Jo Natauri, Merritt Hummer, Keri Gohman and Jeanne Casey are involved in notable deals this week
From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing July 5, 2021
Merritt Hummer and Keri Gohman lead BCV into Pleo’s $150 M Series C round
For the third time in the past seven months, Bain Capital Ventures’ Merritt Hummer, who is based in New York, is involved in backing a European company – this time working with colleague Keri Gohman on a record-setting transaction and one that she tells Women’s PE Briefs was “an attractive opportunity.” BCV and Thrive Capital co-led Pleo’s $150 million Series C round, which also included existing investors Creandum, Kinnevik, Founders, Strips and Seedcamp. The round valued the Danish B2B fintech company at $1.7 billion. It was the biggest ever Series C round done in Denmark.
Pleo offers smart company cards and expense management for businesses across Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Spain, Ireland the United Kingdom. The capital will be used to support the company’s customer base, which exceeds 17,000, and the development of new spend management features for the platform. Merritt, said BCV had “looked closely” at the small and medium business spend management software category, “having seen multiple multi-billion dollar companies in that space scale in the U.S. in recent years. We identified Pleo as an emerging leader in the European market and saw this investment as an attractive opportunity to partner with them while they are still relatively early in their journey.” She said several characteristics “gave us strong confidence in the company as a promising investment.” One, she said was that “customers love the product. The Pleo platform is very thoughtfully designed with a user-centric philosophy.” A second, said Merritt, is that the team “is exceptional,” having a “demonstrated history of success.” And finally, this is BCV’s first investment in the Nordics. “We are,” she said, “excited to back an important company in Copenhagen’s thriving tech ecosystem.”
Merritt, a partner, earlier this year led BCV into Ankorstore, a Paris company which connects independent brands with local retailers. She and Keri were also involved in BCV’s investment late last year in GoCardless, a British digital payments company.
In a statement, Keri said that Pleo understands the “critical shift for modern companies toward employee centricity – providing workers with a fun-to-use spend management app that automatically tracks their corporate spending and generate expense reports, paired with powerful tools businesses need to create full visibility and management of every penny spent.” In conjunction with the financing, Keri, a BCV operating partner, joined Pleo’s board.
Jo Natauri oversees Goldman Sachs’ involvement in the purchase of of Parexel
Jo Natauri, who is global head of private health care investing within Goldman Sachs Asset Management, oversees the investment bank’s involvement in the sizable purchase of a contract research organization. Goldman Sachs and EQT Private Equity have agreed to pay $8.5 billion to acquire Parexel from Pamplona Capital Management.
Parexel focuses on the development and delivery of innovative new therapies to advance patient health. In a statement, Jo said that Parexel “has a distinguished track record of delivering clinical excellence to their large pharma and biotech customers globally. We believe this investment will accelerate Parexel’s growth as it builds on the company’s global footprint, strong operational capabilities and expansive healthcare network.”
Earlier this year, Jo guided Goldman Sachs’ involvement in the $7 billion merger of Datavant and Ciox Health to form the largest neutral and secure health data ecosystem. Also this year, a company on whose board Jo served, Flywire, went public.
Goldman Sachs Asset Management oversees more than $2 trillion in assets, with the private equity business having invested more than $75 billion.
Shamrock Capital Advisors sells a portfolio company whose board includes partner Laura Held
Shamrock Capital Advisors sells a portfolio company whose board includes partner Laura Held. Terms of Shamrock’s sale of Mobilitie to BAI Communications were not disclosed.
Based in Newport Beach, Calif., Mobilitie is the largest privately held wireless infrastructure firm in the nation. Shamrock has backed the company since 2013, investing $100 million for it to deploy and build new high-speed distributed antenna systems and small cell technology infrastructure for high-traffic public venues, Wi-Fi networks and new wireless communication tower sites across the United States.
BAI is a global communications infrastructure provider and is looking to use Mobilitie to become one of the leading connected infrastructure 5G players.
Earlier this year, Laura led Shamrock’s acquisition of Bayard Advertising, a recruitment marketing company. She is also on the boards of Adweek and Wpromote and an observer on the board of Wazee Digital. Laura has been with Shamrock since 2012, having previously been an associate at The Walt Disney Company.
Shamrock focuses on the media, entertainment and communication industries and has $3.8 billion of assets under management.
