Category: Startup

Cendana and Kline Hill just got $105M to buy stakes in seed VC funds from selling LPs.

In the dynamic world of venture capital (VC), the hunt for liquidity is intensifying, creating a ripple effect in the secondary market. Despite the soaring valuations of startups and VC funds, the lack of initial public offerings (IPOs) has hampered cash flow for investors. This challenge has catalyzed a surge in secondary sales, where cash-hungry venture capitalists are seeking to offload their illiquid positions to eager secondary buyers.

A recent survey among investors pinpointed the primary challenge facing venture capital today: the scarcity of liquidity. Investments in startups or VC funds, despite their appreciating values, are failing to translate into tangible cash returns due to the absence of IPOs. Private investments, unlike their public market counterparts, lack the flexibility of readily trading shares. The process of selling shares in private companies, particularly startups, necessitates authorization from the companies themselves and approval from secondary buyers.

In response to this liquidity crunch, venture investors, whether individual VCs or their limited partners, are increasingly exploring avenues to divest their illiquid positions. Enter the secondary market, where a unique opportunity has emerged amidst the fallout of overvalued early-stage startups from the fundraising frenzy of yesteryears. This scenario has paved the way for astute investors to acquire stakes in seed-stage VC funds and startups at relatively discounted rates.

Today marks a significant development in the realm of venture capital as Cendana Capital, alongside partner Kline Hill Partners, unveils the $105 million Kline Hill Cendana Partners fund. Initially targeting a raise of $75 million, the fund’s oversubscription underscores the palpable interest among investors in seizing opportunities within the secondary market.

Michael Kim, founder and managing director of Cendana Capital, underscores the rationale behind this strategic move, citing the burgeoning demand from portfolio funds eager to offload their commitments. Recognizing the expertise required to navigate the intricacies of secondary investments, Kim forged a strategic alliance with Kline Hill, pooling resources to capitalize on the buyer’s market.

What sets Kline Hill/Cendana’s investment vehicle apart is its focus on acquiring secondary interests in seed-stage firms and individual companies from seed funds. Unlike traditional secondary players, which predominantly target larger opportunities, this partnership is uniquely positioned to tap into the untapped potential of the seed-stage ecosystem.

Central to the success of this joint venture is the symbiotic relationship between Cendana Capital and its portfolio funds. Leveraging its extensive network, Cendana identifies and vets potential secondary deals, subsequently passing them on to Kline Hill for valuation, underwriting, and negotiation.

Chris Bull, a managing director at Kline Hill, emphasizes the symbiotic nature of the partnership, highlighting the value of Cendana’s insights in streamlining the investment process. This collaborative approach not only enhances deal flow but also facilitates smoother transactions, bridging the gap between opportunity and execution.

With a firm commitment to deploying the entire $105 million fund by the end of 2024, Kline Hill/Cendana is poised to capitalize on the burgeoning demand for secondary venture stakes. The success of this venture is poised to set the stage for future collaborations, with discussions already underway for a successor fund in the coming year.

The venture capital landscape is witnessing a paradigm shift, with traditional secondary investors ramping up their allocations to VC-focused funds. Notable players such as Lexington Partners and Blackstone have recently raised record-breaking secondary funds, signaling a growing appetite for venture assets.

While billion-dollar funds traditionally focus on larger, multi-stage firms, Kline Hill/Cendana’s emphasis on the seed stage represents a novel approach to secondary investing. As VC-backed companies prolong their stay in the private domain, the demand for liquidity is expected to soar, creating a fertile ground for innovative investment strategies.

As the venture capital landscape continues to evolve, the secondary market emerges as a beacon of opportunity for savvy investors. With Kline Hill Cendana Partners Fund at the forefront of this paradigm shift, the stage is set for a new era of liquidity-driven growth in the venture capital ecosystem.

Noname Security, a burgeoning API startup, edges closer to a $500 million acquisition agreement with Akamai.

In the fast-paced realm of cybersecurity, startups often rise with promising technologies, seeking both to safeguard digital assets and to secure their own futures through strategic partnerships or acquisitions. Noname Security, a burgeoning player in the field, finds itself at the center of attention as it engages in advanced negotiations with industry giant Akamai Technologies. Sources close to the deal suggest a potential acquisition worth a staggering $500 million, underscoring the growing significance of API protection in an increasingly interconnected digital landscape.

