The WeWork IPO saga continues.
Today, we learn that WeWork CEO Adam Neumann has cashed out more than $700 million from the company ahead of its IPO via a mix of stock sales and debt, according to The Wall Street Journal. He has reportedly sold some of his stake in the company and borrowed against some of his holdings.The story notes that Neumann recently set up a family office to invest the proceeds and has begun to hire financial professionals to run it.
This practice is often frowned upon by investors ahead of an initial public offering because it puts into question the founder’s confidence in the company. But on the other hand, Neumann’s borrowings against WeWork shares demonstrate that “he is bullish on the company’s long-term prospects.”
From the story:
Historically, venture capitalists have been skeptical of sales by founders and executives of the startups they back, preferring these insiders keep their wealth tied to the company’s fortunes until it goes public.
Bill Gurley, a partner at Benchmark, a WeWork investor, criticized such sales last year, calling them a sign of froth in the markets. Speaking at an event, Mr. Gurley said the practice is driven by investors who “come in at the late stage and they beg the founders to take liquidity because they’re trying to get more ownership.” In an email this week, Mr. Gurley said he was speaking generally and not about WeWork.
PAPER WEALTH: My colleague Lucinda wrote about a peculiar problem. As more and more private companies’ valuations balloon, they make a lot of their employees rich — on paper, at least. Now, there’s a company to help these soon-to-be-rich turn their paper wealth into real cash.
SecFi, a wealth advisory platform, helps private company employees with loans and liquidity. The company just raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Rucker Park Capital, a venture capital firm run by former SoftBank investors, and was joined by investors including including Social Leverage, Serengeti Asset Management, Weekend Fund, Mark Pincus, and Elefund.
Here’s how SecFi’s financing offering works: An early employee is considering exercising her options in, say, DoorDash. She goes to SecFi to figure out how much cash she will need to cover both the options and the taxes, and maybe even to pay off part of her home. Then she pays a small upfront fee to SecFi to borrow $2 million. She uses $1 million to exercise the options, perhaps $500,000 goes to taxes, and the rest she can choose to use to pay for a house. To be clear, SecFi is not a lender—instead, it partners with a third party to dole out these loans.
In return, a portion of her DoorDash shares become collateral with the third party custodian. It is not until DoorDash IPOs or undergoes a sale that she pays off the loan (interest included, that's the other way SecFi makes money). The employee will also pay a percentage of the value of the shares to SecFi and the third party custodian, at a specified point down the line.
But there's a big catch: If the company never IPOs or undergoes an exit, the employee doesn’t have to repay the loan. But, says Witvoet, SecFi has a proprietary underwriting system to pare down the risks: They select companies that they think have the potential to IPO or undergo an exit in five to seven years. The interest rate and other related fees meanwhile are determined based on the riskiness of the company, and how close they are from an IPO.
I’m personally a little perplexed by this model … especially the part where SecFi “selects companies they think have the potential to IPO or undergo an exit in five to seven years.” How though? Things change all the time! As one of my colleagues aptly put it, “I sincerely hope this company works, just to prove that the world works in ways that I do not understand.”
WEEKEND READING: Fortune’s latest magazine features just went online. Here are a few to dig into this weekend:
— Cloud Gaming Is Big Tech’s New Street Fight: Today’s video game industry is a behemoth expected to generate $152 billion worldwide this year. That’s 57% more than the $97 billion generated by the global theatrical and home-movie market last year, and eight times the $19.1 billion generated by the global recorded music market. Streaming video games promises to be an all-out brawl among companies with the internet infrastructure to back it up. Read more.
— How the Maker of the World’s Bestselling Drug Keeps Prices Sky-High: Humira has turned AbbVie into a global pharma giant—and the company has aggressively blocked competition to protect its sales. How a blockbuster medication became a case study in what’s killing drug innovation. Read more.
– Momentus, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based provider of in-space shuttle services for moving satellites between orbits, raised $25.5 million in Series A funding. Prime Movers Lab led the round, and was joined by investors including Y Combinator, the Lerner Family, the University of Wyoming Foundation, Quiet Capital, Mountain Nazca, ACE & Company, Liquid 2 Ventures and Drake Management.
– Pivot, a San Francisco-based at-home fitness solution, raised $17 million in Series A funding. DCM led the round, and was joined by investors including Bling Capital, Founders Fund, Khosla Ventures, Signal Fire and Y-Combinator.
