Seidenberg and Sofinnova’s Katabi see a portfolio company go public

From our Women's PE Briefs - week commencing May 17, 2021

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A portfolio company of Seidenberg and Katabi goes public

A company that Dr. Beth Seidenberg and Sofinnova InvestmentsMaha Katabi helped launch earlier this year has gone public. Vera Therapeutics raised $48 million by pricing 4.36 million shares at $11 a share. It is trading on Nasdaq under the symbol VERA.

Based in South San Francisco, Calif., Vera is developing treatments for immunological and inflammatory diseases. The company has been focused on advancing its lead clinical candidate – a novel inhibitor of B cells and plasma cells – in patients with IgA nephropathy. The lead candidate, ataciept, was in-licensed from Merck KGaA.

Although Vera did not publicly announce its presence until earlier this year, Beth, as a general partner with Kleiner Perkins, has been on its board since 2016. Maha joined Vera’s board in October. In January, the company said it had launched with $80 million in Series C financing.

According to its filing with the SEC, Kleiner Perkins owned 8.3 percent of Vera’s shares prior to the offering while Sofinnova was one of four firms that owned 13.5 percent prior to the offering. The others with that same size stake were Abingworth Bioventures, Fidelity and Longitude Venture Partners.

Beth has continued to support her portfolio at Kleiner Perkins even though she founded another firm, Westlake Village BioPartners in 2018. Another company that Beth backed at Kleiner Perkins, Sagimet Biosciences, is in registration to go public.

Maha also had another portfolio company, Gyroscope Therapeutics, Ltd., in registration to go public, but it has now decided to postpone its IPO. However another of her companies, Amplyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc., recently agreed to be purchased by Pfizer, Inc. Led by Ciara Kennedy, the San Diego-based company develops therapies for debilitating and life-threatening diseases in patients with compromised immune systems. It is focused on developing novel antifungal agents for life-threatening fungal infections.

A SPAC co-founded by Bedrij Stecyk goes public

A special purpose acquisition company co-founded by Chrystyna Bedrij Stecyk goes public. Orion Biotech Opportunities Corp. raised $200 million by pricing 20 million units at $10 per unit. The SPAC is listed on Nasdaq under the symbol ORIAU. Orion will look to merge with a private biotech or life science industry company and, in turn, bring that company public.

Chrystyna, who is the SPAC’s vice president, founded it with James Huang, who is CEO and founding managing partner of Panacea Venture. The SPAC is sponsored by Panacea and MSD Partners. Chrystyna is the co-founder and principal of Griffin Securities, an equity research and investment banking firm specializing in biotech, tech and energy. She previously incubated and co-founded Agilis Therapeutics, which was purchased by PTC Therapeutics in 2018 for approximately $1 billion in cash, stock and milestones, excluding royalties.

Shan’s ForU Worldwide files to go public

A Chinese, technology-driven road freight transportation company founded and led by Dandan Shan has filed to go public. ForU Worldwide is seeking to raise $100 million and list on Nasdaq under the symbol FOYO.

Based in Beijing, ForU has developed a platform that brings together shippers, carriers and freight-as-a-service. The company has delivered approximately 3.2 million loads cumulatively and has generated $622 million in revenue for the 12 months ended March 31.

Prior to founding ForU, Dandan was involved in the founding of a tech company and a logistics company. She is the largest shareholder with a 12.8 percent pre-IPO stake. Shanghai Dingxun Enterprise Management Consulting Partnership is the second largest with a 12.2 percent stake.

Pacific Century’s Thon is president of a SPAC that has filed to go public

Jacqueline Thong, an assistant vice president with Pacific Century, is president of a special purpose acquisition company that has filed to go public – a SPAC whose board includes Melissa Guzy, founder and managing partner of Arbor Ventures. Bridgetown 3 Holdings is seeking to raise $260 million and trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol BTNC. Once public, the SPAC will look to merge with a private company and, in turn, bring it public. It will target companies in the new economy sectors in Southeast Asia. The SPAC is sponsored by Pacific Century and Thiel Capital.

In her role at Pacific Century, Jacqueline is response for corporate finance, venture investment, major M&A and SPAC projects. She is on the boards of Tiki, a Vietnamese B2C e-commerce marketplace; Neat, a fintech company; and an observer at Tokopedia, an Indonesian e-commerce marketplace.

The SPAC’s board also includes Huey Tyng Ooi, who is an executive with Grab, and Samantha Ghiotti, who is a private advisor and was previously deputy group CEO of Singlife, which was acquired by TPG.

Lee-Sepsick’s Femasys files to go public

A developer of innovative medical devices for women founded and led by Kathy Lee-Sepsick files to go public. Femasys, Inc. is seeking to raise $40 million and list on Nasdaq under the symbol FEMY.

Based in Suwanee, Ga., Femasys has developed a non-surgical female sterilization device. The catheter-based system allows physicians to deliver biomaterial that permanently blocks the fallopian tubes. The procedure does not require anesthesia and permanent implants. It is currently in clinical trials. Femasys also has commercially available products for diagnosing infertility and cervical cancer.

