12 February 2018 – Ant Financial in Potential $5bn Funding Round

Deals

Ant Financial, e-commerce group Alibaba’s financial services affiliate, is reportedly preparing to raise $5bn in funding in a round that will value it at betwen $80bn and $100bn, making it the most valuable VC-backed private company of all time.

Go-Jek has been raising a $1.2bn round over the past six months that already includes JD.com, Tencent, Google and Meituan-Dianping, and now the on-demand ride service is reportedly set to receive up to $290m from e-commerce firm Blibli and industrial conglomerate Astra International in order to increase the round to $1.5bn.

Byton, the smart electric car developer formerly known as Future Mobility, is reportedly in talks with a Chinese state-owned institution to raise between $300m and $400m of funding at a valuation of at least $1.2bn.

Grocery delivery service Instacart is also gearing up to raise funding – up to $250m according to a Delaware securities filing.

Enerkem, a producer of fuels and biochemicals from municipal waste, has raised approximately $224m in its latest round, which included Sinobioway and long-time backer Waste Management of Canada.

Joby Aviation is developing a five-seater electric aircraft that will be able to take off and land vertically, but which is intended to be far quicker than established alternatives like helicopters.

Swiggy is looking to ward off competitors in India’s app-based food delivery sector, such as Zomato and Foodpanda, and has secured $100m in a round led by Naspers Ventures.

Toyota has invested almost $69m in JapanTaxi, a ride hailing app that has signed up about a quarter of Japan’s taxi drivers, as part of a strategic partnership agreement.

AvroBio has raised $60m in a series B round featuring Brace Pharma Capital, the investment firm backed by pharmaceutical company EMS, and will use the proceeds to advance a pipeline of gene therapies for rare diseases.

Broadlink, the China-based developer of a range of connected home products, has secured $54.5m in series D funding from investors including Baidu and Libai. Its past backers include
Qualcomm Ventures, and the company disclosed the funding alongside news that it is preparing an initial public offering in its home country.

Automotive leasing service provider Fair seems like a company on the move. It acquired Uber’s leasing business, Xchange Leasing, last week and has now raised additional funding in a round led by Next47 that included BMW and CreditEase FinTech Investment Fund.

These weren’t the biggest deal on GUV, but they were the most intriguing because it looks as if MIT has spun out two companies that are developing the same technology: Lightmatter, which raised $11m in a series A, and Lightelligence, which secured $10m in a seed round, are developing computer chips that rely on light (or photonic) signals rather than electric signals – boasting orders of magnitude of processing power and having profound implications for data-intensive applications such as AI.

Funds

Insurance firm Ping An has emerged as one of the more prominent China-based corporate venturers over the past couple of years and its CVC arm, Ping An Ventures, is now targeting up to $1.3bn in capital for two new funds.

Workday formed its corporate venturing unit, Workday Ventures, in 2015, but the unit has only been sporadically active since. That looks set to change however, with the corporate committing $250m to a Workday Ventures fund that will add AR, VR and blockchain-based enterprise technologies to the AI and machine learning it already targets.

UK-based innovation platform Future Planet Capital has signed a memorandum of understanding with venture capital vehicle Eight Great Technologies Fund (8GT) for an initiative that will invest in British spinouts and companies.

And 4490 Ventures, a US-based venture capital firm co-founded by Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (Warf), has raised $49m for its second fund, according to a regulatory filing.

Exits

Acacia Pharma, a UK-based nausea and vomiting treatment developer backed by pharmaceutical firms Lundbeck and Novo, has revealed plans for an initial global offering on the Euronext Brussels market. The company has not disclosed how much it expects to raise in the flotation, which will be conducted as a private placement open to certain institutional and other investors outside the US.

Elastagen, an Australia-based dermatology product manufacturer spun out from University of Sydney, today agreed to an acquisition by pharmaceutical firm Allergan for $95m in an upfront payment.


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

29 January 2018 – Ping An Insurance On a Roll

Deals

Ping An Insurance is on a roll. At the end of November, the insurance provider was gearing up for a $1bn IPO of Ping An Good Doctor, and now it has raised nearly $1bn for its medical data collection and analysis subsidiary Ping An Healthcare Management at a $8.8bn valuation.

