February 15, 2022

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Top of the Morning

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Crypto went mainstream on Sunday, via a series of hyped Super Bowl ads that featured everything from LeBron to Larry David to a bouncing, technicolor QR code.

Be smart: This was a new customer land-grab, with crypto companies reaching to the edges of TAM. But new tech has a very mixed track record when it comes to this particular sort of spend, particularly when bankrolled by venture capitalists.

  • Fourteen dotcom companies advertised during the 2000 Super Bowl, most of which are now defunct. Not just Pets.com, but also OnMoney.com and a marketing startup called Epidemic.com (whose URL is somehow unused).
  • Cash4Gold had an MC Hammer-led ad in 2009. It was bankrupt three years later, and the subject of legal headaches for its VC backers.
  • Quibi shelled out for a Super Bowl ad in 2020, during which it made the bold choice to not really explain what the company did. It didn't even last the year.
  • Oh, and then there are Mexico-grown avocados, whose ad just this past Sunday was followed by the U.S. suspending the import of ... wait for it ... Mexico-grown avocados.

I'm not suggesting this is a Madden-style curse. After all, that personal computer upstart in 1984 seems to have made a go of it. And it's always important to differentiate between the future success of an industry and of any individual companies (see com, dot).

  • When it comes to tech, however, champions aren't crowned on Super Bowl Sunday.


Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Intel (Nasdaq: iNTC) agreed to buy Israel's Tower Semiconductor (Nasdaq: TSEM) for around $5.4 billion in cash, or $53 per share (60% premium to yesterday's closing price).

Why it's the BFD: America's largest chipmaker is seeking to significantly expand its specialty manufacturing capability, at a time of surging semiconductor demand. It's also Intel's second major purchase of an Israeli tech company, having previously bought Mobileye for $15.3 billion.

Elsewhere: AMD said it completed its $35 billion all-stock acquisition of San Jose, Calif.-based chipmaker Xilinx.

The bottom line: "Tower has been investing in equipment at its manufacturing sites in Israel, Texas and Japan to boost capacity for 200 and 300 millimetre chips. The company serves 'fabless' companies — which design chips but outsource manufacturing, as well as integrated device manufacturers, and offers more than 2 million wafer starts per year of capacity." — Steven Scheer, Reuters

Venture Capital Deals

Securonix, an Addison, Texas-based cybersecurity analytics company, raised more than $1b in growth equity funding. Vista Equity Partners led, and was joined by Volition Capital and Eight Roads Ventures. http://axios.link/wwGa

Paper, a Montreal-based online tutoring platform, raised US$270m in Series D primary and secondary funding. Sapphire Ventures and SoftBank co-led, and were joined by IVP, Salesforce Ventures, Framework Venture Partners, Bullpen Capital, Reach Capital, BDC Capital and Red House Education. www.paper.co

🚑 Kallyope, a New York-based gut-brain axis biotech, raised $236m in Series D funding. Mubadala and The Column Group co-led, and were joined by DNS Capital, Hartford Healthcare Endowment, Parkwood, Tao Capital and insiders Alexandria Venture Investments, Bill Gates, Casdin Capital, Euclidean Capital, Illumina, Lux Capital, Polaris Partners, Two Sigma Ventures and StepStone Group. www.kallyope.com

RapidRatings, a New York-based provider of financial health data and analytics, raised $200m. Spectrum Equity led, and was joined by 22C Capital. http://axios.link/Nl3F

Veho, a New York-based next-day package delivery startup, raised $170m in Series B funding at a $1.5b valuation. Tiger Global led, and was joined by SoftBank and insiders General Catalyst, Bling Capital, Construct Capital, Industry Ventures and Origin Ventures. http://axios.link/bpsC

Next Gen Foods, a Singapore-based alt protein startup, raised $100m in Series A funding from Alpha JWC, EDBI, MPL Ventures, GGV Capital, K3 Ventures and Bits X Bites. http://axios.link/VXhH

