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June 23, 2021

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Top of the Morning

Illustration of a giant mobile phone casting a shadow over gaming controllers and a mouse and keyboard.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Welcome to the mobile gaming gold rush.

Driving the news: Electronic Arts this morning announced that it will pay $1.4 billion to buy Playdemic, a mobile gaming studio whose titles include "Golf Clash," from Warner Bros.

  • This comes just months after EA paid $2.1 billion to buy Glu Mobile.
  • It also resolves talk that not all of WB Games would get included in the Discovery merger.

The big picture: Console game makers are moving hard toward mobile. Some of that is adapting existing franchises, like what Activision Blizzard has done with "Call of Duty" or what Ubisoft plans for "Division," but much of it will be inorganic via acquisition.

  • "Everybody wants a bigger footprint in mobile and moving more into games-as-a-service" Axios Gaming's Stephen Totilo explains.
  • There are tons of mobile gaming studios that are ripe for the taking, both VC-backed and bootstrapped.
  • At the same time, some mobile game companies are diversifying into console games, creating acquisition opportunities in that market too.

The bottom line: Consoles are a relatively limited market. But almost everyone in the world has a mobile gaming device in their pocket.

The BFD

Illustration of a hand drawing a line between the Chinese and U.S. flags
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Quanergy Systems, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based developer of solid-state lidar sensors, agreed to go public at an implied $1.4 billion equity value via CITIC Capital Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: CCAC).

  • Why it's the BFD: There's likely to be political scrutiny on this one, given that the SPAC sponsor is backed by the Chinese government and the SPAC target once angled to have its technology integrated into Trump's border wall (although its current business appears focused on auto and IoT applications).
  • ROI: Quanergy raised around $325 million from firms like Newbury Ventures, Rising Tide Fund, G Squared, Manhattan Venture Partners, MicroVentures, Delphi Automotive, Daimler, Reform Ventures, Canas Capital, Trans-Pacific Technology Fund and HOF Capital.
  • The bottom line: "Quanergy is a developer of solid state silicon lidar units, which pulses a low-power laser through an optical phased array to measure the distance and shape of objects. Historically, lidar sensors involved moving parts — generally some mechanism to rotate the laser so it can scan the surrounding area. The company also develops perception software that interprets the sensor data." — Aria Alamalhodaei, TechCrunch

Venture Capital Deals

Viva Republica, the South Korean maker of the Toss super fintech app, raised $410 million at a $7.4 billion post-money valuation. Alkeon Capital led, and was joined by Korea Development Bank and insiders Altos Ventures and Greyhound Capital. http://axios.link/KaxK

🚑 AlayaCare, a Montreal-based provider of home and community care software, raised C$225 million in Series D funding. Generation Investment Management led, and was joined by Klass Capital and insiders Inovia Capital, CDPQ and Investissement Québec. www.alayacare.com

CD Finance, a Chinese provider of microfinance services, raised $154 million. Ontario Teachers’ led and was joined by insider ABC World Asia. http://axios.link/LLji

Aircall, a New York-based provider of cloud phone systems for call centers and sales teams, raised $120 million in Series D funding. Goldman Sachs Asset Management led, and was joined by DTCP, eFounders, Draper Esprit, Adam Street Partners, NextWorldCap and Gaia. http://axios.link/pzwm

Oyster, a London-based HR platform for distributed workforces, raised $50 million in Boston B funding at a $475 million valuation. Stripes Group led, and was joined by Avid Ventures, Emergence Capital and The Slack Fund. http://axios.link/RiPe

Zeller, an Australian fintech for SMBs, raised A$50 million. Spark Capital led, and was joined by Square Peg, Apex Capital Partners and Addition. http://axios.link/Mcwi

Merlyn Mind, a New York-based developer of digital assistants for education, raised $29 million led by Learn Capital. http://axios.link/k8LD

Atom Finance, a New York-based investment research platform, raised $28 million in Series B funding. SoftBank Latin America Fund led, and was joined by General Catalyst and Base Partners. www.atom.finance

Equinom, an Israeli developer of “smarter seeds” for plant-based foods, raised $20 million in Series C funding. Phoenix Insurance Co. led, and was joined by Fortissimo Capital, BASF VC, Trendlines Group and Maverick. http://axios.link/eQvj

Memory.ai, a Norwegian maker of productivity apps, raised $14 million. Melesio and Sanden co-led, and were joined by Investinor, Concentric and SNÖ Ventures. http://axios.link/53Pw

🚑 NuvoAir, a Boston-based app for tracking respiratory illness, raised $12 million in Series A funding led by AlbionVC. http://axios.link/Fm7c

Cabana, a mobile hotel startup, raised $10 million in Series A funding co-led by Craft Ventures and Goldcrest Capital. http://axios.link/3TSB

Hawk AI, a Munich-based, raised $10 million in Series A funding. BlackFin Capital Partners led, and was joined by Picus Capital. www.hawk.ai

ResQ, a provider of restaurant back-office operations software, raised $7.5 million in seed funding from Homebrew, Golden Ventures and Inovia Capital. http://axios.link/fn7S

Vero, a New York-based property leasing infrastructure platform, raised $5 million in Series A funding co-led by Eleven Capital and Bienville Capital. www.sayvero.com

Vantage, an AWS costs analysis startup, raised $4 million in seed funding led by Andreessen Horowitz. http://axios.link/0xXy

Joyride, a Toronto-based provider of micromobility software, raised C$3.7 million in seed funding from Proeza Ventures and Urban Innovation Fund. http://axios.link/nzYE

