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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Family-owned Weatherford Capital is putting $22.5 million into the Tampa-based tech company SOMA Global, the private investment firm told Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: It'll likely be one of the Tampa Bay area's single-biggest funding deals of the year, if 2020 was any indication — and it involves a local investor backing a local company.

  • Area startups collectively pulled in nearly $441 million in funding last year, but $300 million of that came from a single, massive deal for cybersecurity company ReliaQuest, per the Tampa Bay Business Journal.
  • This deal would have been the area's fourth-biggest if it took place last year — and the three that landed above it were led by global investment giants like KKR and Goldman Sachs.

Driving the news: The investment in SOMA Global, which provides cloud tech services for law enforcement and fire departments, is Weatherford Capital's third outlay in government technology.

  • "We believe that taking the friction out of government systems will lead to happier citizens, ultimately building trust in government," managing partner Will Weatherford told Axios.
  • Weatherford served as a Republican in the Florida House of Representatives from 2006 to 2014, capping off his tenure with a term as speaker.

The big picture: We're starting to see a trend toward growth in tech and cybersecurity in Tampa Bay — illustrated in part by that ReliaQuest deal mentioned above. Some others:

This story first appeared in the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 29, 2021 - Economy & Business

Varsity Tutors to be valued at $1.7 billion in SPAC deal

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Nerdy, the parent company of online learning platform Varsity Tutors, announced on Friday that it will be acquired by a SPAC called TPG Pace Tech Opportunities at a valuation of $1.7 billion. Axios had previously reported on the deal talks.

Why it matters: This is the first tech SPAC deal affiliated with private equity giant TPG, and comes as more and more legacy investment firms are hopping on the blank check bandwagon.

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."