Who Would Dare to Compete With Silicon Valley Darling Brex?: Term Sheet
Ramp Financial, a new financial startup that is a “Brex competitor,” has raised $7 million at a pre-money valuation of $25 million, according to TechCrunch. Investors include Keith Rabois of Founders Fund, BoxGroup’s Adam Rothenberg and Coatue Management.
Brex, a startup that issues corporate credit cards for tech companies, has raised more than $300 million in VC funding in only two years. It allows entrepreneurs to get a corporate card quickly, with higher credit limits, no personal guarantee, and instant approvals. I interviewed Brex founder Henrique Dubugras at Fortune’s Brainstorm Finance conference earlier this summer, and I was struck by the company’s large capital war chest and lack of spending. Dubugras told me: “We’re setting some of that aside for a rainy day, so you can have money to pay back everyone,” he said referring to a contingency plan in case there’s a downturn in the markets.
So how does an emerging Brex rival compete with a well-capitalized startup that has hundreds of millions of dollars and is already valued at $2.6 billion? I have no clue, but TechCrunch reports that Ramp Financial was started by the founders of Paribus, a startup that had a successful exit after it was acquired by Capital One. I’ll be watching this one closely.
WEEKEND READING: Here are two long-reads to check out during the weekend:
Bad Times in Tech? Not if You’re a Start-Up Serving Other Start-Ups: Speaking of Brex, The New York Times’ Erin Griffith has a profile on the company’s founders. Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi are Stanford dropouts, both 23, run Brex, which provides charge cards to start-ups. Its growth is a sign of Silicon Valley’s unflagging exuberance. Read more.
The Enigmatic CEO Who Could Save — Or Break — Western Democracy: Jack Dorsey is one of the only two men in history to have ever simultaneously run two multibillion-dollar companies that he cofounded. In this long-form profile of Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, we learn about the figure who’s extremely weird, deeply private, and so slow and deliberate that one of his longtime friends likened him to Forrest Gump. Read more.
FORTUNE EXCLUSIVE: Cybersecurity firm McAfee is acquiring NanoSec, a cloud security startup focused on security solutions for applications built with the increasingly dominant ‘containers’ approach.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, and information on NanoSec’s financials is private. Founded in 2015 by CEO Vishwas Manral, NanoSec has 20 employees that are currently located at offices in Cupertino, Calif. and Bangalore.
Container-based architecture can be seen as a continuation of the trends that moved computing from mainframes to PCs, or from servers to so-called ‘virtual machines.’ Containers can make cloud applications more cost-effective, because the various ‘microservices’ making up an application can be activated or deactivated on the fly. Their code can also be reused in different contexts, rather than having to be re-implemented for every individual program.
But the approach also creates novel security risks. “When I have these microservices, there are many more front doors and many more side-doors,” says Gupta. “I want to make sure there isn’t any side channel that will let my system get infected or compromised or snooped on. The requirements for visibility and control get to be a lot more stringent.”
NanoSec’s tools are oriented towards providing that higher level of monitoring. These include live telemetry that detect anomalous patterns, and an approach to permissions that focuses on application IDs rather than signals that may be losing relevance.
- ScaleFactor, an Austin, Texas-based intelligent finance and automated accounting platform, raised $60 million in Series C funding. Coatue led the round, and was joined by investors including Bessemer Venture Partners, Canaan, Broadhaven Ventures, Firebrand Ventures, Vulcan, Stripes Group and NextPlay Capital.
- Vymo, an India-based provider of an AI-powered mobile personal sales assistant that aims to capture data of sales activities, raised $18 million in Series B funding. Emergence Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Sequoia India.
- Pathstream, a San Francisco-based creator of educational programs for colleges in partnership with tech firms, raised $12 million in Series A funding. Investors include TDM Partners, Hereditas Capital Management, Bisk Ventures, New Ground Ventures and Rethink Education.
- Opsani, a Los Altos Hills, Calif.-based provider of AI-driven continuous optimization solutions for cloud applications, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Redpoint Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Zetta Ventures and Bain Capital.
- Rookout, a Tel Aviv and Palo Alto, Calif.-based data extraction and pipelining platform, raised $8 million in Series A funding. Cisco Investments led the round.
- Glow, a company that helps creators charge for and distribute podcast content, raised $2.3 million in seed funding. Greycroft led the round, and was joined by investors including Norwest Venture Partners, PSL Ventures, WndrCo and Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund.
- Voxel51, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based AI startup, raised $2 million in seed funding, from eLab Ventures.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
- Bioenergy DevCo, a developer of anaerobic digestion facilities, raised $106 million from Newlight Partners LP.
- Staley Capital made an investment in Aspire Marketing Services, an Irving, Texas-based provider of lease retention and customer communications solutions for the automotive industry. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- NewField Capital Partners made an investment in iCONECT, an El Segundo, Calif.-based provider of a legal document review platform. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- The CapStreet Group LLC recapitalized Surgical Notes, a Dallas-based healthcare solutions provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Care Advantage, a portfolio company of BelHealth Investment Partners, acquired Allegiance Home Care, a Virginia-based provider of in-home personal care services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Absorb Software, a portfolio company of Silversmith Capital Partners, acquired eLogic Learning, a Tampa, Fla.-based provider of Web-based learning management solutions.
- Broadcom formally agreed to buy security provider Symantec’s enterprise business, for $10.7 billion in cash.
- 9F, a Beijing-based provider of digital consumer credit services, plans to raise $76 billion in an IPO of 8.9 million ADSs (24% insider) priced between $7.50 to $9.50. It booked revenue of $817.9 million in 2018 and income of $294.3 million. It plans to list in the U.S. as “JFG.” Read more.
- Genstar Capital will acquire Worldwide Facilities, a Los Angele-based wholesale insurance brokerage, managing general agency and program manager. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Lovell Minnick Partners was the seller.
- Katherine Wu joined Notation as a principal.
- Neil Constable joined CircleUp as chief investment officer.