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Since ByteDance was forced put TikTok’s U.S. operations up for sale, it seemed like just about every tech company had come circling. Over the past few months, names including Twitter, Alphabet, SoftBank and Microsoft had been in the mix. Oracle also came into the picture, challenging Microsoft, the frontrunner.
Even so, it’s odd to hear TikTok competitor Triller say it partnered with London-based investment firm Centricus Asset Management to submit a $20 billion bid for TikTok’s assets in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and India. While the smallest of the aforementioned tech companies commands a market valuation of $32 billion (Twitter), Triller is not even yet a unicorn.
And then it got weirder. TikTok, along with its parent company, denied receiving a bid from Triller, telling Term Sheet late Sunday that it had no plans to enter talks in the future.
“We are not and will not be in talks with them,” a ByteDance spokesperson wrote in a statement. “Still, we are flattered by how much they admire TikTok.”
So was there a bid, or was it just a publicity stunt?
While neither Triller nor its executive chairman Bobby Sarnevesht have yet to requests for comment from me, a Centricus spokesperson said the bid had been received “at the highest level” at ByteDance, and after ByteDance’s denial, Sarnevesht told The Verge that “either people multiple layers down aren’t aware of what is happening on the highest level or they may have their own agendas and aren’t happy about our offer coming in.”
Here’s the bottom line: Don’t expect a Triller-TikTok tie-up.
All this is coming after Triller sued TikTok earlier this year over a feature that allowed users to synchronize music with multiple videos. It also threatened to sue Apptopia, an app intelligence company, when the latter published a report suggesting that Triller had inflated download numbers. The startup claims it has a total of 250 million downloads across iOS and Android—but Apptopia suggested the figures were closer to 52 million. Apptopia later pulled the report.
A psychedelics IPO: COMPASS Pathways, a Peter Thiel-backed startup using “magic mushrooms” to treat depression, filed to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering on Friday. As with any biotech in the testing phases, the company has yet to post a revenue and had a loss of $19.3 million in 2019. The company has slowed enrollment of new patients into its clinical trials as a result of the pandemic.
You won’t see a lot of the big-name venture capitalists here: First off, the psychedelics movement is promising, but still early stages—a little too early for some investors to even begin dipping their toes. Secondly, vice clauses. They’re the same reason why some venture capitalists aren’t rushing to be a part of the cannabis high. Many large-scale limited partners—for instance, pension funds—include clauses that prevent investments in sectors such as firearms, pornography, or, say, drugs.
- Viva Republica, the operator of peer-to-peer payment service Toss, raised $173 million. Investors including Sequoia Capital China led the round and was joined by investors including Aspex Management, Kleiner Perkins Digital Growth Fund, Altos Ventures, Goodwater Capital, and Greyhound Capital. Read more.
- Eruditus, a Mumbai-based company offering executive-level courses to students, raised $113 million in Series D funding. Leeds Illuminate and Prosus Ventures led the round and were joined by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Sequoia India, and Ved Capital.
- Adlai Nortye, a China-based immunooncology medicines developer, raised nearly $100 million in Series C funding. Hangzhou Tigermed Consulting and Yingke PE co-led the round. Read more.
- NextPay Holdings, a Vietnamese e-payment solutions provider, is considering a private placement to raise around $60-$100 million in the first quarter of next year, ahead of an IPO in 2022. Read more.
- Fashionphile, a Carlsbad, Calif.-based seller of second-hand luxury accessories, raised $38.5 million in Series B funding. NewSpring Growth led the round. Read more.
- Movano Inc., a Pleasanton, Calif.-based healthtech company focused on chronic conditions such as diabetes, raised a $12.5 million bridge round. Investors were not disclosed.
- Steno, a Los Angeles-based legal service startup, raised $3.5 million in seed funding. First Round Capital led the round. Read more.
- Thoma Bravo completed the acquisition of Foundation Software, a provider of construction accounting software and payroll services for small- to mid-sized specialty contractors. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Funds advised by SK Capital Partners acquired 42.5 million shares of Venator Materials, a chemicals company, for about $100 million from Huntsman Corporation (NYSE: HUN).
- MSD Partners, Durable Capital, Headlands Capital, Deep Field Asset Management, and Declaration Capital invested $85 million (via private placement of convertible preferred stock) in Lindblad Expeditions Holdings, (NASDAQ: LIND), a New York-based travel company focused on lesser traveled places.
- A consortium led by BGH Capital and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board entered into a revised buyout deal for Abano Healthcare Group (NZ: ABA), a New Zealand-based dental care company. The new deal values Abano at $78.78 million. Read more.
- Reliance Industries agreed to acquire the retail and wholesale business and the logistics and warehousing business of Future Group, an Indian conglomerate, for $3.4 billion including debt. Read more.
- Elliott Management is exploring a bid for Aryzta (SWX: ARYN), a Switzerland-based baking company, per Bloomberg. Read more.
- AT&T is seeking private equity investors to acquire a majority of its DirecTV satellite-television business, per Bloomberg. Read more
- SoftBank Group plans to sell $12.5 billion of the stock it holds in its Japanese wireless operation, per Bloomberg. Read more.
- BlueCity acquired LESDO, a Chinese lesbian dating app. Read more.
- Reinvent Technology Partners, a SPAC formed by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Zynga founder Mark Pincus, filed to raise $600 million. It is targeting a company in the tech sector. Read more.
- Equity Distribution Acquisition, a SPAC formed by Sam Zell's Equity Group Investments, filed to raise up to $300 million. It plans to acquire an industrial business. Read more.
- Surf Air Mobility, a private plane membership company, received a $200 million commitment from Global Emerging Markets Group to take the company public. The company plans to go public either via merger with a SPAC or through a direct listing. Read more.
- GoodRx Holdings, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based app for discounting medicines, filed for an $100 million IPO. It posted revenue of $388.2 million and income of $42.7 million in 2019. Silver Lake, Francisco Partners, and Spectrum back the firm. Read more.
- A consortium led by Clayton Dubilier & Rice agreed to acquire Epicor Software Corp., an Austin, Texas-based software maker, for $4.7 billion, including debt.
- Dyal Capital Partners is targeting $5 billion for a fifth minority capital offering. Read more.