Apr 15, 2020

Axios Pro Rata

By Dan Primack
Dan Primack

🖥️ 12:30pm ET today: Join Axios for a live virtual event on the future of fintech and consumer privacy in the age of COVID-19. I'll be interviewing Credit Karma CEO Kenneth Lin, while Jim VandeHei will be speaking with Andrew Yang. Register here.

Top of the Morning

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The White House yesterday released the names of more than 200 CEOs and other business figures who it says will advise the administration on reopening America's economy.

  • The group was assembled in the 24 hours before President Trump began reading the names of many of them, phonebook-style, during yesterday afternoon's press conference. Reporters were sent an expanded list later in the evening.
  • I touched base with several participants last night, none of whom yet knew any specifics of what they are being asked to do. Nor do they know working group structures, such as if there will be chairs or if they'll work only with industry peers.
  • "When it comes to something like this, you say 'yes' first and ask questions later," one explained.

Pro Rata myopia: Doug Leone of Sequoia Capital is the only venture capitalist on the list, unless you also include Mark Cuban or former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb (who's now part-time at NEA).

  • Private equity is represented by the Blackstone Group's Stephen Schwarzman and Vista Equity's Robert Smith, and tangentially by Wall Street investment bank CEOs and folks like Elliott Management's Paul Singer and Fidelity's Abigail Johnson.
  • Notably absent from the list are public health officials or major lab testing operators like Quest Diagnostics or LabCorp.
  • Two of the group's three economists, Art Laffer and Steve Moore, have been publicly arguing against paid medical leave and beefed-up unemployment benefits. They're worried it will "discourage work" and thus limit economic growth (seriously, I'm not making that up).

What the White House is saying: "These bipartisan groups of American leaders will work together with the White House to chart the path forward toward a future of unparalleled American prosperity.  The health and wealth of America is the primary goal, and these groups will produce a more independent, self-sufficient, and resilient Nation."

But, but, but: A lot of this reopening talk is getting ahead of the health care realities, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports.

  • The U.S. is still nowhere near where it needs to be on testing, particularly of asymptomatic people, let alone building up a tracking infrastructure.
  • As she puts it: "Given how much it has cost to lock the U.S. down once, it’s unlikely we’ll get another chance to get this right."

The bottom line: It makes sense to begin building a playbook so long as everyone accepts the schedule's fluidity. What to watch next is if this group becomes organized and is given deliverables, or if it's just for show.


Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Onfido, a San Francisco-based identity verification company, raised $100 million in Series D funding led by TPG Growth.

  • Why it's the BFD: The company is working with at least one European government to develop phone-based "immunity passports" for those who have already recovered from COVID-19 and tested positive for antibodies. It has not yet spoken with U.S. officials, but CEO Husayn Kassai tells Axios that there have been indirect discussions at both the federal and state levels via partners.

  • How would it work: The “passports” would be tied to your identity, using facial recognition that would need to reauthenticate between uses (to prevent people from borrowing or stealing phones). But it would be predicated on widespread disbursement of at-home testing kits.
  • Bottom line: This is a variation on what’s already being done in China. Were it to happen in civil libertarian America, perhaps at the state or local level, Kassai believes it likely would need to be voluntary and done without government access to individual health information.
Pro Rata for Kids

Today's project is a variation on yesterday's, when I asked your WFH kids to make tissue box monsters. It's to make a toilet paper roll animal. Could be a penguin or an octopus or whatever. If you need inspiration, just Google image search for "toilet paper roll animals."

  • Per usual, please send me what they come up with.

Speaking of tissue box monsters:

Grace (5 yrs old) made Kleenex-19.
Jillian (7 yrs old)
Mila (8 yrs old) made Robo Gen (hard G)
Max (age 7) made Boxie
Venture Capital Deals

🚑 BioCatch, an Israel-based behavioral biometrics startup, raised $145 million in Series C funding. Bain Capital Tech Opportunities led, and was joined by Industry Ventures and return backers American Express Ventures, CreditEase, Maverick Ventures, and OurCrowd. http://axios.link/u8HK

🚑 Perspectum, a British developer of disease identification and monitoring software, raised $36 million. Blue Venture Fund and HealthQuest Capital co-led, and were joined by fellow return backers Oxford Science Innovation, Puhua Capital, and the University of Oxford. http://axios.link/Tszg

Awake Security, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based network traffic analysis startup, raised $36 million in Series C funding. Evolution Equity Partners led, and was joined by Energize Ventures, Liberty Global Ventures, and return backers Bain Capital Ventures and Greylock. www.awakesecurity.com

Alkira, a San Jose, Calif.-based multi-cloud networking start-up, raised $30 million from Kleiner Perkins, Sequoia Capital, and GV. http://axios.link/TI5t

Beyond Identity, a New York-based provider of password-less ID management solutions, raised $30 million in Series A funding co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and NEA. http://axios.link/Torr

Edited, a New York-based “retail decision platform,” raised $29 million in growth equity funding. Wavecrest Growth Partners and Beringea co-led, and were joined by Hermes GPE. www.edited.com

