TikTok finally sends a proposal to the U.S. government—with a twist
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Microsoft had long been considered the frontrunner in the race for TikTok’s U.S. operations.
But it’s Oracle that has won the bidding, per a Wall Street Journal report from over the weekend, with Microsoft acknowledging that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance had turned down a potential proposal. It’s a winning moment for ByteDance investors Sequoia Capital and General Atlantic, who have sat on Oracle’s side as Walmart has sat in Microsoft’s corner.
What’s particularly interesting about the deal: It doesn’t appear to be structured like an outright sale, as the U.S. government has pushed for. On Monday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin confirmed on CNBC that the administration received a TikTok-Oracle proposal over the weekend with Oracle acting “as the trusted technology partner” that would make “representations for national security issues” presumably on behalf of TikTok.
He added that it came with a commitment to make TikTok a “U.S.-headquartered company” with a commitment to create 20,000 new jobs.
Will this twist satisfy U.S. officials? The Journal reports that the participants believe the proposal “satisfies the concerns around data security” behind the U.S. government’s ultimatum to sell TikTok. But there may not be a significant sale of assets, and it is still unclear if TikTok’s core algorithm, which recommends content to users and is considered the company’s crowning jewel, will be part of the deal. (The Chinese government in particular has made this part of negotiations trickier by issuing export restrictions on this kind of A.I.)
We are light on details and, in TikTok’s case, time. Mnuchin says the administration is expected to review the proposal at the CFIUS committee this week before offering a recommendation to the president.
A FRAUD-PREVENTION STARTUP FACES A FRAUD INVESTIGATION: NS8, a Las Vegas-based startup that flags suspicious orders for fraud, has laid off hundreds of employees as the Securities and Exchange Commission investigates the startup for alleged fraud, per reports. That comes after the startup announced $123 million of Series A funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and AXA Partners in June. In a LinkedIn message to Forbes, NS8’s former CEO Adam Rogas, who left last week, said the investigation began in November.
And this brings me back to Nikola’s decision to go public via SPAC: Despite the financing method’s raging popularity in 2020, SPACs are still trying to shed their historical association with fraud. And while proponents emphasize the limited risk of investing in a SPAC before it finds an acquisition target (with funds going typically into, say, U.S. treasuries), it remains to be seen what comes after.
- Neogene Therapeutics, an Amsterdam-based developer of cell therapy for solid tumors, raised $110 million in Series A funding. EcoR1 Capital, Jeito Capital, and Syncona co-led the round.
- Replicant, a San Francisco-based autonomous customer contact center founded out of Atomic, raised $27 million in Series A funding. Norwest led the round and was joined by investors including State Farm Ventures, Bloomberg Beta, and Costanoa.
- Resolution Therapeutics, a macrophage cell therapy company, raised £26.8 million ($35 million). Syncona led the round.
- Attralus, a South San Francisco-based biopharmaceutical company focused on patients with systemic amyloidosis, raised $25 million Series A funding. venBio Partners led the round.
- EODev, a Saint-Malo, France-based hydrogen tech company, raised €20 million ($23.7 million) in funding. Investors included Accor Group, Thélem Assurances, and the Monnoyeur Group.
- Medefer, a London-based business-to-business virtual healthcare provider, raised £10 million ($12.8 million) in funding. Nickleby Capital led the round.
- The Pro’s Closet, a Boulder, Colo.-based pre-owned cycling brand, has raised $12 million in funding. Foundry Group and Edison Partners led the round and were joined by investors including Ridgeline Ventures.
- Decent, an Austin-based insurance startup with health plans for small businesses and self-employed professionals, raised $10 million in Series A funding. QED Investors led the round and were joined by Vulcan Capital, Santander InnoVentures, Asset Management Ventures, Future Positive, Work Life Ventures, the Airbnb syndicate AirAngels, and Unpopular Ventures.
- Roam Research, an Oakland, Calif.-based maker of a note-taking tool, raised $9 million in funding valuing it at over $200 million, per The Information. Investors Stripe co-founders Patrick and John Collison, True Ventures, and Lux Capital. Read more.
- Toucan, a Santa Monica-based maker of a Chrome browser extension for learning new languages, raised $3 million in seed funding. GSV Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Amplifyher Ventures, Wonder Ventures, Golden Ventures, Halogen Ventures, and Vitalize Ventures. Read more.
- Superlist, a Berlin-based productivity startup for teams, raised €2.5 million ($2.9 million) in seed funding from Cherry Ventures.
- AaDya Security, a Detroit-based cybersecurity startup, raised $2.7 million in seed funding. Investors include Firebrand Ventures, 645 Ventures, and Next Coast Ventures.
- Chartable, a New York-based analytics startup for podcast publishers, raised $2.3 million in seed funding. Initialized Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Naval Ravikant, Greycroft Partners, The Fund, and Weekend Fund. Read more.
- Sixth Street Growth invested $50 million in MDLIVE, a Miramar, Fla.-based telehealth company.
