March 12, 2020

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πŸ“Ί "Axios on HBO" this Sunday includes an exclusive interview with DNC chair Tom Perez, including the status of political conventions. Watch clip.

Top of the Morning

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For years we've known that the boom would end, we just didn't know if it would be because of some festering economic poison like the housing crisis or an external shock like terrorism. Now we know.

  • Cycles always win. Sometimes due to our lack of nurture, sometimes due to nature, and sometimes from a combination of the two.

What's happening: This morning's newsletter contains a ton of deal news, although chances are that most of these transactions closed before the market volatility. Expect to see the blurbs get scarcer over the next few weeks as both investors and issuers struggle with price discovery and business forecasts.

Two deals in particular are worth noting today, both on the venture side:

  • Harbour BioMed, a drug startup with offices in China and Massachusetts, raised $75 million in Series B funding. This comes just days after the company announced a partnership with Mount Sinai Health System to develop therapies for COVID-19 and cancers.
  • Paper, an ed-tech startup with offices in Montreal and Los Angeles, raised $7.5 million led by Reach Capital. The company develops remote learning solutions for schools β€” at a time when districts are closing physical locations without many educational backup plans.

Between the lines: Deal markets have been through sudden shocks before, and have always come out stronger on the other side. Remember, for example, when both Facebook and Airbnb were founded and funded. That should also happen this time too.

  • But in the meantime, there will be failures, particularly for companies that didn't keep rainy day funds, took on too much leverage, or which are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The bottom line: Sequoia Capital's warning from last Thursday feels like a lifetime ago. If you didn't take it to heart then, do so now, and please consider the value of your community as much as the value of your company.

Stay up to date: Latest coronavirus statistics and developments


Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Carl Icahn has increased his stake in Occidental Petroleum (NYSE: OXY) from 2.5% to nearly 10%.

  • Why it matters: Icahn has been feuding with Occidental since last summer, believing his $38 billion takeover of Anadarko Petroleum was too expensive and poorly structured. Now he's taking advantage of macro conditions (coronavirus, Saudi-Russia deal collapse, etc.) to strengthen his hand, as Occidental's market cap has fallen to $10.5 billion and it just slashed its dividend for the first time in 30 years.
  • What Icahn wants: Control, which would include a new CEO and a new board of directors.
  • The bottom line: "Many shale producers including Occidental were struggling to turn a profit even before the coronavirus and tension among big oil-producing states sent crude prices down sharply. Occidental is particularly vulnerable given its high debt level β€” roughly $40 billion at last count." β€” Cara Lombardo, WSJ

Venture Capital Deals

πŸš‘ Kymera Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech focused on protein degredation, raised $102 million in Series C funding. BVF and Redmile Group co-led, and were joined by Wellington Management Co., Bain Capita Life Sciences, Janus Henderson, BlackRock, and Rock Springs Capital.

β€’ Cloudbeds, a San Diego-based provider of hospitality management solutions, raised $82 million in Series C funding. Viking Global Investors led, and was joined by PeakSpan Capital, Recruit Co., Ltd., Counterpart Ventures, and Cultivation Capital.

πŸš‘ Lyra Health, a Burlingame, Calif.-based behavioral health tech company, raised $75 million in Series C funding. IVP led, and was joined by Meritech Capital Partners and return backers Casdin Capital, Crown Venture Fund, Glynn Capital, Greylock Partners, Providence Ventures, Tenaya Capital, and Venrock.

β€’ Albert, a Chicago-based personalized financial advice app, raised $50 million in Series B funding led by CapitalG.

β€’ Human Interest, a San Francisco-based provider of 401(k)s for small and mid-sized businesses, raised $40 million in Series C funding led by Oberndorf Enterprises.

β€’ Deep North, a Foster City, Calif.-based video analytics startup, raised $25.7 million in Series A funding. Celeres Investments led, and was joined by Engage and AI List Capital.

β€’ Remesh, a New York-based research platform, raised $25 million in Series A2 funding. General Catalyst led, and was joined by LionBird and North Coast Ventures.

πŸš‘ Biosight, an Israeli developer of drugs for hematological malignancies and disorders, raised $19 million in Series C funding. Israel Biotech Fund led, and was joined by SBI JI Innovation Fund and Arkin Bio Ventures.

β€’ Interos, an Arlington, Va.-based risk management platform, raised $17.5 million in Series B funding. Venrock led and was joined by Kleiner Perkins.

πŸš‘ B.well Connected Health, a Baltimore-based digital health engagement platform, raised $16 million in Series A funding. UnityPoint Health Ventures led, and was joined by Well Ventures.

β€’ Akur8, a Paris-based provider of insurance pricing solutions, raised €8 million in Series A funding from BlackFin Capital Partners and MTech Capital.

β€’, an Israeli AI lifecycle management startup, raised $4.5 million in seed funding from Capri Ventures and F2 Capital.

