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Elon Musk quizzes Robinhood’s Vlad Tenev in a Clubhouse conversation

February 1, 2021, 4:23 PM UTC

Good morning. It’s a chilly start to February here in New York, where an extreme nor’easter is expected to dump a foot of snow on the city as temperatures hover in the upper 20s.

Similarly, the maelstrom around Robinhood and the so-called memestocks (ahem, GameStop) continued swirling over the weekend. 

The stock trading app has drawn criticism and (unproven) accusations of collusion with institutional investors over its pausing the buying of shares in companies including GameStop and AMC last week. And in what felt like a bizarre collision of some multiverse, Tesla CEO Elon Musk spoke with Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev on Clubhouse late Sunday over Robinhood’s decision.

It started out as a Good Time show interview of Musk himself, though Tenev’s entry soon turned Musk into the interviewer. “Did something shady go down here?” the Tesla CEO asked at one point. 

Tenev denied any shadiness and, when asked why Robinhood had paused buying, blamed his clearinghouse, the National Securities Clearing Corp., for ramping up its needed collateral to about $3 billion due to greater volatility and concentration in certain securities. That number was later negotiated down, Tenev said, to about $1.4 billion.

Musk also asked about Robinhood’s relationship to the market maker Citadel Securities. In a precursor to what will likely be his response to Washington’s scrutiny of the connection, Tenev responded: “There was a rumor that Citadel and other market makers pressured us. And that’s just false.”

It’s been a struggle to find precision in the meteorological forecasts: National and local news sites suggested anything between four inches to nearly twenty-two feet of snow. It’s also hard to guess how the blustery winds from both public opinion and Congress will impact Robinhood in the long term. 

But for now, in the many stages of this GameStop saga, Clubhouse and its big investor—Andreessen Horowitz—are certainly feeling the wind in their sails. The interview of Musk and subsequent conversation with Tenev brought in the crowds (no matter if it was, to an extent, planned): It quickly hit over 5,000 listeners on Clubhouse (the cap) and garnered over 121,000 views on this one livestream alone.

A16z led both Clubhouse’s Series A and B and is trying to build out its own media empire. The most recent Clubhouse conversation shows a glimpse of not only the app’s potential, but also the venture firm’s strategy for building it out.
FORTUNE’S LEADERSHIP NEXT: The Leadership Next podcast kicks off a new season with important discussions around Black Americans and work. Last week’s show featured David Craig, the CEO of data company Refinitiv. Refinitiv is a partner in a new Fortune initiative, Measure Up, which pushes companies to track, report and disclose their employee diversity numbers. While many companies proclaim the importance of corporate diversity and inclusion, very few actually report their progress towards meeting DEI goals. Listen to the podcast here and join the effort here.

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

VENTURE DEALS

- Rockley Photonics, an Oxford, U.K. and Pasadena, Calif.-based optics solutions provider, raised $65 million. Investors include Morningside Ventures.

- Weights and Biases, a San Francisco, Calif.-based maker way to track the building of machine learning models and operations, raised $45 million in Series B funding. Insight Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Coatue, Trinity Ventures, and Bloomberg Beta

- Vulog, a France-based maker of tech for car-sharing and rental services, raised $31 million in funding. Investors include European Investment Bank, Frog Capital, ETF Partners, Inven Capital, and BpiFrance.

- Physna, a Cincinnati-based 3D search company using deep learning, raised $20 million in Series B funding. Sequoia Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Drive Capital.

- Chefclub, a French recipe startup, raised $17 million. First Bridge Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including SEB Alliance, Korelya Capital, and Algaé Ventures. Read more.

- Cellino, a Cambridge, Mass.-based personalized regenerative medicine company, raised $16 million in seed funding. The Engine and Khosla Ventures led the round and were joined by investors including Humboldt Fund and 8VC.

- DesignCrowd, an Australian design company, raised $10 million. Investors included Perennial Value Management, Alium Capital, Ellerston Capital, Regal Funds Management, and CVC

- Zadar Labs, a San Jose, Calif.-based maker of radars for autonomous driving systems, raised $5.6 million in seed funding. Tim Kentley Klay (founder of Zoox) led the round and was joined by investors including Leslie Ventures, Jeff Rothschild, Plug and Play, and Mentors Fund.

- Learn To Win, a San Francisco-based mobile-first learning platform, raised $4 million in seed funding. Norwest Venture Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Pear VC and the 20|20 Fund.

- Axela Technologies, a Miami-based platform for the homeowner association industry, raised $4 million in Series A funding. Blueprint Equity led the round.

- Pocket Worlds, a San Francisco-based social gaming company, raised $7 million in Series A funding. BITKRAFT Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Everblue Management, GFR Fund, Sweet Capital, BoxGroup, and Oliver Miao.

- Sirenum, a London-based platform for managing a shift-based workforce, raised $2.7 million in Series A funding. Investors included former Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy and the William Currie Group. Read more.

- Ben, a London-based employee benefits company, raised $2.5 million. Cherry Ventures and Seedcamp led the round.

- Careerist, a Mountain View, Calif.-based career development platform, raised $1.3 million in seed funding valuing it at about $21 million. IIDF and Bogdan Iarovoi participated.

- Firehawk Aerospace, a Melbourne, Fla.-based rocket fuel startup, raised has an additional $1.2 million to its seed round. Investors include Harlow Capital Management.

