17, versus plans to offer 6.7m shares at $14-$16, and will list on the NYSE (BOW). Backers include Gallatin Point Capital.

Centurion Acquisition, a tech SPAC led by video game exec Mark Gerhard, filed for a $250m IPO.

Liquidity Events

🚀 AE Industrial Partners is seeking to sell Firefly Aerospace, a Cedar Park, Iowa-based orbital launch vehicle maker that could fetch around $1.5b, per Bloomberg.

More M&A

Eni (Milan: ENI) is seeking to sell a 20% stake in its Enilive biorefining unit, which could have a total value of 10b, with possible suitors reportedly including BlackRock, Brookfield, IFM, and Macquarie.

Fideuram, the private banking unit of Intesa Sanpaolo, acquired a majority stake in Swiss neobank Alpian.

Iberdrola (Madrid: IBE) is seeking to raise up to $1.8b via a sale of a stake in its U.S. renewables business, per Bloomberg.

IGN Entertainment, a division of Ziff Davis (Nasdaq: ZD), acquired Gamer Network, a British portfolio of media brands that include, Eurogamer and Rock Paper Shotgun.

Xavier Niel is weighing a $4.1b takeover bid for Latin American telecom carrier Millicom (Nasdaq: TIGO), per Bloomberg.

Phantom, a Solana-based crypto wallet valued at $1.2b by firms like a16z and Paradigm, acquired Bitski, a wallet-as-a-service startup that had raised $25.5m from a16z, Galaxy Digital, Coinbase Ventures, Winklevoss Capital, and Kindred Ventures.

TE Connectivity (NYSE: TEL) is seeking to sell its medical contract manufacturing unit, which could fetch more than $2b, per Bloomberg.


🚑 Patient Square Capital, a Silicon Valley-based PE firm focused on health care, is targeting more than $6b for its second fund, per PitchBook.

Permira is targeting €750m for a midmarket private debt fund, per the WSJ.

Shorooq Partners of UAE raised $100m for its second private credit fund.

It's Personnel

Tobias Bengtsdahl, founder of Memmo, joined VC firm Antler as a partner.

Bessemer Venture Partners promoted Christopher Wan to vice president.

Christophe Browne joined Lexington Partners as a partner focused on GP-led secondaries. He previously was with ICG.

🚑 Cal Callaway is leaving RBC, where he is global head of health-care investment banking, per Bloomberg.

Maëlle Gavet is stepping down as CEO of Techstars, with group co-founder and chairman David Cohen returning to the role.

Jean Hsu is stepping down as head of private debt at CalPERS, per Bloomberg.

David King is leaving BofA to join Barclays as global head of tech M&A, per Bloomberg.

Michael Sonnenshein stepped down as chief of crypto-focused Grayscale Investments, and will be succeeded by Goldman Sachs exec Peter Mintzberg.

Correction: Inspired Capital promoted Charlotte Ross to partner. An earlier edition misidentified her new title as principal.

Final Numbers

A line chart that displays the daily opening price of Live Nation Entertainment stock from January 2 to May 23, 2024. The stock price fluctuates between a low of $87.5 on February 6 and a high of $106.69 on March 26. The chart shows a general upward trend, with a significant drop in mid-April, followed by a recovery in May.
Data: Yahoo Finance; Chrt: Axios Visuals

The Justice Department and a group of state attorneys general today plan to sue Live Nation on antitrust grounds, tied to its 2010 acquisition of Ticketmaster, Axios' Sara Fischer reports:

  • DOJ will seek to break up the company, which it believes has illegally abused its monopoly power in live ticketing — violating a consent decree. Expect a mid-day press conference.
  • Live Nation closed trading yesterday with a $24.5 billion market cap, but shares were down more than 5% at today's open.

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