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January 14, 2022

Happy Friday, Term Sheeters!


My weeks thus far have been filled with illuminating—and sometimes highly opinionated—interviews since taking the helm of this newsletter. There’s quite a lot happening in the dealmaking world, spanning founders on trial, plump private equity exits, and funding activity in farming


Every once in a while, I think it’s worth bringing you into those conversations to hear from founders, bankers, investors, academics, or maybe just an interesting character, who is adding something new to the dialogue. 


Before the holidays, I sat down (virtually) with Christina Melas-Kyriazi, shortly after she was named the newest partner at Bain Capital Ventures, a Boston-based venture capital firm. Melas-Kyriazi comes from a big Armenian family and grew up in Los Angeles. She’s held stints at Goldman Sachs, LinkedIn, GoFundMe and Affirm, before getting a taste of venture capital as a scout for Sequoia Capital and an angel investor. Now she’s one of BCV’s 13 partners.


Melas-Kyriazi has managed to keep pretty busy thus far, already recruiting “Litquidity,” the meme-focused anonymous social media persona, as a scout for her new employer—meaning that Litquidity will be able to write small investment checks on behalf of BCV for new early-stage founders and companies he tracks down.


I talked to Melas-Kyriazi about how she’s thinking about her new role, and how involved investors should get in the companies they back. (Some portions of our conversation have been edited or shortened for clarity and/or brevity)


Courtesy of Christina Melas-Kyriazi

TS: Tell us more about what you’ll be focused on in your new role.


Melas-Kyriazi: I’m interested in a number of different themes across fintech and commerce tech. There are things like buy now pay later (BNPL), but there are also many unsolved problems for retailers—like how do you solve loyalty? How do you enable e-commerce so that people can sell online more easily? How do you make B2B payments quicker and more seamless, and extend access to credit in various parts of the ecosystem? Other themes I’m interested in is how do you democratize finance? How do you give more people better access to financial products in better ways? 


I’m very interested in how decentralization unlocks new innovation and incentive structures and trying to really think about where decentralization works well, and maybe where it doesn’t work as well. The case where it works well, something like Wikipedia—or where it doesn’t work as well, maybe something like Uber or Airbnb, because those platforms actually do a lot right. So I’m trying to take a very thesis-driven approach, and also just meet really great, mission-driven, product-oriented founders in the early stage, and partner with them from day one.


Is there any area or sector of the fintech startup market that you think is still untapped? Or are we beyond that by now?


There’s still so much market share with the large banks that I think the new digital players, in many ways, are still in their infancy. Even if you just think about the number of accounts that are created online versus in person, and that’s just in the U.S.—not even thinking about [the international market].


My very first week, we went to Mexico City as a team to meet with a number of companies there, and I think what’s happening in Latin America is really exciting—and other emerging markets are even in the earlier days.


How involved do you think investors should be in the companies that they invest in?


I think that it depends on the founder, and it depends on the stage of the company. Just from what I’ve seen, with my angel investing, the earlier the company, the more on average that the the founders are excited to collaborate with their investors. And then as they grow, they’re looking for different things. Being able to have a platform that has resources to be able to help with everything from thinking through talent and recruiting to thinking about team structure, thinking about board composition, thinking about financing needs—these things that maybe a founder hasn’t spent a lot of time on yet. That’s where VCs can add a lot of value. But I should never be explaining a market to someone, right? 


The VC market appears to be really fast-paced right now. How do you balance speed while also making sure that you’re doing your due diligence?


I think that is the challenge that everyone is facing right now in the industry, and I think this is where it really helps to be thesis-driven and vertically-focused, right? At Bain Capital Ventures, when we’re meeting a company, we’re not learning about the market for the first time; we really understand it deeply. We can dive right into: Here are the key questions that we want to tackle. and I think that allows us to do due diligence and understand an opportunity much faster, and then get to the place of how we can add value.


