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Why PayPal mafia alum and top VC Keith Rabois is ‘excited’ about Ron DeSantis

September 9, 2022, 12:35 PM UTC

Good morning, Term Sheet readers. Finance writer Anne Sraders here. 

You’ve probably heard rumors about a certain Florida governor potentially taking on former President Donald Trump in a possible 2024 presidential bid—I’m talking, of course, about Ron DeSantis. The Republican governor of Florida has skyrocketed into national recognition over recent years for his immoderate and controversial stances on a variety of issues—from criticizing mask usage during the COVID-19 pandemic to banning teachers from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity in schools with students in certain grades. His proponents argue he’s particularly pro-business, prioritizing keeping businesses open during the pandemic and eschewing public health guidelines. (Neither DeSantis nor any other candidates have announced a presidential run yet for 2024.) 

He’s managed to attract the backing of a powerful business and finance crowd with those stances, as well as his anti-“woke” agenda—which includes billionaires like hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones and hedge fund Citadel founder and CEO Ken Griffin, who have donated to his reelection campaign, as I explored in my latest feature.

Unsurprisingly, DeSantis has also got some in the Miami tech and business scene excited, like PayPal mafia alum and venture investor Keith Rabois, a general partner at the Founders Fund. Over the years, Rabois has invested in heavy-hitters like Airbnb, Stripe, and Affirm. 

An outspoken conservative, Rabois recently told me that while “everybody’s just waiting to see who runs” and “there’s no reason to make a decision until you know who the candidates are,” he’d be “excited” about DeSantis as president—as well as Florida senators Marco Rubio or Rick Scott, or Miami Mayor Francis Suarez as president, arguing any of those “would have a lot of support across the board from tech and business community leaders in Florida.” (Rabois also singled out former governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton as “top-tier candidates.”) 

However DeSantis has also taken aim at the investment management industry, targeting ESG-focused investing, which takes into account environmental, social, and governance factors, in a ban for State Board of Administration (SBA) fund managers to consider ESG when investing. The anti-ESG stance broadly has irked big players in the space, like BlackRock, the world’s largest money manager, which sent a letter this week to attorneys general in multiple states, pushing back on claims the attorneys general recently made about their practices.

But Rabois, for one, isn’t dissuaded: “ESG investing is a fraud,” he opined, so “if politicians want to reflect our views, we’re certainly not going to be opposed to that.” 

As an executive and investor himself, Rabois told me he cares about U.S. competition with China, small business and education recovery from the pandemic, and the “anti-tax and anti-regulation base of Florida” that “promotes” business and “successful jobs”—all among a “portfolio of issues” he argues DeSantis could use to contrast himself to others. 

Dig into what other business types are saying about DeSantis, and how he might measure up to Trump in a hypothetical 2024 primary, in my story here

That’s all for now. Have a good weekend. 

Anne Sraders
Twitter: @AnneSraders
Email: anne.sraders@fortune.com
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Jackson Fordyce curated the deals section of today’s newsletter.

VENTURE DEALS

- Mysten Labs, a Palo Alto-based Web 3 infrastructure company and developer of the Sui Layer 1 blockchain, raised $300 million in Series B funding. FTX Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including a16z crypto, Jump Crypto, Apollo, Binance Labs, Franklin Templeton, Coinbase Ventures, Circle Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sino Global, Dentsu Ventures, Greenoaks Capital, O’Leary Ventures, and others. 

- Arize AI, a Berkeley, Calif.-based machine learning observability company, raised $38 million in Series B funding. TCV led the round and was joined by investors including Battery Ventures, Foundation Capital, and Swift Ventures.

- Hebbia, a New York-based search engine platform, raised $30 million in Series A funding. Index Ventures partner Mike Volpi led the round and was joined by investors including Yahoo founder and CEO Jerry Yang, and investor Ram Shriram

- SaaS Alerts, a Wilmington, N.C.-based cybersecurity company for managed service providers, raised $22 million in funding from Insight Partners

- SteelEye, a London-based compliance technology and data analytics firm, raised $21 million in Series B funding. Ten Coves Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Fidelity International Strategic Ventures, Illuminate Financial, Beacon Equity Partners, and others. 

- Realtime Robotics, a Boston-based collision-free, autonomous motion planning company for industrial robots, raised $14.4 million in additional funding led by Soundproof Ventures, Heroic Ventures, and SIP Global Partners

- Gameplay Galaxy, a San Francisco-based decentralized gaming ecosystem, raised $12.8 million in seed funding. Blockchain Capital led the round and was joined by investors including Merit Circle, Com2uS, Mysten Labs, Solana Ventures, Yield Guild Games, and Hustle Fund.

- Netspeak Games, a remote-based games studio, raised $12 million in Series A funding. Lakestar and Project A led the round and were joined by investors including Makers Fund and other angels. 

