BCV’s Hummer, Blackstone’s Chung, Novo’s Lüneborg, Chen’s Cormorant and Moderne Ventures’ Benson are among those making deals this week
From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing May 24, 2021
Jett leads SoftBank into Perch’s $775M round
SoftBank Investment Advisers’ Lydia Jett makes a record-setting investment. SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led Perch’s $775 million round, which also included Spark Capital and Victory Park Capital. It is, according to Perch, the largest ever Series A round for a consumer goods company. The Boston-based company also claims to be the fastest to achieve profitable unicorn status in the United States. Profitable since its founding in 2019, Perch said it now has a “10-figure valuation.”
A technology-driven commerce company, Perch acquires and operates top Amazon third-party and other D2C brands at scale. Over the past 18 months, Perch has acquired more than 70 brands.
In a statement, Lydia said, “as one of the largest investors in e-commerce platforms globally, we understand the critical role third party sellers perform in driving Amazon's marketplace growth. Through its unique technology platform, Perch is providing third-party sellers with the resources to help scale and manage their businesses.”
Lydia is a partner. Earlier this year a company on whose board she sits, Coupang, Inc., had the largest IPO by a foreign company in seven years. Lydia also serves on the board of Softbank portfolio companies Fanatics, Flipkart, Tokopedia and Klook.
Hummer guides BCV into Ankorstore’s $100M Series B round
Seeing a company that she tells Women’s PE Briefs “can digitize wholesale trade on a global scale,” Bain Capital Ventures’ Merritt Hummer did not let being in New York City deter her from investing in Paris-based Ankorstore. BCV and Tiger Global led the French curated marketplace’s $100 million Series B round that also included existing investors Index Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Alven and Aglaé Ventures.
Ankorstore connects independent brands with local retailers. It will use the capital to grow its base of 5,000 brands and 50,000 independent retailers across Europe. The company was founded by former Etsy executives and serial entrepreneurs. Merritt said BCV came to know of Ankorstore through its investment thesis related to the digitization of B2B commerce across verticals.
Hearing about Ankorstore, Merritt said the firm reached out “because the company’s business model fit our thesis very well.” With a face-to-face meeting not possible, Merritt said BCV relied on its network of investors and founders in Europe as references. They also “spent a lot of time with the founders on Zoom.” She said she thinks the company can be a game changer. “I believe Ankorstore can digitize wholesale trade on a global scale. My hope is that company becomes the infrastructure that enables the local economies and entrepreneurs to thrive not just in Europe, but globally.”
In conjunction with the financing, Merritt joined Ankorstore’s board. A partner with BCV, Merritt has a portfolio company, SmartRent.com, Inc., which is set to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company. Merritt’s portfolio also includes Mirakl and Ribbon. She spoke at the Virtual Women’s Alternative Investment Summit earlier this year.
Lightspeed Venture Partners’ Wu backs DeversiFi
Lightspeed Venture Partners’ Amy Wu backs a company allowing individuals to invest, swap, lend and send cryptocurrencies to other users without paying blockchain fees. DeversiFi closed a $5 million funding round led by ParaFi with participation from Lightspeed, Defiance Capital, Blockchain.com Ventures, Delphi Ventures, Fenbushi Capital, OKEx, StarkWare and LongHash Ventures.
DeversiFi is a layer 2 decentralized finance trading platform that allows users to avoid blockchain fees. The funding will help the company scale their decentralized finance trading. In a statement, Amy said, “DeversiFi has a strong team, early mover advantage with a scaling solution, and a unique aim to bring decentralized finance to a wider audience. We are excited to partner with them and continue investing in decentralized finance.”
Amy also recently seeded Hidden Leaf Games, a new gaming studio. Lightspeed is a multi-stage venture capital firm focused on accelerating disruptive innovations and trends in the enterprise, consumer, and health sectors.
