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Former Department of Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao, returns to the private sector

June 23, 2021, 2:29 PM UTC

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After a tumultuous 2020 election that culminated in an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, many wondered if members of 45th President Donald Trump’s cabinet would be welcomed back into their former lives.

Here for instance is a Washington Post article citing sources that say former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao, is having trouble re-entering the private sector. Before joining the Trump administration, Chao had an illustrious career in public companies, serving on the boards of Wells Fargo, News Corp. and Dole Food at various points in the 2010s.

While it may not be a Fortune 500, the former Trump cabinet member has now found a spot in business once again. On Wednesday, self-driving car company Embark Trucks revealed that it would go public via merger with a special purpose acquisition company, Northern Genesis Acquisition Corp. II, in a deal valuing it at $5.2 billion.

It also announced that Chao had been added to the company’s board.

The maker of software for self-driving trucks had little to add on Chao beyond the typical press release language alluding to her ability to help on regulatory issues (“Secretary Chao’s extensive public and private sector leadership experience will further strengthen Embark’s position in the AV industry”), but Chao would not be the first former Trump cabinet member to find a job in the still hot SPAC world. Earlier this year, the U.S. Commerce Secretary under Trump, Wilbur Ross, created a SPAC dubbed Ross Acquisition Corp. II. That company also named the director of the National Economic Council under Trump, Larry Kudlow, as a part of the management team.

Backed by Tiger Global Management and Sequoia Capital, Embark’s deal comes at a time when the pandemic has put trucking and logistics front-and-center. Another trucking startup, TuSimple, recently went public in an IPO while Amazon acquired the option to buy a stake in another dubbed Plus, which also plans to go public via merger with a SPAC.

Now, Embark says it will have as much as $614 million in cash to battle it out with its competitors, with $200 million coming in the form of a PIPE from investors including CPP Investments, Knight-Swift Transportation, and Mubadala Capital, as well as return investments Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global Management.

DATA SORTING IS EVERYTHING: Yes, data runs the world. But raw data without cleaning is just noise without signal. It’s why investors have been betting on companies that can clean and analyze such information. The most recent raise? Incorta, a startup that “offers a sort of all-in-one data crunching service for customers to analyze corporate data spread across multiple databases,” raised $120 million from investors including GV and M12. My colleague has the exclusive: Read more.

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

VENTURE DEALS

- Viva Republica, a South Korea-based operator of the country’s largest fintech startup, raised over $400 million at a $7.4 billion value. Investors included Alkeon Capital Management and Altos Ventures.

- Lendbuzz, a Boston-based auto finance platform, raised $60 million in Series C funding. Wellington Management led the round and was joined by investors including Goldman Sachs & Co and MUFG Innovation Partners.

- Quanta, a Mass.-based dialysis care company, raised $245 million in Series D funding. Glenview Capital and Novo Holdings led the round and were joined by investors including BlackRock, Eldridge, Sands Capital, and Millennium Management.

- AlayaCare, a Canada-based home care software platform, raised $225 million. Generation Investment Management led the round and was joined by investors including Klass Capital, Inovia Capital, CDPQ, and Investissement Quebec

- Aircall, a New York City-based voice platform for customer support, raised $120 million in Series D funding valuing it at over $1 billion. The growth equity business within Goldman Sachs Asset Management led the round and was joined by investors including DTCP, eFounders, Draper Esprit, Adams Street Partners, NextWorld Capital, and Gaia Capital Partners.

- Primer, a San Francisco-based A.I. startup focused on Natural Language Processing, raised $110 million in Series C funding. Lee Fixel led the round and was joined by investors including Sands Capital, Steadfast, and former CIA operator Henry “Hank” Crumpton. 

- Vercel, a San Francisco-based maker of the web development platform Next.js, raised $105 million in Series C funding. Bedrock led the round. The deal values the company $1.1 billion.

- Lower, a New Albany, Oh.-based millennial and Gen-Z focused home finance platform, raised $100 million in Series A funding. Accel led the round.

- Abata Therapeutics, a Boston-based company focused on regulatory T cells and multiple sclerosis, launched with $95 million in Series A funding. Third Rock Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including ElevateBio, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Invus, Samsara BioCapital and the JDRF T1D Fund.

- Strand Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based developer of mRNA therapeutics for cancer immunotherapy, raised $52 million in Series A funding. Investors include Redmile Group, BeiGene, and Camford Capital.