Jeanne Casey leads MetaProp into Mapped’s $6.5M seed II funding round
MetaProp’s Jeanne Casey backs a company that she tells Women’s PE Briefs “represents our continued belief that data and automation are key to unlocking the massive market opportunity of smart building and the Internet of Things.” MetaProp and Allegion Ventures co-led Mapped’s $6.5 million seed II funding round that included Singtel Innov8 and existing investors Greycroft and ANIMO Ventures. The Los Angeles company has now raised $9.5 million.
Mapped is the creator of an AI-powered data infrastructure platform for commercial and industrial Internet of Things. Combining cloud AI and intelligent edge software, Mapped automatically discovers, ingests and normalizes data about people, places and things from all disparate devices in commercial and industrial environments. The platform is then able to map this data into a simple ontology to help digitization teams, app developers, data scientists, systems engineers and subject matter experts instantly access normalized live data. Mapped was founded by Shaun Cooley, the former vice president and chief technology officer of IoT at Cisco. “Shaun,” said Jeanne, “is building a world-class team at Mapped and I’m looking forward to supporting them as they scale their platform across the real estate world.”
New York-based MetaProp focuses on the real estate technology industry. It has invested in more than 130 companies since its founding in 2015.
Alina Osorio-led Fiera Infrastructure takes part in the purchase of Conterra Ultra Broadband
Fiera Infrastructure, Inc., whose president is Alina Osorio, takes part in the purchase of one of the largest independent local providers of fiber-based services in the United States. Fiera is teaming up with APG Group NV to buy Conterra Ultra Broadband Holdings, Inc. from Court Square Partners. Fiera has been an investor in Conterra since 2019 but has been focused on acquiring additional equity interest in the company.
Based in Charlotte, N.C., Conterra has a 13,000-route mile fiber network that brings high-capacity customized middle and last-mile fiber and fixed wireless services to customers across 21 states in the Southeast, South Central and Western parts of the country.
In a statement, Alina said Fiera “looks forward to working closely with our new partner APG in support of Conterra’s solid management team and employee base as they continue to execute upon their expansion strategy.”
Fiera Infrastructure is an affiliate of publicly traded Fiera Capital Corp.
Rachel Arnold and René Yang Stewart-led Vista Equity Partners’ Endeavor Fund invests in Schoox
Vista Equity Partners’ Endeavor Fund, which is co-led by Rachel Arnold and René Yang Stewart, makes a strategic growth investment in a learning and talent development platform. Terms of Vista’s investment in Schoox were not disclosed. The company, however, said that Kinetic Ventures and ITC Partners will remain investors.
Based in Austin, Texas, Schoox has developed a platform that gives learning and development teams an environment in which employees can develop knowledge and skills anytime, anywhere and on any device.
In a statement, René said that “after a tumultuous year for the economy, the labor market and frontline employees, learning and development platforms like Schoox continue to be vital in helping companies build up their workforce and accelerate success. Schoox’s strong management team, powerful technology platform, and unyielding dedication to customer service puts it in an excellent position to continue capturing the massive, growing market opportunity as companies expand and reskill their workforces.”
René sits on the boards of Gather, Dispatch, KAZOO, RadarFirst, Tripleseat, Zapproved and iN2L, a provider of content-driven engagement solutions for seniors whose CEO is Lisa Taylor. René, who joined Vista in 2007, has helped lead the Endeavour Fund since 2016.
Rachel joined René in guiding the tech-focused private equity fund earlier this year. The two spoke recently at the Virtual Women’s Leadership Unbound Summit.
The Endeavor Fund focuses on mission-critical, high-growth enterprise software, data and technology-enabled businesses with $10 million to $30 million in annual recurring revenue. The Fund’s second vehicle, Endeavor Fund II, raised over $1 billion in capital commitments in 2019. Vista is a sponsor of the Women’s Private Equity Summit.
Sofinnova Partners’ Telethon Fund makes three new seed-stage investments
Sofinnova Partners’ Telethon Fund, which is led by Lucia Faccio and Paola Pizzi, has made three new seed-stage investments. The fund, which is the largest in Italy dedicated to biology, focuses on treatments for rare, genetic diseases. It put a total of 6 million euros into AAVantgarde Bio, Alia Therapeutics and Borea Therapeutics.