Tencent continues to go from strength to strength in its corporate venturing activities, and is set to lead a $1bn round for Kuaishou, a photo and video sharing app that’s now become one of the key players in China’s livestreaming sector.

Mobike, the bike-sharing company, has raised $1bn in its latest funding round, according to press reports.

Another company that’s growing at a rapid pace is Katerra, the creator of an end-to-end construction services business. It was only founded around three years ago but has just raised $865m in a series D round led by SoftBank Vision Fund that valued it at a little over $3bn.

Orix has provided $60m of a $70m extension to peer-to-peer lending platform Dianrong’s series D round, which has been increased to $290m.

Snowflake Computing, a cloud data storage technology developer, has raised $263m in series E funding at a pre-money valuation of $1.5bn. Capital One Growth Ventures, which previously backed a $105m series D round in September 2017, returned for the round co-led by Sequoia, Iconiq Capital and Altimeter Capital.

Maxi Mobility, the on-demand ride provider that oversees Cabify and EasyTaxi in Iberia and Latin America, has raised $160m in a Rakuten Ventures-backed round that values it at $1.4bn.

Ring, the maker of a smart doorbell video system, is raising $160m at a valuation of nearly $1bn, according to a securities filing. The company most recently closed a $109m debt and equity round a year ago, with backers including mobile semiconductor producer Qualcomm, insurance firm American Family and real estate firm JF Shea and other prominent investors, such as Richard Branson.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has paid $144m for a 6.3% stake in Indian renewable energy developer ReNew Power, valuing it at almost $2.3bn.

Immunotherapy developer Tmunity Therapeutics, a spinout from University of Pennsylvania, has closed a $100m series A round that added Gilead Sciences, Ping An, Ventures and Be The Match BioTherapies to existing backers including Lilly Asia Ventures as well as Penn itself.

Stem, a producer of scalable energy storage systems, has raised $80m from Activate Capital, Temasek and another Canadian pension investor, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, for the first close of its series D round.

Constellation Technology Ventures has also participated in a $75m round for PrecisionHawk, the developer of a drone control system for enterprises.

Funds

Cybersecurity software provider and internet company Qihoo 360 has formed a $156m venture fund in partnership with Beijing Cultural Center Fund that will invest in internet and media-focused companies.

ING, the Dutch financial services firm, has set its sights on sustainable businesses and launched a $123m fund specifically aimed at startups developing products and services with a positive environmental impact.

Orange, Edenred and JCDecaux meanwhile are recognising Africa as the next big market and have put their weight behind the $70m first close of a $123m fund that is being raised by Partech Ventures.

On GUV, University of Tokyo Edge Capital, a venture capital affiliate of University of Tokyo, has raised an initial ¥15.6bn ($143m) of a ¥25bn spinout-focused investment fund. The capital has been provided by unnamed, domestic financial services firms.

Exits

Figs, a US-based medical apparel producer backed by footwear brand Crocs, has raised $65m from diversified holding company Tulco and will use the capital to buy out existing investors, making Tulco the only external investor.

Digital media company Gree has exited Indonesia-based property listings portal UrbanIndo in an acquisition of undisclosed size by real estate portal 99.co. UrbanIndo received an undisclosed amount of seed funding from venture capital firm East Ventures in 2012 before adding an undisclosed sum in a 2013 series A round led by Gree’s corporate venturing unit, Gree Ventures.

Primary Data, a US-based data virtualisation software producer backed by computer technology provider Dell Technologies, is shutting down after failing to attract enough clients.

Home24, a Germany-based online home and living product retailer backed by e-commerce holding group Rocket Internet, is gearing up for an initial public offering.

Entertainment company Modern Times Group MTG (MTG) secured an exit from France-based media group Trace as TPG Growth, part of private equity group TPG, acquired a majority stake.


