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October 29, 2020

Airbnb is a marvel of a company in many ways: It has faced a trustworthiness crisis in recent years, with controversies including the proliferation of a scam spanning eight cities and another involving a deadly shooting at an Orinda, Calif. rental. Now, an ever-prevalent coronavirus has upended the travel market. Yet after a fall off early in the pandemic, consumers have returned to the home-sharing business, with CEO Brian Chesky saying U.S. bookings between the end of March and early June exceeded the same period in 2019.


That image, of a company on the mend, is perhaps in no small part thanks to Chris Lehane—a long-time Democratic strategist who worked through many scandals in the Clinton White House and now leads Airbnb’s policy and public communications efforts. 


He is arguably the second most important executive after Chesky himself, according to this thoroughly fascinating Information profile on the senior vice president for Global Policy and Communications, and he remains the longest-surviving executive on the team aside from Chesky and his co-founders. 


The self-described “Master of Disaster” fought stricter enforcement of zoning laws that could’ve sidelined (and potentially still can) Airbnb’s business and more recently, laid out a four-point coronavirus response gameplan that so far, appears to be working. The Airbnb headlines largely have been dominated by how the company, surprisingly, has made a comeback even amid travel restrictions. Heck, we even wrote about it.


Still, beyond his ability to cast the company in a positive light, his policy wins have been checkered—and that is the ultimate challenge the company will have to face. In November, a Jersey City ballot measure placing new restrictions on the platform was approved after Airbnb spent millions fighting against it. And while stateside, Airbnb is framing the pandemic as a way to reset the business, some cities in Europe are seizing the opportunity to propose restrictions on short-term housing that regulators say has driven up rents for local residents. Meanwhile Airbnb, per the Information, does expect urban travel to return after the pandemic ends.


As the pandemic wears on, Airbnb may have to consider even more outreach as city residents move in droves to local, smaller towns. A friend of mine who works in tech recently moved to the Lake Tahoe area to escape San Francisco. Among the first questions his neighbors asked was if he planned to rent out his home as an Airbnb. The relief, when he said no, was a story all on its own.


A NEW CHALLENGER: There’s a new fintech on the scene. Jiko, a Berkeley, Calif.-based challenger bank, raised $40 million in funding led by Upfront Ventures and investment firm Wafra. Its play? Slow and steady. The company focused on getting the banking charter first—acquiring a 63-year-old bank—ahead of scaling up. Read more.


Lucinda Shen
Twitter: @shenlucinda
Email: lucinda.shen@fortune.com


This article has been updated to reflect that 2019 bookings were in reference to U.S. numbers.


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VENTURE DEALS


- Scopely, a Los Angeles-based mobile games company, raised $340 million in Series E funding. Investors included Wellington Management, NewView Capital, TSG Consumer Partners, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, funds managed by BlackRock, D1, Battery Ventures, Eldridge, Declaration Partners, Moore Strategic Ventures, Greycroft, Baillie Gifford, Sands Capital, Revolution Growth, and Highland Capital Partners.


- Benson Hill, a St. Louis, Mo.-based agricultural breeding startup for sustainable foods, raised $150 million in Series D funding. Wheatsheaf Group and GV (formerly Google Ventures) led the round.


- GetYourGuide, a Berlin-based booking platform, raised €114 million ($134 million) in convertible note financing led by Searchlight Capital. Investors also included the SoftBank Vision Fund, KKR, Battery Ventures, Highland Europe, Spark Capital, Lakestar, Heartcore Capital and NGP Capital.


- Outrider, a Golden, Colo.-based autonomous yard operations, raised $65 million in Series B funding. Koch Disruptive Technologies led the round.


- Q32 Bio, a Cambridge, Mass.-based biotechnology company developing biologic therapeutics to restore healthy immune regulation, raised $60 million in Series B funding. OrbiMed Advisors and Acorn Bioventures led the round.


- Pulumi, a Seattle-based cloud engineering business, raised $37.5 million in Series B funding. NEA led the round and was joined by investors including Madrona Venture Group and Tola Capital


- Tomo Networks, a Stamford, Conn.-based mortgage and transaction company, raised $40 million in seed funding. Ribbit Capital, NFX and Zigg Capital led the round.


