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The question that defines venture capital firm Benchmark

September 10, 2021, 2:45 PM UTC

For Benchmark, I imagine they take the question with a hint of exasperation, like late stage companies being queried “when will you IPO” the moment they reach unicorn status.

It’s almost routine at this point. Asked to death in public, in private, by journalists, peers, and their investors, it is a question that has only multiplied in volume as the venture capital industry itself has become a giant.

Will you ever increase your fund size and grow the firm? How will Benchmark change?

Naturally, I too asked those questions of the venture capital investor’s newest general partner, Miles Grimshaw. Prior to joining as a general partner late last year, the 30-year-old had plenty of time to work with members of Benchmark, having shared board seats with members of the team during his time as a general partner of Thrive Capital (Supergreat, a beauty and live-shopping startup, with Sarah Tavel; Benchling, a life sciences software maker, with Eric Vishria).

But just as Benchmark has raised the same $425 million for its 2020, 2018, and 2013 vintage funds, Grimshaw hints that he, like his predecessors, doesn’t see much point in staffing up or boosting the next fund’s size even as its equally well-regarded peers raise in the billions

He believes that at the early stages, where Benchmark focuses, growth for a company is not dictated by check sizes.

“At those stages, capital is almost certainly not [the limiter],” he told Term Sheet. “It’s certainly attractive, you know, larger fund size and to write larger checks etc. It is alluring, but it’s actually not what you need at that point in time.”

Meaning even with a new slate of investors, Benchmark is sticking with its DNA: Burned by an early attempt to expand to Israel, London, and more, the investing shop has kept to its strategy of keeping lean both in its fund size, and in its number of partners ever since.

It is a bit boring. It is non-news. It’s like asking what’s up, and being told, oh, nothing. But it is also what Benchmark sees as a lack of change in its firm that is remarkable, and has come to define the investor year after year especially when its cohorts are scaling into giants and organizations. And it’s worked for Benchmark’s returns in years past: In 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that Benchmark’s 2011 vintage fund that raised about $550 million grew investors’ capital by about 25 times. But make no mistake: the question of whether Benchmark will grow, will continue to follow the investor.

Read more of the Q&A with Grimshaw, and why sometimes, you have to fire your first customer, here.

EVERYONE IS A MEDIA COMPANY: In 2020, the mantra was that every company is a fintech company. In 2021, it seems like every company is also a media company. Banking giant J.P. Morgan Chase agreed to acquire The Infatuation, the parent company of restaurant review brand Zagat. J.P. Morgan has recently sought to pull in more spendings from those who enjoy travelling and eating out, per the WSJ. The plan for the new acquisition is to offer its credit card holders and customers the reviews and potentially, access to its annual food festival, EEEEEATSCON. Read more.

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

Jessica Mathews compiled the IPO and SPAC sections of this newsletter.

VENTURE DEALS

- Snyk, a Boston-based developer security company, raised $530 million in Series F funding valuing it at $8.5 billion. Sands Capital and Tiger Global led the round and were joined by investors including Baillie Gifford, Koch Strategic Platforms, Lone Pine Capital, T. Rowe Price, Whale Rock Capital Management, Accel, Addition, Alkeon, Atlassian Ventures, BlackRock, Boldstart Ventures, Canaan Partners, Coatue, Franklin Templeton, Geodesic Capital, Salesforce Ventures, and Temasek.

- Varo Bank, a San Francisco-based banking startup, raised $510 million. Lone Pine Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Declaration Partners, Eldridge, Marshall Wace, Berkshire Partners/Stockbridge, and BlackRock. 

- Agile Robots, a Beijing-based robotics company, raised $220 million in Series C funding. SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led the round and was joined by investors including Chimera Investments, GL Ventures, Sequoia China, Linear Capital, Xiaomi, Foxconn, and Midas. 

- Scalapay, an Italian buy now, pay later company, raised $155 million in Series A funding. Tiger Global led the round and was joined by investors including Baleen Capital and Woodson Capital. 

- Mammoth Biosciences, a CRISPR biotech company, raised $150 million in Series D funding. Redmile Group led the round. 

- Obsidian Therapeutics, a Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech focused on cell and gene therapies, raised $115 million in Series B funding. The Column Group Crossover Fund led the round and was joined by investors including RA Capital Management, Surveyor Capital, Cowen Healthcare Investments, Deep Track Capital, Logos Capital, Pivotal BioVenture Partners, Samsara BioCapital, and Soleus Capital.

- Whatnot, a Marina Del Rey, Calif.-based live-shopping startup, is raising at a $1.5 billion valuation, per the Information.

- Orchard, a New York City-based home buying and selling company, raised $100 million in Series D funding, valuing it over $1 billion. Accomplice led the round and was joined by investors including FirstMark, Revolution, First American, and Juxtapose.

- Affinity, a San Francisco-based relationship management software maker focused on dealmaking, raised $80 million in Series C funding. Menlo Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Advance Venture Partners, Sprints Capital, Pear Ventures, Sway Ventures, MassMutual Ventures, Teamworthy, and ECT Capital Partners’ Brian N. Sheth

- Vouch, a San Francisco-based business insurance provider, raised $90 million valuing it at $550 million. Investors include Redpoint Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank Capital, Ribbit Capital, Allegis Group, Sound Ventures, and SiriusPoint.

