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VC Daily : SmartRent Lists Via Investor's Own SPAC

08/25/2021 | 09:44am EDT

Good day. Fifth Wall, a venture-capital firm investing in property technology, climate technology and retail, has seen four of its portfolio companies list on the public markets in recent months. SmartRent.com, another portfolio company, is slated to start trading Wednesday after completing a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, created by Fifth Wall itself.

SPACs are publicly traded vehicles that raise money with the goal of finding a private target to take public. Three of the four startups backed by Fifth Wall that recently listed did so via SPACs. But the SmartRent listing marks the first time the venture firm has taken the lead on such deals.

SmartRent sells smart-home-technology systems to apartment-building owners and developers.

Fifth Wall manages $2.6 billion in assets. It launched Fifth Wall Acquisition Corp. I in February, raising $345 million. The SPAC later announced a $2.2 billion merger with SmartRent that also involved a $155 million private investment in public equity, or PIPE, supported by large real-estate players such as Starwood Capital Group and Lennar Corp.

The SPAC format allowed Fifth Wall to line up a roster of investors that can act as key shareholders for the company in the long term.

Fifth Wall has formed two other SPACs, Fifth Wall Acquisition II and III. In February the firm hired Jeremy Fox, a veteran real-estate and capital markets banker, to lead the firm's SPAC effort and help position portfolio companies for the public markets, among other tasks. Mr. Fox works closely with the firm's limited partners, which all operate in the real-estate industry.

And now on to the news...

Top News

Direct listing. Eyewear maker Warby Parker Inc. said Tuesday it plans to go public through a direct listing, making the company the latest to shirk the traditional public-offering process, Kimberly Chin reports for The Wall Street Journal. The direct-to-consumer company in June confidentially filed a draft registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a public offering.

Direct listings differ from traditional initial public offerings in that companies take their shares to the stock market directly. Companies are able to save money that in a more traditional IPO would be shelled out to investment banks.

Warby Parker, which counts investment firm Tiger Global Management LLC and private-equity firm Durable Capital Partners among its bigger backers, raised $245 million from private investors last fall, snagging a $3 billion valuation.

20,000

The number of Afghan refugees that will be offered free, temporary housing around the world by Airbnb Inc. (WSJ)

Renewable-Energy Broker LevelTen Gets Google, Oil-Sector Backing

Renewable-energy middleman LevelTen Energy Inc., which aims to make buying wind and solar power as easy as purchasing fossil-fuel-based electricity, has won funding from Google and oil-and-gas companies, Dieter Holger writes for WSJ Pro. The Seattle-based company said Wednesday that it raised $35 million in a series C funding round led by investment firm NGP Energy Capital Management LLC with participation from investors including Alphabet Inc.'s Google and European oil-and-gas providers TotalEnergies SE and Equinor ASA.

Waymo Opens Robotaxi Service in San Francisco for Ride Hailing

Waymo LLC is opening its driver-supported robotaxis in San Francisco to selected riders, an important test for the Google sister company's technology and business in a major city, WSJ reports. The Alphabet Inc. unit, which has raised billions of dollars from outside investors and recently completed a leadership shake-up, has been building toward a San Francisco launch for more than a decade.

Industry News

Funds

Seed investor Alpaca VC is raising $100 million for its third fund, according to a regulatory filing. The firm recently participated in funding rounds for delivery startup Fetch Package Inc. and commercial real-estate appraisal provider Bowery Valuation.

People

Enterprise software delivery company CloudBees appointed Peter Meechan to the post of chief corporate development officer, and Jinny Jun as chief people officer. Mr. Meechan previously held the same position at Automation Anywhere. Ms. Jun joins the company from Trellia HR Advisory. Founded in 2010, CloudBees is backed by Matrix Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Verizon Ventures, Delta-v Capital, Golub Capital and Unusual Ventures.

Software delivery platform Armory said that Jim Douglas will succeed Daniel R. Odio as chief executive. Mr. Douglas was most recently president and CEO of Wind River. San Mateo, Calif.-based Armory is backed by B Capital, Insight Partners, Crosslink Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, Mango Capital, Y Combinator and Javelin Venture Partners.

Exits

Open source search and analytics engine services provider Elastic N.V. agreed to acquire build.security, a policy definition and enforcement platform, for an undisclosed amount. Tel Aviv-based build.security was seeded by YL Ventures.