After our interview, I asked Melas-Kyriazi to shed some light on her decision to bring on Litquidity as a scout for BCV. Here’s what she said: 


We’ve seen a compelling trend of next-generation media entrepreneurs leveraging their online platforms for investing (for example, David Rosenthal at Acquired and Packy McCormick at Not Boring). These media entrepreneur-investors have differentiated access to opportunities and insights based on where they sit in the ecosystem, and they can leverage their online audiences in creative ways. Litquidity has a unique perspective as a creator having built a broad and engaged audience on social media at the intersection of finance, technology, and meme culture. I’m excited to partner with Litquidity to reach the next generation of fintech and web3 entrepreneurs. 



In observance of Martin Luther King Jr. day, Term Sheet is taking Monday off. We will be back in your inbox on Tuesday.


Enjoy your weekend,


Jessica Mathews
Twitter: @jessicakmathews
Email: jessica.mathews@fortune.com


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VENTURE DEALS


Bolt, a San Francisco-based checkout and shopper network company, raised $355 million in Series E funding led by BlackRock and was joined by investors including Schonfeld, Invus Opportunities, H.I.G. Growth, and CE Innovation Capital. 


- Accelerant, a Colchester, U.K.-based data intelligence insurance platform for underwriters to share and exchange risk, raised $190 million in funding led by Eldridge and was joined by investors including Deer Park, Marshall Wace, and MS&AD Ventures.


- BigPanda, a Mountain View, Calif.-based AIOps Event Correlation and Automation company, raised $190 million in funding led by Advent International and Insight Partners.


- Near Foundation, on behalf of the NEAR Protocol, an open-source platform for accelerating decentralized application development, raised $150 million in funding led by Three Arrows Capital and joined by investors including Mechanism Capital, Dragonfly Capital, a16z, Jump, Alameda, Zee Prime, and Amber Group.


- Verana Health, a San Francisco-based digital health company that delivers drug lifecycle and medical practice insights from a data network, raised $150 million in Series E funding led by Johnson & Johnson Innovation and Novo Growth and was joined by investors including GV, Casdin Capital, Brook Byers, the Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, THVC, and Breyer Capital. 


- Flipdish, a Dublin, Ireland-based international online ordering and digital hospitality platform, raised approximately $100 million in funding led by Tencent. 


- Placer.ai, a Los Altos, Calif.-based foot traffic analytics platform, raised $100 million in Series C funding led by Josh Buckley and was joined by investors including WndrCo, Lachy Groom, MMC Technology Ventures, Fifth Wall Ventures, and Array Ventures. 


- Pluang, an Indonesian fractional investing app, raised $55 million in funding led by Accel and was joined by investors including Axie Infinity founders Trung Nguyen, Andy Ho, Aleksander Leonard Larsen, and Jeffrey Zirlin, as well as former Learnvest CEO Alexa von Tobel, Pismo CTO Daniela Binatti, and others.


- TheMathCompany, a Bangalore, India-based data analytics and data engineering firm, raised $50 million in funding led by Brighton Park Capital and joined by Arihant Patni.


- Observable, a San Francisco-based data visualization platform, raised $35.6 million in Series B funding led by Menlo Ventures and was joined by investors including Sequoia Capital and Acrew Capital. 


- BlocPower, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based climate technology developer, raised $30 million from Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund.


- Ubiquitous Energy, a Redwood City, Calif.-based solar technology company for residential and commercial building occupants, raised $30 million in Series B funding from investors including Andersen Corporation, ENEOS, Safar Partners, Hostplus, Red Cedar Ventures, and Riverhorse Investments.


- Rooter, a New Delhi, India-based game streaming and e-sports platform, raised $25 million in Series A funding led by Lightbox, March Gaming, Duane Park Ventures, 9Unicorns, ADvantage Sports Tech Fund, Capital-A, Goal Ventures and IeAD Sports. 


- WorkStep, a San Francisco-based supply chain workforce hiring and retention platform, raised $25 million in Series B funding led by NewRoad Capital Partners and was joined by investors including Prologis Ventures, FirstMark Capital, Social Capital, Quiet Capital, Latitude Ventures, and Engage VC.


- Vangst, a Denver, Colo.-based hiring platform for the cannabis industry, raised $19 million in Series B funding led by Level One Fund, and was joined by investors including Lerer Hippeau, Colle Capital, Casa Verde Capital, Phyto Partners, L2 Ventures, Althea, Delta Emerald Ventures, and Achari VC.


