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Jan 22, 2020

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Top of the Morning

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Most venture capitalists aim to be "value-add" for their founders, providing advice and services beyond their primary role as financiers.

  • Freestyle Capital today is pushing this trend into mental health treatment.
  • The San Francisco-based firm will begin by offering two programs to all of its portfolio founders, free of charge. One is a three-month digital program for treating depression, anxiety, and burnout ⁠— provided by Freestyle portfolio company Meru Health. The other is a one-week, intensive on-site program offered by a nonprofit called The Hoffman Institute.

Freestyle partner Josh Felser, who previously co-founded companies, tells Axios that he's publicly announcing the initiative in order to persuade other venture firms to follow suit:

"Founders say that they often don't have the money for therapy or have the time. And even if they had both, they wouldn't know where to go. I do think there's a growing realization that it's okay for a founder to get help, but the only two therapists I know are fully-booked, so when founders do ask I can't even recommend someone... So we did research to find two catalytic change options that address the time factor and we're taking care of the cost factor."

To be clear, this is different from executive "coaching" (which also is underutilized, as we discussed in the context of Away).

Instead, it's a recognition that while founders are in positions of power, many of them also are under exceptional stress that can metastasize into everything from physical ailments to poor decision-making — things that can put an entire company, and its employees, at risk.

Bottom line: This is one of those times when being a "copycat investor" would be celebrated, not criticized.


Source: Giphy

WeWork said that it has sold its minority stake in women co-working space operator The Wing to a group of new and existing investors, including Google Ventures. No terms were disclosed.

  • Why it's the BFD: Because this is a reminder that WeWork isn't just a cautionary tale to be shoehorned into every scattered critique of the venture capital and startup ecosystem. It's still a commercial real estate giant that's trying to right the ship by refocusing on its core, slower-growth business.
  • Other investors in today's deal include actress Mindy Kaling and existing Wing backers NEA and Sequoia Capital.
  • Flackback: WeWork and The Wing originally discussed a deal in mid-2017 whereby The Wing's two co-founders would each receive $250k "advisor cash awards," $10 million in secondary sales, and $1 million in new shares. After that term sheet got leaked by disgruntled Wing shareholders, the final deal became smaller ($32m total) and much more vanilla.
  • Bottom line: WeWork expects to get more runway within the "coming weeks," when it's able to access a new $1.75 billion, zero-cash collateral credit facility from Goldman Sachs, as part of last fall's SoftBank-led bailout.
Venture Capital Deals

Berkshire Grey, a Lexington, Mass.-based developer of pick-and-place robots for commerce, raised $263 million in Series B funding. SoftBank Group led, and was joined by Canaan Partners, NEA, and Khosla Ventures. http://axios.link/OGdl

  • Bonus: Multiple sources tell Axios that SoftBank originally offered to buy Berkshire Grey, before the two sides settled on this venture deal.

🥩 Memphis Meats, a Berkeley, Calif.-based developer of cell-based meats, raised $161 million in Series B funding. SoftBank Group, Norwest Venture Partners, and Temasek co-led, and were joined by Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Threshold Ventures, Cargill, Tyson Foods, Finistere, Future Ventures, Kimbal Musk, Fifty Years and CPT Capital. http://axios.link/ZIqY

Qonto, a French challenger business bank, raised $115 million in Series C funding co-led by DST Global and Tencent. http://axios.link/MSyc

Personio, a German provider of HR software for SMBs, raised $75 million at around a $500 million valuation. Accel led, and was joined by Lightspeed Venture Partners, Lars Dalgaard, and return backers Index Ventures, Northzone, Global Founders Capital, and Picus Capital. http://axios.link/0agu

LumApps, a France-based social intranet for the enterprise, raised $70 million in Series C funding. Goldman Sachs led, and was joined by Bpifrance, Idinvest Partners, Iris Capital, and Famille C. http://axios.link/Habj

Sysdig, a San Francisco-based dev-ops platform, raised $70 million in Series E funding. Insight Partners led, and was joined by Goldman Sachs and return backers Accel and Bain Capital Ventures. www.sysdig.com

Adagene, a Chinese oncology immunotherapy company, raised $69 million in Series D funding led by General Atlantic led, and was joined by return backers Eight Roads Ventures China, F-Prime Capital, WuXi, and Sequoia China. http://axios.link/o7Wp

