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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23andMe going public via SPAC
Consumer genetic testing and research company 23andMe announced that it plans to go public through a merger with VG Acquisition Corp. , a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, sponsored by Virgin Group.
The transaction is expected to close during the second quarter of this year, after which the combined company’s securities will trade under the ticker symbol ME.
The business combination values Sunnyvale, California-based 23andMe at an enterprise value of approximately $3.5 billion. The transaction is expected to deliver up to $759 million of gross proceeds through the contribution of up to $509 million of cash from VG Acquisition Corp. and a concurrent $250 million private placement of common stock.
— Joanna Glasner
Klobuchar’s proposed revamp of antitrust enforcement could affect tech dealmaking
U.S. Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota proposed new antitrust legislation to examine anticompetitive conduct and mergers while adding reforms to enforcement.
Klobuchar, who is set to become the chair of the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, introduced the Competition and Antitrust Law Enforcement Reform Act. The proposed legislation includes a variety of major changes to current policies, including shifting the burden of proof to the merging parties to prove their merger will not violate the law and allowing antitrust enforcers to possibly impose civil penalties.
The act could be a precursor to tighter regulations of large technology companies and their dealmaking practices. Last year, executives from Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google were summoned to Capitol Hill to explain their business practices, while talk of antitrust issues and even dismantling some large technology companies became a point of discussion from Democrats during the past presidential election.
— Chris Metinko
BigChange raises $102M for fleet platform
Leeds, U.K.-based BigChange, a startup that builds fleet management software for mobile workforces, closed a round of £75 million ($102 million) from Great Hill Partners at a valuation of £100 million.
BigChange says that currently around 1,500 companies and 50,000 mobile workers and back office personnel use its platform. The company plans to double the size of its team over the next three to five years, to reach around 400 people.
This is the first major round of institutional funding for the 8-year-old company, which had previously raised around $2 million in seed funding, per Crunchbase data.
— Joanna Glasner
Rocket.Chat raises $19M: Rocket.Chat, a Brazil-based startup operating an open source-based platform for team chatting and collaboration, has raised $19 million in a Series A funding round backed by multiple venture firms.
— Joanna Glasner
Fintech and e-commerce
Tovala raises $30M: Tovala, a Chicago-based company offering a meal service paired with a countertop smart oven, announced $30 million in Series C funding led by Left Lane Capital, with participation from existing investors including Finistere Ventures, Comcast Ventures, OurCrowd, Origin Ventures and Pritzker Group Venture Capital. This is Tovala’s second fundraise in six months, bringing the company’s total funding to more than $50 million since the company was founded in 2017, including a $20 million Series B in June, led by Finistere. The funds will be used for product development, to open a new production facility and to expand the team. Tovala’s starter kit is normally priced at $299 and meals are as low as $11.99 per meal.
Opyn, GajiGesa raise small rounds: Decentralized finance (DeFi) options protocol Opyn closed a $6.7 million Series A funding round, led by Paradigm. Follow-on backers include Kain Warwick and Stani Kulechov. Dragonfly Capital Partners also participated after leading the $2.16 million seed round in June. The Series A gives San Francisco-based Opyn $9.1 million in total funding since the company was founded in 2019, according to Crunchbase data. The funds will be used to further product development and grow the team. While startups are coming out with tools and products under DeFi, which is financial software built on the blockchain that can be pieced together, experts say DeFi is still not consumer-ready, but will be an important aspect of financial services blockchain. Meanwhile, GajiGesa, founded in 2020 and based in Jakarta, raised $2.5 million in seed funding to expand its financial wellness platform for workers in Indonesia. Defy.vc and Quest Ventures co-led the round and were joined by a group that included GK Plug and Play and Next Billion Ventures.
— Christine Hall
Illustration: Dom Guzman
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