Spotify just scooped up another podcast company — its third in two months. The latest brand to join the growing Spotify audio content portfolio is Parcast, a scripted-entertainment podcast studio. Financial terms weren’t disclosed, and it looks like Parcast hasn’t raised any significant outside capital.
Parcast is only three years old, but it has two studios and 20 employees. The company specializes in crime and mystery-themed audio content. It has helped launch series titled, “Serial Killers,” “Unsolved Murders,” “Cults,” and “Conspiracy Theories.”
“Crime and mystery podcasts are a top genre for our users and Parcast has had significant success creating hit series while building a loyal and growing fan base,” Dawn Ostroff, Spotify’s chief content officer, said in a statement.
In February, the streaming giant acquired podcasting startups Gimlet Media and Anchor for a combined $340 million. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek wrote that the company has ambitions to become a podcasting giant that will rival Apple. Ek said he believes more than 20% of all Spotify listening will be non-music content, and to achieve that, he plans to spend up to $500 million to acquire more podcasting companies in 2019.
Although you might have seen headlines that claim VCs don’t love podcasting startups, this will change in the very near future. As this Vulture story notes, “In the beginning, there was little money to be made in podcasts, so no one was making podcasts with the intent of making money.” But things are changing. There are currently an estimated 660,000 podcasts in production (!), and I would argue many of those could be potential acquisition targets.
Just yesterday, fintech company Robinhood announced it acquired MarketSnacks, a financial daily podcast and newsletter. Like I’ve said before, the podcasting sector is bound to heat up in the coming year with many new players popping up on the scene.
(On a related note, check out this comprehensive list of the best business podcasts I compiled thanks to recommendations from fellow Term Sheet readers.)
SUPERSIZE ME: McDonald’s will spend more than $300 million to buy Dynamic Yield, an Israel-based decision-logic company. McDonald’s plans to use the new technology so that its restaurants can personalize their drive-thru menu boards appropriately. For instance, the menu would display certain items depending on factors such as the weather — more coffee on cold days and McFlurries on hot days.
Dynamic Yield has raised more than $83 million in venture funding from investors including Bessemer Venture Partners, Viola Growth, Naver Corporation, Vertex Ventures, and Innovation Endeavors. According to the deal terms, Dynamic Yield will continue to operate as a standalone company.
This is McDonald’s largest acquisition in 20 years, and it’s the latest in a series of deliberate technology-focused moves for the company. In January, the fast-food chain announced a new “growth plan” that emphasized convenience and personalization through digital efforts like its mobile app and kiosks that allow customers to skip the front counter entirely.
“With this acquisition, we’re expanding both our ability to increase the role technology and data will play in our future and the speed with which we’ll be able to implement our vision of creating more personalised experiences for our customers,” McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said in a statement.
SCOOP: Equinor, the Norwegian oil-and-gas giant formerly known as Statoil, will announce today that it plans to pour money into an approximately $180 million investment fund focused on battery and related technologies, Fortune has learned. That tech is intended to spread the use of renewables by allowing them to be stored in ways that make economic sense.
Fortune’s Jeffrey Ball reports:
The Chicago-based fund, Volta Energy Technologies, is run by battery and technology-commercialization experts and grew out of the U.S. government’s Argonne National Laboratory, a site of extensive battery research. Volta seeks to serve traditional energy behemoths that have concluded they must play in the emerging battery race but lack the in-house technical expertise to play it smartly. It has made four investments so far and has more in its sights.
Equinor’s announcement comes less than three weeks after Norway’s government said the country’s sovereign-wealth fund, the world’s largest, would sell off holdings in oil-and-gas exploration and production companies. Norway’s finance minister, Siv Jensen, said the Government Pension Fund Global, which manages about $1 trillion in assets, would take the step to shield Norway’s treasury from risk from oil-price declines.
• Innoviz Technologies, a provider of LiDAR sensors and perception software, raised $132 million in Series C funding. Investors include China Merchants Capital, Shenzhen Capital Group, New Alliance Capital, Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services and Phoenix Insurance Company.
• Airwallex, a Hong Kong-based company that handles cross-border transactions, raised $100 million in Series C funding at a valuation of more than $1 billion. DST Global led the round, and was joined by investors including Tencent, Sequoia Capital China, Hillhouse Capital, Gobi Partners, Horizons Ventures and Square Peg Capital.
