11 November 2019 – Marianne Wu Moves On From GE Ventures

The Big Ones

Marianne Wu, president of GE Ventures, has left the corporate venturing unit as the US-listed industrial conglomerate has agreed to sell 16 healthcare portfolio companies to an affiliate of Leerink Revelation Partners.

Over the past few years, China has – partially out of necessity – been responsible for a lot of healthcare innovation and that hasn’t gone unnoticed by international players. AstraZeneca is the latest corporate to want a slice of the action and the pharmaceutical firm is going all in with the launch of a $1bn fund it unveiled together with investment bank CICC. No word on how much money it’s put in, though AstraZeneca’s chief executive Pascal Soriot told Bloomberg his company wasn’t the majority investor. Expect to read about the Healthcare Industrial Fund a lot.

Also looking at $1bn is Japan-based accounting software provider Freee, which has confidentially filed for an initial public offering on the TSE Mothers Market and hopes to attain unicorn status. If the flotation goes ahead, it would provide exits to a long list of varied corporates, including Line, Mitsubishi UFJ, Nippon Life, Life Card, Salesforce, Sharp, Recruit, SBI, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking and Chiba Bank, as well as the Toyota-backed Future Creation Fund.

Congrats to SetSquared sweeps UBI crown. SetSquared fended off competition from peers such as RMZ, Chalmers Ventures and Yes!Delft to seal UBI’s global university incubator award for a third time.

Funds

Air conditioner producer Daikin Industries has pumped $100m into a corporate venture capital unit dubbed Technology and Innovation Center CVC Office and plans to deploy the capital over a five-year period. The vehicle will make VC investments but will also house an accelerator and will look to launch new startups through a partnership with the University of Tokyo.

IAN closes $53m fund

Vives finds $27.7m for Inter-University Fund

Exits

Aerial technology developer Ehang has filed for an initial public offering expected to raise up to $500m if reports earlier this year are accurate. The Chinese company has raised $52m from investors including Shanghai International Group across two equity rounds and has set an initial $100m target. It’s one of several compatriots who have filed in the US and are looking to float in the coming weeks.

The biggest M&A exit is the $540m all-cash acquisition of Scout RFP by Workday, less than a year after the corporate’s investment unit Workday Ventures last invested in the sourcing platform. Salesforce Ventures and GV are among the exiting shareholders, having contributed to more than $60m in equity financing since Scout’s founding in 2014.

Corporate banking services isn’t an area that’s popped up a lot but Ebury has been making a name for itself with functionality such as mass payments in multiple currencies and foreign exchange risk management. That’s previously convinced financial services firm such as NIBC to invest and now Santander is getting in on the action with a $450m primary and secondary share purchase that gives it a majority stake – just about – of 50.1%. Ebury will continue to operate as an independent entity, and existing investors have also reinvested in the business.

Jask joins Sumo Logic

Deals

Riskified has built an e-commerce fraud prevention software that confirms legitimate customers in real-time to prevent fraudulent transactions, and its potential previously convinced Capital One Growth Ventures, Phoenix Insurance Company and NTT Docomo Ventures to invest. It’s now also attracted investors such as Fidelity to raise $165m in series E funding and push its valuation beyond $1bn.

Chinese antibody drug developer Akeso Biopharma has also been busy raising a big pile of cash, attracting $150m in series D funding co-led by pharmaceutical firm Sino Biopharmaceutical and with participation from K. Wah Group.

There are a range of companies out there trying to take the house sales process from the high street to an online marketplace, but HomeLight’s proposition is unique in that it scours more than 40 million real estate transactions and more than 1.4 million agent profiles to find the best realtor for a homeowner looking to sell.

Medical device manufacturer Peijia Medical hasn’t appeared on GCV’s radar up until now, but the company has been attracting capital since it was launched in 2012. Lilly Asia Ventures, which seemingly backed a series B of unspecified size in 2018, has also supported a $100m series C round announced by Peijia this week, and the money will help drive product development of the company’s devices to treat heart valve disease.

Almost 114,000 people are currently waiting for a transplant in the US alone, but if eGenesis is successful such lists may not be an issue anymore: the Harvard University spinout is using gene editing technologies to make animal organs compatible with human patients – a process known as xenotransplantation. It’s initially focusing on kidneys andhas attracted $100m in series B funding from investors including Leaps by Bayer to make the procedure a reality.

Geltor to apply for $100m

Shape boxes up $35.5m


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

04 November 2019 – Greensill Raises $655m from SoftBank

The Big Ones

Greensill, a UK-based company that taps the capital markets in order to provide working capital for businesses, received one of this year’s biggest investments in May when it secured $800m from SoftBank Vision Fund. Now it’s added a further $655m from the same investor at a valuation reportedly nearing $4bn.

Singapore-based venture capital firm Jungle Ventures has closed its latest fund at $240m, securing the capital from LPs including, according to DealStreetAsia, Cisco Investments and Bualuang Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Bangkok Bank, as well as Temasek, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, development finance institutions DEG and FMO, and Kuok Khoon Hong, chief executive of agribusiness Wilmar International.

Wag raised $300m from SoftBank Vision last year but the petsitting service has been among the vehicle’s less successful bets, after a series of management changes, layoffs and (perhaps we need a trigger warning here) reports that users’ dogs have died while in the custody of its walkers. The company is now pursuing a sale and is in talks with Petco, though things might be complicated by the fact the latter is an investor in Wag rival Rover. Any sale is also likely to be for less than the $650m valuation at which Vision Fund invested.

