Mercato Partners has raised $100 million for Savory Fund II, Clarus (the former Black Diamond) is making a $198 million acquisition, Spiff just closed on a $46 million round of funding, and more.


When you’re doing a great job, people tend to notice. This concept holds true in virtually every industry, including the venture capital world.

Hence, it’s not too surprising that Mercato Partners announced this week that it has raised $100 million for investing in emerging and profitable restaurant concepts via Savory Fund II.

Why? Because truth be told, Mercato/Savory are killing it.

This $100 million closing comes just eight months after Mercato raised $100 million in Savory Fund I.

Since launching its Savory Fund Practice in 2018, the company has

“ … deployed $65 million and allocated an additional $15 million of growth capital into five distinctive, emerging restaurant concepts – The Crack Shack, Mo’Bettahs, R&R Barbeque, Swig, and Via 313.”

According to its news release, the firm is on pace to open over 40 locations across the portfolio in 2021, with 70 openings targeted for 2022.

In fact, a big portion of that growth is slated for Swig, with 18 new stores planned for 2021 which is detailed in the February 4, 2021 in-depth Feature Story titled “Swig Shoots for Soda Supremacy.”

Bottom line — massive props to the entire Mercato and Savory teams. And Buena Suerté.


Clarus (aka, Black Diamond) to Acquire Australia-based Rhino-Rack for $198 Million

Salt Lake City-based Clarus (NasdaqGS:CLAR) is acquiring Australia-based Rhino-Rack for $198 million (US).

Rhino-Rack is “a leading manufacturer and distributor of highly-engineered automotive roof racks, trays, mounting systems, luggage boxes, carriers, and accessories” with sales of roughly $90 million (US) for the 12 months ended March 31, 2021.

Approximately 80% of Rhino-Rack revenue comes from Australia/New Zealand, with the balance coming out of North America.

According to the news release announcing the acquisition, Clarus will pay Rhino-Rack owners $150 million (US) and ~2.3 million shares of Clarus stock to acquire the company.

Post-acquisition, Rhino-Rack’s Founder and Managing Director, Richard Cropley, is expected to be one of the five largest shareholders of Clarus stock.

The following Rhino-Rack video from YouTube showcases a couple of the company’s roof rack systems.

Just in case you’re not familiar with the name Clarus, chances are you are familiar with the name Black Diamond, (even if you’re not an outdoor enthusiast).

As outlined on Wikipedia, Black Diamond got its start in late 1989 when a group of former Chouinard Equipment employees purchased the assets of Chouinard out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, named the new firm Black Diamond, and set-up shop in Salt Lake City.

Some 11 years later in May 2010, Black Diamond was acquired by Clarus for $90 million.

In the ensuing decade, Clarus changed its name to Black Diamond and then changed it back to Clarus a few years later.

Today, Clarus has three areas of emphasis all tied to supporting outdoor enthusiasts:

  1. Year-round outdoor equipment and clothing —  Black Diamond and PIEPS;
  2. Ammunition —  Sierra Bullets and Barnes Bullets; and now
  3. Vehicular gear / luggage rack and shade systems —  Rhino-Rack.

Spiff Raises $46 Million in Series B Round of Funding

Salt Lake City-based Spiff announced this week it has raised a $46 million in a Series B round of funding.

Spiff provides a Software-as-a-Service toolset to help companies design, build and manage sales commissions.

Seems super niched to me, but then again market research firm, G2, recently recognized Spiff as tied for the No. 1 ranked Best Sales Compensation Software product. Not bad.


Pluralsight to Acquire “A Cloud Guru”

Pluralsight might now be a privately held company owned by Vista Equity Partners, but neither firm is resting on their respective laurels as Pluralsight announced this week it has acquired A Cloud Guru.

According to Draper-based Pluralsight, the acquisition was driven by what it sees as “The growing cloud skills gap.”

Austin, Texas-based A Cloud Guru has provided training on cloud-based technologies to 2.5 million individuals.

The acquisition is expected to close later this year. No other terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.


Other News Items of Note from This Week

I also felt there were three other News Items worth noting from the breaking news announcements that hit my radar this past week from Utah’s business community, news items I  thought you might find worthwhile if not also intriguing.

Case in point —


SimpleNexus Promotes President to CEO as its Founder Steps Down as CEO to Lead an Internal Skunkworks Task Force

In a somewhat surprising move, SimpleNexus announced this week that its Founder and CEO, Matt Hansen, is stepping down as CEO to lead an internal skunkworks task force of software developers and salespeople to “tackle high-priority projects.”

In the same release, SimpleNexus announced that its President, Cathleen Schreiner Gates, has taken over the role of Chief Executive Officer.

SimpleNexus Founder & former CEO, Matt Hansen, with new CEO, Cathleen Schreiner Gates. Photo provided by SimpleNexus, 4 June 2021.

Cathleen was named to the SimpleNexus Board of Directors in March 2020, four months before she was tapped as President.

Prior to joining SimpleNexus, she was in executive sales, marketing and customer service roles with leading residential mortgage software company, Ellie Mae.

It seems clear to me that SimpleNexus is in very capable hands with Cathleen at the helm.

As for the decision to step down as CEO, Matt is quoted in the release as saying:

“… by placing the leadership of SimpleNexus into Cathleen's highly capable hands, I have the opportunity to return to the work that brings me the most joy: focusing on the voice of the customer and rolling up my sleeves to lead projects that translate our users' needs into reality.”

I guess that sounds plausible enough.


SelectHealth Names New President/CEO

Marti Lolli has been named as the new President and CEO of SelectHealth, the insurance plan of Intermountain Healthcare.

According to a company press release, Marti joins SelectHealth from Michigan-based Priority Health, where she served for 21 years in various executive and senior management roles for the company, including SVP of Commercial Markets and SVP of Employer Solutions.

Marti Lolli, President and CEO, SelectHealth. Photo provided by SelectHealth 4 June 2021.

Priority Health is the second largest insurance plan in Michigan, and like the relationship between SelectHealth and Intermountain Healthcare, is similarly part of an integrated healthcare delivery system.

Marti will start at SelectHealth in July, and she replaces Bob White (vice president and COO of SelectHealth), who has been serving as interim CEO since January.


MX Promotes from Within to Select its First President

Lehi, Utah-based MX announced this week it has selected its first President, with Shane Evans being promoted from Chief Revenue Office into the role of President.

Photo/image provided by MX, 04 June 2021.

Shane has been with MX since 2019 as its CRO.

Previously, he was with Qualtrics from January 2015 through July 2019, most recently as its SVP, North American Enterprise Sales.


Hashtags this week:  #deseret #business #deseretbusinesswatch #utah #news #utahnews #utahbusiness #utahbusinessnews #venturecapital #vc #fund #funding #fundraising #restaurant #food #foodandbeverage #acquire #acquisition #cloud #cloudcomputing #management #executives


NOTE:  The preceding article was originally published by Deseret Business Watch. Minor edits may have been made above to match the Silicon Slopes journalistic style.

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