KKR’s González and General Atlantic’s Bartlett among those making newsworthy deals this week
From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing April 12, 2021
KKR’s González is involved in the launch of Open Dutch Fiber
KKR’s Cristina González is involved in the creation of a new platform that will deploy fiber-to-the home broadband in the Netherlands. KKR has teamed up with DTCP to launch Open Dutch Fiber. It will begin operations this quarter with a fully funded commitment for an envisaged capital expenditure of approximately 700 million euros.
Open Dutch Fiber will focus on delivering high-quality fiber connections to Dutch households and businesses across the country’s urban and higher population density areas. T-Mobile Netherlands has signed a 20-year agreement to be Open Dutch Fiber’s anchor tenant.
In a statement, Cristina said KKR is “excited about the opportunity ahead for Open Dutch Fiber as an independent FttH platform in the Netherlands, and one which will support the rollout of critical infrastructure for Dutch society. KKR will support Open Dutch Fiber with capital and deep expertise in delivering large-scale fiber deployment programs.”
Cristina, a managing director on KKR’s EMEA Infrastructure team, is on the boards of Telxius, Hivory and Hyperoptic, UK’s largest residential broadband provider whose CEO is Dana Tobak. Cristina joined KKR in 2014 from Macquarie Group where she was a senior vice president. Cristina was also involved with the firm’s investment in Deutsche Glasfaser and the sale of Coriance.
WI Harper Group’s Lee joins Pica8’s board after Series C fundraising round
Joyce Lee, a vice president with WI Harper Group, joins the board of Pica8 after backing the open networking software provider. WI Harper and Aspiro Capital Management led Pica8’s $20 million Series C round, which also included the participation of all existing investors, including anchor Vantage Pont Ventures.
Based in Palo Alto, Calif., Pica8 is focused on meeting enterprise customer demands for software defined networking solutions not offered by legacy vendors such as Cisco. Pica8 serves more than 1,000 customers.
Joyce joined WI Harper in 2016 from the Diamond BioFund. Her background also includes serving as an equity analyst with Yuanta Securities, an investment bank in the Greater China area.
Upper Bay forms Infiniti Energy to develop and acquire solar assets
Upper Bay Infrastructure Partners, whose managing partner is Marietta Moshiashvili, forms a company to develop and acquire commercial and industrial solar assets in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Upper Bay has created Infiniti Energy, LLC with Infiniti Energy Services, a solar energy development company that has been involved with more 90 renewable energy projects since 2016. Upper Bay is initially committing $60 million to accelerate the company’s development and acquisition of solar assets and expects a total pipeline investment opportunity in excess of more than $200 million over the next three years.
In a statement, Marietta said that the new platform represents Upper Bay’s “commitment to renewable energy, emphasizes the value of distributed power generation that enhances stability and resilience of the grid and provides reliable, clean power to commercial, industrial and municipal customers.”
Based in New York, Upper Bay focuses primarily on diversified North American infrastructure private equity investments in the middle market. It seeks to make investments in the transportation, power and utilities, midstream and telecom sectors. Upper Bay’s investments include Tidewater Transportation and Terminals and 8minutenergy. Founded in 2018, the firm has approximately $726 million of assets under management.
Marietta was previously a managing director and the group head of Nuveen’s global direct equity infrastructure platform.
Upper Bay’s investment team also includes executive director Kanan Joshi.
Foresight Group’s Duebendorfer takes part in an acquisition by Cinelab London
Foresight Group’s Lindsay Duebendorfer takes part in an acquisition by a firm portfolio company. Cinelab London, a UK post-production company, has acquired On Set Tech, a digital imaging and dailies lab services provider. Terms were not disclosed.
The two companies have collaborated closely for a number of years and have worked together on such movies as “Rocketman,” “Last Night in Soho,” “Censor” and “The Electrical Life of Louis Wain.” In a statement, Lindsay called the acquisition “a strategic transaction” that “uniquely positions the combined group as the only UK company to offer both film and digital services, from pre-production to dailies under one roof.”
Earlier this year, Lindsay led Foresight’s growth capital investment in IMMJ Systems, which has developed an electronic document management solution. Lindsay, an investment manager, joined London-based Foresight in 2020 after working as an investment banker at Moelis & Co. Her background also includes working in deal advisory at KPMG, LLP.
Freeman’s Hiro Capital invests $2.3M in PlayerData
Hiro Capital, which is co-led by Cherry Freeman, hopes to score with an investment in a Scottish company seeking to change the way sports teams train. Hiro has invested $2.3 million in PlayerData.
Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, PlayerData is utilizing software, analytics, gamification and wearable technology to alter the way teams practice. During its first year, the company captured more than 10,000 team sessions and more than 50 million meters of athlete play in UK grass-roots soccer and rugby. PlayerData will use the capital to expand across multiple sports and internationally.
In a statement, Cherry said that PlayerData “ticks all of our key boxes: a huge (market) with over 3 million grass-roots clubs; a deep moat built on shared player data, machine learning and highly actionable predictive algorithms; compelling customer network effects; and a really impressive yet humble founding team.”
Hiro has now made 12 investments over the past year, including Double Loop Games, which is led by Emily Greer and Shelby Moledina. Cherry is also the co-founder of LoveCrafts, an online crafts community which earlier this year raised additional capital. She leads Hiro with Luke Alvarez, co-founder of Inspired Entertainment, and Ian Livingstone, co-founder of Games Workshop.
A portfolio company of Kleiner Perkins’ Desai Weiss has been acquired by Acorns
A portfolio company of Kleiner Perkins’ Monica Desai Weiss and Day One Ventures, which was founded by Masha Drokova, has been acquired by Acorns, a portfolio company of Greycroft’s Dana Settle that has developed a saving and investing app. Terms of Acorns’ purchase of Pillar were not disclosed.
Pillar was created to help consumers optimize their debt payments by focusing on student loans first. In 2019, Kleiner Perkins led Pillar’s $5.5 million seed round, which in addition to Day One also included Rainfall Ventures, Great Oaks VC and Financial Venture Studio.
Acorns has raised $207 million in venture funding, according to Crunchbase. In addition to Greycroft, it has received backing from Bain Capital, Blackrock, Comcast Ventures, eVentures, TPG, Sound Ventures and such individual investors as Jennifer Lopez and Dany Garcia. Acorns’ board includes Gabrielle Sulzberger. Dana is a board observer. Earlier in 2021, Acorns acquired venture-backed Harvest Platform, whose co-founder and CEO was Namrata Baral.
Monica, who was promoted to principal by Kleiner Perkins in 2020, had another portfolio company, Bison Trails, acquired earlier this year by Coinbase. Her portfolio also includes Feather, Loom, Nova Credit and Propel.
Chen’s Cormorant takes part in Icosavax’s $100M Series B round
Cormorant Asset Management, which is led by Bihua Chen, takes part in a sizable financing for a company seeking to develop vaccines against life-threatening respiratory viruses in older adults. Cormorant participated in Icosavax, Inc.’s $100 million Series B round which included RA Capital Management, Janus Henderson Investors, Perceptive Advisors, Viking Global Investors, Omega Funds, Surveyor Capital and existing investors Qiming Venture Partners USA, Adams Street Partners, Sanofi Ventures, and ND Capital.
Seattle-based Icosavax will use the proceeds to support the development of it bivalent respiratory syncytial virus, better known as RSV, and human metapneumovirus, known as hMPV, vaccine program through initial clinical studies, continued evaluation of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate, and further expansion of the company’s pipeline of VLP vaccine candidates focused on protecting older adults from life-threatening respiratory diseases. There are currently no approved vaccines against RSV and hMPV, two respiratory viruses that are disproportionately life-threatening for the elderly.
Cormorant’s investments in 2021 include Tyra Biosciences, which is developing compounds targeting drug resistant cancer cells; Pyxis Oncology, which is led by Dr. Lara Sullivan and which 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; and Immuneering Corp., which seeking to create better medicines through insights from bioinformatics.
Cormorant also has at least three other companies in registration to go public: Rain Therapeutics, Inc., Artiva Biotherapeutics, Inc. (See Story In Stepping Out In Public), and Biomea Fusion. It has had at least five companies go public in 2021: VectivBio Holding (See Story In Stepping Out In Public), Design Therapeutics, Edgewise Therapeutics, Pharvaris, which Anne Lesage co-founded, and Prometheus Biosciences, Inc.
Chen’s Cormorant takes part in GH Research Ireland’s $125M Series B round
Cormorant Asset Management, which is led by Bihua Chen, also takes part in funding a company developing a drug for treatment-resistant depression. Cormorant participated in GH Research Ireland, Ltd.’s $125 million Series B round, which also included RA Capital, RTW Investments, Acuta Capital Partners, Boxer Capital, Deerfield Management Company, Logos Capital, Surveyor Capital, Venrock Healthcare Capital Partners, Verition Fund Management and existing investor BVF Partners.