Finally, in a nice crossover story (and ongoing one, since several of the corporates were returning investors) we have Tmunity Therapeutic, a developer of T-cell immunotherapy treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases, has boosted its overall funding to $231m with a $75m series B round featuring Gilead Sciences and Be The Match BioTherapies as well as University of Pennsylvania, of which Tmunity is a spinout.

Deals

Trading app developer RobinHood has added $50m to a series E round that now stands at $373m, and which values it at $7.6bn. The extra cash came from existing investor DST Global and it increased the total raised by RobinHood, which also counts Roc Nation’s Arrive unit and Alphabet subsidiaries CapitalG and GV among its past investors, to more than $910m.

Vacasa has notched up its own nine-figure round, raising $319m from investors led by Silver Lake. It operates a peer-to-peer holiday accommodation booking platform that incorporates property management services, allowing owners of properties where they are often not present to garner extra income with minimal effort.

Mobile game publisher Scopely is on the growth trail and plans to follow up its acquisition of collaborator Digit Games earlier this year with additional M&A deals. They will be financed with $200m of series D funding the company just raised at a reported $1.7bn valuation, with NewView Capital leading the round.

Japanese online consumer credit provider Paidy has raised $143m in debt and equity financing that included an $83m extension to its series C round. That extension included PayPal Ventures and followed on from a $55m first tranche featuring corporates Itochu and Visa.

And after-sales automotive services provider CassTime has secured $80m in a series C1 round co-led by Sequoia Capital China and Source Code Capital that boosted its overall funding to some $175m.

Pollinate has officially launched its digital banking technology offering having secured $77.8m in funding from investors including Mastercard and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) as well as Motive Partners and EFM Asset Management.

Funds

Qualcomm Ventures has announced an investment vehicle called the 5G Ecosystem Fund which will fund developers of 5G technologies as parent company Qualcomm looks to move more significantly into the area. The unit will look to invest up to $200m through the vehicle, the launch of which follows the formation of a $100m AI Fund almost a year ago.

Exits

Phathom Pharmaceuticals has gone public, securing nearly $182m in an initial public offering in which the gastrointestinal disease therapy developer floated in the middle of its range. Phathom has licensed its core product from pharmaceutical firm Takeda, which has already successfully marketed the drug in its home country of Japan, and which has seen its stake rise from 9.1% to 24.7% in connection with the IPO as part of the licensing agreement.

Fertility benefits management platform Progyny has also floated, in a $130m offering in which Merck Group sold almost $4.9m of shares. That divestment was made as part of nearly $43m of sales from existing shareholders, while Progyny reaped more than $87m. Its other investors include GlaxoSmithKline’s corporate venturing unit, SR One.

Xiaomi-backed podcasting platform Lizhi has filed for an initial public offering in the US and is targeting $100m. Lizhi is yet to finalise its choice of a market for its listing (it’s a choice between NYSE and Nasdaq Global Market) and it’s going to be interesting to see the timeline of the proposed offering, considering the IPO market is slowing down and relations between its home country and the US continue to be, well, let’s just say uneven.

Chinese apartment rental platform Danke Apartment has also filed for an initial public offering in the US, having raised $875m from investors including Ant Financial, UCommune and Bertelsmann Asia Investments. The company was valued at more than $2bn as of a $500m round led by Ant Financial in March, and has set a placeholder amount of $100m for the IPO. Expect that to rise substantially.

And another one: I-Mab Biopharma has also opted for the US, having filed for a $100m initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Market. The company is developing several drug candidates to treat cancer or autoimmune diseases and its largest investors include Tasly and Genexine.


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

28 October 2019 – We Company Gains $18.5bn in Debt and Equity Funding

The Big Ones

SoftBank COO Marcelo Claure revealed on Thursday that it has committed a total of $18.5bn in debt and equity financing to WeWork owner We Company. It comes after SoftBank, on Tuesday, confirmed details of a $9.5bn rescue package for We Company that includes a $3bn tender offer which will allow earlier investors including Jin Jiang International and Legend Holdings to exit, albeit at a sizeable loss. SoftBank will emerge with an 80% stake in a streamlined company while We Co will come out with enough capital to sustain itself for the time being, hopefully.

Happier times for Databricks, the UC Berkeley spinout that has built a data preparation platform tailored for work with advanced analytics tools. It’s secured $400m in a Microsoft-backed series F round that boosted its valuation from $2.75bn to $6.2bn in just eight months.

Total has launched a $400m investment unit called Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures that looks as if it is assuming the mantle of the petroleum supplier’s main corporate venturing vehicle. The capital is intended to be allocated over the next five years and will fund developers of technologies in areas like energy storage, smart energy and mobility.

On GUV, Oxford Nanopore, the UK-based genetic sequencing technology spinout of University of Oxford, is reportedly seeking £1.6bn ($2.1bn) in a forthcoming private placement. The purported transaction could help Woodford Investment Management, soon to close having failed to restore its liquidity, by enabling the firm to sell down equity that reportedly represents the biggest stake in its portfolio by market value. It is unclear how the move tallies with earlier suggestions that the spinout was looking to go public.

Speaking of Woodford, good news for the spinout-focused Patient Capital Trust. Asset management firm Schroders has rescued trust and agreed terms for the switch to take place before the end of 2019, when it will be renamed Schroder UK Public Private Trust. Schroders will waive its management fee for the first three months and will then charge 0.8% or 1% annually depending on the size of each client’s investment.

Deals

Taimei Technology, which provides clinical trials software that helps multiple stakeholders in the process interact with each other, and ¨has confirmed $212m in funding across two rounds. One of those is a $132m series E-plus round led by Tencent, which added to an $80m series E featuring SoftBank China Venture Capital, some details of which originally emerged in January.

