Mar 10, 2021

Axios Pro Rata

🎧 Axios Re:Cap continues its series on the anniversary of The Week America Changed. This afternoon's episode features NBA commissioner Adam Silver on his decision to shut down the league.

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Top of the Morning

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Biden administration isn't talking a big game on tech antitrust. But it's beginning to construct a pretty big stick.

Why it matters: This could slow down a very active tech merger market, and possibly scuttle existing deals.

Driving the news: Lina Khan, well-known in antitrust circles for her ideas about stopping platforms like Amazon from competing directly with sellers, is being vetted to be nominated as an FTC commissioner.

  • Axios' Margaret Harding McGill and Ashley Gold write: "Khan represents a newer school of antitrust thought, where companies' size, market dominance and treatment of competitors is considered anticompetitive behavior that regulators need to reel in — rather than judging monopoly power primarily by harm to consumers."
  • Consideration of Khan follows the recent appointment of Tim Wu as special assistant to the president for technology and competition policy. He's credited with coining the term "net neutrality" and wrote an entire book about the dangers of Big Tech.
  • And, yesterday, the Senate held a confirmation hearing for Vanita Gupta to oversee the Justice Department's antitrust and civil rights divisions. She's not quite as oppositional to Big Tech as Khan and Wu, but she has been critical of Facebook.

Whiplash: All of this must sting Silicon Valley execs who had luxuriated in red carpet treatment from the Obama-Biden White House.

Unknowns: President Biden hasn't tipped his hand on who he wants to directly lead antitrust, reporting to Gupta. Same goes for the FTC chair — some progressives are hoping Khan gets that role, but it seems unlikely.

State of play: During the Trump administration, tech companies mostly ignored the antitrust rhetoric and just kept buying. There were some notable failures — such as DraftKings/FanDuel and Visa/Plaid — but they didn't scare anyone off.

  • The one to watch right now is Facebook's planned $1 billion deal for Kustomer, which reportedly is facing FTC scrutiny.

The bottom line: The winds of change are blowing, and it could soon get gusty in Silicon Valley.

The BFD

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Roblox, a San Mateo, Calif.-based social gaming platform for tweens and teens, will go public today via a direct listing. Its reference price of $45 per share would value the company just shy of $30 billion, and is the same price at which it raised private funding in January.

  • Why it's the BFD: This is a major milestone for the creator economy movement, as Roblox last year paid game developers nearly $329 million.
  • ROI: Roblox raised over $850 million in VC funding, from firms like Altos Ventures, First Round Capital, Index Ventures, Meritech Capital Partners, Tiger Global, Altimeter and Dragoneer.
  • More ROI: Over 7% of Roblox remains owned by a friends and family group who helped seed the company because they knew CEO Dave Baszucki when he was a teenager in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Included is one of Baszucki's first employers (the guy had a lawn, Dave mowed it).
  • The bottom line: "Spend just a few minutes in it, and you'll see how the games push you toward spending money, which is how you get the $30 billion valuation. Same deal with Fortnite or any other 'free' game that's constantly tempting you to pay." — Stephen Totilo, author of the upcoming Axios Gaming newsletter (sign up)
Venture Capital Deals

Snyk, a London-based provider of cybersecurity analysis tools, raised $300 million in primary and secondary funding at a $4.7 billion valuation. Accel and Tiger Global co-led, and were joined by Atlassian, Franklin Templeton and insiders Addition, BlackRock, Boldstart Ventures, Canaan Partners, Coatue, GV, Salesforce Ventures and Stripes. http://axios.link/MIDm

🚑 Cedar Cares, a New York-based health care billing platform, raised $200 million at a $3.2 billion post-money valuation. Tiger Global led, and was joined by Andreessen Horowitz, Thrive Capital and Concord Health Partners. http://axios.link/ODO6

