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August 25, 2021

🚨 Breaking: OnlyFans changed its mind.

Top of the Morning

Illustration of hands drawing red lines over the US Capitol. 
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Remember all of that talk about how a President Biden and Democratic Congress would immediately hike taxes on wealthy deal-makers, including via changes to capital gains and carried interest? It's beginning to feel pretty quaint.

Driving the news: House Democrats yesterday put aside their internal differences to narrowly approve a $3.5 billion budget blueprint, setting up a vote by Sept. 27 on the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

  • Neither the budget blueprint nor the infrastructure bill contain tax increases, nor other pay-fors.

What's next: In theory, tax increases will be part of the Democrats' massive reconciliation bill.

  • But that third leg to the legislative stool is still in the drafting stages, with Axios' Alayna Treene reporting that it's unlikely to be fully written by Sept. 27.
  • Alayna does think reconciliation is likely to pass this year, despite Democratic Party infighting and GOP opposition. But legislative specifics — including retroactivity of capital gains tax increases — remain very much TBD.

The bottom line: This isn't any way to run a railroad. But it's pretty fortuitous if you want to invest in a railroad, or just about anything else.


Illustration of a robot arm holding a bag of money.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sweetgreen, the quick-service restaurant chain that recently filed for an IPO, acquired Spyce, an automated kitchen startup that operates two of its own restaurants in Boston.

  • Why it's the BFD: This is all about pandemic consequences. For Sweetgreen, that means hedging against labor shortages like the one currently impeding all service industries. For Spyce, which planned to both sell its robotic tech and build its own restaurant brand, that's an acknowledgment that the latter was too difficult in this environment.
  • Details: Word is that it's an all-stock deal, initially valued just above the $60 million where Spyce last raised VC funding from investors like Khosla Ventures, Maveron, Dragon Capital, Collaborative Fund and chef Daniel Boulud.
  • The bottom line: "The company's robotic kitchen and conveyor belts are able to cook and serve its warm bowls and salads without any human intervention ... Sweetgreen said the deal is intended to improve the customer experience by filling orders faster and more accurately and giving its employees more time to focus on preparing food." — Amelia Lucas, CNBC

Venture Capital Deals

Grafana Labs, a New York-based open observability platform, raised $220 million in Series C funding at a $3 billion valuation. Sequoia Capital and Coatue co-led, and were joined by insiders Lightspeed Venture Partners, Lead Edge Capital and GIC.

Cribl, a San Francisco-based observability pipeline company, raised $200 million in Series C funding. Greylock and Redpoint Ventures co-led, and were joined by IVP, Citi Ventures, CrowdStrike and insiders Sequoia Capital and CRV.

🚑 Calibrate, a New York-based weight management platform, raised $100 million in Series B funding. Founders Fund and Tiger Global co-led, and were joined by Optum Ventures and insiders Forerunner Ventures, Threshold Ventures and Redesign Health.

🚑 Cardior, a German biotech focused on heart failure, raised €64 million in Series B funding. Inkef Capital led, and was joined by Fund+, Sunstone, Hadean Ventures, Coparion and insiders LSP, BioMedPartners, Bristol Myers Squibb and High-Tech Gründerfonds.

• NoRedInk, a San Francisco-based digital writing curriculum, raised $50 million in Series B funding. Susquehanna Growth Equity led, and was joined by True Ventures.

• Coco, a Los Angeles-based last-mile delivery robot startup, raised $36 million in Series A funding from backers like Sam Altman, Silicon Valley Bank and Founders Fund.

LevelTen Energy, a Seattle-based renewable transaction infrastructure startup, raised $35 million in Series C funding. NGP ETP led, and was joined by Google, MCJ Collective and insiders Avista Development, Constellation Technology Ventures, Equinor Ventures, Founders' Co-op, Prelude Ventures, Techstars, TotalEnergies Ventures and Wireframe Ventures.

MakersPlace, a digital art marketplace, raised $30 million. Bessemer Venture Partners and Pantera Capital co-led, and were joined by Uncork Capital, Draper Dragon Digital Assets, 9Yards Capital, Next Play Ventures, Coinbase Ventures and Sony Music Entertainment.

Balance, a payments experience platform for B2B e-commerce, raised $25 million in Series A funding. Ribbit Capital led, and was joined by Avid Ventures and insiders Lightspeed Ventures, Stripe, Y Combinator Continuity Fund, SciFi VC and UpWest.

Knoetic, a New York-based social network and a SaaS analytics platform for chief people officers, raised $18 million in Series A funding led by Accel.

MaxAB, an Egyptian B2B food and grocery delivery startup, raised $15 million in new Series A funding (round total now $55M) from insiders RMBV, IFC, Flourish Ventures, Crystal Stream Capital, Rise Capital, Endeavour Catalyst, Beco Capital and 4DX Ventures., a San Francisco-based parallel compute platform for data workloads, raised $14 million in Series A funding. Dell Technologies Capital led, and was joined by Uncorrelated Ventures, Fusion Fund and Candou Ventures.

🚑 DiA Imaging Analysis, an Israeli ultrasound analysis startup, raised $14 million in Series B finding from Alchimia Ventures, Downing Ventures, ICON Fund, Philips, XTX Ventures and insiders CE Ventures, Connecticut Innovations, Defta Partners and Mindset Ventures.

Sora, a San Francisco-based HR automation startup, raised $14 million in Series A funding led by Two Sigma Ventures.

🚑 FlexDex Surgical, a Brighton, Minn.-based developer of robotic laparoscopic tools, raised $13 million co-led by J&J Innovation and Almeda Ventures.

Level AI, a Mountain View, Calif.-based customer service startup, raised $13 million in Series A funding. Battery Ventures led, and was joined by insiders Eniac and Village Global.

