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VC Daily : Question: What Makes Decentralized Finance Attractive to Investors?

10/15/2021 | 09:52am EST

Good day. Last week, we asked how firms are approaching vaccine mandates for employees.

Relevance Ventures General Partner Dean Newton said that his firm doesn't require vaccinations but requires masks or a negative Covid test for anyone unvaccinated coming to the office. Everyone at the firm received the vaccine voluntarily, Mr. Newton said. The firm's portfolio companies have varying policies depending on local regulations. "I believe we have a portfolio company in NY that mandates vaccines whereas one in Florida doesn't," Mr. Newton wrote.

Kent Swig, head of family office Fulcrum Equities, which is an investor in venture funds, said his offices have fully implemented and supported a vaccine mandate and that unvaccinated people are "walking weapons against humanity."

Victor Pascucci III, managing general partner at Energy Capital Ventures, said: "We believe our employees can make their own health decisions based on what they believe is best for them and upon their own research."

This week's question: What makes decentralized finance attractive to investors and how much of the success of DeFi startups is linked to the adoption of cryptocurrencies?

Please email responses to marc.vartabedian@wsj.com.

And now on to the news...

Top News

Bets on tech startups. The founders of Forge Global Inc., an online marketplace for buying and selling shares of private firms, are launching a new money manager that invests in technology startups before they go public, Justin Baer reports for The Wall Street Journal.

The new company, D/XYZ, has raised $100 million for its first investment portfolio, Destiny Tech100, and aims to list it publicly as a closed-end exchange-traded fund, said Sohail Prasad, the company's co-founder.

Such a structure would open the fund to anyone, not just the professional investors, institutions and wealthy families who typically buy into startups before they go public.

Destiny Tech100 is accumulating positions in many of the technology industry's best-known private companies, including Instacart parent Maplebear Inc. and Superhuman Labs Inc., Mr. Prasad said.

40%

The rough share of U.S. households that said they faced serious financial difficulties in recent months of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a poll. (WSJ)

Walgreens to Invest $5.2 Billion in VillageMD

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. will pay $5.2 billion to acquire a controlling stake in primary-care network VillageMD as the pharmacy chain seeks to remodel itself as a healthcare provider, WSJ's Sharon Terlep reports. VillageMD operates more than 200 clinics where it has acquired or hired its own physicians and medical staff. Walgreens said the investment will enable it to open doctors' offices at 600 or more of its drugstore locations by 2025, and a further 400 by 2027. The drugstore company already owns a stake in VillageMD after agreeing last summer to pay $1 billion in equity and debt over the three years in exchange for a 30% stake in the Chicago-based startup. Under the deal announced Thursday, Walgreens will hold a 63% stake in VillageMD.

Coinbase Pitches Blueprint for Special Crypto Regulator

The largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange wants Congress to block the Securities and Exchange Commission from overseeing the nascent industry and instead create a special regulator for digital assets, according to a policy blueprint reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Coinbase Global Inc., which has feuded with U.S. regulators in recent months, plans to publicly release a document with proposals for crypto regulation. It says crypto-market participants face uncertainty about which federal agencies should oversee particular assets.

U.S. SPAC Frenzy Inspires a Reboot in Asia

SPACs have lost some luster in America, but stock exchanges in Singapore and Hong Kong are betting the vehicles will boost their allure to global investors and startups in the region. The two Asian financial hubs have been pushing forward with competing plans to enable listings of special-purpose acquisition companies, which raise money and go public before finding businesses to merge with. Singapore launched its SPAC rules in September, while Hong Kong is seeking public comment on its proposed regulations until the end of this month.

Industry News

Funds

DFJ Growth raised nearly $1 billion for its fourth core growth fund, DFJ Growth IV LP. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based firm closed its third core fund with $535 million in 2017 and secured $470 million for DFJ Growth 2013, its second core fund. DFJ Growth recently participated in big funding rounds for plant-based dairy and meat products maker NotCo and Elon Musk's brain-computer interface company, Neuralink.

At One Ventures closed its inaugural fund with $150 million in commitments to back startups whose technology contributes to the health of our planet. To date, the San Francisco firm has invested in 21 startups including Iron Ox, Dendra, Gradient, Apis Cor, Alchemie Technology and Cruz Foam.

