Tracking the deals: The DFW tech and startup funding rounds, M&As and investor activity in December – Dallas Business Journal

Despite COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in the region, investment deals in North Texas have brought in more than $1 billion over the year. And the scene looked to end the year strong, continuing that trend through December.
This month, saw one of the largest funding rounds of the year, with Dallas insurance startup Bestow landing a $70 million round. And it capped off with a $2.9 million debt and other options raise for biotech company Dialectic Therapeutics, which added to the nearly $100 million tech and startup companies in the region raised over the course of the month.
The investment scene was also fairly active, with local firms participating in rounds totaling in the hundreds of millions. It also saw the creation of a new female-founder focused fund by RevTech Ventures and Equity at Work.
The M&A scene was the same, with a least 15 deals being recorded this month.
To help you keep track of what’s going on around DFW, NTX Inno put together a roundup of the December’s activity.
Pro tip: You can check out daily updates on funding, M&A and VC activity in our newsletter The Beat.  
Check it out below.
Enteris BioPharma, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dallas-based life science-focused specialty finance company SWK Holdings Corporation, announced landing a $2.5 million payment from Cara Therapeutics related to a licensing agreement signed August 2019. The non exclusive, royalty-bearing agreement allowed Cara to license Enteris’ oral drug delivery technology. The payment follows a previous $1.5 million Enteris received from Cara. And the company expects more payments in the future.
ReturnSafe, an Austin-based startup, with co-founders in Dallas that assists businesses with contact tracing, symptom screening and vaccine programs, announced it had raised $3.25 million in funding led by Fifty Years and Active Capital, a San Antonio-based firm that recently raised a new fund.
The Dallas Foundation, a nonprofit made up of community stakeholders, awarded its annual Pegasus Prize, a $50,000 grant, to local underrepresented founder-focused nonprofit startup accelerator Impact Ventures. This year, the Dallas Foundation also awarded $10,000 to a joint venture between NPower Texas and Per Scholas, and another $10,000 to the AES Literacy Institute.
Florida-based coworking space developer Venture X reported raising $350,000 of a $3 million local fund titled “X CoWorking I LLC,” according to a filing with the SEC. Venture X currently operates nine locations in North Texas and lists one on the way, according to its website. Listed on the filing is Eric Mattingly, founder and CEO of Dallas-based PE investment firm DMI Holdings. According to the Dallas Business Journal, Mattingly got involved with Venture X because he was looking for more “strategic partnerships with quality operators and simplistic business.”
Exela Technologies, a business process automation company, announced signing a five-year, $145 million term loan facility with alternative investment firm Angelo Gordon. Under terms of the facility, Exela will initially receive $92 million in funding, with further options to provide $53 million more. A large portion of that funding – about $83 million – will go towards retiring Exela’s outstanding debts.
Dallas fintech startup Bestow announced landing one of the largest funding round of the year. The life insurance services company attracted a $70 million Series C round. New investor Breyer Capital joined existing investors Valar Ventures and New Enterprise Associates on the round. Bestow is planning to use the funding to launch products, scale platform services and accelerate growth into new distribution channels and partnerships.
Acutate Therapeutics, a Fort Worth- and Dublin-based biopharmaceutical company, reported raising $14 million out of a $50 million fund, according to a filing with the SEC. The company, led by CEO and president Daniel Schmitt, launched in 2015 and is currently in phase two of a study focused on finding a treatment for myelofibrosis. According to Crunchbase, Acutate has raised a total of $31.2 million, most recently with a $6.5 million Series B-3 round led by Fort Worth’s Bios Partners.
With grant money through the McKinney Economic Development Corporation’s Innovation Fund, LocuMatch, a software platform that connects health care workers with hospitals and other medical facilities, is moving its headquarters from Health Wildcatters to the city with plans to hire to accommodate its expansion.
After moving its HQ from San Francisco to Dallas last year, mobile e-signature solutions provider SignEasy has taken its first round of outside funding. Backers included Yelp CEO and co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman, FreshWorks CEO Girish Mathrubootham, TSheets CEO Matt Rissell, FusionCharts founder Pallav Nadhani, Eka Software founder and CEO Manav Garg, and former Facebook director Anand Chandrasekharan. Financial terms were not disclosed. The company has been bootstrapped since its founding in 2010.
