Oak HC/FT’s Kemp and Savostianova’s Ember Infrastructure are among those involved in deals this week

From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing May 3, 2021

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Oak HC/FT’s Kemp leads Paxos’ $300M Series D round

Oak HC/FT’s Tricia Kemp invests in a company that she describes as an “innovator in fintech,” a company that now has a valuation of more than $2 billion. Oak HC/FT led Paxos’ $300 million Series D round, which valued the regulated blockchain infrastructure platform at $2.4 billion. The round also included prior investors Declaration Partners, PayPal Ventures, Mithril Capital, Senator Investment Group, Liberty City Ventures and WestCap.

New York-based Paxos now has raised more than $500 million. The company will be establishing Paxos National Trust Bank to support its application for a Clearing Agency registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It will also pursue a Major Payment Institution license in Singapore.

In a statement, Tricia said that “since securing the first Trust charter for digital assets in 2015, Paxos has distinguished itself as an innovator in fintech by embracing regulation. Its solutions are designed to ensure trust with enterprise clients while enabling exciting new business opportunities. Few companies are approaching digital assets with such a clear vision as to how blockchain technology can revolutionize the transfer and creation of value.”

In conjunction with the financing, Tricia joined Paxos board. She also serves on the boards of Duedil, FastPay, Feedzai, Insureon, Kasisto, NextCapital, Rapyd, and Urjanet. Earlier this year, one of Tricia’s portfolio companies, Poynt Co., was acquired by GoDaddy, Inc. for $320 million plus $45 million in deferred cash payments. She spoke at this year’s Virtual Women’s Alternative Investment Summit.

Tricia co-founded Oak HC/FT with Annie Lamont and Andrew Adams. The Greenwich, Conn firm closed its fourth fund earlier this year at $1.4 billion.

Hunt guides Octopus Ventures into Taster’s $37M Series B round

Octopus VenturesRebecca Hunt delivers capital to a company seeking to build the world’s biggest digital restaurant group. Octopus led Taster’s $37 million Series B round, which also included Battery Ventures, LocalGlobe, Heartcore Capital and Rakuten.

Based in France, Taster operates dozens of restaurants that only exist on food delivery platforms. At present, it has five concepts: A Burgers, which sells plant-based burgers; Mission Saigon, which produces Vietnamese food; Out Fry, which makes Korean food; Bian Dang, which produces Taiwanese food; and Stacksando, which sells Japanese street food. The company’s kitchens are listed on such delivery platforms as Uber Eats and Deliveroo.

Rebecca, an investor with Octopus, leads the firm’s specialist consumer team. Her portfolio includes Whirli, Depop, Appear Here, Outfittery, Trouva, UniPlaces, BridgeU and KatKin, a cat food company co-founded by Nikki O’Farrell.

A portfolio company of Trinity VenturesNakache has been acquired

A month after portfolio company ThredUp went public, Trinity VenturesPatricia Nakache has another liquidity event. EAT Club, Inc., on whose board Patricia served, has been acquired by Compass Group USA, a food services company. Terms were not disclosed. The transaction was reported by Crunchbase News. Patricia brought Trinity into the Redwood City, Calif. company in 2014.

EAT Club handles the dining needs of companies, schools and health care institutions that do not have cafeterias. EAT Club, according to Crunchbase, raised $46.5 million from a group which, in addition to Trinity, included Sodexo Ventures, August Capital and First Round Capital.

Patricia’s portfolio also includes Caliber Fitness, Side, Turo, Bevi, LoopNet, Ruby Ribbon, Mayvenn, Life House, Relish, Owler and ManiMe, a stick-on nails company co-founded and led by Jooyeon Song. She is a past speaker at the Women’s Private Equity Summit and the Women’s Alternative Investment Summit.

Trinity manages $1.37 billion and invests in consumer and enterprise technology companies.

SJF Ventures’ Nystrom invests in Take Command Health

SJF VenturesCody Nystrom invests in a health benefits platform. SJF and LiveOak Venture Partners led Take Command Health’s $12 million Series A round.

