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

02 September 2019 – ThoughtSpot Closes $248m Round

The Big Ones

Enterprise analytics platform developer ThoughtSpot has closed a $248m round that valued it at $1.95bn, though existing corporate investors HPE and Capital One do not seem to have participated.

Megvii is one of the two key players in China’s ever increasing – and ominous – facial recognition technology sector (the other being SenseTime), and it’s filed for a Hong Kong IPO that sources tell Reuters is set to raise at least $500m and possibly up to $1bn.

VIPkid has been one of the main players in China’s burgeoning online tutoring sector, but the company, which employs North American English language teachers who work with students through video, may have been indirectly impacted by recent regulations tightening up on credentialling.

US-based, blockchain-focused financial services provider Algo Capital has closed its venture capital fund at $200m – twice as much as its initial target! – having raised capital from limited partners including data marketplace Wibson and consulting firm Rokk3r.

The biggest deal on GUV was the up-to $400m acquisition of Modis Therapeutics, a US-based rare genetic disease therapy developer partly based on Columbia University research, by its peer Zogenix.

Deals

Kuaikan Manhua runs a mobile platform where users can upload original art – much of which is comic based – so it can be bought and read. It has some 40 million monthly active users, half of which are teenagers or younger, and that has attracted Tencent, which has invested $125m.

Tencent has also contributed to a $100m series C round for Whale Network, the owner of e-commerce offerings including Haoyiku. The round was led by venture capital firm Sky9 and it will fund the company’s growth in smaller Chinese cities in addition to the strengthening of its social commerce and livestreaming activities. T

On-demand car leasing service Fair has received $100m in equity and debt financing from Ally Financial, eight months after SoftBank led its $385m series B round.

Agribusiness Cargill has invested $75m in Puris, a producer of pea protein-based food ingredients, money that will be used to expand production at its main facility.

HiFiBio Therapeutics has completed a $67m series C round featuring Kite Pharma and Legend Star, and will put the proceeds toward expanding a pipeline of antibody-based drug candidates targeting cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Online life insurance portal Ethos has secured $60m in a GV-led round, at a valuation of somewhere between $400m and $500m according to Forbes. GV had previously contributed to the company’s $35m series B round just under a year ago, and the latest funding has been earmarked for product development and the strengthening of the Ethos engineering team.

Even with the recent uptick in Latin American investment, we don’t talk about too many Mexico-based companies on this podcast, but Credijusto has bucked the trend, securing $42m in a series B round co-led by Goldman Sachs Principal Strategic Investments.

Exits

Temenos has agreed to acquire digital banking software provider Kony in a deal that will involve it paying $559m upfront and up to $21m in earn-outs.

Peloton Interactive has filed to raise up to $500m in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, roughly a year after raising $550m in a Comcast NBCUniversal-backed series F round valuing it at $4.15bn.

Funds

Indonesia-based venture capital firm East Ventures has closed its sixth fund at $75m with contributions from conglomerate Sinar Mas, media group Emtek and investment holding company Triputra Group.

Cybersecurity software producer CrowdStrike launched a $20m US-based investment fund on Monday in partnership with venture capital firm Accel in a bid to build an ecosystem around its products.


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

26 August 2019 – Uhuru Plans to File for an IPO

Exits

Uhuru to connect to UK’s public markets

Pfizer spinoff Springworks is developing drug treatments for rare forms of cancer, and has filed to raise up to $115m in an initial public offering that would also allow GlaxoSmithKline to exit.

Medical research tool developer 10x Genomics has already reached unicorn status, having closed a SoftBank-backed series D round that valued it at almost $1.3bn earlier this year. Business is going well for 10x, which more than doubled its revenue in 2018, and which has now filed for a $100m initial public offering.

IGM Biosciences has filed for its own $100m IPO – it’s been quite a few days for IPO filings – and the company, which is developing engineered antibodies that will treat cancer, is launching the offering just weeks after it secured $102m in series C funding.

Satsuma sets course for public markets

TSE gives Giftee IPO permission

University

VMware ingrains StartX-backed Intrinsic

Woodford loses touch with Ultrahaptics

Funds

SoftBank is reportedly offering to lend its employees up to $20bn to invest in the second iteration of its Vision Fund, reportedly replicating a process in which staff borrowed $8bn to invest in its predecessor.

Access Ventures accepts corporate backing

Deals

Microfinance provider Tala is reportedly now valued at $750m following a $110m series D round that included existing backer PayPal. The cash will fund international recruitment and an expansion of the company’s product range, and it comes after Tala had received some $100m in debt financing over the past year.

Lixiang, the Chinese electric SUV developer formerly known as Chehejia and CHJ Automotive, has closed its series C round at $530m at a $2.9bn valuation, with, $30m coming from new corporate backer Bytedance.

WeWork (now We Company) is gearing up for one of the year’s biggest IPOs but it isn’t the only company in the working space sector that’s growing quickly. Knotel has secured $400m from investors including Mori Trust, Itochu, Bloomberg Beta and Rocket Internet to increase its total funding to $560m.

