Having raised just $25 million, crypto conglomerate Digital Currency Group gets a $10 billion valuation
Hello Term Sheet readers, from my hotel room in Hong Kong where I’m quarantining as part of the price for entering the city.
What is most definitely not in quarantine: the valuation of Digital Currency Group, the crypto conglomerate that has been compared to Berkshire Hathaway and InterActiveCorp for holding a number of subsidiaries and making acquisitions a key part of strategy. Having created companies such as Grayscale, known for offering ETF-like crypto products, DCG built companies internally but also used M&A heavily, snapping up industry publication CoinDesk in 2016 and London-based exchange Luno about a year ago.
On Monday, the DCG announced that existing shareholders had sold about $700 million worth of their shares to investors led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund II—valuing the company at about $10 billion. Other investors in the round include Alphabet’s CapitalG, Ribbit Capital, GIC, Tribe Capital, and Emory University.
It’s a remarkable climb considering the company has raised just $25 million in primary since its founding in 2015—meaning it has reached decacorn status and over $1 billion in estimated revenue for 2021 with just $25 million in outside capital in its coffers. The company has not previously gone public with a valuation.
“We’re trying to be the most vertically and horizontally integrated crypto company in the world,” said COO Mark Murphy in a call with Term Sheet Monday, going on the describe how the business’ companies fit into that picture: “Grayscale is in asset management, Luno is [our] first play into consumer, and Foundry plays a very big role in decentralized infrastructure.”
In total, DCG has over 1,000 employees across its subsidiaries, though about 30 at its parent company.
DCG’s structure is also unique in other ways: DCG founder and CEO Barry Silbert previously founded SecondMarket, a startup focused on liquidity for traditionally illiquid assets. That company’s private company business eventually sold to the Nasdaq, but other parts of SecondMarket became the DNA building blocks for DCG—becoming crypto trading and custody company Genesis and also Grayscale. It was early investors in that company that sold their stake after holding shares for well over a decade, says Murphy. Silbert, who holds about 40% of the company, did not sell any of his stake.
ON CRYPTO DECACORNS: The funny thing is, accounting for the number of crypto decacorns out there is actually somehow difficult right now even though startups worth over $10 billion are still relatively rare. If you look at CBInsights’ unicorn counter for instance, there derivatives giant FTX, crypto mining company Bitmain Technologies, and payments business Ripple. That’s four confirmed crypto decacorns including DCG.
But then here’s a report from Bloomberg that crypto exchange Kraken is looking to raise funding that would value it at the very least above $10 billion. The world’s largest exchange Binance meanwhile is said to have sought a valuation of as high as $300 billion, per the Wall Street Journal—though investors have also been wary of that price tag given the regulatory uncertainty around the company. Dunamu, the operator of South Korea’s largest crypto exchange, also is said to have raised funding at a $10 billion valuation, per the Korea Times.
It makes sense that these names aren’t yet included in rankings—their numbers have not yet been confirmed. But this dynamic does signal a kind of dichotomy: Confidence that the crypto industry has staying power is on the up. But the recent surge in cryptocurrencies is so hot it’s literally hard to keep up, while regulatory concerns continue to be dampener on the broader industry.
Jessica Mathews curated the deals section of this newsletter.
- Swap, a Brazilian cloud infrastructure and API fintech, raised $135 in Series A funding led by Tiger Global and was joined by investors including Endeavor, Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen, DST Global managing partner Rahul Mehta, ONEVC, GFC, and Flourish.
- OctoML, a Seattle-based machine learning startup, raised $85 million in Series C funding. Tiger Global Management led the round and was joined by investors including Addition, Madrona Venture Group, and Amplify Partners.
- Zepto, an Indian grocery delivery startup, raised $60 million in funding. Glade Brook Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Nexus, Y Combinator, Lachy Groom, Neeraj Arora, and Manik Gupta valuing it at $225 million.
- Cover, a Gardena, Calif.-based backyard studio building company, raised $60 million in Series B funding led by Gigafund and was joined by investors including Founders Fund, Valor Equity Partners, General Catalyst, and Fifty Years.
- Fi, an India-based neobank, raised $50 million in Series B from B Capital Group and Falcon Edge.
- Lever, a talent acquisition startup, raised $50 million in Series D funding. Apax Digital Fund led the round.
- Rallyware, a Mountain View, Calif.-based performance enablement platform, raised $22 million led by PeakSpan Capital.
- Beta Finance, a maker of a way to short and borrow crypto, raised $5.8 million in funding led by Sequoia Capital India and was joined by investors including ParaFi Capital, DeFiance Capital, Spartan Group, GSR, Delphi Digital, and Multicoin Capital.
- NeuraLight, an Austin and Tel Aviv-based digital neurological disorder evaluation and care company, raised $5.5 million in seed funding. MSAD, Kli, Tuesday, Operator Partners, and VSC Ventures.
