Cacioppo-led Vanta closes a $50M Series A round

From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing Week of May 10, 2021

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Macdonald-led C.L. Smith Co. has been acquired by Kelso & Co.

A private equity firm has acquired C.L. Smith Co., a distributor of rigid packaging solutions, which had been owned by Nancy Smith and whose CEO is Sarah Macdonald. Terms of Kelso & Co.’s purchase of the St. Louis company were not disclosed.

Kelso will be combining C.L. Smith with existing portfolio company Inmark, a distributor of rigid container and life sciences packaging products. Founded in 1975, C.L. Smith handles rigid packaging distribution, manufacturing, custom design and hazardous material certification. It also operates Lyons Blow Molding, an extrusion blow molding facility.

 Maiques’ Neuroelectrics raises a $17.5M Series A round

A therapeutic platform to treat neurological and psychiatric disorders founded by Ana Maiques raises capital. Neuroelectrics has raised $17.5 million in a Series A financing from Morningside Ventures.

Neuroelectrics will use the funds to further develop the company’s non-invasive transcranial electrical stimulation therapeutic platform and to advance clinical trials in refractory focal epilepsy and at-home treatment of refractory depression. Based in Cambridge, Mass. and Barcelona, Spain, the company combines safe and proven neuromodulation capabilities with remote-controlled delivery and personalized treatment protocols to restore and maintain brain health.

In a statement, Ana said, “Neuroelectrics is developing a platform that builds upon the brain’s natural electrical properties to both understand and treat neurological dysfunction. Our goal is to offer a safe, non-invasive option that benefits those for whom effective treatments are unavailable. Our investors share this vision, and we are grateful for their confidence and partnership.”

Morningside invests private equity and venture capital in the novel science and technology sectors.

Lee’s Esker Therapeutics receives $70M in Series A financing 

June Lee launches a company to transform the treatment of autoimmune disease after receiving venture backing. Esker Therapeutics received $70 million in Series A financing from Foresite Capital.

Based in San Francisco, Esker will focus on addressing the limitations of currently available treatments for autoimmune diseases. It will look to develop precision therapies that target the patient populations most likely to benefit from them. Esker is leveraging a precision analytics platform compromised of high-quality curated genetic, clinical and health records data, a systems immunology toolkit for prospective data collection and tools for building patient registries.

In a statement, June said, “autoimmune diseases are the third most common cause of chronic illness. In the U.S. alone, they impact 25 million people and cost more than $100 billion annually. While a number of targeted therapies have emerged in recent decades, response rates to treatments are low, and there remains a significant need for treatments that are specific to certain patient populations and that can be tolerated over long periods of time. Our goal at Esker is to rewrite the autoimmune treatment playbook by developing the right medicine for each patient.”

Gap sells Rao-led INTERMIX to Altamont Capital Partners

Gap, Inc. has sold a luxury fashion boutique brand led by Jyothi Rao to a private equity firm. Terms of Altamont Capital Partners purchase of INTERMIX were not disclosed.

New York City-based INTERMIX has a national footprint of 31 boutiques and a rapidly growing e-commerce channel. It has become known for curating and editing the most sought-after styles from a mix of designers.

In a statement, Jyothi said, “this is an exciting next step in our journey at INTERMIX to be the leading omni-channel boutique fashion business for women seeking a highly curated and personalized shopping experience. Altamont shares our vision for accelerated growth, best-in-class customer experience and an entrepreneurial team culture. We are entering this partnership with great momentum, and with the investment from Altamont, INTERMIX will be poised to shape the future of multi-brand retail.”

Prior to her current role as CEO, Jyothi held executive positions at Gilt Groupe and Calvin Klein, as well as Gap, where she grew the brand domestically and internationally in various roles.

Altamont is a private equity firm with more than $2.5 billion of capital under management, focused primarily on making long term, control investments in middle market businesses.

Cigich-led Perform[cb] has a new private equity owner

Perform[cb], which is led by Erin Cigich, has a new private equity owner. Terms of Centre Lane Partners’ sale of the Sarasota, Fla. affiliate marketing company to Beringer Capital were not disclosed.

Perform[cb] focuses on developing new technologies that enable marketers and publishers to seamlessly scale their customer acquisition initiatives. The company has grown through organic means and three strategic acquisitions. Beringer will look to collaborate with the Perform[cb] team on the continued rollout of offerings that augment the customer experience and cement the company’s status as a premier destination for hyper-targeted, effective marketing campaigns.

