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How MessageBird became a tricorn

October 8, 2020, 2:35 PM UTC

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These names have been the center of the conversation in pandemic investing: Zoom and Shopify.

More recently, another name has also made it into the pandemic vocabulary: Twilio. The email-marketing and customer-service company was valued at about $15 billion a year ago. Now, it’s worth $46 billion as investors bet that droves of businesses will turn to technology to communicate with customers.

That thinking has now taken MessageBird, a Dutch competitor of Twilio, to unicorn status. On Thursday, the company revealed that it had raised $200 million in funding led by Spark Capital—pushing its valuation to $3 billion.

“Our perspective is this area [of customer engagement] is so large and important that the company is well-positioned to have a critical role, no matter what it looks like,” says Spark Capital Partner Will Reed, who led the investment in MessageBird. “Twilio has executed extremely well in the U.S. market. What got us so excited is the strength of MessageBird for the rest of the world.”

Spark Capital has led mega rounds before (a $200 million in Niantic among them), but this is the firm’s largest first check to a company. Even though Reed has been tracking the company for years, it was an especially competitive deal as “the growth investing landscape is hot, and this category is hot,” he says. 

Read more.

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

VENTURE DEALS

- Instacart, a San Francisco-based grocery delivery company, raised $200 million in funding. Valiant Peregrine Fund and D1 Capital Partners led the round. The funding values the firm at over $17.7 billion.

- Redaptive, a San Francisco-based company focused on utility efficiency, raised $156.5 million in funding. CarVal Investors led the round and was joined by investors including CBRE, Engie New Ventures, Evergy Ventures and Linse Capital.

- Avail Medsystems, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based company focused on telemedicine for the procedure room, raised $100 million in Series B funding led by D1 Capital Partners and was joined by investors including 8VC.

- Neocis, a Miami-based maker of a robotics device for assisting dental implant surgery, raised $72 million in Series D funding. DFJ Growth led the round and was joined by investors including Vivo Capital, Mithril Capital Management, Norwest Venture Partners, Section 32, and Fred Moll. 

- TigerConnect, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based healthcare collaboration company, raised $45 million in Series D funding. HealthQuest Capital led the round and was joined by investors including New Leaf Ventures, Montreux Growth Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, Invus and Industry Ventures. 

- Observe Inc., a San Mateo, Calif.-based maker of an application and infrastructure monitoring company, raised $35 million in Series A and debt funding. Sutter Hill Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Michael Dell, Frank Slootman and Scott Dietzen.

- Mmhmm, a San Francisco-based startup for video presentations founded by former Evernote CEO Phil Libin raised $31 million in funding. Sequoia Capital led the round.

- Point Pickup Technologies, a Greenwich, Conn.-based last-mile delivery company, raised $30 million in funding. BBH Capital Partners led the round.

- Grid, a New York-based company for training A.I. models, raised $18.6 million in Series A funding. Index Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Bain Capital Ventures and Firstminute.

- Winningtemp, a Swedish employee engagement startup, raised €15.1 million in Series B funding. Frog Capital and Bonnier Ventures led the round.

- Joko, a French cashback app, raised €10 million ($12 million) in Series A funding. Partech and Axeleo led the round.

- Dispo, a Los Angeles-based disposable camera app and social network, raised $4 million in seed funding. Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six led the round and was joined by investors including Unshackled Ventures, Shrug Capital, and Weekend Fund. 

- Shipa, Corp, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based maker of an application management framework, raised $3.8 million in seed funding. Engineering Capital and Jump Capital led the round.

- Gitpod, a Kiel, Germany-based open source developer platform, raised $3 million in seed funding. Investors included Crane Venture Partners, Speedinvest, and Vertex Ventures US.

- Exer Labs, a Denver, Colo.-based fitness startup with a motion coaching apps, raised $2 million in seed funding. Investors include GGV, Jerry Yang's AME Cloud Ventures, Morado Ventures, Range VC, Service Provider Capital, Shatter Fund, Mike and Albert Lee (MyFitnessPal co-founders), Signia Venture Partners, and David Ko (former Zynga COO). 

PRIVATE EQUITY

- Altacrest Capital acquired a controlling interest in Big Dot of Happiness, a Menomonie, Wis.-based online seller of designer party supplies and lifestyle collections. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Copley Equity Partners completed an investment to recapitalize, and facilitate the merger of, Aethon Aerial Solutions and Flight Evolved, two aerial inspection companies. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- H.I.G. Capital acquired Hart & Cooley, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based manufacturer of HVAC and air distribution products. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Sole Source Capital acquired Dallas Plastics, a Mesquite, Texas-based manufacturer of blown polyethylene film with printing and embossing for the medical, food, and industrial end markets. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Vector Capital agreed to acquire MarkLogic Corporation, a provider of enterprise data management solutions. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Brook & Whittle, a portfolio company of Snow Phipps Group, agreed to acquire Innovative Labeling Solutions and Wizard Labels, two labelling companies. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Mercer Global Advisors, backed by Oak Hill Capital and Genstar Capital, acquired Personal  Financial Advisors, a Covington, La.-based investment management firm. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Veeam, backed by Insight Partners, acquired Kasten, a Los Altos, Calif.-based backup and recovery company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Breakups and bankruptcies

- Ruby Tuesday, the American restaurant chain backed by NRD Capital, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

EXITS

- Onex acquired majority ownership of OneDigital, an advisory firm focused on delivering health, retirement/wealth and HR solutions for employers, from New Mountain Capital. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Pritzker Private Capital agreed to acquire Highline Aftermarket Holdings, a distributor of automotive aftermarket products that is majority owned by The Sterling Group and Warren Distribution. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

OTHERS

- IBM (NYSE: IBM) plans to spin off its managed infrastructure services business. 

- Rite Aid agreed to acquire Bartell Drugs, a Seattle-based pharmacy chain, for $95 million.

IPOs

- Lufax, the Chinese fintech lender, filed for an $100 million IPO. Ping An Group backs the firm. Read more.

- Leslie’s, Inc. a U.S. pool and spa care company, filed to raise $100 million in an IPO. L Catterton and GIC back the firm. Read more.

F+FS

- Greyrock Capital Group closed GCG Investors V with $280 million of committed capital. 

PEOPLE

- Magma Partners named Claire Díaz-Ortiz as a partner to focus on investments in South America.