The Capital Letter: Week of October 5

Call me crazy, but I’m not convinced that the latest round of talks on a new stimulus package are going as well as they might be.



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Bloomberg:

President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi questioned each other’s mental faculties, showcasing increasing partisan tensions as Election Day looms.

“The president is, shall we say, in an altered state right now, so I don’t know how to answer for his behavior.,” Pelosi said in an interview on Bloomberg Television Thursday.

The Democratic leader also called Trump’s changing positions this week on whether to let his administration conduct talks on fiscal stimulus “strange.” Trump pulled his team from negotiations Tuesday, prompting Pelosi to suggest to colleagues that day that Trump’s thinking might have been affected by the steroids he’s taken to battle his Covid-19, Bloomberg has reported.

“The disassociation from reality would be funny if it

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Nvidia and Huawei face uncertain future in Britain’s high-tech capital

University of Cambridge

Geography Photos/UIG via Getty Images

LONDON — Situated in the middle of China and the U.S., the English university city of Cambridge has found itself at the center of two massive tech sagas.

U.S. chip maker Nvidia and Chinese hardware manufacturer Huawei have big expansion plans in Cambridge but both companies have big hurdles to overcome if their dreams are to be realized.

Nvidia hopes to acquire Cambridge-headquartered Arm for $40 billion and set up a new “world-class” AI center in the city, while Huawei plans to build a £1 billion ($1.3 billion) research lab in Sawston, located roughly eight miles from Cambridge city center.

Renowned for being one of the world’s greatest intellectual powerhouses, Cambridge is home to thousands of tech workers and companies like Amazon, Microsoft and Apple all employ highly-educated research teams in the city. “Lots of tech companies want to get foothold in

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Aquiline Capital Partners To Lead The Merger Of CodeBlue And MADSKY

NEW YORK, Oct. 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Aquiline Capital Partners today announced the signing of definitive agreements in which it will merge Insurance Claims Management, Inc., which operates under the CodeBlue brand, and FV Holdings, LLC dba MADSKY Managed Repair Program (MADSKY). The combination will bring together two industry-leading providers, offering a unique and unified interior and exterior emergency services and direct repair capability. Hunter Powell, currently CEO of MADSKY, will become CEO of the combined business.

CodeBlue is a rapidly growing provider of property claims outsourcing solutions for the insurance industry, using proven science and industry-leading technology to generate superior service and cost outcomes. The company was founded by Paul Gross with the introduction of a revolutionary water damage mitigation solution. It has since expanded to provide a “whole home” set of property claims outsourcing solutions, including First Notice of Loss, Water Mitigation, Direct Property Repair, Desk

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These are the top bankers, lawyers, and capital providers driving the $40 billion SPAC craze

One of Wall Street’s most talked-about trends is the wave of special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, that have launched IPOs at such a torrid pace that they’re on track to raise more than triple last year’s totals.



a group of people walking in front of a building: One-hundred and twelve SPACs, aka "blank-check firms," have raised more than $40 billion so far this year. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson


© REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
One-hundred and twelve SPACs, aka “blank-check firms,” have raised more than $40 billion so far this year. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

One-hundred and twelve SPACs, aka “blank-check firms,” have raised more than $40 billion so far this year, according to the website SPAC Research. There are now 183 shell companies with $57 billion to spend on bringing other companies public, the data provider said.

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There’s an entire ecosystem of advisers, salespeople, and lawyers increasingly pitching blank-check companies to investment platforms and wealthy people. Asset managers like Fidelity, T. Rowe Price, and Capital Research are also increasingly participating in the market, lending an additional aura of respectability to what had once

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Air Street Capital: AI industry remains strong despite academic brain drain, tech nationalization

London-based venture capital firm Air Street Capital today published the State of AI Report 2020, its third annual survey canvassing research, talent, industrial, and political trends in the field of AI. Coauthored by University College London visiting professor Ian Hogarth and AI investor Nathan Benaich, the report aims to highlight technological breakthroughs and areas of commercial application for AI as well as the regulation of AI, its economic implications, and emerging geopolitical issues.

Among other findings, this year’s report implies AI remains mostly closed source, harming accountability and reproducibility, while corporate-driven academic “brain drain” appears to be impacting entrepreneurship. Self-driving cars are in the Precambrian stages. And political leaders are beginning to question whether acquisitions of AI startups should be scrutinized or outright blocked.

