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Atelier Ventures wants to bring more influencers and creators into venture capital

February 17, 2021, 3:22 PM UTC

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Happy Wednesday, Term Sheet readers.

Perhaps you’ve noticed a trend recently while reading through the deals section of this newsletter.

Social media stars are the new investors on the block. Just on Tuesday, YouTube star Logan Paul participated in a deal with the Chernin Group to raise $40 million for Goldin Auctions, a place for auctioning collectibles. In December, Charli D’Amelio participated in a round that raised $50 million for banking startup Step. And late last year, the TikTok stars known as the “Sway House Boys” invested in fintech Lendtable

Now a newly launched seed fund is hoping to bring even more creators into the venture capital space. 

On Monday, Atelier Ventures, a seed fund helmed by former Andreessen Horowitz Partner Li Jin, launched its $13 million debut fund. Having written extensively about this rising class effectively launching small businesses off of their own brands, Jin plans to be what she calls “the connective tissue” between creators and the broader venture industry.

“It used to be the case that creators were social capital rich but money poor—but they are now creating more capital to deploy. They are cognisant of the need to diversify their own financial lives because the algorithm could change at any moment,” she told Term Sheet over the phone Tuesday.

The story of Lendtable is a prime example of why startups may want influencers as investors: According to Business Insider, the Sway Boys invested just $7,500 in Lendtable—a small amount. But the social media stars’ promotion of the product on their accounts led to a notable spike in signups for the fintech.

As Jin puts it: “The startups that have recently pitched me, anecdotally, would rather have folks that are digitally native and have built their following on social media versus a traditional celebrity because TikTok is a huge goldmine for consumer companies.”

But bringing in more creators as investors is just a part of Atelier’s broader thesis. The newfangled fund plans to invest in areas that Jin dubs the “passion economy.” While that does encompass companies that help influencers make a living off their online fame (Atelier-backed Streamloots, for instance, allows viewers to buy interactions—such as playing a GIF on screen—from their favorite streamers), Atelier will seek to also invest in businesses that help artists, newsletter writers, and musicians looking to reach their audiences directly rather than through large publications or record labels. The “passion economy,” in contrast to the gig economy, allows creators to be their own boss and form a direct relationship with the customer.

In a very on-brand move, Jin made the announcement through a newsletter hosted on Substack, one of Atelier’s investments. Lenny’s Newsletter, written by Lenny Rachitsky, defines the passion economy as “an entirely new economic movement that empowers individuals over institutions.”

Take Atelier’s investment in Dumpling, a startup that is billed as a hopeful rival to Instacart. While consumers who use Instacart to deliver their groceries may have little connection to the gig worker who dropped off their goods, Dumpling seeks to make that worker the owner of their own grocery delivery service. And other venture capital investors have added millions of dollars to creator startups such as Patreon and Cameo.

Still, the question remains for consumer-focused startups as they bring in such creators as smaller investors: Fame comes and goes. What is the long-term value in having influencers as investors?

“If their relevance fades, then the question is what can they offer to startups if they are no longer famous? That is going to separate the best creator investors from the not-great investors,” says Jin.

So for now, you can dismiss the TikTokers and influencers all you want, but they are still coming to roost.

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

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified a company as Lootstream. The company is called Streamloots.

VENTURE DEALS

- OutSystems, a Lisbon-based application development platform, raised $150 million. Abdiel Capital and Tiger Global co-led the round, valuing the firm at $9.5 billion. 

- Locus Robotics, a Wilmington, Mass.-based warehouse robotics company, raised $150 million in Series E funding, valuing it at $1 billion. Tiger Global Management and BOND were the investors.

- Axiom Space, a Houston-based maker of a commercial space station, raised $130 million in Series B funding. C5 Capital led the round and was joined by investors including TQS Advisors, Declaration Partners, Moelis Dynasty Investments, Washington University in St. Louis, The Venture Collective, Aidennlair Capital, Hemisphere Ventures, and Starbridge Venture Capital.

- TigerGraph, a Redwood City, Calif.-based provider of a graph analytics platform, raised $105 million in Series C funding. Tiger Global led the round.

- Mainstay Medical Holdings, a Dublin, Ireland-based medical device company focused on a neurostimulation system for people with chronic lower back pain, raised $108 million. Ally Bridge Group and Sofinnova Partners led the round.

- Copado, a Chicago-based DevOps platform, raised $96 million in Series B funding. Insight Partners and Salesforce Ventures led the round.

- Red Canary, a Denver, Colo.-based provider of enterprise security solutions, raised $81 million in Series C funding. Summit Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Noro-Moseley Partners and Access Venture Partners.

- SeedFi, a San Francisco-based credit and savings startup, raised $15 million in Series A funding. Andreessen Horowitz led the round and was joined by investors including Flourish, Core Innovation Capital, and Quiet Capital

- VALOREO, a Mexico City-based acquirer of e-commerce businesses, raised $50 million in seed funding. Investors included  Upper90, FJ Labs, Angel Ventures, and Presight Capital.

