Axios Pro Rata: What’s in a name?

Plus, Klarna lays down the law in London. | Wednesday, May 19, 2021

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Pro Rata
By Dan Primack ·May 19, 2021
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Top of the Morning
Illustration of a pattern of name tags in different colors.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Naming a company has always been difficult, with founders needing to strike the right balance between meaning and trademark/domain availability. Now, though, the naming battle has extended to company descriptions.

Driving the news: Farmer’s Dog, a VC-backed fresh dog food startup, is pushing for legislation in New York state that would create new legal standards for what types of pet product can be labeled as "food."

  • This comes shortly after Chime, a San Francisco-based fintech valued by VCs at over $14 billion, agreed to stop calling itself a "bank," in a settlement with California regulators.
  • Texas legislators on Tuesday passed a bill that would prohibit food-makers from using words like "meat" or "beef" in their names if they don’t contain actual animal products. The legislation was supported by cattle ranchers, and opposed by companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods (maker of the Impossible "burger").

The ostensible goal of these rules is consumer protection. Truth in advertising. At the same time, though, they can run up against free speech rights and the reality that innovation has a habit of remolding definitions.

The bottom line: Expect such fights to become more prevalent, as both startups and incumbents seek to literally define their industries.

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Klarna, a Swedish online payment platform, said its decision on whether to IPO in London will hinge on the British government’s post-Brexit financial services rules. Specifically, its CEO tells Bloomberg that it wants customers able to "shift banks in the click of a button," following Singapore’s lead in reducing fintech red tape.

  • Why it’s the BFD: Klarna is Europe’s most valuable tech unicorn, recently securing funds at a $31 billion post-money valuation.
  • Yes, but: Klarna isn’t committing to go public this year, in London or anywhere else, so this could just be strategic posturing. Nice stock exchange you’ve got there … would be a shame if something happened to it.
  • Bottom line: "Klarna is a pioneer of buy-now-pay-later financing, which is beginning to take a bite out of the $8 trillion credit card industry." — <img width="32" height="32" src="
Venture Capital Deals
DailyPay, a New York-based startup that helps employees and contractors receive daily payments, raised $175 million led by Carrick Capital. DailyPay also secured $325 million in debt financing.

Eat Just, a San Francisco-based maker of plant-based egg products, raised $170 million for its cultured meat subsidiary. Backers include UBS O’Connor, K3 Ventures and Graphene Ventures.

🚑 PathAI, a Boston-based pathology tech startup, raised $165 million in Series C funding. D1 Capital Partners and Kaiser Permanente co-led, and were joined by insiders General Atlantic, LabCorp, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck.

Cognite, a Norwegian industrial SaaS company, raised $150 million from TCV at a $1.6 billion valuation.

ASAPP, a New York-based provider of call center software, raised $120 million in Series C funding at a $1.6 billion valuation. Fidelity and Dragoneer were joined by insiders John Doerr, March Capital, Emergence Capital, Euclidean Capital, HOF Capital, Telstra Ventures and 40 North Ventures.

Pipe, a Miami-based B2B financing platform for SaaS companies, raised $100 million in additional funding at a $2 billion valuation led by Greenspring Associates.

Vise, a New York-based investment portfolio management platform, raised $65 million in Series C funding. Ribbit Capital led, and was joined by insiders like Sequoia Capital.

Thunes, a Singapore-based cross-border payments network for emerging markets, raised $60 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners.

🚑 Atonarp, a Japanese developer of a laser-based molecular sensor platform, raised $50 million in Series D funding. WRVI Capital led, and was joined by Furukawa Electric, Japan Post Investment, Boscolo Intervest, ATI Korea and Banner Industries.

🚑 Wheel, an Austin, Texas-based virtual healthcare recruiting platform, raised $50 million in Series B funding. Lightspeed Ventures led, and was joined by Future Shape and insiders CRV, Silverton Partners, Tusk Venture Partners and JPMorgan.

Daring Foods, a Wilmington, Del.-based maker of plant-based chicken products, raised $40 million in Series B funding. D1 Capital Partners led, and was joined by Maveron, Palm Tree Crew and Drake.

🚑 Cynerio, a New York-based provider of healthcare IoT cybersecurity, raised $30 million in Series B funding led by ALIVE Israel HealthTech Fund.

Zap Energy, a Seattle-based fusion energy startup, raised $27.5 million in Series B funding. Addition led, and was joined by Energy Impact Partners, GA Capital, Fourth Realm and insiders Chevron Technology Ventures and LowerCarbon Capital.

Piano, a Philadelphia-based customer analytics and subscription platform, raised $20 million. Updata Partners led, and was joined by Rittenhouse Ventures and LinkedIn. The company also secured $68 million in debt from Sixth Street.

Forecast, a Copenhagen-based project management platform, raised $19 million in Series A funding. Balderton Capital led, and was joined by insiders Crane Ventures Partners, SEED Capital and Heartcore.

42Crunch, a London-based startup focused on API cybersecurity, raised $17 million in Series A funding. Energy Impact Partners led, and was joined by Adara Ventures.

Payfit, a London-based payroll automation startup, raised $15.6 million in Series A funding. General Catalyst led, and was joined by Avid Ventures, LocalGlobe, Point Nine Capital, Moonfire Ventures, Hustle Fund and Seedcamp.

Settle, a provider of cashflow management solutions, raised $15 million in Series A funding. Kleiner Perkins led, and was joined by Founders Fund, SciFi, Caffeinated Capital, WorkLife Ventures, Background Capital and Avlok Kohli.

Liquid Instruments, a Solana Beach, Calif.-based provider of software-defined instrumentation startup, raised $13.7 million from F1 Solutions, Moelis Australia and insiders Anzu Partners and ANU Connect Ventures.

