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The chaos behind SoftBank’s scrapped $3 billion deal

April 21, 2020, 2:12 PM UTC

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Earlier this year, SoftBank scrapped a $3 billion deal to buy up shares from existing stakeholders.

That deal would have given WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann nearly $1 billion for his shares alone in a company that had sunk from $47 billion in valuation to a single billion-dollar digit.

Which meant Neumann was set to walk away from the coworking company as a billionaire last year, when SoftBank agreed to the deal. Now, he’s an estimated multi-millionaire and one who intends to sue SoftBank, according to the telecom giant’s lawyers

Attorneys representing Neumann have sent a letter to SoftBank saying he is reserving his rights, a source with knowledge of the matters told Term Sheet.

Meanwhile, what wasn’t previously revealed in the deal: the amount other investors could stand to gain from it. Benchmark tendered shares worth $627 million, and entities tied to WeWork board member Lew Frankfort tendered some $40.3 million, according to a new Bloomberg report. In a separate statement, WeWork’s special committee also added that 850 WeWork employees had also tendered stock worth over $450 million.

WeWork’s special committee, on which Frankfort and Benchmark Capital’s Bruce Dunlevie sit, previously filed suit on April 7 over the failed deal. SoftBank has argued that the committee lacks the authority to represent WeWork.

An important subnote: It’s not just about liquidity for existing shareholders. SoftBank’s pullback also prevents WeWork from accessing some $1.1 billion in debt financing from the Japanese giant.

Debt on debt: The coronavirus has devastated retailers that rely on foot traffic. Now, Neiman Marcus is set to become the first major U.S. department store chain to seek bankruptcy protection owing to the pandemic. The already debt-laden company is reportedly negotiating a loan “totalling hundreds of millions of dollars” to sustain itself through the bankruptcy process. Ares Management Corp and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board back the company. 

But as department stores suffer, discount retailers could come out of the coronavirus in better shape. 

$350 billion isn’t cool, you know what’s cool? $1 trillion: The Senate plans to meet today for a potential vote on a stimulus measure that would provide more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, after the first $350 billion PPP round ran out in a mere two weeks and left many out in the cold. As of now, the package would include $370 billion directed to small businesses, $75 billion for hospitals, and $25 billion for testing.

Expect another mad scramble. The second round is expected to dry up even faster than the first, as banks are more familiar with handling large volumes of PPP funding. Banking industry representatives tell Politico that the program needs closer to $1 trillion to meet demand, given a burn rate of about $50 billion a day. 

The new vote comes after a messy rollout for the initial program, as Washington prioritized speed over finesse. Now, small businesses are suing banks tasked with meteing out the loans such as JPMorgan and Wells Fargo, claiming that banks prioritized the most lucrative deals (lenders are paid between 1% to 5% in fees to process PPP loans). 

Meanwhile, hedge funds and large hospitality chains are lining up for PPP payouts—parties that, while technically qualified for the forgivable loans under the program’s loose eligibility guidelines, probably aren’t the intended recipients.


- Qingju, the China-based bike-sharing unit of Didi Chuxing, raised $150 million from SoftBank and Legend Capital, The Information reports citing sources. Another $850 million comes from Didi itself, per The Information. Read more.

- Unacademy, an Indian education startup, raised $110 million in funding. General Atlantic, Sequoia, and Facebook led the round, and were joined by investors including Sequoia India, Nexus Venture Partners, Steadview Capital, and Blume Ventures. Read more.

- ForgeRock, a San Francisco-based provider of digital identity, raised $93.5 million in Series E funding. Riverwood Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Accenture Ventures, Accel, Meritech Capital, Foundation Capital, and KKR Growth.

- Aledade, a Bethesda, Md.-based operator and service provider for a national network of primary care providers, raised $64 million in Series C funding. OMERS Growth Equity led the round.

- Vestiaire Collective, a Paris-based platform for pre-owned fashion, raised €59 million ($64 million) in funding. Investors included Korelya Capital, which is backed by Naver, Fidelity International,  Vaultier7, and Cuir Invest.

- Guru, a Philadelphia-based collaborative management software company, raised $30 million in Series C funding. Accel led the round and was joined by investors including Emergence Capital, FirstMark Capital, Slack, and MSD Capital. Read more.

- Vercel, a San Francisco-based platform for front-end developers, raised $21 million in Series A funding. Accel led the round, and was joined by investors including CRV, React creator Jordan Walke, and GitHub CEO Nat Friedman. 

- Profitero, a Boston-based enterprise eCommerce SaaS analytics platform, raised $20 million in funding.  Scaleworks led the round, and was joined by investors including Conviction Capital.

