Is 2020 is the year of companies breaking up with their nostalgia-laden businesses?
Goodbye, nostalgia-laden businesses.
In May, General Electric sold its iconic lightbulb business—a line that traced back to Thomas Edison—as the company focused on non-consumer segments such as power turbines and aircraft engines.
It seems 2020 will also be known as a year of companies breaking up with their historically core units.
Olympus, the Japanese company once known to lead the photography industry, said Wednesday that it plans to exit its 84-year-old camera business. The company plans to sell the segment that has been hit hard by the rise of smartphones to Japan Industrial Partners, a private equity firm best known for acquiring Sony’s Vaio computer line in 2014, my colleague Robert Hackett reports. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
The divestiture was long in the making. The introduction of the Apple iPhone in 2007, with its built-in and high-quality lenses, made a brutal new competitor for camera makers, with digital camera sales down 87% since 2010. If the smartphone was the camera industry’s code red, then the coronavirus was the nail in the coffin for Olympus’ photography business: On June 17, the company said that the pandemic put revenues at a “downward trend.”
And here comes the common refrain of a company burned by finicky laypeople: Like General Electric, if a deal goes through, Olympus will shift away from consumers. But its focus is not on turbines or engines: Instead, Olympus is focusing on businesses such as surgical equipment and medical devices like endoscopes. Demand for medical lines, Olympus says in a press release, “will remain unchanged against the global backdrop of aging societies and the growth of emerging countries. Olympus sees a great chance to accelerate transformation to a truly global medtech company for sustainable growth.”
A gym, yes a physical one, goes public: F45 Trainings, a gym chain with over 1,900 franchises backed by actor Mark Wahlberg, went public by merging with Crescent Acquisition Corp., a special-purpose acquisition company. The transaction, a press release says, values the company at $845 million and will “accelerate F45’s continued global expansion.”
Which is great and all—I sure miss my gym—but this very much seems to be a waiting game and a gamble on timing. Much of the U.S. and the world is reopening slowly, though the threat of a second wave of coronavirus looms large. Expansion feles like a tall order at the moment. What the merger means is that F45 now has as much as $300 million in its cash coffers to survive.
- Sonder, the hospitality company, raised $170 million in Series E funding valuing it at $1.3 billion. Fidelity Funds, Westcap and Inovia Capital led the round and were joined by Spark Capital, Greenoaks, Valor Equity, Greylock, Gavin Baker’s Atreides Capital, Tao Capital (Pritzker family), and Lennar.
- OJO Labs, an Austin-based homebuying brokerage solution, raised $62.5 million in funding. Wafra led the round and was joined by investors including Breyer Capital, LiveOak Venture Partners, Royal Bank of Canada, and Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures. It also acquired Movoto, a real estate search site.
- SevenRooms, a New York-based guest experience platform for the hospitality industry, raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Providence Strategic Growth.
- Hopin, a London-based virtual events provider, raised $40 million in Series A funding. IVP led the round and was joined by investors including Salesforce Ventures, Accel, Northzone, Seedcamp, and Slack Fund.
- ClickUp, a San Diego, Calif.-based workplace productivity platform, raised $35 million in Series A funding. Craft Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Georgian Partners
- Capital Markets Gateway, a New York-based financial technology firm focused on equity capital markets, raised $25 million. Investors included Barclays, Citi, Fidelity Investments, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and Morgan Stanley as well as existing investors including Canaccord Genuity, Franklin Templeton, StageDotO, and Shea Ventures.
- Pixellot, a Tel Aviv-based provider of sports production tech, raised $16 million in funding. Shamrock Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Altshuler-Shaham, Grupo Globo and the Akrin Family.
- Openly, a Boston-based homeowners insurance platform, raised $15 million in Series A funding. Obvious Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Gradient Ventures and Point Judith Capital Ventures.
- Ubble, a French biometric identification startup, raised €10 million ($11.3 million) in funding. Investors include Partech and Breega.
- Landed, a San Francisco-based residential real estate company, raised $10.5 million in Series A extension funding. OMERS Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Initialized Capital.
- Jumbo Privacy, a cybersecurity firm, raised $8 million in Series A funding. Balderton Capital led the round.
- Digibee, a Brazil-based no-code integration platform, raised $5 million in funding from GAA Investments and Laércio Albuquerque of Cisco Brazil.
- 7bridges, a London-based supply chain tech company, raised $3.4 million in seed funding. Crane Venture Partners and LocalGlobe co-led the round.
- Create & Learn, a Palo Alto-based firm teaching computer science in small online groups, raised $1.7 million in seed funding. GSV Ventures led the round.
- FTV Capital invested $35 million in Derivative Path, a San Francisco-based capital markets financial technology and services company.
- Nat Tech, a subsidiary of NTI Connect backed by Orix Capital Partners acquired Precision Design Services, Inc.’s Morris Plains, N.J.-based fiber network engineering business. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- A consortium of investors led by Ardian agreed to acquire a 30.2% co-controlling stake in Infrastrutture Wireless Italiane SpA, a Milan-based wireless infrastructure company, from TIM S.p.A. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
BREAKUPS, HANGUPS, AND BANKRUPTCIES
- Lemonade, a New York-based provider of renters and homeowners insurance, plans to raise $270 million in an offering of 11 million shares priced between $23 to $26. SoftBank (27.3% pre-offering), Sequoia Capital Israel (10.3%) and Aleph (8.3%) back the firm. The company plans to list on the NYSE as “ LMND.” Read more.
- Accolade, a Plymouth Meeting, Pa.-based provider of a healthcare benefits management platform, plans to raise $175 million in an offering of 8.8 million shares priced between $19 to $21. Accretive (26.9% pre-offering), Andreessen Horowitz (13.2%), and Carrick Capital (8%) back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “ACCD.” Read more.
- Clearlake Capital Group acquired a majority stake in WhiteStar Asset Management, an investor in the syndicated bank loan space, from Pine Brook Capital Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Accel-KKR and ParkerGale-backed ATP acquired Flightdocs, a provider of cloud-based maintenance tracking. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Stewart Information Services Corporation (NYSE:STC) acquired United States Appraisals, a portfolio company of Baymark Partners and Petra Capital Partners.
- Creative Artists Agency and New Enterprise Associates formed an investment partnership called Connect Ventures. The fund will seek early-stage consumer-focused businesses with $100 million fund to start. Connect Ventures has invested in Spire Animation Studios, a new feature animation studio from Brad Lewis.
- Catalio Capital Management spun out from Camden Partners Holdings. The firm focuses on biomedical technology companies.
- PAI Partners named Marc Boullier as managing director.