Chung leads Blackstone into Walker Edison
Blackstone’s Ann Chung helps the firm settle into an online furniture company. The amount invested by Blackstone in Walker Edison was not disclosed. It was described as a significant minority stake. Blackstone made the investment through funds managed by Blackstone Tactical Opportunities.
Based in West Jordan, Utah, Walker Edison designs and supplies affordable, ready-to-assemble furniture. In a statement, Ann said that “Walker Edison’s combination of scale, technology and product offerings have made it a leader in the fast-growing online furniture industry. We believe their business is well positioned to benefit from strong tailwinds moving forward as e-commerce adoption continues to rise – particularly among younger furniture customers.”
Ann earlier this month saw portfolio company Oatly go public. She is a managing director with the firm’s growth equity investing platform, Blackstone Growth, and leads the group’s consumer vertical platform.
Novo’s Lüneborg and Chen’s Cormorant lead a sizable round for Numab Therapeutics
Novo Ventures’ Nanna Lüneborg and Cormorant Asset Management, whose CEO is Bihua Chen, lead a sizable round for a company developing immunotherapies for cancer and inflammation. Numab Therapeutics raised $110 million in Series C financing in a round that also included HBM Partners, Forbion via its Forbion Growth Opportunities Fund, BVF Partners, RTW Investments, BlackRock and Octagon Capital Advisors.
Based in Zurich, Numab is creating multi-specific antibodies that enable the pursuit of novel therapeutic strategies in the field of cancer immunotherapy and inflammation. The financing will support the acceleration and expansion of the clinical development of Numab’s lead program, NM21-1480, into multiple cancer indications and the advancement of the company’s pipeline of multi-specific antibodies in oncology and inflammation into clinical trials.
In a statement, Nanna said the company “is at a pivotal stage of its growth and this funding will enable Numab to generate significant clinical data points. It represents another example of Novo Holdings’ investment strategy to support companies built on differentiated science in areas of major unmet medical need.”
In conjunction with the financing, Nanna joined the company’s board. Earlier this year, one of Nanna’s portfolio companies, LAVA Therapeutics, went public. She is also on the boards of NodThera, Epsilon-3 Bio, Orphazyme, ReViral and Inventiva. She has been with Novo A/S since 2012 and joined its Novo Ventures unit in 2016. Novo A/S is fully owned by the Novo Nordisk Foundation.
Cormorant’s investments in 2021 include Interius BioTherapeutics, which is developing what it describes as a paradigm-shifting platform for vivo cell-specific gene delivery; Tyra Biosciences, which is developing compounds targeting drug resistant cancer cells; Pyxis Oncology, which is led by Dr. Lara Sullivan and is focused on developing therapies aimed at defeating difficult-to-treat cancers; EpimAb Biotherapeutics, Inc., which specializes in bispecific antibody development; Graphite Bio, a next-generation gene editing company whose scientific co-founders include Dr. Maria Grazia Roncarolo; Neurelis, Inc., which has launched an epilepsy treatment; Ventyx Biosciences, Inc., which is advancing a pipeline of immune modulators to treat inflammatory diseases and autoimmune disorders; AgomAb Therapeutics, which is developing drug candidates to modulate regenerative pathways to induce functional organ recovery in acute and chronic diseases; BlossomHill Therapeutics, Inc., an oncology company founded by Jingrong Jean Cui; FogPharma, a precision medicine company co-founded by WeiQing Zhou; DTx Pharma, Inc., which is creating RNA-based therapeutics to treat the genetic drivers of disease; Ensoma, which is developing an in vivo approach to delivering off-the-shelf genomic medicines; Verve Therapeutics, which is developing gene editing therapies to permanently reduce risk of coronary artery disease in adults; Affinivax, Inc., which is developing vaccines utilizing its Multiple Antigen Presenting System platform; Immuneering Corp., which seeking to create better medicines through insights from bioinformatics; GH Research Ireland, Ltd., which is developing a drug for treatment-resistant depression; and Icosavax, Inc., which is seeking to develop vaccines against life-threatening respiratory viruses in older adults.