– MyMoneyMantra, an India-based financial services marketplace, raised $15 million in funding, from IFSD BV.
– Nuvolo, a Paramus, N.J.-based workplace management company, raised $12 million in Series B funding. Kaiser Permanente Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including GE Ventures, New Enterprise Associates and ServiceNow Ventures.
– Submittable, a Missoula, Montana-based application review and opportunity marketplace, raised $10 million in Series B funding. Next Coast Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including True Ventures, Next Frontier Capital and Flywheel Ventures.
– Haus, a San Francisco, Calif.-based co-investment platform for home ownership, raised $7.1 million in seed funding. Investors include Montage Ventures, RIT Capital Partners and Tim Ferriss.
– DEARhealth, a Los Angeles and Amsterdam-based AI health tech startup, raised $6.8 million in funding. Investors include Philips Health Technology Ventures, Vesalius Biocapital III and Health Innovations.
– SteamaCo, a U.K.-based technology supplier to utilities in Africa and Asia, raised $5 million in Series B funding. Praetura Ventures and Shell co-led the round.
– FlixMobility, the German parent company of global mobility platforms FlixBus and FlixTrain, raised Series F funding of an undisclosed amount. TCV and Permira led the round.
– OrthoSnap, a Westbury, N.Y.-based maker of clear dental aligners, raised funding of an undisclosed amount, from Loeb.nyc.
HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
– Leuko, a Boston and Madrid-based developer of a non-invasive white blood cell monitoring device, raised $1.8 million in seed funding. Investors include Good Growth Capital, Pegasus Tech Ventures and Nina Capital.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
– Saugatuck Capital Company made an investment in Lunada Bay, a Harbor City, Calif.-based maker of handcrafted glass, ceramic and concrete tiles for the remodeling and architectural and design markets. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
– Albireo Energy, which is backed by Huron Capital, acquired Alabama Controls, an Alabama-based provider of building automation and HVAC control solutions as well as equipment and parts sales. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
– Gauge Capital recapitalized Schlesinger Global LLC, an Iselin, N.J.-based provider of market research solutions. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
– Investcorp Technology Partners made an investment in Contentserv, a Switzerland-based product experience platform. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
– Anheuser-Busch InBev will sell its Carlton & United Breweries unit to Asahi in a deal worth – 16 billion Australian dollars (about $11.3 billion). Read more.
– Curaleaf Holdings agreed to buy GR Companies Inc (Grassroots), a Chicago-based seller of medical cannabis, for about $875 million in cash and stock.
– Medallia, a San Francisco-based enterprise customer experience platform,raised $326 million in an IPO of 15.5 million shares priced at $21. It posted revenue of $313.6 million and loss of $82.2 million. Sequoia Capital (41% pre-offering) backs the firm. It plans to list on the NYSE as “MDLA.” Read more.
– Afya, a Brazilian healthcare education group, raised $261 million in an IPO of 13.7 million shares (16% insider selling) priced at $19, above its $16 to $18 range. The firm posted revenue of $140 million in 2018 and income of $29.8 million. Morgan Stanley, BTG Pactual and XP Investimentos are underwriters. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “AFYA.” Read more.
– CrossFirst Bankshares, a Leawood, Kansas-based bank with seven locations, filed for an $100 million IPO. The firm posted interest income of about $156.9 million and net income of $17.5 million in 2018. First Security Bancorp backs the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “CFB.” Read more.
– Vista Oil & Gas, a Mexico City-based oil and gas firm, raised $95 million in an IPO 10 million shares priced at $9.46. The firm posted revenue of $331.3 million between April 4 to December 2018, and loss of $29.1 million. Riverstone Holdings and Abu Dhabi Investment Council back the firm. It plans to list on the NYSE as “VIST.” Read more.
– Kohlberg & Company agreed to acquire EN Engineering, a Warrenville, Ill.-based utility services firm. The seller was General Atlantic. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
– Thomson Reuters acquired HighQ, a London-based collaboration platform for the legal and regulatory market. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. The sellers were One Peak Partners, Goldman Sachs Private Capital and Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital.
FIRMS + FUNDS
– Sierra Ventures, a San Mateo, Calif.-based venture capital firm, raised $215 million for its twelfth fund.
– Signal Partners named Patricia Muise as a partner. Previously, she was at Korn Ferry International.