AAVantgarde, which is based in Milan, is developing gene therapies for inherited retinal disorders. Paola is serving on AAVantgarde’s board. Trento, Italy-based Alia is developing next-generation CRISPR-based medicine for safer on-target in vivo gene editing approaches to the treatment of retinal degeneration. Borea, which is located in Milan, is advancing a new generation of gene therapies that would enable targeting of specific tissues and cells. Lucia is on Borea’s board.
Both Lucia and Paola are partners at Sofinnova. The 108 million euro Telethon Fund has previously invested in PinCell, which is seeking to develop new therapies for rare dermatological diseases; Genespire, a gene therapy company; and Epsilen Bio, which is developing a technology to turn off genes linked to specific pathologies without irreversibly modifying the DNA. Julia Berretta is CEO of both Genespire and Epsilen Bio.
Daniella Kranjac’s Dynamk Capital leads Vectron Biosolutions’ $2.7M Series A round
Dynamk Capital, LLC, which was co-founded by Daniella Kranjac, invests in a Norwegian company developing biomanufacturing expression tools and services. Dynamk led Vectron Biosolutions’ $2.7 million Series A round. Vectron also announced that it had acquired a bacterial secretion platform from Utah-based T3S Technologies. The company focuses on helping biomanufacturers reduce costs associated with producing recombinant proteins or for solutions to bring challenging proteins to market.
Dynamk also this year has backed Lightspeed Microscopy, which has developed an end-to-end 3-D pathology platform, and Curi Bio, Inc., a developer of human stem cell-based platforms for drug discovery.
Daniella founded Dynamk with her brother, Mario Kranjac. It closed its debut fund earlier this year and has $65 million in assets under management. The firm provides early-stage and growth capital to life science industrials companies.
Dynamk’s investments also include CellFE, whose co-founder and CEO is Alla Zamarayeva and which is developing a microfluidics-based device to deliver gene-editing molecules; RoosterBio, Inc., which is led by Margot Connor and is simplifying and standardizing how stem cells are purchased, expanded and used in development; and Envisagenics, Inc., a drug discovery company whose co-founder and CEO is Maria Luisa Pineda.
The Riverside Company’s Caroline Peck and Sarah Jensen are involved in an add-on acquisition for Threshold Brands
The Riverside Company’s Caroline Peck and Sarah Jensen are involved in an add-on acquisition for Threshold Brands, a platform that they helped launch in April. Terms of Riverside’s investment in Plumbing Heating Paramedics, LLC were not disclosed.
Founded in Indianapolis, PHP provides HVAC system repairs and replacements and plumbing system repairs and recurring maintenance check-ins to residential customers in the Indiana market. It marks the sixth company that Riverside has added to Threshold, a multi-brand franchisor of trade services concepts. Other companies that are part of Threshold include Pestmaster, which provides environmentally conscious pest control services; USA Insulation, which provides retrofit insulation services; and MaidPro, a national provider of residential and light commercial cleaning services. MaidPro also operates the brands FlyFoe, a mosquito and tick control franchise, and Men in Kilts, a window cleaning, power washing and gutter cleaning franchise.
Caroline, an associate, joined Riverside in 2017. In 2020 she was involved in add-deals for the firm’s Omnigo Software platform. Sarah, an analyst, joined Riverside in 2019. She has been involved in add-on deals for the Omnigo Software platform as well as the firm’s investments in two Canadian-based providers of commercial outdoor services: Clintar and TruNet.
Noi Spyratos oversees CBRE Caledon Capital Management’s acquisition of WANRack
Noi Spyratos, a partner with CBRE Caledon Capital Management, oversees the firm’s acquisition of a company providing broadband connectivity services, primarily to K-12 school districts in the United States. Terms of CBRE’s purchase of WANRack were not disclosed.
In a statement, Noi said, “we are excited to have completed this acquisition and to partner with WANRack’s management team to support opportunities for growth across E-Rate and the company’s commercial fiber strategy.”
CBRE Caledon Capital is the infrastructure investment arm of CBRE Global Investors. Noi has been with the firm for the past 10 years.