Swappie, a Finnish refurbisher and reseller of secondhand iPhones, raised €108m in Series C funding. Verdane led, and was joined by insiders Lifeline Ventures, Inventure, Reaktor Ventures and TESI. http://axios.link/VLPM

Homebound, a custom homebuilding startup, raised $75m in Series C funding. Khosla Ventures led, and was joined by GV, Forerunner Ventures, Thrive Capital, Irongrey, Fifth Wall, Deer Park Road, Jeff Wilke and Stephen Ross. http://axios.link/kvPD

Soul Machines, a New Zealand-based developer of "animated digital people" for the metaverse, raised $70m in Series B funding. SoftBank led, and was joined by Cleveland Avenue, Liberty City Ventures, Solasta Ventures and insiders Temasek, Salesforce Ventures and Horizons Ventures. http://axios.link/vE1E

🚑 Terray Therapeutics, a Pasadena, Calif.-based AI drug discovery startup, raised $60m in Series A funding. Madrona Venture Group led, and was joined by Two Sigma Ventures, Digitalis Ventures, KdT Ventures, Goldcrest Capital, XTX Ventures, Sahsen Ventures, Greentrail Capital and Alexandria Venture Investments. www.terraytx.com

Databook, a Palo Alto-based consultative sales intelligence startup, raised $50m in Series B funding. Bessemer Venture Partners led, and was joined by DFJ Growth and insiders Threshold Ventures, M12, Salesforce Ventures and Haystack. www.trydatabook.com

🚑 Variantyx, a Boston-based precision medicine and genetic testing startup raised $41.5m. New Era Capital Partners led, and was joined by Peregrine Ventures, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, 20/20 HealthCare Partners and Pitango HealthTech. www.variantyx.com

FitOn, an LA-based digital fitness platform, raised $40m in Series C funding. Delta-v Capital led, and was joined by Accel, Maverick Ventures, Second Avenue Partners, UTA VC and Mantis VC.

  • FitOn also bought Tampa Fla.-based corporate wellness startup Peerfit, which had raised over $40m from backers like Florida Funders, Airwing Ventures and Jeff Vinik. http://axios.link/yiI3

Northspyre, a New York-based financial tracking and project delivery automation platform for real estate, raised $25m in Series B funding. CRV led, and was joined by Craft Ventures, Tamarisc Ventures and Intercom co-founder Des Traynor. www.northspyre.com

PriorAuthNow, a Columbus, Ohio-based prior authorization network for healthcare, raised $25m led by Insight Partners. http://axios.link/xISH

Sharpist, a Berlin-based employee coaching startup, raised $23m in Series A funding. Endeit Capital and Capnamic co-led, and were joined by Founders Future, Porsche Ventures and insiders Vorwerk Ventures and btov Partners. http://axios.link/WPQb

Mundimoto, a Spanish online marketplace for used motorcycles, raised €20m. P101 led, and was joined by Maniv Mobility and Autotech Ventures. http://axios.link/o67y

Heygo, a London-based provider of live-streamed travel tours, raised $20m in Series A funding. Northzone led, and was joined by Lightspeed Venture Partners, Point 9 Capital, TQ Ventures and Ascension. http://axios.link/RK4k

Reebelo, a Singapore-based used device marketplace, raised $20m in Series A funding. Cathay Innovation and June Fund co-led, and were joined by FJ Labs, KREAM, Moore Strategic Ventures, French Partners, Gandel Invest and Antler. http://axios.link/lKzn

Rainbow, an Ethereum wallet startup, raised $18m in Series A funding led by Seven Seven Six. http://axios.link/zYWn

Mundi, a New York-based fintech startup focused on cross-border trade, announced today it has raised $16m in Series A funding led by Union Square Ventures. http://axios.link/7ycZ

🌎 Novoloop, a Menlo Park-based "upcycling" startup for plastic waste, raised $11m in Series A funding. Envisioning Partners led, and was joined by Valo Ventures, Bemis Associates and insiders SOSV, Mistletoe and TIME Ventures. http://axios.link/yi5n