Dublin-based GH Research Ireland will also use the proceeds to advance its lead therapy into further clinical development in additional psychiatric and neurological disorders.
For more on Cormorant’s activities in 2021, see the story above on Icosavax, Inc.
Lawrence is involved in PSG’s acquisition of Nalanda Global
PSG’s Charlotte Lawrence is involved in the firm’s acquisition of a provider of supplier risk management software solutions. Terms of PSG’s purchase of Nalanda Global were not disclosed.
Nalanda utilizes cloud software to connect companies and suppliers using a digital platform that enables the exchange and verification of health and safety, due diligence, suppliers’ validation, invoices and other business information as well as providing solutions to ensure compliance with worker access, working time and e-invoicing legislation. The company was founded in 2000 by FCC, Ferrovial, SIECE and Acciona, Spanish construction companies. It currently is in 10 countries and has a network of more than 350 clients and 45,000 suppliers.
In a statement, Charlotte said that PSG believes Nalanda “is well-placed to benefit from the growing adoption of supplier management software solutions.” Nalanda is the eighth platform investment made from PSG’s debut Europe-focused fund, which held its final close in February at 1.25 billion euros.
Charlotte, a director, joined PSG in September from Carlyle Europe Technology Partners. She is on the board of one of the fund’s other investments, MAPAL Software.
A growth equity firm, PSG focuses on partnering with middle-market software and technology-enabled service companies.
Pontifax’s Rajkomar joins Antios’s board after $96M Series B round
Pontifax Venture Capital’s Iyona Rajkomar joins Domain Associates’ Nicole Vitullo on the board of a company developing a treatment for those infected with the Hepatitis B virus. Pontifax took part in Antios Therapeutics, Inc.’s $96 million Series B financing which also included Soleus Capital, RA Capital Management, Adage Capital Management, LP, Aisling Capital, Amzak Health, Granite Point Capital Management, LifeSci Venture Partners and existing investors Domain, Lumira Ventures, Cam Capital, Delos Capital and Sixty Degree Capital. Domain and Lumira Ventures led Antios’s $25 million Series A round in late 2018 with Nicole joining the board at that time.
Proceeds of the financing will be used to support the Mendham, N.J. company’s Phase 2 clinical program to evaluate the potential for its lead candidate to be a once-daily curative regimen for chronic hepatitis B. The candidate is an orally administered liver-targeted active site polymerase inhibitor nucleotide that can shut down HBV polymerase activity and viral replication.
Iyona earlier this year joined the board of Abcuro after backing the developer of therapies for autoimmune diseases and cancer. Iyona, a partner, joined Pontifax in February 2019 from Advent Life Sciences. She is also on the boards of Horama, Amolyt Pharma and Stargazer Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which was co-founded by Silvia Ragno.
Zeaske guides Echo Health Ventures into Vericred’s $23M Series B round
Echo Health Ventures’ Jessica Zeaske backs a company that seeks to simplify the exchange of quoting enrollment and eligibility data between health insurance carriers and technology partners. Echo took part in Vericred’s $23 million Series B round, which also included Aquiline Technology Growth, MassMutual Ventures, Guardian Strategic Ventures and existing investors Riverside Acceleration Capital, FCA Venture Partners and First Health Capital Partners.
Based in New York, Vericred has developed a full suite of APIs across medical, life, dental, vision and other lines of coverage that enable quoting, enrollment, member management and renewals on multi-carrier platforms. More than 300 carriers and more than 100 insurtech companies have joined the company’s platform. Vericred will use the capital to expand its teams, build its marketing and sales functions and grow the community of participants.
In conjunction with the financing, Jessica joined Vericred’s board of directors. In a statement, she said she is “excited to help Vericred as they continue to modernize the way health insurance and employee benefits are quoted, sold, enrolled, managed and used.”
Jessica also serves on the boards of Avalon Healthcare Solutions, Wildflower Health and Genome Medical, whose founder and CEO is Lisa Alderson. Jessica is also an observer on the board of Abacus Insights.
Polaris Partners’ Bertorelli becomes an observer on the board of Cohere Health
Polaris Partners’ Marissa Bertorelli joins Define Ventures’ Lynn Chou O’Keefe as an observer on the board of Cohere Health after Polaris leads the digital health company’s newest round. Polaris took part in the Boston company’s $36 million Series B round that also included Longitude Capital, Deerfield Management and existing investors Define and Flare Capital Partners.
