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4 South by Southwest predictions about the future of dealmaking

March 16, 2022, 3:38 PM UTC

Happy Wednesday, Term Sheeters!

I’m back in Bentonville and reflecting on some of the conversations, panels, and events from the weekend at South by Southwest. Here are some of my predictions about the future of funding:

1. Money will continue to flow beyond Silicon Valley, especially in the early stages.

Your startup doesn’t have to be in California anymore to get a check. In 2021—the strongest year in dealmaking ever—the states that experienced the biggest uptick in funding may surprise you: Vermont, Montana, Iowa, and Idaho.  Specific cities like Minneapolis, Miami, Houston, and Raleigh all had approximately 150% more deals signed in 2021 than they did the year prior, per Pitchbook. Investors aren’t bored with Silicon Valley, as VC activity is at record levels there, too, but investors have never been as willing to look outside of that region as they are now—particularly in the early stages.

“The capital is still going to be in the Bay Area and New York—that will probably never change,” Kyle Stanford, a senior analyst at Pitchbook, told me on the sidelines of the conference. “But the ability to easily meet with a company in the Midwest or in the Southeast, where it might have been a four or five-hour flight is making it much easier.”

2. Every startup that implodes will land its own Hulu or Netflix series

It seems like every startup-gone-wrong is getting its own T.V. show. WeWork’s debacle got a day in the spotlight at South by Southwest with the premier of the new Apple TV series WeCrashed, which stars Anne Hathaway and Jared Leto. The first episode spotlights an Adam Neumann who doesn’t take the word “no” to heart, is really bad at yoga, and frequently stretches the truth to get his way.

3. Federal agencies will further codify programs to work with seed-stage companies.

The federal government sets aside $4 billion in annual taxpayer dollars to invest in startups via what it calls America’s Seed Fund. Those funding dollars are competitive, but pretty attractive: It’s a non-dilutive investment, where founders keep equity themselves. The funding is aimed at supporting innovation and potentially developing commercial relationships. 

Representatives from three of the most active agencies in the program—NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Army—were trying to raise awareness for the program at a panel at South by Southwest and spoke about how they’re building out their own programs. The agencies focus on high risk, but high impact technologies.

4. More startup founders will question the incentives of the VC model.

Venture capital isn’t the way to go for everyone—perhaps especially for a company that is on the path to profitability early on. Riana Lynn, founder of food tech company Journey Foods, said on a panel Sunday that investors were concerned that her company’s numbers were trending towards a profit by the end of this year.

“People are scared of you breaking even or becoming profitable—we are having that problem now,” she said, adding later: “If you don’t need them and funds raised in subsequent rounds, then it doesn’t make sense for their ownership in the long-term.”

“So you’re being penalized for being good at your job?” investor Arlan Hamilton of Backstage Capital quickly retorted.

With the public markets souring, it may be interesting to watch whether a divergence in incentives will surface more frequently. “You start to wonder if venture is always the right model for you, anyway,” Lynn said.

The Term Sheet Austin BBQ list… I have very high standards when it comes to barbecue (I am from Memphis, Tenn., after all), but Austin didn’t disappoint. And neither did Term Sheet readers. Thank you for all the recs! A few of you asked that I share the definitive list, so here it is: All the Term Sheet reader-approved barbecue restaurants in Austin, in no particular order.

  • Franklin’s (Tip from a reader: You can avoid the line by pre-ordering in advance here. You must order at least five pounds)
  • la Barbecue
  • Blacks BBQ
  • Stiles Switch
  • Micklethwait
  • LeRoy and Lewis
  • Valentinas
  • The original Salt Lick (Not the one in the airport!) 
  • Terry Black’s
  • Burnt Bean Company
  • Interstellar 

See you tomorrow,

Jessica Mathews
Twitter: @jessicakmathews
Email: jessica.mathews@fortune.com
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Jackson Fordyce curated the deals section of today’s newsletter.

VENTURE DEALS

- Talent.com, a Montreal-based job searching platform, raised $120 million in Series B funding led by Inovia Capital and was joined by investors including Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Investissement Québec, Climb Ventures, BDC Capital, Fondaction, and HarbourVest Partners.

- Linktree, a Melbourne, Australia-based social identity link-in-bio platform, raised $110 million in funding. Index Ventures and Coatue Management led the round and were joined by investors including AirTree Ventures, Insight Partners, and Greenoaks.  

- DataRails, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based financial planning and analysis solution for Excel users, raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Qumra Capital and was joined by investors including Zeev Ventures, Vertex Ventures Israel, Innovation Endeavors, Joey Low, Vintage Investment Partners, ORYZN, and Icon Venture.

- Nautilus Labs, a New York-based marine logistics software platform for ocean commerce, raised $34 million in Series B funding from investors including M12, the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund, NSS Advisors, Systemiq Capital, Root Ventures, Quiet Capital, TMV, and Amplifier

- Rutter, a San Francisco-based API platform for commerce data, raised $27 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz and was joined by investors including Comma Capital, Mischief Capital, Basis Set Ventures, Haystack, the Chainsmokers and angels from Plaid, Modern Treasury, RedHat, and Airwallex.