Cormorant has also had at least eight companies go public in 2021: Rain Therapeutics, Inc.; VectivBio Holding; Biomea Fusion; Prometheus Biosciences, Inc.; Design Therapeutics; Edgewise Therapeutics; Pharvaris, which Anne Lesage co-founded; and Talaris Therapeutics, Inc., which was founded by Dr. Suzanne Ildstad.
The firm also has one company in registration, Artiva Biotherapeutics, Inc., and another, Tango Therapeutics, which is set to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company. Tango’s CEO is Dr. Barbara Weber.
China Life Private Equity’s Zhang backs GeneQuantum Healthcare
Leidi Zhang, a managing director with China Life Private Equity Investment, backs a company developing therapeutics to meet the unmet medical needs of cancer patients. China Life Private Equity helped lead GeneQuantum Healthcare’s Series C round, which was described as being “several hundreds of millions RMB.” Others taking part in the round included PICC Capital Equity Investment, Sunshine Guojian and Suzhou Wuzhong Biomedicine Industrial Park Investment.
Based in Suzhou, China, GeneQuantum develops new bioconjugate drugs with differentiated platforms to create treatments to address significant unmet medical needs and provide safer, more effective and affordable treatment options. The funds will provide a solid financial foundation to the company for its global clinical development.
In a statement, Leidi said she hopes to support GeneQuantum for its “continuing innovation in bioconjugate drugs, promoting new bioconjugate development, and expanding the indications of clinical bioconjugates, as well as accelerating the commercialization of drugs. In the end, we are confident GQ will provide safer and more effective drug and treatment options for patients worldwide.”
Established in 2016, China Life Private Equity is an investment platform and a subsidiary of China Life.
Sexton leads Claritas Health Ventures into emocha Health’s $6.2M Series A round
More than 50 percent of medication is not taken as prescribed – making adherence to treatment the single most important modifiable factor in chronic illness. A digital health company that Claritas Health Ventures’ Theresa Sexton has backed is seeking to change that. Claritas Health Ventures led emocha Health’s $6.2 million Series A round that also included Healthworx, Kapor Capital and PTX Capital.
Based in Baltimore, emocha is focused on improving medication adherence amongst patients with chronic and infectious diseases. The company has comprehensively digitized the CDC-endorsed practice of Directly Observed Therapy – considered the gold standard for medication adherence. It is utilizing a combination of two-way asynchronous video technology and human engagement powered by artificial intelligence. Over the past year, emocha has seen 300 percent growth in revenue. Its platform now supports more than 20 conditions.
In a statement, Theresa said, “the team at emocha is purposeful and passionate about challenged populations with chronic conditions, reducing the barriers to accessing high quality care, and leading the expansion of health equity.” In conjunction with the financing, Theresa joined emocha’s board.
Theresa co-founded and is managing partner of Claritas Health Ventures, the dedicated health care investing arm of Claritas Capital. Theresa joined Claritas in 2008 and is on the boards of Apcela, Forbes Travel, Genomind, nSight for Travel, Oasis Holdings and TwelveStone Health Partners.
Eco Baltia is set to acquire Ecoservice
Eco Baltia, a Baltic environmental and waste management group whose board includes INVL Asset Management’s Deimantė Korsakaitė, is acquiring a Lithuanian environmental solutions company. Eco Baltia has struck a deal to purchase at least 85 percent of Ecoservice. Terms were not disclosed.
Ecoservice has 900 employees and had revenue of 35 million euros in 2020. Eco Baltia had revenue of 75 million euros last year and employs 900 million people in Latvia. Deimantė in 2020 helped INVL acquire a controlling stake in Eco Baltia. The European Bank for the Reconstruction and Development also owns a significant minority stake in Eco Baltia.