- Evernest, a Hamburg, Germany-based residential real estate transaction platform for buyers, sellers and agents, raised €13 million  ($14.9 million) in Series A funding led by Prudence and was joined by investors including Kibo Ventures, Bonsai Partners, Project A, and APIC. 


- Web3Auth (formerly Torus), a pluggable non-custodial public/private key infrastructure solution for the crypto industry, raised $13 million in Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital India and was joined by investors including LD Capital.


- Bolster, an Indianapolis, Ind.-based on-demand executive talent marketplace, raised $11 million in Series B funding led by Foundry, and was joined by SVB Financial Group, High Alpha, Union Square Ventures, Costanoa Venture Capital, Capital Factory, and Alumni Ventures.


- PreciseDx, a cancer risk stratification company that provides patient-specific risk information through analysis of morphology features, raised $10.8 million in Series A funding led by the Merck Global Health Innovation Fund and was joined by investors including the Mount Sinai Health System, Agilent Technologies, IBM Ventures, and the Hobart Group. 


- Civitech, a San Antonio, Tex.-based technology infrastructure platform focused on helping Democratic political candidates, raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Higher Ground Labs and was joined by investors including Scout Ventures and Gaingels.


- Ocean.io, a Copenhagen, Denmark-based data platform for sales and marketing teams, raised $7 million in funding led by Peak.


- Friktion Labs, a portfolio and risk manager for individuals, DAOs, and institutional asset managers built on Solana, raised $5.5 million in funding from investors including Jump Crypto, DeFiance Capital, Pillar, Libertus Capital, Delphi Ventures, and Sino Global Capital.


- HeyRenee, a personal health concierge focused on those managing chronic illnesses and conditions, raised $4.4 million in seed funding led by Quiet Capital and was joined by investors including City Light Capital, Fika Ventures, Global Founders Capital, Mucker Capital, SaaS Ventures, and Tau Ventures. 


- muvin, a Bengaluru, India-based neobank focused on indigenous youth, raised $3 million in pre-Series A funding led by WaterBridge Ventures and was joined by investors including Alteria Capital.


PRIVATE EQUITY


- Cherry Tree Dental, backed by ICV Partners, acquired Minneapolis, Minn.-based Downtown Dental Associates and Robert J. Kingston, DDS as well as Fairmont, Minn.-based Fairmont Family Dentistry. Financial terms were not disclosed.


- Court Square Capital Partners recapitalized GoEngineer, a Salt Lake City, Utah-based 3D design and additive manufacturing solutions provider. Financial terms were not disclosed.


- Godspeed Capital acquired Exceptional Software Strategies, a Linthicum Heights, Md.-based information technology solutions provider to federal agencies, including members of the Intelligence Community and Department of Defense agencies. Financial terms were not disclosed.


- LLR Partners acquired Quantum Workplace, an Omaha, Neb.-based employee engagement and performance software and data collection provider, and RealTime Software Solutions, a San Antonio, Tex.-based clinical research technology company that helps clinical trial sites manage their operations. Financial terms were not disclosed.


- Mercer Global Advisors, an Oak Hill Capital and Genstar Capital portfolio firm, acquired HawsGoodwin Wealth, a Franklin, Tenn.-based wealth management firm, and Wrenn Financial Strategies, a Raleigh, N.C. wealth management firm. Financial terms were not disclosed.


- Salt Creek Capital acquired Essex Coatings + Finishing, an Avenel, N.J.-based hardwood flooring finisher, wholesaler, and distributor. Financial terms were not disclosed.


- Snowflake Ventures made a minority investment in Collibra, a Brussels, Belgium-based cross-organizational data governance platform. Financial terms were not disclosed.


- Spark Dental Management, backed by Rock Mountain Capital, acquired Children's Dental Management, a pediatric dentistry support company. Financial terms were not disclosed.


