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The needle has barely moved on racism in investing. But this investor thinks this time is different

July 15, 2020, 2:27 PM UTC

About a month ago, I wrote about the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Not only did the incident spark a wide, societal conversation around racism, it also launched one about racial inequality in corporations and venture capital firms.

I posed the question: “Venture capital is calling out racism. Can it put its money where its mouth is?” Some readers responded that certainly more work needs to be done. But others were even more pessimistic, with one reader condemning some statements from the industry as lip service. After all, funding still largely goes to a single type of founder: white, male, and university-educated.

But is this time, as we deal with a raging pandemic, actually different?

Jewel Burks Solomon, head of Google for Startups in the U.S., thinks so. A former founder, Burks Solomon (yes, she is Black) also co-created Collab Capital, an Atlanta-based fund targeted toward Black founders. Google for Startups in the U.S., a startup program with accelerators and co-working spaces, is focused on a similar trend of “leveling the playing field for underrepresented founders,” she said during a Fortune Brainstorm Tech virtual conversation Tuesday with my colleague, Michal Lev-Ram.

“We can’t look away. All of us are… still,” she says. “These issues are not new by any means with police brutality and some of the things we are seeing. But what is different [this time around] is that we are not able to look away.”

What makes this time different, to Burks Solomon, is that Floyd’s death has been linked not only to police brutality, but also radiated into a larger conversation about racial and economic inequalities. The pandemic, meanwhile, has already sparked a greater ambition toward change in general.

“That is the real big difference to me here: One, we’re able to watch and see it, and I think people are really asking better questions about why is this happening…and what are the systems that are allowing this to happen, year over year?” She said. “I think also that folks were asking, how can we do things differently because of COVID? People were already in that state of mind.”


Jio Platforms marries Facebook with Google: Confirming the reports and rumors, tech giant Alphabet has invested $4.5 billion for a 7.7% stake in Jio Platforms, the Indian telecoms operator backed by conglomerate Reliance Industries. That follows Reliance Industries announcement that it had become free of net debt in mid-June. Other investors include Facebook (the largest minority shareholder), Qualcomm, Intel, Silver Lake, Vista, and General Atlantic. Now Google and Facebook can work together in India as Jio seeks to build out cheap access to data and its own brand of e-commerce. Meanwhile, Flipkart, also battling with Jio, raised $1.2 billion led by majority owner Walmart. Read more.

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

VENTURES DEALS

 - Thrasio, a Walpole, Mass.-basedacquirer of private label businesses on Amazon.com Inc., raised $260 million in Series C funding. Advent International led the round.

- Auth0, a Bellevue, Wash.-based identity platform for development teams, raised $120 million in Series F funding, bringings its valuation to $1.9 billion. Salesforce Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including DTCP, Bessemer Venture Partners, Sapphire Ventures, Meritech Capital, World Innovation Lab, Trinity Ventures, Telstra Ventures, and K9 Ventures.

- CampusLogic, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based education tech company focused on student aid, raised $120 million from Dragoneer Investment Group.

- Caption Health, a Brisbane, Calif.-based maker of an artificial intelligence-guided ultrasound, raised $53 million in Series B funding. DCVC led the round and was joined by investors including Atlantic Bridge, Edwards Lifesciences, and Khosla Ventures.

- Zeotap, a Berlin-based customer prediction platform, raised $42 million in Series C funding from this year and last. Investors include Neue Capital, coparion, MathCapital, and TTCER Partners.

- NS1, a New York-based web and app automation company, raised $40 million in Series D funding. Energy Impact Partners led the round. Read more.

- AristaMD, a San Diego, Calif.-based e-consultancy connecting primary care providers with specialists, raised $24 million in Series B funding. Cigna Ventures and MemorialCare Innovation Fund led the round and were joined by investors including Ascension Ventures and .406 Ventures.

- Komaza, a Kenya-based micro forestry startup, raised $28 million in Series B funding. Investors included Novastar Ventures, AXA Investment Managers, FMO, and Mirova’s Land Degradation Neutrality Fund

- Warren, a Brazilian digital brokerage, raised 120 million Reais ($22.4 million). QED Investors led the round and was joined by investors including Nubank, Loft, Quinto Andar, Creditas, Kavak, and Konfio

- Ravelin, a London-base fraud detection company, raised £16.4 million ($20 million) in Series C funding. Draper Esprit led the round and was joined by investors including Amadeus Capital Partners, BlackFin Tech, and Passion Capital. 

- RealityEngines.AI, a machine learning startup rebranding as Abacus.AI, raised $13 million in Series A funding. Index Ventures’  Mike Volpi led the round. Read more.

- Crisp, a New York-based grocery demand analytics firm, raised $12 million in Series A funding. FirstMark Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Spring Capital and Swell Capital.

- CYR3CON, a Tempe, Ariz-based AI-driven cybersecurity prediction software platform, raised $8.2 million in funding. Pivotal Group led the round and was joined by investors including Trumpf Ventures, 3Lines Venture Capital, DF Enterprises, and Hike Ventures.

- Sourcegraph, a San Francisco-based provider of Universal Code Search, raised $5 million in Series B funding. Felicis Ventures led the round.

- Noteworth, a Hoboken, N.J.-based digital healthcare platform, raised $5 million in seed funding. Laconia Capital Group led the round and was joined by investors including Draper Associates, Frontier Ventures, Techstars Ventures, Wavemaker360, and Springtide Capital.

