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A month after it was revealed to be leading a $20 million Series A in the business, Spark Capital says it has decided to “sever all ties” with camera app company Dispo.
Co-founded by social media influencer David Dobrik, the disposable camera app recently shot to prominence, valuing the young business at $200 million following February’s Series A round. But its image soured in the past week.
On Tuesday, Business Insider published an investigation in which a woman accused a former member of Dobrik’s “Vlog Squad”—a group of video-blogging friends linked to the co-founder—of rape.
And on Sunday, Dobrik decided to leave and step down from the board “as not to distract from the company’s growth,” a Dispo spokesperson said in a statement over email. The status of Dobrik’s stake in the business is still unclear.
Around the same time, Spark Capital too said it had decided to distance itself from the company.
“In light of recent news about the Vlog Squad and David Dobrik, the cofounder of Dispo, we have made the decision to sever all ties with the company,” Spark Capital released in a tweet. “We have stepped down from our position on the board and we are in the process of making arrangements to ensure we do not profit from our recent investment in Dispo.”
It’s certainly not a common occurrence for a venture capital firm to back away from an investment in such a manner—so it’s still unclear what form those arrangements will take from a practical standpoint.
Under very different circumstances, Sequoia Capital—coincidentally around the same time last year—stepped away from an investment in Finix. Due to a conflict of interest with its investment in payments startup Stripe, Sequoia reportedly ceded its board seat, information rights, and more while still leaving $21 million with Finix.
MEGA TRAIN: Over the weekend, Canadian Pacific Railway (TO:CP) agreed to acquire Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU), a Missouri-based railway network, for $25 billion. In an interview with Bloomberg, CP Chief Executive Officer Keith Creel framed the deal in very, very 2021 terms. The network, which now runs between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, would be bolstered by manufacturers looking to bring operations back to North America after the pandemic exposed supply chain risks. And, he says, the merger would mean more traffic by rail than truck—the former being more fuel-efficient. Read more.
- Momenta, a China-based autonomous vehicle startup, raised nearly $500 million in Series C funding. SAIC Motor, Toyota, and Bosch invested. Read more.
- Epic Games, the North Carolina-based game maker behind Fortnite, is finalizing the terms of a $1 billion round of funding that could value it at $28 billion, per, Sky News. Read more.
- Side, a San Francisco-based real estate tech company, raised $150 million, valuing it at $1 billion. Coatue Management led the round.
- Nuvemshop, a Brazil-based e-commerce platform, raised $90 million in Series D funding. Accel led the round and was joined by investors including ThornTree Capital, Kaszek, and Qualcomm Ventures.
- Camunda, a Berlin-based open source software provider, raised €82 million (approximately $100 million). Insight Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Highland Europe.
- Flex Logix, a Mountainview, Calif.-based supplier of A.I. edge inference accelerators, raised $55 million in Series D funding. Mithril Capital Management led and was joined by investors including Lux Capital, Eclipse Ventures, and the Tate Family Trust.
- Axis Security, a San Mateo, Calif.-based access security company, raised $50 million in Series C funding. Spark Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Canaan Partners, Ten Eleven Ventures, and Cyberstarts.
- Ardoq, an Oslo-based company focused on enterprise architecture, raised $26 million in Series C funding. Investors included Altitude Capital and Norselab.
- Sivo, a Lewis, De.-based lending-focused API company, raised $5 million valuing it at $100 million, per TechCrunch. Investors include Andre Charoo of Maple VC. Read more.
- Baubap, a Mexico-based mobile lending platform, raised $3 million. Grupo Alfin led the round. Read more.
- 86 Repairs, a Chicago, Ill.-based equipment repair and maintenance company for restaurants, raised $2 million in seed funding. Investors included TDF Ventures, HAVI, Gordon Food Service, GHS Holdings, Tamarind Hill, Invest Detroit Ventures, Network Ventures, and the Cleveland Avenue State Treasurer Urban Success Fund.
- Blackstone sent a conditional offer to acquire Crown Resorts, an Australian casino operator, for about $6.2 billion. Read more.
- Toscafund became the leading shareholder in VoxSmart, a London-based communications surveillance software provider, by investing $25 million.
- Bruin Sports Capital became co-owner of TGI Sport, a sports marketing company, alongside Quadrant Private. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Crownpeak, backed by K1 Investment Management, agreed to acquire adesso subsidiary e-Spirit, a Germany-based web content management software maker. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- IXL Learning acquired Rosetta Stone, a language learning program. Investors in Rosetta Stone have included ABS Capital Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Pangiam, backed by AE Industrial Partners, acquired veriScan, a Washington D.C.-based maker of biometric facial recognition system for airports and airlines, from the Metropolitan Washington Airports - Authority. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Sycamore Partners acquired Royal Caribbean Group’s Azamara brand, a line of Miami, Fla.-based luxury cruises. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- TEAM Technologies, backed by Clearlake Capital, acquired ViruDefense, a Burlington, Mass.-based maker of N95 masks. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- TA Associates is in discussions to acquire Unit4, a Netherlands-based resource planning software maker, for over $2 billion from Advent International, for more than $2 billion, per Bloomberg. Read more.
- Optimizely, backed by Insight Partners, acquired Zaius, a Boston-based customer data platform. Zaius has been backed by Insight, Underscore VC, and Matrix Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Thoma Bravo agreed to acquire Calypso Technology, a San Francisco-based software company, from Bridgepoint and Summit Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Renaissance, backed by investors including Francisco Partners, acquired Lalilo, a San Francisco-based maker of a literacy program. Investors in Lalilo include Partech. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- National Grid (NYSE: NGG) agreed to acquire the U.K. electricity distribution business of PPL’s (NYSE: PLL) for about 7.8 billion pounds ($10.9 billion). Read more.
- Coinbase, a San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange, is now aiming to go public via direct listing in April, per Bloomberg. Read more.
- KnowBe4, a Clearwater, Fla.-based cybersecurity training provider, filed to raise $100 million. Goldman Sachs and KKR back the firm. Read more.
- Zomato, an Indian food delivery startup, is preparing to file for an IPO in the country that could raise about $650 million, per Bloomberg. Ant Group backs the firm. Read more.
- VectivBio Holding, a Switzerland-based biotech focused on gastrointestinal disorders, filed to raise $100 million. Investors include Versant Capital and Orbimed Private Investments. Read more.
- Reneo Pharmaceuticals, a San Diego-based biotech focused on genetic mitochondrial diseases, filed to raise $100 million. Investors included NEA and Novo Holdings. Read more.
- ironSource, a Tel Aviv-based maker of analytics tools, agreed to go public via merger with Thoma Bravo Advantage, a SPAC backed by the private equity firm. A deal values the combination at $11.1 billion.
- Arbe Robotics, a Houston and Tel Aviv-based provider of imaging radar technology, will go public via merger with Industrial Tech Acquisitions, a SPAC. A deal values the combination at $722 million.
- TCV Acquisition, a SPAC formed by TCV focused on the tech industry, filed to raise $350 million.
- Hughes & Company Investment Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm focused on healthcare tech, aims to raise $100 million for Hughes Growth Equity Fund I. Read more.
- Bowery Capital, a New York-based early-stage venture firm, raised $70 million for Bowery Capital Fund III.
- Bowery Capital, a New York-based early-stage venture firm, named Loren Straub as a general partner.