- Ally.io, a Seattle-based maker of goal-setting software for businesses, raised $50 million in Series C funding. Greenoaks Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Tiger Global, Madrona Venture Group, Accel, Addition Ventures, Founders’ Co-Op, and Vulcan Capital. 

- Metropolis, a Los Angeles-based startup focused on valet parking, raised $41 million in Series A funding. 3L led the round and was joined by investors including Starwood Capital, Dick Costolo of 01 Advisors, Dragoneer, Slow Ventures, Zigg Capital, DivcoWest, RXR (Scott Rechler), and CEO of Sidewalk Labs Dan Doctoroff.

- Fictiv, a San Francisco-based precision manufacturing company, raised $35 million. 40 North Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Honeywell, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., Adit Ventures, and M20.

- Unybrands, a Miami-based acquirer of e-commerce businesses looking to scale on and off Amazon, raised $25 million. Investors included Nordstar, Dia Ventures, Nathan Blecharczyk of Airbnb, 166 2nd Financial Services, Day One Ventures, and Benvolio Group.

- Commsor, a New UYork-based platform for managing online communities, raised $16 million in funding. Felicis Ventures’ Niki Pezeshki and Seven Seven Six led the round.

- 1Kosmos, a Somerset, N.J.-based cybersecurity company for digital identity proofing and passwordless authentication, raised $15 million in Series A funding. ForgePoint Capital led the round.

- Zolve, a fintech, raised $15 million in seed funding. Accel and Lightspeed led the round and was joined by investors including Blume Ventures.

- Bev, a Los Angeles-based maker of alcoholic drinks, raised $14 million. It did not disclose the leading investor, though others included actresses Erin Foster, Sara Foster, and Abigail Spencer, as well as Founders Fund.

- Titan, a New York-based operating system for active investment management, raised $12.5 million in Series A funding. General Catalyst led the round and was joined by investors including Sound Ventures, Scribble VC, BoxGroup, Y Combinator, South Park Commons, Instagram founder Mike Krieger, Lee Fixel, Kevin Hartz, and Josh Reeves.

- Strata, a Boulder, Colo.-based multi-cloud identity management company, raised $11 million in Series A funding. Menlo Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including ForgePoint Capital.

- Edgybees, a Gaithersburg, Md.-based provider of geo-tagging and visual augmentation of aerial videos, raised $9.5 million in Series A funding. Seraphim Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Refinery Ventures, LG Technology Ventures, Kodem Growth Partners, OurCrowd, and Verizon Ventures.

- Krisp, a Berkeley-based noise removal app, raised $9 million in Series A-1 funding. RTP Global led the round.

- Mirato, a Tel Aviv-based provider of third-party risk management software, raised $9 million in funding. Grove Ventures and Janvest Capital Partners led the round and were joined by American Express Ventures and iAngels.

- Mundi, a New York-based trade fintech company, raised $7.8 million in seed funding. Base10 led the round and was joined by investors including FJ Labs.

- Ozette, a Seattle-based creator of a monitoring platform for healthcare therapies, raised $6 million in seed funding. Madrona Venture Group led the round and was joined by investors including Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Vulcan Capital. 

- Sh1ft, a San Francisco-based marketplace for blue collar jobs, raised $5.2 million in initial seed funding. City Light Capital and JAM Fund led the round.

- GoContractor, a New York-based construction worker onboarding and compliance tracking software maker, raised $5 million in Series A funding. Building Ventures and Ironspring led the round.

- Talkiatry, a New York-based provider in-network psychiatric care, raised $5 million in Series A funding. Sikwood Capital Partners led the round and was joined by investors including  Relevance Ventures and Richard Park, M.D., founder and former CEO of CityMD.

- Citadel, a San Francisco-based provider of employment and income verification software,   raised $3.5 million in seed funding. Abstract Ventures and Fathom VC led the round. 

- Realm, a New York-based homeowners, raised $3 million in seed funding. Investors included Primary Venture Partners, Lerer Hippeau, and Liberty Mutual Strategic Venture Partners.

- Botco.ai, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based healthcare conversational marketing tool, raised $2.2 million in seed funding. Stout Street Capital led the round, with participation from Sterling Road, PHX Ventures, and Arizona Tech Investors. 

- Nomad, a Denver-based real estate platform for guaranteed rent, raised a $2 million seed round. Investors included Range Ventures, Kickstart, Peterson Ventures, 8Z and Planomatic.

- YBVR, a San Jose, Calif.-based virtual reality video distribution company, raised $1.5 million in pre-Series A funding. Investors include Verizon Ventures, Telefonica’s Wayra and Tech Coast Angels.

- Matillion, an U.K.-based cloud data integration platform, raised $100 million in Series D equity and debt. Lightspeed Venture Partners led the round and was joined by those including Battery Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, Scale Venture Partners, and Silicon Valley Bank UK Branch. The company declined to disclose the balance of debt vs. equity.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- One Rock Capital Partners and Metropoulos & Co agreed to acquire Nestlé Waters North America, a provider of bottled water, from Nestlé for about $4.3 billion.