Holy Grail, a Mountain View, Calif.-based carbon capture startup, raised $2.7 million in seed funding from firms like LowerCarbon Capital and Goat Capital. http://axios.link/dLgV

Private Equity Deals

🚑 CVC Capital Partners agreed to buy a majority stake in ExamWorks, an Atlanta-based provider of medical exams, peer reviews and related services, from Leonard Green & Partners and GIC (both of which retain minority stakes). www.examworks.com

I Squared Capital agreed to buy Kio Networks, a data center operator in Mexico and Central America, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/97Pz

KKR agreed to buy a majority stake in New Zealand-based online education company Education Perfect from Malaysia-listed Mulpha International for $318 million. http://axios.link/O5DE

PAI Partners agreed to buy Pasubio, an Italian provider of leather for the auto industry, from CVC Capital Partners. www.pasubio.com

Senior (LSE: SNR), a British aerospace and defense group, rejected a final £840 million takeover offer from Lone Star Funds. http://axios.link/tGvf

Silver Lake agreed to invest $1 billion into Splunk (Nasdaq: SPLK), in the form of convertible senior notes that have an initial conversion price of $160 per share. http://axios.link/DRDE

Public Offerings

Aspire Global, a Chinese e-cigarette and vaping brand, filed for a $161 million IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq (ASPG). http://axios.link/GW6w

Bridge Investment Group, a Salt Lake City-based real estate investment manager with $26 billion in AUM, filed for an IPO. http://axios.link/U7ku

Dingdong, a Chinese grocery delivery company, set IPO terms to 14 million shares at $23.50-$25.50. It would have a $6 billion fully diluted value, were it to price in the middle, plans on the NYSE (DDL) and reports a $485 million net loss on $1.73 billion in revenue for 2020. The company raised over $400 million from such firms as General Atlantic, Sequoia Capital China, Starquest China, Qiming Venture Partners, Bertelsmann Asia Investments and General Atlantic. http://axios.link/tQxa

🍩 Krispy Kreme, the donut chain owned by JAB Holding and BDT Capital Partners, set IPO terms to 26.7 million shares at $21-$24. It would have a $3.8 billion fully diluted value, were it to price in the middle, and plans to list on the Nasdaq (DNUT). http://axios.link/JmOl

Missfresh, a Chinese grocery delivery company, set IPO terms to 21 million shares to $13-$16. It would have a $3.6 billion fully diluted value, were it to price in the middle, plans to list on the Nasdaq (MF) and reports a $252 million net loss on $956 million in revenue for 2020. Missfresh raised over $2 billion from firms like Goldman Sachs, Tencent, CICC Capital, ICBC International Securities, Abu Dhabi Capital Group, Tiger Global and a government fund of Suzhou City. http://axios.link/Iyml

Sprinklr, a New York-based customer experience management platform, raised $266 million in its IPO. It priced at $16 (below $18-$20 range), for a $4.6 billion fully diluted valuation. The company will list on the NYSE (CXM), reports a $41 million net loss for 2020 on $387 million in revenue and raised around $880 million from firms like Hellman & Friedman, Battery Ventures, Iconiq, Sixth Street, JC2 Ventures and Revolution. http://axios.link/L8LF

Warby Parker, a New York-based eyewear brand valued at $3 billion by venture capitalists, said it has filed confidentially to go public. The company hasn't decided whether to do so via an IPO or direct listing. http://axios.link/T9an

SPAC Stuff

Embark, a San Francisco-based developer of self-driving truck tech, agreed to go public at an implied $5.2 billion equity value via Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp. II (NYSE: NGAB). Embark had raised around $170 million from firms like DCVC, YC, OMERS Ventures, Maven Ventures and Mubadala. http://axios.link/HNjs

Liquidity Events

Dija, a British grocery delivery startup backed by $20 million in VC funding, is seeking a sale or merger just months after its London launch, per Bloomberg. Backers include Blossom Capital, Index Ventures and Creandum. http://axios.link/qR3i

🚑 uniQure (Nasdaq: QURE) agreed to buy French gene therapy company Corlieve Therapeutics for €46.3 million. Sellers include Idinvest Partners and Kurma Partners. http://axios.link/6SfV

More M&A

🚑 McKesson (NYSE: MCK) is considering a sale of its European business, with German pharma wholesaler Phoenix Group as a likely suitor, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/nGAT

🎵 Sony Music Entertainment acquired a majority stake in Alamo Records, a label whose artists include Blackbear, Lil Durk and Rod Wave. www.alamo-records.com

Fundraising

Photo illustration of Chris Sacca.
Photo Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Photo by Nicola Gell/Getty Images for SXSW.

Lowercarbon Capital, a clean energy-focused VC firm led by Chris Sacca, is raising a total of $830 million for a pair of debut vehicles, a flagship fund and an opportunities fund, per documents obtained by Axios.

Golden Ventures raised $100 million for its fourth seed-stage fund and $20 million for a later-stage fund. www.golden.ventures

It's Personnel

Shane Feeney is stepping down as head of private equity at CPPIB, in order to join Northleaf Capital Partners as global head of secondaries. http://axios.link/IQHL

Frontline Ventures promoted Finn Murphy to partner and added former Workday CTO David Clarke as a venture partner. www.frontline.vc

Katherine Gronberg joined VC firm NightDragon as head of a new government services group. She previously was VP of government affairs at both Crowdstrike and Forescout. www.nightdragon.com

Water Street Healthcare Partners promoted Mike Brennan to partner. www.waterstreet.com

Final Numbers

Data: Coindesk; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Coindesk; Chart: Axios Visuals

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