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Databricks CEO on why Morgan Stanley is leading its new round of funding

August 31, 2021, 3:09 PM UTC

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There’s plenty of talk at this time in fundraising about venture capitalists winning deals by offering ever larger checks, especially in the later stages of fundraising.

So it was interesting to hear Databricks CEO Ali Ghodsi describe one of the reasons why Morgan Stanley’s Counterpoint Global is the lead investor for its $1.6 billion round of funding, valuing the business at about $38 billion: The line of questioning. Early news of the deal, which was officially announced Tuesday, had previously been covered by Newcomer and Bloomberg.

According to the co-founder, who held his last round of fundraising only in February, Counterpoint’s Head, Dennis Lynch, asked multiple hours of questions about the company’s culture rather than the typical line of inquiry, for example, on the company’s current competition. It helped that the two teams had known each other for a while previously.

Lynch asked about “how do you see things over the next decade, what kind of leaders are in your company, what is acceptable behavior in the company,” says Ghodsi. 

Lynch asked scenario-planning questions too: “How do you keep a culture of innovation and make sure your employees are taking enough risk? Who do you promote—the [employee] who pulled an all-nighter, or the one who came up with a high-risk project?”

To Ghodsi, the questions signalled that Counterpoint was thinking about the long-term of the business—a trait founders commonly say they seek in investors.

FTX.US’S DEAL: FTX.US, the stateside arm of the crypto exchange FTX, will acquire LedgerX, a derivatives exchange with a license from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. This matters because it allows FTX.US—which has up to now, offered a limited set of products compared to its parent company—to offer derivatives, a class of assets that includes the likes of futures. And it is these risky derivatives that allow users to put leverage on bets that are parent company FTX’s main line of business, one that helped turn it into a now $18 billion company. Read the story here.

ELAD GIL: The storied venture capitalist is the prime example of the new class of solo capitalist—single investors that are able to move fast and lead sizable deals in startups. And now, in a sign that limited partners are betting that he will continue to be able to win deals against traditional VC firms, the investor is now raising a $620 million fund—the largest amount raised by a solo fund manager, per the Information.

The trend of the solo investor in short, doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. When asked last year why he thought more solo capitalists were appearing, Gil hypothesized the coming of a new wave of companies is playing a role in the surge: “I also think this is a trend because there’s been a sudden shift in which networks are really important,” he told Term Sheet, pointing to the rise of the PayPal mafia as an example of this dynamic. “There are a bunch of companies that aren’t as relevant anymore and are being replaced by, say, Stripe.”

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

Jessica Mathews compiled the IPO section of this newsletter.

VENTURE DEALS

- Melio Payments, New York City-based payments company, is looking to raise at a $4 billion valuation, per the Information. Thrive Capital and General Catalyst are reportedly leading.

- Lotus Cars, a British sports and racing carmaker, raised at a 15 billion yuan ($2.3 billion) valuation, per Bloomberg. Nio Capital is said to be leading.

- Offchain Labs, a New York City-based company tackling scaling for Ethereum, raised $120 million in funding. Lightspeed Venture Partners led the Series B round and was joined by investors including Polychain Capital, Ribbit Capital, Redpoint Ventures, Pantera Capital, Alameda Research, and Mark Cuban.

- quip, a New York City-based oral healthcare company, raised $100 million. Cowen Sustainable Investments led the round.

- Snap Mobile, a Seattle-based maker of an extracurricular fundraising platform, raised $90 million. Elysian Park Ventures led the round.

- Peak, a U.K.-based A.I. company, raised $75 million in Series C funding. The SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led the round and was joined by investors including MMC Ventures, Oxx, Praetura Ventures, Arete, and Octopus Ventures.

- Doctor Anywhere, a Singapore-based healthcare company. Raised about $65.7 million in Series C funding. Asia Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Novo Holdings, Philips, and OSK-SBI Venture Partners. 

- TISSIUM, a Paris-based company focused on tissue reconstruction, raised €50 million ($59 million). Cathay Health led the round and was joined by investors including Sofinnova Partners.

- Harri, a New York City-based employee management platform, raised $30 million. Golub Capital led the round.