FarEye, an Indian mobile field workforce management platform, raised $25 million in Series D funding. M12 led, and was joined by Eight Roads Ventures, Honeywell, and return backer SAIF Partners. http://axios.link/KWwz

Setu, an Indian provider of fintech API infrastructure for small businesses, raised $15 million in Series A funding. Falcon Edge and Lightspeed Venture Partners US co-led, and were joined by return backers Lightspeed India Partners and Bharat Inclusion Seed Fund. http://axios.link/NO1I

Slite, a French notes organizing and sharing platform, raised $11 million in Series A funding led by Spark Capital. http://axios.link/THG6

Push Technology, a provider of real-time data streaming and messaging software, raised £10 million in Series A funding. Maven Capital Partners led, and was joined by Guinness Asset Management and Stephens Capital Partners. http://axios.link/lXYT

Atlas AI, a Palo Alto-based provider of agricultural insights tech, raised $7 million in Series A funding. Airbus Ventures led, and was joined by Micron Technology and The Rockefeller Foundation. http://axios.link/0Pl7

AI.Reverie, a New York-based computer vision startup that’s focused on algorithm training, raised $5.6 million. Vulcan Capital led, and was joined by Compound Ventures, In-Q-Tel, Resolute Ventures, SGInnovate, TechNexus, and Triphammer Ventures. http://axios.link/2Yk7

Credit Kudos, a British credit scoring startup, raised £5 million in Series A funding. AlbionVC led, and was joined by TriplePoint, Plug & Play Ventures, Ascension Ventures, and Entrepreneur First. http://axios.link/RTkI

🚑 PIC Therapeutics, a Boston-based oncology therapeutics startup, raised $5 million in seed funding led by Advent Life Sciences. http://axios.link/Yu71

The Climate Service, a Durham, N.C.-based provider of climate risk analytics software, raised $3.8 million in Series A funding led by Persei Venture. http://axios.link/Av7z

Aurigo Software, an Austin, Texas-based provider of physical project management software, secured an investment from Autodesk (Nasdaq: ADSK). http://axios.link/KdBd

Private Equity Deals

Capital Constellation acquired a minority equity stake in London-based private equity firm Pollen Street Capital. http://axios.link/20i4

Navacord, a Canadian insurance brokerage owned by Madison Dearborn Partners, acquired Edmonton-based Blanket Insurance. www.navacord.com

🚑 Persistence Capital Partners invested in Summit Veterinary Pharmacy, a Canadian veterinary compounding pharmacy. www.svprx.com

More M&A

Airbnb secured $1 billion in new debt funding, one week after announcing $1 billion in debt and equity funding from Silver Lake and Sixth Street Partners. Reported lenders include Silver Lake and Sixth Street, plus Apollo Global Management, Owl Rock Capital, and Oaktree Capital Management. http://axios.link/jFpL

J.C. Penney Co. (NYSE: JCP) is considering a bankruptcy filing, per Reuters. http://axios.link/XUyU

Saudi Arabia's sovereign-wealth fund is nearing a $380 million deal for British Premier League soccer club Newcastle United F.C., per the WSJ. http://axios.link/YzSP


Andreessen Horowitz is raising $450 million for its second crypto-focused fund, per the FT. http://axios.link/gly3

BlackRock raised $5.1 billion for its third global energy and power infrastructure fund. www.blackrock.com

Corigin Ventures, a New York-based seed firm focused on real estate startups, raised $36 million for its first institutional fund. http://axios.link/fQP2

Glade Brook Capital Partners is raising $100 million for a new special situations fund that will focus on tech companies impacted by COVID-19 economic disruptions, per Reuters. http://axios.link/DVDs

SaaStr, a San Francisco-based VC firm focused on SaaS startups, secured $17 million of a $20 million-targeted second opportunities fund, per an SEC filing. www.saastr.com

• Section 32, a San Diego-based VC firm led by former GV boss Bill Maris, is raising $350 million for its third fund, per an SEC filing. www.section32.com

Zetta Venture Partners, a San Francisco-based VC firm focused on AI startups, raised $180 million for its third fund. http://axios.link/Pgbj

It's Personnel

Dan Crain, onetime CTO for Brocade and CEO of Whiptail (acquired by Cisco in 2013) joined Newark Venture Partners as an operating partner. www.newarkventurepartners.com

Jeremy Menkhaus joined Millpond Equity Partners as a vice president. He previously was with Agriculture Capital. www.millpointequity.com

Micah Meisel joined Oak Hill Capital Partners as a partner. He previously was a managing director with Tandem Capital. www.oakhillcapital.com

David Thacker is leaving Google, where he was VP of product management for G suite apps, to join Greylock as a consumer-focused general partner. http://axios.link/E2vd

Final Numbers
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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Dan Primack

🙏 Thanks for reading Axios Pro Rata! Please ask your friends, colleagues, and tissue box monsters to sign up.

  • Happy birthday M... Look forward to hanging out when we're allowed to do that sort of thing again.