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The biggest unicorn in Europe

January 12, 2021, 3:38 PM UTC

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Nothing says this place is popping more than millions of dollars in a round for a 🦄.

While Europe was previously considered a dreary place for startup creation, the impression has changed in recent years. Venture capital firms have since zoned in on the area, putting billions of dollars into the continent: In September, Swedish fintech Klarna $650 million at a $10.6 billion valuation. Venture capital firm Sequoia in November revealed a push into Europe, and London-based virtual events startup Hopin raised at a $2.1 billion valuation that same month.

Adding to that list? London-based payments and fraud prevention company Checkout.com. On Tuesday, the startup announced it had raised some $450 million in Series C funding led by Tiger Global Management. Greenoaks Capital, DST Global, Coatue Management, Blossom Capital, Endeavor Catalyst, and Singapore’s Sovereign Wealth Fund GIC also invested.

The funding round propels its valuation to $15 billion, making it the most valuable unicorn in Europe above both Klarna and U.K.-based Global Switch, based on CBInsights data.

The raise highlights a recent theme: payments. Forced online, retailers and businesses have fueled an explosion in contactless payments around the world. The same trend has also emphasized the need for all the related protections, including fraud prevention.

Meanwhile, a buzzy buy-now-pay-later startup in the U.S., Affirm, is expected to begin trading Wednesday. The company has said that it plans to raise as much as $1.8 billion, pricing shares at about $41 to $44 a piece, up from a previous $33 to $38 range. At that range, Affirm would be valued at over $10 billion, exceeding its last private market valuation of $5.5 billion.

The BIGGEST U.S. EMPLOYER SEEKS TO MAKE A FINTECH: Late Monday, Walmart announced the launch of a fintech startup with Ribbit Capital, a venture capital firm well-known in the fintech space. But the duo was rather vague on the details. According to a press release, the startup is “designed to develop and offer modern, innovative and affordable financial solutions,” and CNBC says it is aimed at customers and employees—which is fabulous. Fantastic. And the same mission statement of many a fintech.

That said, the union will be one to watch. Walmart has enormous scale, being the biggest employer in the U.S. and was the largest company by revenue in 2020 (beating out even Amazon). Ribbit, while rather quiet to the press, is a name heard loud and clear with bets in Robinhood, Affirm, and Coinbase.

This partnership also comes after Walmart sought to launch a bid with Microsoft for a piece of TikTok in the summer in a move that could have bolstered its e-commerce chops among young shoppers. TikTok ultimately decided on a deal with Oracle to avoid a ban by President Donald Trump.

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

VENTURE DEALS

- Tessera Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based early-stage life sciences company founded by Flagship Pioneering, raised over $230 million in Series B funding. Investors included Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, Altitude Life Science Ventures, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, and Qatar Investment Authority.

- Cockroach Labs, a New York-based maker of a cloud database, raised $160 million in Series E funding, valuing it at $2 billion. Altimeter Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Greenoaks, Lone Pine, Benchmark, Bond, FirstMark, GV, Index Ventures, and Tiger Global.

- Enfusion, a New York-based investment management tech company, raised $150 million from ICONIQ Growth, valuing it at $1.5 billion.

- Atalanta Therapeutics, a Boston, Mass.-based biotech focused on neurodegenerative diseases, raised $110 million in Series A funding. F-Prime Capital was the investor.

- Workato, a Mountain View, Calif.-based automation company, raised $110 million in Series D funding. Altimeter Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Insight Partners.

- CLARK, a German insurtech, raised €69 million ($84 million) in Series C funding. Tencent led and was joined by investors including Portag3 Ventures, White Star Capital, and Yabeo.

- Gro Intelligence, a New York-based agricultural data company,  raised $85 million in Series B funding. Intel Capital and  Africa Internet Ventures (a strategic partnership between TPG Growth and EchoVC) led the round and were joined by the the family offices of Ronald Lauder and Eric Zinterhofer.

- M-Files, a Plano, Tx.-based  information management company, raised $80 million (€67 million). Bregal Milestone led the round and was joined by investors including Partech, Tesi, and Draper Esprit.

- Open Farm, a Toronto, Calif.-based premium pet food brand, raised $65 million. General Atlantic led the round and was joined by investors including Encore Consumer Capital.

- Relay Payments, an Atlanta-based payments startup. Addition’s Lee Fixel led the round and was joined by investors including Ribbit Capital and Spark Capital.

