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Venture capital firm Greylock gears up for mango seeds

September 22, 2021, 3:13 PM UTC

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Investing in the earliest stages of a startup, when it is just forming, is risky but potentially extremely lucrative.

It’s why many investors are doubling down on the space, including Sequoia, which most recently raised about $195 million for a dedicated seed fund and Andreessen Horowitz, with its $400 million seed. Seed deals, for lack of a better term, are on fire. 

But even in that space, 56-year-0ld Greylock’s new $500 million fund focusing on seed deals is notable. It plans to write checks nearly eight times the industry average for the stage out of its fund. Here’s an excerpt from the Information’s Kate Clark, including a quote from Greylock Partner Sarah Guo:

“To avoid overexerting its staff, Greylock plans to write checks at sizes up to $20 million—far above the median seed-deal size of $2.6 million, according to PitchBook—in fewer companies. When Greylock last raised capital for seed deals, a $20 million carve-out in 2010, the partners learned that writing checks in some 100 startups ‘just isn’t a fit for Greylock,’ Guo said.”

I kind of love the first five words of that passage because to avoid overexerting its staff” is a novel way to think about the increasing size of venture capital rounds in general. Most stories highlight that the advantage of larger check sizes comes down to competing for hot companies and founders at a time and when everyone and their mother is in venture capital. 

But it’s fun to think of a $20 million seed as a kind of a perk to be displayed on a job search page alongside benefits like free Pelotons or access to mental health apps, something that can help you, as a dealmaker, maintain some semblance of work-life balance in this heady time. And prima facie, it does make sense: As a result of the strategy, partners have fewer companies they have to focus on in the portfolio. And that’s perhaps especially important to Greylock, which says 70% of its new investments in 2021 were in seed investments.

The question I’ve continually come back to is: What even is a seed deal now? Or any stage of deal, for that matter? Just yesterday we had a $650 million Series B deal from French fantasy sports startup Sorare. In the summer, Articulate—bootstrapped since 2002—raised $1.5 billion in what it called a Series A (a moniker more often applied to companies just getting their footing) referring to the fact that it was the company’s first outside round of funding.

MIRROR CEO STEPS DOWN: After Lululemon acquired the connected fitness company last year for $500 million, Mirror CEO Brynn Putnam has stepped down as the head of the business, per CNBC. She will maintain a position as an advisor through July, with a trio of Mirror executives Tess Hales, Olivia Lange and Kristie D’Ambrosio-Correll acting in her stead. Read more.

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

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

VENTURE DEALS

- Mirakl, a Paris-based maker of software for online marketplaces, raised $555 million in Series E funding. Silver Lake led the round and was joined by investors including 83North, Elaia Partners, Felix Capital, and Permira. The deal values the business at $3.5 billion.

- Dapper Labs, the Canadian company behind NBA Top Shot and the Flow blockchain, raised $250 million. Coatue led the round and was joined by investors including a16z, GV (formerly Google Ventures) and Version One Ventures as well as BOND and Government of Singapore Investment Corporation.

- ​​Vestiaire Collective, a Paris-based luxury resale marketplace, raised $210 million. Softbank Vision Fund 2 and Generation Investment Management led the round valuing it at $1.7 billion.

- HAI ROBOTICS, a Chinese warehouse robotics startup, raised about $200 million in Series C funding. 5Y Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Sequoia Capital China, Source Code Capital, VMS, Walden International, and Scheme Capital. 

- FLYR Labs, a San Francisco-based software maker for the airline and travel industries, raised $150 million in Series C funding. WestCap led the round and was joined by investors including Silver Lake Waterman, WndrCo, Peter Thiel, Streamlined Ventures, JetBlue Technology Ventures, and Gopher Asset Management.

- StreamElements, a Los Angeles-based provider of engagement and monetization tools for video creators, raised $100 million in funding. SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led the round and was joined by investors including PayPal Ventures, and MoreTech.

- Sunday, an Atlanta-based restaurant payment solution, raised $100 million Series A funding. Coatue and Partners of DST Global led the round.

Battery Resourcers, a Worcester, Mass.-based maker of lithium-ion battery materials, raised about $70 million. Investors include Hitachi Ventures, Orbia Ventures, Jaguar Land Rover’s InMotion Ventures, Doral Energy, At One Ventures, TDK Ventures, and Trumpf Ventures.