- Ellipsis Health, a San Francisco-based maker of a voice app for managing depression and anxiety, raised $26 million in Series A funding. SJF Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including AblePartners, Akhil Paul at Caparo Group, Alumni Ventures, Divesh Makan, Gaingels, Gary Loveman, Generator Ventures, Greycroft, Helmy Eltoukhy, Joanne Bradford, and Khosla Ventures. 

-  Kevala, a San Francisco-based energy data and analytics company, raised $21 million in Series A funding. C5 Impact Partners and Thin Line Capital led the round.

- Trade X Group of Companies, a Canadian automotive trading platform, raised $10 million at a $250 million pre-money valuation. Investors included EchoVC, Frontier Ventures, and Ugrowth.

- FLIP, a Los Angeles-based commerce platform, raised $28 million in Series A funding. Streamlined Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Mubadala Capital Ventures and BDMI. 

- Nifty Games, a Lafayette, Calif.-based video game developer and publisher, raised $26 million in Series B funding. Vulcan Capital led the round.

- Syndicate, a maker of infrastructure for decentralized finance investing, raised $20 million in Series A funding. Andreessen Horowitz led the round and was joined by investors including Cultural Leadership Fund, IDEO CoLab Ventures, Variant, Electric Capital, CoinFund, Scalar Capital, and Bill Ackman’s Table Management.

- Poppi, a Dallas-based prebiotic soda brand, raised $13.5 million in Series A2 funding. Investors included CAVU Ventures, Russell Westbrook, the Chainsmokers, 24kGoldn, Kygo, Halsey, Kevin Love, Ellie Goulding, Olivia Munn, and Nicole Scherzinger. 

- Owner.com, a San Francisco-based platform for restaurants, raised $10.7 million in seed funding. SaaStr Fund led the round and was joined by investors including Redpoint Ventures, Day One Ventures, Naval Ravikant, Marcus Lemonis (host of CNBC’s The Profit), Kimbal Musk (The Kitchen Restaurant Group), Joshua Browder (Founder of DoNotPay), Dylan Field (founder of Figma), and The Chainsmokers.

- Hum Capital, a New York City-based company using A.I. for the fundraising process, raised $9 million in Series A funding. Future Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech.  

- FV Bank, a Puerto Rico-based challenger bank, raised $8 million in Series A funding. BnkToTheFuture, Decentralized Ventures, NFG Fund, CCIX Global, Zenrain Technology, and Satvat led the round.

- Clay, a maker of a relationship management tool, raised $8 million in seed funding. Forerunner Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including General Catalyst.

- Sanas, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based maker of accent-matching tech, raised $5.5 million in seed funding. Investors include Human Capital, General Catalyst, Quiet Capital, and DN Capital.

- Solo, a Seattle-based gig worker-focused income prediction platform, raised $5.3 million in seed funding. Slow Ventures led the round.

- Taktile, a platform for financial services companies to deploy machine learning applications, raised $4.7 million in seed financing. Index Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Y Combinator, firstminute Capital, and Plug and Play Ventures.

- Thatch, a San Francisco-based company focused on traveler creators, raised $3 million in a second seed round. Wave Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Freestyle VC’s Jenny Lefcourt and Netflix co-founder Marc Randolph.

- Joshin, a Minneapolis-based digital care platform, raised $3 million in seed funding. Anthemis Group and The Autism Impact Fund led the round.

- Spinach, an Atlanta-based maker of an integration for Zoom Apps, raised $2.8 million in pre-seed funding. Cardumen Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Zoom, Tuesday Capital, Liron Petrushka, and Yoni Assia (eToro Founder & CEO).

- Exclusible, a Portugal-based NFT goods platform tailored towards luxury brands, raised $2.5 million in seed funding. Tioga Capital, White Star Capital, and Indico Capital Partners led the round.

- Prive, a San Francisco-based startup focused on e-commerce subscriptions, raised $1.7 million in pre-seed funding. Patrick Chung and Brandon Farwell at XFund and Ben Ling from Bling Capital led the round, and were joined by investors including Defy Partners and Halogen Ventures.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- 31st Street Capital acquired Total Flooring, a Illinois-based flooring business. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Crestview Partners invested in JMP Solution, a Canadian automation systems company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Quantic, a portfolio company of Arcline Investment Management, acquired X-Microwave, an Austin-based company in the semiconductor space. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Revolution, a portfolio company of Arsenal Capital Partners, has acquired Five Points Film, a Shelbyville, Tenn.-based maker of cast hand and machine stretch film for commercial customers. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Tritium Partners invested in Stukent, an Idaho Falls, Id.-based provider of digital courses and simulations. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Level Equity invested in Ready Education, a Canadian student engagement platform for higher ed. Ready also acquired Collabco and StuComm in Europe. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

EXIT

- Centerbridge Partners and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Quebec  agreed to acquire Medical Solutions, a health-care staffing firm, from TPG. Bloomberg cites sources valuing the company at $2.3 billion.

