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Is this the flight of the tourist investor?

April 14, 2020, 1:48 PM UTC

Tourist investors are known to be flightier than others when venture capital sours.

Is this the flight of the tourist investors—corporate venture funds, hedge funds, mutual funds, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and family offices? In the first quarter, the group participated in some 566 deals worth $24.9 billion, which seems like a lot…but puts them on pace for a full year decline of around 20% compared to the year prior, according to the PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor.

The group as a whole is known to be flightier than others when venture capital sours. There’s some logic to it: In times of uncertainty, they are more likely to allocate funds to less risky bets than the startup markets, especially as their valuations grow increasingly out of whack with public ones

In this instance, a specific slowdown from so-called non-traditional investors might not be as intense as, say, in 2008—and may be more reflective of the industry at large than before. Many non-traditional investors are now entrenched in private markets as a necessity for hedge funds seeking outsized gains and for mutual funds seeking favorable allocations during an IPO.

In another sign of softening beyond tourist investors: In March 2020, when coronavirus concerns began to really hit home, US deals decreased 22% year over year, per CBInsights.

Public bargains for private investors 

As public companies get desperate for cash, look out for deals more favorable to private buyers. Private investments in public equity (PIPEs) are on the rise. Between the start of the year and early April, public companies have raised $17 billion through the process that generally offers shares at a discount to private investors, per the Financial Times. (Some $120 billion in PIPE deals came to pass during the height of the financial crisis in 2008 alone.)

So far, amid coronavirus, PIPE examples include online real estate brokerage Redfin, which raised $110 million from Durable Capital Partners late last month. Also of note: furniture retailer Wayfair, which raised $535 million from three private equity groups last week, with debt that would be convertible into a 46% premium compared to the company’s average stock price over the prior 30 days.

Don’t be surprised to find more private equity discounts through PIICTSHBPBNs (private investments in companies that should have been public by now, of course) either. Just look to Airbnb.


ByHeart, a New York-based producer of baby and infant formula, raised $70 million in Series A funding. Polaris Partners, D1 Capital Partners, and OCV Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Red Sea Ventures, Sean Parker, and existing investors including Bellco Capital and Two River.

- Arris Composites, a Berkeley, Calif.-based company producing carbon fiber composite parts for the aerospace, automotive and consumer industries, raised $48.5 million in Series B funding. Taiwania Capital led round and was joined by investors including New Enterprise Associate.

- Beyond Identity, a New York-based firm building passwordless identity management, raised $30 million in Series A funding. Koch Disruptive Technologies and New Enterprise Associates coled the round.

- XiaoduoAI, a Chinese customer service robot developer raised roughly RMB200 million ($28.4 million) in Series B+ and C funding. Vision Knight Capital led the Series C round and was joined by investors including Vertex Ventures and Oriza Holdings. The Series B+ round was led by Silicon Harbour. Read more.

- 54gene, a U.S. and Nigeria based startup collecting African genetic code for research and drug development, raised $15 million in Series A funding. Adjuvant Capital led the round. Read more.

- Etern, a Shanghai-based biopharma, raised roughly 100 million yuan ($14 million) in a Series A funding. Apricot Capital and TF Capital co-led the round. Read more.

- Clever Leaves International, a New York-based producer of pharmaceutical-grade medical cannabis and hemp extracts, raised $14 million in Series E funding. The investors were not named.

- Kumu Holdings, a Philippines-based live-streaming startup, raised roughly $5 million in Series A funding. Openspace Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Kickstart Ventures, ABS-CBN, Gobi-Core Philippine Fund, and existing investors Summit Media and Foxmont Capital Partners. Read more.

- Frank, a New York-based platform for students applying financial aid, raised $5 million in funding. Investors include Aleph, Apollo Global Management cofounder Marc Rowan, and GingerBread Capital more here.

- Mighty Jaxx, a Singapore-based maker of collectibles, raised 4.5 million Singapore dollars (about $3.2 million) in funding. KB Financial Group led the round, and was joined by investors including Greycroft Partners and existing  investor SG Innovate. Read more.


- VIG Partners agreed to acquire a controlling stake in Preedlife Co., a Korean funeral service provider. Read more.

- IntegriChain, backed by Accel-KKR, acquired Franklin, Tenn.-based Cumberland's Life Sciences division. The division provides advisory services and analytics to pharmaceutical manufacturers. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- Montage Partners invested in United Right of Way, a Phoenix-based landscaping firm. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Read more.


- Alpha Entertainment, the Stamford, Conn.-based operator of startup pro football league XFL, filed for chapter 11 protection. Read more.

- True Religion Apparel, a Manhattan Beach, Callif.-based jeans maker, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It last filed for bankruptcy in 2017.

- Just Energy Group (NYSE: JE), a natural gas provider, sold its shares of Just Energy Japan KK to Astmax Trading. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- The Wicks Group completed its sale of SCI Solutions, a Seattle-based provider of healthcare software, to R1 RCM Inc. (NASDAQ: RCM). Financial terms weren't disclosed.

F + FS

- Clearlake Capital Group raised $7 billion in commitments for its sixth private equity fund, Clearlake Capital Partners VI.

- RCP Advisors has raised $393 million of a $400 million target for Fund XIV. Read more.