DIMO, a Dover, Del.-based platform for drivers to collect and share vehicle data, raised $9m from CoinFund, Variant Fund, Slow Ventures, Table Management, Wonder Ventures, Stratos Technologies and Lattice. www.dimo.zone

Clare, a New York-based paint brand, raised $8m in Series A funding. Pendulum led, and was joined by insider First Round Capital. www.clare.com

Fiat Republic, a London-based digital money banking and payments API, raised $3.5m in from Speedinvest, Seedcamp and Credo. www.firstrepublic.com

MoneyHash, an Egyptian super-API for payment orchestration and revenue ops, raised $3m led by COTU Ventures. http://axios.link/0Fdh

Common Heir, an L.A.-based provider of sustainable beauty products, raised $2.5m from backers like Trousdale Ventures and Mucker Capital. http://axios.link/aVeR

🚑 ExSeed Health, a London-based male fertility startup, raised £2.5m in new seed funding. Ascension led, and was joined by Trifork, Hambro Perks and R42 Group. www.exseedhealth.com

🚑 MindFi, a Singapore-based mental health app designed as an employee benefit, raised $2m in seed funding from M Venture Partners and Global Founders Capital. http://axios.link/WELo

Private Equity Deals

Alpine Investors bought Wilson Language Training, an Oxford, Mass.-based provider of instruction for students with dyslexia. www.wilsonlanguage.com

🥃 Apax Partners bought a control stake in Ole Smoky Distillery, a Gatlinburg, Tenn.-based whiskey and moonshine distiller. www.olesmoky.com

Apollo Global Management agreed to buy a majority stake in Hartsville, S.C.-based packaging company Novolex at around a $6b valuation from Carlyle, which will retain a minority stake. http://axios.link/JNE7

Blackstone has sponsored a €21b recap of European last-mile logistics property firm Mileway, in what's the largest PE real estate transaction in Europe since 1995. http://axios.link/6MIw

Blackstone agreed to buy a majority stake in Indian wealth manager ASK Investment Managers from Advent International. http://axios.link/2yE4

Clayton, Dubilier & Rice offered to buy the 51% stake it doesn't already hold in Cary, N.C.-based Cornerstone Building Brands (NYSE: CNR) for $24.65 per share. http://axios.link/LNFK

Charter Growth Capital Fund bought a minority stake in Lambert Global, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based PR and investor relations firm. www.lambert.com

Gryphon Investors acquired Benoist Brothers Supply Co., a Mt. Vernon, Ill.-based distributor of HVAC/R equipment and parts. www.benoist.com

Madison Dearborn agreed to buy Dallas-based money transfer company MoneyGram International (Nasdaq: MGI) for around $1 billion, or $11 per share (23% premium to yesterday’s closing price). Advent International and Siris Capital had also submitted bids. http://axios.link/ncAf

Main Capital Partners acquired a majority stake in InnoValor, a Dutch provider of mobile identity verification software. www.innovalor.nl

Mainsail Partners invested $54m in ServiceCore, a Lakewood, Colo.-based provider of business management software for the liquid waste and roll-off industries. www.servicecore.com

Repeats Group, a Dutch portfolio company of Ara Partners, invested in Anviplas, a Spanish maker of recycled low-density polyethylene. www.repeats-group.com

Three Hills Capital Partners invested €50m in Gorent, an Italian renter of eco-sustainable vehicles for urban sanitation. Some proceeds were used to buy out existing shareholders. www.gorent.it

Axios Pro Recap

Highlights from yesterday's Axios Pro newsletters. Subscribe here.

🚑 Health tech: Scoop on a PE sale process for Rethink First, a maker of software for kids with developmental disabilities.

🛒 Retail: Hop Lun, which makes lingerie for H&M and Savage X Fenty, is seeking a buyer. And Richard Collings explains why it could be a classic PE play.