Based in Dallas, Take Command is focused on accelerating the adoption of the reimbursement model of health insurance. Instead of a traditional one-size-fits-all group plan, the model allows employers to provide a tax-free stipend for employees to buy qualified Affordable Care Act coverage that fits their unique needs. Take Command will use the capital to grow its team, launch new products and features and enhance design support and account management.

In a statement, Cody said, “a critical factor in building a more sustainable health care ecosystem is empowering employees and employers alike with the tools and support required to control their health care benefits and spending. Personalization and choice have permeated nearly every other aspect of our society and health care consumption should be included.”

Cody, a managing director, leads SJF’s health and wellness investment practice and is a past speaker at the Women’s Alternative Investment Summit. She is on the boards of PierianDx, mPulse Mobile, TemperPack, Solera Health, Validic and Cecelia Health.

SJF earlier this year closed its fifth fund at $175 million. SJF backs entrepreneurs working in clean energy and climate, economy and logistics, mobility and govtech, health, education, future of work and sustainable food. The firm looks to invest between $3 million and $15 million in companies. SJF has offices in Durham, NC, New York, Seattle and San Francisco. Founded in 1999, the firm has invested in 70 portfolio companies.

Kapor Capital’s Onovakpuri and Cashs Impact America lead CareCars $3M round

Kapor Capital’s Ulili Onovakpuri and Impact America Fund, which was founded by Kesha Cash, seed a tech-enabled benefit manager and health care services platform. Kapor and Impact America led CareCars $3 million round.

Based in Denver, CareCar currently manages supplemental benefits for approximately 150,000 patients and is implementing a growth plan to more than double its current members to reach 500,000 covered lives. The company plans to onboard 500 more care partners, certified vetted caregivers with experience as certified nursing assistants, medical assistants, home health aides, nursing students and other qualified caregivers. CareCar intends to accelerate its growth into new markets, with a focus on expanding its services in the fast-growing senior homecare sector.

In a statement, Ulili said “Kapor Capital invests in companies that are solving challenges people face today and anticipate in the future. Supplemental benefit management services and platforms that harness technology to deliver value-based care are in high demand now, and we expect explosive growth in the sector over the long term, which is why CareCar is the largest investment in our portfolio. It's the right product set, market and team at the right time.” Ulili is a partner with Kapor, which Freada Kapor Klein helped found.

Impact America in 2021 has also backed SoLo Funds, a peer-to-peer lending platform, and Flockjay, a training academy for tech sales. The Oakland, Calif. venture firm is investing from its second fund that it closed last year at $55 million.

Rivera leads Ulu Ventures into Backer’s $8.4M round

Ulu VenturesMiriam Rivera invests in a company striving to make a social savings platform for education in a round that also includes Reach Capital, whose leadership team includes Jennifer Carolan, Chian Gong, Shauntel Garvey and Wayee Chu. Ulu and Reach took part in Backer’s $8.4 million round, which also included Crosslink Capital, Rally Ventures, Correlation Ventures, Expansion Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital, the University of Southern California, Dartmouth, and Princeton.

Formerly known as CollegeBacker, Backer has devised a platform that brings digital investment advice to 529 plans. The company says it has helped clients save $20 million for college, with 40 percent of that coming from family and friends.

In a statement, Miriam said, “educational attainment is a foundational element of a child's future success, and Backer is helping more kids get the access they deserve. If you go back 25 years, 529 plans were originally conceived to help ordinary Americans put their kids on the path to college, but they have fallen short of that mandate. By making college savings more inclusive and collaborative, Backer is not only democratizing access to 529 plans, it is pioneering a new, more collaborative phase of fintech.”

Earlier this year, Ulu backed Praxis Labs, a diversity and inclusion learning platform co-founded by Elise Smith and Heather Shen, and TomoCredit, whose co-founder and CEO is Kristy Kim and which is developing a means for individuals to develop a credit history. Miriam has spoken at the Women’s Private Equity Summit and also spoken during a Perspectives Webinar. Miriam founded Ulu with Clint Korver.