Another company is growing its office presence and team in McKinney with the help of the McKinney EDC’s Innovation Fund. Software development company Sigmetrix announced receiving a grant through the fund to relocate its HQ within the city to a new 5,200 square-foot. space in the Valliance Bank Building. The new digs will help accommodate Sigmetrix’s team expansion from 29 to 36 over the next three years. Like all grants through the fund, the amount was not disclosed. Sigmetrix, which has had a presence in McKinney since 1999, joins other tech companies that have moved or expanded to the region since the fund was created earlier this year, including Invene, MyTeleMedicine, CourMed and
SMU’s Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security has landed a $1 million grant from Austin startup Anametric. The grant will help support the research of Mitch Thornton and Duncan MacFarlane at SMU, who are looking at theoretical approaches to use quantum technology for cybersecurity. According to Thornton, “The long-term goal is to build quantum computing devices. But [they] have to take baby steps, and this first grant is focused on quantum-based cybersecurity devices.”
Dallas-based Nuooly, a professional services community and connection platform, reported raising $320,000 in convertible promissory notes out of a $475,000 raise, according to a filing with the SEC. The filing follows a $140,000 round of debt, convertible promissory note and other option funding Nuooly raised in June, according to previous filings.
Seeing increased demand for its technology as the pandemic causes many to work remotely, Dallas-based commercial real estate analytics and visualization platform RefineRE announced raising $3 million through a new investment led by Mucker Capital. The funding will help RefineRE accommodate the recent growth it has seen, adding about 50 new employees to its 20-person team in the next year.
Rapid Therapeutic Science Laboratories, a Dallas-based maker and marketer of aerosolized cannabinoid delivery inhalers, reported raising more than $1.64 million in equity and other options, according to two separate filings with the SEC. In the first filing, RTSL reported raising $1.27 million from 42 investors. On the other, it reported raising $377,000 from eight investors. The announcement comes after RTSL said its lab was ready to begin production of its consumer-facing inhaler brand in August.
Local startups Kanarys and Zirtue walked away with $500,000 in funding each as runners up at Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Tour pitch competition. In addition to the funding, both companies also won a spot in Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation Lab 2021 cohort. And Revolution co-founder Steve Case said he would commit at least $100,000 to any funding round of $1 million or more for the companies.
UT Dallas associate professor of physics Fan Zhang has landed a $183,000 award from the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program to study the physics of topological superconductivity, which are materials in without electrical resistance and magnetic fields once below a certain temperature. The research could have potential effects on the development of quantum computers. In addition to research, part of the funding will help Zhang develop courses on topological quantum matter, as well as create animated videos about physics in general.
Apty, a training and management software adoption company, announced closing in $5.4 million post-seed funding. The round was led by Companyon Ventures and joined by GaingelsMediaappsMyAsia and Creative Co Capital.
Closing out the year with some new funding, Dallas-based Dialectic Therapeutics, a cancer-focused biotech company, reported raising $2.9 million in debt and other options out of a $5 million offering, according to a filing with the SEC. Twelve investors joined the raise. 
Health care SaaS platform symplr, has completed its acquisition of Dallas-based TractManager, a health care data management solutions company, from Arsenal Capital Partners. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The merger of the two businesses will allow symplr’s platform to include contract and spend management solutions.
Arlington’s Forensic Engineering Services, a Trinity Hunt Partners portfolio company, has acquired California-based VA Forensics, a biomechanical and accident reconstruction forensic engineering company. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
After going public nearly a decade ago, Richardson-based property management software company RealPage is going private again through a nearly $10 billion acquisition deal with PE firm Thoma Bravo. The deal values RealPage at approximately $10.2 billion, including net debt. The purchase price is a premium of 31 percent over the company’s closing stock price on Friday. The deal is expected to close in Q2 of next year. According to the Dallas Business Journal, RealPage expects to continue operating under CEO Steve Winn and the existing leadership team based in Richardson.
Irving-based health care solutions company HMS is getting acquired by Gainwell Technologies. As part of the deal, HMS shareholders will receive $37 per share in the company. The deal, which gives HMS an enterprise value of about $3.4 billion, is expected to close in the first half of next year.
Irving-based Nexstar, a subsidiary of TV station owner Nextstar Media Group, announced acquiring CPG recommendation company BestReviews from Tribune Publishing Co. for $160 million. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year. According to Nexstar president Tom Carter, the acquisition “diversifies our digital content portfolio while presenting the company with new and significant revenue channels by leveraging our media content, national reach and significant consumer digital usage across multiple platforms.”
