The careful distinction Sequoia Capital makes in its Black Swan follow-up

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At the start of the pandemic, Sequoia Capital released a widely disseminated memo dubbing the emerging coronavirus “the Black Swan of 2020.” It called upon business leaders to conserve cash, reconsider internal forecasts, raise more, and potentially lay off employees.

On Thursday, the venture capital firm published a follow-up to that note. Its title is an indication of just how wildly things have changed in the past year.

In a Medium post called “COVID Accelerated the Future: Now Seize It,” the VC firm issued a battle cry to its founders and CEOs: “While the pandemic is far from over, we see an important window of opportunity opening right now.”

While acknowledging the rising social inequities in the pandemic, the note also points to a recovering U.S. economy, falling consumer debt, and higher savings as signs that the U.S. is “poised for stronger economic growth in the second half of 2021 than we’ve seen in decades.”

Now is the time to speed up, Sequoia tells its founders.

But the firm is careful to make a distinction: Yes, the pandemic has led consumers and businesses alike to move online in droves. Now companies must take stock as vaccines roll out: Which behaviors will persist after the pandemic and which won’t?

“If you feel confident about your business post-vaccine, now is the time to start carefully stepping on the gas (or accelerator pedal, if you’re driving electric),” the team writes.

Unfortunately, the question as to how behaviors will shift is one that no one can answer in full confidence quite yet. This means recovery will come with no shortage of uncertainty, much like our situation a year ago. 

But today, that uncertainty comes with significantly more optimism.

Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda

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- Ossium Health, an Indianapolis-based therapeutics company focused on blood and immune diseases, raised $63 million in Series B funding. General Catalyst and Vivo Capital led the round and were joined by investors including First Round Capital, Manta Ray Ventures, and XYZ Capital.

- Pollinate, a London-based software business for banks, raised $50 million in Series C funding. Insight Partners led the round and was joined by investors including NatWest Group, Mastercard, National Australia Bank (NAB), EFM Asset Management, and Motive Partners.

- Gravie, a Minneapolis, Mich.-based defined contribution healthcare company, raised $28 million in Series D funding. AXA Venture Partners led the round and was joined by investors including FirstMark Capital, Split Rock Ventures, and Revelation Partners.

- Kuda Technologies, a Nigeria-based banking service, raised $25 million in Series A funding. Valar Ventures, led the round and was joined by investors including Target Global. Read more.

- Act-On Software, a Portland-based marketing automation platform, raised $20 million. Investors included U.S. Venture Partners, Technology Crossover Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, Voyager Capital, founder Raghu Raghavan, and Beedie Capital

- Fortify, a Boston, Mass.-based additive manufacturing startup, raised $20 million. Cota Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Accel Partners, Neotribe Ventures, and Prelude Ventures.

- OpenReel, a New York-based video creation platform, raised $19 million in Series A funding. Five Elms Capital led the round.

- Secureframe, a San Francisco-based cybersecurity compliance company, raised $18 million in Series A funding. Kleiner Perkins led and was joined by investors including joined by investors including Gradient Ventures and Base10 Partners.

- FORT Robotics, a Philadelphia robotics company, raised a $13 million raise. Prime Movers Lab led the round and was joined by investors including Prologis Ventures, Quiet Capital, Lemnos Labs, Creative Ventures, Ahoy Capital, Compound, FundersClub, and Mark Cuban. Read more.

- Charge Amps, Sweden-based green-tech company and maker of EV charging solutions, raised £11 million (SEK 130 million). Swedbank Robur led the round and was joined by investors including Microcap and Ny Teknik. 

- Zibo, a Redwood City, Calif.-based platform for landlord financial services, raised some $4.5 million. Investors include Camber Creek.

- Visage, a San Francisco-based hiring platform using the power of the crowd, raised $7 million in Series A funding. First Analysis led the round and was joined by investors including Urban Innovation Fund. 

- Curi Bio, a Seattle-based developer of human stem cell-based platforms for drug discovery, raised $6 million in Series A funding. Dynamk Capital led the round.

- Contents, a Milan-based startup for disseminating content, raised $6 million in Series A funding. Sinergia Venture led the round and was joined by investors including Fabio Cannavale (CEO of Lastminute) and Alberto Chalon (Founder of Qwant).

- Digbi Health, a Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of gut microbiome and genetic care programs, raised $5.4 million in Series A funding. Accel led the round and was joined by investors including Wisdom, Ocean Azul Partners, and Seraph Venture. 

- Launchtrip, a New York-based travel startup, raised $3.8 million in seed funding. Investors included Axis Capital

- Slapdash, a maker of workplace software tools, raised $3.7 million in seed funding. Investors included S28 Capital, Quiet Capital, Quarry Ventures, UP2398, and Twenty Two Ventures. Read more.