Beringer is a private equity firm specializing in the rapidly evolving media, marketing services, commerce, data and technology sectors.

Cacioppo sees Vanta raise a $50M Series A round

A company led by Christina Cacioppo lands funding from Sequoia Capital. Vanta closed a $50 million Series A round with participation from Sequoia and existing investor Y Combinator.

Based in San Francisco, Vanta’s automated continuous monitoring platform allows companies to prepare for SOC 2 audits in a matter of days. These audits ensure that companies have a safe operating environment and are properly managing their data and security while protecting private client information. As the SaaS market expanded to more than $150 billion in 2020, the risks and costs associated with security breaches have similarly expanded. In 2020, in the United States alone, more than 150 million people were affected by data breaches. Nearly 1,000 market-leading companies including Clubhouse, Lattice, Calm, Loom, Notion and UserTesting use Vanta to power their security and compliance. Vanta will use the new funding to meet customer demand, launch new products and open a second office in New York.

In a statement, Christina said, “we’re at a crucial turning point as an industry: software is a huge part of our lives, but we trust software companies less than ever before. At Vanta, we’re pioneering a continuous, automated approach to security and compliance that protects customer data and helps grow these businesses.”

Pecoraro-led Advicent has been sold by Vista Equity Partners

Advicent, a cash flow, trust and tax financial planning provider whose CEO is Angela Pecoraro, has been sold by Vista Equity Partners to a private equity-backed company. Terms of Advicent’s purchase by InvestCloud were not disclosed. A specialist in cloud-based financial digital solutions, InvestCloud is backed by Motive Partners and Clearlake Capital. The acquisition is aimed at creating the world’s leading financial planning solution. Based in Milwaukee, Advicent provides financial planning technology for more than 140,000 financial professionals from nearly 3,000 firms worldwide.

Rosenmayer’s INTREN has been sold One Equity Partners

INTREN, LLC, a specialty utilities contractor which was founded by Loretta Rosenmayer and is led by Sherina Maye Edwards, has been sold by its private equity backer. One Equity Partners sold the Union, Ill. company to MasTec, Inc. for $420 million, including a contingent earnout through the end of the year.

MasTec is an infrastructure construction company operating mainly throughout North America across a range of industries. INTREN primarily provides distribution network services for electrical and gas infrastructure. One Equity invested in INTREN in July 2017 in partnership with Loretta to support the company’s growth and identify strategic acquisitions that would diversify revenues, reduce customer concentration and expand its geographic footprint. During One Equity’s investment period, the company grew significantly with trailing 12 months revenue of approximately $550 million and a double-digit EBITDA margin.

In a statement, Sherina said, “INTREN and MasTec have the same culture of quality, safety, innovation, and inclusion with a strong emphasis on the values that our founders believed in, including hard work, commitment to customer service and employee empowerment. Becoming a part of MasTec means INTREN will be able to not only expand the work we’re doing today but also expand into new markets and better deliver for our clients.”

KKR invests in Bolhous-led Charter Next Generation

KKR is investing in Charter Next Generation, a producer of specialty films whose CEO is Kathy Bolhous. The amount invested by KKR was not disclosed, but the firm will be joining Leonard Green & Partners, L.P. as an equal co-owner of the business. A wholly owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is also investing and will become a minority owner.

CNG’s films are used in flexible packaging, industrial, health care and consumer applications.

The investment by KKR comes almost exactly two years after CNG was formed through the merger of Charter NEX and Next Generation Films, Inc. Kathy was CEO of Charter NEX, which was acquired by Leonard Green and Oak Hill Capital in 2017 from Pamplona Capital Management. Kathy became CEO of Charter Films in 2010 and CEO of Charter NEX in 2012 after it and another company merged.

Harvest Partners invest in Bolseth-led HelpSystems

HelpSystems, whose CEO is Kate Bolseth, adds another investor. The amount invested by Harvest Partners SCF in the Eden Prairie, Minn. company was not disclosed, only that it was a “minority investment.”

HelpSystems is a provider of IT operations management, security and analytics solutions. Founded in 1982, HelpSystems has developed software and services that monitor and automate processes, encrypt and secure data and provide access to the information that large organizations need every day. Harvest Partners SCF is the non-control private equity strategy of Harvest Partners. Other investors in the company include TA Associates, Charlesbank Capital Partners and HGGC.

