Follow the Money: Varidesk Backs Common Desk; Crossplane Capital Raises $94M; defi Solutions Merges

You'll also find news from Aspire Marketing Services, Trinity Hunt Partners, Firestone & Robertson Distilling, DFW Bitcoin, Sharp, Shermco, Texas Document Solutions, U.S. Risk, and Texas Energy Control Products in this roundup of funding, merger, and acquisition activity involving companies in North Texas.

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What companies are finding funding or having a big exit? From startup investments to grants and acquisitions, Dallas Innovates tracks what’s happening in North Texas money every Thursday. Sign up for our e-newsletter to stay in the loop.

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Varidesk leads corporate funding round for Common Desk

Coppell-based Varidesk is the lead investor in a new corporate funding round for Common Desk, the 7-year-old Dallas-based coworking company with multiple locations in Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin.

The amount of the investment was not disclosed. The two companies have collaborated before.

READ NEXT Common Desk is Powering Coworking and Office Amenities With Its New Mobile App

Varidesk—known for its standing desks—is one of the nation’s fastest-growing office furniture and equipment companies. It’s building a new office campus called VariSpace in Las Colinas that includes flexible workspaces and a WiFi-connected walking trail.

Earlier this year, Common Desk announced its app, “Ellum,” that allows users to book conference rooms, order coffee, RSVP to events, among other things. Common Desk is now seeking funding to fuel further growth.

Varidesk CEO and co-founder Jason McCann said there’s a lot of synergy between the two companies.

“We love the entrepreneurial spirit and growth coming from Common Desk,” McCann said in a statement. “One of our guiding principles is to ‘find a better way’—it’s how we perfected our signature standing desk product, expanded to offering a full suite office furniture, and now provide space-as-a-service to enterprises tenants with VariSpace. And that’s also why Common Desk has grown.”

“There’s a lot of synergy between our two companies as we both seek to create elevated workspaces—especially with their hospitality technology and space management capabilities. I’m looking forward to what’s ahead as we continue to grow and disrupt,” McCann said.

Common Desk, which started in Deep Ellum, said the funding will be used for expansion into new markets and continued development of technology to support its coworking operations.

“We’re excited to use these funds to continue the development of our brands and to double down on the experience we are delivering within our spaces,” Nick Clark, Common Desk’s CEO, told The Dallas Morning News.

The DMN said that Common Desk plans to launch another investment fund. Common Desk currently has shared office centers in downtown Dallas, Oak Cliff, Addison, Plano, Fort Worth, and Austin. 

Crossplane Capital raises almost $94M of $275M for new fund

Crossplane Capital, a Dallas private equity firm, has raised nearly $94 million of a targeted $275 million for its new fund, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Crossplane is a strategic partner for industrial companies that are family-owned or involved in complex situations. 

The firm invests in companies with up to $200 million in revenue and significant value creation through networking, capital management, cost optimization, and revenue growth.

Aspire Marketing Services gets funding from Staley Capital

Irving-based Aspire Marketing Services, a provider of lease retention and customer communications solutions for the automotive industry, has received an investment from Staley Capital. The amount of the investment was not released, according to FinSMEs.

The company, founded in 2017, intends to use the funds to expand its sales and marketing resources, and develop additional platform features for its lease retention program called White Glove Lease Concierge.

Aspire provides technological marketing services for automotive dealers and manufacturers throughout the U.S. and Canada. It offers in-house analytics, design, email, text, telephone services, and direct mail. White Glove Lease Concierge is designed to improve customer retention rates and customer satisfaction for auto dealers and manufacturers. The platform optimizes dealer and active lease customer communications. 

In conjunction with the investment, Renny Smith, a Staley Capital managing partner, and Trey Chandler, a principal at Staley Capital, will join Aspire’s board of directors.


Auto lending tech firm defi Solutions merges with Pennsylvania company

Westlake-based auto lending technology and services provider defi Solutions-DE LLC is merging with Sagent Auto LLC, an auto finance company headquartered in Pennsylvania.

No financial terms of the deal were disclosed.