Reach earlier this year saw portfolio company Nearpod acquired by Renaissance Capital for $650 million, according to published reports. It also closed its third fund at $165 million.

McRock Capital’s Rockley co-leads Plus One Robotics’ $33M Series B round 

McRock Capital’s Whitney Rockley sees potential in a provider of vision software for logistics robots. McRock and Translink Capital led Plus One Robotics’ $33 million Series B round that also included BMW i Ventures, Kensington Capital Partners, Perot Jain, Ironspring Ventures alongside existing investors CEAS, Lerer Hippeau, Pritzker Group Venture Capital and Zebra Ventures . The financing will support the company’s ongoing expansion in the United States and Europe, as well as product development.

In conjunction with the financing, Whitney joined the company’s board. Earlier this year, one of her portfolio companies, Serious Integrated, Inc., was acquired by e2ip Technologies. Whitney’s investments also include Clearpath Robotics, a maker of autonomous robots; Praemo, which is focused on optimizing industrial operations; Miovision, a developer of smart traffic intersection technology; and Invixium, a maker of biometric security products.

McRock last year said its second fund reached 112 million Canadian. McRock invests in companies in Canada, the United States and Europe that are combining next generation data analytics through artificial intelligence with the data from field devices, machines and equipment in industrial and urban environments.

Savostianova’s Ember Infrastructure does its first deal

Ember Infrastructure, which was founded by Elena Savostianova, does its first deal. Ember has entered into a joint venture with ReEnergy Biomass Operations, LLC to create a bioenergy platform. To be named ReGenerate Energy, the company will acquire an ownership interest in ReEnergy’s two biomass power plants in Maine and look to expand the platform across North America.

In a statement, Elena said that Ember is “thrilled to partner with ReEnergy, given the team’s track record of best-in-class operations as we build out the platform and capitalize on compelling opportunities we see in the bioenergy sector as demand grows for resource efficient, carbon-neutral base-load power generation.”

Prior to forming Ember, Elena was a principal with Global Infrastructure Partners. Based in New York, Ember is focused on delivering capital solutions to businesses and assets seeking to reduce carbon intensity and enhance resource efficiency. The firm focuses on equity investments across renewable energy, water, waste, industrials and agricultural infrastructure.

Vazquez guides NewSpring Capital into Spirit Pharmaceuticals and Aging with Comfort

NewSpring Capital’s Anne Vazquez guides her firm into two investments. NewSpring took part in backing Spirit Pharmaceuticals and in acquiring Aging with Comfort. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

NewSpring teamed up with Tecum Capital, Leedon Park Capital and PNC Bank to make a growth investment in Spirit. The company develops, packages and distributes private label over-the-counter pharmaceutical products such as analgesics, cold and cough remedies, allergy medication and digestive medicines.

In a statement, Anne said that Spirit “is poised for continued growth” given its “close partnerships with its customers and a growing desire among consumers for private label over-the-counter pharmaceutical products.”

NewSpring teamed up with Capital Alignment Partners, Petra Capital Partners, Tecum Capital and Silver Palm Capital Healthcare Partners to acquiring Aging with Comfort, a licensed home care agency. Based in Philadelphia, Aging with Comfort provides personal care assistance for elderly and disabled clients. Founded in 2014, it currently operates in five counties across Southeast Pennsylvania.

Anne said in a statement that Aging with Comfort has done “a tremendous job helping thousands of Americans receive high-quality care from people they trust within the comfort of their own homes. With today’s aging population and limited capacity in nursing homes and skilled health care facilities, we see a huge opportunity for the Company to provide its valuable services to even more individuals in need.”

A general partner at NewSpring, Anne is also on the boards of 360 PT, ncgCARE, Inc., Sparus Holdings, Turning Point Holding Company, Western Jet Aviation and Total Care RX.