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

22 January 2018 – Alibaba Buys $3bn in Shares of Ofo

Deals

Alibaba has reportedly bought $3bn in shares of bicycle rental platform Ofo from venture firm GSR Ventures at a $10bn valuation, according to reports in China that cite comments made by a relative of GSR managing director Allen Zhu.

E-commerce firm JD.com is looking to raise $2bn for its logistics services spinoff, JD Logstics, with Hillhouse Capital and Sequoia China Capital set to be among the investors.

SoftBank has confirmed it has closed its $1.25bn investment in Uber, which valued the latter at $69bn, as part of a larger primary and secondary transaction that has given it a 15% stake and three board seats at the company.

Go-Jek, the company that has emerged as one of Southeast Asia’s two homegrown ride hailing giants (the other being Grab), continues to attract investors to its latest round, which has a $1.2bn target.

Auto1 Group picked up $565m in funding from SoftBank Vision Fund at a valuation of more than $3.5bn last week, in the fund’s first German investment.

Data centre operator eStruxture has secured a total of $180m in debt and equity financing that will be used to expand its portfolio of Canadian data centres.

Caocao Zhuanche has joined the on-demand ride market with an offering based on a fleet of electric cars supplied by parent Geely.

Autonomous driving already looks likely to be one of 2018’s big magnets for VC funding, and Pony.ai has raised $112m in a huge series A round that included Comcast Ventures.

Bingobox runs a chain of unmanned, automated convenience stores that allow customers to gain access and pay for items using their smartphones.

True Fit, the creator of a personalisation platform for clothing and footwear, has more than doubled its overall funding by closing a $55m series C round that included returning investor Intel Capital.

Chinese gym franchise operator Liking Fit has disclosed $54.4m in funding secured across two rounds, the latter a $46.6m series C that included smart cities technology developer Terminus Technologies.

Funds

France-based venture capital firm Ring Capital has launched with €140m ($172m) of capital supplied by limited partners including food producer Danone and insurance provider AG2R La Mondiale.

Logistics group Kuehne + Nagel International has launched a joint investment venture with Singaporean state-owned investment firm Temasek that will back technology logistics and supply chain technology developers.

US-based venture capital fund MathCapital has launched and will operate out of the New York offices of its strategic partner, programmatic marketing technology provider MediaMath.

Insurance group MetLife has launched a co-investment arm called MetLife Digital Ventures backed by a $100m co-investment fund that will make direct investments in strategically relevant startups.

Arizona Bioindustry Association (AzBio), a trade body for the bioscience sector in US state Arizona, has joined two non-profit associations to launch a $200m life science commercialisation fund.

Exits

Onlookers are predicting that 2018 could be the year when some of the VC space’s oldest tech startups finally make the leap to the public markets, and SurveyMonkey looks set to be among them.

Another 2018 IPO looks likely to be Innovent Biologics, which has a drug development pipeline that includes treatments for cancer, inflammatory diseases and eye conditions.

Online marketplace Mercari holds the distinction of being Japan’s first unicorn and now, after months of wrangling with the country’s regulators, it appears to be heading to the public markets.

Via Oncology, a US-based cancer care management platform spun out of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), was acquired by Elsevier, the information analytics subsidiary of conglomerate RELX.

Percipient Networks, a US-based internet security subsidiary of commercialisation firm Allied Minds, was acquired by network security company WatchGuard Technologies for an undisclosed sum. Percipient has developed an internet security suite, dubbed Strongarm, that protects clients against malicious websites.


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

15 January 2018 – Grab Aims for $2.5bn Series G Deal

Deals

Grab has added Hyundai to a series G round that already includes SoftBank, Didi Chuxing and Toyota which the ride hailing platform aims to close at $2.5bn.

Educational services provider TAL Education has joined investment firm Tiger Management to invest $100m in DadaABC, which provides one-on-one online English lessons to a customer base sized in the tens of thousands.

WeWork and URWork may be taking the headlines and a large part of the funding going into the co-working space but they’re far from the only operators.

Ping An Ventures has contributed to a $76m series A round for KBP Bioscience, which is developing therapeutics for unmed medical needs. The round is part of an uptick in life sciences deals for the unit, a subsidiary of insurance firm Ping An, which has also invested in gene sequencing services supplier Annoroad, pharmaceutical supply chain services company Rogrand and genetic test provider Prenetics in the past three months.