🚑 Antidote Health, a New York-based virtual HMO, raised $12 million in seed funding from iAngels, Well-Tech Ventures and Flint Capital.

Monolith AI, a London-based provider of AI engineering software, raised £8.5 million in Series A funding led by Insight Partners.

Knock, a New York-based leasing platform for landlords and management companies, raised $5 million in seed funding co-led by Accomplice and Boston Seed.

🚑 MindRythm, a Cupertino, Calif.-based startup focused on preventing neurological injury in stroke, raised $5 million in seed funding from firms like DCVC, Aestus Capital, Perseverance Capital Management and Blue Fog Capital.

Ai Palette, a Singapore-based consumer product development platform, raised $4.4 million in Series A funding co-led by pi Ventures and Exfinity Venture Partners.

BreachQuest, a Dallas-based incident response platform, raised $4.4 million in seed funding from backers like Slow Ventures, Tinder co-founders Sean Rad and Justin Mateen and Lookout founder Kevin Mahaffey.

TestRigor, a San Francisco-based software regression testing platform, raised $4.1 million in seed funding from YC, FlashPoint VC, PTV and Phystech Ventures.

Notivize, a Palo Alto-based low-code notification infrastructure startup, raised $2.2 million in seed funding from AI Fund, Firebrand Ventures and Heroic Ventures.

Private Equity Deals

Ancala Partners agreed to buy British waste management firm Augean (LSE: AUG) for £341 million, as its 325-pence per share bid topped a 280-pence per share bid from Morgan Stanley Infrastructure.

🚑 Auxo Investment Partners acquired Altus Industries, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based maker of point-of-care workstations for the healthcare industry.

Brentwood Associates sold its stake in Canadian men's underwear brand SAXX to a group that includes TZP Capital Partners, NLS and insider Krystal Growth Partners.

CBC Group agreed to lead the purchase of a 47% stake in South Korean Botox maker Hugel from Bain Capital and Goldman Sachs for $1.5 billion. Others on the buyside are Mubadala, GS Holdings Corp. and IMM Investment.

Law Business Research, a London-based portfolio company of Levine Leichtman Capital Partners, acquired Hopkins Bruce Publishers, an Austin, Texas-based provider of patent litigation information.

🚑 Red Barn Equity Partners acquired a majority stake in ReproTech, a Columbia, Mo.-based provider of cryostorage and fertility preservation solutions.

Wheel Pros, a Buena Park, Calif.-based portfolio company of Clearlake Capital Group, agreed to buy Driven Lighting Group, an Atlanta-based maker and online retailer of aftermarket auto lighting products.

Public Offerings

Illustration of glasses on pile of money
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Warby Parker, a New York-based eyewear brand valued at $3 billion by venture capitalists, filed to go public via a direct listing. It plans to list on the NYSE (WRBY) and reports a $7 million net loss on $271 million in revenue for the first half of 2021.

  • Warby has said since 2018 that it's profitable, but it appears that claim was based on adjusted EBITDA that excludes stock-based compensation expenses. Net income (the actual measure of profitability) was negative for 2018 and 2020, and broke even in 2019.
  • This would be the first B Corp. to do a direct listing.
  • Top shareholders include Tiger Global, T. Rowe Price, General Catalyst, D1 Capital Partners and Durable Capital Partners.

SPAC Stuff

First Light Acquisition Group, a SPAC focused on tech-enabled solutions for government and commercial markets, filed for a $200 million IPO.

Kairous Acquisition, an Asia-focused SPAC, filed for a $50 million IPO.

Mountain & Co. I Acquisition, a consumer internet and B2B digital infrastructure SPAC formed by Mountain Partners, filed for a $200 million IPO.

More M&A

🚑 Headspace, a mindfulness and meditation app, agreed to merge with Ginger, a provider of on-demand mental healthcare. Headspace has raised over $200 million from firms like Spectrum Equity, Next Play Ventures, 10X Capital, Hambleden Capital, Breyer Capital and The Chernin Group. Ginger raised over $230 million from firms like Bessemer Venture Partners, City Light Capital, Advance Venture Partners, The Blackstone Group, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, True Ventures and Khosla Ventures.

International Flavors & Fragrances (NYSE: IFF) agreed to sell its microbial control unit to Germany's Lanxess for around $1.3 billion.

Substack acqui-hired the team behind Cocoon, a subscription-based social network for connecting with close friends and family.


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Alpaca VC, a New York-based early-stage firm, is raising $100 million for its third fund, per an SEC filing.

Apollo Global Management is raising $500 million for a fund to invest in SPACs, the first such fund of its kind, per Reuters.

Growth Catalyst Partners of Chicago is raising $200 million for its second fund, per an SEC filing.

😴 Supermoon Capital, a sleep-focused VC firm, raised $36 million for its debut fund.

It's Personnel

Yale University named Matt Mendelsohn as the next chief investment officer of its endowment, following the death earlier this year of David Swensen. He previously had been a director focused on venture capital investments.

Emre Gunalp (ex-BNP Paribas) is joining Credit Suisse as global co-head of diversified industrials I-banking, per Bloomberg.

Tyler Hamacher (ex-NXT Capital) is joining Centerfield Capital Partners as CFO and CCO. He succeeds Jackie Byers, who is retiring.

🚑 Mike Matteo joined Oak HC/FT as a healthcare-focused venture partner. He’s the former president of Grand Rounds Health.

Benjamin Wu stepped down as a managing director of Sixth Street Growth to become CEO of Brex Asset Management, which provides venture debt to companies on the Brex platform, per his LinkedIn page.

Final Numbers

Source: Stifel survey of consumer, retail and diversified industries CEOs, business owners and PE investors.

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