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Austin Weekly Deal Highlights - March 28, 2021

First on today's agenda is to help me decide if I should follow WeWork’s recent path and merge this newsletter with a SPAC, or take a page from fellow artist Beeple, and turn this digital art (?) into a multimillion dollar NFT. Both paths appear in to be ripe with liquidity, relatively nonexistent prior to the pandemic, and receiving inexplicable valuations. So with that, I'm now accepting all bids…

Now for the main event and (actual) news. This week we saw major strategic moves from Austin's generational companies. Home lab testing company Everlywell, who recently achieved unicorn status, bolstered its offering with 2 key acquisitions. And then Bazaarvoice, who emerged as one of the handful of success stories outside of semiconductors n the early 2000’s, changed hands to a new private equity owner. O and apparently, we have the hottest residential real estate market in the country.

Austin Financing Activity

  • Bazaarvoice Inc., a product review and user-generated content company, announced it has a new majority investment from Thomas H. Lee Partners L.P. Although the terms of the deal were not disclosed, the current majority shareholder, Marlin Equity Partners, will continue to be a “material shareholder.” Bazaarvoice was acquired by Marlin for $521M in 2018.

  • Ambiq, a developer of integrated circuits for wearables and other electronics, raised $145M from Trout Creek Ventures, Shenzhen Capital Group and other undisclosed investors, per Pitchbook.

  • Nuclein, an company producing at-home simple Covid saliva PCR tests raised $14M in Series B funding led by Trinity Private Equity Group. Nuclein has now raised $20M to date.

  • Guild Travel, Inc., a company focused on high-end furnished apartments for short-term stays, raised $17M in new equity funding and other securities. Guild Travel had raised over $36M before the latest round of funding.

  • Creative Juice, a financial network intended to help digital content creators grow their content, raised $5M of seed funding co-led by Index Ventures and Inspired Capital

  • Pandemic Insights, Inc., a platform to help combat the spread of health threats like COVID-19, raised $5M in Series A funding from Convergence Ventures.

  • Austin Cocktails, a local canned cocktail startup, raised $2.5M in new equity funding. Austin Cocktails has now raised more than $6.8M to date.

Austin M&A Activity

  • ESO, an emergency responder technology provider, announced it has signed a deal to land a strategic investment from Vista Equity Partners; no financial terms have been released. ESO has raised nearly $45M to date.

  • Digital Turbine (NASDAQ: APPS), a content discovery and ad tech company, announced it is acquiring 95% of Fyber N.V. (ETR: FBEN), a German mobile ad platform. The total deal is worth $600M and includes $150M in cash and $400M in stock. Digital Turbine has a market capitalization of nearly $6.8B.

  • Everlywell Inc., an Austin-based provider of at-home medical testing kits, acquired PWNHealth and Home Access Health Corp. Everlywell has formed a parent company, Everly Health, of which PWNHealth will be an independent subsidiary named, “Everly Health Solutions.” Everly Health now employs nearly 500 people to serve a network of over 20M people annually across all 50 states. Everlywell has raised $325M to date.

  • Mitratech Holdings Inc., landed a strategic investment from Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, in a deal that values Mitratech at more than $1.5B.

  • Hookbang, an AR-focused company, sold its video game division to Visual Concepts, the studio that created NBA 2K. The division will be renamed “Visual Concepts Austin” and will operate from a new location in Austin, employing hundreds of people to work on NBA 2K and other games.

  • Socati, a developer of CBD ingredients, was acquired by Yooma Wellness (CNQ: YOOM) for $25M.

Other Regional Deal Activity

  • Instil Bio (NASDAQ: TIL), a cell therapy-focused biopharmaceutical company, is receiving gross proceeds from last week’s IPO of $368M, and has a market cap of $3.4B.

  • Curative Ventures, a Dallas-based biotech-focused venture capital firm, reported raising $74M for a fifth fund.

  • Sentiero Ventures, a Plano-based VC firm, announced closing a $10M fund to be focused on cloud-based AI companies, expecting to make investments in $500K range.

  • Neos Therapeutics, a Grand Prarie, TX-based pharmaceutical company, was acquired by Aytu BioScience (NAS: AYTU) for $44.9M.

  • Luna Genetics, a Houston-based noninvasive prenatal testing system, raised $2.4M of angel funding.

Austin People

  • Bob Metcalfe, a titan in the Austin tech scene, co-inventor of Ethernet, and accomplished innovator, announced his plans to retire from professorship at UT Austin at the end of the year, following his 75th birthday.

  • Vista Equity Partners announced it has appointed Rachel Arnold as senior managing director and co-head of Vista’s Endeavor Fund. The firm also appointed Patrick Severson as senior managing director and co-head of Vista’s Foundation Fund.

  • LitLingo Technologies Inc. added Neil Etheridge as its first COO. Etheridge comes from his role as CMO at DISCO, an Austin legal technology company. LitLingo raised $2M in a seed round last August led by LiveOak Venture Partners.

  • Earbuds, a social-media platform which allows influencers to share their music listening habits, hired Chris Gannett as its president. Gannett comes from a CMO position at CKX Inc., the company which produces “American Idol.”

Austin News

  • New York Times: Bucking the Pandemic, Austin Is ‘the Hottest Market in the Country’

  • Boomtown: Pushing past the pandemic | KVUE special - Texas is adding 1,000 new residents per day, Austin has granted more than $112M in incentives for big companies to move and expand here, and real optimism for 2021.

  • 25% of Austin is now at least partially vaccinated, and all Texas adults will be able to get a vaccine next week

  • Austin skyrockets to top of new ranking for women in STEM

  • These companies have moved their HQs to the Austin area in 2021

  • At least 111 people died from the winter storm that hit Texas in February

  • KdT Ventures, an Austin venture capital firm, announced a new $50M fund focused on futuristic innovations in genetic and biological fabrication, biomaterials, and consumer biology.

  • Kendra Scott Announces Competition for Female Entrepreneurs

  • Austin-area manufacturing sector is booming, Athena CEO says — but do we have enough skilled workers?

  • Texas is 6th best state for remote work and 3rd best in projected job growth through 2028, according to a report by Career Cloud.

  • Harmonate, a San Jose-based private capital document processing and data analysis platform, announced it is relocating its headquarters to Austin.

  • Elevate Brands, a New York-based company that acquires and operates Amazon third-party businesses, is opening a second headquarters in Austin. Elevate has raised $55M in funding to date.

  • XR Masters, a Chicago-based extended reality company, is relocating its headquarters to Austin.

Thank you!

Mason Rathe, an early stage investor in Texas-based companies.

Additional research and newsletter support provided by William Scheffrahn.

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