Cohere Health, which launched less than a year ago, is focused on transforming prior authorization approaches. The company’s platform automates both provider and payer steps in the process, while also generating clinical policy guidance that drives better care decisions without having to delay or deny care.
Marissa joined Polaris as a senior associate in 2019 and is primarily focused on health care investments. Previously, she worked in the securities division of Goldman Sachs.
CMT Digital’s Sullivan and The LAO’s Kovalenko take part in ConsenSys’ $65M round
CMT Digital’s Colleen Sullivan and The LAO’s Katya Kovalenko invest in a software company seeking to make it easier for users to access the crypto ecosystem. CMT Digital and LAO took part in ConsenSys’ $65 million round that included J.P. Morgan, Mastercard, UBS, Protocol Labs, the Maker Foundation, Fenbushi, Alameda Research, Quotidian Ventures and Liberty City Ventures.
New York-based ConsenSys is an Ethereum software company. Ethereum is the largest programmable blockchain in the world. ConsenSys’ platform enables users to build next-generation applications, launch modern financial infrastructure and access the decentralized web. It supports blockchain-based queries and has handled billions of dollars in digital assets.
In a statement, Colleen called ConsenSys a “pioneer in bridging the gaps across traditional finance, centralized crypto and DeFi, and more broadly between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0.” Colleen is CEO of CMT Digital.
Also in a statement, Katya said that ConsenSys “has been at the forefront of building Web3.0 since the very early days. We believe it will continue to lead the space with its infrastructure that is currently used by hundreds, if not thousands, of blockchain projects and enterprises.” Katya is a member of LAO, which is a decentralized organization that allows members to pool capital, democratically vote on projects to invest in and share in any proceeds from the investment – using Ethereum and smart contracts and its coordinating tooling. It has backed more than 40 projects across the Ethereum and blockchain ecosystem since it launched a year ago.
Bartlett guides General Atlantic into VEGAMOUR
General Atlantic’s Lexie Bartlett helps the firm take a shine to a plant-based hair wellness brand. General Atlantic is investing $80 million in VEGAMOUR.
Founded in 2016, VEGAMOUR incorporates a range of naturally derived products to support healthy hair growth and wellness. All of its products are clean, vegan and formulated with proprietary phytoactive ingredients clinically proven to help promote abundant and radiant looking hair. VEGAMOUR will use the capital to further its organic e-commerce growth, launch additional products and expand into new channels and geographies.
In conjunction with the investment, Lexie joined the company’s board. She is also on the board of the firm’s portfolio company, European Wax Center. Lexie, a vice president, joined General Atlantic last year after working at Warburg Pincus and Bain Capital.
Forerunner’s Kim and Inovia’s Chelkowski deliver capital to Swyft
Forerunner Ventures’ Eurie Kim and Inovia Capital’s Hannah Chelkowski deliver capital to a digital logistics company that is striving to make same-day delivery available to smaller businesses and retailers. Forerunner and Inovia led Swyft’s 22 million Canadian round, which also included participation from Shopify and existing investors Golden Ventures and Trucks VC.
Based in Toronto, Swyft will use the capital to expand elsewhere in Canada and into the United States. The company’s application integrates with merchant shopping carts on such platforms as Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce to offer same-day delivery. Swyft provides free access to the software, but makes users join its marketplace. This, in turn, creates a network of warehouses and delivery drivers.
Eurie, a general partner with Forerunner, was quoted as saying that Swyft “stands atop the pack” of last-mile logistics companies who serve non-Amazon merchants.”
In a blog post, Hannah said that “Swyft’s platform is the only model designed to scale both sides of the marketplace without huge (capital expenses). We call this delivery via API. Technology is being substituted for labor and physical assets and their distinctive asset-light model and powerful network effects can solve the regional problem for (small and medium-sized businesses) and the national problem for enterprises.” Hannah, an associate, is an observer on the boards of Nacelle, Certn and ResQ. She joined Inovia in 2018 after working at Initialized Capital.
Upfront Ventures’ Maliwal seeds Finary
Upfront Ventures’ Aditi Maliwal seeds a company building a social network around investing for Gen Z. Upfront led Finary’s $3.2 million round that also included Dash Fund and a group of angel investors.
The company has created a platform that enables users to form groups to discuss investments.
Aditi joined Upfront last year from Google as an investment partner and is on the board of Nexkey, which can turn any smartphone into a digital key.
Upfront has $2 billion under management. It is currently investing a $400 million early-stage fund that it closed in 2017.