Kathy, who serves as president and CEO, founded Femasys in 2004. An inventor on more than 60 patents and patent applications, she previously held positions with Novoste, Terumo Medical Corp. and Salumedica. Femasys’ board also includes Anne Morrissey, who is the former CEO and president of Alydia Health.

The largest shareholder is listed as entities affiliated with John Dyett, who is co-CEO of Salem Partners, a Los Angeles investment bank. He is listed as owning 36 percent of the company prior to the offering. Kathy owns 5.72 percent.

Chung-backed Oatly goes public

A Swedish sustainable food company that Blackstone’s Ann Chung backed goes public – a company which also counts Oprah Winfrey and Natalie Portman as investors. Oatly raised $1.4 billion by offering 84.4 million ADSs at $17 each. Blackstone last year led the company’s $200 million round that also included Roc Nation, Orkila Capital, Rabo Corporate Investments and Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ former chairman and CEO.

Based in Malmo, Sweden, Oatly has created oatmilk. Its products are available in more than 50,000 locations in more than 20 countries. In making the investment, Ann, in a statement, said that Oatly “has a created a talented team, an incredible brand and a strong set of values.”

Ann is a managing director with the firm’s growth equity investing platform, Blackstone Growth, and leads the group’s consumer vertical platform. Prior to Blackstone, Ann was an advisor with G100 Companies, a management consulting firm. Her background also includes roles with Fremont Private Holdings, J.H. Whitney, Swander Pace Capital, DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and Catterton Partners.

A SPAC co-founded and led by Dinu goes public

A special purpose acquisition company co-founded and led by Raluca Dinu goes public. GigInternational1 raised $200 million and is now listed on Nasdaq under the symbol GIWWU. The SPAC will now look to merge with a private company and, in turn, bring it public. It will target the TMT, cybersecurity, privacy and sustainable industries.

Raluca co-founded the SPAC with her husband, Avi Katz, who previously co-founded and led GigPeak, which was acquired by Integrated Device Technology. Raluca previously held executive roles with GigPeak and Integrated Device Technology’s Optical Interconnects Division.

Avi and Raluca have also been involved with six prior SPACs, including two GigCapital5 and GigCapital6, which are in registration to go public. Dorothy Hayes is on the board of all three SPACs. She is the former corporate controller and chief accounting officer of Intuit.

Raluca is also CEO and chair of GigCapital4, which went public in February and whose board also includes Dorothy. Raluca is also on the board of GigCapital3, which went public in May 2020 and has a pending merger agreement with Lightening eMotors, and is CEO and chair of GigCapital2, which went public in June 2019 and has pending merger agreements with UpHealth and Cloudbreak Health. The first GigCapital SPAC merged in November 2019 with Kalyera.

A portfolio company of TPG Capital’s Wood files to go public

TPG Capital’s Katherine Wood has a portfolio company file to go public – a company that was co-founded by Gwen Booth. LifeStance Health Group is seeking to raise $100 million and list on Nasdaq under the symbol LFST.

Based in Scottsdale, Ariz., LifeStance provides outpatient mental health services. It generated $447 million in revenue for the 12 months ended March 31. Gwen serves as LifeStance’s chief operating officer. Her background also includes executive roles with Accelecare Wound Centers, Inc. and Covance.

TPG invested in LifeStance a year ago, joining existing investors Summit Partners and Silversmith Capital Partners. The ownership stakes of the firms were not disclosed in LifeStance’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Katherine joined the board following the investment a year ago.

A principal at TPG, Katherine is also on the boards of Convey Health Solutions, Kadiant, Ellodi Pharmaceuticals and Neogene Therapeutics. Last fall, another of her portfolio companies, AskBio, was acquired by Bayer AG for what could be as much as $4 billion. Katherine, in 2020, also saw another portfolio company, Adare Pharmaceuticals, Inc., acquired by Thomas H. Lee Partners and Frazier Healthcare Partners.

A portfolio company of Scale Venture Partners’ Liu files to go public

A portfolio company of Scale Venture PartnersSusan Liu files to go public. WalkMe is seeking to raise $100 million and list on Nasdaq under the symbol WKME.

Based in Tel Aviv, Israel, WalkMe has created an AI-powered enterprise customer engagement and business insight platform. It generated $157 million in revenue for the 12 months ended March 31.

WalkMe’s board includes Haleli Barath, who is managing partner of law firm BFP & Co. and general partner of venture firm Cerca Partners, and Michele Bettencourt, who previously was co-CEO of He Said She Said Productions NYC. Susan, a Scale principal, is an observer on WalkMe’s board. She is also an observer on the board of Unbabel.

The ownership stakes of the company’s investors were not disclosed in the filing. In addition to Scale, WalkMe received backing from Insight Partners, Greenspring Associates, Mangrove Capital Partners and Gemini Israel Ventures.

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