Elsewhere in China, global positioning technology provider Qianxun Spatial Intelligence has secured $141m in series A funding, four years after it was co-founded by Alibaba and Norinco Group. The cash was reportedly raised at a $1.84bn valuation and the round was co-led by government-owned vehicles Shanghai International Group, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China State-Owned Capital Venture Investment Fund.

Funds

Security and surveillance technology provider Hikvision is putting together its own investment fund, Hikvision Smart Industry Investment Fund, which will be equipped with some $141m in capital.

Aerospace and defence equipment manufacturer Safran launched corporate venturing unit Safran Corporate Ventures in 2015 and, after allocating most of its original capital, has added another $33.5m to take its total budget to about $89m. The fund has invested in 10 companies, one of which has so far heralded an exit, and the capital is expected to be spent over the next two years.

Partners Healthcare has run corporate venturing unit Partners Innovation Fund since 2008 but has elected to also provide $80m for two specialist funds. The care system operator will put $50m into a vehicle known as Translational Innovation Fund, which will support development of preclinical drugs based on research at its hospitals, while $30m is going to Artificial Intelligence and Digital Translation Fund, which will work on innovative digital technologies with Partners Healthcare’s vendors.

Bloomberg Beta has meanwhile launched its third $75m fund in six years, with the cash again coming solely from Bloomberg. The firm is sponsored by Bloomberg but operates separately, with a focus on ‘the future of work’ and has built up a portfolio that includes unicorns Knotel and Flexport as well as the likes of Masterclass, AppZen, Rigetti Computing and InfluxData, which each look well on their way to that status.

And Yissum, the tech transfer company of Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJ), has joined forces with drug discovery firm Evotec to launch Lab555, the latest iteration of the latter’s academic commercialisation bridge model.

Exits

More waves in the IPO space, with Singapore-based online real estate marketplace PropertyGuru pulling out of an offering in Australia that would have raised $257m had the company floated at the top of its range. Media conglomerate Emtek had been looking to sell some $55m of shares in the IPO but a bigger concern may be for the Australian Stock Exchange itself.


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

21 October 2019 – SoftBank Prepares We Company Restructuring Deal

The Big Ones

The latest twist in the We Company/WeWork saga is that SoftBank, the largest shareholder in the workspace operator and also the investor that provided most of its late-stage funding, is preparing a restructuring deal that will involve it acquiring a majority stake while ensuring it has enough money to make it through the next 12 months.

Vice Media is dealing with a valuation cut of its own, having raised money from Lupa Systems, the investment holding vehicle for ex-21st Century Fox exec James Murdoch, at a $4bn valuation.

Fund-wise, Lakala Payment may have found itself forced to operate in the shadow of Ant Financial and Tencent’s WePay app, but the payment services firm floated in April, and is now looking to establish its own fintech investment fund.

And talking of new funds, we need to give a shoutout to Wendell Brooks of Intel Capital, who’s donated personal money to seed an up-to $20m philanthropic venture fund being raised by U-M Tech Transfer, the tech transfer office of University of Michigan, for its early-stage spinouts.

On GUV, Neil Woodford has had the worst week of his career yet as he was forced to admit the end is nigh for his fund management firm Woodford Investment Management. He also intends to leave the spinout-focused Woodford Patient Capital Trust (WPCT) and the recently-suspended Woodford Income Focus Fund – having been sacked from the flagship Equity Income Fund by its administrator Link Fund Solutions earlier last week.

Deals

Paytm is looking to cement its position near the top of Asia’s highest valued VC-backed companies and is close to raising $2bn in equity and debt financing at a reported $16bn valuation.

We’re likely to see edge computing turn up increasingly often on this site, and the latest startup to break out in the sector is Pensando Systems, which has emerged from stealth having raised a total of $278m. Pensando has just nabbed $145m in a series C round led by HPE at a reported $645m post-money valuation.

Digital invoicing technology developer and services provider Hainan Golden Technology has closed a $141m series B round led by Tencent that will fund research and development work, in areas such as big data, blockchain and cloud computing technology.

Algolia, a developer of online search software, has raised $110m in series C funding from investors including Salesforce Ventures to boost its total funding to approximately $184m.

Ant Financial has co-led a $100m series C round for Tsign, whose offering can probably be most easily described as ‘the Chinese DocuSign’. Gobi Capital and Eminence Ventures also participated in the round, which reportedly took the total raised by Tsign to at least $131m since it was founded in 2002.

Midu, a spinoff from Chinese news aggregation app developer Qutoutiao, has secured $100m in a CMC Capital-led series B round that included its parent company. Midu oversees online literature platforms Midu Novels and Midu Novels Lite, and is aiming to hit 10 million daily active users before the end of the year.

Pendo has raised its own nine-figure sum, securing $100m in a series E round that valued it at $1bn. The company’s technology helps developers build customer-friendly software, and the round boosted its overall funding to $206m in under five years.

Provivi is working on pesticides designed to prevent certain kinds of pests from mating without affecting the surrounding ecosystem, and has received $85m in series C funding from investors including BASF Venture Capital.

Small molecule cancer drug developer Cyteir Therapeutics, spun out of Jackson Laboratory, has added $40.2m to a series B round led by Novo that now totals $75.2m. Celgene also contributed to the extension, though neither corporate had been named as an investor when Cyteir closed the $29m first tranche early last year.

Level Home has emerged from stealth, making its invisible smart lock available for order and revealing $71m in funding from investors including Walmart, with which it also has a delivery partnership in place, and Lennar. Although the Level Lock is the company’s flagship product, it bills itself as a home automation technology provider, so expect to see its product range extended in future.