A partner with INVL, Deimantė oversees the INVL Baltic Sea Growth Fund, which closed last year at 165 million euros.
Benson leads Moderne Ventures into Kaiyo’s $5M round
Moderne Ventures’ Liza Benson plops capital into an online marketplace for gently used furniture. Moderne led Kaiyo’s $5 million round, which included participation from Lerer Hippeau and Max Ventures.
Focused on sustainability, Kaiyo estimates that its platform has kept more than 2 million pounds of furniture out of landfills. It also plants a tree for every order completed on its site. As delays in furniture deliveries continue due to the pandemic, Kaiyo offers an opportunity to shop and receive pieces from trusted brands in as fast as two days, creating a more accessible and customer-centric experience. The capital injection will be used to continue the brand’s domestic growth beginning with Washington, D.C., and to create impactful relationships within the Northeast’s real estate market.
Kaiyo is part of Moderne’s 2021 Midyear Passport class. In a statement, Liza said, “Kaiyo is addressing a huge pain point for consumers by taking the hassle out of buying and selling used furniture in a secure way, enabling consumers to reduce waste and save money.”
Liza, a partner, earlier this year led Moderne into MotoRefi, which is striving to make it easier to refinance an auto loan. Moderne, which was founded by Constance Freedman, invests in technology companies in multi-trillion-dollar industries of real estate, finance, insurance, hospitality and home services.
Newfund’s Nédellec invests in Arkhn
Newfund’s Anne-Sophie Nédellec invests in a company focused on leading health care institutions towards efficient data management. Newfund and Kurma Partners led Arkhn’s 4 million euros round that also included the European Commission and Bpifrance.
Based in Paris, Arkhn tackles the issue of accessing health care data and has become critical for care facilities and the entire health care ecosystem including medical teams, public and private researchers, patients, medical startups and software. The need for data sovereignty has been highlighted by the coronavirus crisis and by several government measures around the world.
In a statement, Anne-Sophie said, “Arkhn’s strength lies in its team of experts and its hand-in-hand support with medical and IT teams. The fact that it is 100 percent aligned with the institutions’ vision of health care data gives it a head start. Combined with a crisis that has accelerated awareness of the importance of data accessibility, the company can become the European leader in hospital data infrastructure.”
Newfund is a venture capital firm focused on early-stage investment in France and the U.S.
AE Industrial Partners’ Romano joins the board of Cross-Fire & Security
Kelly Romano, an operating partner with AE Industrial Partners, joins the board of Cross-Fire & Security Co., Inc. after the private equity firm acquires the Brooklyn, N.Y. company. Terms of AEI’s purchase of Cross-Fire were not disclosed.
A full-service fire and life safety company, Cross-Fire specializes in the design, engineering, installation, maintenance, monitoring and servicing of state-of-the-art life safety systems. It will serve as the entry point for AEI’s new fire and life safety services platform. Founded in 1993, its projects have included New York’s Citi Field Stadium, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Intrepid Museum.
Kelly joined AEI last year. She had most recently founded and led BlueRipple Capital, LLC, a consultancy firm focused on strategy, acquisitions, deal structure and channel development for high-tech companies. Kelly retired from United Technologies Corp. in 2016 after 27 years.
AEI focuses on aerospace, defense and government services, power generation and specialty industrial markets.
Worklife Ventures’ Kimmel seeds Polywork
Worklife Ventures founder Brianne Kimmel seeds a professional social network. Polywork secured $3.5 million in funding from a group that also included Caffeinated Capital’s Ray Tonsing, YouTube founder Steve Chen, Twitch founder Kevin Lin, PayPal founder Max Levchin, VSCO founder Joel Flory and Behance founder Scott Belsky.
Polywork, a New York-based professional social network, lets users create a free personal webpage, share what they are up to both personally and professionally and send collaboration requests to others on the network. The network launched in response to a growing trend of people who do more than one type of work and cannot be defined by a single job title.