Data.World, an Austin, Texas-based data catalog startup, raised $11 million led by Dutch chemical company Vopal.

Moxion Power, a Richmond, Calif.-based maker of mobile energy storage systems, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Energy Impact Partners led, and was joined by Tamarack Global and Liquid 2 Ventures.

Roofr, a San Francisco-based sales platform for roofing contractors, raised $4.25 million in seed funding. Bullpen Capital led, and was joined by Avidbank and Crosslink Capital.

Dabbel, a German provider of HVAC control automation solutions for commercial buildings, raised €3.6 million from Target Global, Commerzbank and SeedX.

🚑 Mindful Health Solutions, a San Francisco-based provider of interventional psychiatry services, raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Norwest Venture Partners.

🚑 Noom, a New York-based weight loss app, received pre-IPO funding from Silver Lake at around a $4 billion valuation, per Bloomberg. It previously raised over $120 million from firms like RRE Ventures and Sequoia Capital.

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A message from Cooley
Cooley launches Chicago office
Cooley has launched in Chicago, uniting an array of preeminent Chicago-based lawyers from three major law firms.

For the first time, an elite Silicon Valley law firm is opening an office to serve the thriving Midwest ecosystem.

Learn more.

Private Equity Deals
• Astorg and Bridgepoint agreed to acquire Fenergo, an Irish provider of regulatory software to financial institutions, from Insight Partners.

Grupo Axo, a Mexico City-based operator of multibrand fashion retail stores, raised an undisclosed amount of funding from BlackRock. Existing backers include General Atlantic.

KKR agreed to buy British infrastructure investor John Laing Group (LSE: JLG) for around £2 billion.

🚑 KKR completed its $1.5 billion buyout of Therapy Brands, a Birmingham, Ala.-based provider of mental and behavioral health practice management software, from Lightyear Capital, Oak HC/FT and Greater Sum Ventures.

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board bought Mitratech, an Austin, Texas-based provider of enterprise legal and risk management software, for $1.55 billion from TA Associates.

Peak-Ryzex, a Columbia, Md.-based portfolio company of Sole Source Capital, acquired Bar Code Direct, a North Grafton, Mass.-based reseller of AIDC solutions.

Urban Elevator Service, a Cicero, Ill.-based portfolio company of Skydeck Capital, bought Aventura Elevator, a Florida-based elevator contractor.

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SPAC Stuff
Aries I Acquisition, a tech SPAC led by ex-Boeing and NASA exec Randy Brinkley, raised $125 million in its IPO.

GigInternational1, the seventh SPAC led by semiconductor vet Avi Katz, raised $200 million in its IPO.

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

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Liquidity Events
PhonePe, an Indian payment services startup backed by Walmart, is in talks to buy Indus OS, a third-party Android app store that’s raised over $20 million from firms like Samsung, Secocha Ventures, Titan Capital and VenturEast.

🚑 Ro, New York-based DTC pharmacy and primary healthcare platform valued by VCs at around $5 billion, acquired Modern Fertility, a San Francisco-based fertility test DTC company that had raised over $20 million from firms like Forerunner Ventures. No financial terms were disclosed, but Axios has learned the price-tag was $225 million.

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More M&A
Deutsche Bank is considering a sale of its Postbank Leasing unit, per Bloomberg.

🍺 Heineken is in talks to buy listed South African wine and spirits maker Distell Group, which is valued at around $2.4 billion.

IBM (NYSE: IBM) agreed to buy Waeg, a Brussels-based Salesforce consultancy.

Kloosterboer, a Dutch cold storage operator, is seeking to fetch around €1 billion in a sale, per Bloomberg.

Lenta, a Russian hypermarket operator, agreed to buy the grocery business of Billa Russia for around $263 million.

TF1 and M6, France’s two largest private broadcasters, agreed to merge. The move is to defend against streamers, but is certain to invite regulatory scrutiny.

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🚑 7wire Ventures, a Chicago-based VC firm focused on digital health startups, raised $150 million for its second fund.

83North, a VC firm focused on Israeli and European startups, raised $550 million for its sixth fund.

HgCapital of London is raising up to $1 billion for a debt fund focused on its own portfolio companies, per public pension materials.

UTEC, a Japanese deep-tech VC firm, held a first close on its $275 million-targeted fifth fund.

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It’s Personnel
Scott Clay has formed a new firm called Clay VC, focused on the intersection of tech and healthcare, per his LinkedIn. He previously was a partner with Point72 Ventures and, before that, DCVC.

Myra Choo joined secondary advisory firm Mozaic Capital Advisors as a director. She previously led West Coast IR for MVision Private Equity Advisers.

Peter Maher joined London-based Legal & General Capital as head of venture capital investment. He previously was with Cambridge Associates.

JPMorgan Chase named consumer lending CEO Marianne Lake and CFO Jennifer Piepszak as co-heads of the bank’s consumer unit, with Gordon Smith saying he will retire at year-end. The bank also named Daniel Pinto as president and COO, while Jeremy Barnum succeeds Lake as CFO. All of this creates new palace intrigue about who will take over, eventually, from CEO Jamie Dimon.

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Final Numbers
Source: Axios Visuals.
AT&T shares initially jumped on news that it will spin off WarnerMedia into a joint venture with Discovery, but investors have since begun to reconsider their optimism.
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A message from Cooley
The private financing environment remains resilient through Q1
The remarkable strength of the 2020 venture financing environment continued into the first quarter of 2021.

Median pre-money valuations increased significantly across all stages, and up rounds represented 93% of all Cooley deals.

See more on the Cooley GO venture financing dashboard.

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