Three mega-deals to have on your radar
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Despite fears of an impending economic downturn, 2020 continues to roar on with some incredible mega-deals. Today is no exception. Here are the three big deals to know today:
AVIATION MONEY: Joby Aviation, a Santa Cruz, Calif.-based developer of an electric air taxi, raised $590 million in Series C funding. Toyota Motor Corporation led the round, and was joined by investors including SPARX Group, Intel Capital, Capricorn Investment Group, JetBlue Technology Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Baillie Gifford and Global Oryx.
Joby has developed an all-electric VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft, which it hopes will play a key role in the commercial launch of the emerging on-demand urban air taxi market.
The fact that Toyota has signed on as a partner and investor means that the company is making a pretty bold bet on the future of air transportation. “Air transportation has been a long-term goal for Toyota, and while we continue our work in the automobile business, this agreement sets our sights to the sky,” said Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda in a statement.
Asad Hussain, Pitchbook’s mobility analyst, predicted in December that electric air taxi startups would reach a record level of venture funding in 2020. Joby’s single funding round surpassed the previous record high of $138.7 million invested in 2017.
“Although the air taxi industry faces significant technological and regulatory hurdles, we believe nontraditional VC investors such as auto manufacturers and corporates will shape the evolution of urban air mobility by funding startups in the space,” Hussain told Term Sheet.
CLEAN MONEY: Califia Farms, a Bakersfield, Calif.-based producer of a range of oat and almond milk products, raised $225 million in funding. Investors include the Qatar Investment Authority, Temasek, Canada’ Claridge, and Green Monday Ventures.
Califia is capitalizing on the growing trend of plant-based milk substitutes. Its competitors Perfect Day, Ripple Foods and Oatly have also raised venture funding to go after the dairy market, which is estimated to be a whopping $1 trillion.
About one-third of the U.S. population is reportedly “flexitarian,” meaning they’re eating at least some plant-based meals and seeking ways to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets.
APPLE MONEY: Apple acquired Xnor.ai, a Seattle-based AI startup, for approximately $200 million, according to GeekWire. The startup, which was last valued at $62 million, raised $14.6 million in funding from venture investors including Madrona Venture Group, Catapult Ventures and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, which spun out the startup from its incubator program.
In an interview with Fortune, Ken Hyers, a director at Strategy Analytics in the research firm’s Emerging Device Technologies division, said Apple’s acquisition reflects where smartphone artificial intelligence is going. Hyers believes Apple will use Xnor.ai’s artificial intelligence to analyze pictures users take and make on-the-fly enhancements to make them look better.
- NextNav, a McLean, Va.-based company that deploys urban and indoor positioning technology solutions, raised $120 million in equity and debt funding. Fortress Investment Group led the round, and was joined by investors including Columbia Capital, Future Fund, Telcom Ventures, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, NEA and Oak Investment Partners.
- LaunchDarkly, an Oakland, Calif.-based feature management platform, raised $54 million in funding. Bessemer Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Threshold Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Uncork Capital, Vertex Ventures and Bloomberg Beta.
- ActionIQ, a New York-based customer data platform, raised $32 million in Series C funding. March Capital Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, and FirstMark Capital.
- Gathered Foods, a plant-based seafood company and the maker of Good Catch, raised more than $32 million in Series B funding. Stray Dog Capital and Rocana Ventures co-led the round, and were joined by investors including Almanac Investments, CPT Capital and New Crop Capital.
- Modern Health, a San Francisco-based mental health benefits platform, raised $31 million in Series B funding. Founders Fund and John Doerr co-led the round, and was joined by investors including Kleiner Perkins and Afore Capital.
- Phenom People, an Ambler, Penn.-based company focused on talent experience management, raised $30 million in Series C funding. WestBridge Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including AllianceBernstein Private Credit Investors’ Growth Stage Capital group, AXA Venture Partners, Sierra Ventures, Omidyar Ventures, Sigma Prime Ventures and Karlani Capital.
- Epsagon, a San Francisco-based microservices application monitoring company, raised $16 million in Series A funding. U.S. Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Lightspeed Venture Partners and StageOne Ventures.
- eSSENTIAL Accessibility, a Canada-based provider of web accessibility compliance solutions for businesses, raised $16 million in funding. Lead Edge Capital led the round.
- Leap, a San Francisco-based provider of a universal distributed energy marketplace, raised $8.2 million in Series A equity and debt funding. Union Square Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Silicon Valley Bank.
- Spoke Phone, a New Zealand-based mobile voice company, raised $4.5 million in Series A funding. Marbruck Investments led the round, and was joined by investors including Icehouse Ventures and K1W1 fund.
- Pawlicy, a New York-based provider of pet insurance comparison services, raised $1 million in seed funding. Defy led the round.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
- Freeman Spogli & Company acquired Kamps, Inc, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based pallet management service provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- FountainVest Partners acquired a “significant” minority stake in Maoyan Entertainment, a China-based provider of internet-empowered entertainment services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- LogicMonitor, which is backed by Vista Equity Partners, acquired Unomaly, a Sweden-based AIOps company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Skyview Capital acquired Fidelis Cybersecurity, a Waltham, Mass.-based provider of cybersecurity solutions. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- FTV Capital made an investment in Security Compass, a Canada-based provider of enterprise DevSecOps software solutions. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Turnspire Capital Partners acquired the assets of MPI Holdings, a manufacturer of high-precision, fineblanked metal components for and automotive and industrial applications. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Janus International Group acquired Steel Storage Australasia, an Australia-based provider of self-storage design and construction solutions. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- BioNTech will acquire Neon Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: NTGN) in an all-stock transaction valued at approximately $67 million.
- Clearlake Capital Group acquired Pretium Packaging, a Chesterfield, Mo.-based designer and manufacturer of rigid packaging solutions for specialized applications, from Genstar Capital. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
FIRMS + FUNDS
- HarbourVest Partners, a Boston-based private equity investment firm, raised $2.61 billion for its fund, HarbourVest Fund XI.
- Atomico promoted Irina Haivas to partner.
- Bailey Southwell promoted Steven Harris to managing director, Ben Bates to director, Richard Jacques to senior vice president, Chris Dougherty to vice president.
- DFJ Growth promoted Jocelyn Kinsey to partner, and named Sandesh Patnam and Jess Segal partners.
- Ian Friedman joined Collaborative Fund as a general partner.
- Tekfen Ventures promoted Yaniv Lusana to associate.
- Silverton Partners promoted Roger Chen to partner and named Tina Dai as principal.
- Madrona named Steve Singh to managing director.
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