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August 10, 2021

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Top of the Morning

Illustration of Masayoshi Son in a money jacket

SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son. Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

China's regulatory shakeup is causing even one of its biggest believers β€”SoftBank β€” to take pause.

Driving the news: "We don't have any doubts about the potential of China but again, new rules are being implemented, so until it gets settled, we want to wait and see," SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son told analysts during the company's quarterly earnings presentation.

  • While Chinese investments make up 23% of SoftBank's overall Vision Fund investments so far, only 11% of those made in the last quarter are in China, Son pointed out.

Why it matters: Beijing's crackdown on a number of sectors and companies β€” including newly public ride-hailing giant Didi, one of the Vision Fund's big bets β€” has rattled investors and put some upcoming IPOs on ice.

The big picture: SoftBank's Vision Fund (which now comprises its first and second fund, along with its Latin American fund) posted ​​a Β₯236 billion ($2.14 billion) profit last quarter.

  • While some of its portfolio companies went public and generated gains, others like Coupang and Auto1, saw their stock price fall.
  • Son also announced that given the approval of SoftBank's board, it will implement a program through which he and other Vision Fund execs will invest in the unit's second fund, putting up about 17% of the capital. A similar program was planned and later scrapped for the first fund.
  • As for taking outside capital, Son told analysts that one investor has expressed interest in putting money into SoftBank's second vision fund, but that for the time being, "we want to continue this way and we want to wait and see ... for now our own money is enough to keep the cycle going."

1 SoftBank thing: We didn't get the usual artful presentation slides this time, but Son still managed to deliver a dose of grandeur when he dubbed SoftBank a "vision capitalist" instead of simply a returns-driven investor like everyone else.


πŸ’Έ A Hail Mary on the Senate floor Monday evening didn't go as the cryptocurrency industry hoped, with Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) objecting to two amendment proposals regarding transaction tax reporting. (Catch up on the issue here.)

  • The first amendment, proposed by a group of senators would have narrowed who qualifies as a "broker," sparing node validators, software developers, and other participants that can't (or shouldn't) report the identities of the parties they interact with.
  • The second, proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), would have stricken that section of the bill, leaving the subject to be tackled at a separate time.
  • In both cases, Shelby objected after his requests for his amendment regarding a $50 billion military spending increase, were denied by others.
  • What's next: The House may take on this issue in its own bill, and some members have already expressed desire to work on a fix. If not, the industry could still appeal to the Treasury Department for a favorable rule interpretation, or take it to court if all else fails.

πŸ’£ In a new court filing in her suit against Apollo Global co-founder Leon Black, Guzel Ganieva alleges that payments he made to her several years ago weren't to keep quiet about their affair, but to stay mum about his personal close friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.


Fanatics, an online retailer of licensed sports merchandise, has raised $325 million from SoftBank, Silver Lake, Eldridge, TWG Sports Media & Entertainment, Insight Partners, MLB, Jay-Z, and Roc Nation at an $18 billion valuation, per media reports and sources confirming to Axios.

  • Why it's the BFD: The financing comes as Fanatics is expanding its focus to include areas like digital products, with executive chairman Michael Rubin taking over as CEO of the expanded company. Candy Digital, the NFT company it helped set up, will be part of Fanatics.
  • The bottom line: "Fanatics expects to generate about $3.4 billion in revenue this year, up from $2.6 billion in 2020. ... About 80% of Fanatics’ revenue comes from sales to consumers from or the more than 300 team and league sites the company operates. The company is profitable, a representative said." β€” Meghan Bobrowsky, WSJ

Venture Capital Deals

β€’ Trendyol, a Turkish e-commerce company, raised $1.5 billion in funding at a valuation of $16.5 billion led by General Atlantic, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Princeville Capital, ADQ, and Qatar Investment Authority.

β€’ UpGrad, an Indian edtech startup, raised $185 million in new funding at a post-money valuation of $1.2 billion led by Temasek, with the World Bank's IFC and IIFL also participating.

⛽️ Ambri, a Marlborough, Mass.-based battery tech startup, raised $144 million in new funding led by Reliance New Energy Solar and Paulson & Co., with Bill Gates, Fortistar, Goehring & Rozencwajg Associates, Japan Energy Fund and others also participating.

πŸš‘ Cricket Health, a San Francisco-based kidney care company, raised $83.5 million in Series B funding led by Valtruis, with Oak HC/FT, Cigna Ventures, K2 HealthVentures, and Blue Shield of California also participating.

β€’ FreshBooks, a Canadian cloud-based accounting software company, raised $80.75 million in Series E funding at a valuation of more than $1 billion led by Accomplice, with JPMorgan, Gaingels, BMO Technology & Innovation Banking Group, Manulife, and Barclays. It also raised $50 million in debt.

β€’ Snorkel AI, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based machine learning training startup, raised $85 million in funding at a valuation of $1 billion led by Addition and BlackRock, with Greylock, GV, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Nepenthe Capital and Walden also participating.

β€’ Hologram, a Chicago-based IoT device management startup, raised $65 million in Series B funding led by Tiger Global, with Bullpen Capital, NextView Ventures, and Mucker Capital also participating.

🐢 Butternut Box, a U.K.-based direct-to-consumer dog food company, raised $55 million (£40M) in new funding led by L Catterton's European fund, with White Star Capital, Five Seasons Ventures and Passion Capital also participating.

β€’ Pintu, an Indonesian crypto exchange, raised $35 million in extended Series A funding led by. Lightspeed Venture Partners, with Alameda Ventures, Ventures, Castle Island Ventures, Coinbase Ventures, Intudo Ventures, and Pantera Capital also participating.