HubSpot Ventures launched The CRM Platform Fund, a $100 million vehicle that will support early- and growth-stage technology companies focused on customer relationship management.

Thomson Reuters is launching a $100 million venture capital fund to make primarily Series A and Series B investments across the legal, tax and accounting, risk, fraud, compliance, news and media sectors.

People

True Ventures said Gus Coldebella joined the firm as partner, where he will focus on global public policy and regulation, with an emphasis on digital assets and other emerging technologies. Before joining True Ventures, Mr. Coldebella was general counsel at two crypto-focused firms.

Community banking investor BankTech Ventures appointed Carey Ransom as managing director. He was most recently co-founder and president of Operate, a venture studio. BankTech Ventures is targeting $150 million to $200 million for its first fund and expects a first close at the end of this month.

Shoreline Biosciences Inc., which is creating cellular immunotherapies for cancer and inflammatory diseases, appointed Scott Forrest as chief business officer. He was previously chief financial officer at Autobahn Therapeutics. In April, San Diego-based Shoreline Biosciences said it raised $43 million in funding from Boxer Capital, Commodore Capital, Stork Capital and others.

Exits

Women's health company Hologic Inc. agreed to purchase Bolder Surgical, a provider of instruments for minimally invasive surgery, for about $160 million. Louisville, Colo.-based Bolder Surgical has raised funding from River Cities Capital, Providence Ventures and Westwood Management.

Data intelligence startup Alation Inc. acquired Los Altos, Calif.-based artificial intelligence vendor Lyngo Analytics for an undisclosed amount. In June, Redwood City, Calif.-based Alation said it raised a $110 million Series D round at a $1.2 billion valuation from Riverwood Capital, Costanoa Ventures, Dell Technologies Capital, Icon Ventures, Salesforce Ventures and Sapphire Ventures.

Brightcove Inc., a provider of video technology to businesses, will acquire HapYak technology from K-12 instructional content platform Newsela for an undisclosed sum. Early this year, Newsela raised a $100 million Series D round from Franklin Templeton, TCV, Owl Ventures and others.

New Money

Vuori, an Encinitas, Calif.-based activewear brand, picked up a $400 million investment from SoftBank Vision Fund 2 at a valuation of $4 billion. Norwest Venture Partners invested in the company in 2019.

Bolt Financial Inc., a San Francisco-based e-commerce checkout startup, raised $333 million in Series D funding and $60 million in follow-on capital. New investors Untitled Investments, Willoughby Capital and Soma Capital joined existing backers including General Atlantic, Tribe Capital and Activant Capital in the round.

Dutchie, a Bend, Ore.-based provider of technology to cannabis dispensaries, snagged a $350 million Series D round led by D1 Capital Partners at a $3.75 billion valuation. Existing backers Tiger Global Management, Dragoneer Investment Group, DFJ Growth, Thrive Capital, Gron Ventures and Casa Verde Capital also supported the financing, alongside new investors Willoughby Capital, Glynn Capital and Park West Asset Management.

TradingView Inc., a London-based platform and social network for traders and investors, landed a $298 million investment led by Tiger Global Management, bringing the company's valuation up to $3 billion.

CarDekho, an Indian car-search platform, raised $200 million in Series E equity funding along with $50 million in debt, giving the company a valuation of $1.2 billion. Leapfrog Investments led the round, which included participation from Sequoia Capital India and others.

Dexterity, a Redwood City, Calif.-based provider of intelligent robotic systems for logistics, warehouses and supply chain, added $140 million in Series B equity and debt at a valuation of $1.4 billion. Lightspeed Venture Partners and Kleiner Perkins led the round, which saw participation from Obvious Ventures, B37 Ventures and Presidio Ventures.

GRIN, a Sacramento, Calif.-based creator-management platform for direct-to-consumer brands, completed a $110 million Series B round, giving the company a $910 million valuation. Lone Pine Capital led the investment, which included contributions from BOND, The Chainsmokers, Imaginary Ventures and others.

Outschool Inc., a San Francisco-based K-12 education marketplace provider, secured $110 million in Series D funding at a $3 billion valuation. Tiger Global Management led the new round, which included participation from BOND, Lightspeed Ventures, Union Square Ventures, Reach Capital, Coatue Management, FundersClub and SV Angel.

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10-15-21 0951ET

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