Advocates hail cannabis for its medicinal benefits. Now venture capitalists are zeroing in on another substance: magic mushrooms.
Some daring investors are funding a psilocybin movement, betting that the psychedelic compound can mend the likes of OCD and PTSD, opioid addiction, alcoholism, eating disorders, cluster headaches, and more.
Jeffrey M. O’Brien took a dive into the nascent industry for Fortune, following angel investor Tim Ferriss, an early investor in Uber, Twitter, and Alibaba. Ferriss has poured much money into advancing research into the psilocybin market.
“I view the next five years as an absolutely golden window. There’s an opportunity to use relatively small amounts of money to have billions of dollars of impact and to affect millions of lives,” Ferriss told Jeffrey. “There just aren’t that many opportunities that are so dramatically obvious.”
We’re still in the early innings. On a federal level, distributing psychedelic substances in the U.S. can carry first-offense trafficking penalties of up to 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.
In the venture capital realm, much funding has been raised in Canada, where the cannabis movement took root. Psychedelics-focused funds such as Field Trip Ventures, Numinus, and Tabula Rasa all grew from there. And Compass Pathways, which is testing psilocybin’s impact on depression and raised $55 million from the likes of Thiel Capital and Galaxy Ventures’s Michael Novogratz, is based in London.
QUADRICORN ALERT: Or is it a near-Quinticorn alert?
Toast, the Boston-based restaurant management platform, nearly doubled its valuation to $4.9 billion after raising $400 million in Series F funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners, TPG, Greenoaks Capital, and Tiger Global Management.
It’s been about a year since the point-of-sales company raised $250 million for a $2.7 billion valuation and shortly thereafter made its first acquisition: HR and payroll software company Stratex.
While Toast’s plan is to ultimately go public, that’s not on the near-term roadmap, according to CFO Tim Barash—thwarting those in pursuit of concrete growth metrics and cash flow statements. The company did, however, tease that revenue grew 109% in 2019, per the press release.
Will Toast make another acquisition? Barash says it’s a possibility.
“There are some companies that want to build everything, and we are a little biased to building when we can,” he said. “We’re always looking at interesting companies, though there’s nothing out there we are actively trying to buy.”
It’ll be interesting to see how the company charts its course as its customer base faces disruption from the gig economy, including ghost kitchens.
Housekeeping: Polina is out until Thursday. Please send Wednesday deals and tips to Lucinda.Shen@fortune.com.
- Semios, a Canadian-based agriculture tech company, raised $75 million in funding from Morningside Group.
- Innovaccer, a San Francisco-based platform for healthcare data management, raised $70 million in Series C funding. Tiger Global, Steadview Capital, Dragoneer, Westbridge, Mubadala and M12 participated.
- Elliptic, a London-based provider of crypto asset risk management, raised an $5 million from Wells Fargo Strategic Capital, for a total of $28 million in its Series B.
- UltraSense Systems, a San Jose, Calif.-based maker of touch user interface technology using 3D ultrasound, raised $20 million in Series B funding. Artiman Ventures and Robert Bosch Venture Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Abies Ventures, Asahi Kasei Corporation, Hui Capital, and Sony Innovation Fund.
- iMerit, a Los Gatos, Calif.-based data annotation company, raised $20 million in Series B funding led by CDC Group. Existing investors also participated.
- Carbon Clean Solutions, a London-based carbon dioxide separation technology maker, raised $16 million in funding from WAVE Equity Partners, Chevron Technology Ventures, and Marubeni Corporation.
- Simsim, an Gurgaon, India-based social commerce startup, has raised $16 million across seed, Series A and Series B financing rounds. Accel Partners, Shunwei Capital, and Good Capital are the investors.
- Apos Medical Assets, a New York-based maker of knee osteoporosis devices, raised $11 million in funding. aMoon, company insiders and directors are the main investors.
- MotoRefi, an Arlington, Va.-based auto refinancing platform fintech company, raised $8.6M in Series A funding. Accomplice and Link Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Motley Fool Ventures, CMFG Ventures, Gaingels and others.
- Copper.co, a London-based custodian for digital assets, raised $8 million in Series A funding. Investors include Target Global, LocalGlobe, and MMC Ventures.
- Sharpist, a Berlin-based platform for personalized learning and development, raised $5 million in seed funding. Vorwerk Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including btov Partners and APX.
- Tamatem, an Amman, Jordan-based mobile games publisher in the Arabic speaking market, raised $3.5 million in additional funding to its earlier Series A. Wamda Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Modern Electronics Company and North Base Media.
- Starface, a New York City-based skincare brand, raised $2 million in seed funding. BBG led the round and was joined by investors including Able, Brand Foundry, Amity Supply, NJ Falk, Brian Spaly, and Roth Martin.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
- Platinum Equity acquired Biscuit International, a Paris-based manufacturer of private label sweet biscuits. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Brand Velocity Partners acquired Magma Products, a Lakewood, Calif.-based maker of cookware used in harsh marine and outdoor environments. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Blackstone is in advanced talks to acquire NIBC, a Dutch bank, at 9.85 euros per share. The deal would value NIBC at 1.44 billion euros. Read more.
- symplr, backed by Clearlake Capital Group and SkyKnight Capital, acquired The Patient Safety Company, a Netherlands-based risk management platform for the healthcare industry, from Main Capital Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- ION Investment Group recapped Broadway Technology, a New York-based provider of capital markets solutions. ION will hold a controlling stake alongside Long Ridge Equity Partners and the Broadway founders.
- Gainline Capital Partners invested in Core Health & Fitness, a Vancouver-based commercial fitness equipment manufacturer. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Cole Haan, Greenland, N.H.-based luxury shoemaker, filed to raise up to $100 million in an IPO. The company posted revenue of $686.6 million in the year ending June 2019 and income of $33.1 million. Apax Partners backs the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “CLHN.” Read more.
- Vontier, a Raleigh, N.C.-based infrastructure tech company spinning out from Fortive, filed for an $100 million IPO. The company posted sales of $2.8 billion in 2019 and net earnings of $437 million. It plans to list on the NYSE as “VNT.” Read more.
- Passage Bio, a Philadelphia-based biotech focused on rare, monogenic central nervous system disorders, plans to raise $126 million in an IPO of 7.4 million shares priced between $16 to $18. It has yet to post a revenue, and revealed losses of $45.6 million in 2019. Frazier Life Sciences (13.9%), Orbimed (19.6%), and Versant Ventures (14.8%), back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “PASG.” Read more.
- EQT Partners and OMERS agreed to acquire Deutsche Glasfaser, a German broadband provider, from KKR. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Boxwood Merger Corp. (Nasdaq: BWMC), a publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company, acquired Atlas Intermediate Holdings, a professional testing, inspection, engineering, program management and consulting services provider, from Bernhard Capital Partners for approximately $617 million.
- Pamlico Capital, a lower middle market private equity firm, closed Pamlico Capital V at its hard cap of $1.4 billion.
- Grove Ventures closed Grove Ventures II with $120 million.
- Riot Ventures is seeking to raise $75 million for its second fund, according to fundraising documents seen by TechCrunch.
- Da Vinci Capital, a mid-market private equity firm, launched its third fund, the Da Vinci Emerging Technologies Fund III. It has raised 30 million euros so far.
- Laurie Yoler will join Playground Global as a General Partner.