There hasn’t been a great deal going on in the electric vehicle sector of late, but electric chassis producer Motiv Power Systems has raised some money, in a $60m series B round co-led by RV producer Winnebago Industries.

Funds

China-based clinical development services provider Hangzhou Tigermed Consulting has committed up to $12m for a $62m biotech-focused fund dubbed TG Sino-Dragon Fund. The dollar-denominated vehicle will be co-sponsored by Singaporean government-owned investment firm Temasek and will target early to growth-stage opportunities in the biotech and contract research spaces.

Japan-based payment services firm Credit Saison is putting together a $55m corporate venturing fund called Saison Capital. The vehicle will invest at seed and series A stage and will concentrate on India and Southeast Asia-based developers of platforms or economic ecosystems that could potentially provide financial services for underbanked citizens, though it is officially sector-agnostic.

Cogna Educação, the Brazil-based educational services provider formerly known as Kroton Educacional, will launch a corporate venture capital arm in 2020 called Cogna Ventures.

Exits

Phathom Pharmaceuticals has licensed a gastrointestinal disease drug from Takeda and is advancing it towards regulatory approval in the US market. It also plans to float, and has set the terms for an initial public offering set to raise $158m if it floats at the top of its range.


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

14 October 2019 – Oyo in $1.5bn Series F Round

The Big Ones

Short-term accommodation platform Oyo is reportedly in the process of raising $1.5bn in series F funding at a $10bn valuation. Existing investor SoftBank is also set to take part in the round but the big news is that Oyo co-founder and CEO Ritesh Agarwal plans to put up a whopping $700m of the cash. Given that the only collateral Agarwal could likely put forward to get that kind of financing is his existing stake in Oyo, that obviously raises all kinds of questions, not least with the increased scrutiny around founder behaviour right now.

The IPO market appears to be slowing down, what with We Company and Postmates both withdrawing their initial public offerings, and immuno-oncology drug developer BioNTech – a spinout of Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz – hasn’t done brilliantly either. It went public in a $150m IPO that involved it floating at the bottom of its range while also cutting the number of shares. Despite that, Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Sanofi – all development partners – will score exits through the offering.

Ginkgo Bioworks – itself an MIT spinout – has already spun out two companies, Joyn Bio and Motif Foodworks, which have raised decent sums of money, but now the custom microbe developer has formed a $350m vehicle specifically to fund other spinouts.

Deals

Chime is one of a string of digital banks that have sprung up in recent years and claims to be the fastest growing, increasing the number of accounts it oversees from 3 million in March to 5 million in September.

Zomato is locked in a battle with Swiggy for domination of India’s food delivery market, and just like Tencent-backed Swiggy, it has a major Chinese corporate providing cash. Ant Financial has invested more than $400m in Zomato and is reportedly in line to participate in a $600m round that would value it at up to $4bn.

Chinese tutoring platform VIPKid has confirmed it has raised money in a Tencent-led series E round, without confirming the size of that round. Recent media reports could give some clues on that front however, with $500m being put forward as an upper target and Tencent’s contribution placed around the $150m mark.

Lilium, a flying car developer spun out of Technical University of Munich, is also fundraising and is in talks with Tencent over a round that will reportedly be sized at $400m to $500m. Tencent contributed to Germany-based Lilium’s last round, a $90m series B, two years ago but the new funding will follow its unveiling of a working prototype of its vehicle in May.

Next Insurance has received $250m from Munich Re in the form of series C funding that will help the workplace insurance platform grow its business in the US. The round valued Next at more than $1bn and the deal increased Munich Re’s stake in the company to 27.5%.

It’s been a while since we last heard from Benlai, but the China-based grocery e-commerce has been busy expanding its service to hundreds of additional cities since its last round – a combined $117m series C and C+ from investors including Joyoung – in 2016.

SparkCognition has meanwhile collected $100m in a series C round backed by returning investor Boeing HorizonX and new investor Hearst Ventures, as well as 14 others (including Malcom Turnbull – yes, the former prime minister of Australia).

Arcellx is working on immune cell therapies to treat cancer, and has captured $85m in a series B round that included LG Technology Ventures and existing backers Novo, SR One and Takeda Ventures.

Funds

Petroleum supplier Petronas hasn’t been a significant venture capital investor yet but it appears to be making plans to change that. The corporate intends to pump up to $350m into a unit called Petronas Corporate Venture Capital that will fund companies developing tech in areas such as advanced materials, specialty chemicals and energy. It had already launched a $250m investment vehicle known as Piva in January.

Exits

GV made a hefty chunk of change by divesting part of its stake in Uber to a SoftBank-led consortium in late 2017 at a $48bn valuation, but CEO David Krane has disclosed that it may sell the rest once the post-IPO lock-up period expires next month.

Praktikertjänst-backed Aprea Therapeutics went public last week, picking up $85m in proceeds after pricing shares in the middle of the range at $15. It looks like the company may have underestimated the market, as shares shot up to $20.50 on the first day of trading and have continued to trade above the IPO price.

Vir Biotechnology is the latest company not to meet its IPO expectations, floating at the bottom of its range, but still raising $143m. SoftBank Vision Fund is the second largest shareholder of immunology therapy developer Vir, having pumped in at least $180m over two rounds.