- Arable, a San Francisco-based maker of data solutions for agriculture, raised $20 million in Series B funding. Prelude Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including M2O, Nassau Street Ventures, and Tridon.


- Voltus, a San Francisco-based platform for electricity reduction among industrial customers, raised $25 million in a Series B  funding. NGP Energy Technology Partners III led the round and was joined by investors including Prelude Ventures and Ajax Strategies.


- Lunchbox, a New York-based online ordering engine for restaurants, raised $20 million in Series A funding. Coatue led the round.


- Fabric, a New York-based life insurance startup, raised $18 million in Series B funding. CNO Financial Group led the round and was joined by investors including Guardian Life, Nippon Life, Samsung Ventures, Securian Ventures, and Bessemer Venture Partners


- Homethrive, a Chicago-based startup aimed at helping care for older adults, raised $18 million in Series A funding. 7wireVentures and Pitango HealthTech led the round.


- Slingshot Aerospace,  an Austin and Los Angeles analytics and computer vision company, raised $8 million in Series A funding. ATX Venture Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Revolution’s Rise of the RestSeed Fund, Techstars Ventures, and Okapi Venture Capital. 


- Twingate, a Redwood City, Calif.-based provider of a VPN alternative, raised $17 million in Series A funding. Investors included 8VC and Signalfire.


- Forethought, a San Francisco-based A.I. platform for enterprises, raised $17 million in Series B funding. NEA led the round and was joined by investors including Sound Ventures, Neo, Geodesic Capital, and Operator Collective. 


- LabGenius, a London-based protein therapeutics business, raised $15 million in an extension round, led by Atomico.


- Robust.AI, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based cognitive engine for robots, raised $15 million in Series A funding. JAZZ Venture Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Playground Global, Liquid2, Fontinalis, Jaan Tallinn and Mark Leslie


- Donut, a maker of a Slack app for connecting remote teams, raised $12 million in funding led by Accel, and was joined by investors including Bloomberg Beta, FirstMark, and Slack Fund.


- Wise, a San Mateo-based fintech, raised $12 million in Series A funding. E.ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Grishin Robotics, Base10 Partners and Techstars.


- Capacity, a St. Louis-based maker of a helpdesk powered by A.I., raised $11 million in Series C funding. Rice Park Capital Management led the round.


- Vibenomics, an Indianapolis-based audio advertising company, raised $4.5 million in Series A2 funding. Investors included BIP Capital and Elevate Ventures.


- Tilt Five, a San Francisco-based maker of augmented reality glasses, a game board, and a wand controller, raised $7.5 million in Series A funding. SIP Global Partners led the round and was joined by investors including BITKRAFT Ventures, Galaxy Interactive, Logitech, and Ken Birdwell.


- Priori Legal, a New York-based startup for finding and hiring outside legal counsel, raised $6.3 million in Series A funding. Investors include Hearst Corporation, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Jambhala, Tim Steinert (former general counsel of Alibaba Group), Mindset Ventures, Bridge Venture Fund, and Orrick’s Legal Technology Fund.


- The Naked Market, a San Francisco-based healthy food market, raised $6 million in seed funding. Investors included Holtzbrinck Ventures, BEB Capital, Rick Rieder (BlackRock's Global Chief Investment Officer of Fixed Income), Integrated Capital, Sequoia Capital’s Scout Fund, NFQ Capital, Yves Potvin (founder of Garden Protein), and Liberty Ventures.


- Enso Security, a Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity startup, raised $6 million in seed funding. YL Ventures led the round and was joined by investors including Jump Capital.


- Hip eCommerce, an Austin-based collectibles specific marketplace, raised $5.3 million in Series A funding. Next Coast Ventures led the round.


- MachEye, a San Jose-based business intelligence platform, raised $4.6 million in seed funding. Canaan Partners led the round and was joined by WestWave Capital


- Stairwell, a San Francisco-based cybersecurity, raised $4.5 million in seed funding. Accel led the round and was joined by investors including Sequoia Capital, Gradient Ventures, and Allen & Company.


