Forget A.I., cybersecurity is the new buzzword

January 15, 2021, 3:53 PM UTC

Bitcoin may be all the hype this year, having soared far beyond its 2017 high and minted new millionaires with a $40,000 price tag.

But bankers and dealmaking executives anticipated that the biggest acquisitions will be based around cybersecurity rather than cryptocurrency or the big buzzword of last year, A.I.

About 85% of the 89 surveyed by 451 Research, a division of S&P Global Market Intelligence, say they believe “information security” has become more important to the “acquirers’ strategic goals over the past 12 months”—beating out A.I., which had become more important the year prior.

It might run only in the background on a good day, but cybersecurity has been propelled to the forefront in 2021 as many businesses have been forced online. Last year provided one of the most chilling warnings of digital espionage when a swath of U.S. federal agencies and private companies were breached. At the center of it all was the little-known software company SolarWinds. Even now, investigators are still trying to assess the full extent of the damage, widely thought to have Russia’s fingerprints smudged over it.

Dealmakers, though, are the most bullish they have been in seven years around the M&A landscape. Around 75% of the survey respondents say they expect an increase in acquisitions. 

But investors and bankers largely don’t anticipate an increase in valuations, with 35% saying they expect that number to rise. The rationale is likely twofold here: Many expect tech valuations to come back to earth. Secondly, while markets paint tech with a widely optimistic brush, some companies—including those exposed to travel—have struggled in the pandemic and, though they may become prime acquisition targets, will likely have to sell at a lower price.

THE IPO LOVE CONTINUES: While the S&P 500 swooned yesterday, investors continued to pile into IPOs. Poshmark, an online marketplace for second-hand clothing, jumped 141%. And private equity-backed pet goods company Petco rose 63% in its return to the public markets


- Paytm, an Indian payments firm, is reportedly in talks to raise $400 million from UBS, per Bloomberg. Read more.

- OneWeb, a London-based low-orbit satellite communications company saved from bankruptcy by U.K. government and Bharti Global, raised $350 million in funding. SoftBank Group and Hughes Network Systems were the investors.

- Sequoia Capital acquired secondary shares in Zapier, an enterprise software company, valuing it at $4 billion, per the Information. Read more.

- NewAmsterdam Pharma,  a Netherlands-based clinical stage company focused on cardio-metabolic diseases, raised $196 million in Series A funding. Forbion led the round and was joined by investors including Morningside Ventures, Ascendant BioCapital, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, BVF Partners, Population Health Partners, LSP Dementia Fund, Peter Thiel, Janus Henderson Investors, Medpace, GL Capital, JVC Investment Partners, and Presight Capita.

- Paige, a New York-based diagnostics company, raised $100 million in Series C funding. Casdin Capital and Johnson & Johnson Innovation led the round.

- Harness, a San Francisco-based maker of software for engineers, raised $85 million in Series C funding valuing it at $1.7 billion valuation. Alkeon Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Battery Ventures, Citi Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Sorenson Capital, and Thomvest Ventures. Read more.

- Oqton, a U.S.- and Belgium-based software company for the manufacturing industry, raised $40 million in Series A funding. Fortino Capital led the round and was joined by investors including PMV and Sandvik.

- Shippeo, a Paris-based logistics tech company, raised $32 million. Battery Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including NGP Capital, ETF Partners, Partech, and Bpifrance Digital Venture.

- Jellyfish, a Boston-based platform for engineers, raised $31.5 million in Series B funding. Insight Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Accel and Wing Venture Capital.

- Mosaic, an Encinitas, Calif.-based business analytics software maker, raised $18.5 million in Series A funding. General Catalyst led the round.

- Flockjay, a San Francisco, Calif.-based training academy for tech sales people, raised $11 million in Series A funding. led the round and was joined by investors including Lightspeed, Salesforce Ventures, Impact America, Cleo Capital, actress Gabrielle Union, Coatue, Serena Williams, and Will Smith. 

- X1 Card, a San Francisco-based maker of a credit card, raised $12 million. Spark Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Jared Leto, Aaron Levie, Jeremy Stoppelman, Max Levchin, and Ali Rowghani. Read more.

- Armoire, a Seattle-based clothing rental company, raised $7.4 million in extended seed funding. Investors include Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Aman Bhutani of GoDaddy, Elena Donio of Axiom, Jared Sine of the Match Group, and Sheila Gulati of Tola Capital. 

- Fable, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based social media app for book lovers founded by former NIO CEO Padmasree Warrior, raised $7.3 million in seed funding. Redpoint Ventures led the round. Read more.

- CodeScene, a Swedish maker of organization monitoring software, raised 30 million Swedish kronor ($3.6 million) from Inventure and Luminar Ventures. 

- Solstice Power Technologies, a Cambridge, Mass.-based solar power tech company, raised $3.1 million. Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact.

- Humanz, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based company focused on marketing for influencer campaigns, raised $3 million in seed funding. NGN Partners and Buffett Group led the round.

- BlaBla, a Shanghai-based english teaching video platform, raised $1.5 million in seed funding. Investors include Amino Capital, Starling Ventures, Y Combinator, and Wayra X. Read more.


- TPG invested $500 million in Greenhouse, a New York-based HR software company, taking a majority stake in the business. 

- Charlesbank invested $50 million in Healthcare Fraud Shield, a Chesterfield, Mo.-based waste detection software for healthcare payers. 