- Harmonic Discovery, a New York-based kinase drug discovery therapeutics company, raised $8 million in funding. Innovation Endeavors led the round and was joined by investors including Fifty Years, Y Combinator, Boom Capital, Caffeinated Capital, and other angels.

- Newsbridge, an Amsterdam-based A.I. and cloud media company, raised €7 million ($6.97 million) in Series A funding. Supernova Invest led the round and was joined by investors including Elaia Partners and angel investor Dominique Edelin.

- Edda, a Paris-based collaborative software company for investors, raised $5.8 million in funding. Mucker Capital, Plug&Play, FJ Labs, Tony Fadell’s Future Shape, and angel investor Arnaud Bonzom invested in the round. 

- Velaris, a London-based customer success platform for B2B tech, raised £4.7 million ($5.4 million) in seed funding. Octopus Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Zaka and Fintech 365.

- Millie, a Berkeley, Calif.-based maternity clinic, raised $4 million in seed funding. TMV Ventures and BBG Ventures led the round and were joined by investors including Venn Growth Partners, Looking Glass Capital, Learn Capital, Hustle Fund, and other angels.  

- ​​Hilma, a Boston-based running shoe brand, raised $3 million in seed funding. Brand Foundry Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including former Nike president and former CEO of Banana Republic Jeanne Jackson, Rothy’s co-founder and president Roth Martin, and other angels. 

- Remento, a Los Angeles-based conversation prompts library app, raised $3 million in seed funding. Upfront Ventures led the round and was joined by other angels. 

- Smoothie, a New York-based Web3 discovery platform, raised $1.2 million in funding. Former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan, Youbi Capital, LongHash Ventures, Ghaf Capital, King River Capital, Cyberconnect, Stateless Ventures, and others invested in the round. 

- Bits Technology, a Stockholm-based financial services integration platform, raised €1 million in pre-seed funding. Cherry Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Alliance Ventures, Forward VC, Greens Ventures, and other angels. 

PRIVATE EQUITY

Petra Capital Partners and Patriot Capital acquired a majority stake in Shipley Associates, a Kaysville, Utah-based business development consulting firm. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

- SK Capital recapitalized Techmer PM, a Clinton, Tenn.-based materials design company with a majority stake from Gryphon Investors. Financial terms were not disclosed.

EXITS

- Charlesbank Capital Partners and Motive Partners acquired a majority stake in Accordion, a New York-based private equity-focused financial and technology consulting firm, from FFL Partners. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

OTHER

- Roche agreed to acquire Good Therapeutics, a Seattle-based protein therapeutics developer that responds to specific markers, for $250 million. 

- Mullen Automotive acquired a majority stake in Bollinger Motors, a Oak Park, Mich.-based EV truck startup, for $148.2 million.  

- Headspace Health acquired the Shine app, a New York-based mental health and wellness support platform. Financial terms were not disclosed.

- Metadata.io acquired Reactful, a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based web optimization and personalization platform for digital marketers. Financial terms were not disclosed.

- SharpLink Gaming agreed to acquire SportsHub Games Network, a Minneapolis-based fantasy and sports game provider. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

- Wealth Enhancement Group acquired Pinnacle Private Wealth, a Burlington, Mass.-based wealth advisory firm. Financial terms were not disclosed.

IPOS 

- Britannica Group, the Chicago-based publisher of the Merriam-Webster dictionary and encyclopedia, is weighing an initial public offering as soon as next year, according to Bloomberg. A deal could be valued at more than $1 billion.

FUNDS + FUNDS OF FUNDS

- Bessemer Venture Partners, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm, raised $4.6 billion across two funds. The firm raised $3.85 billion for its twelfth fund focused on seed and early-stage investments across sectors and geographies, and $780 million for its BVP Forge fund focused on growth buyout and minority deals in software and tech-enabled services businesses.

- Ardian, a Paris-based private investment house, raised $2.1 billion for a fund focused on mid-market U.S. and other OECD American infrastructure assets in the telecommunications, transportation, and energy transition sectors.

- PowerPlant Partners, a Hermosa Beach, Calif.-based investment firm, raised $330 million for its third fund focused on sustainable growth stage consumer-facing brands. 

- Glasswing Ventures, a Boston-based venture capital firm, raised $158 million for its second fund focused on seed stage enterprise and security startups. 

PEOPLE

- Cherry Ventures, a Berlin-based venture capital firm, promoted Max Brückner to principal

- Financial Services Capital, a London-based private equity investor, hired Kirstyn Lowry-Corry as financial director. Formerly, she was with Montagu Private Equity

- Francisco Partners, a San Francisco-based investment firm, hired Ashley Evans as partner. Formerly, she was with Carlyle Group.

- Levine Leichtman Capital Partners, a Beverly Hills-based private equity firm, hired William Trevelyan Thomas as a director in the firm’s investment management group. Formerly, he was with Charterhouse Capital Partners

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