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As VC payday nears, Sequoia sits in the middle of the IPO deluge

August 25, 2020, 2:39 PM UTC

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On Monday, a flock of tech companies decided it was time to make their plans to go public, well, public, as tech stocks have soared during the pandemic.

The list included game maker Unity (last valued at $6 billion), machine analytics company Sumo Logic (last valued at over $1 billion), software firm JFrog (also over a billion), data-warehouse Snowflake ($12.4 billion), and team organization tool Asana ($1.5 billion), which plans to go public via direct listing.

There’s a lot to unpack over five different filings, so let’s start here for today: Sequoia Capital could have a lot to gain from these IPOs. The Sand Hill Road firm popped up repeatedly as I scrolled through the S-1s, with a cut in three of the companies above. It owns about 8.4% of Snowflake through its third growth fund, 24% of Unity, and while not listed in its rundown of largest shareholders, Sequoia also has invested in Sumo Logic.

Sequoia’s returns are unclear, especially since the IPO has yet to price. But if markets are kind, it could be quite the return. The firm got in early with Unity, writing a Series A check in 2009. While the Snowflake bet came later, in 2018 for Sequoia, the company’s valuation has more than tripled since and may fetch an even higher tag in public markets. 

Other investors that stand to gain massively from Snowflake’s IPO include Sutter Hill Ventures, its largest shareholder, and ICONIQ. Silver Lake, meanwhile, is the second largest shareholder in Unity.

Of course I hedge by saying an “almost” payday, as it’s still unclear what each company’s lockup period may look like, if they plan to sell existing shares, and how the markets will react.

Another reason to watch Sequoia: Sequoia and General Atlantic are major investors in TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance. The WSJ is reporting that the duo are “key drivers” behind a deal for Oracle to acquire TikTok’s U.S. operations. Read more.

A big tech skeptic invests in a stock trading app. You may know the name: NYU professor of marketing Scott Galloway is known for his opinionated and no-punches-pulled blog posts on the tech world (see titles including “WeWTF” and “FckdEx”), as well as his calls to break up the giants of the industry. So it’s interesting to see Galloway write a check to Public, a social stock trading app with roughly $32 million in funding from investors including Accel and Greycroft.

When it comes to stock trading, the undeniable elephant in the group is Robinhood, the now $11.2 billion zero-commission platform that has only grown in the pandemic. When asked why he was investing in Public, Galloway compared Robinhood to the big tech companies, saying he had grown worried that the platform scaled too fast and lacked the guardrails needed to protect the new class of amatuer investors it had brought into the ring. Public in recent months has put in so-called “safety labels,” which asks users to reconfirm, for example, if they want to buy a particular stock that is undergoing bankruptcy proceedings. 

Still, will it be able to go head-to-head with Robinhood? Concerns about Robinhood also have only grown in recent months: Users were hit by outages in some of the most lucrative trading days early in the pandemic. Lawmakers in July pressed the company over its consumer protections following the suicide of a 20-year-old Robinhood trader. Yet its valuation has only grown. Read more.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda


- Kronos Bio, Inc, a San Mateo, Calif.- and Cambridge, Mass.-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical for cancer therapeutics, raised $155 million in convertible notes. Perceptive Advisors led the round and was joined by investors including Casdin Partners, Commodore Capital, EcoR1 Capital, Fidelity Management and Research Company, and Surveyor Capital.

- MURAL, a San Francisco-based digital workspace for visual collaboration, raised $118 million in Series B funding. Insight Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Tiger Global, Slack Fund, and World Innovation Lab.

- Connect Biopharma, a San Diego, Calif.- and Taicang, China-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical developing immune modulating molecules, raised $115 million in Series C funding. RA Capital Management led the round.

- Lyra Health, a Burlingame, Calif.-based provider of mental health care benefits for employers, raised $110 million in Series D funding. Addition led the round and was joined by investors including Adams Street Partners, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, Casdin Capital, Glynn Capital, Greylock, IVP, Meritech Capital Partners, Providence Ventures, and Tenaya Capital.

- Redis Labs, a Mountain View, Calif.-based company behind an open source database, raised $100 million in Series F funding, valuing it at over $1 billion. Bain Capital Ventures and TCV led the round and were joined by Francisco Partners, Goldman Sachs Growth, Viola Ventures, and Dell Technologies Capital

- Kinnate Biopharma, a San Francisco-based precision oncology company, raised $98 million in Series C funding. RA Capital Management led the round and was joined by investors including Viking Global Investors, Venrock Healthcare Capital Partners, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Janus Henderson Investors, Surveyor Capital, Boxer Capital of Tavistock Group, Logos Capital, and an investment fund associated with SVB Leerink. 