Lerer Hippeau’s Caitlin Strandberg and angel investors Gabby Slome and Kate Wallman invest in Hello Cake
Lerer Hippeau’s Caitlin Strandberg and angel investors Gabby Slome and Kate Wallman put capital into a sexual wellness brand. Lerer Hippeau led Hello Cake’s $4 million seed round, which in addition to Gabby, who founded Ollie Pets, and Kate, who is with Encore Consumer Capital, also included Sugar Capital, Brand Foundry Ventures, Selva Ventures, Silas Capital and several angels.
Based in Calabasas, Calif., Hello Cake offers tailor-made sexual wellness products inspired by real couples. The company plans to deploy the new funding into product development, marketing, scaling its inventory and manufacturing, as well as on its brick-and-mortar retail launch.
In a statement, Caitlin said, “the team set out to prove a hypothesis that consumers are ready to invest in more fun sex. In just nine months they’ve not only proved that true with their traction in retail, but now 84 percent of their customers directly attribute Cake to leading a better sex life. Those are hard numbers to disagree with.”
Caitlin, who was recently promoted to partner, has in 2021 also backed Ensemble, which was founded by Jacklyn Rome and seeks to ease an acute pain point for divorced parents. Caitlin’s portfolio also includes Studs, an ear-piercing start-up co-founded by Anna Harman and Lisa Bubbers; Cure Hydration, a hydration brand created by Lauren Picasso; Otherland, a candle maker co-founded and led by Abigail Cook Stone; Sweet Reason Beverage Co., a CBD-infused beverage company founded and led by Hilary McCain; and The Inside, a home furnishings company co-founded by Christiane Lemieux and Britt Bunn.
Avid Ventures makes two new investments
Avid Ventures, whose team consists of managing partner Addie Lerner, and founding Investor Tali Vogelstein, makes two new investments. The New York venture firm took part in rounds for Majority and Oyster. Majority raised $19 million in seed funding from a group which in addition to Avid included Valar Ventures and Heartcore Capital.
Based in Houston and Stockholm, Majority provides digital banking for immigrant communities in the United States. The company charges users $5 a month and offers such services as a checking account connected to a Visa debit card, remittances, international calling and in-person native language advisers. It has offered its services to the Nigerian community in Houston and the Cuban community in Miami.
Oyster, which is in London, helps organizations hire global talent and build out remote workforces. Avid took part in the company’s $50 million Series B round, which TechCrunch said valued it at $475 million. Other investors in the round included Stripes and prior backers Emergence Capital and The Slack Fund. Avid earlier this year closed its debut fund at $68 million.
Addie formed Avid Ventures leaving General Catalyst in 2019 and Tali joined in 2020 after being with Bessemer Venture Partners. The firm’s investments also include Nova Credit; Nava; Staircase; Rapyd (See Story Below); The Wing, which was founded by Audrey Gelman and Lauren Kassan; and Alloy, which was co-founded by Laura Spiekerman.
A portfolio company of Oak HC/FT’s Tricia Kemp and Avid Ventures’ Addie Lerner is poised to do an acquisition
Rapyd, a portfolio company of Oak HC/FT’s Tricia Kemp and Avid Ventures’ Addie Lerner, is poised to do an acquisition. The London-based fintech company has agreed to pay $100 million to Arion Bank for Valitor, an Icelandic payments solutions company.
Valitor provides both in-store and online payments acceptance solutions as well as card issuing to SMB merchants in Iceland, the U.K., Ireland and across Europe. The acquisition will complement Rapyd’s existing payment capabilities throughout Europe, as well as enhance its issuing portfolio.
Oak HC/FT led a $100 million round that Rapyd did in the fall of 2019 with Tricia joining its board. Rapyd raised a $300 million Series D round earlier this year that valued it at $2.5 billion. Oak HC/FT once again took part in that round as did Coatue Management, Spark Capital, General Catalyst and Tiger Global Management.
Addie brought Avid Ventures into that round. She had backed Rapyd while at prior firm General Catalyst and is an observer on the company’s board.
Jordan Gaspar and Lauren Jupiter-led AF Ventures has a portfolio company acquired
AF Ventures, a food-and-beverage-focused venture firm led by Jordan Gaspar and Lauren Jupiter, has a portfolio company acquired. Terms of Harmless Harvest’s purchase by Danone Manifesto Ventures were not disclosed.
