VC Daily: NFX Adds to Seed Arms Race With $450 Million Fund

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Good day. The arms race to raise larger war chests to target young startups has intensified.

San Francisco-based venture firm NFX Capital Management said Tuesday in a blog post that it raised a $450 million fund that will exclusively target pre-seed and seed startups. It is the firm’s largest fund raised.

The fund will focus on businesses in sectors including crypto, fintech and gaming, according to the post. NFX invests in startups based in the U.S., Israel, Latin America and Europe. NFX made seed investments into companies including DoorDash Inc. and Lyft Inc.

The fund comes as venture firms are doubling down on seed investing amid increasing competition in the venture-capital industry. Seed investing, which is oftentimes a startup’s first infusion of outside capital, can offer huge payouts along with the additional risk of investing in nascent and unproven businesses.

Andreessen Horowitz said in August it raised a $400 million seed fund and last month Greylock Partners raised a $500 million seed fund.

And now on to the news…

Top News

Capital Raise. The Mom Project Inc., a job board for mothers, raised $80 million in new capital at what may be a pivotal moment for working women and the companies that want to hire them, WSJ Pro’s Yuliya Chernova reports.

Mothers, who left the workforce in large numbers during the pandemic, are increasingly able to return to work as schools reopen, said Allison Robinson, co-founder and chief executive of the Chicago-based Mom Project. At the same time, companies are becoming more willing to offer flexible job options to them due to talent shortages. “It’s a good time for moms to get back to work,” Ms. Robinson said.

Leeds Illuminate, a women-led growth equity investor launched last year with a focus on education and workforce-development companies, led the Series C round of equity for the Mom Project that totaled $60 million and valued the company at above $300 million. The Mom Project also raised $20 million in debt from Silicon Valley Bank.

$73.3 Billion

The trade gap in goods and services expanded to a record in August from $70.3 billion in July as the Delta variant of Covid-19 and supply constraints weighed on global trade, according to the Commerce Department. (WSJ)

Tech Investor Francisco Partners Targets $10 Billion for Latest Flagship

Francisco Partners, a technology-focused private-equity firm, plans to hit the fundraising trail later this year with the aim of collecting some $10 billion for its seventh flagship fund, according to people familiar with the situation, Laura Cooper and Preeti Singh report. The San Francisco-based firm’s latest fundraising push comes a little more than a year after it raised nearly $10 billion across three separate funds to back technology companies focused on sectors that include healthcare, cybersecurity and finance.

AI Startup Domino Data Lab Raises $100 Million in New Funding

Artificial intelligence startup Domino Data Lab Inc. said Tuesday it raised $100 million in new funding amid increased business interest in tools that help data scientists build and deploy AI applications, WSJ Pro reports. The funding will be used to scale its sales organization and build out its machine-learning platform’s features and functions, said Nick Elprin, Domino Data’s chief executive and one of its co-founders. Domino Data has raised $228 million since its founding in 2013. Private-equity firm Great Hill Partners led the series F round with participation from graphics-chip maker Nvidia Corp. and existing investors Coatue Management, Highland Capital Partners and Sequoia Capital. The company didn’t disclose its valuation.

Startup 24 Exchange Seeks to Offer Round-the-Clock Stock Trading

A startup trading platform is seeking approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission to launch the first U.S. stock exchange that would operate around the clock, including on weekends and holidays, WSJ reports. The startup, 24 Exchange, said it filed key parts of its application for a national stock-exchange license with the SEC on Monday, including a rulebook and user manual detailing its proposed approach to trading hours. Under decades-old conventions, the bulk of stock trading takes place between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET on weekdays, and exchanges shut down for holidays, such as Good Friday and Washington’s Birthday. In contrast, 24 Exchange would operate like the foreign-exchange and cryptocurrency markets, which run continuously.

Industry News

Funds

Growth-stage firm G Squared closed its fifth flagship fund at $1.2 billion to continue investing in fintech/insurtech, consumer internet, mobility and software-as-a-service. G Squared also opened an office in Miami, adding to the firm’s locations in Chicago, San Francisco, Zurich and Greenwich, Conn.

People

Sapphire Ventures appointed Ellie Javadi to the post of chief marketing officer. She was most recently vice president of marketing at Norwest Venture Partners.

