Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Seventy-five dealmakers and small business owners yesterday crowded into a Zoom call to be greeted by their host, who had originally planned to make his remarks in front of a live audience in Dallas.
Why it matters: Large-market private equity is mostly sitting on the sidelines right now, outside of some opportunistic minority deals, but lower middle-market activity remains relatively vibrant.
Details: Yesterday's event was hosted by Axial, an online deal-sourcing and transaction platform that mostly focuses on businesses with less than $20 million in EBITDA.
Caveat: Deal sourcing doesn't necessarily lead to dealmaking, particularly given lead times that average around six months.
The bottom line: The lower middle-markets are changing more in terms of how they're working on deals — moving into the virtual realm — than in terms of the number of deals they're working on.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Zoom (Nasdaq: ZM) acquired Keybase, a New York-based encrypted messaging platform, for an undisclosed amount.
This weekend's project is... Wait! Are you a mom? If so, hand this newsletter over to your kid or your partner and ask them to scroll down to the very bottom. In the meantime, a couple more Star Wars photos:
🚑 Owkin, a New York-based collaboration platform for health care R&D, raised $25 million from Bpifrance, Cathay Innovation, MACSF, and return backers GV, F-Prime Capital, and Eight Roads. http://axios.link/sBk4
• Workstream, a San Francisco-based provider of hiring software for SMBs, raised $10 million in Series A funding co-led by Founders Fund and Basis Set Ventures. http://axios.link/cHPg
🚑 Braid Health, a San Francisco-based developer of diagnostic tools for radiology, raised $9 million. Lux Capital led, and was joined by 01 Advisors and Rucker Park Capital. http://axios.link/rTLt
• Stilt, a San Francisco-based provider of financial services to immigrants, raised $7.5 million in seed funding from Hillsven Capital, Streamlined Ventures, Bragiel Brothers, and individual angels. http://axios.link/C1Zf
• Hub Security, an Israeli cryptography platform, raised $5 million in Series A funding. AXA Ventures led, and was joined by OurCrowd. http://axios.link/fFiX
• Locatee, a Swiss provider of physical workplace analytics, raised $4 million in Series A funding co-led by Fyrfly Venture Partners and Tomahawk VC. http://axios.link/iuMf
• Invisible AI, a San Francisco-based computer vision startup, raised $3.6 million in seed funding. 8VC led, and was joined by iRobot Ventures, K9 Ventures, Sierra Ventures, and Slow Ventures. http://axios.link/Vt1W
• Apttus, a "quote to cash" software company owned by Thoma Bravo, agreed to acquire document automation company Conga for $715 million from Insight Venture Partners (which will retain a minority stake). http://axios.link/r0A
• Brookfield Asset Management said it plans to invest up to $5 billion for minority stakes in retailers that had pre-pandemic revenue of at least $250 million. http://axios.link/cSge
• Brook & Whittle, a Guilford, Conn.-based portfolio company of Snow Phipps Group, acquired Pennsylvania-based label-converting business Croydon. www.brookandwhittle.com
• Far Point Acquisition (NYSE: FPAC), a blank-check acquisition company backed by Dan Loeb and led by former NYSE boss Tom Farley, is seeking to back out of its $2.6 billion deal to buy Swiss payments firm Global Blue, which is controlled by Silver Lake. http://axios.link/pXsO
• Neiman Marcus, a Dallas-based luxury department store operator owned by Ares Management and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. http://axios.link/59Rn
• Vista Equity agreed to invest $1.5 billion into Reliance Jio. This comes shortly after Facebook invested $5.7 billion and Silver Lake invested $750 million. http://axios.link/J55T
🚑 Ayala Pharma, an Israeli oncology drug company, raised $55 million in its IPO. The company priced 3.7 million shares (upsized from 3.3m) at $15, for a fully diluted market value of $190 million. It will trade on the Nasdaq (ALYA), used Citi and Jefferies as lead underwriters, and had raised $52 million in VC funding from Israel Biotech Fund (35.2% pre-IPO stake), aMoon (25%), Harel Insurance (18.4%), Bristol-Myers Squibb (6.4%), Novartis (7.2%), and Bristol-Myers Squibb. www.ayalapharma.com
• Kingsoft Cloud, a Chinese cloud storage and distribution company being spun out of Kingsoft (HK: 3888), raised $540 million in its IPO at an initial market cap of $3.7 billion. The company priced 25 million shares at $18 (high end of range), and also sold share blocks to Xiaomi and Carmignac Gestion. It will trade on the Nasdaq (KC), used JPMorgan as lead underwriter, and had raised over $900 million in VC funding from its parent company and other backers like Xiaomi, Liyue Investment and China Minsheng Investment. http://axios.link/Hm7Z
• WEX (NYSE: WEX) said it may walk away from its $1.7 billion purchases of eNett, an Australian provider of B2B payment solutions to the travel market, and Optal, U.K.-based provider of B2B transaction optimization software, due to the pandemic. ENett is currently owned by Travelport, a portfolio company of Siris Capital Group and Elliot Management. http://axios.link/EgO8
• AMP (ASX: AMP), an Australian wealth manager, no longer plans to sell its New Zealand unit, after bids came in lower than expected. http://axios.link/Yp1m
• Dow (NYSE: DOW) is exploring a sale of its U.S. Gulf Coast ports and six railway hubs, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/PgwT
• Pricefx, a Munich-based pricing software startup, acquired French peer Brennus Analytics. Pricefx has raised over €50 million from Talis Capital and Digital+ Partners. http://axios.link/FDQl
• Shandong Gold Mining (HK: 1787), a Chinese gold miner, agreed to buy TMAC Resources (TSX: TMR) for around C$230 million. http://axios.link/MzEu
• Ares Management has closed on $3 billion for its latest special opportunities fund, which could cap out at $3.5 billion. http://axios.link/aR9U
⛽ Energy Spectrum Capital, a VC firm focused on energy infrastructure, raised $969 million for its eighth fund. www.EnergySpectrum.com
• Pomona Capital is targeting $2 billion for its tenth private equity secondaries fund. http://axios.link/4PXP
• Thoma Bravo is raising $3 billion for its third middle-market fund. http://axios.link/2Dqo
👋 Hi kids: This weekend's project is to create a giant Mother's Day card. The biggest one you've ever seen. You could tape together lots of pieces of paper, or maybe make it out of something else entirely.
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