Flutterwave, a digital payments platform for African businesses, raised $170 million in Series C funding. Avenir and Tiger Global co-led, and were joined by DST Global, Early Capital Berrywood, Green Visor Capital, Greycroft, Insight Ventures, Salesforce Ventures, Tiger Management and Worldpay FIS and 9yards Capital. http://axios.link/Kwbn

Zego, a British on-demand auto insurer, raised $150 million in Series C funding at a $1.1 billion post-money valuation. DST Global led, and was joined by General Catalyst and insiders like Target Global, Balderton Capital and Latitude. http://axios.link/pPAO

Aqua Security, a cybersecurity company focused on cloud-native services, raised $135 million in Series E funding at a $1 billion valuation. ION Crossover Partners led, and was joined by insiders M12, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Insight Partners, TLV Partners, Greenspring Associates and Acrew Capital. http://axios.link/J8C0

🚑 Ventyx Biosciences, an Encinitas, Calif.-based immunology startup, raised $114 million. VenBio Partners led, and was joined by Third Point, RTW Investments, Janus Henderson Investors, Wellington Management and OrbiMed. http://axios.link/zenr

🚑 Advise Health, a Bloomington, Ind.-based Medicare agency, raised $100 million. Oak HC/FT led, and was joined by Adams Street Partners and Hamilton Lane. www.adviseinsurance.com

Corvus, a Boston-based provider of smart commercial insurance products, raised $100 million in Series C funding led by Insight Partners. www.corvusinsurance.com

Jobandtalent, a Spanish temp staffing marketplace, raised €100 million in Series D funding from SoftBank Vision Fund 2. http://axios.link/CEla

🚑 AgomAb Therapeutics, a Belgian biotech focused on regenerative pathway modulators, raised $74 million in Series B funding. Redmile Group led, and was joined by Cormorant Asset Management, Advent France Biotech, Andera Partners, Boehringer Ingelheim, Omnes Capital, Pontifax and V Bio Ventures. http://axios.link/u9ZW

SeekOut, a Redmond, Wash.-based talent platform, raised $65 million in Series B funding. Tiger Global led, and was joined by insiders Madrona Venture Group and Mayfield. http://axios.link/H4nf

NuOrder, a Los Angeles-based B2B ecommerce platform, raised $45 million co-led by Brighton Park Capital and Imaginary Ventures. www.nuorder.com

ActZero, a Palo Alto-based cybersecurity solution for SMBs, raised $40 million from Point72 Hyperscale. http://axios.link/O2xR

Tetrate, a Milpitas, Calif.-based service mesh startup raised $40 million. Sapphire Ventures led, and was joined by Scale Venture Partners, NTTVC and insiders Dell Technologies Capital, Intel Capital, 8VC, and Samsung Next. http://axios.link/bOjG

DataGrail, a San Francisco-based privacy platform for brands, raised $30 million in Series B funding. Felicis Ventures led, and was joined by HubSpot, Okta, Next47, Basis Set Ventures and Operator Collective. www.datagrail.io

Wrapbook, a New York-based payroll platform for the entertainment industry, raised $27 million in Series A funding. Andreessen Horowitz led, and was joined by Equal Ventures, Uncork Capital and WndrCo. http://axios.link/oZOm

🚑 Cybrexa Therapeutics, a New Haven, Conn.-based oncology biotech, raised $25 million in Series B funding from HighCape Capital and Elm Street Ventures. www.cybrexa.com

Pathlock, a Flemington, N.J.-based provider of unified access orchestration, raised $20 million from Vertica Capital Partners. www.pathlock.com

Daily, a real-time audio and video developer platform, raised $15 million in Series A funding. Lachy Groom led, and was joined by Tiger Global. http://axios.link/6mly

MobileCoin, a cryptocurrency being advised by Signal creator Moxie Marlinspike, raised $11.4 million from Future Ventures and General Catalyst. http://axios.link/8WXB

Singclip, as Port Washington, N.Y.-based platform for sharing licensed music clips via social media, raised $11 million. Evolution VC Partners led, and was joined by The Kraft Group, Michael Rubin, Raised in Space, Gaingels and ​Forefront Venture Partners. http://axios.link/lCq0