Hyperscience, which automates mission-critical processes and operations for organizations and governments, named Tony Lee as the company’s first chief technology officer. He was previously at Snapdocs. With offices in New York, London and Bulgaria, Hyperscience has raised over $190 million from investors including Tiger Global Management, BOND and Bessemer Venture Partners.

ArangoDB Inc., an open-source graph database startup, appointed Frank Swain as chief revenue officer and promoted Jörg Schad to chief technology officer. Mr. Swain was most recently CRO at Instana. Mr. Schad was previously at Mesosphere. ArangoDB is based in San Francisco and Germany, and is backed by Bow Capital and Target Partners.

Exits

High-resolution digital Lidar sensor provider Ouster Inc. agreed to acquire Sense Photonics, developer of a digital solid-state Lidar sensor for automotive series production, in an all-stock transaction. Sense Photonics is backed by investors including Shell Ventures, Social Capital, Prelude Ventures, Acadia Woods Partners, Piva Capital and Congruent Ventures.

Marvell Technology Inc., which makes infrastructure semiconductor software, completed its acquisition of Innovium Inc., a provider of networking technology for cloud and edge data centers, for an undisclosed amount. The all-stock deal was valued at $1.1 billion when it was announced in August. San Jose, Calif.-based Innovium was backed by investors including Greylock, Qualcomm Ventures, Premji Invest and DFJ Growth.

Sales and marketing software provider 6sense purchased sales intelligence platform Slintel for an undisclosed amount. Early this year, San Francisco-based 6sense raised a $125 million Series D round from D1 Capital Partners, Sapphire Ventures, Tiger Global Management and Insight Partners. Slintel said it landed a $20 million funding round in June from GGV Capital, Accel, Sequoia Capital India and Stellaris Venture Partners.

New Money

Orca Security, a Los Angeles- and Tel Aviv-based cloud security startup, snagged $550 million in an extended Series C round, boosting the company’s valuation to $1.8 billion. Temasek Holdings led the new funding, which included contributions from CapitalG, Redpoint Ventures, GGV Capital, Iconiq Capital, Lone Pine Capital, Stripes, Adams Street Partners, Willoughby Capital and Harmony Partners.

Tekion Corp., a Pleasanton, Calif.-based automotive retail platform, raised $250 million in Series D funding, giving the company a valuation of $3.5 billion. Alkeon Capital and Durable Capital co-led the round, which saw additional support from Advent International, Index Ventures, FM Capital and others.

Sky Mavis, a game developer based in Vietnam and Singapore, scored $152 million in Series B funding. Andreessen Horowitz led the round, which included participation from Accel and Paradigm.

mParticle, a New York-based customer data infrastructure provider, secured $150 million in Series E financing. Permira’s growth fund led the round, with Principal Daniel Brenhouse joining the company’s board.

Masterworks.io, a New York-based members-only platform where investors can buy and sell shares in works of art, landed $110 million in Series A funding at a valuation in excess of $1 billion. Left Lane Capital led the round, which saw participation from Galaxy Interactive, Tru Arrow Partners and others.

Sure, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based insurtech startup, closed a $100 million Series C round. Declaration Partners and Kinnevik led the investment, which included participation from WndrCo, Expanding Capital, W. R. Berkley Corp. and Menlo Ventures.

Anyfin, a Stockholm-based startup that enables consumers to refinance their existing loans, collected a 450 million Swedish krona ($51 million) investment led by FinTech Collective. New investors Quadrille Capital and Augmentum Fintech also participated in the round, along with existing backers Accel, EQT Ventures, Northzone and Global Founders Capital. The new investment will accelerate growth in northern Europe, with a focus on Germany.

Buk, a Chilean human-resources-management platform, raised $50 million in Series A funding led by Greenoaks at a valuation of $417 million.

Duality Technologies, a Newark, N.J.-based startup providing privacy-protecting computing to regulated industries, nabbed $30 million in Series B funding. LG Technology Ventures led the investment, which saw participation from Euclidean Capital, NAventures, Intel Capital, Hearst Ventures and Team8.

Neural Magic Inc., a Somerville, Mass.-based startup building a software platform for deep learning inference, fetched a $30 million Series A round. Lead investor New Enterprise Associates was joined by Andreessen Horowitz, Amdocs, Comcast Ventures, Pillar VC and Ridgeline Ventures in the funding. NEA’s Greg Papadopoulos will join the board.

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October 06, 2021 09:38 ET (13:38 GMT)

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