The Apple vs. Epic fight isn’t over
On Friday, a federal judge handed down the much-anticipated decision on the battle between Apple and Epic Games.
There were a bevy of takes on the ruling, but it certainly was far from ideal for Epic: Apple won on nine of the 10 counts, with the gamemaker ordered to pay millions in breach of contract damages to Apple—representing about 30% of the revenues for the time it allowed payments to bypass the App Store when this debate really first blew up in mid-2020. The judge in the case also did not find Apple to be a monopoly in the gaming transactions space.
But there was a notable err, kind of, win?
Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers’ decision allowed gaming apps a way to bypass Apple’s in-app purchases by including “buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms, in addition to in-app purchasing.” So iOS users, if they wished, would have the ability to help companies bypass the 15% to 30% fee by either paying via Apple or via a different service. And it is this 15% to 30% fee that has been a long-time irritation among app developers, and a very lucrative business for Apple.
“The Court does not find that Apple is an antitrust monopolist in the submarket for mobile gaming transactions,” Rogers wrote. “However it does find that Apple’s conduct in enforcing anti-steering restrictions anticompetitive.”
But the battle isn’t over quite yet.
In a sign of how Epic itself is seeing the decision—in contrast to some of the celebrations online—the Fortnite maker said Sunday it plans to appeal the ruling. And while Spotify stated it was pleased with the judgement, it also called for more legislation to address “these and many unfair practices.”
And there’s another potential battleground brewing in the ruling itself not just for Epic, but for the broader game-making community: That’s the question of what exactly the “buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms” will look like inside an app. Here’s a good breakdown from the Verge’s Nilay Patel. Here too is Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, cheekily asking Apple’s Siri “what is a button” via Tweet on Sunday.
Will this button allow users to stay in the app to make the purchase, or will it require that they leave to an external website? If it is the latter, will users be willing to go through the irritation of opening up another window, thereby limiting the impact the ruling has on Apple’s app-store revenue? And then conversely, could and would app-makers themselves show differential pricing to users between in-app purchasing and external payment methods to encourage their consumers away from Apple payment methods?
These questions, and the current lack of a certain answer, certainly could open the door for more fights as developers and Apple both look to grow their cut of the revenue.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: It’s not just European startups that are coming to roost stateside. Here’s Dutch conglomerate Ahold Delhaize, which owns businesses including Food Lion and Stop & Shop, and how it’s using tech to fight the food battles in the U.S. Read more.
Jessica Mathews compiled the IPO and SPAC sections of this newsletter.
- Papaya Global, an Israel-based workforce management software maker, raised $250 million in Series D funding, valuing it at about $3.7 billion. Insight Partners led the round, and was joined by new investor Tiger Global, as well as existing investors Greenoaks Capital, IVP, Scale Venture Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, Alkeon Capital, Workday Ventures, Access Industries, and Group 11.
- JumpCloud, a Louisville, Colo.-based identity management software maker, raised $159 million in Series F funding. Sapphire Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Owl Rock, Whale Rock Capital, Sands Capital, and Endeavor Catalyst. General Atlantic, BlackRock, and H.I.G. Growth Partners also participated, valuing it at $2.6 billion.
- Commercetools, a maker of e-commerce APIs, raised $140 million in Series C funding valuing it at $1.9 billion. Accel led the round and was joined by investors including Insight Partners and REWE Group.
- Copado, a Chicago-based maker of a DevOps platform, raised $140 million in Series C funding. Insight Partners led the round and was joined by investors including SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Declaration Partners, and DG Ventures, as well as existing investors Salesforce Ventures, ISAI Cap Venture, Lead Edge Capital, and Perpetual Investors.
- Amagi, an Indian media tech business, raised $100 million. Accel, Avataar Ventures, and Norwest Venture Partners invested alongside Premji Invest, acquiring a stake held by Emerald Media and Mayfield Fund.
- TreeFrog Therapeutics, a French-based biotech focused on cell-derived cell therapies, raised $75 million (€64 million) in Series B funding. Bpifrance Large Venture led the round and was joined by investors including Leonard Green & Partners, Bristol Myers Squibb, and XAnge.
- Walking Fish Therapeutics, a South San Francisco-based B cell engineering company, raised $50 million in Series A funding. Investors included Emerson Collective, Illumina Ventures, and Quan Capital.
- Billogram, a Stockholm-based payments company, raised $45 million in funding. Partech led the round.
- Numan, a London-based men’s health platform, raised $40 million in Series B funding. White Star Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Novator, Vostok New Global, Anthemis Exponential, Colle Capital, and Hanwha Dream Fund.
- Calysta, a San Mateo Calif.-based company focused on alternative proteins, raised $39 million in Series D-1 funding. bp ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Adisseo, AquaSpark, and WTI.
- GenXComm, an Austin-based networking solutions company, $20 million in Series B funding. Motive Companies led the round and was joined by investors including Raine Next-Gen Communications, BMW iVentures, Intel Capital, Azure Capital, and Bandgap Ventures.
- Babyscripts, a Washington D.C.-based virtual care platform for managing obstetrics, raised $12 million in Series B funding. MemorialCare Innovation Fund led the round and was joined by investors including Philips and the CU Healthcare Innovation Fund.
- Gr3n, a Swiss recycling company, raised €6.3 million ($7.4 million) in Series B funding. Chevron Technology Ventures and Standex International invested.
- Eleos Health, a Boston and Israel-based digital health startup focused on behavioral health, raised $6 million in seed funding. aMoon Fund led the round and was joined by investors including lool ventures.
- MaxRewards, a Atlanta-based maker of a digital wallet app, raised $3 million in seed funding. Dundee Venture Capital and Calano Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Techstars, Fintech Ventures Fund, Service Provider Capital, and Nick Izquierdo (Fleetcor president).
- Sprinque, an Amsterdam-based b2b checkout platform, raised €1.7 million in funding from Volta Ventures and Force Over Mass.
- Entoprotech, an Israel-based climate change, sustainability and biotech startup, raised $2 million. Granot led the round.
- Blackstone Group abandoned plans to take control of SOHO China, a Chinese building developer, for $3 billion.
- Hellman & Friedman raised its offer to acquire Zooplus, a European online pet supplies retailer, to about €3.3 billion ($3.9 billion) from an €3 billion.
- The Jordan Company agreed to acquire and take private Echo Global Logistics (Nasdaq: ECHO), a Chicago-based freight transport company, for $1.3 billion.
- Arctos Sports Partners will acquire a 17% stake in the Sacramento Kings, the NBA team, valuing it at a $1.8 billion valuation, per Sportico.
- EyeSouth Partners, backed by Shore Capital Partners, acquired the Eye Center of St Augustine, a Florida-based provider of eye care services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- FloWorks, backed by Clearlake Capital Group, acquired Genesis Systems, a distributor of control valve, regulator, and valve automation products and systems. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Monte Nido & Affiliates, a portfolio company of Levine Leichtman Capital Partners, acquired Walden Behavioral Care, a Waltham, Mass.-based provider of treatments for eating disorders. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Stellex Capital Management invested in Paragon Metals, a New York City-based company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
TransUnion agreed to acquire Neustar, a Reston, Va.-based marketing data and fraud protection company, for $3.1 billion from investors including Golden Gate Capital and GIC.
- Carlyle is looking to sell Hunkemoller, its Netherlands-based lingerie chain, per Reuters. A deal could value the business at €1 billion ($1.2 billion).
- Francisco Partners agreed to invest in RugsUSA, a New York City-based e-commerce provider of area rugs and home décor, taking a majority stake from Comvest Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Kansas City Southern plans to accept Canadian Pacific Railway $27.2 billion cash-and-stock acquisition offer rather than Canadian National Railway’s $29.6 billion deal.
- Sea (NYSE: SE), a Singapore-based gaming and e-commerce company, raised $6 billion in an equity and convertible bond sale, the largest ever equity sale by a Southeast Asian country.
- Vista Outdoor (NYSE: VSTO) agreed to acquire Foresight Sports, a San Diego, Calif.-based golf simulator maker, for $474 million.
- BitSight, a Boston-based cybersecurity ratings company, raised $250 million from Moody’s. Bitsight also acquired VisibleRisk, a cyber risk company backed by Moody’s.
- EasyJet (LON:EZJ), the discount airliner, rejected a takeover offer from Wizz Air Holdings, per Bloomberg.
- Stripe, a San Francisco and Dublin-based digital payments company, is in early talks to go public as soon as 2022, per Bloomberg. Allianz SE, Fidelity Investments, and Sequoia Capital back the firm. The company is currently valued at $95 billion.
- Freshworks, a San Mateo, Calif.-based business software company, plans to raise up to $912 million in an offering of 28.5 million shares priced between $28 and $32 per share. The company posted $250 million in revenue in 2020 and a net loss of $57.3 million. Accel, CapitalG, Tiger Global, and Sequoia Capital back the firm.
- Adnoc Drilling, the drilling business of UAE energy producer Abu Dhabi National Oil, plans to raise around $750 million in an IPO in the country, according to Bloomberg. Oil services company Baker Hughes backs the firm.
- Toast, a Boston-based restaurant point of sale and management system, plans to raise up to raise up to $717.4 million in an offering of 21.7 million shares priced between $30 and $33 per share. The company posted $823.1 million in revenue in 2020 and reported a net loss of $248.2 million. Bessemer Venture Partners, T. Rowe Price, TCV, and Tiger Global back the firm.
- EngageSmart, a Braintree, Mass.-based customer engagement software company, plans to raise up to $363.8 million in an offering of 14.6 million shares priced between $23 to $25 per share. The company posted $146.6 million in revenue in 2020 and reported a net loss and comprehensive loss of $6.7 million. Summit Partners backs the firm, and General Atlantic holds a majority stake.
- Sterling Check Corp., a New York City-based background check company, plans to raise up to $314.3 million in an offering of 14.3 million shares priced between $20 and $22 per share. The company generated $454 million in revenue in 2020 and reported a net loss of $52.3 million. Goldman Sachs backs the firm.
- Enact Holdings, a mortgage insurance and lending company, plans to raise up to $266.2 million in an offering of 13.3 million shares priced between $19 and $20 per share. The company posted $1.1 billion in revenue in 2020 and net income of $370 million. Enact Holdings is a subsidiary of life insurance company Genworth Financial.
- Thorne HealthTech, a New York City-based personalized wellness company, plans to raise up to $135 million in an offering of 9 million shares priced between $13 and $15 per share. The company posted net sales of $138.5 million in 2020 and a net loss of $4 million. Mitsui Group and Kirin Holdings back the firm.
- a.k.a. Brands Holding Corp., a San Francisco-based fashion brand company, plans to raise up to $263.9 million in an offering of 13.9 million shares priced between $17 and $19 per share. The company reported $215.9 million in net sales in 2020 and net income of $14.8 million. Summit Partners backs the firm.
- Thomas James Homes, an Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based home replacement company, filed for an initial public offering. The company reported $190.7 million in revenue in 2020 and a net loss of $15.1 million. Oaktree Capital backs the firm.
- FGI Industries, an East Hanover, New Jersey-based kitchen and bath product supplier, filed for an initial public offering. The company posted $134.8 million in revenue in 2020 and net income of $4.7 million.
- Heytea, a Chinese cheese tea chain, has hired UBS for a possible IPO in Hong Kong, per Bloomberg. An IPO could raise at least $500 million.
- Forge Global, a San Francisco-based private securities marketplace, plans to go public via a merger with Motive Capital Corp., a SPAC. A deal values the combined entity at around $2 billion. Peter Thiel, Temasek, Wells Fargo, and BNP Paribas back the firm.
- Spark Capital, the venture capital investor, is seeking to raise $2 billion across two funds, per The Wall Street Journal.
- Falfurrias Capital Partners, a Charlotte-based private equity firm, closed its fifth namesake fund at $850 million.
- Diversis Capital Management, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm, closed Diversis Capital Partners II with $675 million.
- Jungle Ventures, a Southeast Asia venture investor, announced the first $225 million close of its fourth fund
- AV8 Ventures, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based venture capital firm, launched a $180 million second fund.
- CVC and Glendower Capital, a private equity secondaries manager, will merge. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Lightspeed Europe, the European team of venture firm Lightspeed, named Paul Murphy as Partner and Ross Mason as Venture Partner.
- Water Street Healthcare Partners, a Chicago-based health care investor, named Caroline Kenter Larew as vice president.
- Brevan Howard Asset Management, a London-based alternative investment management platform, hired Colleen Sullivan, CEO of CMT Digital, to lead its private and venture investment activities in crypto.
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