- The Browser Company, a New York-based browser maker, raised $5 million in funding, per TechCrunch. The company’s backers include LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner, Medium’s Ev Williams, Figma’s Dylan Field, Notion’s Akshay Kothari, and GitHub’s Jason Warner. Read more.

- Macro, a Boston-based customizable interface for Zoom, raised $4.3 million in funding. Investors include FirstMark Capital, General Catalyst, and Underscore VC.

- Tenovos, a New York-based marketing startup, raised $4 million in Series A funding. Progress Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, Revel Partners, and Dublin Capital. 

- env0, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based developer of self-service cloud management software, raised $3.5 million in extended seed funding. Crescendo Venture Partners led the round and was joined by investors including M12, Boldstart Ventures, and Grove Ventures.

- Eterneva, an Austin-based grief wellness and memorial diamond startup, raised $3 million in seed extension funding. Springdale Ventures led the round. Read more.

- Evertas, a crypto asset insurance company, raised $2.8 million in Seed funding. Morgan Creek led the round and was joined by investors including Plug n Play, Kailash Ventures, RenGen, and Vy Capitaland Wavemaker Genesis. 

- Narrative, an Auckland, New Zealand-based tech startup providing software to professional photographers, raised $2.6 million in seed funding. Founders Fund led the round and was joined by Icehouse Ventures.

- TOffeeAM, a London-based 3D printing startup, raised £1 million in seed funding. IQ Capital led the round.

- Workbox, a Chicago-based coworking accelerator, raised $1 million in seed funding. Investors were not named.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- Hillhouse Capital plans to invest $1 billion in Beigene, a Chinese biotechnology company, per Bloomberg. Read more.

- Jobvite, backed by K1 Investment Management, acquired Predictive Partner artificial intelligence (AI) and data science team. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Align Capital Partners invested in WilliamsMarston, an accounting advisory and management consulting firm with operations in Boston and New York. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

OTHERS

- Boston Scientific Corp. is weighing a sale of its business focused on treating snake venom that could value it at $1 billion. Read more.

- Iconix Brand Group, a New York-based brand-licensing company, is considering selling itself or combining with another company. Read more.

- MacAndrews & Forbes, a holding company owned by Ronald Perelman, is seeking to divest of some assets. It backs the likes of Revlon. Read more.

- Cellnex Telecom SA is considering a stake in CK Hutchison Holdings’s European wireless tower business, per Bloomberg citing sources. The deal could value the unit at as much as 10 billion euros ($11.3 billion). Read more.

- Alfa Laval AB agreed to acquire Neles Oyj, a Finnish valve maker in a deal that values the latter at about $2 billion. Read more.

- Steve Cohen and Josh Harris, a group led by Alex Rodriguez and a fourth unidentified party have all advanced to the second round of bidding for the New York Mets, per Sportico. Read more.

- Triller acquired Halogen Networks, a deliverer of live-streamed events through large-scale free and pay-per- view events. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

BREAKUPS, HANGUPS, AND BANKRUPTCIES

- RTW Retailwinds, the company behind women's fashion retailer New York & Company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. 

IPOs

- Pershing Square Tontine Holdings, a New York-based SPAC founded by Bill Ackman, now plans to raise $4 billion in an offering of 200 million units priced at $20 apiece. Read more.

- GoHealth, a Chicago-based medicare-focused health insurance marketplace, raised $914 million in an offering 43.5 million shares priced at $21, an upsized offering above its previously stated range. Centerbridge and Norwest back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “GOCO.” Read more.

- Jamf, a Minneapolis-based Apple device management company, plans to raise $288 million in an offering of 16 million shares (16% insider) priced between $17 to $19. It posted revenue of $204 million in 2019 and a loss of $32.6 million. Vista Equity backs the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “JAMF.” Read more.

- nCino, a Wilmington, Mass.-based cloud-based software for financial institutions, raised $250 million in an upsized offering of 8.1 million shares priced at $31, above its previously stated range. It posted revenue of $138.2 million in the year ending Jan. 2020, and a loss of $27.6 million. Investors include Insight Partners (46.6% pre-offering), Salesforce (13.2%), and Wellington Management (9.5%). It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “NCNO.” Read more.

- Montrose Environmental Group, ae Irvine, Calif.-based provider of environmental assessment, plans to raise $160 million in an offering of 10 million shares priced between $15 to $17 .It posted revenue of $233.9 million in 2019 and a loss of $23.6 million. Oaktree (17.2% pre-offering), CTEH Holdings (8.7%) and Yukon Environmental (8.4%) back the firm. It plans to list on the NYSE as “MEG.” Read more.

- Datto, a Norwalk, Conn.-based cloud backup company, filed confidentially for an IPO, per Bloomberg. Vista Equity Partners backs the firm. Read more.

EXITS

- Silver Peak Systems, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based network company, is exploring a sale that could value it at over $1 billion. Investors include Greylock Partners and TCV. Read more.

- Silver Lake disclosed concessions totalling about $300 million as its seeks to push a $2.6 billion sale of Global Blue, its Swiss payments company, to Far Point Acquisition Corp., a SPAC. Read more.

F+FS

- H.I.G. Capital Partners is seeking to raise $1.25 billion for its sixth fund, per an SEC filing. Read more.

PEOPLE

- Summit Partners, a global alternative investment firm, named Hanyin Cheng and Luna Dai as vice presidents on the firm’s technology team; Mark Shankar, M.D. as a vice president on firm’s healthcare team; and Cathy Tanimura as a vice president of Analytics & Data Science.