- ImmuneID, a Cambridge, Mass.-based precision immunology company, raised $50 million in Series A funding. Alta Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Alexandria Venture Investments, Redwood Capital Investments, Section 32 and Tekla Capital Management.

Oyster, a Charlotte, N.C.-based maker of HR tools, raised $50 million in Series B funding valuing it at $475 million. Stripes led the round and was joined by investors including Emergence Capital, The Slack Fund, and Avid Ventures.

- Zeller, an Australian-founded integrated payments and financial services company, raised A$50 million ($38 million). Spark Capital led the round.

- Sporttrade, a Philadelphia-based sports betting company, raised $36 million. Jump Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Impression Ventures, Hudson River Trading, Tower Research Ventures, and NASDAQ Ventures.

- Myos, a Berlin-based fintech providing lending to online retailers, raised $30 million in Series A funding. Fasanara Capital and Xploration Capital led the round and were joined by investors including Tomahawk.VC.

- Merlyn Mind, a New York City-based maker of a digital assistant for teachers, raised $29 million. Learn Capital led the round.

- Protenus, a Baltimore-based healthcare compliance analytics company, raised $21 million in Series D funding. Investors included Transformation Capital, Providence Ventures, F-Prime Capital, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, Arthur Ventures, Lionbird, MemorialCare, and Gaingels.

- Pequity, a San Francisco-based maker of a compensation platform, raised $19 million in Series A funding. Norwest Venture Partners led the round and was joined by investors including First Round Capital, Designer Fund, and Scribble Ventures

- MAJORITY, a Houston-based mobile banking service for migrants, raised $19 million in seed funding. Valar Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Avid Ventures, and Heartcore Capital.

- Lightspin, an Israel-based cloud security platform, raised $16 million in Series A funding. Dell Technologies Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Ibex Investors.

- Symmetry Systems, a San Francisco-based provider of cybersecurity, raised $15 million in Series A funding. Prefix Capital and ForgePoint Capital led the round.

- Rarible, a non-fungible token marketplace, raised $14.2 million in Series A funding. Venrock and CoinFund led the round and were joined by investors including 01 Advisors.

- Spiras Health, a Nashville-based provider of in-home and virtual healthcare solutions for patients with complex chronic conditions, raised $14 million in Series B funding. NEA led the round and was joined by investors including Altitude Ventures, and FCA Venture Partners.

- Hoggo, a Paris-based insurtech, raised €11 million ($13 million) in Series A funding. Partech led the round and was joined by investors including GFC.

- NuvoAir, a Boston-based health company focused on respiratory conditions, raised $12 million in Series A funding. AlbionVC led the round and was joined by investors including KAYA (formerly Enern), Amino Collective, Spiltan, Industrifonden, and Novartis Pharma AG (dRx Capital).

- Hawk AI, a Germany-based company focused on financial crime,  raised $10 million in Series A funding. BlackFin Capital Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Picus Capital.

- VERO, a New York City-based leasing platform for owners and renters, raised $5 million in Series A funding. Eleven Capital and Bienville Capital led the round.

- Cabana, a Seattle-based travel startup, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Craft Ventures and Goldcrest Capital led the round and were joined by investors including Launch, Castor Ventures, Gaingels, and Nordic Eye.

- Moderne, a Seattle-based code automation company, raised $4.7 million. True Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Mango Capital, Overtime.vc, Github CTO Jason Warner, Datadog co-founder and CEO Olivier Pomel, and Coverity co-founder and former CTO Andy Chou. 

- Caura, a London-based vehicle management platform, raised $4.2 million. TwinFocus Capital Partners led the round and was joined by investors including InMotion Ventures (the CVC arm of Jaguar Land Rover), Road Ventures, Pareto Holdings, and Quiet Capital

- Vantage, a company focused on reducing AWS costs, raised $4 million in seed funding. Andreessen Horowitz led the round and was joined by investors including Brianne Kimmel, Julia Lipton, Stephanie Friedman, Calvin French Owen, Ben and Moisey Uretsky, Mitch Wainer and Justin Gage.

- Moth+Flame, a New York City-based virtual reality training technology maker, raised $2.5 million in seed funding. Bee Partners led the round and was joined by investors including First In, Meeting Street Capital, Service Provider Capital, and Spacecadet.