Wu leads the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative into OpenClassrooms’ $80M Series C round

Vivian Wu, who is managing partner, ventures with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, brings the organization into a provider of online education-to-employment programs whose board includes Bpifrance’s Véronique Jacq. Chan Zuckerberg took part in OpenClassrooms’ $80 million Series C round that also included Lumos Capital, Salesforce Ventures and existing investor Bpifrance.

Based in Paris, OpenClassrooms offers 54 competency-based, online training programs with individual mentorship, leading up to nationally accredited bachelor’s and master’s level diplomas in fields with high demand such as web and mobile development, UX design, data science, digital marketing and instructional design.

In a statement, Vivian said Chan Zuckerberg is “excited to support OpenClassrooms in its mission to make education accessible to diverse learners across the world, and are especially excited that its creative partnerships with employers and public institutions allow more learners to develop in demand skills for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Earlier this year, a company that Vivian led Chan Zuckerberg into, Nerdy, Inc., agreed to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, TPG Pace Tech Opportunities. Vivian is on the boards of BYJU’S and Andela, which trains individuals in Africa to be software developers and was co-founded by Christina Sass. She is also an observer on the boards of Bridge International Academies and Eurditus.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was founded by Priscilla Chan and her husband, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Yaeger leads Ally Bridge Group into Ultivue’s $50M Series D round 

Ally Bridge Group’s Anna Yaeger backs a company focused on immunotherapy. ABG led Ultivues $50 million Series D round of financing that also included Pura Vida Investments and Tao Capital Partners, along with previous investors ARCH Ventures, Northpond Ventures and Applied Ventures, LLC.

Based in Cambridge, Mass., Ultivue provides researchers and scientists with multiplex biomarker assays for tissue phenotyping and digital pathology, enabling advanced exploration of tissue samples for precision medicine research, as well as strengthening accelerate biomarker discovery and drug development programs.

In a statement, Anna said Ally Bridge Group believes “the company's differentiated kit-based approach to multiplex immunofluorescence is well positioned to capitalize on the spatial biology revolution and creates maximum flexibility to support academic, biopharma, and CRO customers.”

As portfolio manager and partner at ABG, Anna is responsible for managing US and European public equity positions. Prior to her role at ABG, Anna served as a portfolio manager for a $350 million long-short health care portfolio with SAC Capital/Point 72.

Thomassin guides CDPQ's participation in eStruxture's financing

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, whose head of investments is executive vice president Kim Thomassin, participates in a financing that enables the largest Canadian-owned, cloud and carrier-neutral data center provider to complete an acquisition. CDPQ joined Fengate Asset Management in providing incremental equity financing to eStruxture. The Montreal-based company said it raised more than 600 million Canadian, including a credit facility with Deutsche Bank Credit Solutions and Direct Lending and a group of Canadian banks. With the capital, eStruxture finalized the acquisition of The Canadian Data Center Business from Aptum Technologies. Terms were not disclosed.

eStruxture will use the capital to execute on additional capital expansion projects across the Canadian market. In a statement, Kim said, “this transaction – eStruxture's fifth acquisition since its creation in 2017 – consolidates its presence on a national scale. This investment is in line with our focus on the expansion of Québec companies into new markets.”

Earlier this year, Kim oversaw CDPQ’s involvement in taking New Look Vision Group, Inc. private for 800 million Canadian dollars. She also oversaw the pension fund’s investments in CAE, a publicly traded provider of training and operational support in the civil aviation, defense and security and health care sectors; LCI Education, a network of higher education institutions in Quebec; and Barrette Outdoor Living, Inc., a manufacturer of wood-alternative fence and railing products. Kim, who joined CDPQ in 2017, was promoted to her current role last year.

One of the largest pension funds in Canada, CDPQ held 365.5 billion Canadian in net assets as of Dec. 31.

CDPQ to acquire a majority stake in BlueFocus International

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, whose head of investments is executive vice president Kim Thomassin, also teamed up with a private equity firm to acquire a group of digital advertising and marketing agencies. CDPQ and CVC Capital Partners are acquiring a majority stake in three BlueFocus International agencies from BlueFocus Intelligent Communication Group. Terms were not disclosed. The group of agencies includes We Are Social, fuseproject and Vision7 International and has more than 2,500 employees in 12 countries.

