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The Sexiest Category In Tech Right Now? Insurance: Term Sheet

Insurance is — dare I say it — scorching hot. 

Venture capitalists are rushing to capitalize startups across nearly every category of the insurance industry. We’ve got Root Insurance ($3.65 billion), Lemonade (valued at $2 billion+), Clover Health ($1.2 billion) and newly-minted unicorn Hippo ($1 billion). 

Today, Prudential Financial announced that it agreed to pay $2.35 billion for Assurance IQ, a three-year-old, Washington-based insurance company that sells life, health, Medigap and auto policies online. Prudential will also provide up to $1.15 billion in additional cash and equity if Assurance meets certain growth objectives.

“We think Assurance has cracked the code” to reach consumers whose business is typically too small to make it worthwhile for agents to seek, Prudential Chief Executive Charles Lowrey told The Wall Street Journal.

Assurance uses data science and machine learning to assess needs, guide customers to products they can afford and speed up the application process. Those comfortable with buying online can make a purchase directly or the company can route them to a human agent if necessary. That’s obviously attractive to a giant like Prudential, who is eager to reach digital-savvy customers who shop for everything — including insurance — online. 

Keep an eye on this. There’s plenty of investor appetite in the insurance sector. According to CB Insights, global insurance tech investment reached $4.15 billion in 2018. I’m expecting more big dollars (and deals) on the horizon.

SLASHED VALUATION: We, the parent company of WeWork, is reportedly considering seeking a valuation of about $20 to $30 billion in its IPO. Those figures would mark a significant decline from the $47 billion valuation WeWork achieved this year thanks to an investment from SoftBank. Read more.

DELAYED IPO: The calendar of companies looking to make their public debuts this year has been busy, but one startup will wait until next year. Poshmark, an online resale marketplace for second-hand and wholesale clothing, has delayed plans for an initial public offering until 2020. It has reportedly put off the potential IPO to focus on boosting sales and improving its execution. But not to worry! We still have DataDog, Cloudflare, and SmileDirectClub’s IPOs to look forward to in the very near future. Read more.

LET’S MEET IRL: On October 15, I’ll be in Columbus, Ohio to moderate panels at Devol’s Dance, a one-day event hosted by Drive Capital that focuses on robotics and automation. Let me know if you plan to attend, and we can meet outside of this newsletter. You can find more information here.

VENTURE DEALS

Federated Wireless, an Arlington, Va.-based wireless communications firm, raised $51 million in Series C funding. Investors include Allied Minds, American Tower, GIC, Pennant Investors and SBA Communications.

Terramera, a Canada-based developer of plant-based pesticides and fertilizers, raised $45 million in Series B funding. Investors include Ospraie Ag Science and Seed2Growth.

Ginger, a San Francisco-based on-demand behavioral health company, raised $35 million in Series C funding. WP Global Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including City Light Capital, Nimble Ventures, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Khosla Ventures, Kaiser Permanente Ventures and Kapor Capital.

Fyllo, a Chicago-based marketing tech platform for the cannabis industry, raised $16 million in seed funding. JW Asset Management and K2 & Associates led the round.

Cooks Venture, an agriculture technology company, raised $12 million in funding, from AMERRA Capital Management. 

Papier, a direct-to-consumer personalised stationery brand, raised $11 million in Series B funding. Beringea led the round, and was joined by investors including Felix Capital, JamJar Investments, and Downing Ventures.

Railsbank, a London-based banking and compliance platform, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Moneta Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including CreditEase, Clocktower Technology Ventures, Singapore Life and Firestartr.

Litmus Automation, a San Jose, Calif.-based industrial edge computing platform provider, raised $7 million in Series A funding. Mitsubishi Corporation led the round.

Let’s Do This, a London-based database of marathons, ironman triathlons and other endurance events, raised $5 million in seed funding. Investors include NFX, Serena Williams, Usain Bolt and Paula Radcliffe.

Parkable, an Australasia-based parking app, raised NZ$4.6 million ($2.9 million) in funding. Spark led the round. 

Wethos, a marketing tech company, raised $3 million in funding. Investors include Laconia Capital, ValueStream Ventures, Flybridge Capital, and Loup Ventures.

DappRadar, a Lithuania-based platform for discovering and analyzing blockchain-based decentralized applications, raised $2.33 million in seed funding. Naspers led the round, and was joined by investors including Blockchain.com Ventures and Angel Invest Berlin.

CrowdBureau Corporation, a New York-based provider of a peer-to-peer lending and equity crowdfunding index, raised $1.1 million in Series A funding. Clydagh Limited, Estuary Holdings Ltd and Alpama Limited led the round.

T-Rex, a New York-based provider of analytics and data solutions for complex investments, raised funding of an undisclosed amount. Citi, the Westly Group and Viola Fintech led the round, and were joined by investors including innogy and Macquarie Capital.

HEALTH & LIFE SCIENCES DEALS

Achilles Therapeutics, a U.K.- based biopharmaceutical company, raised 100 million pounds ($123 million) in Series B funding. RA Capital Management led the round.

Veralox Therapeutics, a Frederick, Md.-based preclinical stage company developing therapeutics, raised a $5.4 million in seed funding. Investors include JDRF T1D Fund, Sanofi Ventures, and the VTC Innovation, VTC Seed Fund, Maryland Momentum Fund, the University of Vermont Health Network and TEDCO.

PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS

Permira will acquire Topcast, an independent aircraft parts distributor in the Asia Pacific region. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. 

Lindsay Goldberg will buy Bilcare Research, a Switzerland-based pharma packaging company. The deal puts Bilcare at a valuation between $279 million and $334 million, according to Reuters. Read more.

Luminate Capital Partners invested in Thought Industries, a Boston-based provider of customer training and learning software solutions. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. 

Falfurrias Capital Partners will acquire a majority interest in Industry Dive, a Washington D.C.-based B2B digital media company. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. 

OTHER DEALS

Mediafly acquired iPresent, a U.K.-based provider of sales enablement technology. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. 

IPOs

Huize Holding Limited, a Shenzhen-based firm focused on insurance product and services,  filed for an IPO of $150 Million in ADSs. It posted revenue of $74.1 million and a loss of $4 million in 2018. It plans to list in the U.S. as “HUIZ.” Read more.

BELLUS Health, a Quebec, Canada-based biotech focused on chronic coughs, plans to raise $70 million in a U.S. offering. OrbiMed backs the firm.It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “BLU.” Read more.

EXITS

KKR acquired a majority stake in EuroKids International Pvt. Ltd, an India-based education services provider, from Gaja Capital. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. 

Chegg Inc agreed to acquire Thinkful, a New York-based online learning platform, for $80 million. The deal is expected to close early in the fourth quarter of 2019. Thinkful’s backers included Owl Ventures and Tribeca Venture Partners.

FIRMS + FUNDS

Lindsay Goldberg, a New York-based private equity firm, raised more than $2.8 billion for its fifth fund, according to an SEC filing

Polychain Capital, a San Francisco-based cryptocurrency-focused investment firm, raised more than $174 million for its debut venture fund, according to an SEC filing.

PEOPLE

Clarion Capital Partners made several new hires: Ariana Klener joined as a senior associate; and Kevin Liss, Ho Hong Lau and Rishab Mittal joined as associates.

Harshad Khurjekar joined Bookend Capital Partners as a principal and Andrew Masi joined as an associate.