Scoutbee, a Germany-based supplier discovery platform, raised $60 million in Series B funding. Atomico led, and was joined by Lakestar and Next47. http://axios.link/0tTT

Liberis Group, a UK-based lender to small businesses, raised $42 million in new equity funding. FTV Capital led, and was joined by return backer Blenheim Chalcot. www.liberisgroup.net

Zoomcar, an Indian self-drive mobility platform, held a $30 million first close on a $100 million-targeted Series D round. Backers include Sony. http://axios.link/IEB2

Software Motor Co., a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based provider of optical motor systems, raised $25 million from firms like BMW i Ventures. www.softwaremotor.com

Outlier, an Oakland-based provider of automated business analytics, raised $22.1 million in Series B funding. Emergence Capital led, and was joined by return backers Ridge Ventures, 11.2 Capital, First Round Capital, Homebrew, Susa Ventures, and SV Angel. www.outlier.ai

Privafy, a Burlington, Mass.-based developer of a “secure private network on the public Internet,” raised $22 million from undisclosed backers. www.privafy.com

Intezer, an Israeli provider of malware identification and eradication software, raised $15 million in Series B funding. OpenView Venture Partners led, and was joined by return backers Intel Capital, Magma, Samsung, and the United Services Automobile Association. http://axios.link/YWkB

Shyft, a San Francisco-based corporate relocation marketplace, raised $15 million in Series A funding. Inovia Capital led, and was joined by Blumberg Capital and FJ Labs. http://axios.link/Gov0

Placer.ai, a Los Altos, Calif.-based provider of retail foot-traffic analytics, raised $12 million in Series A funding. JBV Capital led, and was joined by Aleph, Reciprocal Ventures, and OCA Ventures. http://axios.link/QOwU

Sayari Labs, a Washington, D.C.-based data intelligence startup focused on corruption in emerging markets, raised $9 million in Series B funding. Arsenal Growth led, and was joined by Lavrock Venures and NS2 Ventures. http://axios.link/xyFh

ConnectDER, a Philadelphia-based startup that helps utilities integrate residential distributed energy resources, raised $7.25 million in Series B funding from Clean Energy Ventures, Skyview Ventures, and Avista Development. www.connectder.com

🚑 DoctorLogic, a Plano, Texas-based digital marketing platform for healthcare providers, raised $7 million in Series A funding led by Unbundled Capital. http://axios.link/7KP9

vChain, a Houston-based digital asset notarization startup, raised $7 million in Series A funding. Elaia led, and was joined by Bluwat and Acequia Capital. http://axios.link/pjdH

Cann, a Los Angeles-based maker of cannabis-infused beverages, raised $5 million in seed funding. Imaginary and JM10 Partners co-led, and were joined by Navy Capital and Global Founders Capital. http://axios.link/CDpp

Tealbook, a Toronto-based supplier data startup, raised C$5 million in seed funding from Refinery Ventures, Grand Ventures, Workday, Stand Up Ventures, and BDC Capital. www.tealboook.com

Punch List, a mobile app for home remodels, raised $4 million from Bling Capital, Bedrock Capital, Ludlow Ventures, and Mayfield. http://axios.link/DBbG

Thundra, a Boston-based serverless tooling startup, raised $4 million in Series A funding led by Battery Ventures. http://axios.link/n9Jx

TriggerMesh, a Swiss serveless management platform, raised $3 million in seed funding co-led by Crane Venture Partners and Index Ventures. http://axios.link/Xb7q

Moov, a San Francisco-based marketplace for used manufacturing equipment, raised $2.4 million in seed funding led by NFX. www.moov.co

Tokopedia, an Indonesian ecommerce marketplace, is finalizing a $1.5 billion investment from Temasek, SoftBank and Alibaba at a valuation of between $8 billion and $9 billion, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/cKJH

Private Equity Deals

Ardian is providing up to €500 million in growth funding for German utility EWE, after previously agreeing to acquire a 26% stake. http://axios.link/ekEI

Benford Capital Partners acquired LiteSentry, a Northfield, Minn.-based provider of automated inspection and process control systems to the flat glass fabrication market. www.litesentry.com