- Nomad Health, a New York City-based travel-nursing company, raised $63 million. Adams Street Partners led the round.

- Bilt Rewards, a New York City-based loyalty program for property renters to earn points, raised $60 million valuing it at $350 million. Wells Fargo and Mastercard led the round and was joined by investors including The Blackstone Group, AvalonBay Communities, Douglas Elliman, Equity Residential, GID-Windsor Communities, LENx, The Moinian Group, Morgan Properties, and Starwood Capital Group.

- June Homes, a New York City-based apartment rental agency, for $50 million. SoftBank Ventures Asia led the round and was joined by investors including TQ Ventures, FJ Labs, K50, Reshape, Quiet Capital, and angel investors including Demi Lovato (musician and human rights activist) and Scott Belsky (founder of Behance). 

- Pager, a New York City-based virtual care company, raised $50 million in Series C funding. Susquehanna Private Equity Investments led the round and was joined by investors including Horizon Healthcare Services.

- Centivo, a new health plan for self-funded employers, anchored around leading providers of value-based care, announced today that it has raised a $51 million Series B1, less than 10 months after its previous round. B Capital Group and Maverick co-led the round.

- Raspberry Pi’s trading arm, a U.K.-based maker of a microprocessor, raised $45 million valuing it at $500 million pre-money. Lansdowne Partners and The Ezrah Charitable Trust led the round.

- Aviv Scientific, a Tel Aviv-based company focused on age-related declines, raised $40 million in Series B funding. Investors include Danel LTD and Deep Insight Fund.

- HumanCo, an Austin-based consumer products incubation company, raised $35 million in a bridge round of funding. Investors include 8VC, JAZZ Venture Partners, PLUS Capital, Dr. Mark Hyman, Indra Nooyi (Former CEO of PepsiCo), Kurt Seidensticker (Founder of Vital Proteins).

- Almanac, a San Francisco-based documents startup, raised $34 million in funding. Tiger Global led the round and was joined by investors including Floodgate and General Catalyst.

- Spenmo, a Singapore-based software startup focused on payables, raised $34 million in Series A funding. Insight Partners led the round.

- NOCD, a Chicago-based provider of obsessive compulsive-disorder treatment, raised $33 million in Series B funding. F-Prime Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Eight Roads Ventures, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, 7wireVentures, Health Enterprise Partners (HEP), and Chicago Ventures.

- Intenseye, an employee health and safety company, raised $25 million in Series A funding. Insight Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Point Nine and Air Street Capital.

- :Different, an Australian property-management software company, raised $25 million in Series B funding. x15ventures and Antler led the round.

- Nex, a San Francisco-based motion-based game company, raised $25 million in Series B funding. Blue Pool Capital and Samsung Ventures led the round and were joined by investors including SparkLabs, Susquehanna, Simu Liu (Shang-Chi), Albert Pujols (LA Dodgers), Thierry Henry (Arsenal Legend), and Sabrina Ionescu (WNBA).

- Xealth, a Seattle-based digital health company, raised $24 million in Series B funding. Advocate Aurora Enterprises led the round.

- Stairwell, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based cybersecurity company, raised $20 million in Series A funding. Sequoia Capital and Accel led the round.

- Propel, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based product development software maker, raised $20 million in Series C funding. Salesforce Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Norwest Venture Partners, Cloud Apps Capital Partners, Green D Ventures, and TIFF

- Ketch, a San Francisco-based data security company, raised $20 million in Series A1 funding. Acrew Capital led the round and was joined by investors including CRV, super{set}, Ridge Ventures, and Silicon Valley Bank.

- Orca, a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange, raised $18 million in Series A funding. Polychain, Placeholder, and Three Arrows Capital invested along with Jump Capital, Sino Global Capital, Collab+Currency, DeFiance Capital, Zee Prime, Coinbase Ventures, and Solana Capital.

- Pearl Health, a New York City-based primary health tech company, raised $18 million in Series A funding. A16z led the round and was joined by investors including AlleyCorp and Kevin Ryan.