Allianz X has led a $59.2m investment in telehealth technology provider American Well that included another Allianz subsidiary, Allianz Partners’ Health Innovation Center.

Collibra, a data governance and cataloguing software producer spun out of Vrije Universiteit Brussel, has secured $58m in a series D round co-led by Iconiq Capital and Battery Ventures.

Skyword, the content publishing platform backed by Cox Media, has raised $25m from Rho Acceleration to take its equity funding to approximately $52m since it emerged from news and entertainment platform Gather.com in 2010.

You don’t see too many Portuguese startups raising money, but language processing and translation software provider Unbabel has proven a refreshing exception.

Funds

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance has formally launched its corporate venture capital unit, Alliance Ventures, and plans to invest $200m in mobility technology startups and open innovation projects in the next year, rising to as much as $1bn in five years.

Baidu has partnered Singapore-based mobility and AI software provider Asia Mobility Industries to form a $200m fund that will invest in mobility technology projects in Southeast Asia.

On Global University Venturing, IllinoisVentures, the early-stage investment vehicle established by University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), filed a regulatory document on Thursday indicating that it has raised almost $15.2m for its third fund.

Exits

Dropbox has reportedly filed confidentially for an IPO expected to be the largest for a tech company since Snap. The Salesforce-backed file storage service was valued at $10bn as of its last equity round in 2014, and will hope to follow the example of three other Salesforce portfolio companies – MuleSoft, Alteryx and MongoDB – which floated above their ranges in 2017 before seeing their share price increase significantly afterwards.

When Sanofi transferred a cancer drug called fedratinib to a startup called Impact Biomedicines in 2016, three years after the FDA put it into clinical hold, it couldn’t have imagined it would be celebrating a huge exit so soon afterwards, but Celgene has agreed to pay $1.1bn up front for Impact, which saw the hold lifted in August. Sanofi took an equity stake in Impact as part of the deal, its only other funding coming from corporate-backed VC firm Medicxi.

Just three years ago electronic health record developer Practice Fusion was lining up an IPO that could have valued it at $1.5bn, but now, after being overtaken by its competitors, the company has accepted a $100m acquisition offer from healthcare management software provider AllScripts.


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

08 January 2018 – Kicking Off 2018

Deals

WP Engine, a provider of digital experience software for online publishing platform WordPress, has raised $250m in funding from Silver Lake.

Health data analysis platform SomaLogic has closed its own large round, having raised funds from Nan Fung subsidiary Nan Fung Life Sciences and Madryn Asset Management to increase its latest round to $200m.

Smartphone and tablet maker Huaqin Telecom has been around since 2005 but has only just got around to raising series A funds, securing $136m in a round co-led by Intel Capital.

Alibaba has reportedly been in talks to invest in e-commerce logistics provider Xpressbees for 18 months in order to enhance an Indian portfolio that already includes Paytm, Snapdeal and BigBasket. Now it appears those discussions are near to getting a result, with Alibaba lining up a cash influx of up to $100m.

Personal Genome Diagnostics is developing genomic testing products for cancer and will use the proceeds from its $75m series B round to expand the availability of its oncology diagnostic tests for physicians.

CMAB Biopharm, a contract pharmaceutical development and manufacturing services provider, has received $38m in a series A round co-led by BioBay, a biopharmaceutical industrialisation branch of China’s Suzhou Industrial Park.

On Global University Venturing, NexImmune, a US-based immuno-oncology developer based on research at Johns Hopkins University, closed a $23m series A round co-led by family office Barer & Son Capital and asset management firm ArrowMark Partners, while Piedmont Capital Partners, an investment subsidiary of real estate firm Piedmont Real Estate, also provided funding.

Funds

Pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim more than doubled the size of its Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund vehicle today to $300m and plans to open a second US office on the west coast in 2018.

Waves Platform, the developer of a platform that helps users build their own blockchain products, is raising a strategic fund called the Basics fund that will invest in innovative blockchain projects.