- CookUnity, a meal delivery startup, raised $47 million in Series B funding. Insight Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Endeavor Capital, IDCV, Fuel Ventures, and Gaingels

- Wisetack, a San Francisco-based buy now, pay later company, raised $45 million in Series B funding. Insight Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Greylock Partners and Bain Capital Ventures.

- Supabase, a Singapore-based backend startup, raised a $30 million Series A. Coatue led the round.

- Irwin, a Toronto-based investor relations software maker, raised $20 million in Series A funding. K1 Investment Management led the round.

- Wildfire Systems, a Solana Beach, Calif.-based rewards and loyalty program tech company, raised $15 million in Series A funding. TTV Capital and QED Investors led the round.

- DotCom Therapy, a Madison, Wis.-based pediatric teletherapy startup, raised $13 million in Series A funding. New Capital Partners led the round.

- Rocket Dollar, an Austin-based retirement platform, raised $8 million in Series A funding. Park West Asset Management led the round and was joined by investors including Hyphen Capital, Moneta Venture Capital, Kraken Ventures, and Primetime Partners.

- BRUNT Workwear, a Boston-based work boot and apparel brand, raised $8.4 million in Series A funding. TF Cornerstone led the round.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- Investors including Norway's government pension fund,  Aeternum Capital, GIC, and Vind invested in Visma, a Norwegian software company, valuing it at $18.9 billion. Hg remains the firm’s largest investor.

- Ronin Equity Partners acquired QBD and Minus Forty, two Canadian refrigeration companies, valuing the duo at about $230 million.

- BlackRock made a $90 million convertible preferred equity investment in Tricolor, a Dalla-based company focusing on the Hispanic market and used motor vehicles.

- Bluestone Investment Partners invested in cBEYONData, a Lorton, Va.-based professional services and solutions company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Fairchild Capital Partners acquired Package Design & Supply Co., a Buffalo, N.Y.-based maker of packaging and shipping products and supplies. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- FoodScience, backed by Wind Point Partners, acquired Pet Tech Labs, a Syracuse, Ne.-based manufacturer of animal nutritional supplements. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- GS Foods, backed by Highview Capital and A&M Capital Partners, acquired C&C Produce, a Kansas City, Mo.-based produce distributor. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Quantic, a portfolio company of Arcline Investment Management, acquired ECI Transcon Technologies, a maker of electromagnetic components. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

EXIT

- Insight Partners acquired a 40% stake in NMI, a commerce tech company, valuing it at $1.6 billion. Francisco Partners and Great Hill maintain stakes.

- Blackstone invested in Dynamo Software, a Watertown, Mass.-based cloud software maker for the alternative investment management industry, valuing the company at about $900 million, per the WSJ. Francisco Partners remains an investor.

- Aquiline Capital Partners will acquire a majority stake in Quicken, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based personal finance software maker, from H.I.G. Capital. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- MasterCard agreed to acquire CipherTrace, a Los Gatos, Calif.-based cryptocurrency intelligence company. CipherTrace was backed by Third Point Ventures, Neotribe Ventures, and Aspect Ventures. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- ZoomInfo acquired RingLead, a Melville, N.Y.-based data management platform backed by Jericho Capital. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

OTHER

- 888 will acquire William Hill's non-U.S. businesses from Caesars for 2.2 billion pounds ($3 billion).

- UPS (NYSE:UPS) agreed to acquire Roadie, an Atlanta-based same-day delivery company.

- Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) agreed to acquire Clipchamp, an Australian video editing software maker.

IPO

- Warby Parker, a New York City-based affordable glasses company, plans to offer 77.7 million shares in a direct listing. The average price of its shares has been $22.28. Warby Parker posted $393.7 million in net revenue in 2020, and reported a net loss of $55.9 million. Tiger Global, T. Rowe Price, and D1 Capital Partners back the firm.

- Cary Group Holding, a Swedish car care services company, plans to file for an initial public offering in the country this year, according to Bloomberg. An IPO would value the company at around $1.1 billion. Nordic Capital and Rydgruppen Sverige back the firm.

- Chronext, a Swedish luxury watch marketplace, plans to raise $273 million in an IPO in the country, per Bloomberg.

- Oxford Nanopore, a U.K.-based rapid COVID test producer, announced plans to IPO in London and is planning to float at least 25% of its shares, per Reuters. IP Group, Temasek, Nikon, and Wellington Management back the firm.

- Tyra Biosciences, Inc., a Carlsbad, Calif.-based cancer therapy company, plans to raise up to $107.2 million in an offering of 6.7 million shares priced between $14 and $16 per share. The company reported a net loss of $9.3 million in 2020 and has yet to post revenue. Alta Partners, RA Capital, and Boxer Capital back the firm.

- Cingulate, a Kansas City, Kansas-based ADHD treatment company, filed for an initial public offering. The company reported a net loss of $7.2 million in 2020 and has yet to post revenue.

- Ximalaya, a Chinese audio platform, has withdrawn its IPO registration with the SEC. The company is now planning to list in Hong Kong, per Reuters.

SPAC

- Marblegate Acquisition Corp., a blank check company focused on companies that have recently gone through a restructuring, plans to raise $300 million in an initial public offering. The SPAC is led by Marblegate Asset Management co-founders Andrew Milgram and Paul Arrouet.

F+FS

- Crowberry, an Iceland and Denmark-based venture investor, raised $90 million for its seed and early-stage fund, Crowberry II. It is planning a $40 million second close for July.

- Scout Ventures, a New York City-based frontier tech company, raised $55 million for Fund III.

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