• Vlocity, a San Francisco-based provider of industry-specific cloud applications and mobile software solutions, raised $60 million in Series C funding at a $1 billion valuation. Sutter Hill Ventures and Salesforce Ventures led the round, and were joined by investors including Bessemer Venture Partners, Accenture and New York Life.
• Ouster, a San Francisco-based developer of sensors and software products for robotics and computer vision applications, raised $60 million in funding. Investors include Runway Growth Capital, Silicon Valley Bank, Cox Enterprises, Constellation Tech Ventures, Fontinalis Partners, and Carthona.
• Lola.com, a startup that helps manage corporate travel, raised $37 million in Series C funding. General Catalyst and Accel co-led the round, and were joined by investors including CRV, Tenaya Capital, and GV.
• CyberX, a Boston-based industrial cybersecurity company, raised $18 million in funding. Qualcomm Ventures LLC and Inven Capital co-led the round, and were joined by investors including Norwest Venture Partners, Glilot Capital Partners, Flint Capital, and OurCrowd.
• Alpha Foods, a plant-based meal company, raised $7 million in funding. New Crop Capital and AccelFoods co-led the round.
• Sayata Labs, an enterprise-grade risk assessment company, raised $6.5 million in seed funding. Elron led the round.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Vista Equity Partners will acquire PlanSource, a provider of cloud-based benefits administration technology. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Oase Living Water, a portfolio company of Argand Partners, acquired Söll Group, a Germany-based supplier of specialized water treatment products, water analysis and filtering technology. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• By Light Professional IT Services LLC, a portfolio company of Sagewind Capital, acquired Phacil, a McLean, Va.-based software, cybersecurity, systems engineering and managed services provider. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• YFM Equity Partners made an investment in Frescobol Carioca, a luxury men’s resort wear and lifestyle brand. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Frontier Capital made an investment in Clearwave Corporation, a provider of digital check-in, insurance eligibility, and patient payments solutions to health systems and physician practices. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• OpCapita acquired a majority equity stake in Maurices Incorporated, a specialty retailer focused on women’s value apparel. The deal values the company at $300 million.
• NGM Biopharmaceuticals, a South San Francisco-based biotech developing therapies for NASH and Type 2 Diabetes, plans to raise $100 million in an IPO of 6.7 million shares priced between $14 to $16. The firm posted revenue of $77 million in 2017 and loss of $14.2 million. The Column Group (25.1%), Merck Sharp and Dohme (16.3%), and Prospect Ventures (9.1%) back the firm. Goldman Sachs, Citi and Cowen are underwriters. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “NGM.” Read more.
• Hookipa Pharma, a New York-based Phase 2 biotech, filed for an $86 million IPO. Baker Bros, Sofinnova Capital, and Forbion Capital back the firm. BofA Merrill Lynch, SVB Leerink and RBC Capital Markets are underwriters. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “HOOK.” Read more.
• Silk Road Medical, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based maker of medical devices treating carotid artery disease, plans to raise $75 million in an offering of 4.7 million shares priced between $15 to $17. The firm posted revenue of $34.6 million and loss of $37.6 million in 2018. Warburg Pincus (56% pre-offering), The Vertical Group (18.9%), Norwest Venture Partners (11%) back the firm. J.P. Morgan and BofA Merrill Lynch are underwriters. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “SILK.” Read more.
• Watford Holdings, a Pembroke, Bermuda-based casualty insurance firm, schedule its direct listing for this week. Arch Capital backs the firm, per Renaissance Capital. Read more.
• TAP, a Portuguese airline backed by David Neelman, is readying itself for an IPO, Bloomberg reports.
• Bitmain, maker of crypto mining materials, has allowed its Hong Kong IPO application to lapse. Read more.
• iHeartMedia, the U.S. radio broadcaster, is also considering an IPO path, Bloomberg reports. Read more.
• Noble Group Holdings, the trading house, may IPO its Jamaican alumina plant, Jamalco, Bloomberg reports. Read more.
• Life360, a U.S. location tracking app, is planning to list in Australia. The app maker is valued at $500 million, the Australian Financial Review reports. Read more.
• Domstein Seafood, a Switzerland-based firm, is planning an IPO in Canada. Read more.
• Parth Desai joined Flare Capital Partners as a senior associate.