Electronic cigarette maker Juul raised a gargantuan $12.8bn from cigarette manufacturer Altria last December at a $38bn valuation, but it isn’t done yet. The company has added$325m in convertible note financing from four investors according to a securities filing, and the cash will likely support an increasingly widespread advertising campaign as it looks to geographically expand.

PlusAI is one of a few autonomous vehicle developers currently in the pre-production stage, but is focusing its efforts on a truck with level 2 autonomous driving functionality that it hopes to be able to mass produce. It is also reportedly near to raising $200m at a valuation exceeding $1bn.

Mortgage financier Better.com is now valued at $600m, following its completion of a $120m series C round. Ping An Global Voyager Fund and American Express Ventures both contributed, as did Citi, Ally Financial, AGNC and Goldman Sachs, and the transaction took Better’s overall funding past the $250m mark.

Once upon a time, when it was a credible threat to Flipkart, Snapdeal’s largest investor was SoftBank. Then, when sales went south the corporate withdrew its support from a funding round in order to try and trigger a merger between the two – both among its portfolio companies. That deal didn’t come off, Walmart acquired SoftBank’s stake in Flipkart, and Snapdeal radically restructured and improbably survived. Now, SoftBank is in talks to lead a $100m round for the company, potentially with an investment of up to $60m. A case of forgive and forget?

Naspers to gamble on $100m Dream11 investment

University

XpectVision meets series B expectations


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

19 August 2019 – Zhihu Raises $434m at $3.5bn Valuation

Big Ones

Zhihu is often referred to as China’s answer to Quora, but its services extend beyond an online community Q+A service to areas like online publishing and livestreamed sessions with experts. It’s just raised $434m at a reported $3.5bn valuation. Livestreaming service Kuaishou led the series F round, which included fellow strategic partner Baidu and another corporate investor, Tencent.

Insurance group MS&AD has tripled the size of its MS&AD Ventures unit to about $128m, just 10 months after its launch. The company said it made more than 20 investments in that time, and seeing as its subsidiaries include Mitsui Sumitomo and Aioi Nissay Dowa – both of which maintain their own corporate venturing units – it’s going to be interesting to see if it has plans to formally unify the vehicles under the MS&AD Ventures banner.

We Company, the workspace provider formerly known as WeWork, has filed for one of the year’s most eagerly awaited initial public offerings. It has set a $1bn target as a placeholder figure but reports suggest it will go for $3bn to $4bn through the flotation. The filing also confirms SoftBank, its Vision Fund and related affiliates have provided a whopping $12.4bn in financing.

On GUV, Landos Biopharma, a US-based autoimmune disease therapeutics developer exploiting Virginia Tech research, has closed a $60m series B round backed by spinout-focused investment firm Osage University Partners. Biopharmaceuticals-focused investment firm RTW Investments and hedge fund manager Perceptive Advisors co-led the round, with the latter investing from its Xontogeny Venture and Life Sciences funds.

Deals

JD.com and iFlytek have contributed to a $283m series C1 round for another Chinese company, Terminus Technologies. Connected AI technology developer Terminus received $173m in a SenseTime-backed round less than a year ago, and has raised about $530m altogether.

Meesho has raised $125m in a Naspers-led series D round that included a $25m investment that had been made by Facebook in June. The round was reportedly set to value the social commerce marketplace at $600m to $650m and the cash will support it extending its reach further into India’s rural areas.

The renewables technology sector is a long way from its peak but the brunt of the funding that is coming in for startups in that space is going to energy storage. Energy Vault, a Swiss company developing a hydro power-inspired grid-scale storage system, has received $110m in series B funding in what is SoftBank Vision Fund’s first renewable energy investment.

ShareChat, the Indian operator of a multilingual social network with some 60 million users, has secured $100m in a Twitter-led series D round that valued it at $650m. The deal took its total funding past the $220m mark, but there was no sign of its other corporate backer, Xiaomi.

ScaleFactor has closed a $60m series C round featuring existing investor Citi Ventures that increased its overall funding to approximately $103m.

Carpooling platform Scoop Technologies has raised $60m from investors including corporate VC units Total Ventures and Workday Ventures to take its overall funding to more than $106m.

Uniphore, the developer of a range of speech recognition tools, has raised $51m in series C funding from investors including Sistema Asia Fund, and will channel the proceeds into R&D and a geographic expansion that will focus on the North American market.

Funds

Female founder-focused fund BBG Ventures was formed by AOL and then, when the company was acquired by Verizon, absorbed into the Oath digital media group. It formally spun off late last year and is seeking external investors for a third fund that, according to a recent regulatory filing, has a $50m target for its close.

Exits

WeWork owner The We Company was responsible for the most eagerly awaited IPO filing of the week but hosting services provider CloudFlare has also filed, some five months after raising cash at a $3.2bn valuation.

Enterprise communication platform developer Chatwork has secured approval for its own IPO, which will take place in its home country of Japan. The company has raised at least $15m in venture funding from investors including GMO Venture Partners, and the GMO unit that owns a 6% stake.

Novartis and Eli Lilly have secured exits, after Jazz Pharmaceuticals acquired Cavion, a developer of therapies for neurological diseases, and merged the company with one of its subsidiaries.