- Even, a Denver-based wellness startup, raised $1.5 million in seed funding. Investors included Align Ventures, Spring Street Group, and GAN Ventures.

- CoinStats, an Armenia-based cryptocurrency portfolio management platform, raises $1.2 million in seed funding. Investors included Imperii Partners and Formula VC.


- TPG’s The Rise Fund will invest $200 million in Airtel Africa’s mobile money business

- Varde Partners and Brigade invested $100 million in Mercury Financial, an Austin-based financial company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Arch Capital Group will acquire Westpac Banking’s mortgage insurance business. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Read more.

 - Avionos, backed by Aktion Partners, acquired ObjectWave, a Chicago-based ecommerce consultancy. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

- Nightingale Partners invested in Sonavi Lab, a Baltimore, Md.-based AI software and auscultation medical devices platform focused on respiratory diseases and infections. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

 - NewSpring invested in Blo Blow Dry Bar, a blow dry bar franchise. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

 - Peak Utility Services Group, backed by Orix Capital Partners, acquired Superior Pipeline Services, a Fort Worth, Tx.-based utilities contractor. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

 - Saw Mill Capital Partners acquired Nemo Tile, a New York-based designer and distributor of tile, stone, and setting materials. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


 - Blackstone agreed to acquire DESOTEC,a  European environmental service company, from EQT. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

 - Instaclustr, backed by Level Equity and Bailador, acquired Germany- and U.S.-based credativ, a Columbia, Md-based open source software and services firm. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

 - Innovatus Capital Partners acquired Public Label, a  Boulder-based ad agency from Match Marketing Group. It also acquired Match Retail, Toronto-based ad agency, from Southfield Capital. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


 - Chubb (NYSE:CB) offered to acquire Hartford Financial Services Group (NYSE: HIG), a Hartford, Conn.-based insurance firm, for about $23.2 billion in cash and stock.

 - II-VI (Nasdaq: IIVI) raised its bid for Coherent (Nasdaq: COHR), a Santa Clara, Calif.-based laser maker, to $7 billion. Read more.


- Tuya, a IoT cloud platform in China, raised $915.4 million in an IPO of 43.6 million ADSs priced at $21 apiece. NEA and Tencent back the firm. Read more.

 - Alignment Healthcare, an Orange, Calif.-based healthcare platform, plans to raise $490 million in an offering of 27.2 million shares (20% insider) priced between $17 to $19. Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic back the firm. Read more.

 - Instil Bio, a Dallas-based biotech developing therapies for cancer, now plans to raise $312 million via an offering of 16 million shares priced between $19 to $20, a larger offering at a higher price than previously stated. Curative Ventures, Vivo Capital, and CPMG back the firm.  Read more.

 - Olink Holding, a Sweden-based biotech, says it plans to raise $300 million in an offering of 17.6 million ADSs (25% insider sold) priced between $16 to $18 apiece. Read more.

 - Sun Country Airlines Holdings, a budget air carrier, raised $218.2 million in an IPO of 9.1 million shares priced at $24 apiece. Apollo backs the firm. Read more.

 - ThredUp, an Oakland, Calif.-based marketplace for second hand clothing, plans to raise as much as $168 million in an IPO of 12 million shares priced at $12 to $14 apiece. Goldman Sachs backs the firm. Read more.

 - Kahoot, a Norway-based education games maker, is exploring a secondary listing in New York or another major European exchange. SoftBank backs the firm. Read more.


 - Offerpad, a Chandler, Ariz.-based real estate solutions platform, agreed to go public via merger with Supernova Partners Acquisition Company, a SPAC formed in part by a Zillow co-founder. A deal values the firm at $3 billion.

 - Rockley Photonics, a supplier of integrated silicon photonic chips and modules, agreed to merge with SC Health, a SPAC. A deal values the firm at $1.2 billion.

 - Falcon Capital Acquisition II, a SPAC from veteran banker Alan Mnuchin, filed for a $400 million IPO.

 - Healthcare Merger II, a SPAC led in part by a former CEO of Magellan, filed to raise $300 million. Read more.


-Blackstone, a New York-based investing firm, closed Blackstone Growth with $4.5 billion.

 - Commonfund Capital, a Wilton, Conn.-based today investment firm, closed Commonfund Venture Partners XIII with $625 million. 

 - Brunnur Ventures, an Iceland-based venture capital firm, launched its second venture fund of $65 million.


 - Section 32, a San Diego, Calif.-based venture capital fund, named Andy Harrison as managing partner. He previously held executive roles at Alphabet.

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