Lumu, a Miami, Fla.-based cloud cybersecurity startup, raised $7.5 million in Series A funding from SoftBank and Panoramic Ventures. http://axios.link/wzPQ

Calixa, a San Francisco-based bottom-up sales platform, raised $4.25 million in seed funding. Kleiner Perkins led, and was joined by Operator Collective and Liquid 2 Ventures. http://axios.link/GMFZ

AgencyMVP, an Austin, Texas-based P&C insurance sales lead platform, raised $3.5 million in seed funding led by Silverton Partners. www.agencymvp.com

Trufan, a Toronto-based audience engagement startup, raised US$2.3 million in seed funding. Moneta Ventures led, and was joined by GP Ventures, Protocol Ventures and Athlete Technology Group. http://axios.link/XyJD

Capsule, a decentralized social media platform, raised $1.5 million in seed funding led by Poylchain Capital. http://axios.link/cTMH

Private Equity Deals

Abracon, a Spicewood, Texas-based portfolio company of The Riverside Company bought AEL Crystals, a British maker of frequency control components. www.abracon.com

Bain Capital is part of an investor group buying vegan restaurant chain By Chloe out of bankruptcy, although the brand name itself is excluded from the deal. http://axios.link/DZK

The Carlyle Group completed its purchase of Flender, the mechanical drive unit of Siemens, for just over €2 billion. http://axios.link/vtRa

🚑 CVC Capital Partners is in advanced talks to buy French OTC drugmaker Cooper for around €2.2 billion from Charterhouse Capital Partners, per Bloomberg. http://axios.link/XOKJ

EasyPark, a Swedish parking payments app owned by Vitruvian Partners, agreed to buy rival Park Now from BMW and Daimler. http://axios.link/Ut10

Thoma Bravo agreed to buy Talend (Nasdaq: TLND), a Redwood City, Calif.-based data integration and data integrity company, for $2.4 billion, or $66 per share (29% premium to yesterday’s closing price). http://axios.link/12Mf

Vista Equity Partners agreed to buy a majority stake in AlertMedia, an Austin, Texas-based provider of emergency communication software, per Fortune. AlertMedia had raised around $58 million from firms like JMI Equity, Next Coast Ventures, and Silverton Partners. http://axios.link/6iZd

Public Offerings

China Telecom (HK: 0728), a state-owned mobile telco that's been blacklisted by the U.S., plans to raise around $4 billion via a float in Shanghai. http://axios.link/woCv

🍷 The Duckhorn Portfolio, a Napa Valley luxury wine producer backed by TSG Consumer Partners, set IPO terms to v20 million shares at $14-$16. It would have a fully diluted market value of $1.8 billion, were it to price in the middle. Duckhorn plans to list on the NYSE (NAPA), and reports $32 million of net income on $270 million in revenue for its fiscal year ending last July. http://axios.link/9Gmk

SPAC Stuff

SPAC merger volume in 2021 has already surpassed SPAC merger volume for all of 2020.

IronNet, a McLean, Va.-based cybersecurity platform, is in talks to go public at a $1.2 billion valuation via acquisition by defense-focused SPAC LGL Systems (NYXSE: DFNS), per Bloomberg. IronNet has raised over $150 million, plus got a PPP loan, from backers like C5 Capital, ForgePoint Capital, Kleiner Perkins and Trident Capital. http://axios.link/Mi1i

Beard Energy Transition Acquisition, an electric power grid SPAC led by Gregory Beard (ex-Apollo Global Management), filed for a $250 million IPO. http://axios.link/m0R8

Cain Acquisition, an experience-based hospitality and real estate SPAC, filed for a $250 million IPO. http://axios.link/Xh7o

Data Knights Acquisition, a data center SPAC, filed for a $100 million IPO. http://axios.link/wUeB

Excelsa Acquisition, a Latin American SPAC chaired by the founder of Intercorp Perú, filed for a $250 million IPO. http://axios.link/3x7r

