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April 6, 2020

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Late Friday, the Small Business Administration issued updates on who would and would not qualify for the government’s $350 billion loan program.


While the updates specifically stated that faith-based organizations would not be tied together via “affiliation rules,” no carve-out was given for venture capital-backed companies. Many in venture capital are concerned that those rules would tie a venture-backed company to other companies in its venture backer’s portfolio—and deem many businesses ineligible for loans through the sheer number of combined employees.


All the updated guidance stated was that, as long as no single shareholder controls more than 50% of a company or no single party is able to “prevent a quorum or otherwise block action by the board of directors or shareholders,” the company would be eligible for the SBA’s program.


That generally confirmed previous analysis by venture capital lawyers—but importantly leaves out clarity on swaths of venture-backed companies that may not be majority controlled by one VC firm, but have provisions that allow minority investors the right to veto or block certain actions like entering a merger or firing an executive. The question now: Under program rules, what kind of actions indicate an affiliation between a company and a venture backer? 


At the least, the guidance has fanned hopes that the SBA is supportive of venture-backed startups being covered under the package—and that more regulatory insight is to come.  


“This seems to be movement at least in the right direction, we have to evaluate it, but it’s at least a step in making sure a startup can get this funding,” said House Representative Ro Khanna (D. Calif.) on Saturday. “We are told that [Steve Mnuchin and the SBA] are aware of the problem and they are fixing it.”


Despite a lack of clear guidance, some lenders are moving ahead. Silicon Valley Bank, one of the biggest venture capital lenders, said over the weekend that its PPP application process is expected to release sometime today—and is telling clients to speak with their legal counsel to see if they qualify, as the vagueness of the guidance has created ample space for interpretation based on past SBA cases. Though it won’t be a short process from thereon out. The bank is expecting more clarity from the SBA as it denies or approves certain applications in the “weeks ahead,” said David Sabow, head of technology and healthcare banking, North America at SVB.


But venture capital-backed companies are feeling a sense of urgency. The longer it takes to get cash in hand, the more likely a company on a short runway may burn out. Moreover, entrepreneurs worry banks are currently more likely to accept the non-controversial applications first—AKA non-venture-backed companies.


Could more dollars for VC-backed startups be approved by Congress, if the $350 billion turned up short? Khanna thinks yes—“as long as there aren’t scandalous stories of rich entrepreneurs getting the funding.”


One to watch: Quibi, the divisive video-streaming brainchild of Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg, launched today. In an already crowded streaming space, the platform seeks to differentiate by describing itself as the go-to for those on-the-go, with short videos and a phone-only approach. 


But folks are now stuck at home and binging their favorites on Netflix and Amazon—or TikTok and YouTube for that matter. Detractors wonder if Quibi’s content starring the likes of Chrissy Teigen and Liam Hemsworth will be enough for lift-off. The company has raised $1.8 billion.


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VENTURE DEALS


- Voyager Innovations, a Manila, Philippines-based telecom firm, will raise up to $120 million from KKR, Tencent, and IFC. The funding is intended to support the expansion of its payments arm, PayMaya.


- Privitar, a London-based data privacy platform provider, raised $80 million Series C funding. Warburg Pincus led the round, and was joined by investors including Accel, Partech, IQ Capital, Salesforce Ventures, and ABN AMRO Ventures


- WorkJam, a Montreal-based workplace solutions provider, raised $50 million in a Series C funding. Inovia led. 


- Myriota, an Adelaide, Australia-based provider of satellite connectivity for the Internet of Things, raised $19.3 million in Series B funding. Hostplus and Main Sequence Ventures led the round. In-Q-Tel, Right Click Capital, Singtel, Innov8, Boeing HorizonX, South Australian Venture Capital Fund, and Malcolm Turnbull also participated.


- Lessonly, an Indianapolis-based online training platform, raised $15 million in Series C funding. AXA Venture Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Zendesk, Allos Ventures, Atlas Peak Capital, Rethink Education, and The Yard Ventures.


- Pulse, a San Francisco, Calif.-based social research platform, raised $6.5 million in Series A funding. AV8 Ventures led the round.


- Ably, a London-based data streaming platform, raised $7 million in Series A funding. MMC Ventures and Forward  Partners coinvested.


- SportsEdTV, a Miami-based sports online education platform for athletes, coaches and parents, raised $3 million Series A funding round. Investors include Rick Foker.


- Tailscale, a Toronto-based corporate VPN provider, raised $3 million in seed funding. Heavybit led the round, and was joined by investors including Uncork Capital and others.


PRIVATE EQUITY


- KKR agreed to invest up to $500 million in Kilter Finance, a London-based insurance specialty lender.


- Ultracheese, backed by Aqua Capital, acquired Búfalo Dourado, a Brazilian maker of buffalo milk cheeses. Financial terms weren't disclosed. Read more.


- Dave & Buster's Entertainment is reportedly talking to various private equity firms about acquiring a stake as coronavirus forces the restaurants to shut down, per Reuters. Read more.


- Chitocea, backed by Lone Star, is set to become new owner of Unizo Holdings, a Japanese hotel chain. Read more. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Knox Capital Holdings invested in Mesa, Ariz.-based Collabtech Group, a provider of collaboration technology services. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Main Capital has acquired a majority stake in eHealth software group Alfa Kommun & Landsting AB and Safe Care Svenska AB. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


OTHERS


- Simulations Plus, (Nasdaq: SLP) acquired Lixoft, a Paris-based drug development platform. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- HouseCanary acquired DropModel, a web-based real estate financial modeling, analysis, and presentation platform for single-family residentials. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Acreage Holdings terminated a $120 million deal to acquire Deep Roots Medical, a Nevada-based marijuana cultivator and manufacturer.


- ScanSTAT and DataFile, two Georgia-based health-record management software makers, merged. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


EXITS


- Platinum Equity acquired Farnese Group, a Pescara, Italy-based winemaker, from NB Renaissance Partners, a part of Neuberger Berman. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.


- Koch Industries acquired the remaining portion of Infor, a New York City-based business cloud software provider, from Golden Gate Capital. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


F + FS


- CVC Capital Partners raised $4.5 billion for its fifth Asia Pacific fund, CVC Capital Partners Asia Pacific V.


- venBio Partners raised $394 million for its third life sciences fund.


- ROC Partners raised $120.15 million of a $150 million target for its fourth Asia Pacific private equity fund, per an SEC filing.



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PEOPLE


- Bregal Sagemount promoted Will Breskman to Senior Associate.


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