On Sunday, SAP announced plans to spin off and list Qualtrics, a U.S.-based company analyzing customer feedback that it bought for $8 billion in 2018.
Why the news is surprising: For starters, it’s been less than two years since the German software company snapped up Qualtrics, then days before the latter (backed at the time by the likes of Accel, Insight, and Sequoia) went public. The former SAP CEO that chaired the deal, Bill McDermott, also likened it to Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of Instagram—a unit so essential to the social media company that it generated roughly a quarter of Facebook’s sales in 2019.
Companies seem to like invoking the Facebook-Instagram spirits whenever pricing comes under scrutiny. After all, Facebook acquired the photo-sharing company for a seemingly enormous sum when it had a mere 13 employees—yet that bet has massively paid off. SAP too was criticized at the time for overpaying for its Qualtrics deal. While early indications, at the time of Qualtrics’ initial IPO filing in 2018, valued it at roughly $4.5 billion to $5 billion, SAP paid, well, much more than that.
In 2020, Qualtrics doesn’t appear to be a bad payoff for SAP—with the current market rally, analysts at Jefferies estimate Qualtrics could be valued at as much as 14 billion euros ($16 billion). But, as my colleague Michal Lev-Ram notes, “When viewed through the lens of the original intent of the acquisition (growing both companies as one), it’s hard to imagine that everything went as smoothly as planned.” Facebook, at least, has yet to spin off a portion of Instagram.
SAP for its part will maintain majority ownership of the newly public company, with the duo acting as partners. Qualtrics founder Ryan Smith, meanwhile, intends to be its largest individual shareholder. The deal also comes after McDermott’s departure in 2019, which eventually led to Christian Klein taking the reins fully. Read more.
CrossFit gets its buyer: All gym chain operators have been under pressure during the coronavirus. One gym that the headlines have been unusually loud about: CrossFit, a Washington D.C.-based company that licenses its name to over 14,000 locations worldwide, and whose founder and former CEO Greg Glassman stepped down in June following widespread criticism of his comments on the death of George Floyd.
Private equity firm Berkshire Partners is now acquiring the firm alongside Eric Roza, a CrossFit athlete who said in June that he would buy the company from Glassman and become its CEO.
- Xingsheng Selected, a Chinese community group buying platform backed by Tencent and KKR, raised $800 million in funding, per DealStreetAsia. Read more.
- Revolut, the U.K.-based fintech startup, raised $80 million in extended Series D funding. TSG Consumer Partners was the investor. The Series D, first announced in February, valued the firm at $5.5 billion.
- cargo.one, a Berlin-based digital booking platform for air cargo, raised $18.6 million in funding. Index Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Next47 and prior backers Creandum, Lufthansa Cargo and Point Nine Capital.
- OpenSpace, a San Francisco-based construction documentation and analytics startup, raised $15.9 million in Series B funding. Menlo Ventures led the round and was joined by Nine Four Ventures, Taronga Group, Lux Capital, JLL Spark, Navitas Capital, and Zigg Capital.
- Proper, a New York-based sleep wellness company, raised $9.5 million. Casa Verde Capital led the round and was joined by Redesign Health.
- WhizAI, a Somerset, N.J.-based insights platform for life sciences businesses, raised $4 million in seed funding. Healthy Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Bling Capital and Firebolt Ventures.
- Cambrian Asset Management, a Mill Valley, Calif.-based quantitative investment firm for digital assets, raised $4 million in seed funding. Investors included Howard Morgan (co-founder of Renaissance Technologies and First Round Capital), Tano Capital, Dennis Phelps (General Partner at IVP), and Kevin Ryan (co-founder, MongoDB & Business Insider).
- Swoop, a Los Angeles-based software maker for smaller transportation operators, raised $3.2 million in a seed funding. Signia Venture Partners and South Park Commons led the round. Read more.
- Circa, backed by Gauge Capital, acquired America's Job Exchange, an Andover, Mass.-based maker of solutions for diversity recruitment. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- SK Capital Partners agreed to acquire Baker Hughes’ Barnsdall, Okla.-based specialty polymers business. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Francisco Partners invested in GAINSystems, a Chicago-based supply chain planning and inventory optimization solution. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Nu Pagamentos, a Brazilian digital bank backed by Tencent, acquired Cognitect, a North Carolina-based software firm. Read more.
- Centrica (LON:CNA) plans to sell Direct Energy, its North American subsidiary, for $3.63 billion to NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG). Read more.
- Perpetual (ASX:PPT) plans to acquire a 75% stake in Barrow Hanley, a Dallas-based asset manager, for $319 million.
BREAKUPS, HANGUPS, AND BANKRUPTCIES
- Rosehill Resources (NASDAQ: ROSE), a Permian shale explorer, filed for bankruptcy protection. Read more.
- Hangzhou Tigermed Consulting, a Chinese clinical trial and research firm, plans to raise at least $1 billion in its Hong Kong listing, per Reuters citing sources. Read more.
- Dragoneer Growth Opportunities, a San Francisco-based blank check company backed by Dragoneer Investment Group, filed for a $600 million IPO. It plans to acquire a business in software, internet, media, consumer or retail, healthcare IT and financial services or fintech sectors. Read more.
- Rackspace Technology, an San Antonio, Texas-based cloud hosting services provider, plans to raise $754 million in an offering of 33.5 million shares priced between $21 to $24. It posted revenue of $2.4 billion in 2019 and a loss of $102.3 million. Apollo Management and Searchlight Capital back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “RXT.” Read more.
- Rush Street Interactive, a gaming technology operator, is in talks to go public through via merger with blank-check company dMY Technology Group, per Bloomberg citing sources. Read more.
- Office Depot Europe, backed by Aurelius Equity, agreed to sell Spanish contract business to Lyreco. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Debenhams, a U.K.-based department store chain, put itself up for sale to prevent liquidation. Read more.
- Menlo Ventures is seeking to raise $450 million for its 15th fund. Read more.
- Threshold Ventures, formerly known as DFJ, raised $146.6 million so far of a $250 million target for its third fund. Read more.
- Fosun RZ Capital, backed by Fosun Group, raised $186 million for the first close of its debut sci-tech innovation fund. Read more.
- Salesforce Ventures hired Katie Schwartz as a principal and Paul Drews as a managing director.
- Trousdale Capital hired Alex Schifter as a vice president in its growth equity group.