Ford and Volkswagen are doubling down on electric vehicle technology.
Volkswagen has agreed to invest approximately $2.6 billion in Ford’s autonomous vehicle partner, Argo AI, in a deal that values the Pittsburgh-based startup at a whopping $7 billion.
We first heard about Argo AI in 2017 when Ford poured an outrageous amount of money — $1 billion — and took a majority stake in the previously unknown startup. Argo AI was founded by Bryan Salesky, a multi-year veteran of Google’s self-driving team, and Peter Rander, who led autonomous efforts at Uber up until September 2016.
Now, Volkswagen is joining Ford as an equal partner by committing $1 billion in capital into the startup and also purchasing Argo AI shares from Ford for $500 million over three years. Ford will invest the remaining $600 million of its previously announced $1 billion cash commitment.
The collaboration between the automakers marks a major step forward in the development of electric and self-driving car technology.
…MEANWHILE, electric scooter company Bird is having somewhat of a bumpy ride. The Information published a report that claims Bird lost nearly $100 million in the year’s first quarter while its revenue shrank sharply to only about $15 million.
Some notes from the story:
— In the spring, Bird told people it was down to about $100 million in cash, even after raising more than $700 million over a year and a half.
— Bird has been having conversations with investors about raising more money for several months, people familiar with the matter said. It has told potential investors it wants to raise $200 million to $300 million by the end of the summer.
— The company is seeking to raise at a higher price than its current $2.3 billion post-money valuation, which it attained last summer after less than a year of existence.
— In the third and fourth quarters of last year, Bird said it generated about $25 million and about $40 million in gross revenue, respectively. Net revenue was more than $20 million in the third quarter and about $25 million in the fourth quarter.
SALE TALKS: Food delivery company Postmates has explored a sale instead of becoming a standalone public company, according to Recode. Postmates has reportedly had persistent talks with many of the likeliest acquirers in the space, including DoorDash, Walmart, and Uber (which operates UberEats). From the story:
Why does this matter? Well, an acquisition could affect the prices that Americans pay for food delivery. On one hand, it could allow for dominant players like UberEats to achieve cost savings that would make your dinner cheaper. Or maybe it would remove needed competition and allow middlemen to raise your prices.
I spoke with Postmates CEO Bastian Lehmann last year when the company raised $300 million in funding at a $1.2 billion valuation. "We have a beautiful path to an IPO in 2019," he told me in September. "Listen, I'm an immigrant, and I came to this country to launch the Postmates business. My dream is to run a publicly-traded company." The company then confidentially filed for IPO in February.
Lehmann will be speaking at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech Conference on Tuesday. You can watch the livestream here.
BRAINSTORM TECH: I’m heading to Fortune’s annual Brainstorm Tech Conference on Sunday, so let me know if you’ll be there. If not, I’ll do my best to live tweet the sessions and all mainstage panels will also be livestreamed.
– Microphyt, a France-based company specializing in microalgae-based natural solutions for nutrition, raised €28.5 million ($32 million) in funding. Sofinnova Partners and BPI France via the SPI fund co-led the round, and were joined by investors including Supernova Invest, Demeter Partners and Irdi Soridec.
– Node, a San Francisco-based artificial intuition platform provider, raised $16 million in funding. Investors include Mark Cuban, Avalon Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, NewView Capital, GingerBread Capital, Canaan Partners, JetBlue Technology Ventures, Will Smith’s Dreamers Fund, MS&AD, Wharton Alumni Fund, Plum Alley and former Google and Microsoft executive James Whittaker.
– GetAccept, a San Francisco-based all-in-one sales platform, raised $7 million in Series A funding. DN Capital led the round.
– SynergySuite, an Ireland-based cloud-based restaurant management platform, raised $6 million in Series A funding. First Analysis led the round, and was joined by investors including Oyster Capital.
– Tyk Technologies Ltd, a London-based develoepr of an API gateway and management platform, raised £4 million ($5 million) in Series A funding. MMC Ventures led the round.
– SupplyCompany, a London and Mumbai-based design-to-delivery sourcing platform, agreed to raise 1.5 million pounds ($1.8 million) in seed funding. Episode 1 is the lead investor.