In a statement, Kim said CDPQ “is very proud” to be involved in the deal “that will enable the creation of a new global communications and marketing platform.” Kim, who joined CDPQ in 2017, was promoted to her current role last year. One of the largest pension funds in Canada, CDPQ held 365.5 billion Canadian in net assets as of Dec. 31.

Meeker guides BOND into Genies’ $65M Series B round

BOND’s Mary Meeker logs on to an avatar platform. BOND led Genies’ $65 million Series B round, which also included New Enterprise Associates, Breyer Capital, Tull Investment Group, NeteEase, Dapper Labs and Coinbase Ventures.

Based in Los Angeles, Genies is seeking to be the company that enables people to express themselves in the digital world. The company’s Genies have been used by such celebrities as Shawn Mendes, Jennifer Lopez, Offset, Rihanna, DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber and Cardi B. Genies is also releasing tools so that users can create their own digital wearables and goods and then sell them.

GamesBeat quoted Mary as saying that Genies “has opened the door to a new type of virtual self-expression that is changing how people interact online.” In conjunction with the financing, Mary joined Genies board.

Mary also this year led BOND into Ironclad, a contract lifecycle management platform. She is also on the boards of Plaid; Square; Hipcamp, which was created by Alyssa Ravasio to enable people to find and book privately-owned campsites; and Nextdoor, Inc., the social network for neighbors whose co-founders include Sarah Leary and Madison Bell. Mary is the top-ranked woman on the Forbes Midas list of top venture capitalists.

BOND, which Mary led the founding of, recently closed its second fund at $2 billion.

Lux Capital’s Shakir, the Springbank Collective and angel investors Wojcicki and Yahyaoui seed Alife Health

Lux Capital’s Deena Shakir; angel investors Anne Wojcicki and Amira Yahyaoui; and the Springbank Collective, which was founded by Courtney Leimkuhler, seed a company that is utilizing artificial intelligence to improve fertility care. Lux led Alife Health’s $9.5 million round which, in addition to Springbank, included Amplo, IA Ventures and a host of other angels.

Based in San Francisco, Alife is initially focused on in vitro fertilizations. The company is building an operating system designed to improve reproductive outcomes. Alife aims to empower clinical decision makers with personalized treatment recommendations to help maximize a patient’s chances of success while lowering costs and barriers to access. Alife is focused on a potentially huge market, as it is believed that one in eight families now struggle with infertility.

In a statement, Deena said, “we’ve applied advanced machine learning in countless other medical imaging fields, but we are only just starting to scratch the surface on how it can be used to advance family and reproductive health. There is a tremendous opportunity for technology to transform the IVF experience and ultimately contribute to advancing human health and health equity. Alife Health is leading this effort with its unique, technology-forward, human-centered approach.”

In conjunction with the financing, Deena joined Alife’s board. Deena, in 2021, has also invested in and joined the boards of adyn, which was founded by Elizabeth Ruzzo and is developing personalized birth control, and SteadyMD, a telehealth company.

Anne, co-founder of 23andMe, has also invested in both adyn and SteadyMD as well.

Springbank is focused on supporting solutions for working women and working families. Elana Berkowitz, a partner with Springbank, recently led the firm into Aloe Care Health, the developer of a voice-activated medical alert system and caregiver support platform.

Hursever oversees the EW Healthcare Partners’ acquisition Laboratoires Majorelle

EW Healthcare PartnersEvis Hursever oversees the firm’s acquisition of a French specialty pharmaceutical company. Terms of EW’s purchase of Laboratoires Majorelle from its founders were not disclosed.

Based in Paris, Majorelle is focused on prescription and OTC products in women’s health and urology. Founded in 2012, it employs 65. In a statement, Evis said EW is “excited” to support the company’s strategic plans and help it “grow into a pan-European specialty pharma company.”

