Marquez’ BlockFi secures $350M, Koller’s Insitro raises $400M and Asher’s Juicy Chemistry raises $6.3M

From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing March 15, 2021

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Marquez’ BlockFi secures $350M in Series D financing

BlockFi, which was co-founded by Flori Marquez, is now valued at $3 billion after closing its fourth round in the past two years. The wealth management solution for crypto investors secured $350 million in Series D financing from Bain Capital Ventures, DST Global, Pomp Investments, Tiger Global, Susquehanna Government Products, Bracket Capital, Paradigm, Morgan Creek Digital, Valar Ventures, Akuna Capital, PJC, Hudson River Trading, ParaFi Capital, Jump Capital, Pacific Century Group, Gaingels, Third Prime, Kenetic, CMS Holdings, Castle Island Ventures and Breyer Capital. In its prior three rounds, BlockFi had raised $100 million.

Based in New York, the company offers financial products that enable cryptocurrency holders to put their crypto to work. The company offers interest-earning accounts and low-cost U.S. dollar loans backed by crypto. It currently has $15 billion in crypto assets on its lending platform and is generating more than $50 million a month in revenue. It has a client base of more than 225,000 clients.

Flori, who is vice president of growth, founded the company with Zac Prince, who is CEO. She was previously head of portfolio management for Bond Street, which was acquired by Goldman Sachs. Her background also includes developing and maintaining institutional partnerships at Oak Hill Advisors.

Koller’s Insitro raises a $400M Series C round

Insitro, whose founder and CEO is Daphne Koller, raises a sizable round as it seeks to utilize machine learning for drug discovery. The South San Francisco, Calif. company raised $400 million in Series C financing from Temasek, SoftBank Investment Advisers and existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, T. Rowe Price Associates, BlackRock, Casdin Capital, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, HOF Capital, ARCH Venture Partners, GV, Foresite Capital, Two Sigma Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments and Third Rock Ventures. Insitro has now raised $643 million, including a $143 million Series B round that closed last year.

Insitro has developed a platform for producing disease-relevant biological data at scale and is developing disease driven models that can predict human clinical outcomes. It has collaborations with Gilead and Bristol Myers Squibb and in 2020 acquired Haystack Sciences, a high throughput chemistry platform. 

Daphne founded Insitro after a stint at Calico, an Alphabet, Inc. company. Daphne joined Calico in 2016 after stepping down from her role as president of Coursera. Daphne founded Coursera in 2012 with Andrew Ng. The company enables individuals to take online classes and specializations from more than 200 learning institutions such as Columbia University, Johns Hopkins and University of Michigan. Coursera recently filed to go public.

 Asher’s Juicy Chemistry raises $6.3M in a Series A round

A Belgium-based investor applies capital to an Indian personal care brand founded by Megha Asher and her husband, Pritish Asher. Juicy Chemistry raised $6.3 million in a Series A round led by Verlinvest, according to publication VCCircle. Based in Coimbatore, India, Juicy Chemistry offers an array of face, body and hair care products.

Investors seed Jordanova’s Plan A

Investors seed a startup co-founded and led by Lubomila Jordanova that helps companies improve their ESG ratings. Plan A raised $3 million from Demeter, Coparion and Softbank, according to TechCrunch. Based in Berlin, Plan A has created software that enables companies to measure, monitor, reduce and report their environmental footprint. The company was founded in 2017 and has lined up such customers as BMW Foundation, Societe Generale, AlbionVC and BCG Digital Ventures.

Rubicon acquires a stake in Hansson’s Bamboo Distribution

An investment firm has acquired a majority stake in a company co-founded by Paula Hansson that recovers, refurbishes and recycles consumer electronic devices. Terms of Rubicon Partners’ investment in Bamboo Distribution were not disclosed.

Bamboo provides services to the mobile phone industry as well as refurbishing and recycling solutions to a global client base. Paula founded the company in 2009 with Juney Mistiki and Dervish Dervish. Rubicon focuses on acquiring industrial businesses in Europe and North America.

Haurie’s Respira International lands funding

An international financing house for carbon offsets co-founded and led by Ana Haurie lands funding. The amount invested in Respira International by Capricorn Investment Group’s Sustainable Investors Fund was not disclosed. Acting as an investment principal with secured, long-term contracts with diversified worldwide carbon offset projects, Respira offers businesses the architecture to “progressively achieve emissions reductions targets.” This approach provides institutional investors with both long-term pricing and productivity guarantees. Ana founded Respira with Robin Bowie.

Chamulak to become president and CEO of Tekni-Plex

Brenda Chamulak is tapped to lead a private equity-backed company. Brenda will become president and CEO of Tekni-Plex, Inc. on June 30. She has been serving since October 2020 as president of the company’s newly created packaging products division. Brenda previously was CEO of Jabil Packaging Solutions. Based in Wayne, Penn., Tekni-Plex is a developer and manufacturer of packaging material solutions and medical products. It was acquired by Genstar Capital in 2017.