In a statement, Brianne said, “LinkedIn has long dominated the professional networking space forcing us all into a stuffy corporate identity reduced down to a single job title that hides all the wonderful things we actually do. Polywork empowers people to represent all aspects of their lives and what makes them who they are.”
Worklife Ventures is a VC firm that invests in tools and services for people.
Ulu Ventures’ Rivera drives into Mile Auto’s $10.3M Seed round
Ulu Ventures’ Miriam Rivera drives into a provider of affordable low-mileage car insurance. Mile Auto secured $10.3 million in seed funding from Ulu, Emergent Ventures, Thornton Capital and Sure Ventures.
Atlanta-based Mile Auto is seeking to change the way car insurance is purchased by requiring drivers to pay only for what they use. This can result in savings of up to 60 percent. Mile Auto leverages its patented computer vision and machine learning technologies to collect and validate odometer data without the need for extra hardware, mobile apps or GPS tracking. Mile Auto also announced today a partnership with Ford Motor Co. to enable Ford owners to utilize Mile Auto.
In a statement, Miriam said, “Mile Auto’s data-driven approach to insuring an underserved segment, lower-mileage drivers, is exactly what the market needs right now. We place a high value on transparency, values, and vision, and we believe that Mile Auto’s founding team of serial entrepreneurs can have a great impact on the industry.”
Ulu provides early-stage investments to enterprise cloud and smart data companies. It recently closed its third fund at $138 million. Miriam founded Ulu with Clint Korver. The firm’s 2021 investments include Backer, which is striving to make saving for education social; Praxis Labs, a diversity and inclusion learning platform co-founded by Elise Smith and Heather Shen; and TomoCredit, which is developing a means for individuals to develop a credit history and whose co-founder and CEO is Kristy Kim. Miriam has spoken at the Women’s Private Equity Summit and during a Perspectives Webinar.
Initialized Capital’s Leu Dennis invests in Resolve
Initialized Capital’s Alda Leu Dennis invests in a buy-now, pay-later embedded billing platform for growing business-to-business companies. Resolve landed $60 million in funding from Initialized, KSD Capital, Haystack VC, Commerce Ventures, Clocktower Ventures and Affirm.
Based in San Francisco, Resolve simplifies and automates the notoriously complex and risky process of billing and purchasing on credit. The company does this by providing a digital net terms and credit billing platform that integrates seamlessly into a B2B company’s existing financial technology stack to facilitate growth, increase sales revenue and optimize cash flow while removing risk for the company.
In a statement, Alda said, “software is eating B2B payments. B2B ‘buy now pay later’ has been around for thousands of years for businesses who buy and sell on credit from one another. Resolve’s billing platform for deferred payments modernizes this timeless B2B transaction with technology that’s built for the digital and e-commerce era.” Alda spoke at the Virtual Women’s Alternative Investment Summit.
Initialized, which is an early-stage venture capital firm focused on seed, closed its fifth fund in 2020 at $230 million.
A portfolio company of GenNx360’s Dufresne does an add-on deal
GenServe, a portfolio company of GenNx360’s Daphne Dufresne, does its fifth add-on deal since the private equity firm acquired the provider of power generator maintenance, repair and sales in 2018. Terms of GenServe’s acquisition of DynaTech Generators were not disclosed.
Based in Lebanon, Pa., DynaTech provides maintenance and repair services to commercial generators and backup power solutions as well as generator and equipment sales and rentals. GenServe previously acquired On Call, PPI, GenAssist and Atlantic Switch. In a statement, Daphne said that GenNx360 will “remain highly focused on the continued execution of our buy-and-build strategy.”
A managing partner at GenNx360, Daphne is a past speaker at the Women’s Leadership Unbound Summit and the Women’s Alternative Investment Summit. Her portfolio also includes Precision Aviation Group, which maintains, repairs and overhauls aircraft.