Harmless Harvest produces coconut water and other organic coconut-based products. Danone Manifesto Ventures is the venture arm of Danone. It previously led a $30 million financing round for Harmless Harvest. Founded in 2009, Harmless Harvest expects to generate $100 million in sales in 2021.
Earlier this year, a special purpose acquisition company that Jordan is CEO of – AF Acquisition – went public, raising $200 million. AF Ventures lists Harmless Harvest as the third portfolio company that it has exited from. In December, Kalahari Snacks, a biltong brand, was acquired by Stryve Foods, LLC. It also has realized its investment in Cocomels, a maker of coconut milk caramels. AF’s investments also include Alpha Foods, Clio, Four Sigmatic, Kidfresh, Koia, LOLA, Proud Source Water and Gainful.
Livingbridge’s Susie Stanford brings the firm into a page-turning investment
Livingbridge’s Susie Stanford brings the firm into a page-turning investment – literally. The UK private equity firm invested in World of Books Group, a UK online re-seller of second-hand books. Terms were not disclosed, but Bridges Fund Management will remain an investor.
Based in Goring-by-Sea, UK, World of Books sources its books via partnerships with charities and directly from consumers and then sells them on its website as well as on Amazon, eBay and other marketplaces. The company, which was founded in 2008, expects to generate revenue of more than 100 million pounds, a 30 percent year-over-year increase. Focused on protecting the planet and supporting charities, World of Books is a certified B-Corp. company.
In a statement, Susie said Livingbridge is “delighted to be supporting World of Books in this exciting next chapter of its growth. As the largest reseller and recycler of books in the UK, the business has already supported many UK charities and literacy causes, as well as allowing millions of book readers to discover great quality used books.”
Susie is on the boards of Fresh Tandartsen and Broadstone and has been involved in the firm’s investments in Helping Hands and loveholidays. She joined Livingbridge in 2017 after being at Bleu Coast Capital Group.
Lenna Koszarny-led Horizon Capital acquires a stake in Avrora
Horizon Capital, the Ukraine-focused investment firm whose CEO is Lenna Koszarny, acquires a stake in a “dollar store” retail chain. Terms of Horizon’s investment in Avrora were not disclosed. Horizon will become the sole financial investor in the business alongside its founders.
Based in Poltava, Ukraine, Avrora operates 650 stores. The capital will be used to accelerate the roll-out of new stores in Ukraine over the next five years, enable the company to enter new regional markets and expand logistics infrastructure. In a statement, Lenna said Avrora’s management team has “built a truly admirable company over this past decade.”
Earlier this year, Horizon invested in Creatio, a software company co-founded and led by Katherine Kostereva. Also in 2021, Horizon sold its stake in portfolio company Dobrobut to existing shareholders.
Based in Chicago, Horizon invests in high growth and export-driven companies in Ukraine and the near region. Horizon has more than $850 million under management. Lenna, a founding partner of Horizon, has been CEO since December 2014.
Novacap’s Heather Shantora is involved in the firm’s investment in Canada Diagnostic Centres
Novacap’s Heather Shantora is involved in the firm’s investment in an Alberta-based provider of medical imaging services. Terms of Novacap’s investment in Canada Diagnostic Centres were not disclosed.
CDC currently has 18 outpatient clinics in Alberta and British Columbia, providing care during 500,000 patients visits annually. It offers such services as ultrasound, mammograms, X-rays, MRI, CT scans and image-guided pain management. Novacap intends to support CDC’s goal to expand its services from coast to coast.
In a statement, Heather said that “with the health care needs of Canadians continuing to grow over time, we believe that every province can benefit from CDC’s high standards of quality and service.”
Heather, a principal, joined Novacap earlier this year. Her background includes serving as CEO of InnoCare and ptHealth. She most recently served as president of Access Physical Therapy & Wellness, Inc., a company on whose board she served.
Novacap has offices in Toronto and Brossard, Quebec and has more than 8 billion Canadian assets under management.
Soraya Darabi and Marina Hadjipateras’ TMV led Obviously AI’s $3.6 million seed-stage round
TMV, which was founded and is led by Soraya Darabi and Marina Hadjipateras, logs onto a no-code tool that enables anyone to build and run AI models in minutes. TMV led Obviously AI’s $3.6 million seed-stage round that also included B Capital Group, Golden Gate Ventures, Arka Venture Labs, and several angels. It then took part in an additional $1.1 million extension round.