Katie Gamble, a senior associate with TA, and Anna Ike, a vice president with HGGC, both list HelpSystems as a portfolio company. HGGC invested in the company in 2018 and TA and Charlesbank came in 2019 – the same year that Kate took over as CEO. Kate joined HelpSystems in 2015.

Quazi’s Smol raises 24.3M pounds in Series B funding

An eco-friendly detergent subscription service co-founded by Paula Quazi absorbs more capital. Smol raised 24.3 million pounds in Series B funding from Eight Roads Ventures, Google Ventures, Latitude and existing investors Balderton Capital and JamJar Investments. The new round comes some 10 months after the London-based company secured 8 million in Series A funding.

Smol began by selling laundry and dishwasher capsule packs and has since expanded to include fabric conditioner, dishwasher tablets, surface sprays and hand sanitizer. Paula founded the company in 2018 with fellow former Unilever executive Nick Green.

Magill oversees Aetion raise $110M in Series C funding

Aetion, a health care technology company whose CEO is Carolyn Magill, raises a sizable new round of funding. The Boston and New York company secured $110 million in Series C financing from Warburg Pincus, B Capital, Foresite Capital and existing investors New Enterprise Associates and Flare Capital Partners.

Lily Huang, a principal with NEA; Dr. Kavita Patel, a venture partner with NEA; and Marian Nakada, a vice president with Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc. are observers on Aetion’s board, which includes Cathy Polinsky, Shopify’s vice president of engineering.

Aetion now has raised $212 million, which included last year’s $19 million Series B round that Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC helped lead.

Aetion delivers real-world evidence and outcomes-based analytics solutions to life science companies and payers. The company’s platform utilizes data to evaluate the safety, effectiveness and value of medications. Biopharma companies can use it to demonstrate to payers and regulators which medications will best serve their populations, while payers can use it to identify therapies that are both clinically effective and cost effective. In 2020, Aetion launched a research collaboration with the FDA to advance the understanding of and response to COVID-19.

Carolyn became CEO in 2017. She is the former CEO of Remedy Partners and Evolent Health, which she led to an initial public offering in 2015. Carolyn’s background also includes serving as UnitedHealth Group’s vice president of Medicare Special Needs Plans and chief operating officer for UHG’s second-largest Medicaid health plan.

Bar David’s Lili raises $55M in Series B funding

Investors have deposited additional capital into Lili, a banking app for freelance workers whose co-founder and CEO is Lilac Bar David. The New York company secured $55 million in Series B funding from Target Global and such existing investors as Group 11 and AltaIR.

Lili is focused on giving the nearly 60 million freelancers in the United States the financial tools and services needed to balance work and life. The company’s app combines banking services with real-time expense tracking, tax tools and financial insights. There are no account fees, minimum balance requirements, overdraft fees or foreign transactions fees. Lili users also have free access to thousands of ATMS across the country, early direct deposit, a Visa Business debit card and mobile check deposits.

Lilac and fellow co-founder, Liran Zelkha, previously founded Pepper, the first and largest challenger bank in Israel.

Castik Capital and Abry Partners invest in Benjamin’s Xexec

A pair of private equity firms have acquired a majority stake in an employee engagement tech company that Jacqueline Benjamin co-founded and co-leads. Terms of Castik Capital and Abry Partners investment in Xexec, Ltd. were not disclosed.

Based in London, Xexec offers a wide range of employee discounts and reward and recognition solutions through a scalable cloud-based platform. The company also offers customers loyalty programs. Jacqueline and fellow co-founder and co-CEO Saul Meyer will remain with the company.

The investment comes just days after Castik and Abry announced that they had acquired Reward Gateway, a human resources technology and employee engagement company.

Polaris Equity obtains a 51 percent stake in Rantala-led Stronger

A private equity firm acquired the majority stake in a Swedish lifestyle brand led by Annica Rantala. Polaris Equity obtained a 51 percent stake in Stronger. Terms were not disclosed.

Based in Stockholm, Stronger is an activewear brand with a direct-to-consumer e-commerce model, enabling the company to build strong relationships with its customers through its own brand and channels. It has customers in more than 100 countries.

In a statement, Annica said that with Polaris, “we will continue our work to develop the business through globalization, value-driven influencer marketing, and an offering that covers the needs of our customers, both during and after exercise. With the growth-focused mindset of our brilliant team, the ongoing recruitment of new talent, and a brand that is constantly enhanced through customer-led insights, we will be able to reach our goal of 100 million euros annual turnover within the near future.”

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