As home refinances surge, Frisco-based Evolve Mortgage Services has acquired the appraisal technology platform assets of Veptas Technology Solutions, which streamlines appraisal ordering and enables home lenders to use technology to adhere to appraisal independence requirements, from Veptas Holdings Inc., the parent company of Veptas Technology Solutions and AiCurio. Financial terms were not disclosed. Evolve Mortgage Services CEO Paul Anselmo said The acquisition will help Evolve offset the severe shortage of mortgage underwriters that has been created by the current refinance cycle.
Digital business and IT services company NTT DATA Services, which has its HQ in Plano, announced acquiring Georgia-based Hashmap, a data and cloud solutions consulting firm. Financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close within the next 30 days, were not disclosed. The move comes as NTT is looking to expand in the cloud, data analytics and AI spaces, and follows its acquisition of automated digital workflow company Acorio in October.
Neos Therapeutics, a Grand Prairie-based commercial-stage pharmaceutical company focused of central nervous system disorders, is merging with Colorado’s Aytu BioScience, in a $44.9 million all-stock deal. Under the terms, Neos will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Aytu, with Neos owning about 30 percent of fully diluted common shares of Aytu. The deal is expected to close in Q1 of next year and is expected to bring the combined company’s revenue to about $100 million.
Westlake-based risk and asset management software solutions provider for the automotive industry Solera Holdings announced acquiring Belgium’s InSyPro, an digital vehicle damage management systems provider. Financial terms were not disclosed. However, Solera said it plans to significantly invest in scaling InSyPro’s scale and product development. As part of the deal, InSyPro leaders Tony Delodder and Martine van Campenhout will join Solera’s global product and delivery organization.
Coppell-based nonprofit fundraising platform RaiseDonors has been acquired by Virtuous, a Phoenix-based company operating in the same space. Financial terms of the Deal were not disclosed. Combined, the two companies have about 40 employees and expect to hire 10 more in Q1.
Plano-based CarOffer, an automated vehicle trading platform startup, is set to be acquired by Massachusetts’ CarGurus. Under the agreement, CarGurus will acquire 51 percent of CarOffer, which is valued at $275 million. It also has the option to acquire the remaining stake over the next three years. After the deal closes next month, CarOffer will continue to operate independently, keeping its leadership, brand and offices in North Texas.
Carrollton-based technology and outsourcing services provider a360inc announced acquiring California’s Express Notary Services. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The Knox-Capital-backed company said the move would allow it to expand its offerings in the real estate and legal markets.
Frisco-based Lexipol, a training platform for first responders owned by PE firm The Riverside Co., has acquired first responder-focused mental health and wellness service provider Cordico. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to the Sacramento Business Journal, Lexipol plans to invest in Cordico’s screening and support tech. As part of the deal, Cordico CEO and founder David Black will join Lexipol to lead the Cordico business and provide guidance to further enhance the company’s commitment to first responder wellness and resiliency.
Digital life insurance platform Bestow announced entering into a definitive agreement to acquire Centurion Life Insurance Company from Wells Fargo. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. However, according to Barron’s, the deal requires Bestow to purchase Centurion’s book of runoff fixed-annuity policies. Pending regulatory approval, it is expected to close next month.
After announcing plans in the summer of last year, Plano-based Diodes Inc., an electronics maker has finally closed on a $446 million deal to acquire Lite-On Semiconductor, a Taiwanese maker of semiconductor components. The deal will help expand Diodes offerings in the automotive and industrial markets. And it will likely mean a financial boost for the company. According to the Dallas Business Journal, the deal will likely bring about $17 million in additional sales for Diodes.
RC Ventures, the investment firm led by Chewy co-founder Ryan Cohen, has upped its stake in Grapevine-based video game retailer GameStop from about 10 percent to 13 percent, the Dallas Business Journal reports. The increased stake will come with a push to move GameStop further into the online space, especially as the company has faced recent scrutiny over slowed sales and its reliance on brick-and-mortar retail.
Fort Worth- and San Francisco-based PE firm TPG Capital, along with TA Associates, has finalized the acquisition of Austin’s Planview, a work management software company, from its previous majority shareholder, Thoma Bravo. The announcement comes a little over a month after the two PE firms first announced the deal to acquire Planview, founded in 1989, for $1.6 billion.
Dallas-based early-stage VC firm Perot Jain was one of six investors on an $8 million Seed round for Los Angeles’ Dash Systems, an aerial delivery systems startup. The round was led by 8VC and joined by Loup VenturesTrust Ventures, Perot Jain and MiLA Capital. With the new funding, Dash is looking to expand its public and private partnerships and refine its delivery technology.