Based in San Francisco, Obviously AI will use the capital to move out of launch and expand its engineering team. It currently has more than 3,000 users who have hosted more than 82,000 predictive models. They have saved more than 13.8 million hours of manual data science work, according to Obviously AI.
In a statement, Soraya said, Obviously AI “has reimagined the way in which we think about building and running AI models across the board. As a result, they are poised to continue disrupting the space and leading the industry by example.”
TMV, which used to be known as Trial Mix Ventures, has backed such companies as Andie Swim, a swimsuit maker founded by Melanie Travis; Kindbody, a women’s health care start-up co-founded by Gina Bartasi and Joanne Schneider; Parsley Health, a provider of holistic personalized medicine founded and led by Dr. Robin Berzin; Bulletin, which was created by Alana Branston and Ali Kriegsman to make it easy for bands to expand into brick-and-mortar sales; and HENRY The Dentist, an operator of a fleet of mobile dental practices co-founded by Alexandria Ketcheson.
Stephanie Schneider leads Five Elms Capital into ShippyPro’s $5M Series A round
Five Elms Capital’s Stephanie Schneider delivers capital to an Italian provider of an all-in-one shipping management software platform for global e-commerce merchants. Five Elms invested $5 million in Series A funding in ShippyPro.
Based in Florence, Italy, ShippyPro has built a universal delivery technology that helps e-commerce brands increase delivery speed and efficiency, automate tracking and returns, and manage the complexity of cross-border shipping. The company employs nearly 50 and currently processes millions of shipments per month for thousands of customers in 36 countries. Its customers include Diesel, Guess and Volcom.
In a statement, Stephanie said that “despite the growing popularity of online shopping among consumers, many e-commerce merchants still rely on cobbled together point solutions to create, manage, and ship orders. The combination of ShippyPro’s ability to automate the entire ordering and shipping process for merchants in one centralized platform and its ability to manage the complexity of shipping across multiple geographies creates a unique value proposition that’s incredibly sticky with its customer base.”
A partner, Stephanie has also backed such companies as Reachdesk, LaborChart, Crelate, Powwr, DarkOwl, DeepCrawl, Panopta, SingleOps, Saylent and Skynamo. Five Elms in 2019 closed its fourth fund at $300 million.
Sun Capital Partners acquires LoanLogics
Sun Capital Partners, Inc.’s technology investing unit, which is led by managing director Elizabeth de Saint-Aignan, does its second transaction. Terms of the private equity firm’s acquisition of LoanLogics were not disclosed.
Based in Jacksonville, Fla., LoanLogics is a digital mortgage solutions provider. The company develops technology automation for mortgage document processing and data-driven audit software that improves efficiency, enhances transparency, streamlines commerce and reduces risk while providing quality assurance and loan portability for lenders, investors, insurers and servicers. It has more than 10,000 users at more than 120 institutions nationwide.
In a statement, Elizabeth said LoanLogics “provides the solutions that the market needs for the digital mortgage transformation that is well underway. We see significant opportunity to help LoanLogics capture greater share of the growing market opportunity by continuing to innovate for its customers.”
Earlier this year, Elizabeth led Sun’s acquisition of Exadel, Inc., a Walnut Creek, Calif. provider of digital software engineering solutions and services. Elizabeth joined Sun last fall from Jump Capital where she was a partner. Sun Capital has invested in more than 420 companies globally since its founding in 1995.
StepStone Group agrees to acquire Greenspring Associates
StepStone Group, Inc., a publicly traded global private markets investment firm, has agreed to acquire Greenspring Associates, a venture capital and growth equity platform whose senior leadership team includes partner Seyonne Kang, general partner Lindsay Redfield and chief financial officer Carrie McIntrye.
Greenspring has more than $17 billion in assets under management and $9 billion of free-earning assets under management. Founded in 2000 and based in Baltimore, Greenspring also has offices in London, Beijing, Miami and Palo Alto, Calif. StepStone said the acquisition will enhance its private markets capabilities. Together the two firms will have more than 70 venture capital and growth equity focused investment professionals working across the United States, Europe and Asia. They would manage approximately $22 billion of venture capital and growth equity assets. All told, as of March 31 StepStone oversees approximately $427 billion of private markets allocations, including $86 billion of assets under management.