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

07 October 2019 – We Co Pulls IPO

We Co, otherwise known as WeWork, formally pulled its initial public offering last week, putting a cap on what will go down as one of the most disastrous attempts to go public in recent memory. So what does that mean for corporate venturers? Is the co-working space still viable? Is it still worth betting on visionary founders? And what about SoftBank? If those are questions you’d like answers to, do check out GCV news editor Robert Lavine’s analysis on GlobalCorporateVenturing.com

Big Ones

Udaan, the Indian operator of an e-commerce platform that links small businesses to large traders and wholesalers, has raised $585m in series D funding from investors including Tencent and Citi Ventures to take its total equity financing to $870m in under three years.

Online content and advertising platforms Taboola and Outbrain operate in a relatively similar space and have elected to join forces, with Taboola buying the latter for $250m in cash, and $600m in stock equating to a 30% stake in what will be a $2bn company.

Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), the university venture fund for University of Oxford, has added China-based telecommunications equipment and services provider Huawei as a limited partner. Huawei is believed to have bought 4.1 million shares over the past year through a Netherlands-based subsidiary called Huawei Technologies Cooeperatief, taking its stake in OSI to about 0.7%. Huawei has never been listed on OSI’s website as a backer. The deal was concluded in late 2018 before University of Oxford blocked the firm’s philanthropic donations due to fears over its influence in the UK technology space.

Deals

IronSource has confirmed a $400m+ investment by private equity firm CVC Capital Partners at a 10-figure valuation. The content monetisation and engagement platform developer raised $105m in a 2015 series A round featuring Access Industries at an apparently similar valuation, though Calcalist reported earlier this week that its shareholders regularly receive sizeable dividends, which would largely offset any flatlining in company value.

Electric scooter and bike rental service Bird has raised $275m at a $2.75bn post-money valuation, in a series D round co-led by Sequoia Capital and pension fund manager CDPQ.

Rapyd has already raised $100m, through a series C round featuring Stripe that valued the digital payment software producer at almost $1bn.

Tenaya Therapeutics, a US-based developer of treatments for heart disease, completed a $92m series B round on Thursday featuring GV, a corporate venturing subsidiary of internet and technology group Alphabet. The round was led by healthcare investment firm Casdin Capital and included Column Group and a range of undisclosed new and existing shareholders.

Adicet Bio is meanwhile working on cancer treatments that will utilise gamma delta T cells, and has completed an $80m series B round that took its total funding to $131m.

US-based vaccine developer Icosavax emerged from stealth on Thursday with $51m of series A funding from investors including Sanofi Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of pharmaceutical firm Sanofi. Qiming Venture Partners USA led the round, which was also backed by NanoDimension, Adams Street Partners and undisclosed existing investors.

Funds

Non-profit health system Advocate Aurora Health and Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (Warf), the commercialisation arm of University of Wisconsin-Madison, have become a limited partner in a $75m healthcare-focused fund raised by venture capital firm Venture Investors.

Exits

It’s been a rough ride recently for companies trying to go public: Peloton’s shares have crashed every day since going public and that’s before we get to the disaster that’s been We Company’s struggles. But that isn’t stopping others from chasing the dream and Progyny has filed for a $100m offering on Nasdaq that would provide exits to SR One and Merck Group

36Kr will be hoping its own IPO goes better. The China-based startup media and services company has filed to go public in the US and has set an initial target of $100m. Its investors include Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial and media group Nikkei, and it will be hoping it doesn’t fall foul of reported plans by Nasdaq – the operator of the market on which it intends to float – to tighten regulations for smaller IPOs by Chinese companies which have sometimes chiefly sold shares to investors linked to their executives. With only two named underwriters in the 36Kr IPO, that could be a factor.

Harvard University spinout Beam Therapeutics has filed for its own $100m IPO, which will follow roughly $225m in funding raised across two rounds. The genomic medicine developer’s shareholders include GV and Editas Medicine, the latter having acquired a stake through a licensing agreement last year.

4D Molecular Therapeutics has filed for a $100m initial public offering that will fund the progress of gene therapies for conditions such as Fabry disease and cystic fibrosis. It has raised at least $108m, $90m of which came in a 2018 series B round that included Pfizer Ventures and Chiesi Ventures.

MIT and Harvard spinout Frequency Therapeutics has gone public in an $84m initial public offering that represents a bit of a downgrade on its expectations, the company floating at the bottom of its range and cutting the number of shares in the IPO.

Live streaming software and tools provider Streamlabs has also achieved its own exit, agreeing to an acquisition by Logitech International for up to $118m. The total’s split between an $89m upfront cash payment – slightly more than Streamlabs’ most recent post-money valuation of $80m – and $29m worth of stock dependent on it reaching significant revenue growth.

Aprea Therapeutics, a US-based cancer drug developer spun out of Karolinska Institute and backed by its investment Karolinska Development as well as healthcare provider Praktikertjänst, has raised $85m in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

30 September 2019 – Peloton Interactive Raises $1.16bn in IPO

Big Ones

Who can remember anything like the We Company (that’s WeWork) saga that’s unfolded over the past fortnight? It had been targeting $3bn to $4bn in an IPO that at one time was expected to exceed the $47bn valuation at which it last raised money. Then people started flagging up bits of the IPO filing that looked strange, reports revealed it could float at a valuation of as little as $15bn and all hell broke loose.

Peloton Interactive has had one of the year’s larger tech IPOs, raising $1.16bn after floating at the top of its range. The exercise equipment and class provider had received just shy of $1bn in venture funding but its initial market cap nearly doubles the $4.15bn valuation of its most recent funding round just over a year ago.

KB Investment, a subsidiary of South Korea-based financial services group KB Holding, has formed an investment fund with MDI Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of telecommunications firm Telkom Indonesia.