- Quarter4, a Canada-based predictive sports data and analytics provider for sports, media and betting companies, raised $1.6 million in seed funding. Shore Capital Sports & Entertainment led the round.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust agreed to acquire Home Partners of America, a single-family home company, valuing it at $6 billion.

- Silver Lake invested $1 billion via convertible senior notes in Splunk (NASDAQ: SPLK), a San Francisco-based provider of a data and security platform. 

- Constant Contact, a portfolio company of Clearlake Capital Group and Siris Capital, acquired SharpSpring (NASDAQ: SHSP), a Gainesville, Fla.-based automation platform for marketing professionals, for $240 million.

- Aspen Surgical Products, a portfolio company of Audax Private Equity, acquired Stork, a portfolio of sterile disposable obstetrics products from Briggs Healthcare. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- CVC Capital Partners agreed to acquire a majority stake in ExamWorks, an Atlanta-based provider of medical exams and services. Leonard Green & Partners and GIC will retain equity stakes in the business. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Benford Capital recapitalized Nutrition Service Company, a Pulaski, Wis.-based producer of agricultural feed. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Crosspoint Capital Partners invested in Everseen, an Ireland-based computer vision software maker. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Enlightenment Capital invested in Fenix Group, a Chantily, Va.-based provider of battlefield products to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), special operations, and intelligence communities. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Godspeed Capital acquired Austin Brockenbrough & Associates, a Richmond, Va.-based architecture, engineering, and surveying company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- KKR agreed to acquire a majority stake in company Education Perfect, an  Australian and New Zealand education technology company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Multi-Tech Systems, a portfolio company of Northlane Capital Partners, acquired Radio Bridge, a Minn.-based designer and manufacturer of long-range wireless sensors for the internet of things industry. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- WorkWave, backed by EQT and TA Associates, acquired Real Green Systems, a Walled Lake, Mich.-based provider of software and marketing solutions backed by Serent Capital. Serent will continue on as an investor in WorkWave. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Foreside Financial Group, backed by Lovell Minnick, acquired Hardin Compliance Consulting, a Wexford, Penn.-based compliance consulting firm. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

EXITS

- PAI Partners agreed to acquire Pasubio, an Italy-based provider of leather for the automotive industry, from CVC Capital Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Brenntag agreed to acquire JM Swank, a North Liberty, Ia.-based maker of food ingredients including spices, from Platinum Equity. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

OTHERS

- Amazon (NYSE:AMZN), the Seattle-based tech giant, could be forced to sell its logistics services division under proposed antitrust regulation, per Bloomberg.

IPOS

- Krispy Kreme, a Charlotte-based operator of doughnut shops, now plans to raise $600 million in an offering of 26.7 million shares priced between $21 to $24. JAB owns the firm.

- Dingdong, a Shanghai-based grocery delivery company, says it plans to raise $343 million in an offering of 14 million ADSs priced between $23.50 to $25.50. Tiger Global and General Atlantic back the firm.

- Missfresh, a Beijing-based grocery delivery business, says it plans to raise $305 million in an offering of 21 million ADSs priced between $13 to $16. Temasek and Genesis Capital back the firm.

- Warby Parker, the New York City-based glasses startup, filed confidentially for an IPO.

- Mister Spex, a Berlin-based online glasses retailer, plans to raise between €225 million and €264 million in an IPO in the country. Investors include Goldman Sachs, DN Capital, and Scottish Equity Partners.

SPAC

- Pear Therapeutics, a Boston-based healthcare startup, will go public via merger with Thimble Point Acquisition, a SPAC affiliated with an heir of the Pritzker family. A deal values the company at $1.6 billion.

- bleuacacia, a blank check company targeting businesses focused on millennial and Gen-Z consumers, filed to raise $300 million. Jide Zeitlin, former CEO of Tapestry, is its co-CEO along with Lew Frankfort, former CEO of Coach.

F+FS

- Golden Ventures, a New York City-based venture capital firm, raised $100 million for its fourth seed-stage fund and $20 million for its Opportunities Fund. It also promoted Jamie Rosenblatt to partner.

- Ubiquity Ventures, a Palo Alto-based seed-stage venture capital firm, closed its second fund with over $50 million.

PEOPLE

- Water Street Healthcare Partners, a Chicago-based investor focused on the healthcare industry, promoted Mike Brennan to partner. 

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