- Keyrock, a Brussels-based digital asset market, raised €4.3 million in funding. Investors included SIX Fintech Ventures, MiddleGame Ventures, Volta Ventures, Seeder Fund and TNN Patrimony.


- Funding U, an Atlanta-based financial technology company for underrepresented college students, raised $4 million. Investors included Deciens Capital, Valor Ventures, MacKenzie Scott, Next Act Fund,  and The JumpFund.


- Steadily, an insurer for landlords using IoT devices for preventative maintenance, raised $3.8 million in seed funding in a round led by Matrix Partners. 


- Edlyft, a San Francisco-based maker of a tutoring platform for STEM majors, raised $1.4 million in funding from investors including Kleiner Perkins, Y Combinator, Kapor Capital, Village Global VC, January Ventures, and Backstage Capital.


- SUMA Wealth, a Los Angeles-based financial education platform for millennial Latinos, raised over $1 million in pre-seed funding. Samara Hernández, Founding Partner at Chingona Ventures, led the round.


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PRIVATE EQUITY


- A  group led by Tiger Global Management agreed to invest $350 million in DoubleVerify, a digital media analytics company. Financial terms weren't disclosed. 


- Redwire, a portfolio company of AE Industrial Partners, acquired Roccor, a Longmont, Colo.-based. military and commercial hardware supplier in the small satellite market. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Celero Commerce, backed by LLR Partners, acquired TransNational Payments, a Rosemont, Ill.-based provider of electronic payments technology. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Colorado Boxed Beef, a portfolio company of Altamont Capital Partners,  merged with Quirch Foods, a Miami-based distributor and exporter of protein goods. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Definitive Healthcare, backed by 22C Capital, acquired Monocl, a subscription-based provider of medical and scientific data and insights.  Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- MLM Medical Labs, backed by Great Point Partners, acquired MD Biosciences, a Oakdale, Minn.-based provider of contract research services for developing pharmaceuticals. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Providence Strategic Growth made a majority investment in Signaturit, a Barcelona-based secure cloud provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed.


- Rock Mountain Capital invested in GeoLinks, a Camarillo, Calif.-based telecoms business.


 


EXITS


- Nordic Capital is weighing a sale of Itivi Group, a Stockholm-based electronic trading platform, in a deal that could raise $1 billion, per Bloomberg. Read more.


OTHERS


- Marvell Technology Group is nearing a deal to acquire Inphi, a San Jose, Calif.-based chip company, for about $10 billion, per the Wall Street Journal. Read more.


- Northrop Grumman, the U.S.-based defense business, is considering a sale of its technology services business for around $3 billion, per Bloomberg. Read more.


- EQT agreed to buy Chevron Corp.’s Appalachian shale assets for $735 million. Read more.


- Tiffany & Co.’s board agreed to sell to LVMH for about $430 million lower than the duo previously agreed to pre-pandemic. Read more.


IPO


- New Oriental Education & Technology Group, a Chinese tutoring and private school operator, plans to raise as much as HK$11.9 billion ($1.5 billion) in a second listing in Hong Kong.


- Leslie's, a pool and spa care provider, raised $680 million in an IPO of 40 million shares (10 million insider sold) for $17.00 apiece. L Catterton and GIC back the firm.


- Allegro MicroSystems, a fabless chip maker spun out of Sanken, raised $350 million in an offering of 25 million shares priced at $14 apiece.


- AmeriHome, a California-based residential mortgage company, posted its IPO to raise $250 million.


- Mavenir, a Texas-based cloud company, postponed its IPO to raise $275 million.


SPAC


- Mallard Acquisition Corp, a blank check company formed by Mallard Capital, raised $110 million.


- Elite Model World, a model management network, plans to go public via merger with Galileo Acquisition Corp., a SPAC, Bloomberg reports. Read more.



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PEOPLE


- Underscore VC named Chris Gardner as an investing partner.


- Hyde Park Venture Partners promoted Jackie DiMonte to principal.


- Lux Capital promoted Brandon Reeves to partner and Alex Nguyen to principal.


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