– Usercentrics, a Germany-based SaaS consent management platform, raised Series A funding of an undisclosed amount. ALSTIN led the round, and was joined by investors including Cavalry Ventures and Reimann Investors.
HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
– Abivax, a France-based biotech company developing therapies for major inflammatory diseases, raised €12 million ($13.5 million) in funding from Sofinnova Partners.
– DMC, a Boulder, Colo.-based early-stage biotechnology company, raised $10.3 million in Series A funding. Sofinnova Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Capricorn Venture Partners and Breakthrough Energy Ventures.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
– Veracity Research Company, a portfolio company of Trinity Hunt Partners, acquired Probe Information Services, a provider of surveillance, background, field investigations and SIU fraud abatement and compliance services. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
– H.I.G. Growth Partners made an investment in MedPro, the affiliated management services organization for Soderstrom Skin Institute. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
– Mirion Technologies, which is backed by Charterhouse, acquired Capintec Inc, a Florham Park, N.J.-based provider of calibration and measurement technologies for nuclear medicine applications. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
– Mountaingate Capital made an investment in RevUnit LLC, a Bentonville, Ark.-based digital strategy and product studio. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
– Equistone Partners Europe Limited agreed to acquire FirstPort, a U.K.-based residential property management company, from Epiris and Chamonix Private Equity. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
– Swiss Re, the insurer, pulled the $3.76 billion IPO of its UK life insurance business, ReAssure. Read more.
– Sunnova Energy, a residential solar system company in the U.S., plans to raise $300 million in an offering 17.6 million shares priced between $16 to $18. The firm posted revenue of $118 million in 2018 and loss of $74.2 million. Energy Capital Partners backs the firm. It plans to list on the NYSE as “NOVA.” Read more.
– Health Catalyst, a digital records health firm, plans to raise $129 million in an IPO of 6 million shares priced between $20 to $23. The firm posted revenue of $112.6 million and loss of $62 million in 2018. Norwest (20.9% pre-offering), Sequoia (21.9%), and UPMC (6.3%) back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “HCAT.” Read more.
– Peloton Therapeutics, a Dallas-based biotech focused on kidney cancer, withdrew its $115 million IPO. The firm has yet to post a revenue. The Column Group (19.6%), Topspin Partners (11.3%), and Nextech Invest (5.8%) back the firm. It planned to list on the Nasdaq as “PLTX.” Read more.
– InMode Limited, an Israeli maker of minimally-invasive medical aesthetic products, filed for a $75 million IPO. It posted revenue of $85 million and income of $22.4 million in 2018. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “INMD.” Read more.
– Borr Drilling, a Bermuda-based offshore drilling company, filed to raise $50 million in an initial public offering. It currently lists on the Oslo Børs as “BDRILL”. Schlumberger Oilfield Holdings backs the firm. It plans to list on the NYSE as “BORR.” Read more.
– Madewell, the apparel business backed by J. Crew, has hired investment banks for a U.S. IPO, Reuters reports, citing sources. Read more.
– Matterport will acquire Arraiy, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based computer vision and machine learning platform for the motion picture and television industry. Arraiy had raised approximately $14 million in funding from investors including Lux Capital, Softbank Ventures, Dentsu Ventures, Cherry Tree Investments, IDG Capital and CRCM Ventures.
– Just Eat acquired City Pantry, a London-based office catering marketplace, for an initial cash consideration of £16 million ($20 million). City Pantry had raised approximately $6.3 million from investors including Angel CoFund, QVentures, Octopus Investments, and London Co-Investment Fund.
FIRMS + FUNDS
– The Carlyle Group (Nasdaq: CG) raised $2.2 billion for its global infrastructure opportunity fund.
– Palladium Equity Partners, LLC, a New York City-based private equity firm, raised $1.56 billion for its fifth fund, Palladium Equity Partners V, L.P.
– Vista Equity Partners, an Austin, Texas-based private equity and venture capital firm, raised $850 million for its second endeavor fund, Vista Equity Endeavor Fund II.
– BlackArch Partners named John Leak as managing director.