- TEAM Technologies, backed by Clearlake Capital Group, acquired iiMED Medical Solutions, an Amherst, N.Y.-based nearshore specialty manufacturer of FDA Class I & II consumable medical devices company, from affiliates of ACON Investments. Financial terms were not disclosed.


- Tendit Group (formerly Top Gun Facility Services), an Osceola Capital portfolio company, acquired American Striping Company, a Centennial, Colo.-based pavement striping company, and Apex Pavement Solutions, a Golden, Colo.-based asphalt construction and maintenance company. Financial terms were not disclosed.


- True Wind Capital acquired W Energy Software, a Tulsa, Okl.-based accounting and ERP software platform. Financial terms were not disclosed.


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EXITS


- Audax Private Equity acquired a stake in Centerline Communications, a wireline network infrastructure company, from Stone-Goff Partners.


- basys acquired a majority stake in Innovative Software Solutions, a Maple Shade, N.J.-based specialized benefits administration solutions provider. As part of the deal, BPOC and Five Arrows Capital Partners purchased a majority stake of the combined entity from WindRose Health Investors. Financial terms were not disclosed.


- Main Street Capital and other investors acquired Robbins Brothers, an Azusa, Calif.-based high-end jewelry retailer primarily serving the bridal market, from Comvest Partners. Financial terms were not disclosed.


OTHER


- FundThrough acquired BlueVine’s invoice factoring business company. Financial terms were not disclosed.


- Texthelp agreed to acquire the education technology division of Don Johnston, a Chicago, Ill.-based assistive technology and special education curriculum company. Financial terms were not disclosed.


IPOS 


- LG Energy Solution, a South Korean battery maker, raised $10.8 billion in its IPO in the country, per Reuters. 


- Sotheby’s, a New York-based auction house, has selected bankers for a potential IPO, per Bloomberg. The company may seek a valuation of $5 billion.


- Bausch + Lomb, an Ontario, Canada-based eye health company, filed for an IPO. The company reported $2.8 billion in revenue in the nine months ending in Sep. 2021 and reported $139 million in net income. Bausch Health Companies owns the company.


- Rhodium Enterprises, a remote digital asset mining company, plans to raise up to $107.7 million in an offering of 7.7 million shares priced between $12 and $14 per share. The company reported $48 million in net revenue for the six months ending in June 2021 and income of $15 million. Imperium Investments and Celsius back the firm.


- StubHub Holdings, a ticket resale platform, is weighing a direct listing, per Bloomberg.


- Desert Peak Minerals, a Denver, Colo.-based Permian Basin mineral and royalty interest manager, withdrew its registration for an IPO. Kimmeridge, Blackstone, and Oaktree Capital Management back the firm.


- Xi’an Giant Biogene Technology, a Chinese cosmetics firm, has hired bankers for an IPO in Hong Kong, according to Bloomberg.


SPAC


- Sports & Health Tech Acquisition Corp., a blank check company focused on sports and health technology, filed for an IPO. Tiger Woods backs the firm.


- Akulaku, an Indonesian online lender, is weighing going public in the U.S. via a SPAC merger, according to Bloomberg. A deal could value the company at about $2 billion. Ant Group backs the firm.


FUNDS + FUNDS OF FUNDS


- FTX, a crypto exchange, launched FTX Ventures, a $2 billion venture fund focused on crypto market startups, that will be led by Amy Wu.


- Verdane, an Oslo, Norway-based private equity firm, raised €300 million ($343.6 million) for a new fund focused on technology-enabled companies that contribute to UN sustainable development goals.


PEOPLE


- Amplify Partners, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based venture capital firm, promoted Sarah Catanzaro to general partner, Renee Shah to partner, and Natasha Katoni to operating partner.


- Clearco, a Toronto, Canada-based growth capital firm focused on B2B and e-commerce, hired Sumeet Shah to lead its New York venture partnerships. 


- Lovell Minnick Partners, a Radnor, Penn.-based private equity firm focused on the financial services industry and business services companies, promoted Roumi Zlateva and Jason Klein to principals.


- Victor Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm focused on branded specialty consumer, industrial, and business services businesses, hired Matt McLain as investment partner. Previously, he was with Access Holdings.


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