Jul 20, 2021

Axios Pro Rata

🚨 Breaking: Jeff Bezos and his fellow Blue Origin astronauts successfully completed their flight this morning. Full coverage.

In memoriam: John Veronis, a longtime media banker and private equity investor, has died at the age of 93.

🎧 Axios Re:Cap digs into the future of Dreamers and DACA, after a federal judge blocked the program. Take a listen.

Top of the Morning

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Leon Black says he did a bad thing, but not the bad, bad thing.

Driving the news: Black yesterday filed a 52-page legal response to Guzel Ganieva, who sued the former private equity titan last month for defamation and sexual assault. In short, he calls her complaint "a work of fiction," and also countersued Ganieva for defamation and breach of contract.

  • Ganieva, a Russian immigrant and former model, had claimed that Black made her financially indebted to him via a pair of large loans, and then used that leverage for sexual gratification.
  • Black, who previously acknowledged having what he called a "consensual" affair with Ganieva, argues that the financial pressure came in the opposite direction, via a $100 million extortion plot.

Read Ganeiva's complaint.

Read Black's response.

What's in Black's filing: He claims to have "irrefutable documentary evidence," via text messages and recorded phone calls, to support his defense, and says he's seeking to learn whether Ganieva "is acting alone or is working in concert with" others.

  • It's unclear if Black believes that possible third party is in some way related to the succession fight at Apollo Global Management, the firm he co-founded and recently left after an investigation into his personal dealings with Jeffrey Epstein.
  • He also flatly denies the sexual assault allegation, arguing it's contradicted by contemporaneous text messages.

What's not in Black's filing: The nondisclosure agreement that both Black and Ganieva agree she signed, but which Ganieva claims she signed under duress and of which she claims not to have a copy.

  • Also missing are full transcripts of text message and recorded phone conversations.

The bottom line: These sorts of lurid disputes involving billionaires are usually settled quietly behind closed doors. This one is setting up to be litigated in open court.

The BFD

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

JOKR, a New York-based grocery delivery startup, raised $170 million in Series A funding co-led by GGV Capital, Balderton Capital and Tiger Global.

  • Why it's the BFD: This is part of a new generation of delivery startups that seek to squeeze incumbents by offering ultra-fast delivery (<15 minutes) with little to no fees, via drivers who are employees rather than independent contractors.
  • Other investors include Activant Capital, Greycroft, FJ Labs, Kaszek, Monashees and HV Capital.
  • The bottom line: "JOKR co-founder and CEO Ralf Wenzel previously founded food delivery startup Foodpanda, and became Delivery Hero's chief strategy officer when it acquired the company in 2016. He was most recently at SoftBank, which he says gave him an additional glimpse into global e-commerce trends." — Kia Kokalitcheva, Axios
Venture Capital Deals

Swiggy, an Indian food delivery company, raised $1.25 billion. SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Prosus co-led, and was joined by Amansa Capital, Carmignac, Falcon Edge Capital, Goldman Sachs, Think Investments, Accel and Wellington Management. http://axios.link/hLrm

🚑 Pivot Bio, a Berkeley, Calif.-based developer of microbial nitrogen tech for increasing crop yields, raised $430 million in Series D funding. DCVC and Temasek co-led, and were joined by Generation Investment Management, G2 Venture Partners and Rockefeller Capital Management. http://axios.link/ytsr

Go1, an Australian enterprise learning platform, raised US$200 million in Series D funding at a valuation north of $1 billion. SoftBank's Vision Fund 2, AirTree Ventures and Salesforce Ventures co-led, and were joined by Madrona Venture Group, M12, Blue Cloud Ventures, Larsen Ventures, SEEK, TEN13 and Tiger Global. http://axios.link/9WPu

🚑 Amylyx Pharma, a Cambridge, Mass.-based developer of ALS treatments, raised $135 million in Series C funding. Viking Global led, and was joined by Bain Capital Life Sciences, Perceptive Advisors, Rock Springs Capital, Woodline Partners, Marshall Wace, Tybourne Capital Management, Verition Fund Management, aMoon Fund, Falcon Edge and insiders Morningside Ventures, 683 Capital Management, Belinda Termeer and Polaris Founders Capital. www.amylyx.com