β€’ Lince Works, a Barcelona-based game studio, raised $3.4 million led by Game Seer.

β€’ Phemex, a Singapore-based cryptocurrency derivatives platform, raised $3.5 million led by NGC Ventures.

β€’ Assembled, developer of an β€œoperating system for support teams,” raised $3.1 million in seed funding. Stripe led, and was joined by Basis Set Ventures and Signalfire.

β€’ Superpeer, a San Francisco-based monetization platform for experts and YouTube creators, raised $2 million led by Eniac Ventures.

β€’ Unitary, a U.K.-based developer of automated content moderation, raised Β£1.35 million led by Global Founders Capital.

Private Equity Deals

β€’ Byron Allen, the talk show host media mogul who recently bought The Weather Channel, offered to buy local broadcaster Tegna (NYSE: TGNA) for $4.4 billion, per the WSJ. This puts Allen in competition with both Apollo Global Management and Gray Television (NYSE: GTN).

β€’ CIP Capital invested in 3Pillar Global, a Fairfax, Va.-based software product development firm.

β€’ Gateway Partners, a British private equity firm, is in talks to buy a $100 million minority stake in Indian logistics company TVS Supply Chain Solutions, per Bloomberg.

πŸš‘ Healius (ASX: HLS), an Australian medical center operator, is expected to reject a A$2.12 billion takeover offer from Partners Group, per The Australian.

β€’ Jefferson Capital, a St. Cloud, Minn.-based portfolio company of J.C. Flowers, acquired Canaccede, a buyer of charged-off consumer receivables and insolvencies in Canada.

β€’ Kantar, a portfolio company of Bain Capital, acquired Mavens of London, a digital marketing and analytics consultancy.

β€’ Xirgo, a Camarillo, Calif.-based portfolio company of HKW, acquired the assets of Owlcam, a Palo Alto-based dashboard security camera startup that had raised nearly $50 million from firms like Canvas Ventures, Avanta Ventures, MS&AD Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Defy, Menlo Ventures, ACME Capital, and CSAA Insurance Group.

Public Offerings

πŸš‘ Imara, a Cambridge, Mass.-based developer of therapeutics for chronic treatment of sickle cell disease, raised $71 million in its IPO. The company priced at $16 per share (low end of range), for an initial market cap of $261 million. It will trade on the Nasdaq (IMRA), used Morgan Stanley as lead underwriter, and had raised $97 million in VC funding from NEA (29.8% pre-IPO stake), OrbiMed (13.4%), Arix Bioscience (11.5%), Lundbeckfond (10.5%), Pfizer Ventures (10.5%), RA Capital (7%), Bay City Capital (5.9%), and Alexandria Venture Investments.

Liquidity Events

β€’ First American Financial (NYSE: FAF) acquired Docutech, an Idaho Falls-based provider of document and e-close software for the mortgage market, from Serent Capital for $350 million.

β€’ Magic Leap, the Florida-based augmented reality company that raised more than $2 billion, hired an advisor to explore a possible sale, per Bloomberg. The company was most recently valued north of $6.5 billion by VCs, but sales of its initial headset product disappointed. Founder and CEO Rony Abovitz dodged when I asked via Twitter.

β€’ Unity, the San Francisco-based gaming engine company valued by VCs at more than $6 billion, acquired Artomatix, an Ireland-based provider of AI game developer tools that had raised around $6 million from backers like Enterprise Ireland and Suir Valley Ventures.

More M&A

β€’ Beijing Capital Agribusiness & Foods Group, a century-old Chinese fermented bean curd company, is considering a sale, per Bloomberg.

πŸš‘ HealthStream (Nasdaq: HSTM) acquired NurseGrid, a Portland, Ore.-based provider of health care staffing and scheduling tools, for $25 million in cash.

πŸ₯œ Nestle (SWX: NESN) hired JPMorgan to find a buyer for Yinlu, a Chinese peanut milk business that could fetch $1 billion, per Bloomberg.

β€’ Steinhoff International (JSE: SNH) is postponing the proposed sale of European retail arm Pepco Group, which could fetch more than €4 billion, due to market volatility and the health-related absence of Pepco CEO Andy Bond, per Bloomberg.


β€’ Greycroft, a VC firm whose portfolio companies include Axios, is raising up to $400 million for its third growth fund, per an SEC filing.

β€’ Serent Capital, a private equity firm focused on tech and services companies, raised $750 million for its fourth fund.

β€’ Vertex Ventures US raised $150 million for its second fund.

It's Personnel

β€’ Neil Tolaney joined TCV as a general partner. He previously was with Francisco Partners.

Final Numbers

Source: Debtwire Par, Markit, ICE BofA

More from Debtwire:

  • Leveraged loan prices are down an average of 475 basis points since Feb. 21, while 30% of leveraged loans have fallen more than 500 basis points.
  • High yield bond prices are down an average of 683 basis points since Feb. 21.

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