- Ansys acquired Zemax, a Kirkland, Wash.-based simulation software company, from  EQT Private Equity. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 

- Apax agreed to acquire SavATree, a tree, shrub and lawn care provider, from CI Capital Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- McGraw Hill, backed by Platinum Equity Partners, agreed to acquire Achieve3000, a Redbank, N.J.-based instruction and learning  company for PreK-12 students. Insight Partners backed Achieve.

- Align Financial Holdings acquired NationsBuilder Insurance Services, a provider of specialty construction risk management and insurance, from SunTx Capital Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Inhabit IQ will acquire ResMan, a business management software maker for the property management industry, backed by Mainsail Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

IPOS

- Sterling Check, a New York City-based background check company, filed for an IPO. The company generated $454 million in revenue in 2020 and reported a net loss of $52.3 million. Goldman Sachs backs the firm.

- Remitly Global, Inc., a Seattle, Wash.-based remittance company, filed for an IPO. The company reported $257 million in revenue in 2020 and a net loss of $32.6 million. PayU Global, Threshold Ventures, and Trilogy Equity Partners back the firm.

- Brilliant Earth Group, a Dover, De.-based sustainable jewelry company, filed for an IPO. The company posted $251.8 million in net sales in 2020 and net income of $21.6 million. Mainsail Partners backs the firm.

- AllBirds, a San Francisco-based shoe startup, filed for an IPO. It posted revenue of $219.3 million in 2020 and a loss of $23.6 million. Maveron, Tiger Global, and T. Rowe Price back the firm.

- Clearwater Analytics Holdings, a Boise, Id.-based investment accounting and analytics software company, filed for an IPO. It posted $203.3 million in revenue for 2020 and a net loss of $44.2 million. Warburg Pincus, Dragoneer, Welsh Carson, and Permira back the firm.

- DoubleDown Interactive, a South Korea-based online casino game developer, raised $113.7 million in an offering of 6.3 million ADSs priced at $18 apiece. The company generated $358.3 million in 2020 and $53.6 million in net income. DoubleU Games backs the firm.

- Amplitude, a San Francisco-based digital optimization company, filed for a direct listing. The company posted $102.5 million in revenue in 2020 a net loss of $24.6 million. Battery Ventures, Benchmark, Institutional Venture Partners, and Sequoia Capital back the firm.

- DiCE Molecules, a South San Francisco, Calif.-based biopharmaceutical company, filed for an IPO. The company posted $863,000 in revenue in 2020 and a net loss of $23.7 million. RA Capital, Northpond Ventures, and Sands Capital back the firm.

- MapmyIndia, an Indian digital map data company, plans to file for an IPO in the country, per Bloomberg. The company is seeking a valuation of approximately $825 million. Qualcomm backs the firm.

- GoodMe, a Chinese milk tea chain, is in early discussions about an IPO in Hong Kong, according to Bloomberg. Sequoia Capital China backs the firm.

- ChaBaiDao, a Chinese fruit and milk tea chain, is weighing an IPO in Hong Kong, according to Bloomberg.

- Ola, an Indian electric scooter and ridesharing company, is gearing up for an IPO, per Bloomberg. The company may seek a valuation of more than $8 billion. SoftBank and Tiger Global back the firm.

- Emirates Global Aluminium, an aluminum producer in the UAE, is considering an IPO in the country for next year, per Reuters. Mubadala Investment Company and the Investment Corporation of Dubai own the company.

- SenseTime Group, a Hong Kong-based A.I. technology company, filed for an IPO in the city and could raise approximately $2 billion, per Bloomberg. SoftBank backs the firm.

F+FS

- Susa Ventures, a San Francisco-based early-stage venture firm, raised $125 million for a seed-stage fund and $250 million for an opportunity fund. 

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