-Ombre (formerly Thryve), a San Francisco-based at-home microbiome test and probiotic subscriptions company, raised $3 million in seed funding led by PivotNorth and was joined by investors including Trail Mix Ventures, Shanda Group, Unilever Ventures, Joyance Partners, and Unpopular Ventures.
- ShipBlu, an Egyptian e-commerce fulfillment startup, raised $2.4 million in seed funding. Nama Ventures led the round.
- Zeit Medical, a Redwood City, Calif.-based maker of stroke detection tech, raised $2 million in seed funding. SeedtoB and Digilife led the round and were joined by investors including Y Combinator, Gaingels, Northsouth Ventures, Tamar Capital, Axial, and Citta Capital.
- A consortium backed by Temasek offered to acquire Singapore Press Holdings, a Singaporean media and real estate company, for about S$3.4 billion (about $2.5 billion), beating Keppel Corp.
- Galaxy Universal, a portfolio company of Gainline Capital Partners. agreed to acquire the active brands of Sequential Brands Group, which includes the And1, Avia, Gaiam and SPRI, for $330 million.
- GTCR agreed to acquire Cisive, a Holtsville, N.Y.-based background screening company. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners acquired SpecialtyCare, a Brentwood, Tenn.-based outsourced physician support company, from Kohlberg & Co.. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Carlyle Group agreed to acquire a stake of Duravant, a Downers Grove, Ill.-based automation solutions company, from Warburg Pincus. Warburg will maintain a stake. Financial terms were not disclosed.
- Macquarie Asset Management agreed to acquire Thyssengas, Germany's second largest gas pipeline operator, from DIF and EDF Invest in a deal valuing it at €1 billion to 1.2 billion euros ($1.2 billion to 1.4 billion) including debt.
- Barcel USA acquired Popcornopolis, a gourmet popcorn brand, from NexPhase. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Dropbox (Nasdaq: DBX) agreed to acquire Command E, a San Francisco-based startup backed by investors including Abstract Ventures and Brianne Kimmel. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Loft acquired TrueHome, a Mexican proptech backed by investors including FJ Labs and Monashees. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) is acquiring a controlling stake in BodyArmor, a New York-based sports drinker maker, for $5.6 billion, per the WSJ. It already owns about 30% of the business.
- With You, Jessica Simpson’s company, is set to acquire Simpsons’ name back from Sequential Brands Group for about $65 million after emerging as the only bidder.
- The European Commission is now ordering Illumina (NYSE: ILMN) to keep Grail (Nasdaq: GRAL), a blood detection startup, seperate after the two closed their deal earlier this year.
- Nu Holdings, a holding company for Brazilian neobank Nubank, and its shareholders plan to raise up to $3.7 billion in a dual offering in the U.S. and Brazil of 332.5 million shares (13% sold by insiders) priced between $10 and $11 per share. The company reported $737 million in total revenue in 2020 and a loss of $172 million. Sequoia Capital, DST Global, Tencent Holdings, and Tiger Global back the firm.
- LianBio, a Shanghai-based biotech company, raised $325 million in a U.S. offering of 20.3 million ADSs priced at $16 per ADS. The company reported a loss of $140 million and has yet to post revenue. Perceptive Advisors owns a majority stake in the firm. RA Capital and BridgeBio Pharma back the firm.
- Expensify, a Portland, Ore.-based expense management software platform, and its shareholders plan to raise up to $243 million in an offering of 9.7 million shares (73% sold by insiders) priced between $23 and $25 per share. The company reported $88 million in revenue in 2020 and a net loss of $1.7 million. Hillsven Capital, OpenView Venture Partners, and PJC back the firm.
- Southeastern Grocers, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based company that operates Winn-Dixie, Harveys and other supermarkets, filed to withdraw its IPO registration. The company had planned to raise up to $142 million in an offering of 8.9 million shares priced between $14 and $16 per share. Fidelity Investments, Osterweis Capital Management, Millstreet Capital Management, AllianceBernstein, Deutsche Bank, Amzak Capital Management, and First Eagle Investment Management back the firm.
- The holding company of Third Coast Bank, a Humble, Tex.-based state savings bank, plans to raise up to $78 million in an offering of 3 million shares priced between $24 and $26 per share. The company posted interest income of $82 million in 2020 and reported net income of $12 million.
- MBM Capital plans to raise between $75 million to $100 million to invest in struggling unicorns.
- Walden Catalyst Ventures raised $550 million for its first fund focused on deep tech.
- Fifty Years raised $90 million for Fund III focused on investments including deep tech.
- PROOF promoted Jenny Schretter to General Partner.
- Threshold Ventures added Megan Kelly as a principal. She was previously of First Round Capital. Partner Chirag Chotalia relocates from Threshold’s Bay Area office to New York.