Earlier this year, one of Evis’s portfolio companies, Cognate BioServices, Inc., was acquired by Charles River Laboratories International, Inc. for $875 million in cash. Evis is also on the boards of firm portfolio companies EUSA Pharma and Biotoscana. She joined EW in 2011 after being a senior manager in the European life sciences and health care team at LEK Consulting.

EW in 2019 closed its second dedicated growth fund at $745 million.

LifeArc’s Lee and Dementia Discovery Fund’s McKernan back Cumulus Neuroscience 

LifeArc CEO Melanie Lee and Dementia Discovery Fund’s Ruth McKernan back a company focused on improving central nervous system therapies. Cumulus Neuroscience raised 6 million pounds in a financing round led by DDF and LifeArc, along with UK Future Fund.

Based in Belfast, Ireland, Cumulus is a biomarker platform providing clinical trial data and AI-powered insights to accelerate the development of central nervous system therapies. DDF is a specialist venture capital fund that invests and creates biotech companies pursuing transformational therapeutic approaches for dementias including Alzheimer's disease.

In a statement, Ruth said “clinical trials in dementia are difficult and the results have been largely disappointing, partly due to the limitations of clinical trial methodology. My colleagues in the DDF and a group of Pharma companies and I have spent over a year working together on how to measure disease progression and the effects of drugs better. The result is Cumulus, and we look forward to seeing how this enabling platform technology can be used in dementia clinical studies in the coming years, including those being run by DDF portfolio companies. If the platform is successful, then patients will benefit from better drugs sooner.”

LifeArc, is Melanie’s self-funded medical research charity. In a statement, she said “this investment aligns with LifeArc's interest in the power of the combination of data, AI and devices in healthcare.”

Stout leads EcoR1 Capital into Affinia Therapeutics’ $110M Series B round

EcoR1 Capital’s Caroline Stout backs a company focused on developing gene therapy. EcoR1 and Farallon Capital Managed led Affinia Therapeutics’ $110 million Series B round that also included Avidity Partners, Casdin Capital, GV, Octagon Capital, Perceptive Advisors, RA Capital Management, TCG Crossover, and Woodline Partners LP and existing investors Atlas Venture, F-Prime Capital, Lonza, Mass General Brigham Ventures, and New Enterprise Associates.

Based in Waltham, Mass., Affinia is a gene therapy company with a proprietary platform for rationally designed adeno-associated virus vectors and gene therapies for rare and non-rare diseases. The company will use the funds to further develop its gene therapy platform, advance programs into the clinic and for general corporate purposes. In a statement, Caroline said, “gene therapies with novel vectors and regulatory elements have the potential to benefit a broad range of both rare and non-rare diseases.”

In conjunction with the financing, Caroline joined Affinia’s board. She is also on the boards of Neogene Therapeutics, Neurogene, Inc. and Accent Therapeutics, Inc., and is an observer on the board of Affinivax, Inc. Caroline, a partner, has been with EcoR1 – a biotechnology-focused investment advisory firm – since 2014. She is also the chief investment officer of Panacea Acquisition II, a special purpose acquisition company sponsored by EcoR1 that went public earlier this year. In addition, she served as chief investment officer of another EcoR1-connected SPAC, Panacea Acquisition Corp., which in February merged with Nuvation Bio.

BVCF’s Huang and Hyfinity’s He back Oculis

Vanessa Huang, a general partner with BVCF, and Dr. Sylvia He, a managing director with Hyfinity, see great promise in a company developing ophthalmic treatments for eye diseases. BCVF and Hyfinity co-led Oculis’ $57 million series C financing round, which also included VI Partners and Wille AG and existing investors, Bay City Capital, Brunnur Ventures, EarlyBird, Tekla Capital Management, Pivotal bioVenture Partners, Nan Fung Life Sciences, Novartis Venture Fund and Silfurberg. In conjunction with the financing, both Vanessa and Sylvia joined Oculis’ board. Based in Lausanne, Switzerland, Oculis is developing a pipeline of topical drugs targeting sight-threatening eye diseases.

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