Things have been less rosy for microsatellite launcher Vector, which has shut down operations indefinitely due to a change in financing just days after sealing a contract with the US Air Force.


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

12 August 2019 – Didi Chuxing Spins Off Autonomous Driving Division

Big Ones

SoftBank Vision Fund recently announced that it has secured memoranda of understanding for $108bn in capital for its second investment vehicle, and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son has now said it will begin investing as soon as next month.

Didi Chuxing is spinning off its autonomous driving division and will likely seek funding at a multi-billion-dollar valuation. The ride hailing service has raised more than $18bn in debt and equity financing but is keen to gain external investors for a part of the company that may prove invaluable in future, but which is a cash drain right now.

Pharmaceutical and chemical producer Bayer acquired US-based stem cell treatment developer and portfolio company BlueRock Therapeutics in a deal that could value it at up to $1bn. The terms of the transaction involve Bayer paying a total of up to $600m to acquire the shares in BlueRock it did not already own, investing $240m upfront that will be followed by preclinical and clinical milestone payments that could reach $360m.

In this week’s GCV and GUV crossover news, the biggest deal was a $70m series B round for HawkEye 360, a US-based radio-frequency data satellite developer based on Virginia Tech research. The round included commercialisation firm Allied Minds (Hawkeye’s parent company) as well as aerospace manufacturer Airbus and mapping software developer Esri.

Deals

FlixMobility, a Germany-based travel services provider backed by carmaker Daimler, has added a “substantial” amount of funding to its series F round, which attracted $561m last month. The additional funding, seemingly worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was supplied by Baillie Gifford, Luxor Capital, Odyssey 44 and certain funds managed by BlackRock.

Tencent invested $350m in Kuaishou in early 2017 at a reported $2.5bn valuation, and as the short-form video sector has grown as a whole, the company has expanded its presence to the point it now has some 200 million daily active users.

E-commerce payment services provider Klarna has raised $460m from investors including new strategic partner Commonwealth Bank of Australia at a $5.5bn post-money valuation.

Existing backer SoftBank has invested a further $200m in endpoint cybersecurity software provider Cybereason together with several undisclosed affiliates, at a reported $900m valuation.

Online business finance marketplace C2FO has pulled in $200m in a round led by SoftBank Vision Fund that, according to Bloomberg, also featured existing backer Allianz X. The round roughly doubled the company’s overall funding to about $400m and it will put the money toward boosting international growth.

Wickedride Adventure Services, the owner of India-based electric vehicle rental service Bounce backed by mobile chipmaker Qualcomm, is raising $200m in fresh funding. Bounce has already received an initial $120m, people familiar with the matter told TechCircle.

Automotive e-commerce marketplace CarDekho has added $19m from investors including Emtek subsidiary Kreatif Media Karya to a series C round that has reached $129m. CapitalG, Dentsu, Bennett, Coleman & Co and Axis Bank contributed to the round’s earlier tranches, and the funding was reportedly secured at a $500m valuation.

Keyless lock technology provider Latch has also beefed up its latest round, closing a series B at $126m. RxR Realty, Tishman Speyer and the Berman Enterprises-backed Camber Creek all participated in the round, which was pumped up with a $56m second tranche.

Rakuten has increased its stake in cancer therapy developer Rakuten Medical to more than 22% with a $100m investment made in the shape of a series C-1 round. The e-commerce firm had joined SBI Group for the $284m series C the company closed in December, back when it was still known as Rakuten Aspyrian (and a while after it was founded as Aspyrian Therapeutics).

Rakuten Ventures has contributed to a $93.9m round for Japanese digital marketing software provider From Scratch that also featured Link and Motivation and Japan Post Investment. The unit has been an investor in From Scratch since its 2017 series C round, and the company’s other backers include Dentsu Digital Holdings and Itochu Technology Ventures.

Ibotta, the creator of a rewards app that gives consumers money back on selected purchases, has secured an undisclosed amount in a series D round that hiked its valuation to $1bn. Koch Disruptive Technologies led the round, which followed about $95m of earlier funding, and which will support an expansion of Ibotta’s Denver headquarters as it prepares to increase recruitment.

Funds

American Family Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of US-based insurance firm American Family, has raised more than $162m for a venture capital fund, according to a securities filing. The fund, dubbed AmFam VC Fund III LP, has taken in $162.5m from four investors and has set a $200m target for its close.

Exits

Delivery services provider Glovo has raised at least $340m in funding from investors including AmRest, Drake, Delivery Hero and Rakuten, and was reportedly valued at $950m in its last round. It has also begun discussions to raise money from – guess who – SoftBank, and is in talks with Uber and Deliveroo who have approached the company over a possible acquisition.

And here’s an exit… from an exit. Rapt Therapeutics, a US-based small molecule drug developer backed by internet and technology conglomerate Alphabet and pharmaceutical firm Celgene, has postponed its initial public offering without offering a new timeline. The company set its price range at $14 to $16 two weeks ago and hoped to issue 5 million shares on the Nasdaq Global Market to raise between $70m and $80m. Rapt is working on small molecule drugs that it hopes will boost a patient’s immune response to cancer and inflammatory conditions.


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