New Harbor Capital makes a majority investment in Cichon’s Advent Home Medical

Carlia Cichon is headed to retirement after selling the at-home respiratory care company that she founded 17 years ago to a private equity firm. Terms of New Harbor Capital’s majority investment in Advent Home Medical were not disclosed.

Based in Pontiac, Mich., Advent utilizes registered respiratory therapists to construct personalized care plans and deliver specialized hands-on support to acute respiratory patients in the home setting. The company also provides a full complement of durable medical equipment and supplies necessary to support these therapies. Advent conducts more than 3,500 patient home visits per year throughout the state of Michigan. The company also operates a full-service pharmacy with unique dispensing, compounding, and delivery capabilities.

In a statement, Carlia said, “my heart is full as I venture toward retirement knowing that New Harbor will provide the tools to help Advent grow and to serve more patients than we ever could before.”

IW Capital acquires Nixey’s Olive Jar Digital for 6M pounds

A private equity firm has acquired a UK digital consulting firm co-founded by Olivia Nixey. IW Capital paid 6 million pounds for Olive Jar Digital. Based in Rushden, UK, Olive Jar has worked on projects in an array of sectors, including government and retail. Olivia founded the company in 2015 with Rajesh Thakrar. Both are staying involved with the business.

Strand Equity invests in McGee’s Studio McGee

An investment firm applies capital to an interior-design firm and lifestyle brand co-founded by Shea McGee and her husband, Syd. The amount invested by Strand Equity Partners in Studio McGee was not disclosed. In addition to interior-design services, Studio McGee also has a show on Netflix, “Dream Home Makeover,” and a licensing agreement with Target Corp. The Salt Lake City company was founded in 2014.

Leaman’s Axonify purchases MLevel

Axonify, a private equity-backed provider of frontline employee training whose co-founder and CEO is Carol Leaman, makes an acquisition. Terms of Axonify’s purchase of MLevel were not disclosed.

Based in Atlanta, MLevel is a data-driven digital learning platform. Based in Waterloo, Ontario, Axonify has developed a SaaS employee knowledge platform that organizations use for corporate learning to achieve specific business outcomes. Utilizing brain science, adaptive learning, gamification, micro learning and knowledge-on-demand, the company’s platform encourages employees to take the right actions. Axonify is backed by JMI Equity and BDC Capital.

Carol bought Axonify with Christine Tutssel, who is the company’s vice president of sales. Prior to Axonify, Carol was CEO of PostRank, which was acquired by Google. Her background also includes roles with RSS Solutions, Fakespace Systems, Covarity and Descartes Systems Group.

Pfizer Ventures and Ono Venture Investment help seed Fisher-led Mediar Therapeutics

The venture arms of Pfizer and Ono Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. invest in a company developing new treatments for fibrosis whose founding CEO is Meredith Fisher, a partner at Mass General Brigham Ventures. Pfizer Ventures and Ono Venture Investment joined Mediar Therapeutics’ seed extension round. The amount invested by the two firms was not disclosed, but Mediar said that it has now raised a total of $20 million.

Mass General Brigham Ventures co-led the Cambridge, Mass. company’s initial seed round in 2019. It founded Mediar with fibrosis researchers from Boston’s Mass General Brigham. The company is focused on the myofibroblast, a cell that is a key driver in fibrosis pathology. Mediar leverages insights from these cells to exploit a novel class of targets, fibrotic mediators, that play a central role in fibrotic disease. It will use the capital to advance development of antibody treatments against a suite of novel targets.

Meredith is also on the board of Nocion and an observer on the boards of Lyndra and Alizé Pharma. She joined Mass General Brigham Ventures after being director of private investments at Bracebridge Capital.

Mass General Brigham Ventures was formerly known as Partners Innovation Fund. In 2017, it closed a $171.1 million fund, $66.1 million of which came from such outside sources as Eli Lilly and Co., Astellas Pharma, Inc. and Simcere Pharmaceutical Group. Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital contributed the other $105 million.

Insight Partners invests $140M in Mazel Shachar-led Incredibuild

Insight Partners makes a large investment in a software development acceleration platform whose CEO is Tami Mazel Shachar. Insight put $140 million into Incredibuild, which was acquired in 2018 by Fortissimo Capital.

The Tel Aviv, Israel company will use the capital to expand its U.S. operations to meet rapidly growing demand. Incredibuild provides an out-of-the-box platform that harnesses the power of compute to distribute processes across idle power in a network, thereby allowing companies to release better software faster. Over the past year, Incredibuild experienced a 55 percent increase in revenue. The company has more than 800 customers, including Microsoft, Amazon, Citibank, Barclays, Adobe, Disney, Intel, Samsung and Nintendo.

Tami was named CEO of Incredibuild early last year. She previously was co-president of NSO. Tami’s background also includes serving as president of 3M Electronic Monitoring and vice president, global sales and operations at Elmo-Tech.

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