Crossover: Kandou Bus, a Switzerland-based fabless semiconductor spinout of Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), collected $56m in a series C round featuring telecoms firm Swisscom’s corporate VC arm Swisscom Ventures and its Digital Transformation Fund.

Deals

With all the fuss surrounding the really big VC-backed companies in recent months, Palantir seems to have slipped off the radar to some extent, it being four years since they raised money. Well that’s apparently about to change, with reports that the controversial data processor is looking to raise $1bn to $3bn at a valuation somewhere between $26bn and $30bn. That would mark a huge increase for the Relx-backed company, valued at just over $20bn in 2015 and substantially lower as recently as this year, according to media reports.

Fundbox has reportedly boosted its own valuation to somewhere in the $500m-to-$1bn range, pulling in $326m in financing that included a $176m equity round.

Chinese cybersecurity software provider Qi An Xin is lining up its own IPO, having already began hiring underwriters, but has in the meantime raised $210m from investors including furniture retailer Red Star Macalline. Qi An Xin, which was spun off from Qihoo 360 in 2014, is set to be one of the first companies to float on the newly launched Sci-Tech Innovation Board.

Checkr uses big data to run the numbers on job applications in a bid to cut down on systemic biases and fraudulent CVs, and it’s just secured $160m in funding at a reported $2.2bn valuation.

An unconfirmed report has stated that ETechAces, the Indian owner of financial product comparison platforms PolicyBazaar and PaisaBazaar, has raised $130m to $150m from Tencent at a valuation of roughly $1.5bn.

In China, cloud computing and big data services provider DT Dream has secured $84m in series B funding at a reported $1.5bn valuation. The company did not name Alibaba, which took part in a $70m round in 2015 as well as a $110m series A two years later, as a participant in the latest round, which will fund hiring and product development in addition to other growth initiatives.

Translation technology and services provider Unbabel has nabbed $60m in a series C round featuring M12 and Samsung Next that increased its total funding to $91m.

Kandou Bus has bagged $56m in a series C round that included Swisscom Ventures as well as the $199m Digital Transformation Fund formed by Swisscom last year. The chipmaker, a spinout from Swiss research university EPFL, had previously received about $40m in funding, and will spend the latest funding on product development and business growth.

Divvy Homes operates a business model where it buys properties in partnership with tenants who reserve part of the rent for a down payment that would allow them to buy the place in question. It has just secured $43m in a series B round co-led by Lennar Ventures – property developer Lennar’s corporate VC unit – to increase its overall funding to $83m.

Qualcomm Ventures, Itochu and Mitsui have all contributed to a $40m series D round for Spire Global, a producer of nanosatellites that are utilised for weather and aviation tracking. Spire, whose existing investors include Qihoo 360, has now raised at least $175m altogether, and the series D comes in the wake of it launching a maritime-focused division in February.

Funds

Canada-based venture capital firm ArcTern Ventures has reached a C$165m ($124m) second close for its Fund II having raised capital from limited partners including crude oil producer Suncor. Financial services firm TD Bank also contributed to the second close, along with the Canadian government-owned BDC Capital, family offices including The Ivey Foundation and an undisclosed pension fund.

Exits

Neural interface technology developer Ctrl-Labs has been acquired by Facebook for a price somewhere between $500m and $1bn, enabling investors including GV and Alexa Fund to exit having contributed to $67m in equity funding. Facebook has made a few of the largest VC-backed acquisitions in recent years, though many of them – notably WhatsApp, Instagram and Oculus VR – were not corporate-backed pre-acquisition.

Investment firm Vista Equity Partners is set to pay an undisclosed amount for a majority stake in digital content management platform Aqcuia in a deal that reportedly values it at $1bn including debt.

Frequency Therapeutics has set terms for an initial public offering that will net $107m for the regenerative medicine developer if it floats at the top of its range. The IPO comes after $147m in venture funding from investors including Alexandria Venture Investments and the proceeds have been earmarked for a phase 2a clinical trial for its lead candidate, a sensorineural hearing loss treatment.


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

23 September 2019 – We Company IPO Issues Ongoing + Telecoms Sector Webinar

Big Ones

We have a lot of IPO news for you this week but let’s talk about We Company for a moment, because no other company has had quite as tough a time of trying to go public (not even Uber’s failure to reach the IPO price for weeks after going public comes close). Really, We Co hasn’t found the path to its IPO very much fun but arguably even more eyes have been focused on its largest investor, SoftBank. The IPO may have been delayed until… sometime later this year after rumours that the offering could be cancelled altogether. Sources have told the Wall Street Journal that SoftBank is set to buy up $750m of shares in an IPO that will raise about $3bn when (if!) it eventually happens. The bigger shock has of course been news that We Company’s valuation is set to tumble from $47bn in January to between $15bn and $20bn when it floats.

The ongoing issues with the We Company IPO appear to be hitting SoftBank in other areas, too. The corporate is still in the process of finalising LP commitments for its second Vision Fund, but sovereign wealth funds PIF and Mubadala are reportedly pulling back their exposure having supplied a total of $60bn for the first fund. Taking big bets, as Masayoshi Son is prone to do, after all can also mean you might end up losing big.

Automattic is valued at just (just!) $3bn despite claiming to power around one third of the world’s websites, having received $300m in series D funding from Salesforce Ventures. The company is likely doing okay financially too, considering it last raised money five years ago, in a $160m series C round that valued it at $1bn pre-money and it’s fresh off a purchase of reportedly less than $3m acquisition of Tumblr, the blogging platform that Yahoo purchased for $1.1bn in 2013, before Yahoo was acquired by Verizon, Verizon banned any sexual content in December 2018 and user numbers crashed.

