Endeavor IPO; LLR & NewSpring get big exit; ShopRunner returns & more

Endeavor Group Holdings started trading on Thursday following its IPO (NYSE: $EDR), closing just above its IPO price of $24 per share. It now has a $10.6 billion marketcap. Among other businesses (such as IMG and UFC) , Endeavor owns marketing agency 160over90, which originated in Philly, but has since become the brand name through which Endeavor rolled up its other marketing and branding agencies.

Endeavor acquired the Philly agency for a reported $200 million in 2018.

Endeavor President Mark. Shapiro indicated today that marketing and advertising will continue as important growth & acquisition targets for the company. Endeavor’s IPO valuation was questioned by some observers.

160over90 has some 100 people in Philadelphia. It was founded by Darryl Cilli and Shannon Price Slusher in 2001.

Amsterdam-based MessageBird BV has agreed to buy Columbia, Md-based Message Systems at a valuation of $600 million, the Wall Street Journal reported. MessageBird BV already provides text, voice and video services, and is acquiring Message Systems, which does business as SparkPost, to add email to its capabilities and to strengthen its position in the US market, which figures heavily in its growth plans..

Philly firms LLR Partners and NewSpring Capital, having first invested in Message Systems in 2015, will exit with the acquisition. They also participated with PNC in a $180 million debt & equity funding of Message Systems early this year.

I’m often surprised by how much business is generated by messaging systems. SparkPost is mostly geared toward enterprises.

LLR and NewSpring had dealt with a Dutch firm before, buying supply chain software firm Quintiq, which was later sold to Dassault. Such experiences are often important for foreign firms in deciding who to do business with.

Michael Rubin saw ShopRunner, which formerly was a part of his Conshohocken-based Kynetic LLC holding company, as a two-day delivery alternative for the entire non-Amazon world. But Kynetic sold ShopRunner to FedEx late last year.

Now FedEx is teaming up with Adobe Commerce, the recently renamed Magneto (acquired in 2018 for $1.7 billion), on a new two-day delivery service.

ShopRunner had 10 million members in 2019, many of whom get the service for free through other account relationships; Amazon Prime now has over 200 million according to Jeff Bezos.. Many of the in-store retailers who. were listed as major ShopRunner participants a few years back have now vanished; presumably they’ve been replaced by online retailers.

ShopRunner would also give Adobe Commerce a shipping solution that Shopify does not have at present.

Amazon said yesterday that its doubling down on its logistics business, on top of a momentous Covid year of 2020.

The market for enterprise tax software was once a sleepy corner of the enterprise software business, but it has definitely heated up. Seattle-based Avalara, founded in 2004, went public in an IPO (NYSE: AVLR) in 2018. Around the same time, the Supreme Court in its South Dakota v. Wayfair decision allowed states to collect taxes from online sales, vastly increasing demand for online tax solutions.

King of Prussia-based Vertex (Nasdaq: VERX), founded in 1978, joined the party last July with its own IPO. Avalara, which has made 11 acquisitions, has a market value of over $12 billion. Vertex has a marketcap of $3 billion, the same as it was valued on the day of its IPO.

Fintech giant Stripe just announced it was acquiring another competitor, Boston-based TaxJar. Terms on that deal weren’t disclosed, though TaxJar’s last private valuation was $179 milion.

Vertex seems to work closely with SAP, though I don’t think there’s anyhing unique about that relationship.

Accolade, which has Philly-area offices in Plymouth Meeting, is nominated for an award this year in it second HQ city, Seattle. Its up for Seattle tech site GeekWire’s “Deal of the Year” (IPO & Acquisition) recognition.

Accolade has already won an award in Philly. Back in 2016, it won a PACT Enterprise Award for Healthcare innovator.

Fedex to buy Michael Rubin’s ShopRunner

Tom Paine

Fedex announced today that it was acquiring shopping membership site ShopRunner.

Founded in 2010 and owned by Conshohocken-based Kynetic LLC, Michael Rubin’s holding company, ShopRunner was conceived to be an alternative to Amazon Prime for the rest of the retail world. ShopRunner is based in Chicago with offices in Philadelphia and San Mateo.

Kynetic’s website says ShopRunner has 85 employees and 5.5 million members.

Kynetic’s other properties are Fanatics (last valuation $6.2billion) and Rue Gilt Groupe.

Past investors include American Express, Alibaba and UPS.

Price was not disclosed.