Healthy fast food chain sweetgreen plans to acquire Spyce, which is backed by investors including Khosla Ventures, Collaborative Fund and Maveron, for an undisclosed sum.

Scottsdale, Ariz.-based conversational recruiting software provider Paradox Inc. purchased hiring and talent assessment technology developer Traitify. Terms weren't disclosed. Brighton Park Capital led Paradox's $40 million Series B round last year. Baltimore-based Traitify was backed by TCP Venture Capital.

New Money

Ramp, a New York-based corporate card startup, scored $300 million in Series C funding at a $3.9 billion valuation. Founders Fund led the round, which included participation from Redpoint Ventures, Thrive Capital, D1 Capital Partners, Spark Capital, Coatue Management, Iconiq Capital, Stripe, Lux Capital, Definition Capital and others. In addition to the new investment, Ramp acquired Buyer Inc., a negotiation-as-a-service platform, for an undisclosed amount.

Form Energy Inc., a Somerville, Mass.-based provider of multi-day energy storage systems, closed a $240 million Series D round. ArcelorMittal led the funding, which included support from TPG Rise, Perry Creek Capital, NGP Energy Technology Partners, Coatue Management, Temasek Holdings, Energy Impact Partners, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Prelude Ventures, The Engine and others.

Shield AI, a San Diego-based developer of AI and self-driving technologies for military aircraft, nabbed $210 million in Series D funding, raising the company's valuation to more than $1 billion. Led by Disruptive, the round included contributions from Point72 Ventures, Breyer Capital and Andreessen Horowitz.

ICON Technology Inc., an Austin, Texas-based 3D-printed home startup, closed a $207 million Series B round. Norwest Venture Partners led the funding, with Managing Partner Jeff Crowe joining the company's board. Investors including 8VC, BOND, Fifth Wall, Moderne Ventures and Oakhouse Partners also participated in the round.

Cora, a Brazilian fintech startup providing services to small businesses, secured $116 million in Series B funding. Greenoaks Capital Partners led the round, which included participation from Ribbit Capital, Kaszek Ventures and QED Investors.

Khatabook Inc., an India-based small business management app maker, landed $100 million in Series C funding, giving the company a valuation of nearly $600 million. Tribe Capital and Moore Strategic Ventures led the round, which included contributions from Alkeon Capital, B Capital Group, Sequoia Capital, Tencent Holdings, RTP Global, Unilever Ventures and Better Capital.

Plentific, a property-management platform with offices in London, Berlin and New York, raised $100 million in Series C funding. Highland Europe and Brookfield Technology Partners led the new round, which included additional support from Mubadala Investment Co., RXR Digital Ventures, A/O PropTech and Target Global.

Bungalow, a San Francisco-based co-living startup, picked up $75 million in Series C financing. Deer Park Road led the round, which saw participation from Atomic, Founders Fund, Coatue Management and Khosla Ventures.

Upstream Security, an Israel- and Detroit-based provider of cybersecurity and data analytics for connected vehicles, completed a $62 million Series C round. Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance led the financing, with participation from investors including La Maison Partners, Glilot Capital, Salesforce Ventures and Volvo Group Venture Capital.

Shelf.io, a Stamford, Conn.-based knowledge automation provider for employees and customer service agents, grabbed a $52.5 million Series B round. Tiger Global Management and Insight Partners led the investment, which included additional support from Base10 Partners, Connecticut Innovations, Contour Venture Partners and others.

NoRedInk Corp., a San Francisco-based digital writing curriculum provider, snagged $50 million in Series B funding. Lead investor Susquehanna Growth Equity was joined by True Ventures in the round.

Coco, a Los Angeles-based last-mile delivery service using remotely operated vehicles, closed a $36 million Series A round led by Sam Altman, Silicon Valley Bank and Founders Fund.

Tech News

Samsung to invest $205 billion in chip, biotech expansion

Elon Musk pans pilot version of Tesla's driver-assistance feature

Hollywood movies flood piracy sites hours after release

Delta variant outbreaks in sparsely vaccinated Asian countries disrupt production

Around the Web

They launched a health insurance plan for remote workers. Ten days later, a pandemic hit (Bloomberg)

Bankers chase Byju's for IPO, valuation pegged up to $50 billion (TechCrunch)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

08-25-21 0943ET

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