- AmeriLife Group, backed by Thomas H. Lee Partners, acquired Senior Market Advisors, a Nashville, Tenn.-based operator in the insurance space. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Atlantic Street Capital invested in Tambourine, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based digital marketing company for the hospitality industry. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Atlantic Street Capital combined StratX IT Solutions and Compufit, two White Plains, N.Y.-based providers of outsourced IT services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Core BTS, backed by Tailwind Capital, acquired Skyline Technologies, a New Jersey-based consulting firm specializing in Microsoft cloud consulting. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Hanover Partners and Centerfield Capital Partners acquired Ska Fabricating, a Durango, Colo.-based maker of packaging machinery equipment used predominantly in beverage canning lines. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Huron Capital recapitalized Sunland Asphalt & Construction, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based asphalt producer and paving solutions provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Global HR Research, a portfolio company of Renovo Capital, merged with Employment Screening Services, a provider of background screenings. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- LightBay Capital invested in Femwell Group Health, a Miami, Fla.-based services organization to physicians in women’s health, primary and pediatric care. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Periscope Equity invested in Welfare & Pension Administration Service, a Seattle-based administrator to Taft-Hartley and government trust funds. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Teachers of Tomorrow, backed by Gauge Capital, acquired SimpleK12, a Florida-based professional development platform for educators. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- TowerBrook Capital Partners and Further Global Capital Management acquired ProSight Global (NYSE: PROS), a U.S.-based insurance company, for about $586 million.

- Trinity Consultants, a portfolio company of Levine Leichtman Capital Partners, acquired SESPE Consulting, a Ventura, Calif.-based provider of environmental compliance and permitting services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Jabil (NYSE: JBL) acquired Ecologic Brands, a Manteca, Calif.-based maker of sustainable packaging specializing in paper bottle and paper-based packaging solutions. Investors including DBL Partners and Catamount Ventures backed Ecologic, per Pitchbook. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Acacia Communications (NASDAQ: ACIA) came to an agreement after the latter sought to terminate the deal last week. Cisco agreed to buy Acacia for about $4.5 billion. Read more.

- Google (finally) closed its deal to acquire FitBit, the U.S.-based wearable tech company, for $2.1 billion. The U.S. Justice Department is still investigating the deal.

- Toronto-Dominion Bank agreed to acquire Wells Fargo & Co’s Canadian Direct Equipment Finance business, which provides loans to commercial equipment acquisitions. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Accolade (Nasdaq: ACCD) agreed to acquire 2nd.MD, a Houston-based telehealth startup, for about $460 million.

- Desktop Metal (NYSE: DM) acquired EnvisionTEC, a provider of volume production photopolymer 3D printing, for $300 million.

- Barilla took a majority stake in Pasta Evangelists, a British pasta company, for an estimated 40 million pounds ($54.8 million). Read more.

- Fitch Group agreed to acquire CreditSights, a New York-based provider of credit research to the global financial community. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- DriveWealth, backed by investors including the Raptor Group, acquired Cuttone & Company, a New York-based broker dealer. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Target RWE acquired NoviSci, a software analytics and services company for  health data. Amgen, which backed NoviSci, will maintain a stake in the combined company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Kuaishou Technology, a quick video app rivaling ByteDance, received approval in Hong Kong for its $5 billion listing plans, per Bloomberg. Read more.

- Patria Investments, a Brazilian private equity firm, plans to raise $400 million in an offering of 26.7 million shares (38% insider sold) priced between $14 to $16. Blackstone backs the firm. Read more.

- Playtika Holding Corp., an Israel-based gaming company, raised nearly $19 billion in an offering of 69.5 million shares (70% insider sold) priced at $27 apiece. 

- Driven Brands Holdings, a Charlotte, N.C.-based automotive services company, raised $700 million in an offering of 31.8 million shares priced at $22. Roark Capital backs the firm.


- Tilman Fertitta is in talks to take his casinos and restaurants public through a merger with Fast Acquisition Corp., a SPAC, per Bloomberg. A deal could value the entity at $7 billion. Read more.

- Thoma Bravo Advantage, a SPAC by Thoma Bravo seeking a software business, raised $900 million.

- Gemini Trust Co., a New York-based cryptocurrency firm, is considering going public. Read more.

- CC Neuberger Principal Holdings III, a SPAC formed by CC Capital and Neuberger Berman, filed to raise $350 million. Read more

- Queen's Gambit Growth Capital,  a SPAC formed by Colle Capital and Agility Logistics, raised the amount it plans to raise to $275 million. Read more.

- Kernel Group Holdings, a SPAC seeking a technology infrastructure target founded in part by former Supervalu CEO Mark Gross, filed to raise $250 million. Read more.

- Jack Creek Investment Corp., a SPAC formed by KSH Capital seeking a target in the food and grocery supply chain, lowered its IPO estimates and now seeks to raise $250 million. Read more.


- Tiger Global Management, a New York-based investing firm, is seeking to raise $3.75 billion venture fund for a new venture fund dubbed Tiger Private Investment Partners XIV. Read more.

- Audax Private Equity, a Boston-based private equity firm raised $1.7 billion for its first continuation fund.


- Värde Partners, a Minneapolis-based alternative investment firm, promoted  Brendan Albee to partner.

- Sandbox Industries, a Chicago-based venture firm, named Kelsey Maguire and Binoy Bhansali as managing directors.

- J.F. Lehman & Company, New York-based private equity firm focused exclusively on the aerospace, defense, maritime, government and environmental sectors, promoted William J. Hanenberg and Michael S. Friedman to managing director; Nicole Kim to vice president; and Tyler W. Creamer, Alfred E. Johansen, and Luke T. Zabinski to senior associate. 

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