Japan-headquartered IT equipment producer NEC has partnered Tel Aviv University (TAU) and its venture capital arm, TAU Ventures, to form an Israel-based startup incubator called AlphaC.

Exits

There were a raft of biotech IPO filings at the end of 2017, the largest of which was by Solid Biosciences, a Duchenne muscular dystrophy treatment developer that has set a $100m target. Solid’s shareholders include Biogen, and the proceeds from the offering will support research and development work for its lead drug candidate, a gene-transfer therapy called SGT-001.

Spotify has confidentially filed for a direct listing in the US that will give investors including TeliaSonera, Coca-Cola, Universal, Sony and Warner Music a chance to exit.

RestorBio, which is developing therapies for aging-related diseases, was co-founded by biopharmaceutical company PureTech Health in 2016 and has already filed for an initial public offering in which it is targeting $85m.

Didi Chuxing has increased its share of Brazilian ride hailing platform 99 to a majority stake. Didi Chuxing, which led a $100m round for 99 a year ago, reportedly paid $600m to hike its stake in the company from 30% to 90%, though it is unclear whether ally SoftBank, which invested $100m itself four months later, or fellow corporate Qualcomm exited through the deal.


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

18 December 2017 – OneWeb Follows SpaceX with a $500m Investment

Deals

Days after SpaceX raised $1bn in funding, another satellite technology company, OneWeb, is lining up a $500m investment from SoftBank, which had previously put up $1bn of the $1.2bn OneWeb raised a year ago. .

Office software producer Kingsoft spun cloud storage business Kingsoft Cloud out in 2012 but has retained a majority stake now sized at 52%. It also invested $150m of the $300m in series D funding Kingsoft Cloud just raised at a $1.9bn valuation, bringing its total funding to approximately $500m.

Reports for most of this year have been touting a $200m corporate investment in Indian online grocer BigBasket, and the latest news is that Alibaba will pay $200m for a 25% stake in the company as part of a $280m round.

Koch Disruptive Technologies, a newly formed vehicle for conglomerate Koch Industries, has made its first investment, leading a $150m series E round for InSightec, the developer of a magnetic resonance-equipped ultrasound surgical device.

There have been some big deals in the space sector recently, and the latest is iSpace, a lunar exploration company that’s just closed $90.2m in series A funding, the largest series A round in Japan’s history.

NextDoor, the social media platform focused on local communities, has raised $75m from undisclosed investors at a valuation indicated by a regulatory filing to be about $1.5bn.

AI chip developer ThinkForce has secured $68m in a series A round featuring machine vision technology developer Yitu Technology as well as Sequoia Capital China, Yunfeng Capital and Yitu backer Hillhouse Capital.

Online razor seller Harry’s has raised $63.7m in funding, according to a regulatory filing, cash that will reportedly be put towards a complementary acquisition.

GV has participated in a $63m series B round closed by oncology therapy developer Relay Therapeutics that took the company’s overall funding to $120m.

Insikt, the Rakuten-backed operator of an online lending platform for the un(der)banked, has raised $50m in a series D round led by Grupo Coppel that took its total funding past the $100m mark.

Swedish mobile payment and small business revenue technology provider iZettle has secured about $47m in a Dawn Capital-led round that included the Fourth Swedish National Pension Fund, at a reported valuation of about $950m.

We’ve had several GGV deals already, and on GUV, the biggest deal was US-based immuno-oncology developer Pionyr Immunotherapeutics, which raised $62m in series B funding from a consortium that featured spinout-focused investment firm Osage University Partners.

Funds

Auto parts supplier Valeo has provided 25% of the money for a $226m car technology fund formed by private equity firm Cathay Capital, joining government-owned Yangtze River Industry Fund as a cornerstone investor.

On GGV, the EU-owned European Investment Fund contributed funding to investment firm LSP’s second medtech vehicle, LSP Health Economics Fund 2 (LSP HEF 2), which reached an oversubscribed close of €280m ($330m).

And on GUV, UM Ventures, the tech transfer office for the University of Maryland System (UMS), has unveiled plans for a venture fund of undisclosed size aimed at retaining university-linked startups in the city of Baltimore.

