Venture

The Briefing: Astra Going Public Via SPAC, Uber To Acquire Drizly, Bumble Seeks $1B In IPO, And More

Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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Rocket-maker Astra eyes $2.1B public offering via SPAC

Alameda, California-based Astra, a developer of rockets and provider of satellite launch services, announced plans to go public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.

Astra announced that will be merging with Holicity, a SPAC launched by a subsidiary of Pendrell Corp., a “permanent capital vehicle” with the controlling shareholder being telecom and tech tycoon Craig O. McCaw.

The transaction will set an an enterprise value for Astra of approximately $2.1 billion, and will also include $500 million in cash proceeds, comprised of up to $300 million of cash held in the trust account of Holicity and an $200 million investment led by funds and accounts managed by BlackRock.

Uber to acquire Drizly

Uber Technologies announced that it will acquire on-demand alcohol marketplace Drizly in a deal valued at approximately $1.1 billion in stock and cash and gives Drizly access to Uber‘s mobile and delivery technology.

Drizly, founded in 2012 and headquartered in Boston, operates in more than 1,400 cities across the United States, working with local beer, wine and spirits merchants. The company raised nearly $120 million in known venture-backed funding since its inception, with its most recent raise being a $50 million Series C round in August 2020, led by Avenir Growth Capital, according to Crunchbase data.

With most people home during the global pandemic, Drizly reported sales growth of 350 percent in 2020 versus 2019, while the average order size grew 30 percent. At the same time, its retailer network doubled. In addition, the company estimates its online sales will make up 20 percent of the $120 billion total annual alcohol category within the next five years.

Following the completion of the deal in the first half of 2021, Drizly will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Uber, and while its marketplace will be integrated with the Uber Eats app, it will maintain a separate Drizly app, the companies said.

— Christine Hall

Public offerings

  • Bumble seeks to raise $1B in IPO: Dating app Bumble is reportedly seeking to raise as much as $1.04 billion in its initial public offering, according to a new securities filing.

Automation and AI

• Robotic process automation unicorn UiPath announced that it has raised $750 million in a Series F funding round at a post-money valuation of $35 billion, more than tripling its most recent post-money valuation. The round was co-led by existing investors Alkeon Capital and Coatue. Altimeter Capital, Dragoneer, IVP, Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global and funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price were among its other returning investors, Uipath said.

The New York-based company, which makes technology to help automate office work, is expected to make a run at a public-market listing this year.  It has now raised $2 billion, according to Crunchbase data. It was valued at $10 billion before the latest raise, per Crunchbase data.

Health care

• Capital Rx, C. Light Technologies, Plume raise rounds: Pharmacy benefit manager Capital Rx said it raised $50 million in Series B financing to redefine how prescriptions are priced and administered in the U.S. Transformational Capital led the round with participation from Edison Partners, which led Capital Rx’s $16 million Series A round in 2019. Meanwhile, C. Light Technologies, a Berkeley-based neurotech company developing a retinal eye-tracking scan to assess neurological diseases, closed on a $2.5 million seed round led by Creative Ventures. Also, Plume, a health tech company built for the transgender community, announced a $14 million Series A funding round, led by Craft Ventures with participation from General Catalyst, Slow Ventures and Town Hall Ventures. Members pay $99 a month and receive access to gender-affirming care, personal consultations, lab monitoring, letters of support and home delivery of their hormone medications. Announcing similar funding news Tuesday was Folx Health, which  secured $25 million in Series A financing to provide digital health care service designed for the LGBTQIA+ community. All of these investments come as Crunchbase data shows investors poured a record amount of investment into digital health startups in 2020: $14.2 billion globally and $9.2 billion domestically.

— Christine Hall

Fintech and e-commerce

• Narmi raises $20.4M: Fintech startup Narmi, which is developing a digital banking platform, secured $20.4 million in Series A funding led by New Enterprise Associates, with participation from more than a dozen investors including Patriot Financial Partners, Picus Capital, Contour Ventures and Firebolt Ventures. Headquartered in New York, Narmi works with community banks and credit unions, enabling them to use any of its digital platforms — account opening, consumer banking, business banking and an administrator console — to drive growth, deposits and cost efficiencies.

The retail core banking systems industry is expected to reach $11.4 billion by 2027, according to ResearchAndMarkets.com.

There are approximately 90 companies that include the phrase “digital bank” in the Crunchbase database, and some have grabbed investor attention in the past year, raising significant rounds:

• Kountable inks $2.5M: Trade and technology platform Kountable, said it brought in $2.5 million in credit and equity funding as part of a Series A-1 led by Lateral Capital. The San Francisco-based company focuses on getting critical goods delivered in challenging market conditions. Including the new capital, its known funding totals $11.6 million, according to Crunchbase data. Additional investors in the round include Bootstrap Labs, Kirk Bradley and Position A Partners.

— Christine Hall

Funds

• NFX launches NFX Bio: NFX has launched NFX Bio, a new fund initiative led by Omri Amirav Drory, a venture partner with NFX who founded Genome Compiler. Emily Leproust, CEO of Twist Bioscience, the company that acquired Genome Compiler, will join the investment committee. The goal is to invest in “Scientist-Founders” at the seed stage with a technology platform approach. James Currier and Gigi Levy-Weiss of NFX will join the investment committee.

— Gené Teare

• Mercato Partners closes first fund: Salt Lake City-based Mercato Partners announced the firm has closed out its inaugural Traverse Growth Fund. The fund was originally announced in October 2007 with an investment in consumer audio brand Skullcandy. The fund, which also was used to invest in companies such as Control4, Stance and Fusion-io, delivered a 3x internal rate of return to investors. Mercato Partners is currently deploying its third growth fund.

— Chris Metinko

Illustration: Dom Guzman

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