In a fascinating GCV-GUV crossover, robotic surgery technology developer CMR Surgical has secured $240m in series C funding at a reported valuation of about $1.2bn. The company, whose earlier backers include ABB Technology Ventures, raised the cash from investors including Cambridge Innovation Capital, LGT, Watrium, Zhejiang Silk Road Fund and Escala Capital.

Deals

GitLab has completed a $268m series E round co-led by Goldman Sachs that valued the software development and management platform at $2.75bn. The company, whose investors also include Alphabet unit GV, is aiming for a November 2020 IPO and will channel the series E proceeds into hiring and product development.

Online payment technology provider Stripe is now one of the few VC-backed private companies to have outdone that valuation, having secured $250m in funding at an eye watering $35bn pre-money valuation.

DataRobot is meanwhile also valued at $1.2bn, having confirmed a $206m series E round that included Intel Capital. Reports in July had suggested the enterprise AI technology provider was raising $200m, and the round boosted its overall funding to more than $430m.

Self-driving truck developer TuSimple has raised $120m from investors including Mando and UPS Ventures for a series D round that now totals $215m. The overall round is being led by another corporate, Sina, and the capital will go to expanding the range of TuSimple’s fleet and the further co-development of an autonomous truck for commercial use.

Funds

Data analysis software producer Splunk has been a relatively low-profile figure in the corporate venturing space but expect that to pick up following its formation of a unit called Splunk Ventures that will be equipped with $150m of capital.

On GUV, Italy-based venture capital firm Eureka! Venture has launched a €50m ($55m) fund with an initial close of $33m thanks to a commitment by investment platform ItaTech. The Eureka! Fund I – Technology Transfer will focus on the commercialisation of deeptech and has partnered a total of 19 universities and research institutes across the country, though only Polytechnic University of Turin and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia’s Technology Transfer office were named.

Exits

A lot of huge startups have gone public this year but it’s been a mixed bag in terms of outcomes. Airbnb is one of the few decacorns ($10bn+ valuations) still to make the jump in the US, but has now said it plans to list its shares publicly in 2020.

Cloud hosting services provider CloudFlare has secured $525m in its IPO, floating above a range that it had already increased last week. Its investors include Microsoft, Baidu, CapitalG and Qualcomm Ventures, and the company’s stock closed at $18.00 on its first day of trading on Friday.

Henlius, a developer of biosimilar treatments for cancer and autoimmune disorders, has priced its shares for an initial public offering that will net the company $410m when it floats in Hong Kong next week. Fosun Pharma is the largest investor in Henlius, which was valued at $3bn when it last raised funding, in July 2018.

IGM Biosciences has secured $175m in its own IPO, floating at the midpoint of its range before seeing its shares shoot up some 50% in their first day of trading yesterday. The company, which is developing antibodies to treat cancer, counts Haldor Topsøe as its largest shareholder, though the corporate’s stake was diluted from a majority share to 39% in the offering. IGM’s market cap is around the $700m mark at time of writing.

Pfizer spinoff SpringWorks Therapeutics has raised $162m after floating at the top of its range. The rare disease and cancer therapy developer had collected $228m in funding across two rounds, from investors that also included GlaxoSmithKline, and its shares are trading around 30% higher than its IPO price at the time of writing.

SoftBank has at least done very well out of the IPO of one of its portfolio companies. Cancer test developer Guardant Health’s shares were priced at $19 each when it floated last October but SoftBank has just sold 4.9 million shares at $77 a pop to raise a total of $377m. That’s a huge return but it also comes after Guardant’s shares fell from a peak of about $110 last month. SoftBank remains the company’s largest shareholder.


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

16 September 2019 – Byton Seeks $500m Close

Big Ones

Byton is one of several smart electric vehicle developers emerging from China, and it is in the process of adding investors to a round already featuring automotive manufacturer FAW as it seeks a $500m close. The company is focusing on electric SUVs, the first of which is slated to go on commercial sale next year.

Shanghai Henlius Biotech has set terms for an initial public offering in Hong Kong that will net $477m if the company floats at the top of its range. Autoimmune disease and cancer drug developer Henlius has raised at least $345m from investors including Fosun Pharma and has lined up four cornerstone investors for the offering including Qatar Investment Authority, which will buy $90m of shares.

SoftBank has been busy in Latin America since closing a $5bn fund in March that’s reserved for the region. But what do you do when your pockets are so deep that few VCs can co-invest with you? Why, you support them of course. SoftBank is reportedly planning to commit some $500m to between five and 10 Latin American venture capital firms having already backed funds being raised by Kaszek Ventures and Valor Capital.

In interesting crossover news this week, China-based medical supplies distributor GKHT Medical Technology raised more than RMB1.1bn ($154m) in a series C round backed by Cash Capital, which invests on behalf of Chinese Academy of Science. Insurance firm Taikang Life led the round, which also featured 6 Dimensions Capital, the investment firm co-founded by pharmaceutical firm WuXi AppTec, and Legend Capital, the venture capital firm launched by conglomerate Legend Holdings.

Deals

Rivian hasn’t got a product on the market yet, but that hasn’t stopped the electric truck and SUV developer raising money. It has now secured $1.8bn in capital this year having received $350m from Cox Automotive at a reported $3.5bn valuation.

Second-hand goods-focused e-commerce platform Zhuan Zhuan spun off from parent company 58.com in 2017 with $200m from Tencent. Now, two years on, the corporates have agreed to provide a further $300m for the company.

There seem to be a variety of new models for real estate-related services, with workspace providers on one hand and short-term accommodation companies on the other side. ChengHome Apartment is the latest prominent name in the latter area, the company having just closed a $300m series A round.