- Sterling Partners invested in Datacubed Health, a New York-based healthcare technology platform that digitizes and takes clinical trials virtual. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- EC Waste, a portfolio company of Post Capital Partners, acquired Republic Services of Puerto Rico, a waste management subsidiary of Republic Services, Inc. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- AUA Private Equity acquired Westminster Pet Products, a Cumberland, RI-based developer and marketer of pet treats, chews and supplies as well as shoe care products. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Imaweb/ IDF Group, backed by Providence Strategic Growth, acquired TMS-Soft, a French provider of digital car registration workflow software. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- H.I.G. Europe acquired a controlling stake in DGS S.p.A., an Italian information technology company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- BV Investment Partners made a “significant investment” in sister companies GlideFast Consulting and Pharicode, two partners of enterprise software company ServiceNow (NYSE: NOW). Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Gilead Sciences (Nasdaq: GILD) agreed to acquire Immunomedics (Nasdaq: IMMU), a Morris Plain, N.J.-based cancer-focused biotech, for about $21 billion.
- Adtalem (NYSE: ATGE) agreed to acquire Walden University, a Minneapolis-based online healthcare education provider, from Laureate Education for about $1.5 billion in cash. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Lightspeed POS, a Canadian point of sale software provider, raised $355 million in an offering of 11.7 million shares priced at $30.50 apiece. The raise was on the NYSE. Lightspeed is also listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Read more.
- Investors including Caledonia plan to acquire a 35% stake in Scientific Games, a Las Vegas-based gaming and slot-machines group, from Ron Perelman’s MacAndrews & Forbes. The deal values Scientific at over $2.6 billion.
- Nvidia plans to acquire Arm Holdings, the U.K.-based chip design giant, for a total of up to $40 billion from SoftBank. SoftBank acquired the business for $32 billion in 2016.
BREAKUPS AND BANKRUPTCIES
- J. Crew, the clothing retailer, emerged from bankruptcy with Anchorage Capital Group as its majority owner.
- Cosmoledo, the owner of French bakery chain Maison Kayser’s U.S. locations, filed for bankruptcy protection. It agreed to sell assets to Aurify Brands. Read more.
- Verisk (Nasdaq: VRSK) acquired Franco Signor, a Bradenton, Fla.-based provider of Medicare Secondary Payer compliance solutions for self-insured companies, insurers, and third party administrators, from BV Investment Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Nubank agreed to acquire Easynvest, a Brazil-based digital investment platform. Easynvest backers included Advent International. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Thomas H. Lee Partners plans to acquire a majority stake in Insurance Technologies, a provider of sales and regulatory automation solutions, from NexPhase Capital. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- GoodRx Holdings, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based app for discounting medicines, plans to raise $900 million in an offering of 34.6 million shares priced between $24 to $28. 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.
- JFrog, an Israel-based seller of software tools for app development, plans to raise $463 million in an offering of 11.6 million shares (31% insider sold) priced between $39 to $41. The firm posted revenue of $104.7 million and losses of $5.4 million in 2019. Gemini Israel Ventures, Scale Venture Partners, and Sapphire Ventures back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “FROG.” Read more.
- Corsair Gaming, a Fremont, Calif.-basd supplier of gaming hardware, plans to raise $238 million in an offering of 14 million shares (46% insider sold) priced between $16 to $18. It posted revenue of $1.1 billion and a loss of $8.4 million in 2019. EagleTree Partners backs the firm. Read more.
- Oncorus, a Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech developing virus therapies for solid tumors, filed to raise $86 million. The firm posted a loss of $35 million in 2019. MPM Capital, UBS Oncology Impact Fund, and Deerfield Management Company back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “ONCR.” Read more.
- The Cambridge, MA-based company was founded in 2015 and plans to list on the Nasdaq under the symbol ONCR
- TWC Tech Holdings II, a blank check company formed to acquire a tech business, raised $525 million. True Wind Capital formed the company. Read more.
- Altimeter Growth Corp., a blank check company formed by Altimeter Capital to seek out a tech acquisition, filed to raise $450 million. Altimeter founder Brad Gerstner leads the firm. Read more.
- Ribbit LEAP, a blank check company formed to acquire a fintech business, raised $350 million. Created by Ribbit Capital, Ribbit founder Meyer Malka leads the SPAC. Read more.
- Qell Acquisition, a blank check company formed by PIMCO to seek out a sustainable tech business, filed to raise $300 million. A former senior executive at General Motors, Barry Engle, leads the firm. Read more.
- Broadstone Acquisition, a blank check company formed to acquire a business in the U.K. or Europe, raised $300 million. Sun Capital Partners created the fund. Read more.
- Delwinds Insurance Acquisition, a blank check company seeking an acquisition in the insurance industry, filed to raise up to $200 million. The Gray Insurance Company formed the venture and an investment consultant at the firm, Andrew Poole, will lead Delwinds. Read more.
- Jupiter Acquisition Corp., a blank check led by former Sunglass Hut International CEO James Hauslein, has postponed a $230 million IPO, per Bloomberg. Read more.
- Conductive Ventures, a California-based venture firm focused on enterprise software and hardware, closed its second fund with $150 million.
- Greenfield Partners, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based investment firm, raised $150 million for its fund.
- HGGC, a middle-market private equity firm, promoted Peter Cozzi and Hao Qin to vice president; Patrick Malanga to senior associate, and added Victor Rudo as a vice president.
- Eurazeo, a Paris-based investment firm, named Eric Sondag as a managing director.