- New Mountain Capital acquired Aegion Corporation (Nasdaq: AEGN), a St. Louis-based leading provider of infrastructure maintenance, rehabilitation and protection solutions, for about $963 million. 

- American Industrial Partners agreed to acquire a majority interest in the High Pressure Solutions Segment of Ingersoll Rand for $300 million. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- The Chernin Group invested about $40 million in Goldin Auctions, a Runnemede, N.J.-based marketplace for collectibles and trading cards. 

- New Mountain Capital invested in Accolite Digital, an Addison, Tx.-based cloud and digital product engineering services company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Aptos,  backed by Goldman Sachs’ Merchant Banking Division, acquired LS Retail, an Iceland-based maker of e-commerce software. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- TransACT Communications, a portfolio company of Polaris Growth Fund, acquired App-Garden, a Hickory, N.C.-based  maker of K-12 transportation and operations administrative software. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

EXITS

- Sinch agreed to acquire Inteliquent for $1.1 billion. GTCR backs Inteliquent.

- Western Alliance Bancorp (NYSE: WAL) agreed to buy AmeriHome, a Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based mortgage company, for about $1 billion in cash. AmeriHome previously filed for an IPO. Apollo backs Amerihome.

- CELLINK agreed to acquire Ginolis, a Finnish robotics and diagnostic automation company, for €70 million ($85 million) in cash and stock. Verso Ventures backed Ginolis.

- Amazon (NYSE: AMZN) acquired Selz, a Sydney-based ecommerce platform rivaling Shopify. Investors in Selz include Adcock Private Equity. Read more.

- EW GROUP acquired Hygiena, a Camarillo, Calif.-based food safety and environmental testing solutions., from Warburg Pincus. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Ad Practitioners acquired Knoq, a Boston-based maker of a door-to-door sales platform. Knoq has been backed by Haystack VC, Initialized Capital, Liquid2, Fathom Capital, and Background Capital.

OTHERS

- CoStar Group (Nasdaq: CSGP) offered to acquire CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX), a real estate data company, for $6.9 billion in all-stock, above a $6 billion offer CoreLogic and private equity firms Stone Point Capital and Insight Partners previously agreed to offer. Read more.

- Rexnord (NYSE: RXN) agreed to merge its process and motion control (PMC) business with Regal Beloit (NYSE: RBC), a Wisconsin-based electric motors manufacturer, valuing the unit at about $3.7 billion.

- Tata Group will buy a 68% stake in BigBasket, an Indian online grocery startup, for about 95 billion rupees ($1.3 billion), per ET Now. Read more.

- International Flavors & Fragrances, the New York-based chemicals company, is seeking to divest of its microbial controls business (valued at about $1 billion to $1.5 billion) and its food preparation assets ($200 million to $300 million), per Bloomberg. Read more.

- Precision Nanosystems, a Canadian biotech working on a Covid-19 vaccine, is weighing a potential sale, per Bloomberg. Read more.

IPOs

- JOANN, a Hudson, Oh.-based fabric and crafts retailer, filed to riase $100 million in an IPO. Leonard Green & Partners and Crescent Capital Group back the firm. Read more.

- Cricut, a South Jordan, Ut.-based maker of design apps and crafting machines, filed to raise $100 million. Read more.

SPAC

- Lucid Motors, a luxury electric vehicle maker, is nearing a deal to go public with Michael Klein’s Churchill Capital IV at a $12-billion valuation, per Reuters. Read more.

- Sixth Street Partners has sued Dyal Capital Partners as it seeks to block the latter’s proposed merger with Owl Rock Capital, a direct lender, and their deal to go public via Altimar Acquisition. The deal is valued at $12.5 billion. Read more.

- Origin Materials, a West Sacramento, Calif.-based maker of carbon negative materials, agreed to go public with Artius Acquisition, a SPAC, valuing it at $1.8 billion.

- AEye, a Dublin, Calif.-based LiDAR company, plans to go public via merger with CF Finance Acquisition III, a SPAC valuing it at $2 billion. AEye investors include Kleiner Perkins, Continental AG, LG Electronics, SK Hynix, Pegasus Ventures, and Airbus Ventures.

- Dominik Richter, the founder and chief executive of meal kit delivery company HelloFresh, is planning to raise between $200 million to $500 million for a SPAC, according to Reuters. Read more.

- Vector Acquisition II, a SPAC formed by Vector Capital seeking a target in the tech industry, filed to raise $400 million. Read more.

- M3-Brigade Acquisition II, a SPAC by Mohsin Meghji, filed to raise $300 million. Read more.

- Colonnade Acquisition II, a SPAC by executives at Colonnade Properties and Trafelet and  Company, filed to raise $250 million. Read more.

- Spring Valley Acquisition II, a SPAC by Pearl Energy Investment Management looking to invest in the sustainability industry, filed to raise $200 million. Read more.

- Traveloka, a Southeast Asia-based online travel startup, is seeking to go public via SPAC, per Bloomberg. Its investors include Rocket Internet and Expedia Group. Read more.