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A SPAC courts Airbnb

September 3, 2020, 2:28 PM UTC

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In (highly expected) news, Bill Ackman’s mega blank check company reached out to home-sharing unicorn Airbnb about a potential merger.

Given that such companies typically acquire a portion of another company, Ackman’s monster $4 billion Pershing Square Tontine has a pretty limited universe of potential acquirees—it’s one of the reasons you’ll see a lot of blank check companies raising around $200 million to $300 million, where you can cast a wider net. Ackman has narrowed his radar even further, however, saying he plans to acquire a pure-play tech company

Naturally, Airbnb was among the first names to spring to mind. Except Airbnb has reportedly rebuffed this particular mating dance, per Bloomberg, saying it preferred the traditional IPO route, even if it hasn’t completely ruled out the possibility of a merger with the special purpose acquisition company.

The story does speak to the hesitancy still felt around SPACs. While 2020 has been a veritable festival for the financing vehicle, with over $32 billion raised so far, some venture capitalists that Term Sheet has spoken to have voiced doubts about the structure.

Regardless of how it happens, Airbnb’s listing will also be much watched for how it deals with the issue of employee equity. As a 12-year-old company, its early employees have been calling for a public offering for a while now. So could Airbnb play with its lock-up period in the case of a traditional IPO, or directly offer employee stock if it were to merge with a SPAC? 

MAGIC EEP: Augmented-reality startup Magic Leap has gone from being a $6.7 billion company to about $450 million in the books of investors between January and June, per The Information. That comes after the company laid off about half its staff and replaced CEO and co-founder Rony Abovitz with Peggy Johnson.

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

VENTURE DEALS

- Unacademy, an Indian education company, raised $150 million in a round led by SoftBank's Vision Fund 2, and was joined by investors including Facebook, Blume Ventures, Nexus Partners, General Atlantic and Sequoia Capital. Read more.

- Biofourmis Inc., which uses artificial intelligence-based analytics to monitor patients affected by Covid-19, raised $100 million in funding. SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led the round.

- SHINE Medical Technologies, a Wisconsin-based nuclear technology company focused on medical isotopes, raised $80 million in Series C funding. Fidelity Management and Research Company led the round.

- PasarPolis, an Indonesian insurance startup, raised $54 million in Series B funding. Investors included LeapFrog Investments, SBI Investment, and Xiaomi.

- Pharmapacks, a New York-based e-commerce platform, raised $40 million in bridge financing. Reckitt Benckiser, The Craftory , The Straus Group, The Emerson Group, and Sawaya Capital Partners invested.

- Transposit, a San Francisco-based engineering operations company for the enterprise, raised $35 million in Series B funding. Altimeter Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Sutter Hill Ventures, SignalFire, and Unusual Ventures.

- Miracor Medical, a Belgium-based provider of treatments for severe cardiac diseases, raised €24 million in Series E funding. Investors include Yonghua, Earlybird, Noshaq, Quest for Growth, SFPI-FPIM, and SRIW.

- Legion, a Redwood City, Calif.-based workforce management solution, raised $22 million in Series B funding. Stripes led the round and was joined by investors including Workday Ventures, NTT DOCOMO Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, First Round Capital, XYZ Ventures and Webb Investment Network.

- Conversica, a Foster City, Calif.-based customer conversation platform, raised $20 million in Series D funding. Hollyport Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Providence Strategic Growth, Toba Capital, and Savano Capital Partners.

- Cloudentity, a Seattle-based provider of cloud application security, raised $13 million in Series A funding. Forgepoint Capital led the round and was joined by investors including WestWave Capital. 

- Moteefe, a London-based e-commerce platform for retailers, raised $11 million in funding. BGF led the round and was joined by investors including Gresham House Ventures and Force Over Mass Capital. 

- Reachdesk, a New York-based direct mail and corporate gifting software platform, raised $6 million. Five Elms Capital led the round.

- uMotif, a London-based data capture software company, raised £5 million in Series A funding. AlbionVC led the round.

- Aspinity, a Pittsburgh-based maker of low-power analog machine learning processors, raised $5.3 million in Series A funding. Anzu Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Amazon’s Alexa Fund, Birchmere Ventures, Mountain State Capital, and Riverfront Ventures. 

- PhotoniCare, an Illinois-based provider of physicians with better diagnostic tools, raised $5.2 million in Series A funding. i2E Management Company led the round and was joined by investors including OSF Ventures, Sony Innovation Fund, and Dreampact Ventures. 

- SenseHawk, a San Francisco-based SaaS company for developing  solar and other infrastructure sites, raised $5.1 million in Series A-1 funding. Alpha Wave Incubation led the round.

- CUDDLY, a Seal Beach, Calif.-based fundraising platform for animal welfare organizations, raised $4 million in Series A funding. Lead Edge Capital led the round.

- Mathison, a New York-based hiring platform for diverse communities, raised $2 million in seed funding. Animo Ventures led the round.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- Alliance Holdings, the environmental services platform of Align Capital Partners, acquired the U.S.-based emission monitoring business unit of Bureau Veritas. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Providence Strategic Growth invested in Semarchy, a San Francisco-based provider of data management software. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Applied Composites Holdings, backed by AE Industrial Partners, acquired Alliance Spacesystems, a Los Alamitos, Calif.-based provider of composite structures and assemblies for the commercial, civil and government satellite market. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- The Carlyle Group has agreed to acquire a 5% stake in Salubris, a China-based biopharmaceutical company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- A consortium led by Blackstone Group and Global Infrastructure Partners offered to acquire U.S. railroad operator Kansas City Southern (KSU), per Reuters. Read more.

IPO

- Skillz Inc, a mobile games platform, will go public via merger with Flying Eagle Acquisition Corp., a blank check company. The deal implies a valuation of $3.5 billion.

- Hidrovias do Brasil SA, a Brazilian logistics company, plans to raise up to 4.7 billion reais ($876.05 million) in an initial public offering, per Reuters. Read more.