SmartRecruiters, a San Francisco-based online recruiting platform, raised $110 million in Series E funding at a $1.5 billion valuation. Silver Lake Waterman led, and was joined by insiders Insight Partners and Mayfield. http://axios.link/OyiH

🚑 TMRW Life Sciences, an automated platform for monitoring and storing of frozen eggs and embryos used in in vitro fertilization, raised $105 million in Series C equity and debt funding. Transformation Capital led, and was joined by GV, Casdin Capital, Peter Thiel, Anne and Susan Wojcicki, 5AM Ventures and Life Sciences Innovation Fund. www.tmrw.org

Choco, a Berlin-based ingredient ordering platform, raised $100 million in Series B funding. Left Lane Capital led, and was joined by Insight Partners and insiders Coatue and Bessemer Venture Partners. www.choco.com

• Employment Hero, an HR, benefits and payroll platform, raised $100 million in Series E funding led by Insight Partners. www.employmenthero.com

• Fabric, a Seattle-based headless ecommerce platform, raised $100 million at an $850 million valuation. Stripes led, and was joined by B Capital Group and Greycroft. http://axios.link/4FAN

Opensea, a New York-based NFT marketplace, raised $100 million in Series B funding at a $1.5 billion valuation led by insider Andreessen Horowitz. Other backers include Coatue, CAA, Michael Ovitz, Kevin Hartz, Kevin Durant and Ashton Kutcher. http://axios.link/IAa1

• Path Robotics, the Columbus, Ohio-based developer of autonomous robotic welding systems, raised $100 million in Series C funding. Tiger Global led, and was joined by insider SVB. http://axios.link/lSJt

🚑 Ancora Heart, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based developer of heart failure treatments, raised $80 million from backers like Sands Capital and Sio Capital. http://axios.link/jaxz

• Sundae, a San Francisco-based residential real estate marketplace, raised $80 million in Series C funding. Fifth Wall and General Global Capital co-led, and were joined by QED Investors, Wellington Management, Susa Ventures, Founders Fund, First American Financial, Prudence Holdings, Crossover VC, Intersect Capital, Gaingels and Oberndorf Ventures. http://axios.link/6zue

Cape Analytics, a Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of geospatial intelligence for property risk and valuation, raised $44 million in Series C funding. Pivot Investment Partners led, and was joined by Aquiline Technology Growth and HSCM Bermuda. www.capeanalytics.com

Xtremepush, a Dublin-based customer engagement platform, raised $33 million led by Grafton Capital. http://axios.link/elTT

Inkbit, a 3D printing startup that used vision-based feedback control, raised $30 million in Series B funding led by Phoenix Venture Partners. www.inkbit3d.com

Dover, a recruitment orchestration platform, raised $20 million in Series A funding. Tiger Global led, and was joined by Founders Fund, Abstract Ventures and YC. http://axios.link/HpPh

🚑 Sweetch, an Israeli behavioral health engagement startup, raised $20 million in Series A funding. Entreé Capital led, and was joined by Noaber, Kortex Ventures, Insurtech VC, Fin TLV Ventures, Philips, OurCrowd and Qure Ventures. http://axios.link/BonB

Imove, a Norwegian EV subscription service, raised €19 million in Series A funding. AutoScout24 led, and was joined by Norselab and Idekapital. http://axios.link/HNy8

Kdan Mobile, a Taiwan-based provider of content creation and productivity software, raised $16 million in Series B funding. Dattoz Partners led, and was joined by WI Harper Group, Taiwania Capital and Golden Asia Fund Mitsubishi UFJ Capital. http://axios.link/Kz36

Cube.dev, a San Francisco-based analytics API for building data apps, raised $15.5 million in Series A funding. Decibel led, and was joined by Bain Capital Ventures, Betaworks and Eniac Ventures. www.cube.dev

League Apps, a New York-based youth sports management platform, raised $15 million in Series B funding. Contour Venture Partners led, and was joined by Major League Baseball and Elysian Park Ventures. http://axios.link/oeXG