Melton guides Threshold Ventures into Clearing’s $20M seed round
Threshold Ventures’s Emily Melton backs a company focused on helping chronic pain sufferers manage their treatments. Threshold took part in Clearing’s $20 million seed round, which included Bessemer Venture Partners, Founders Fund and a group of founders from companies including Hims & Hers, Flatiron Health, Curology, Seamless, Grubhub and Forward Health.
Based in New York, Clearing is a health care platform offering comprehensive opioid-free care for chronic pain sufferers. The company will use this funding to scale operations, customer acquisition and product development for its customized pain treatment plans that are nonaddictive, affordable and delivered to the patient’s door.
Emily was quoted by Crunchbase News as saying, “we are excited about companies like this, which have a social moral imperative to bring care to patients that don’t have access. Clearing is treating chronic pain with the person, not as a disease, which empowers them to manage their disease so they can go back to life.”
A portfolio company of Emily’s, OODA Health, recently agreed to be purchased by Cedar for $425 million. Emily earlier this year led Threshold into Calibrate, which was founded by Isabelle Kenyon and is developing a science-based program to help people lose weight.
Emily’s investments also include Brightline, whose co-founder and CEO is Naomi Allen and which is focused on making it easier to get care for children suffering from behavioral issues; Tia, Inc., a women’s health care platform founded by Carolyn Witte and Felicity Yost; Verge Genomics, a drug discovery company using machine learning whose co-founder and CEO is Alice Zhang; BetterUp, a San Francisco company that works with companies to provide certified, executive-level coaching to employees; Wellframe, a Boston health technology company; and Vineti, Inc., a gene therapy software company whose CEO is Amy DuRoss. Emily is a past speaker at the Women’s Private Equity Summit.
Wright’s Hull Street Energy is set to acquire Foundation Solar Partners
Hull Street Energy, an energy-focused private equity firm whose founder and managing partner is Sarah Wright, is poised to acquire an independent renewable development company. Terms of Hull Street’s purchase of Foundation Solar Partners were not disclosed.
Foundation specializes in identifying and developing utility-scale solar generation projects in select markets in the eastern part of the country. Established in 2019, Foundation has to date developed and sold 1 gigawatt of solar projects. After the acquisition, Hull Street will own 52 power generation stations providing 900 megawatts of renewable, gas-fired and duel-fueled generation capacity.
Based in Bethesda, Md., Hull Street in 2019 closed its first institutional fund with more than $500 million of capital commitments. Sarah is a past speaker at the Women’s Alternative Investment Summit.
Andreessen Horowitz’s Chan and Atelier Ventures’ Jin invest in Beacons
A business platform for social media creators lands funding from Andreessen Horowitz’s Connie Chan and Atelier Ventures’ Li Jin. Beacons raised $6 million in a seed funding round led by Andreessen, with participation from Atelier, The Chainsmokers’ Mantis Fund, Night Ventures, LOUD and Crush Music.
Beacons’ “link-in-bio” tool allows creators to build and customize a dedicated mobile landing page to include in profiles across social platforms, including TikTok, Instagram and Twitter. Its user interface and automated, personalized page setup offer both customizable theme generation and integration with existing content so creators and brands can quickly and easily direct followers to a single URL across multiple social platforms. The new capital will fuel the San Francisco company’s rapid growth by accelerating product development and hiring.
In a statement, Connie said, “nearly half of workers age 35 and younger have a side hustle, with much of the revenue coming through social platforms. Beacons provides the foundational stack for these businesses, so creators can intentionally re-direct their following as needed and even scale brand new digital revenue streams such as tips, membership fees or social commerce.”
Connie, a general partner, earlier this year backed Whatnot, a livestream shopping platform. Her investments also include Run the World, an online event site founded by Xiaoyin Qu and Xuan Jiang.
Li recently backed Gatheround, which was co-founded by Lisa Conn and is focused on bringing remote workers together.