AI research

According to Air Street Capital’s report, only 15% of AI research papers publish their code, and there’s been little improvement on the metric since

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Bullpen Capital raises $130 million more to fund the far afield and misunderstood

Bullpen Capital, a now 10-year-old, venture fund in Menlo Park that focuses on what it calls post-seed investing — it backs startups that have already raised up to $5 million and “aren’t quite ready for a $10 million check but another $5 million would make them dangerous,” says firm co-founder Paul Martino — just closed its fifth fund with $130 million in capital commitments.

The firm also brought aboard a new general partner: Ann Lai, formerly of Binary Capital, a firm that has since closed its doors but where Lai, who has a PhD in engineering sciences from Harvard, developed a thesis  around bringing in more diverse startups from both a startup and geographic perspective — work that, it turns out, is also a prime focus for Bullpen.

In a call with both Martino and Lai earlier this week, they pointed to the startup Hemster to illustrate how both Bullpen

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Asia’s capital raising rush delivers record fees for banks in third quarter

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Asia’s equity capital markets generated a record pay day for investment bankers in the third quarter, bolstered by surging appetite for technology deals and a rush to list on China’s new STAR Market, Refinitiv data showed.

Asia Pacific, including Japan, saw bankers garner $3.6 billion in equity capital market (ECM) fees in July-September, up 145% from the same period a year earlier. The previous peak was $3.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Bankers are also preparing to fatten their pay packets when Ant Group raises up to $35 billion in a dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai likely in October.

“Global capital markets are working. An enormous amount of money is available worldwide,” said Aaron Arth, head of the Asia ex-Japan financing group at Goldman Sachs. “All signs point to a steady desire and need for capital.”

Total equity market capital raised in

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Edtech Startup Sunstone Eduversity Raises INR 24 Cr In Series A Funding Led by Saama Capital

The Series A funding round was led by early-stage investor Saama Capital along with participation from Ashish Gupta of Helion Advisors, Pankaj Bansal of PeopleStrong and existing investors Prime Venture Partners, Rajul Garg and Purvi Capital

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Edtech startup Sunstone Eduversity has raised INR 24 crore in Series A funding round led by early-stage investor Saama Capital.

The round also saw participation from Ashish Gupta, managing director of Helion Advisors, Pankaj Bansal, co-founder and chief executive officer of PeopleStrong along with existing investors Prime Venture Partners, Rajul Garg and Purvi Capital.

Founded in 2014 by IMT alumni Ashish Munjal and Piyush Nangru, Sunstone Eduversity offers Pay after Placement—program fees paid only upon successful

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Hercules Capital: A High-Yield Play On Technology And Biopharmaceuticals (NYSE:HTGC)

Investment Thesis

Hercules Capital (HTGC), strategically headquartered in Silicon Valley, is a business development company (“BDC”) that plays a vital role at the forefront of American innovation. It is a debt and equity investment company that provides crucial capital for cutting-edge businesses in their venture or early expansion phases of growth. The venture capital firm specializes in a select handful of innovative industries that are actively inventing the technologies of the future.

Currently, HTGC is trading at 1.13x its Q2 2020 net asset value, which is on the lower end of its historical range. With a dividend yield of 11.2%, the stock is an attractive high-yield play on the American innovation machine.

Source: Hercules Capital Q2 Presentation

Mid-Pandemic Business Overview

HTGC provides high-yielding, floating rate (with interest rate floors), primarily first lien senior secured loans to technology, life sciences, and sustainable/renewable tech companies. Over the years, the

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AI Drug R&D Startup XtalPi Announces Over 300 Million Series C Investment Led by SoftBank Vision Fund, PICC Capital, and Morningside

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. and SHENZHEN, China, Sept. 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — XtalPi, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) drug discovery and development technology company, today announces an oversubscribed Series C funding of $318.8 million co-led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2i, PICC Capital, and Morningside. The new round of financing is joined by over a dozen global investment companies in banking and technology, with follow-on investments from existing investors Tencent, Sequoia China, China Life, and SIG.

XtalPi Logo (PRNewsfoto/XtalPi Inc.)
XtalPi Logo (PRNewsfoto/XtalPi Inc.)

With the new round of funding, XtalPi will bring the power of quantum physics, AI, and almost limitless cloud resources to propel research scientists towards drug candidates with tailored pharmaceutical profiles. Its platform takes the unique approach of combining physics-based and data-driven models to comprehensively address all drug properties relevant to progression into clinical studies. By integrating the predictions of its virtual R&D platform with real-world data from modern laboratories, XtalPi

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