β€’ Kroo, a U.K.-based fintech company, has raised $24.5 million in a Series A led by Rudy Karsan.

πŸš™ Moove Africa, a Dutch startup that provides revenue-based vehicle financing to transportation entrepreneurs in Africa, raised $23 million in Series A funding led by Speedinvest and Left Lane Capital, with DCM, Clocktower Technology Ventures, LocalGlobe, FJ Labs, and others also participating.

β€’ Latent AI, a Menlo Park, Ca.-based startup, raised $19 million in Series A funding led by Future Ventures and Blackhorn Ventures, with Booz Allen, Lockheed Martin, 40 North Ventures and Autotech Ventures also participating.

β€’ Canopy Servicing, a Kea'au, Hawaii-based loan software startup, raised $15 million in Series A funding led by Canaan, with Homebrew, Foundation Capital, BoxGroup, and others also participating.

β€’ WoodSpoon, a New York-based home-cooked delivery service, raised $14 million in Series A funding led by Restaurant Brands International, with World Trade Ventures, Victor Lazarte and others also participating.

β€’ Xayn, a German mobile search engine startup, raised about $12 million in funding led by Global Brain and KDDI, with Earlybird VC also participating.

β€’ Liquality, a New York-based crypto wallet, raised $7 million in funding led by Hashed and Galaxy Digital, with White Star Capital, Accomplice, Coinbase Ventures, Alameda Research, and others also participating.

β€’ Vesttoo, an Israeli alternative and reinsurance platform, raised $6 million in Series A led by Hanaco Ventures.

β€’ CommandBar, a San Francisco-based maker of a search widget, raised $4.8 million in seed funding led by Thrive Capital, with Y Combinator, Boxgroup, Calvin French-Owen, Jack Altman, Christian Reber, and Naval Ravikant also participating.

β€’ Dovetail, an Australian customer database software company, raised $3.7 million in funding led by Felicis Ventures, with Blackbird Ventures, Grok Ventures and Didier Elzinga also participating.

πŸš‘ Navrogen, Inc., a Cheyney, Pa.-based biotech, raised $3 million in funding led by Tellus BioVenture.

β€’ RentCheck, a New Orleans-based property inspection startup, raised $2.6 million in seed funding from Cox Enterprises and others.

πŸš™ Wheel the World, a Berkeley, Calif.-based accessibility data startup, raised $2 million in seed funding led by Chile Global Ventures and Dadneo, with Plug N Play Tech Center and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki also participating.

Private Equity Deals

β€’ Equifax agreed to acquired Appriss Insights from Appriss, backed by Clearlake Capital Group and Insights Partners, for $1.825 billion in cash.

β€’ Advania AB agreed to acquire Visolit, a Norwegian corporate IT company, from IK Investment Partners.

β€’ GWS Tool Group, backed by L Squared Capital Partners, acquired Monster Tool Company, a Vista, Calif.-based cutting tools company.

Public Offerings

πŸš™ Turo, a San Francisco-based peer-to-peer car rental company, confidentially filed to go public.

πŸš‘ Meihua International Medical Technologies, a Chinese provider of disposable medical devices, filed to raise up to $69 million in an IPO. It plans to list on the Nasdaq but has not selected a symbol yet. Prime Number Capital and Shengang Securities are the joint bookrunners on the deal.

πŸš‘ Eliem Therapeutics, a Redmond, Wash.-based Phase 2a biotech company developing therapies for neuronal excitability disorders, raised $80 million by offering 6.4 million shares at $12.50, as expected.

SPAC Stuff

β€’ Conyers Park III Acquisition, the third blank check company led by consumer industry veterans from Centerview Capital, raised $350 million by offering 35 million units at $10.

πŸš‘ Avista Public Acquisition II, a blank check company formed by Avista Capital Partners targeting the healthcare sector, raised $200 million by offering 20 million units at $10.

β€’ Abri SPAC I, a blank check company targeting fintech and insurance tech ech businesses, raised $50 million by offering 5 million units at $10.

πŸš‘ GreenLight Biosciences, a Medford, Mass.-based RNA and mRNA biotech company, is combining with Environmental Impact Acquisition Corp. in a deal that values the company at $1.5 billion.

β€’ Canna-Global Acquisition, a blank check company targeting the cannabis industry, plans to raise up to $200 million.

Liquidity Events

β€’ Robinhood acquired Say Technologies, a New York-based proxy voting tool, for about $140 million.

πŸš‘ IRA Capital has sold a medical office and life science portfolio to Nuveen Real Estate for $620.4 million.

More M&A

β€’ DraftKings agreed to acquire Golden Nugget Online Gaming, a Houston-based online gaming company, for $1.56 billion in stock.

β€’ SpaceX is acquiring Swarm Technologies, a Palo Alto-based satellite connectivity startup.

β€’ Re:Build Manufacturing acquired DAPR Engineering, a Nashua, N.H.-based engineering services company.

β€’ Canadian Pacific Railway made a new bid to acquire Kansas City Southern in a stock and cash transaction representing an enterprise value of approximately USD$31 billion.


β€’ Northwestern Mutual announced $100 million for its Impact Investing Fund, which will focus on Black and African American communities.

πŸš‘ Sands Capital has closed a $560 million fund for life sciences investments.

β€’ Oak Hill Capital Partners reportedly raised $500 million for an opportunity fund, per WSJ.

It's Personnel

β€’ Orangewood Partners has hired Eric Engler as managing director. He was previously a senior managing director at Reservoir Capital Group.

β€’ AE Industrial Partners has hired Erik Deutsch as chief technical officer of the AE Industrial Aerospace Opportunities Fund.

Final Numbers

Percent change in Consumer Price Index and gold
Data: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

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