SoftBank’s Miami bet, the startup backed by Lizzo and A-Rod

National /
Feb.February 01, 2021 08:00 AM

Silicon Valley, who?

SoftBank is following the deal train to Miami, where it plans to launch a $100 million fund to back tech companies in the Magic City.

COO Marcelo Claure announced the initiative Jan. 28 on Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s Cafecito Talk series, streamed live on Twitter.

Suarez has been courting entrepreneurs and investors, including Elon Musk, Keith Rabois and Jon Oringer, who are flocking to Miami from tech hubs like San Francisco. SoftBank’s investment is the first “significant, substantive” bet, he said. “Capital is incredibly important to scale, and this movement now becomes very, very real.”

Investors pumped $1.06 billion into South Florida startups last year, according to Pitchbook. That’s a fraction of the $156 billion invested nationwide, one-third of which went to companies in the Bay Area. SoftBank’s investment is coming from its existing funds, includings its $5 billion Latin America vehicle.

Claure, who owns a home in Miami Beach, started the wireless service provider Brightstar in 1997. He is executive chairman of WeWork, which announced a partnership with the city of Miami last week. The co-working firm will offer discounts to businesses expanding to the city.

“We’ve been an industry that’s been technology-resistant for decades. Our customers are demanding more and better.”

— Tishman Speyer’s Rob Speyer

A-listers for Apartment List

Apartment List just closed a $60 million Series D — and the investor list is a who’s who of the sports and entertainment worlds.

Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas and singer Lizzo joined baseball’s Alex Rodriguez, Daryl Morey (the new president of the Philadelphia 76ers) and Andre Iguodala (of the Miami Heat) in backing the startup. Jonas’ manager, Anjula Acharia, also participated.

The startup, a rental marketplace that competes with Zillow and CoStar’s, initially announced a $50 million round in November. It later upped the round by $10 million.

Not all of the A-listers are new to venture capital. Acharia is a former partner at Trinity Ventures, and Jonas backed dating app Bumble. Iguodala is also a partner at Comcast Ventures and has backed more than 40 companies, including Zoom, Allbirds and Casper.

Tishman latches onto another SPAC

With the ink barely dry on a deal to take smart-lock maker Latch public, Tishman Speyer has launched a second blank-check firm.

The New York landlord is looking to raise $250 million for Tishman Speyer Innovation Corp. II, it disclosed Jan. 26, just a day after announcing its first SPAC would take Latch public in a $1.56 billion deal. The deal will give Latch $510 million in cash, including $190 million from new investors including Chamath Palihapitiya, BlackRock, D1 Capital Partners and Fidelity. Tishman is set to own 4 percent of Latch, valued at $60 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Goodbye security deposit?

“I want to pay a security deposit,” said no one ever.

Now Rhino, which bills itself as a security-deposit alternative, has raised $95 million after a surge in demand. The round was led by Tiger Global Management, and doubled Rhino’s valuation to $500 million. It’s likely Rhino’s last funding round before an IPO, said co-founder Ankur Jain.

Founded in 2017, Rhino charges renters a small monthly fee to cover an insurance policy for landlords. It has partnered with major landlords, including Brookfield and Starwood,
to cover 1 million units.



VC investment in Miami in 2020, compared to $156B nationwide

WeWork may get SPACed

The co-working firm was approached by two blank-check firms about a possible merger, according to the Wall Street Journal. WeWork is also considering additional private funding.

According to the Journal, a SPAC deal could value WeWork at $10 billion. That’s a far cry from its $47 billion valuation in 2019, before its bungled IPO and the ouster of co-founder Adam Neumann drove the figure down to $4.9 billion.

Under CEO Sandeep Mathrani, WeWork has reduced costs and closed underperforming offices. In November 2020, WeWork said it had burned through $1.7 billion since the start of the year, with revenue down 8 percent for the quarter.

Ex-DoorDash execs raise $15M for single-family rentals

With single-family rentals heating up, property management startup Darwin Homes just nabbed $15 million to expand its footprint.

Canvas Ventures led the Series A with participation from Camber Creek, Khosla Ventures, Wave Capital, Pear Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank. Tony Xu (CEO of DoorDash), Ryan Graves (former Uber exec) and Andrew Marks (founder of TQ Ventures) also wrote checks.

Based in Austin, Darwin was started in 2018 by Ryan Broderick and Zachary Kinlock, two early DoorDash executives. The property management software uses automation to streamline accounting, leasing, repairs and more for property owners. In 2020, Darwin tripled its number of managed homes to 1,100, with another 1,000 in the pipeline.

It currently operates in Texas but is planning to expand to Florida, Ohio, Tennessee, Colorado and North Carolina. “We’ve seen an acceleration in demand from smaller investors buying one- to four-family homes to institutional capital,” said Broderick. “We’re in the first inning of this next wave of [investment in] single-family rentals.”

Small bytes

💰Roostify, which sells mortgage software to banks, raised $32M. The startup helps lenders process $50B in loans monthly.

📢Opendoor promoted Megan Meyer Toolson, former head of operations, to chief customer officer.

💰Doorvest, which fronts $25,000 to $50,000 for home renovations, raised a $2.5M seed round led by Mucker Capital.

📢Prevu, a digital home-buying platform, promoted Russell Sinclair to chief product officer.

💰Propertymate, a property management startup that uses AI data, nabbed $1M in seed funding.

🌞Loanpal, a payment platform for solar and home efficiency solutions, raised $800M from NEA and WestCap.

🚚Oncue, a moving-industry booking site, raised a $10M Series A.

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