- YFood, a Munich-base maker of drinks, bars and powders, raised €15 million ($16.3 million) in funding. Felix Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Fonterra, Five Seasons Ventures, and New Ground Ventures.

- Parsyl, a Denver, Co.-based supply chain data platform for perishable goods shipments, raised $15 million in Series A funding. GLP and Ascot Group led the round. 

- Moshi: Sleep and Mindfulness, a London-based app telling  bedtime stories to children, raised $12 million in Series B funding. Accel led the round, and was joined by investors including Latitude Ventures and Triplepoint Capital

- Bokio, a Swedish AI-based accounting tool for small businesses, raised €7.4 million ($8 million) in funding and merged with Stockholm-based competitor Red Flag. Creandum and Svea led the round, and were joined by investors including Mojang cofounder Carl Manneh.

- Zikani Therapeutics, a Watertown, Mass.-based biosciences company focused on novel ribosome modulating agents for the treatment of rare, nonsense mutation-driven diseases, raised $7.5 million Series A1 funding. Advent Life Sciences, Gurnet Point Capital, and Roche Venture Fund were the investors.

- Helium Health, a West African electronic medical records provider, raised $7 million in funding. Global Ventures led the round.

- Ureeka, a San Francisco-based platform connecting female and minority entrepreneurs to resources to scale their business, raised $8.6 million in funding. Bullpen Capital, Chicago Ventures, and Salesforce Ventures were the investors.

- FitOn, a Los Angeles-based wellness platform, raised $7 million in Series A funding. Telstra Ventures, Accel, and Crosscut Ventures led the round.

- Libeo, a Paris-based Fintech company processing supplier invoices for SMEs, raised €4 million ($4.9 million) in funding. LocalGlobe led the round, and was joined by investors including Breega and Business Angels.

- Fat Snax, a New York based snack business, raised $4.5 million in Series A funding. BFG Partners and BIGR Ventures led the round.

- ClearFlame Engine Technologies, a Woodridge, Ill.-based developer of clean combustion engine technology, raised $3 million in funding. Clean Energy Ventures led the round.

- Applied Blockchain, a London-based blockchain startup, raised £2 million ($2.5 million) in funding. QBN Capital led the round.


- Envision Healthcare, the KKR-backed medical staffing firm, has hired advisers to help it restructure its $7 billion debt in a bid to avoid bankruptcy amid the coronavirus crisis, according the Financial Times, citing sources. Read more.

- Vista Equity Partners has put the sale of a stake in Finastra, a London-based payments giant, on hold, Bloomberg reports citing sources. Vista was seeking to sell as much as 50% of Finastra in a deal valuing the business at over $10 billion including debt, per the report. Read more

- Investors including Hg halted the sale of a minority stake in Visma Group, a Norwegian cloud software developer. The deal would have valued the company at about 7 billion euros ($7.6 billion) including debt, Bloomberg reports citing sources. Read more.

- The Cheesecake Factory (Nasdaq: CAKE) raised $200 million from Roark Capital. Roark received convertible preferred stock. 

- Top Gun Pressure Washing, a portfolio company of Osceola Capital, acquired Bob Popp Building Services, a Denver-based window cleaning services for commercial businesses across Colorado. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Novartis acquired Amblyotech, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based startup using video game software to treat amblyopia (known as "lazy eye"). Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Alimentation Couche-Tard shelved plans to acquire Caltex Australia, a petrol station operator, for $5.6 billion. Read more

- Rapyd plans to acquire Korta, an Iceland-based payment card service provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Riot Games acquired Hypixel Studios, a Londonderry, Northern Ireland-based gaming developer. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Fandango has agreed to buy Vudu, Walmart’s on-demand video streaming service Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Kingsoft Cloud, a Beijing, China-based cloud services provider spinning out of Kingsoft Group, filed for an $100 million IPO. It posted revenue of $568.3 million in 2019 and losses of $166.8 million. Kingsoft (53.8% pre-offering) and Xiaomi (15.8%) back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “KC.” Read more.

- ORIC Pharmaceuticals, a South San Francisco-based Phase 1 biotech developing molecule therapies for cancer, plans to raise $75 million in an offering of 5 million shares priced between $14 to $16. It has yet to post a revenue and posted losses of $27 million in 2019. The Column Group (22% pre-offering), Topspin Fund (16%), and OrbiMed (12%) back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “ORIC.” Read more.


- Updata Partners closed Updata Partners VI with $308 million in committed capital.

- Pantheon Ventures raised $263.5 million for its Pantheon Participation Partners fund. Read more.


- BC Partners added Pascal Heberling as a Partner to its investment team in Europe.