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VC Daily: Venture Keeps Up Frenzied Pace

Good day. As the third quarter comes to a close, preliminary data shows that the venture market's furious pace held, according to Ernst & Young U.S. venture-capital leader Jeffrey Grabow.

During the quarter, $62 billion in U.S. venture investments were made, raising the year's total to $205 billion. Deals in startup sectors including information technology, business and financial services, and healthcare helped power the quarter, according to Mr. Grabow.

"All signs point to 2021 being a record year for fund formation and fund deployment in the venture asset class," Mr. Grabow said.

And now on to the news...

Top News

Fintech startup. Several former employees of stock-trading platform Robinhood Markets Inc. are building a new fintech startup for small businesses, San Francisco-based Parafin Inc., WSJ Pro's Yuliya Chernova reports.

Parafin, which raised $34 million from investors including Robinhood backers Ribbit Capital and Thrive Capital, is reaching small businesses via partners to offer online cash advances, a type of financing that's repaid as a percentage of a business's daily sales. Parafin is an early-stage alternative to the likes of Square Inc.'s Square Capital, Stripe Inc.'s Stripe Capital and other providers of financing for small businesses.

One of Parafin's first clients is Mindbody Inc., a software provider to tens of thousands of fitness and other small businesses. It will use Parafin to power its Mindbody Capital financing arm, according to a spokesperson. Mindbody's small-business clients will be offered customizable financing options within their Mindbody software dashboards. Mindbody chose Parafin as its capital supplier because of its strong technical offering, low financing rates for small businesses and ability to move fast, the spokesperson said.

Many businesses are seeking to layer on financial services to add new revenue streams. Distributing its credit products via partners like Mindbody helps lower Parafin's costs and make its business model efficient, said Nick Shalek, general partner at Ribbit, who joined Parafin's board.


Consumer-confidence index level in September, down from a revised 115.2 in August, according to data from the Conference Board. (WSJ)

University Endowments Mint Billions in Golden Era of Venture Capital

Large college endowments have notched their biggest investment gains in decades, thanks to portfolios boosted by huge venture-capital returns and soaring stock markets, WSJ reports. The University of Minnesota's endowment gained 49.2% for the year ending June 30, while Brown University's endowment notched a return of more than 50%, said people familiar with their returns, which aren't yet public. Meanwhile, Duke University over the weekend said its endowment had gained 55.9%.

Volkswagen, Ford, Other Big Auto Makers Push to Make Solid-State Batteries the Next Big Thing for EVs

In the race to build a cheaper and longer-range electric car, auto companies are pouring more money into a technology long considered a moonshot: solid-state batteries, The Wall Street Journal reports. Today, most electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries, which have become more powerful and affordable over the years but have limitations, including the risks of catching fire. The configuration has the potential to deliver faster charging times and make the packs safer by eliminating the flammable electrolyte solution used in lithium-ion batteries, auto executives and analysts say. Still, the technology remains costly and relatively unproven in real-world applications, a hurdle that is expected to take years to solve for the mass market.

Industry News


Energize Ventures closed its second flagship fund with $330 million in commitments to continue investing in technologies and software across renewable energy, mobility, cybersecurity, battery storage, critical infrastructure and climate resiliency. Limited partners in the new fund include Invenergy, CDPQ, SE Ventures, GE Renewable Energy, Hannon Armstrong, Credit Suisse, Xcel Energy, American Electric Power and Equinor Ventures. Founded in 2016, the Chicago-based firm raised $160 million for its debut fund.

New Money

Merama, a Latin America-focused e-commerce startup based in Mexico City and São Paulo, closed $225 million in Series B funding at a valuation of about $850 million. Advent International and SoftBank Group co-led the round, which included participation from Globo Ventures, Monashees, Valor Capital, Balderton Capital and MAYA Capital. Advent's Wilson Rosa and SoftBank Latin America's Paulo Passoni will join Merama's board.

Coalition Inc., a San Francisco-based provider of cybersecurity, insurance and risk-management services, secured $205 million in Series E financing at a valuation of more than $3.5 billion. Durable Capital, T. Rowe Price Associates and Whale Rock Capital led the round, which included participation from existing investors. Coalition's backers include Index Ventures, General Atlantic, Ribbit Capital, Vy Capital and Valor Equity Partners.

Conexiom, a Vancouver-based sales order and invoice automation startup, landed a $130 million growth investment from Warburg Pincus, Luminate Capital and Iconiq Growth.

Semios, a Vancouver-based provider of real-time crop data and pest management tools, fetched a 100 million Canadian dollar ($78.9 million) investment led by Morningside Group. Earlier this year, Semios acquired Altrac, Centricity and Agworld.

Cover Genius, which provides insurance for customers of online companies, raised 100 million Australian dollars ($72.4 million) in Series C funding. Sompo Holdings Asia led the round, which included participation from G Squared and others.

Sisu, a San Francisco-based decision intelligence startup, landed $62 million in Series C funding. Green Bay Ventures led the round, which included contributions from Andreessen Horowitz, New Enterprise Associates and Geodesic Capital.

Buckle Corp., a Jersey City, N.J.-based auto insurance provider for rideshare and delivery drivers, raised $60 million in Series B financing. Led by Volery Capital Partners, the round included participation from Eldridge, Assurant Ventures and Hudson Structured Capital Management.

EquityBee, a Palo Alto, Calif.- and Tel Aviv-based company that helps startup employees exercise or finance stock options before they expire, grabbed $55 million in Series B funding. Lead investor Group 11 was joined by Battery Ventures, Latitude, LocalGlobe and others in the round.

Highnote, a San Francisco-based all-in-one platform for creating payment cards and embedded fintech experiences, emerged from stealth mode with $54 million in combined seed and Series A funding. Investors in the rounds included Oak HC/FT, Costanoa Ventures, WestCap Group, SVB Capital and XYZ.

Syndio, a Seattle-based developer of software that enables HR teams to monitor pay and eliminate disparities, collected $50 million in Series C funding. Emerson Collective and Bessemer Venture Partners led the round, which saw participation from Voyager Capital.

Hedvig, a Stockholm-based insurance startup, completed a $45 million Series B round. Anthemis led the investment, which included additional support from Cherry Ventures, Obvious Ventures, CommerzVentures, Nineyards Equity and others. Matthew Jones, managing director at Anthemis, is joining the board.

Omaha National Group Inc., an Omaha, Neb.-based provider of workers' compensation insurance and payroll services, picked up $45 million in Series B financing led by Accomplice.

Acceldata, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based enterprise data observability cloud provider, snagged a $35 million Series B round. Insight Partners led the funding, which included contributions from March Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sorenson Ventures and Emergent Ventures.

Builders Patch Inc., a New York-based construction financing startup, raised $2.3 million in seed funding. The Urban Innovation Fund led the round.


Unite USA Inc., which does business as Unite Us, is a builder of coordinated care networks of health and social service providers. The company was incorrectly referred to as Unite US Inc. in newsletters on Sept. 23, Aug. 17 and March 18, 2021, and June 17, 2020.

Tech News

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 29, 2021 10:31 ET (14:31 GMT)

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