Collectiv Food, a London-based food supply chain startup, raised £12 million in Series A funding. VNV Global led, and was joined by VVNP, Octopus Ventures, Norrsken VC, and existing investors, including Partech, Colle Capital and Mustard Seed. http://axios.link/3cCn

Fero Labs, a New York-based developer of machine learning software for the industrial sector, raised $9 million in Series A funding. Innovation Endeavors led, and was joined by Deutsche Invest VC. www.ferolabs.com

Rise Gardens, a Skokie, Ill.-based indoor hydroponics startup, raised $9 million in Series A funding. Telus Ventures led, and was joined by Listen Ventures, True Ventures and Amazon Alexa Fund. http://axios.link/X1aR

Recapped, a Brooklyn-based provider of collaborative sales software, raised $6.3 million in seed funding led by CRV. http://axios.link/xJRn

🎵 Breakr, an app for connecting musicians with social media influencers, raised $4.2 million in seed funding led by Slow Ventures. http://axios.link/j703

Faraday, a Burlington, Vt.-based consumer prediction platform for brands, raised $4.1 million in Series A funding. Intercap led, and was joined by FreshTracks Capital and Launch Capital. www.faraday.ai

Private Equity Deals

Apollo Global Management said it’s in talks to partner with Fortress Investment Group on its £6.3 billion offer to buy British supermarket chain Wm Morrison (LSE: MRW). Apollo previously was viewed as a rival bidder. http://axios.link/BqDP

Platinum Equity agreed to buy Unical Aviation, an Industry, Calif.-based provider of commercial aircraft parts and components. www.unical.com

Service Champions, a Brea, Calif.-based portfolio company of Odyssey Investment Partners, acquired HELP, a provider of HVAC, plumbing and electric services in the Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana markets. www.servicechampions.com

Public Offerings

Clarios International, a Milwaukee-based maker of low-voltage vehicle batteries, set IPO terms to 88.1 million shares at $17-$21. It would have a $9.7 billion market cap, were it to price in the middle, and will list on the NYSE (BTRY). The company was acquired in 2019 for $13.2 billion by Brookfield Asset Management and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. http://axios.link/oviO

🚑 Cytek BioSciences, a Fremont, Calif.-based provider of cell analysis instruments, set IPO terms to 14.6 million shares at $16-$18. It would have a $2.3 billion fully diluted value, were it to price in the middle, and plans to list on the Nasdaq (CTKB). The company raised over $200 million from firms like Hillhouse Capital and RA Capital. http://axios.link/ewiV

Duolingo, a Pittsburgh-based language learning platform, set IPO terms to 5.1 million shares at $85-$95. It would have a $4.1 billion fully diluted value, were it to price in the middle, and plans to list on the Nasdaq (DUOL). The company raised $183 million in VC funding, most recently at a $2.4 billion valuation, from firms like NewView Capital (20.1% pre-IPO stake), USV (14.2%), CapitalG (13.7%), Kleiner Perkins (10.5%), General Atlantic (7.1%) and Durable Capital Partners. http://axios.link/Ptpr

MeridianLink, a Costa Mesa, Calif.-based credit reporting and lending platform owned by Thoma Bravo, set IPO terms to 12 million shares at $24-$26. It would have a $2.1 billion fully diluted market value, were it to price in the middle, andplans to list on the NYSE (MLNK). http://axios.link/k1Ws

Riskified, an Israeli provider of e-commerce fraud protection for enterprises, set IPO terms to 17.5 million shares at $18-$20. It would have a $3.1 billion fully diluted value, were it to price in the middle, and plans to list on the NYSE (RSKD). The company raised over $225 million from firms like Genesis Capital, Pitango, Fidelity and General Atlantic. http://axios.link/uQzk

🚑 Sophia Genetics, a Swiss clinical genomics analytics platform, set IPO terms to 13 million shares at $17-$19. It would have a $1.2 billion fully diluted value, were it to price in the middle, and plans to list on the Nasdaq (SOPH). The company raised around $250 million from firms like Generation Investment Management (13.8% pre-IPO stake) and Balderton Capital (6.8%). http://axios.link/Xq4l

SPAC Stuff

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

BBQGuys, a Baton Rouge, La.-based e-commerce platform for high-end BBQ grills, agreed to go public at an implied equity value of $963 million via Velocity Acquisition Corp. (Nasdaq: VELO). The company was acquired last year by Brand Velocity Partners, Solamere Capital, BPEA Private Equity and Aberdeen Asset Management.