- AWH, a Chicago-based cannabis operator, raised $68.2 million. The investors were not disclosed.

- Prelude Therapeutics, a Wilmington, Del.-based clinical-stage precision oncology company, raised $50 million in Series C funding. Investors included OrbiMed Advisors and Fidelity Management & Research Company.

- Supermetrics, a U.K.-based marketing data management and analysis tool, raised €40 million ($47.3 million) in new funding. Highland Europe led the round and was joined by investors including IVP. Read more.

- One Drop, a New York-based provider of digital solutions for those with diabetes and other chronic conditions, raised $34.7 million in Series C funding. Bayer led the round.

- Split, a Redwood City, Calif.-based feature delivery platform, raised $33 million in Series C funding. Comcast Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Accel, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Harmony Venture Partners. 

- Songtradr, a Los Angeles-based B2B music rights and licensing marketplace platform, raised $30 million in Series C funding, valuing it at $165 million. The St. Baker Australian family office led the round.

- SparkMeter, a Washington, D.C.-based provider of grid management services, equipment, and software solutions, raised $12 million in Series A funding. Investors include Clean Energy Ventures, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Goodwell Investments, Alitheia Capital, Total Energy Ventures, and others.

- Bolt Bikes, a Sydney, Australia-based mobility startup, raised $11 million in funding. The Australian Clean Energy Finance Corporation led the round and was joined by investors including Hana Ventures, Maniv Mobility, and Contrarian Ventures.

- Fibronostics, a New York and Singapore-based maker of non-invasive, algorithmic diagnostics for NASH patients, raised $8 million in Series A funding. AT Capital led the round.

- Stratify, a Seattle- and San Francisco-based budgeting and forecasting firm, raised $4.9 million in seed funding. Madrona Venture Group led the round and was joined by investors including Coatue.

- Grain, an Oakland, Calif.-based revolving credit startup, raised $2.8 million in seed funding. Investors included the Urban Innovation Fund and Y Combinator.

- MyPorter, an Atlanta-based startup for moving and storing items, raised $2 million. Florida Funders participated in the most recent round.

- Minerva Knows, a New York-based company making a way to share instructions online, raised $1.1 million in funding. Charge Ventures and Max Ventures led the round and were joined by investors including Sagehill Capital, Bayes Capital, New York Venture Partners, and Tribe Capital

- MagicCube, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based security platform, raised an undisclosed amount in strategic funding from Visa


- A group of investors led by KKR invested over $300 million in ReliaQuest, a Tampa, Fla.-based cybersecurity managed service and intelligence platform.

- Cerberus Capital Management invested in seven companies of MCS Group, a Mongolia-based collection of over 20 companies operating in various sectors such as energy, engineering, mining, real estate, telecommunications, and consumer goods. Cerberus acquired a 20% indirect ownership or notes convertible into equity of seven MCS companies operating in the telecommunications and consumer goods sectors. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Warburg Pincus and Martis Capital agreed to merge portfolio companies Qualifacts and Credible Behavioral Health, two behavioral health and human service providers. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Blackstone Group plans to acquire Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.’s Japanese consumer healthcare business for 242 billion yen ($2.3 billion). Blackstone plans to take the company public in about five years. Read more.

- Ara Partners made a majority investment in Path Environmental Technology, a Houston-based industrial services provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Blackstone (NYSE: BX) plans to invest $275M in Cryoport (NASDAQ: CYRX), a cryogenic logistics company. 

- Providence Strategic Growth made a majority investment in Sympa, provider of cloud-based human capital management software in the Nordics. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Palo Alto Network plans to acquire Crypsis Group, an incident response firm, for $265 million. 


- Nongfu, a Chinese bottled water giant, plans to raise $1.1 billion in an IPO in Hong Kong. Read more.

- Kalyan Jewellers India, an Indian jeweler, plans to raise as much as $235 million in an IPO in the country. Warburg Pincus backs the firm. Read more.


- Aveva acquired OSIsoft, a California-based industrial software company for $5 billion in largely cash. SoftBank’s Vision Fund 1 backed the firm.  

- SugarCRM acquired Node, an artificial intelligence platform. Node investors have included NEA, Canaan Partners, and Mark Cuban.

- Afterpay plans to acquire Pagantis, a European payment services company, from NBQ Corporate SLU for €50 million ($59 million).

- Blackstone is offloading just over 40% of its stake in Cheniere Energy Partners, an energy company, to Brookfield Asset Management and its own infrastructure group. Read more.

- Smartsheet (NYSE:SMAR) plans to acquire Brandfolder, a Denver-based digital asset management platform, for $155 million in cash and stock.

- Apple acquired Spaces, a VR startup, per the Protocol. Read more.


- 137 Ventures promoted James Pardee from associate to senior associate.