- Jobber, a Canadian maker of home service management software, raised $60 million. Summit Partners led the round and was joined by investors including OMERS Ventures, Version One Ventures, and Tech Pioneers Fund.

- NuProbe, a Houston, Shanghai, and Suzhou-based genomics and molecular diagnostics company, raised $42 million. BioTrack Capital and Yonghua Capital led the round and were joined by Taifu Capital, Panlin Capital, Juming Capital, Tuobang Capital, Sequoia Capital China, Ruomu Capital, and Serica Partners.

- airSlate, a Boston-based business automation company, raised an additional $40 million. Investors included Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, General Catalyst, and HighSage Ventures.

- Cortilia, an Italy-based based e-commerce fresh food company,  raised €34 million ($41 million) in Series C funding. Red Circle Investments led the round. 

- Reggora, a Boston-based real estate appraisal software company, raised $30 million in Series B funding. Spark Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Boston Seed and 1984. New investors included Shine Capital and Greenpoint Partners.

- Sensei Biotherapeutics, a Boston-based cancer therapies company, raised $30 million from investors including Uma Thurman and Steve Jurveston. Read more.

- JumpCloud, Denver, Colo.-based identity access company, raised another $25 million to its $100 million in Series E funding. BlackRock led the round and was joined by investors including H.I.G. Growth Partners, OurCrowd, and General Atlantic. 

- Outer, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based direct-to-consumer outdoor furniture brand, raised $10.5 million in Series A funding. Sequoia Capital China led the round.

- Muniq, a Los Angeles, Calif.-based maker of weight loss shakes, raised $8.2 million in Series A funding.  Investors included Alpha Edison, Acre Venture Partners, former NBA all-star Baron Davis, and SimplyProtein founder Cathy Richards. 

- VComply, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based governance and risk software maker, raised $6 million om Series A in funding from Counterpart Ventures and Accel.

- Lora DiCarlo, a Bend, Ore.-based sextech company, raised $3.5 million. Republic Labs led the round and was joined by investors including Romulus Capital, VU fund, River Bend Capital, Gaingels, and actress Cara Delevingne.

- Sprockets, a Charleston, S.C.-based software maker for hourly workforces, raised $3.4 million. Lytical Ventures led the round.

- Red Kubes, a Netherlands-based software deployment solution, raised $1.5 million in  seed funding from Capital Mills. 

PRIVATE EQUITY

- Global Infrastructure Partners offered to acquire Signature Aviation, a U.K.-based aviation company, for $4.6 billion.

- Investors led by Insight Partners invested in Jedox, a German maker of software for financial planners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Oak Hill Capital Partners invested $20 million in Checkers Drive-In Restaurants, a Tampa, Fla.-based operator of drive-thru restaurants.

- Acacia Partners invested in Nations Roof, a provider of commercial roofing services.  Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Active Day,  a portfolio company of Audax Private Equity,  acquired  Community VNA, a Massachusetts-based provider of adult day health services, and Our Father’s House, an Ohio-based provider of adult day health services to those with developmental disabilities. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- ArchiMed acquired Zyto Group, a Germany-based group of companies that manufacture cancer diagnostics tests and equipment. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Central Logic, backed by Rubicon Technology Partners, acquired Acuity Link, a Boston, Mass.-based leading provider of communications and logistics software. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Crest Rock Partners made a majority investment in Webair Internet Development Company, a Garden City, N.Y.-based maker of data backup services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Hornetsecurity Group, backed by PSG, acquired Altaro, a Malta-based backup solutions provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Alpine Investors invested in Innovative Systems, a Mitchell, S.D.-based software maker for the telecommunications industry. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- GTCR acquired ZeptoMetrix Corporation, a Buffalo, N.Y.-based maker of products for nucleic acid testing within the diagnostic testing industry. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Littlejohn & Co. invested in Valcourt Building Services, a McLean, Va.-based provider of exterior building maintenance and repair services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- MiddleGround Capital acquired Attala Steel Industries, a Kosciusko, Ms.-based maker of steel foundation products for solar power projects. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Mountaingate Capital invested in BioDerm, a Largo, Fla.-based provider of disposable medical goods. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- ProAmpac, backed by Pritzker Private Capital, acquired Rapid Action Packaging, a U.K.-based maker of cellulose-based packaging products for freshly prepared foods. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- SK Capital Partners invested in Lacerta Group, a Mansfield, Mass.-based specialty thermoformed packaging maker. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Sixth Street Partners acquired a majority stake in Legends, a Los Angeles-based sports, entertainment, and events company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Smartronix, a portfolio company of OceanSound Partners, acquired Datastrong, a Fairfax, Va.-based maker of analytics solutions for government and commercial clients. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- TA Associates invested in OmniActive Health Technologies, a Mumbai, India and Morristown, N.J.-based provider of a nutraceutical ingredients. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- TriSpan invested in Prestige PEO Holdings, a Melville, N.Y.-based human resources services company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Spartronics, a portfolio company of One Equity Partners, acquired Primus Technologies Corp., a Williamsport, Penn.-based engineering, manufacturing, and testing services company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