Here’s an interesting one from GUV as well: Imperial College London and Tsinghua University have joined forces to seed a $300,000 fund called the Tsinghua-Imperial Research and Innovation Fund to back early-stage scientific research.

Exits

Gilead Sciences has agreed to acquire T cell receptor therapy developer Cell Design Labs in a deal that could value it at up to $567m, six years after Kite Pharma, now a Gilead subsidiary, took a 12.2% stake by backing a $34.4m round that remained Cell Design’s only funding.

Apple has reportedly lined up a $400m acquisition of music identification app developer Shazam. The deal would provide exits for América Móvil, Sony, Universal and Access Industries, but none look likely to make a profitable return on their investments, Shazam’s valuation having peaked at about $1bn in 2015.

On GUV we’ve had two IPO-related news this past week. First up, Mirriad, a UK-based video technology spinout from University of Surrey, is targeting £26.2m ($35m) in gross proceeds in its initial public offering on Aim. Mirriad, which will enter the public markets under the ticker symbol Miri tomorrow (that’s Tuesday, December 19 for those of you listening later).

Then we also have Fusion Antibodies, a UK-based genomics modelling platform spun out of Queen’s University Belfast, which will raise £5.5m ($7.4m) in its initial public offering on Aim.


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

11 December 2017 – Obsidian Therapeutics Raises $49.5m

Covering the week’s venturing news including funding, investments, exits and people moves. This week’s episode includes: Fund news from Viola and GeneChem and deal news from Neon Therapeutics and Obsidian Therapeutics, plus much more.


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

04 December 2017 – Europe ‘Guarantees’ Research & Innovation Budget

Funds

Fortino Capital Partners, which has attracted $150m for the first close of its $240m vehicle that will focus on the Benelux countries.

Nio Capital, the investment firm launched just under a year ago by electric vehicle manufacturer Nio, Sequoia Capital and Hillhouse Capital, is gearing up for a $500m fund – its first US dollar-dominated fund that will invest alongside an existing, renminbi-dominated fund that is targeting a $1.5bn close.

Then we have Tencent venturing all the way to Canada to put its weight behind Real Ventures’ $140m fundraising effort.

In China meanwhile, Huochebang and Yunmanman are set to merge in a deal that will value the combined entity at approximately $2bn.

Ping An Good Doctor, the online healthcare platform backed by insurance provider Ping An Insurance, is aiming to float on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange as early as the first half of next year in a $1bn offering.

SoftBank grows Vision Fund team

Deals

Ride-hailing platform Lyft has been having a good year so far – most recently revealing that it was finally going to pursue an international expansion beginning with Canada. The company may not be as well-funded as its rival Uber, but it has slowly grown its warchest with investors including Alphabet’s CapitalG unit, which led a $1bn round in October.

It’s also been revealed that Softbank wants a larger piece of Flipkart.

One97 Communications has had a lot of success with its mobile payment platform Paytm and it seems it may have created another money-maker in Paytm Mall, an e-commerce business that is already backed by Alibaba and is now seeking $500m to $600m in a funding round led by SoftBank with $300m.

Tencent and Fosun-backed online healthcare services platform WeDoctor (originally known as Guahao) is meanwhile gearing up for a $500m funding round.

Niantic catches $200m series B

Ping An treats Fullerton Healthcare to $121m

Medtronic and Novartis returned to back a $114m series B round for Semma Therapeutics, which is working on a treatment for type 1 diabetes. SinoPharm also joined the consortium, as did 6 Dimensions Capital, the investment firm set up by WuXi Healthcare Ventures and Frontline Bioventures. Medtronic and Novartius previously took part in a $44m series A round back in 2015.

And in another of the larger deals of the week, GV has participated in a $110m series D round for agricultural data sharing platform Farmer’s Business Network (the other deal beingFractyl’s $44m series D).

H2O.ai steeps $40m in series C

Codiak develops $76.5m series C

ColubrisMX and XCatch rise to series A

Oxford hits 150 by spinning out 6Degrees


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