 

PRIVATE EQUITY

- TPG is selling an over 10% of Novotech,  an Australian clinical research and testing provider. A deal values the company at over $2.3 billion. Read more.

- Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe will invest up to $250 million in strategic partnership with Kiniciti. Kiniciti will invest in non-therapeutic companies supporting cell and gene therapy. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Catabasis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:CATB) acquired Quellis - Biosciences, a Boston-based biopharmaceutical company focused on rare diseases backed by Perceptive Advisors. Perceptive will also invest in Catabasis. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Corza Health, backed by GTCR, acquired Surgical Specialties Corporation and the TachoSil Fibrin Sealant Patch, two surgical goods providers, to form Corza Medical. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Hancock Natural Resource Group, a portfolio company of Manulife Investment Management, acquired David Del Curto, a Chilean fruit production, packing and export company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- L Catterton has joined CVC Capital Partners in the competition for Birkenstock, the German shoemaker, per Bloomberg. Read more.

- Norwest Equity Partners made a “significant investment” in recteq, a seller of pellet grills, accessories, and other consumable products.​ Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Platinum Equity acquired Marston’s (LOND: PUB), a British pub operator. Read more.

- Priority Power Management, backed by Ara Partners, acquired Satori Energy Solutions, a Chicago-based energy services company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Redwood Services, backed by Union Main Group, acquired Rite Way Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, an Arizona-based residential HVAC company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Susquehanna Growth Equity took a minority interest in Board Intelligence, a London-based provider of software and services to corporate board. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

 

EXITS

- Vitruvian Partners will acquire a majority stake in Expereo, an Amsterdam-based provider of managed internet and cloud access, from Apax Partners. Apax will remain a minority stakeholder. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

 

OTHERS

- Three units of HNA, the Chinese conglomerate, said nearly $10 billion had been embezzled by shareholders. HNA is also working on selling its non-Aviation assets amid a restructuring. Read more.

- H.I.G. Capital agreed to invest $225 million in eHealth (NASDAQ: EHTH), an operator of a health insurance marketplace.

- Playboy Enterprises is in talks to acquire TLA Acquisition, an Auburn, Wash.-based parent company of a sexual wellness chain, per Reuters in a deal that would value it at around $25 million. Read more.

- Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX), two oil giants, spoke about combining last year amid the pandemic,  per the Wall Street Journal, citing sources. Read more.

- Goldman Sachs increased its stake in MONETA Money Bank, a Czech-based bank, from just over 3% to about 10.5%. Read more.

- The U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority’s is looking into whether Uber’s deal to acquire Autocab, a U.K.-based provider of taxi booking and dispatch software maker, is anticompetitive. Read more.

 

IPOS

- Kuaishou Technology, a Chinese operator of a short-form video app,raised HK$42 billion ($5.4 billion) in its Hong Kong IPO. Investors include Tencent. Read more.

- Monde Nissin, a Philippines-based noodle company, is weighing an IPO in the country that would raise as much as $1 billion, per Bloomberg. CVC Capital backs the firm. Read more.

- The Honest Co., a Los Angeles-based baby and beauty products company backed by Jessica Alba, is preparing for an IPO, per Bloomberg citing sources. Its investors include L Catterton. Read more.

 

SPACS

- Microvast, a Houston-based battery producer for electric cars, plans to merge with Tuscan Holdings, a SPAC co-sponsored by InterPrivate Capital. The deal values the business at $3 billion. 

- Wheels Up Partners, a New York-based private jet company, agreed to go public via merger with Aspirational Consumer Lifestyle, a SPAC valuing it at about $2.1 billion. L Catterton will be a minority shareholder.

- Nerdy, an edtech company, plans to go public via merger with TPG Pace Tech Opportunities (NYSE: PACE), a SPAC. A deal would value the firm at $1.7 billion. The deal also includes $150 million in PIPE financing from investors including Franklin Templeton, Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, Koch Industries, and Learn Capital.

- Nexters Global, a Cyprus-based mobile and social game developer, agreed to go public via merger with Kismet Acquisition One, a SPAC. The deal values it at $1.9 billion.

- Longview Acquisition II, a SPAC from executives at Glenview Capital seeking a healthcare target, filed to raise $500 million. Read more.

- Peridot Acquisition II, a SPAC formed by Carnelian Energy Capital seeking an environmental target, filed to raise $300 million. Read more.

- CF Acquisition VI, a SPAC formed by Cantor Fitzgerald, filed to raised $300 million.  Read more.

- LDH Growth I, a SPAC backed by SoftBank COO Marcelo Claure, plans to raise $200 million. Read more.

- Metromile, a San Francisco-based pay-per-mile auto insurer, plans to go public via merger with a SPAC, has raised $50 million from Saltwater Capital. Metromile previously agreed to go public via merger with INSU Acquisition, valuing it around $1.3 billion.

- Ensysce Biosciences, a biotech, agreed to go public via merger with Leisure Acquisition a SPAC, valuing it at $207 million.

 

F+FS

- KKR, the private equity firm, plans to raise $15 billion or more for its 13th private equity fund focused on North America, per Reuters citing sources. Read more.

 

PEOPLE

- Patient Square Capital, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based health care investment firm, named Alex Albert and Neel Varshney as founding partners. Albert was previously a partner and co-head of private equity healthcare at Ares Management. Varshney was most recently a managing director at KKR.