The Rise of Noname Security: A Brief Overview

Established in 2020 by co-founders Oz Golan and Shay Levi, Noname Security quickly garnered attention for its innovative approach to API security. Headquartered in Palo Alto with deep-rooted connections in Israel, the startup swiftly attracted substantial investment, raising a total of $220 million from prominent venture capital firms. Riding the wave of success, Noname achieved a commendable valuation of $1 billion in December 2021 following a successful Series C funding round led by Georgian and Lightspeed.

Investors Amount Raised (USD)
Insight Partners $XX million
ForgePoint $XX million
Cyberstarts $XX million
Next47 $XX million
The Syndicate Group $XX million

Navigating Market Dynamics: Valuation Realities

Despite its meteoric rise, Noname Security now faces the stark realities of market valuation. The proposed acquisition price of $500 million represents a notable discount from its previous valuation. However, early-stage investors stand to realize significant returns, while later-stage backers anticipate a full recovery of their capital investment. This shift in valuation dynamics mirrors broader trends in the tech industry, where lofty valuations are reassessed against market conditions and investor sentiment.

Key Highlights of the Negotiation Process:

  • Potential acquisition price set at half of Noname’s last private valuation.
  • Early-stage investors poised for substantial returns.
  • Later-stage investors anticipate full capital recovery.
  • Company valued at approximately 15 times annual recurring revenue.
  • Expected transition of Noname’s 200 employees to Akamai post-acquisition.

Industry Speculation and Market Dynamics

Rumors surrounding Noname’s potential acquisition surfaced earlier this year, coinciding with reports of the company’s efforts to secure additional financing at a reduced valuation. Israeli news outlets further fueled speculation by hinting at negotiations with multiple suitors, including Akamai. Against the backdrop of a fluctuating tech landscape and the prospect of rising interest rates, many VC-backed firms find themselves at a crossroads, balancing the pursuit of strategic partnerships with the imperative of securing additional funding.

Implications for the Venture Capital Landscape

The evolving narrative surrounding Noname Security reflects broader trends within the venture capital ecosystem. As the IPO market remains relatively subdued, many late-stage investors seek liquidity through strategic acquisitions or secondary offerings. This trend, often termed a “dual-track process,” underscores the delicate balance between long-term growth aspirations and short-term financial realities. With market volatility shaping investor sentiment, the prospect of bargain hunting in the M&A arena looms large for industry participants.

In conclusion, Noname Security’s journey from startup inception to advanced acquisition talks with Akamai Technologies encapsulates the dynamism and complexity of the cybersecurity landscape. As industry players navigate shifting market dynamics and valuation pressures, the outcome of these negotiations will reverberate across the tech ecosystem, shaping future investment strategies and market perceptions.

Copilot’s growth surges with Mint’s end, securing a $6M Series A fund.

As Intuit announces the closure of its budgeting application Mint this week, competitor Copilot is witnessing a surge in its user base, attributing the shift to a growing consumer demand for more comprehensive finance management tools. Founded in New York by CEO Andrés Ugarte in January 2020, Copilot emerged as a subscription-based alternative to Mint, aiming to offer enhanced personal finance tracking and analysis. Today, the app boasts over 100,000 subscribers, many of whom engage with the app daily, while around 20% qualify as “heavy users,” accessing it up to ten times per day.

Ugarte shared with TechCrunch that the success of Copilot, especially in a landscape dominated by social networking apps, highlights the unique value it brings to the personal finance app market. Unlike its predecessors, Copilot focuses on presenting users with relevant spending and saving insights, tailored to their preferences in budgeting and financial goals. The app’s ability to help users save an average of 5% annually has effectively put back half a billion dollars into their pockets.

The genesis of Copilot was fueled by Ugarte’s personal experiences with Mint and other finance apps, which he found inadequate for modern financial management needs. His vision was to develop an app that not only simplifies account integration—averaging about ten accounts per user—but also utilizes the accumulated data to offer actionable insights.

