Fortnite maker accuses Apple of being “more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear” in a lawsuit

August 14, 2020, 2:53 PM UTC

This is the web version of Term Sheet, a daily newsletter on the biggest deals and dealmakers. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox. 

The company behind Fortnite filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple after the popular game was removed from the app store on Thursday.

Epic’s complaint against Apple comes at a time of rising discontent against the latter from app developers. Apple calls for a 15% to 30% cut on payments and subscriptions made within its apps—a price tag that’s deeply frustrated app makers. 

Earlier this year, the European Union opened up a probe into Apple’s App Store after Spotify and Rakuten complained of the high revenue cuts which they believed favored Apple’s in-house products. Others have sought to bypass the issue altogether by not offering in-app purchases, a la Netflix.

“Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation,” Epic’s lawsuit against Apple read. “Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched, and more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear.”

The chronology of this particular story is worth attention. While Apple requires direct payments through its apps so that it can take its commission, Epic implemented early Thursday its own payments system that bypassed the usual Apple pipelines, in violation of the rules. Apple removed the game from the App Store shortly thereafter. On the same day, Epic released its lawsuit with media flair. Through the Fortnite Twitter account, Epic tweeted out a copy of the suit paired with a short film that parodied a famous Apple commercial, alluding to George Orwell’s 1984.

And that’s the thing with the tweet and video: Apple owns and created the app store, which will likely be a tenet of any defense. It’s a business the company undoubtedly will guard closely, given that it sits within the tech giant’s second largest segment by revenue. But Epic’s provocative and press-luring argument is catching the crowd and times—especially with the heat over Apple’s distribution rules and practices.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda


- Impossible Foods, an alternative protein company, raised $200 million. Coatue led the round and was joined by investors including XN.

- Wildlife, a San Francisco-based mobile gaming companies, raised $120 million in funding led by Vulcan Capital and was joined by investors including Human Capital.

- PayActiv, Inc., a San Jose, Calif.-based employer-sponsored earned wage access and financial wellness platform, raised $100 million in Series C funding. Eldridge led the round and was joined by investors including Generation Partners and the Ziegler Link•Age Fund II. 

- Mission Bio, a South San Francisco, Calif.-based developer of single-cell DNA and multi-omics analysis, raised $70m in Series C funding. Novo Growth led the round and was joined by investors including Soleus Capital, Mayfield, Cota, and Agilent.

- Thirty Madison, a startup that offers online health portals for treatment of hair loss, migraines, and acid reflux, raised $47 million. Polaris Partners led the round and was joined by Johnson & Johnson, Maveron, and Northzone. Read more.

- Cecelia Health, a New York-based diabetes and other chronic disease management company, raised $13 million in Series B funding. Rittenhouse Ventures and Endo Investors led the round and were joined by investors including Boston Millennia Partners, SustainVC, and G100 Capital.

- Stream, a Boulder-based maker of enterprise-grade activity feed and chat APIs, raised $15 million in Series A funding. GGV Capital led the round and was joined by investors including 01 Advisors, Knight, and Arthur Ventures

- Root AI, a Boston-based startup building produce-picking robots, raised $7.2 million in seed funding. Rob May of PJC led the round and was joined by investors including First Round Capital’s Josh Kopelman, Jason Calacanis, and Austin McChord of Outsiders Fund. Read more.

- Cube, a New York-based financial planning and analysis software maker, raised $5 million in seed funding. Bonfire Ventures‘ Brett Queener led the round and was joined by investors including Operator Collective, Clocktower Technology Ventures, Alumni Ventures Group, and Techstars. Read more.

- Mighty Labs, a Salt Lake City, Ut.-based platform for remote and cross-functional teams, raised $4.3 million in seed funding. Investors include Slack Fund, GSV Ventures, Origin Ventures, Album VC, Acadian Ventures, and Village Global.

- Joblist, a San Francisco-based jobs listing platform, raised $4 million in funding from Wilbur Labs.


- L Catterton invested in Public Goods, a membership-based grocery, household, and personal care company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Waystar, backed by EQT, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and Bain Capital, acquired  eSolutions, a revenue tech company focusing on Medicare billing, in a deal valued at $1.3 billion. Read more.


- TA Associates agreed to invest in Ivanti, a provider of IT management and security software solutions. Clearlake Capital Group backs Ivanti. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- GFL Environmental, a portfolio company of BC Partners and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, agreed to acquire WCA Waste Corporation, a Houston, Texas-based waste management firm, for $1.2 billion.

- General Atlantic invested in Gymshark, a Solihull, U.K.-based fitness and apparel brand, valuing it at over £1 billion. 

- Accel-KKR made a majority investment in Recurly, a San Francisco-based subscription management and billing platform. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- I Squared Capital is planning to auction off Energia Group, a power firm, €2 billion including debt, Read more.

- Improving, backed by Trinity Hunt Partners, acquired Object Partners, a Minneapolis-based custom software development firm. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- HealthEdge Software, backed by Blackstone, acquired The Burgess Group, an Alexandria, Va.-based payment integrity software company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- A consortium of investors that includes STIC Investments, SoftBank Korea, Korea Investment Partners and Korea Investment Securities, acquired Systran, an AI-based translation technology tool maker. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- 3Pillar Global, backed by CIP Capital, acquired Isthmus Software, a Costa Rica-based software development firm. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Accenture (NYSE: ACN) acquired CreativeDrive, a New York City-based content production company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Thomson Reuters acquired CaseLines, a London-based LegalTech company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- AT&T Inc. is seeking buyers for Crunchyroll, its anime video unit, for as much as $1.5 billion, per Bloomberg. Read more.


SenseTime Group, a Chinese artificial intelligence company, is weighing a dual listing in Hong Kong and China and is raising $1.5 billion of pre-IPO financing, per Bloomberg. Read more.

- Duck Creek Technologies, a Boston-based provider of software for insurers, raised $405 million in an offering of 15 million shares priced at $27.

- CureVac, a German biotech developing a Covid vaccine, raised $213 million in an offering of 13.3 million shares priced at $16, the high end of the range its range.

Read More

CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet