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When startup exits aren’t such good news

September 17, 2021, 2:35 PM UTC

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An exit—in which a company is sold—is often hailed as a celebratory event.

There’s practically a formula at this point: A Medium blog post announces the acquisition, noting how both companies have the same shared mission and smaller companies will benefit from the larger’s network. Party popper emojis, of course, are a must. And indubitably, financial terms cannot be disclosed.

The lack of details on financials in particular raises a nagging question: Are all of these exits worthy of celebration? Here’s a commentary piece from Aron Solomon, head of strategy and chief legal analyst for Esquire Digital, diving into the issue of what he calls ‘fauxquisitions’. Sometimes, the startup has sold for a lower valuation. At other points, it’s sold to a company with a bad culture. Sometimes, this takes the form of an acquihire, and in more sinister cases, the acquisition is made to kill the product. The tech giants are certainly known for this.

“I like to call this kind of transaction a fauxquisition because while it looks like an acquisition from the outside, it doesn’t smell or feel like one. It’s the bowl of plastic ramen in the shop window that always looks so good but, well, yeah. 

Of course, acquisitions can have ulterior motives. Milk and Sparrow, both acquired by Google, are good examples of the concept. In the former, its founder was essentially brought on to play a key role in Google’s then-new VC structure. In the latter, it was an acquisition to straight-up kill what many users felt was a product far superior to Google’s. However, smaller fauxquisitions happen every day.

….The investors in the company that was acquired might think they can sleep better at night, but now, instead of owning a larger percentage of a company they invested early in, they own a very small percentage of a much larger company whose internal cracks are evident to anyone in the building.” Read more.

In this age of decacorns and record startup funding, it’s easy to gloss over the fact that not all startups are doing great—nor are the ones that are doing great necessarily making the right decisions for their long-term success when it comes to dealmaking.

Lucinda Shen

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


- Commure, a health-tech startup, raised about $500 million across two rounds, per Business Insider. The deal values the business at $3.5 billion. Human Capital and Greenoaks Capital led the round.

- Avalanche, a blockchain focused on speed and low transaction costs, raised $230 million. Polychain and Three Arrows Capital led the round and was joined by investors including R/Crypto Fund, Dragonfly, CMS Holdings, Collab+Currency, and Lvna Capital.

- Whatnot, a Marina del Rey, Calif.-based live streaming marketplace, confirmed it raised $150 million in Series C funding valuing it at $1.5 billion valuation. Investors included Andreessen Horowitz, YC Continuity, and CapitalG, as well as Golden State Warriors player Andre Iguodala, YouTube influencer Logan Paul, Doordash Product and Business Helper Gokul Rajaram, and Instacart president Nilam Ganenthiran.

- Spring Health, a New York City-based mental health company, raised $190 million in Series C funding. Kinnevik led the round and was joined by investors including The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, Tiger Global, Northzone, RRE Ventures, Rethink Impact, Work-Bench, William K Warren Foundation, SemperVirens, Able Partners, and True Capital Ventures, valuing it at $2 billion

- Tradesy, a Los Angeles-based peer-to-peer marketplace for pre-owned luxury fashion, raised $67 million in funding. John Doerr’s Foris Ventures led the round.

- Mynd, an Oakland, Calif.-based single-family rental properties company, raised $57.3 million in funding from QED Investors.

- Elevian, an Allston, Mass.-based biotech company focused on age-related diseases, raised $40 million in Series A funding. Prime Movers Lab led the round.

- Tyk, a London-based API management company, raised $35 million. Scottish Equity Partners led the round and was joined by investors including MMC Ventures.

- Elodie Games, a gaming startup, raised $32.5 million in Series A funding. Galaxy Interactive and a16z led the round.

- Caresyntax, a Boston-based startup aimed at reducing deaths from surgery-related complications, raised $30 million from investors including BlackRock and ProAssurance.

- Kolide, a Boston-based endpoint security platform, raised $17 million in Series B funding. OpenView Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Matrix Partners.

- Coinfirm, a London-based regtech for digital currencies raised $8 million in Series A funding. SIX Fintech Ventures and FiveT Fintech led the round and was joined by investors including  MiddleGame Ventures, Mission Gate, and CoinShares.

- Roboflow, a Des Moines, Ia.-based startup, raised $20 million in Series A funding. Craft Ventures led the round.

- LayerZero, a New York City-based interoperability protocol for decentralized applications, raised $6.3 million in Series A funding. Binance Labs and MulticoinCapital led the round and was joined by investors including SinoGlobalCapital, Defiance, DelphiDigital, RobotVentures, Spartan, Hypersphere Ventures, ProtocolVentures, and GenBlockCapital.

- Sequin, a San Francisco-based debit card geared at women, raised $5.7 million in seed funding. Matrix Partners, Y Combinator, Scribble Ventures, IDEO, Thomvest, Commerce VC, and Carrie Schwab invested.

- OnLoop, a New York City-based performance review and feedback company, raised $5.5 million. MMV and Square Peg Capital led the round and were joined by investors including Hustle Fund.


- CVC Capital Partners agreed to acquire a stake in CFGI, a Boston-based accounting advisory firm, valuing it at $1.9 billion.

- Compusoft Group, a portfolio company of TA Associates, acquired Access Information Technologies, a maker of software for the door and window industry. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Mason Wells acquired KDV Labels and I-Graphics, Milwaukee-based maker of adhesive labels, digital labels, and unsupported film labels. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Vision Innovation Partners acquired Ophthalmic Associates, a provider of eye care services with five locations in Western Pennsylvania. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- RealPage, a portfolio company of Thoma Bravo, acquired G5 Search Marketing, an Oregon-based digital marketing company, from PeakEquity Partners. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Invesco is in talks to merge with the State Street Corp's asset-management business, per the Wall Street Journal.

- MediaLab.A acquired the Genius Media Group, a music annotation company, for $80 million, per Bloomberg. Investors include Detroit Venture Partners, a16z, and Initialized Capital.


- Immix Biopharma, a Los Angeles-based oncology drug company, filed for an initial public offering. The company reported a net loss of 1.1 million in 2020 and has yet to post revenue.

- Keter Group SA, an Israeli garden and household product manufacturer, filed for an initial public offering in the U.S. The company posted $1.5 billion in revenue in 2020 and a loss of $90.5 million. BC Partners backs the firm.

- IHS Holding Limited, a London-based mobile communications infrastructure developer, filed for an initial public offering in the U.S. The company posted $1.4 million in revenue in 2020 and reported a loss of approximately $323,000. Wendel, Emerging Capital Partners, Mobile Telephone Networks in the Netherlands, and Korea Investment Corporation back the firm.


- Warburg Pincus, the New York City-based private equity investor, is seeking to raise $16 billion, per Reuters, for its next flagship fund.


- Shore Capital Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm, named Brad Morehead as partner and head of the firm’s business services fund.

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