The announcement of Mint’s shutdown on November 2 catalyzed significant growth for Copilot, marking its most successful day in terms of new user acquisition. This momentum has led to exponential growth, surpassing the company’s achievements in the preceding four years. This growth spurt enabled Copilot to secure a $6 million Series A funding round, spearheaded by Nico Wittenborn of Adjacent, and increase its total venture capital to $10.5 million.

Copilot, which achieved profitability in 2023, is now expanding its services to include Android and web platforms in response to consumer demand. This expansion, alongside investments in AI and product development, underscores the company’s commitment to enhancing user experience. Particularly, Copilot is exploring the integration of machine learning and chat interfaces to provide users with personalized finance conversations directly within the app, aiming for a comprehensive rollout by year-end.

The narrative of Copilot’s ascension in the wake of Mint’s closure encapsulates a larger trend in the financial tech industry, where the demand for intuitive, personalized finance management solutions is increasingly shaping the market’s future.

World Fund secures €300M for climate tech, focuses on hardware investments.

Berlin, Germany – In an impressive showcase of resilience and commitment to environmental sustainability, World Fund, a venture capital firm rooted in the ethos of decarbonization, has successfully closed its first fund at €300 million. Founded by the innovative minds behind the Ecosia search engine, known for using search query revenues to plant trees, World Fund embarked on this journey with an ambitious target of €350 million in 2021. Despite falling short by €50 million, the achievement is significant amidst a backdrop of global unrest, economic fluctuations, and a challenging fundraising landscape.

Danijel Višević, a managing partner at World Fund, highlighted the adversities faced over the past three years, including the war in Europe, rising interest rates, and the cautious approach of Limited Partners (LPs). “2023 presented a super hard fundraising environment,” Višević remarked, emphasizing the rigorous journey to this successful close.

The fund’s strategic focus is on pioneering decarbonization technologies, allocating over two-thirds of its capital to follow-on investments. This approach aims to address the gap in later-stage funding within Europe, particularly for ventures requiring significant hardware components. “Europe needs to refocus on hardware for climate,” Višević stated, underscoring the critical role of hardware in combating climate change. The fund also invests in expertise, including biotech and biochemistry, to thoroughly evaluate potential investments.

Already, World Fund has made notable investments in several climate tech companies, including IQM Quantum Computers, Space Forge, and Planet A Foods, among others. With the newly acquired €300 million, World Fund plans to expand its portfolio with 25 to 30 additional investments in European startups focused on decarbonization.

Support for World Fund’s vision comes from an array of backers, including a €50 million contribution from the European Investment Fund. Other investors include KfW Capital, Wachstumsfonds, Bpifrance, PwC Germany, NRW.BANK, and Ignitis Group, alongside pension funds like the U.K. Environment Agency Pension Fund and Croatia’s Erste Plavi.


This fundraising milestone arrives at a pivotal time for European climate tech startups, which raised over $20 billion in 2023, maintaining the momentum from the previous year. Countries like the U.K., Sweden, and Germany lead in climate tech venture capital, with emerging growth in nations such as Iceland, Lithuania, and Bulgaria. The sector remains robust, with valuations holding steady and a 15% year-over-year increase in European energy-related patents.

Founded in 2021 by Daria Saharova, Višević, Tim Schumacher, and Craig Douglas, World Fund operates from its bases in Berlin, Munich, Cologne, and Amsterdam, poised to drive forward the mission of environmental sustainability through innovative technology investments.

Nigerian fintech startup Zone secures $8.5 million in seed funding to expand its decentralized payment platform

African financial ecosystems have been increasingly embracing a blend of indigenous and international technologies to enhance their offerings. At the forefront of this innovation wave is Appzone, a local fintech powerhouse renowned for supplying banks and fintech companies with software solutions that offer competitive pricing and superior flexibility.

Over a Decade of Pioneering Financial Solutions

Founded over ten years ago and headquartered in Nigeria, Appzone has emerged as a pivotal force in the realms of banking and payments. The company specializes in the development of both custom software and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products, catering to an impressive roster of over 18 commercial banks and more than 450 microfinance institutions throughout Africa, with a notable presence in Ghana and Kenya.

