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Privacy in times of coronavirus

May 8, 2020, 2:07 PM UTC

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As entire economies move online, crime has followed and put cybersecurity into overdrive. 

Zoom is case and point. On Thursday, video-conferencing platform Zoom acquired its first company in its history, Keybase, a security startup that will help Zoom offer end-to-end encryption to paid users in the near future, according to a blog post by Zoom CEO Eric Yuan. 

The acquisition comes as critics have aired multiple security issues around the company, from Zoom bombings, to strangers jumping into meetings, to issues with data sharing—leading governments and schools to ban the product. In response, Zoom initiated a 90-day-plan to fix its security flaws, with the most recent buyout as a part of that roadmap to create a “truly private” platform.

In the blog post about the acquisition, Yuan largely focused on what Keybase could mean for the future of Zoom, putting Keybase’s future as a company into itself on the sidelines. Which makes sense: For the many, encryption and cybersecurity is that necessary but unseen part of the office and is less important than flat out knowing if your 12-year-old’s digital class could be inundated with porn. But security is now front-and-center in the context of coronavirus, as we as a society consider how to rollout things like contact tracing while still maintaining some semblance of privacy.

Per my colleague, David Z. Morris on the acquisition: “The type of secure and private digital technology Keybase is focused on could also be significant in the fight against the coronavirus. Many plans for reopening the economy include contact tracing to help slow the spread of the virus, but some solutions could also threaten user privacy. Privacy-protecting contact-tracing infrastructure currently in development by Apple and Google relies on encrypted communication systems similar to those used by Keybase—and, soon, Zoom.” Read more.

Amazon vs. Facebook vs. Walmart: Everyone appears to be on the hunt for the next Alibaba of India. On Thursday, tech-focused private equity firm Vista Equity Partners invested $1.5 billion in Jio Platforms, an Indian telecom and ecommerce company, following on a $5.7 billion investment from Facebook and a $750 million infusion from Silver Lake. Facebook’s investment in Jio in particular underlines the social media giant’s push into retail in India: As part of a partnership with Jio, Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging platform now allows users to buy goods from mom-and-pop shops in India. Meanwhile, Amazon, which has already made investments in India, is also reportedly in talks to acquire a larger stake in Future Retail, a struggling Indian retailer. And don’t forget Walmart’s $16 billion bet on Flipkart.

Quayside falls by the wayside: Alphabet abandoned controversial plans to build a “smart city” in Toronto as part of its Sidewalk Labs arm, the company revealed. In a Medium post, Sidewalk Labs CEO and Founder Daniel Doctoroff cited the current economic uncertainty that’s settled into the Toronto real estate market—though the project had long been on rocky grounds even before the coronavirus pandemic. While the project envisioned a more eco-friendly and tech-heavy city of the future, concerned and vocal citizens saw an already much-too-large tech giant out to grab their data.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda
Email: lucinda.shen@fortune.com

VENTURE DEALS

- Zoox, a Foster City, Calif.-based self-driving vehicle company, is weighing a sale, per the Information citing sources. Read more.

- Kurly, the Korean grocery delivery startup, raised 200 billion won ($164.3 million) in Series E funding. DST Global led the round and was joined by investors including Hillhouse Capital, Sequoia Capital China, Fuse Venture Partners, SK Networks Translink Capital, and Aspex Management. Read more.

- Gojo & Company, a Tokyo-based micro lender, raised $22 million in ongoing Series D funding. Seven Bank, Credit Saison, and SBI Group were among the investors.

- Groove, a San Francisco, Calif.-based sales engagement platform, raised $12 million in Series A funding. Level Equity and Capital One Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Uncork Capital and Quest Venture Partners.

- Workstream, a San Francisco-based hiring platform for onboarding hourly workers, raised $10 Million in Series A funding. Keith Rabois of Founders Fund led the round, and was joined by investors including Basis Set Ventures, CRV, and GGV Capital.

- Genetesis, a Mason, Oh.-based medical technology company developing non-invasive cardio imaging, raised $9.2 million in Series B funding. CincyTech, Ohio Innovation Fund, and Mark Cuban were among the investors.

- StructionSite, an Oakland, Calif.-based provider of reality capture software on construction sites, raised $7 million in funding. D20 Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Prelude and existing investors CEMEX Ventures, Obayashi, and 500 Startups.

- Dtex, a San Jose, Calif.-based cybersecurity firm, raised $17.5 million in funding. Northgate Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Norwest Venture Partners and Four Rivers Group. Read more.

- Locatee, a Zurich, Switzerland-based workplace analytics solution for office management, raised $4 million in Series A funding. FYRFLY Venture Partners and Tomahawk VC were the investors.

- Nextmv, a Philadelphia-based provider of decision making models for the logistics operations industry, raised $2.7 million in seed funding. FirstMark Capital and Dynamo led the round and was joined by investors including XFactor, Atypical and 2048. Read more.

- Toposens, a Munich-based startup that’s developing an echolocation sensor for vehicles, raised an undisclosed amount of funding. ALPANA Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Basinghall Partners and In-Q-Tel.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- Latitude 27 Capital acquired JK Findings, a provider of jewelry components. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Boyne Capital acquired Pilot Power Group, a San Diego, Calif.-based provider of electric utility billing and data management services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

IPOS

- Warner Music Group, New York-based record label, has been approved for an IPO on the Nasdaq. The firm posted revenues of $4.5 billion in the year ending Sept. 2019, with a net income of $256 million. Len Blavatnik backs the firm. Read more.

OTHERS

- WEX (NYSE: WEX) said it may walk away from a $1.7 billion deal to acquire eNett and Optal, travel payment services providers, citing the coronavirus outbreak. Travelport owns eNett. Read more.

- AMP (ASX: AMP) scrapped plans to divest its New Zealand wealth management business due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Read more.

- Unity Technologies acquired Finger Food Advanced Technology Group, a Vancouver-based VR/AR company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

EXITS

- Target is acquiring some tech assets of Deliv,  a delivery service startup. Deliv is in the process of shutting down. Deliv’s venture investors include General Catalyst, PivotNorth Capital, Redpoint Ventures, and Upfront Ventures. Read more.

- Julius Works acquired HYPR Brands, a New York City-based influencer marketing company and platform. Investors including Edgewater Capital Partners, Klingenstein Fields Wealth Advisors, LaunchCapital, Maverick Capital, Prudence Holdings, Resolute Ventures, Silvertech Ventures, and World Trade Ventures backed HYPR.

F+FS

- Energy Spectrum Capital announced $969 million in capital commitments for the first close of Energy Spectrum Partners VIII.

- AXA Venture Partners raised €200 million ($217 million) in its first closing of AVP Diversified II, a Fund of Funds strategy.