💰 Fintech: FNZ's CEO lays out his firm's big acquisition plans, and OpenSea launches a VC arm.

SPAC Stuff

Allied Universal, a Santa Ana, Calif.-based security firm owned by Warburg Pincus, reportedly is in talks to be taken public via two Warburg Pincus SPACs and another SPAC backed by Barry Sternlicht (JAWS Estate Capital). The deal could value Allied Universal at around $20 billion. http://axios.link/5Z5G

HotelPlanner, Reservations.com and Astrea Acquisition Corp. (Nasdaq: ASAX) called off the merger they announced last August. http://axios.link/OPKC

Nogin, a Tustin, Calif.-based commerce-as-a-service company, agreed to go public at an implied $646m valuation via Software Acquisition Group III (Nasdaq: SWAG), a SPAC led by former Ooyala CEO Jonathan Huberman. http://axios.link/s8i0

🚑 Varian Bio, a Naples, Fla.-based precision oncology company, agreed to go public at an implied $116m valuation via SPK Acquisition Corp. (Nasdaq: SPK). www.varianbio.com

Liquidity Events

FIS (NYSE: FIS) agreed to buy Payrix, a Sandy Springs, Ga.-based payment facilitator platform, from PSG and Blue Star Innovation Partners. www.payrix.com

More M&A

🚑 Norgine, an Amsterdam-based specialty pharma company, hired Rothschild to find a buyer for more than $2b, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/PDaH

Revolut, a London-based financial superapp valued by VCs at $4.6b, acquired Arvog Forex, an Indian money transfers and currency exchange company. http://axios.link/xQ7O


The Chernin Group and talent management company Night Media are launching a fund named "NightCap" that will aim to acquire businesses and team them up with content creators, Axios reports.

Apax Partners is targeting $13b for its 11th flagship fund, per public pension fund docs. http://axios.link/Ohag

Asterion Industrial Partners of Madrid raised €1.8b for its second infrastructure fund. www.asterionindustrial.com

Better Tomorrow Ventures, a fintech-focused firm, raised $150m for its second fund and $75m for its first opportunity fund. http://axios.link/xWSj

MetLife is prepping a $1b private equity secondaries sale, per the WSJ. http://axios.link/h2fh

Mubadala Capital held a $322m first close for its first Brazil-focused fund. http://axios.link/N6Qu

New York City is seeking state approval to raise the alternative assets allocation cap for its pension funds to 35% from 25%. http://axios.link/kjn1

Partners Group raised $8.5b for its third infrastructure private equity fund. www.partnersgroup.com

It's Personnel

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Tomi Setala/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arielle Zuckerberg is joining Long Journey Ventures as a partner. She previously helped launch the early-stage practice at Coatue and, before that, was with Kleiner Perkins.

  • Zuckerberg tells me that Long Journey's Lee Jacobs recruited her during a walk last year in San Francisco, and that "it hit me like a brick in the head ... it was just such an obvious team ... the mix of optimism and chasing the weird and magical."
  • The timing of this hire would seem to sync up with a third fundraise for LJV, although Jacobs declined to comment (citing SEC restrictions).
  • I also asked Zuckerberg about how her famous last name has impacted her career: "It's definitely a double-edged sword. People treat you a certain way or assume certain things about you, positive and negative. Having that name recognition has sometimes helped me punch above my weight, but in some cases people attribute certain values to me that I don't have... I think there are many more advantages in venture than when I was a product manager."

🚑 Mitchell Daitz joined WindRose Health Investors as an operating partner. He’s the former CEO of onetime WindRose portfolio company Vital Decisions. www.windrose.com

Daniel Karp joined Cervin Ventures as a partner. He previously was with Cisco Investments. www.cervinventures.com

Norwest Venture Partners promoted Scott Mitchell and Laura Boyd to principals of growth equity and M&A/corp dev, respectively. www.nvp.com

Wafra promoted Adel Alderbas to chief investment officer. www.wafra.com

Final Numbers: Crypto VC

Source: PitchBook

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