HLD Europe is in talks to buy a majority stake in Exxelia, a French maker of aerospace and defense components, from IK Investment Partners for around €500 million. http://axios.link/WEW9

Palladium Equity Partners acquired Accupac, a Mainland, Penn.-based provider of outsourced manufacturing and liquid packaging solutions for the personal care and beauty markets, from J.H. Whitney. www.accupac.com

SitusAMC, a Houston-based portfolio company of Stone Point Capital, acquired Alan King & Co., a provider of master servicing software for the mortgage market. www.situsamc.com

Stone Point Capital and Further Global agreed to buy Duff & Phelps, a New York-based corporate advisor and valuation firm, from Permira for $4.2 billion. www.duffandphelps.com

Warburg Pincus is in talks to buy Quilter (LSE: QLT), a British wealth manager with a market cap north of £3 billion, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/YET6

Public Offerings

🚑 Arcutis Biotherapeutics, a Westlake Village, Calif.-based dermatological drug developer, set IPO terms to 7.8 million shares at $15-$17. It would have a market cap of $593 million, were it to price in the middle, and to trade on the Nasdaq (ARQT) with Goldman Sachs as lead underwriter. Shareholders in the pre-revenue company include Frazier Life Sciences (37% pre-IPO stake), OrbiMed (15%), and Bain Capital Life Sciences (13.5%). http://axios.link/8mna

UTXO Acquisition, a blank check company focused on Internet services companies in Asia or North America, filed for a $50 million IPO. It’s led by Chinese blockchain entrepreneur Wei Huang. http://axios.link/GHAF

Liquidity Events

Apollo Global Management agreed to sell London-based steel trader Stemcor to Chinese commodities group Cedar Holdings. http://axios.link/tRzH

BMO Financial Group bought Clearpool, a New York-based provider of electronic trading solutions, from investors like Edison Partners. www.clearpoolgroup.com

Eurazeo hired Citi and Evercore to find a buyer for Irish payments firm Planet, which could fetch up to €2 billion, per Reuters. http://axios.link/0NZf

More M&A

Eaton (NYSE: ETN) agreed to sell is hydraulics unit to Danish industrial group Danfoss for $3.3 billion in cash. http://axios.link/txsZ

Melrose Industries is seeking a buyer for the ventilation
and cooling systems unit of subsidiary Nortek, which could fetch around $3 billion, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/A32s

Tencent launched a $148 million takeover bid for listed Norwegian game publisher Funcom. http://axios.link/whYi


Averna Capital launched as a Europe-focused private equity firm. Its principals are ex-Apax investors Stephen Green and Richard Tudor, plus Pierre-Edouard Harant (ex-RPD International). http://axios.link/4O6C

Blossom Capital raised $185 million for its second fund, less than a year after the early-stage European VC firm raised $85 million for its debut fund. http://axios.link/nZat

Canapi Ventures, a fintech-focused venture capital firm affiliated with Live Oak Bancshares, raised $545 million for its debut funds. www.canapi.com

EQT Partners and Temasek formed a $500 million joint venture to invest in India’s solar and wind power generation market. http://axios.link/5KD9

Griffin Global Asset Management and Bain Capital Credit are forming a commercial aviation leasing and asset management platform.

Konvoy Ventures, a Denver-based firm focused on e-sports and gaming infrastructure, raised nearly $11 million for its debut fund, per an SEC filing. http://axios.link/BaKm

Two Sigma Ventures, a New York-based VC firm focused on “data-driven startups,” raised $288 million for its third fund. www.twosigma.com

Wynnchurch Capital raised nearly $2.3 billion for its fifth mid-market buyout fund. www.wynnchurch.com

It's Personnel

Jeff Ubben is stepping down as CEO of activist hedge fund ValueAct Capital, although he’ll still oversee a $1 billion social impact investing fund. His successor will be Mason Morfit. http://axios.link/0HeH

Crestline Investors, a credit-focused firm, promoted Frank Jordan to partner. www.crestlineinvestors.com

Peter Larsen rejoined Hamilton Lane as managing director of product. He previously was a partner with Atlantic Pacific Capital. www.hamiltonlane.com

Valerie Shen rejoined cleantech-focused venture firm G2VP as COO. www.g2vp.com

Final Numbers
Source: Eaton Partners survey of institutional investors.

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