- Quadric, a Burlingame, Calif.-based edge processing platform, raised $21 million in Series B funding led by NSITEXE, Inc. and was joined by investors including MegaChips, Leawood VC, Pear VC, Uncork Capital, and Cota Capital

- AcreTrader, a Fayetteville, Ark.-based land transaction platform, raised $20 million in Series B+ funding led by Drive Capital

- Treehouse, a DeFi portfolio analytics platform, raised $18 million in seed funding from investors including Lightspeed Venture Partners, Binance, MassMutual Ventures, Mirana Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Jump Capital, GSR, Wintermute, Do Kwon, and angel investors from SoftBank Vision Fund

- RightBound, a Kirkland, Wash.-based developer of an autonomous sales prospecting engine, raised $15.5 million in Series A extension funding led by Innovation Endeavors and was joined by IBI Tech Fund.

- Pallet, an Everett, Wash.-based developer of portable shelter systems for the homeless, raised $15 million in funding led by DBL Partners and the Citi Impact Fund and was joined by other investors.  

- Synthetaic, a Delafield, Wis.-based A.I.-based detection platform, raised $13 million in Series A funding led by Lupa Systems and was joined by investors including TitleTown Tech, Betaworks, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Esri.

- Tender Food, a Somerville, Mass.-based creator of alternative meats, raised $12 million in seed funding led by Lowercarbon Capital and was joined by investors including Rhapsody Venture Partners, Natalie Portman, Safar Partners, Bread and Butter Ventures, MCJ Collective, and Unovis.

- Protégé, a Chicago-based video audition platform for the fashion, entertainment, business, sports, and content industries, raised $8.5 million in seed funding led by Sequoia and was joined by investors including Lionel Richie, Cameo’s CEO & co-founder Steven Galanis, Ben Simmons, Roc Nation, Jason Alexander, Scooter Braun’s TQ Ventures, Gryffin, and artist and producer Sam Feldt

- Kinde, a Sydney-based infrastructure software company for SaaS teams, raised AUD $10.6 million ($7.55 million) in seed funding led by Blackbird Ventures and was joined by investors including Felicis Ventures

- Onuu, an Austin-based financial security provider, raised $6 million in Seed A funding led by Leap Global Partners and was joined by investors including Ulu Ventures, SV LATAM Capital, Jumpstarter Ventures, Verso Capital, and Capital Factory Ventures.

- Twelve Labs, a San Francisco-based video search company, raised $5 million in seed funding led by Index Ventures and was joined by investors including Radical Ventures, Expa, and Techstars Seattle. Dr. Fei-Fei Li, Scale AI CEO Alex Wang, and Patreon CEO Jack Conte joined as angel investors.  

- New Era ADR, a Chicago-based virtual mediation and arbitration platform for legal disputes, raised $4.6 million in seed funding led by Nextview Ventures and was joined by investors including Jump Capital, Motivate Ventures, and Alumni Ventures. David Kalt, Sean Chou, Pete Kadens, and Lon Chow joined the round as angel investors. 

- BioCoach, a Minneapolis, Minn.-based D2C in-vitro diagnostic testing company, raised $4 million in funding from SecretLab.

- Zitti, a Los Angeles-based payment and credit platform for food industry management, raised $4 million in funding led by Crossbeam Venture Partners and was joined by investors including Vera Equity and Broadhaven Ventures

- Retrocausal, a Redmond, Wash.-based provider of quality assurance systems for manufacturers, raised $3.4 million in funding led by Glasswing Ventures and Differential Ventures and was joined by investors including Argon Ventures, Ascend Ventures Vietnam, and Hypertherm Ventures

PRIVATE EQUITY

- Lincoln International acquired Spurrier Capital Partners, a NY-based investment bank focused on tech and software. Financial terms were not disclosed.

EXITS

- Court Street Capital Partners acquired Power Digital, a San Diego-based digital marketing agency, from Periscope Equity. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

OTHER

- Amazon received approval from The European Commission to acquire Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, a Beverly Hills-based film studio, for $8.45 billion.

- CSW acquired CYR3CON IP, a Tempe, Ariz.-based vulnerability and threat intelligence organization. Financial terms were not disclosed.  

- Local Bounti acquired Pete’s, a Carpinteria, Calif.-based indoor farming company, for $122.5 million.

- Vestiaire Collective acquired Tradesy, a Los Angeles-based luxury fashion resale platform. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

IPOS 

- Deda Group, a Trento, Italy-based software and IT services provider, is in talks to go public, per Bloomberg. A deal could value the company at around €1 billion euros ($1.1 billion). 

FUNDS + FUNDS OF FUNDS

- Frazier Life Sciences, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based private equity and venture capital firm, raised $987 million for a fourth fund focused on biopharmaceuticals.

PEOPLE

- Bain Capital Crypto, the Boston-based crypto arm of Bain Capital, hired Lydia Hylton as partner. Formerly, she was with RedPoint Ventures

- Ethos Capital, a Boston-based private equity firm, hired Scott Stevens as principal. Formerly, he was with Pamlico Capital.

- GTCR, a Chicago-based private equity firm, promoted Sean Cunningham and Ben Daverman to co-head of the healthcare group, Aaron Cohen to head of financial services & technology group, and Mark Anderson to co-head of the technology, media & telecommunications group.

- MidOcean Partners, a New York-based private equity firm, promoted Sara Parker Badham to managing director and partner and also promoted Steven Loeffler to principal.

- VSS Capital Partners, a New York-based investment firm, hired Sabrina Kay as strategic partner. Formerly, she was with Fremont Private Investments, where she will remain CEO. 

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