- Chapter, a New York City-based medicare plan selection and enrollment guide, raised $17 million in Series A funding. Narya Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Susa Ventures, Maverick Ventures, XYZ Venture Capital, Core Innovation Capital, and Health2047 Capital Partners. Peter Thiel also joined the company’s board of directors.

- DeepFactor, a San Jose, Calif.-based application observability company, raised $15 million in Series A funding. Insight Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Emergent Ventures and Security Leadership Capital.

- Amberdata, a New York City-based blockchain analytics startup, raised  $15 million in Series A funding. Citi led the round.

- GrowthSpace, a New York City-based maker of personalized talent development programs, raised $15 million in Series A funding. M12 led the round.

- EarthOptics, an Arlington, Va.-based agriculture tech company, raised $10.3 million in Series A funding. Leaps by Bayer led the round and was joined by investors including S2G Ventures, FHB Ventures, VTC Ventures, and Route 66 Ventures.

- Blackbird.AI, a New York City-based startup focused on disinformation, raised $10 million in Series A funding. Dorilton Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Generation Ventures, Trousdale Ventures, StartFast Ventures, and Richard Clarke (former chief counter-terrorism advisor for the National Security Council). 

- Fauna Bio, an Emeryville, Calif.-based biotech using animal genomics to improve human health, raised $9 million in seed funding. LifeForce Capital led the round and was joined by investors including True Ventures, Boom Capital, Pacific 8 Ventures, BioMed Ventures, Vibe Capital, and Arcadia Science.

- Just Insure, a Los Angeles-based pay-per-mile auto insurer, raised $8 million in funding. CrossCut Ventures, ManchesterStory, and Western Technology Investments invested.

- Vodori, a Chicago-based cloud software provider for life science companies, raised $7.5 million in Series A funding. Baird Capital led the round.

- Exein, an Italian IoT (Internet of Things) cybersecurity company, raised €6 million in Series A funding. Investors include Future Industry Ventures.

- UnifiHealth, a Columbus, Oh.-based health plan for small businesses, raised $5.4 million in seed funding. Anthemis led the round and was joined by investors including Echelon Capital, Flare Capital, Digitalis Ventures and Great Oaks VC.

- Loft Labs, a San Francisco-based platform for engineers to access Kubernetes, raised $4.6 million in seed funding. Fusion Fund led the round and was joined by investors including RTP Seed, Emergent Ventures, and Berkeley SkyDeck Fund.

- Rose, a New York City-based maker of a data marketplace, raised $5.5 million in seed funding. Portage Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including BoxGroup and Sound Ventures. 

- Typed, a South Korea-based digital workspace, raised $2.5 million in seed funding. Mirae Asset led the round and was joined by investors including Kakao Ventures and Nextrans.

- PandaDoc, a San Francisco-based document signing company, raised an undisclosed amount of funding valuing it at $1 billion. OMERS Growth Equity and G Squared led the round and were joined by investors including Altos Ventures, Rembrandt Venture Partners, One Peak Partners, and M12.

- Google Startups announced the most recent group of companies to receive investments via its U.S. Black Founders Fund.

PRIVATE EQUITY

- Bregal Partners invested in Oggi Foods, a Canadian maker of organic, non-GMO frozen pizza and other food products. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- CI Capital Partners made a majority investment in The Cadmus Group, a Waltham, Mass.-based services firm for government agencies, electric and natural gas utilities, and commercial clients. Financial terms were not disclosed.

- GI Partners recapitalized Patriot Growth Insurance Services, a Fort Washington, Pa.-based insurance agency. Summit Partners will retain a minority stake. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Great Hill Partners invested in Blue Ridge, an Atlanta-based supply chain planning and pricing software maker. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Graycliff Partners acquired Electro-Mechanical, a Bristol, Va.-based manufacturer of engineered electrical equipment sold into utility and industrial end markets. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Levine Leichtman Capital Partners acquired In-Place Machining Company, a provider of high-acuity field machining, metrology and diamond wire-cutting services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Pharos Capital Group acquired Vantage Outsourcing, a cataract surgical service provider.  Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Palladium Equity Partners invested in Envoy Global, a Chicago-based immigration services provider, alongside existing shareholders including Catalyst Investors and General Catalyst. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Peraton, a Veritas Capital portfolio company, acquired the as-a-service (aaS) business of ViON, an IT infrastructure company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Tech-24, backed by HCI Equity Partners, acquired Yukon Refrigeration, a Yukon, Ill.-based refrigeration company. Financial terms were not disclosed.