GigCapital, a SPAC platform led by semiconductor vet Avi Katz, filed to raise a pair of $350 million-targeted SPACs. http://axios.link/neNx

Hennessy Capital Investment VI, an industrial tech SPAC, filed for a $200 million IPO. http://axios.link/RyJn

New Beginnings, a SPAC platform led by Michael Liebowitz (Alliant Insurance), filed to raise a pair of $100 million SPACs. http://axios.link/sNMg

Panacea Acquisition II, a biotech SPAC formed by EcoR1 Capital, filed for a $150 million IPO. http://axios.link/Fahs

Virgin Group Acquisition III, a SPAC formed by Virgin Group, filed for a $500 million IPO. http://axios.link/Pt9J

Liquidity Events

Apollo Global Management and Reverence Capital Partners agreed to sell Las Vegas-based timeshare operator Diamond Resorts International to Hilton Grand Vacations (NYSE: HGV) for $1.4 billion in stock. http://axios.link/iAQP

Via, an on-demand shuttle operator valued at more than $2 billion by VCs, agreed to buy Remix, a San Francisco-based provider of public transit mapping software, for $100 million in cash and stock. Remix had raised $27 million from firms like Sequoia Capital, Energy Impact Partners, Four Cities Capital and Purpose Built Ventures. http://axios.link/kwU1

More M&A

Conagra (NYSE: CAG) is in early talks to sell its Hebrew National hot dog brand to Brazilian meat processor JBS, per the Wall Street Journal. A deal could be worth around $700 million, and may include other Conagra brands like Egg Beaters. http://axios.link/UOsh

Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, acquired photogrammetry studio Capturing Reality. http://axios.link/bStw

General Electric (NYSE: GE) officially agreed to merge its aircraft-leasing business with AerCap Holdings (NYSE: AER). http://axios.link/ji1q

Northvolt, a Swedish maker of lithium-ion batteries, agreed to buy Emeryville, Calif.-based startup Cuberg. Northvolt is backed by more than $3.6 billion from firms like Volkswagen, Goldman Sachs and Baillie Gifford. http://axios.link/8STB

Fundraising

Cerberus Capital Management raised $4.4 billion for its fourth midmarket direct lending fund and separately managed accounts. www.cerberus.com

One Rock Capital Partners raised $2 billion for its third midmarket private equity fund. www.onerockcapital.com

Savannah Fund raised $25 million for its latest pan-Africa VC fund. http://axios.link/3MFP

SIP Global Partners, a U.S.-Japan venture capital firm, held a $75 million first close on its $150 million-targeted debut fund. www.sipgp.com

It's Personnel

Cathleen Ellsworth and John Holland joined private equity firm Lindsay Goldberg as partners. Ellsworth will lead IR and fundraising, and previously was with BlackRock. Holland will focus on business services investments, and previously was with Warburg Pincus. www.lindsaygoldbergllc.com

Marie-Soazic Geffroy is joining Perella Weinberg Partners as a partner and head of its European financial institutions group. She previously was vice chair of Morgan Stanley Europe. www.pwpartners.com

Sarah-Marie Martin joined DTC kids food startup Yumi as its first CFO. She previously was a partner with Goldman Sachs and, before that, co-led Americas financial sponsors for Credit Suisse. www.helloyumi.com

Obvious Ventures promoted Meera Clark to principal. www.obvious.com

🚑 Jim Post joined Water Street Healthcare Partners as an executive adviser. He’s the former president of Thermo Fisher Scientific’s anatomic pathology unit. www.waterstreet.com

Final Numbers: European unicorns
Source: PitchBook’s 2020 Annual European VC Valuations Report

More from PitchBook: "Valuations in the European VC ecosystem have a considerable way to go to match recent valuations in the U.S. VC ecosystem. Nonetheless, European unicorn numbers and their aggregate value have developed tremendously in the past decade, having been virtually nonexistent 10 to 15 years ago."

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