  • It's been a big month for grill-makers, as both Traeger and Weber recently filed for IPOs.

🚑 Gelesis, a Boston-based developer of an oral hydrogel for treating obesity and chronic GI tract diseases, agreed to go public at an implied $1.3 billion equity value via a SPAC formed by Capstar Partners (NYSE: CPSR). Gelesis raised over $300 million from firms like PureTech Health, LaunchCapital and Kennedy Lewis Investment Management. http://axios.link/QwHL

🚑 Aesther Healthcare Acquisition, a pharma and med device SPAC, filed for a $100 million IPO. http://axios.link/VpBF

🚑 BioPlus Acquisition, a healthcare SPAC co-led by Ross Haghighat (Jasper Capital Partners), filed for a $200 million IPO. http://axios.link/aLxF

Kensington Capital Acquisition V, an industrials SPAC, filed for a $260 million IPO. http://axios.link/zsS8

Seaport Calibre Materials Acquisition, a metals SPAC formed by SGAM and Calibre Group, filed for a $150 million IPO. http://axios.link/kVWC

Liquidity Events

Bill.com (NYSE: BILL) agreed to buy Invoice2go, a Palo Alto-based provider of accounts receivable software, for $625 million in cash and stock. Invoice2go had raised around $65 million from firms like Accel, OCV Partners and Ribbit Capital. www.invoice2go.com

Rapid7 (Nasdaq: RPD) acquired IntSights Cyber Intelligence, a New York-based external threat protection platform, for $335 million in cash and stock. IntSights had raised over $70 million from firms like ClearSky, Qumra Capital, Blumberg Capital and Glilot Capital Partners. www.intsights.com

More M&A

Kite Realty Group Trust (NYSE: KRG) agreed to buy Retail Properties of America (NYSE: RPAI), a rival shopping mall REIT, for $2.8 billion.

ABB (NYSE: ABB) bought Spanish manufacturing robotics company ASTI Mobile Robotics. http://axios.link/EYQP

ChargePoint (NYSE: CHPT) agreed to buy has.to.be, a German e-mobility software company whose backers include Volkswagen, for €250 million. http://axios.link/OUCW

LVMH agreed to buy a 60% stake in Virgil Abloh's Off-White streetwear label. http://axios.link/ei77

PCCW (HK: 00008) is in advanced talks to sell more than $600 million worth of data center assets to DigitalBridge, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/2fT6

Oil Search (ASX: OSH), a Papua New Guinea-focused oil and gas producer, rejected an unsolicited A$8.8 billion takeover offer from Santos (ASX: STO). http://axios.link/QEcU

Winnebago Industries (NYSE: WGO) agreed to buy Barletta Pontoon Boats for $255 million in cash and stock. http://axios.link/WV3x

Fundraising

Cinven will seek to raise more than $12 billion for its next flagship private equity fund, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/NCPQ

Generate Capital raised $2 billion for its latest fund focused on green energy and other sustainable infrastructure. http://axios.link/nNGg

Speedinvest, a pan-European VC firm, raised €60 million for its second specialist marketplaces and consumer fund. http://axios.link/9BlD

It's Personnel

Andreessen Horowitz promoted crypto-focused investor Arianna Simpson to general partner. www.a16z.com

Frank Benevento joined Moelis Asset as head of business development. He previously was with CrossHarbor Capital. www.moelisassetmanagement.com

Melissa Klafter joined AE Industrial Partners as a partner and CFO. She previously was with Sun Capital Partners. www.aeroequity.com

Evan Mintz joined AlpInvest as a VP. He previously was with VMG Partners. www.alpinvest.com

Playground Global promoted Victoria Sun to principal. www.playground.global

Bob Shettle, former co-head of Barings’ North American private finance group, joined Star Mountain Capital as a managing director. www.starmountaincapital.com

Final Numbers
Source: NBER; Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios

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