- Turnspire Capital Partners agreed to acquire the assets of Spectra Premium Industries, a Canadian maker of products for the automotive, heavy-duty truck and industrial markets. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

EXIT

- Celestica (NYSE: CLS) agreed to acquire PCI Limited, a Singapore-based electronics manufacturer, for $306 million in cash, from Platinum Equity

- Comvest Partners invested in Gen3 Marketing, a Blue Bell, Pa.-based digital marketing company. Longshore Capital Partners exited. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Comvest Partners invested in Gen3 Marketing, a Blue Bell, Pa.-based digital marketing company. Longshore Capital Partners exited. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

OTHER

- Project44 acquired Convey, an Austin-based last-mile delivery company, for $225 million. Silverton Partners and Techstars back Convey. 

- Sinch AB (STO:SINCH) agreed to acquire MessengerPeople, a German conversational messaging company, for about €48 million.

- JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) acquired Frank, a New York City-based college financial-planning platform. Aleph and Apollo Global back the firm. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Snap! Mobile acquired Groundwork, a youth sports financial management platform. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

- Unite Us, backed by investors including ICONIQ, acquired NowPow, a Chicago-based referral platform. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

IPO

- Adnoc Drilling, the drilling business of UAE energy producer Abu Dhabi National Oil,, plans to raise up to $1.1 billion in an initial public offering in the country—up from previous plans to raise $750 million, according to Bloomberg. Oil services company Baker Hughes backs the firm.

- Icade Santé, a French real estate development and investment company, plans to raise as much as $1 billion in an initial public offering in Paris, per Bloomberg.

- Freshworks, a San Mateo, Calif.-based business software company, raised $1 billion in an offering of 29 million shares priced at $36 per share—it had previously planned to price shares at up to $34. The company posted $250 million in revenue in 2020 and reported a net loss of $57.3 million. Accel, CapitalG, Tiger Global, and Sequoia Capital back the firm.

- Arabian Internet and Communications Services, an internet services unit of Saudi Telecom, raised $966 million in a public offering in Saudi Arabia, according to Reuters.

- Yesway, a Fort Worth, Tex.-based convenience store chain, filed for an initial public offering. The company reported $1.5 billion in revenue in 2020 and net income and comprehensive income of $26.6 million. Brookwood Financial backs the firm.

- Qxpress, a e-commerce logistics shipping logistics company in Singapore, is weighing an IPO in the U.S. as early as next year, per Bloomberg. An IPO could value the firm up to $1 billion. Crescendo Equity Partners backs the firm.

- First Watch Restaurant Group, a Bradenton, Fla.-based breakfast and lunch restaurant chain, plans to raise up to $189 million in an offering of 9.5 million shares priced between $17 and $20 per share. The company reported $342 million in total revenue in 2020 and a total comprehensive loss of $50 million. Advent International backs the firm.

- a.k.a. Brands Holding Corp., a San Francisco-based fashion brand, now raise up to $130 million in an offering of 10 million shares priced between $11 and $13 per share. It had previously planned to raise up to $264 million. The company reported $215.9 million in net sales in 2020 and net income of $14.8 million. Summit Partners backs the firm.

SPAC

- Transfix, a digital freight platform, plans to go public in the first quarter of 2022 via a merger with G Squared Ascend I, a SPAC sponsored by G Squared. The company reported $184 million in revenue in 2020. A deal would value the company at $1.1 billion.

F+FS

- Commonfund Capital, a Wilton, Ct.-based firm, closed its third secondaries fund with $675 million.  

PEOPLE

- Banneker Partners, a San Francisco-based enterprise software investor, named Kenneth Frank and Duncan Gills as partners.  

- Motive Partners, a private equity firm focused on growth equity and buyout investments in software and information services, appointed Jeffery W. Yabuki as chairman and founding partner. 

- Lincoln Road Global Management, a private equity firm focused on lower middle market companies, added Alexander Breinin as a senior associate in Miami.

- QED Investors, an Alexandria, Va.-based venture investor, promoted Laura Bock to partner.

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