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The mystery of venture capital’s PPP funding

July 7, 2020, 2:28 PM UTC

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The Trump administration released the list of companies that had received loans aimed at small businesses on Monday—and eyebrows raised when the names of prominent venture capital firms were cited among the recipients.

According to the SBA data, Index Ventures and Foundation Capital had each received between $5 million to $10 million from the Paycheck Protection Program. 

Except both firms say they did not receive, nor did they apply for, the funding. 

Instead, the funding went to a portfolio company in both cases. It “was a portfolio company where we are an investor,” wrote Foundation Capital General Partner Charles Moldow via email, without naming the company. Silicon Valley Bank, which administered the loan, says it is in the process of clearing the issue up with the SBA. Similarly, Index Ventures says it had not applied for a PPP loan “at any point,” with the lender in question, Radius Bank, telling CNBC that it was portfolio company,, that had received the loan. Clerical errors eventually led to Index’s name showing up in the SBA rundown, says Radius.

Scooter startup Bird was also listed as a recipient of PPP funding, but the company refuted the data. “Bird spoke with Citi early on, but decided not to apply for PPP because the money was more deserved by small and local businesses,” Bird founder Travis VanderZanden wrote in a tweet. “It looks like Citi started an application while they waited for our decision on whether to formally apply.” My colleague, Jen Wieczner, confirmed the account with Citi, which dealt with Bird’s application.

At the same time, other startups that the SBA report says received funding, say that information is accurate. Getaround, a unicorn that helps consumers share their cars and has raised from SoftBank, confirmed that it received between $5 million to $10 million in funding. Tradeshift, a fintech unicorn backed by Goldman Sachs, also received between $5 million to $10 million from the SBA, a point that a spokesperson did not refute.

So the data is not trash—it’s just really, truly messy and should be taken with a grain of salt. Not only are there chances for error from multiple stages of the process (applicant, bank, SBA), there’s also the big F-word: fraud, which is inevitable given that over 650,000 companies took out loans of over $150,000. 

Finally: Palantir Technologies, yes that one, has filed confidentially for an IPO. Among the oldest of the unicorns, the company founded in 2004 by Peter Thiel has at last made a move toward the public market. While much hyped, the company has repeatedly missed profitability targets. Now the company appears to be heavily weighing a direct listing, per the Wall Street Journal. Read more.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda


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- Kuaidian, a Chinese reading interactive community platform, raised $100 million in Series C funding. Sequoia Capital China led the round and was joined by investors including GGV Capital and Morningside Venture Capital. Read more.

- Notarize, a Boston-based notary platform, raised $35 million in Series C funding. Polaris Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Camber Creek.

- Wagestream, a London-based platform for employees to access their wages, raised £20 million in Series B funding. Northzone led the round and was joined by investors including QED Investors, Latitude Ventures and Balderton Capital. 

- Flinks, a Montreal-based fintech, raised $11 million in Series A funding. NAventures led the round and was joined by investors including Intact Ventures, Luge Capital and Panache Ventures.

- CALA, a New York-based marketplace that provides a plug and play infrastructure for fashion brands, raised $3 million. Maersk Growth and A.P. Moller-Maersk led the round and were joined by Real Ventures

- SOC.OS, a London-based cybersecurity firm spun out of BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, raised £2 million in funding from Hoxton Ventures and Speedinvest.


- Fresh Direct Produce, a portfolio company of HKW, acquired Mike and Mike’s, an Ontario, Canada-based distributor of fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- American Construction Source, backed by Angeles Equity Partners and Clearlake Capital Group acquired Weaver Lumber, a provider of lumber, hardware, cabinets, redwood, and cedar fencing. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Abry Partners acquired a majority stake in HealthEZ, a Minneapolis-based independent third-party administrator of self-funded medical plans. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Thoma Bravo acquired Exostar, a Herndon, Va.-based provider of secure cloud access and identity management. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Sunrun (NASDAQ: RUN), a provider of residential solar, battery storage and energy services, acquired Vivint Solar (NYSE: VSLR), a  residential solar provider, for $3.2 billion (including debt) in stock. The combined company will have an enterprise value of $9.2 billion

- Sina Corp, the Chinese social media company listed in the U.S., received a take-private proposal that would value it at $2.7 billion. The offer came from New Wave MMXV, which is led by Sina Chairman and CEO Charles Chao, Read more.

- Neighborly acquired HouseMaster, a N.J.-based home inspection franchise. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Sopra Capital backed HouseMaster.

- Microsoft has expressed interest in acquiring Warner Bros' gaming unit, per The Information. Read more.


- Chushou TV, a Chinese game-streaming platform, shuttered. Backers included Alphabet Inc.’s Google. Read more.


- Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., China’s top homegrown chipmaker, is preparing to raise as much as $7.5 billion in the country. Read more.


- CVC Capital Partners raised €21.3 billion ($24 billion) for its eighth flagship fund. Read more.

- Apollo Global Management (NYSE: APO) formed Apollo Strategic Origination Partners, a platform seeking to lend out some $12 billion.

- Sequoia Capital India raised $1.4 billion to invest in Southeast Asia. It raised a $525 million venture fund and a $825 million growth fund. Read more.

- Sequoia also raised $3.7 billion across three funds to invest in China and $2.15 billion for U.S.-focused venture and growth funds, per the Wall Street Journal. Read more.


- TSG Consumer Partners promoted Girish Satya to principal.

- Aurora Capital Partners promoted Matt Stock and Jordan Leibowitz from associate to senior associate.