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Increasingly, health experts believe it could take years before a cure emerges. The World Health Organization recently warned that it could take up to 5 years before things go back to “normal.”
Business leaders are also taking on the view that the pandemic will last longer than previously thought. About 38% of Fortune 500 leaders surveyed between late April and early May think their employees will return to work by June 2021. Some 58% believe economic activity won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until the first quarter of 2022. Another majority, 52.4%, think employees will never travel as much again.
The bottom line—folks are settling into a new world order.
Oh, by the way—Jerome Powell is getting love in the pandemic. Some 84% of CEOs think the Fed chair has done a great job of handling the crisis, compared to 22.9% who say the same of President Donald Trump. Read more.
PPP problems: Got a loan via the Payments Protection Program that’s below $2 million? You can keep the money. Probably.
The SBA gave companies until May 14 to return Paycheck Protection Program funding if they didn’t need it, amid news reports of well-capitalized companies such as Shake Shack and Potbelly receiving funds.
But who should actually return the funding? On Wednesday, a day before the deadline, the SBA updated guidance around what companies would be scrutinized for taking PPP funding, saying that businesses receiving less than $2 million of the forgivable loan will automatically clear the hurdle.
“SBA has determined that this safe harbor is appropriate because borrowers with loans below this threshold are generally less likely to have had access to adequate sources of liquidity in the current economic environment,” the guidance read, noting that further clarification is coming.
It’s an interesting guideline—the SBA previously said that publicly traded companies would likely be ineligible for forgiveness, though many have acquired loans below the $2 million threshold, per analysis by FactSquared. And across the 407 PPP loans sought by public companies, just 61 have been returned, based on public filings.
That said, it’s not a total free for all. While the SBA may gloss over companies with loans lower than $2 million, the Department of Justice can make its own calls on which cases to pursue. Earlier this month, the DoJ charged two New England businessmen with fraudulently seeking $438,000 from the program. But undoubtedly, regulators will use the biggest and flashiest of loans to set an example.
- Waymo, the self driving startup backed by Alphabet, raised $750 million in additional outside funding, bringing total external investments to $3 billion. T. Rowe Price Associates, Perry Creek Capital, Fidelity Management & Research Company and others participated.
- CloudWalk Technology, a Chinese facial recognition company, raised 1.8 billion yuan ($254 million) in funding from funds tied to the Chinese government. Investors include China Internet Industry Fund, Shanghai-based Guosheng Group, Nansha Financial Holdings and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. Read more.
- Expel, a Herndon, Va.-based cybersecurity company, raised $50 million in Series D funding. CapitalG led the round and was joined by existing investors including Battery Ventures, Greycroft, Index Ventures, Paladin Capital Group and Scale Venture Partners. Read more.
- QurAlis Corporation, a Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech company focused on neurologic diseases, raised $42 million in Series A funding. LS Polaris Innovation Fund and Droia Ventures led the round, and were joined by investors including Mission BioCapital, INKEF Capital and the Dementia Discovery Fund.
- Semperis, a New York-based cybersecurity firm for enterprises, raised $40 million in Series B funding. Insight Partners led the round.
- Anyfin, a Stockholm-based loan refinancing startup, raised $30 million in Series B funding. EQT Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Accel, Northzone and Global Founders Capital.
- FortressIQ, a San Francisco-based firm focused on AI in strategic business initiatives, raised $30 million in Series B funding. M12 led the round, and was joined by investors including Tiger Global Management, Boldstart Ventures, Comcast Ventures, Eniac Ventures, and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
- FalconX, a San Francisco-based digital asset trading platform, raised $17 million in funding. Investors include Accel, Accomplice VC, Coinbase Ventures, Fenbushi Capital, Flybridge Capital Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Avon Ventures, and a venture capital fund affiliated with Fidelity Investments.
- Workvivo, an Ireland-based employee communications platform, raised $16 million in Series A funding. Tiger Global led the round, and was joined by investors including Frontline Ventures and Enterprise Ireland.
- Dathena, a Singapore-based company AI-based data protection startup, raised $12 million in Series A funding. Jungle Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Caphorn and SEEDS Capital.
- Traitify, a Baltimore-based visual personality assessment SaaS platform, raised $12 million in funding. JMI Holdings led the round.
- Meru Health, a San Mateo-based mental health startup, raised $8.1 million in Series A funding. The Foundry Group led the round, and was joined by investors including Slack and Bold Capital.
- Intello Labs, an Indian fresh produce supply chain startup, raised $5.9 million in Series A funding. Saama Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including investors Omnivore and Nexus Venture Partners.
- ConverseNow Technologies, an Austin, Texas-based startup for personalizing restaurant orders on high-volume voice channels using AI, raised $3.3 million in seed funding. Bala Investments led the round, and was joined by investors including LiveOak Venture Partners, Tensility Venture Partners, Knoll Ventures, 2048 Ventures, Bridge Investments and Connexus A1 Fund.
- FeaturePeek, a San Francisco-based front-end review process company, raised $1.8 million in seed funding from Matrix Partners and angel investors.
- Transect, a San Antonio-based company focused on environmental risk for energy, infrastructure, and real estate companies, raised $1.5 million in seed funding. Blue Bear Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Holt Ventures and Gary Horn.
- Prodoscore, an Irvine, Calif.-based employee visibility software, raised a Series A funding led the round by Troy Carter. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Atlantic Street Capital invested in Zips Car Wash, a Little Rock, Ar.-based tunnel car wash operators in the U.S. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Ardian agreed to acquire Swissbit Holding, a Bronschhofen, Switzerland-based maker of SD and microSD cards and other storage devices. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Hub International, a portfolio company of Hellman & Friedman and Altas Partners, acquired Vestas Financial Services Firm, a Quebec-based insurance provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Thompson Street Capital acquired PKWARE, a Milwaukee, Wis.-based provider of data security software solutions. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
vRising Point Capital acquired Conco Holding, a Verona, Penn.-based company serving refineries and power plants. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Kustomer agreed to acquire Reply.ai, a customer service automation company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- VMWare Carbon Black will acquire Octarine, a San Francisco-based security platform for Kubernetes applications. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
BANKRUPTCIES AND BREAKUPS
- California Resources Corp, an oil and gas company, is in talks with lenders for a financing package of up to $600 million to take it through bankruptcy proceedings, per the Wall Street Journal. Read more.
- Intelsat SA (NYSE:I), a McLean, Va.-based satellite operator, filed for bankruptcy protection.
- Legend Biotech, a Somerset, N.J.-based cell therapy oncology biotech spinning out of GenScript, filed for an $100 million IPO. It posted revenue of $57.3 million in 2019 and a loss of $133 million. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “LEGN.” Read more.
- Allpark, a Brazilian parking company, will raise 345 million reais ($59 million) in an IPO in the country valuing the firm at 2 billion reais ($340 million). Read more.
- CyberArk acquired Idaptive, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based cyber identity protection provider, from Thoma Bravo. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- iCapital Network agreed to acquire Artivest, a New York-based investment platform. Aquiline Capital Partners, Genstar Capital, KKR, and Thiel Capital backed Artivest. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Cathay Innovation raised $550 million for their second venture capital fund. Cathay Capital Private Equity also announced the closing of its $850 million midcap fund.
- Ripple Ventures held an initial close on its $10 million USD Opportunity Fund .
- SparkLabs Global Ventures named Jessica Jackley, co-founder of nonprofit microlending platform Kiva, as a general partner. Jackley was previously a venture partner.