In 2022, the founders Emeka Emetarom, Obi Emetarom, and Wale Onawunmi ventured into a bold new direction by integrating blockchain technology with traditional banking and payment systems. This strategic pivot led to the rebranding of the company to Zone, which now operates as a fully licensed, blockchain-enabled payment infrastructure firm. In parallel, the original banking-as-a-service operations were spun off into Qore, an independent entity. Zone’s latest achievement is securing $8.5 million in seed funding to fuel its growth.

Zone: Bridging the Future of Payments in Africa

Zone’s strategy is simple yet revolutionary. It seeks to address the inadequacies of Africa’s current payment infrastructure in supporting a seamless transition to a digital economy. By leveraging blockchain technology’s scalability, Zone is creating an interoperable payment platform that links banks and fintech firms, facilitating direct transaction flows without the need for intermediaries.

Subheading: A Closer Look at Zone’s Innovations and Impact

The Evolution from Appzone to Zone

  • Blockchain Integration: In a strategic shift, Appzone embraced blockchain technology to enhance legacy banking and payment systems, resulting in the formation of Zone.
  • Rebranding and Focus: The transition to Zone highlighted a deeper focus on blockchain technology, positioning the company as a leader in Africa’s payment infrastructure landscape.

Pioneering Africa’s Payment Infrastructure

  • Regulated Blockchain Network: Zone has distinguished itself as Africa’s first regulated blockchain network dedicated to payments, attracting major banks across the continent.
  • Interoperable Platform: By developing a blockchain-based payment infrastructure, Zone enables seamless transactions between banks and fintech entities, eliminating the need for traditional intermediaries.

The Technology Behind Zone’s Success

  • Licensed Switching Capabilities: Zone obtained a crucial switching license from the Central Bank of Nigeria, integrating with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System for optimal interoperability and swift fund transfers.
  • Direct Card Routing (DCR): This innovation allows for direct connections with card issuers, streamlining POS transactions and enhancing reliability for consumers and merchants alike.

Financial Institutions Embrace Zone

  • Wide Adoption: Over 15 of Africa’s largest banks have joined Zone’s network, with seven already processing domestic transactions through various channels, including ATMs, POS, and direct debit.
  • Implementation Stages: Despite the complexity of onboarding, eight banks are in the midst of integrating Zone’s solutions, underscoring the platform’s potential to revolutionize the banking sector.


  • New Use Cases and Functionalities: Zone plans to expand its offerings, including POS transactions, to incorporate fintech companies and improve financial transaction efficiency across the board.
  • Instant Reconciliation and Settlement: Leveraging blockchain technology, Zone aims to introduce immediate reconciliation and settlement features, addressing longstanding issues of transaction delays and chargeback fraud.

Zone’s Milestones and Financials

Year Milestone Financial Highlight
2022 Integration of blockchain technology; Rebranding to Zone Raised $8.5 million in seed funding
2023 Secured over 15 major bank partnerships Processed transactions for over 10 million cardholders
2024 Launch of new POS use cases and functionalities Aiming to process over $1 million in ATM transactions in Q1

The narrative of Zone is not merely about technological advancement but a testament to the transformative power of innovation in reshaping the financial landscape of Africa. By facilitating a more interconnected and efficient payment ecosystem, Zone is setting new standards for speed, reliability, and cost-effectiveness in financial transactions.

  • First Regulated Blockchain Network for Payments: Zone’s establishment as the first regulated blockchain network in Africa for payments marks a significant milestone, offering unprecedented security and transparency in transactions.
  • Significant Bank Partnerships: The collaboration with over 15 of the continent’s largest banks, including the processing of transactions through various channels, underscores the trust and reliability vested in Zone’s platform.
  • Innovative Financial Solutions: From launching new use cases to integrating large fintech companies, Zone’s continuous innovation drives forward the financial sector’s evolution in Africa.

The journey of Appzone to Zone encapsulates a broader narrative of African innovation, where local solutions are not only competing but also leading in the global tech arena. Through strategic rebranding, embracing blockchain technology, and securing a place as a regulated payment infrastructure provider, Zone is poised to revolutionize the way transactions are conducted across the continent. With its recent funding and ambitious plans for expansion, Zone stands at the forefront of Africa’s march towards a more inclusive, efficient, and digital financial future.

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