Brazil-based Quintoandar is ploughing a slightly different furrow, overseeing an online property marketplace that concentrates on the rental sector. It is also the latest Latin American company to get a big cash infusion from SoftBank, in a $250m series D round led by the corporate that valued Quintoandar above $1bn.

Elsewhere in China, Huimin caters more to the supplier side of the e-commerce sector. It provides a range of services spanning areas like business management, stock ordering and convenience retail, and has raised $225m in a round featuring corporate venture capital unit Fosun Capital.

Data wrangling software provider Trifacta has raised $100m from investors including Google, Infosys, Telstra Ventures, NTT Docomo Ventures, BMW i Ventures and ABN Amro. The round reportedly valued it at under $1bn but that’s still pretty good going.

One of those fascinatingly futuristic sounding companies, Volocopter is developing what will be an airborne urban taxi service maintained by unmanned vertical-take off aerial vehicles. The vision is also attracting investors.

Funds

Tnuva and Tempo Beverages are among the co-founders of Fresh Start FoodTech Incubator, an Israel-based food technology incubator that is aiming to raise more than $280m in capital.

University endowments, academic health systems and foundations are among the limited partners for a $225m venture fund closed by Vensana Capital targeting the medtech space.

Exits

6 River Systems, the developer of a warehouse fulfilment system that combines robots and cloud software while still being based around human workers, has agreed to a $450m acquisition by Shopify that will enable iRobot to exit.

10x Genomics has had one of the year’s better IPOs, floating above its range to raise $390m and then seeing its shares shoot up in their first day of trading to give it a market cap more than three times its valuation in its last funding round seven months ago.

Singapore-based online real estate portal PropertyGuru is reportedly preparing for an IPO in Australia in which it will look to raise up to $274m. The company’s investors include local media group Emtek, and the prospective offering would be the largest on the Australian Securities Exchange so far this year.

Biontech, a Germany-based cancer immunotherapy developer spun out of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, has filed for a $100m initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Select Market that will also provide exits to Sanofi, Pfizer and Salvia.

Aprea Therapeutics, a (now) US-based oncological drug developer spun out of Karolinska Institute in Sweden, has filed for an initial public offering on Nasdaq that it hopes will bring in nearly $68.3m in proceeds. A price range or timeline have not yet been set.


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

09 September 2019 – Nikola Corporation Raises $250m

Deals

Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma is acquiring a stake in medical company builder Roivant that will be at least 10%, as part of a $3bn deal that will involve it also taking Roivant’s stake in five subsidiaries.

Despite being responsible for unicorns DraftKings and FanDuel, daily fantasy sports has run into a string of regulatory issues in the US. India-based Dream11 seems to be faring better, suprassing $1bn of transactions in its last year of operations, and it is reportedly in talks with investors including SoftBank Vision Fund and Naspers Ventures to raise up to $500m in new funding.

E-cigarette brand Juul disclosed $325m of convertible debt financing last month, and a subsequent securities filing has indicated the size of the round is now $785m. It’s currently unclear who the 14 investors are that supplied the capital but they may well include Altria, the tobacco provider that invested a whopping $12.8bn late last year in order to buy more than a third of the company.

Hydrogen electric truck developer Nikola Corporation has raised $250m in cash and services from industrial equipment producer and strategic investor CNH Industrial for a series D round it aims to close at $1bn or more. The round values Nikola at $3bn pre-money, and while there’s no word of additional investors yet, its existing backers include fellow corporates Nel Hydrogen and Wabco.

With all the fuss surrounding Uber and its peers, it can be easy to forget that before ride hailing was ‘a thing’, car sharing was viewed as the future of transport. Getaround is still ploughing that furrow and is pulling in funding, aiming to add $200m in capital to the $300m it raised last year.

Tencent has provided $120m in series E funding for customer relationship management (CRM) software provider Xiaoshouyi. The company, which is also known as IngageApp, had already secured more than $40m in a Tencent-led series D round in 2017 before reportedly adding nearly $16m from the same investor the following year. It has also worked in tandem with Tencent on a specialist CRM product.

Nkarta Therapeutics has emerged from stealth with $114m raised in a series B round featuring Amgen Ventures and existing investors Novo and SR One. The company, which has received $129m in total, is developing treatments for cancer that rely on sparking the body’s natural killer cells to kill cancerous cells.

Passage Bio packs in another $110m

Yongcheng Life has secured $100m in a series B round led by Legend Capital that included Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI).

University

Ginger jumps to $35m series C

Achilles Therapeutics accesses $120m

Exits

Vertex Pharmaceuticals has agreed to buy diabetes treatment developer Semma Therapeutics in a $950m all-cash deal that will enable Medtronic, Novartis and SinoPharm to exit.

Data management software provider Commvaultis set to pay $225m to acquire Hedvig, a software-defined storage technology producer backed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Kabbage pinpoints Radius for acquisition

Viela Bio has filed for a $150m initial public offering less than two years after being spun off by AstraZeneca. The corporate is still the largest shareholder in autoimmune disease drug developer Viela, having invested $142m last year, and it holds a stake sized above 38%.

Vir veers toward public markets

Investors in cloud security software provider Druva may be heading toward a different kind of exit, as news emerges that the company plans to begin prepping an initial public offering over the course of this year.

Uhuru to pursue $50m in London IPO

Funds

Taiwan Life ties $50m to BVP Century Fund

DG Daiwa Ventures, the joint investment venture set up by internet company Digital Garage and brokerage Daiwa Securities, has formed a new fund called DG Lab Fund II that is seeking a close of about $188m.


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0