The combined company—to be called defi Solutions—will remain headquartered in North Texas, according to a statement. The merger will result in a company with 600 employees and 170 clients including fintech startups, automakers, and dealerships.

Last year, defi Solutions announced that it had raised $55 million in Series C funding, with an investment of primary and secondary capital from Bain Capital Ventures.

Trinity Hunt Partners acquires forensic engineering firm

Dallas-based Trinity Hunt Partners has acquired California-based WEXCO International, a litigation-focused forensic engineering service, for an undisclosed amount.

Brad Avrit, WEXCO’s owner and president, will remain a significant shareholder. Trinity Hunt is partnering with Avrit to increase its growth via initiatives and acquisitions, according to a statement.

Trinity Hunt, a growth-oriented middle-market private equity firm, plans to buy similar businesses across the U.S. to make itself the market leader in forensic engineering services.

French firm acquires Fort Worth distilling company

Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co., the Fort Worth maker of the TX whiskey and bourbon brand since 2012, has been acquired by Pernod Ricard, the owner of Absolut Vodka and Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Financial terms weren’t released on the deal, which includes Whiskey Ranch, Firestone & Robertson’s distillery on the site of the former Glen Garden Country Club in Fort Worth. We originally told you about the distillery in 2017.

In June, Pernod Ricard acquired Louisville, Kentucky-based Rabbit Hole Whiskey. 

DFW Bitcoin acquired by Atlanta competitor

Dallas-based DFW Bitcoin has been acquired by its Atlanta competitor, Bitcoin Depot.

No financial information on the deal was released.

Bitcoin Depot is expected to have a stronger leadership position in the market by acquiring DFW Bitcoin, according to FinSMEs.

Bitcoin Depot is a large operator of multi-cryptocurrency ATMs from which users can buy and sell Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin Cash instantly at locations across the country. It hosts almost 300 Bitcoin ATMs in the U.S. and expects to have more than 1,000 available by the end of 2020.

Shermco acquires Phoenix electrical testing, engineering provider

Shermco Industries Inc., the Irving-headquartered independent provider of electrical services, has acquired Phoenix-based Southwest Energy Systems.

Southwest is a provider of third-party electrical testing and engineering services for commercial electrical systems. It services customers in utility, technology, industrial, and government markets. No financial terms were released. 

“This is a unique opportunity to expand our geographic footprint in an attractive market,” Bill Mohl, Shermco’s CEO, said in a statement. “We anticipate continuing our acquisition strategy to expand our presence in new markets and broaden our service offering.”

Shermco is majority-owned by Gryphon Investors, a San Francisco middle-market private equity firm.

Sharp acquires select locations of Texas Document Solutions

Sharp Business Systems, Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America’s direct sales division, has acquired the assets of several locations of Fort Worth-based Texas Document Solutions.

According to a statement, the deal expands Sharp’s direct sales operations in the state of Texas. No financial terms were released.

With the acquisition, Sharp is adding to its existing Dallas and Houston direct operations with new locations in the Austin, Fort Worth, and San Antonio markets. Texas Document Solutions will retain its other locations in Waco, Lufkin, Tyler, and Bryan under its current owner, Randy Davidson.

U.S. Risk acquires Houston-based wholesale broker

Dallas-based U.S. Risk LLC has acquired U.S. E&O Brokers, a wholesale broker and managing general agent concentrated on providing lines coverage to insurance agents.  

U.S. Risk is a property and casualty wholesaler and managing general agent. No terms of the deal were disclosed.

U.S. E&O is based in Houston with other locations in Connecticut, Colorado, and New Mexico. According to a statement, the U.S. E&O team will join U.S. Risk Underwriters, the specialty programs division of U.S. Risk.

Texas Energy Control Products is acquired

Fort Worth-based Texas Energy Control Products Inc. has been acquired by Eagle Automation, a specialty distributor of automation and measurement solutions, products, and services.

Texas Energy Control Products is a control panel maker and distributor of automation and measurement products. It has operations across Texas and Oklahoma. No financial terms of the transaction were released.

According to a statement, the acquisition strengthens Eagle’s capabilities in the Permian and MidCon while expanding its operations into South and Central Texas.

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