EXITS

- Landpoint Holdings acquired Austin-based RJ Surveying & Associates and Randall Jones & Associates Engineering, a land surveyor, from Cotton Creek Capital. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

OTHER

- STERIS (NYSE: STE) agreed to acquire Cantel Medical Corp (NYSE: CMD), a provider of infection prevention products, for about $4.6 billion including debt.

- IHS Markit (NYSE: INFO), acquired Cappitech, an Israeli compliance technology provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Staples offered to acquire the parent company of Office Depot (Nasdaq: ODP), a Boca Raton, Fla.-based office supply company, in a deal valuing the company at $2.1 billion. Read more.

IPOs

- Dream Finders Homes, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based homebuilder, plans to raise $130 million in an offering of 9.6 million shares priced between $12 to $15. Boston Omaha backs the firm. Read more.

- LoanDepot, a Foothill Ranch, Calif.-based company making mortgages and unsecured personal loans, filed to raise $100 million. Parthenon Capital backs the firm. Read more.

- Dr. Martens, a U.K.-based shoemaker, is considering an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange. It is backed by Permira

SPACS

- Lucid Motors, a Newark, Calif.-based electric car company backed by Saudi Arabia’s PIF, in talks to go public through a merger a Michael Klein SPAC. A deal could value Lucid at $15 billion, per Bloomberg citing sources. Read more.

- Bakkt Holdings, the New York-based digital asset marketplace backedy by the Intercontinental Exchange, agreed to go public via merger with VPC Impact Acquisition Holdings (NASDAQ: VIH), a SPAC by Victory Park Capital, valuing the company at $2.1 billion.

- Proterra, a Burlingame, Calif.-based maker of electric busses, plans to go public via merger with ArcLight Clean Transition Corp., a SPAC, valuing it at $1.6 billion.

- Pontem Corp., a SPAC formed in part by former CNH Industrial CEO Hubertus Muehlhaeuser, says it plans to raise $500 million. Read more.

- Churchill Capital Corp VI, another SPAC formed by former Citi executive Michael Klein, filed to raise $400 million. Read more.

- Churchill Capital Corp VII, a SPAC formed by former Citi executive Michael Klein, filed to raise $300 million. Read more. Read more.

- Athlon Acquisition, a SPAC formed by Causeway Media Partners seeking a wellness and fitness  tie-up, raised $240 million. Read more.

- Adit EdTech Acquisition, a SPAC seeking an education tie-up formed by Adit Ventures, raised $240 million by offering. Read more.

- View, a Milpitas, Calif.-based smart window company that agreed to go public via merger with CF Finance Acquisition Corp. II, a Cantor Fitzgerald SPAC, will receive another $200 million in funding from GIC.

F+FS

- Glilot Capital Partners, an Israeli early-stage venture capital firm, launched a $170 Million Growth Fund dubbed Glilot+.

PEOPLE

- Blackstone (NYSE:BX), the New York-based private equity firm, named Joe Dowling, former CEO of Brown University’s Investment Office, as a global co-head of Blackstone Alternative Asset Management alongside John McCormick. Dowling will oversee BAAM’s investment activities.

- Techstars, a Boulder, Colo.-based accelerator, named Maëlle Gavet as CEO. She was previously COO at Compass.

- Partech, the Paris-based venture fund, promoted Boris Golden to partner.

- Madrona Venture Group, a Seattle-based firm, promoted Anu Sharma and Daniel Li to partners.

- M/C Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm, promoted Ryan Carr, Abhishek Rampuria, and Julia Senior to partner. It also promoted Arvind Viswanathan to senior associate.  

- Act One Ventures, a Los Angeles-based venture capital firm, promoted Alejandro Guerrero to general partner.