Dallas bank Comerica added $40 million in debt financing to a $60 million equity round raised in October by Austin legal tech startup Disco. That round was led by Georgian Partners. The new round brings Disco’s total funding to $235 million. However, because no new equity was raised, Disco’s valuation remains at $785 million. The company was originally launched in Houston in 2012, and moved its HQ to Austin later that year.
Investment giant Blackstone announced making a “significant minority investment” in Dallas-based third-party contractor and supplier management software company ISN. The investment was led by Blackstone’s Growth arm. While financial terms were not disclosed, Blackstone said the investment puts ISN’s valuation at more than $2 billion. The move makes Blackstone ISN’s only outside stockholder. The funding will help ISN expand into new markets.
Local VC firm Dallas Venture Capital announced investing $3.5 million in a Series A round for Austin startup PLNAR, which uses AI and AR tech allows insurance carriers to create digital models of spaces for contactless claims inspections. The funding will be used to expand PLNAR’s sales and marketing teams as the company looks to grow into adjacent markets. As part of the deal, Dayakar Pushkoor, founder and managing partner at DVC, will join PLNAR’s board.
After launching as a gag gift in 2017 to encourage people to finish their bathroom business in a timely manner, Chicago startup Toilet Timer is set to grow with a $229,000 investment in exchange for 25 percent of the company from Mark Cuban on “Shark Tank.” The company expects the deal to close in early 2021.
With more in venture capital looking to make the ecosystem more diverse and equitable, Dallas early-stage VC firm RevTech Ventures is teaming up with local consulting firm Equity At Work to launch a new fund aimed at women-led startups in the retail space, aptly called the RevTech Equity for Women Fund. The size of the fund was not disclosed. Heading the fund is Rachel West, director of business development at RevTech and one of NTX Inno’s 2020 25 Under 25David Matthews, managing director at RevTech, and Michelle Bogan, Equity At Work founder and CEO.
Fort Worth- and San Francisco-based investment firm TPG was one of five investors on a $75 million Series C round for California’s Calm, a mental wellness app. The round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and joined by TPG, Insight Venture Partners, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and funds managed by Goldman Sachs Asset Management. TPG Growth led Calm’s $88 million Series B in February of last year, which brought the company into unicorn status.
Fort Worth-based Harvest Returns, a crowdsourcing agriculture investment firm, reported raising $1.3 million in debt funding on a $3 million offering for its Harvest Invest-019 fund, according to a filing with the SEC. Harvest Returns was launched by Chris Rawley in 2016.
Coppell-based PE firm JR Dallas Wealth Management announced a $440 million debt and equity investment in Vivera Pharmaceuticals, a medical device and pharmaceutical maker focused on opioid deterrence and cessation. The on-going investment will help Vivera, which is based in California, create a U.S. supply chain for its PPE equipment, including masks, gloves and gowns, which it is seeing increased demand amid the pandemic.
Since he became one of the first investors in rocketry startup Relativity Space, Dallas serial entrepreneur Mark Cuban has watched the company grow into one of the largest players in the private space industry. Relativity’s most recent raise came this month, with the company announcing a $500 million Series D round, which brings the startup’s valuation to more than $2 billion. The round was led by Tiger Global Management. And like nearly every round that Relativity has raised, Cuban was among the 16 other investors on the round. Other existing investors on the round were Bond Capital, K5 Capital, Playground Global, Tribe Capital, 3L Capital and Allen & Co. New investors on the round included Fidelity, ICONIQ Capital, XN Capital, Senator Investment Group, Baillie Gifford, General Catalyst and Elad Gil.
Fort Worth-based TPG Pace Beneficial Finance Corp. is acquiring EV Charged BV, the electric vehicle charging port hardware and software unit of France-based Engie SA. The SPAC plans to take it public under the name EVBox Group with a valuation of about $1.4 billion, Bloomberg reports. TPG Pace, which focuses on companies with good environmental, social and governance practices, raised $350 million with its IPO in October.
According to a filing in the Northern District of Texas, Dallas-based fintech company Grey Inc., which focuses on payment processing services, has filed for voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. The debtor listed 1401 Elm St. #4420 in Dallas, and they will be representing themselves in court. Grey Inc. listed assets ranging from $0 to $50,000 and debts ranging from $1 million to $10 million. The filing did not identify a largest creditor. According to Crunchbase, the company had previously raised a total of $18 million.
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