27 January 2020 – Tokopedia Approaches Close of $1.5bn Round

The Big Ones

Tokopedia is already one of the biggest companies to have emerged from Southeast Asia’s increasingly vibrant startup scene, but it is reportedly approaching the close of a $1.5bn round that would include existing investors SoftBank and Alibaba. The round is set to value the e-commerce marketplace at $8bn to $9bn and be led by a $500m investment from Singapore’s Temasek.

UCloud is one of several Chinese companies to have gone public in recent days (for some more, look below), raising $284m in an initial public offering on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s Star Market. The cloud services provider counts Bertelsmann Asia Investments among its backers and reportedly landed on Star Market because it allows a dual-class share structure for listed companies, meaning founders can retain substantial voting rights post-IPO.

There have been cases of some prominent corporate investors putting together dedicated impact or diversity-focused funds in recent years but it seems as if this might be a trend that’s picking up steam. Citi and Nestlé have both made steps to join in, Citi putting up $150m for a vehicle called Citi Impact Fund which is tasked with backing companies with a positive impact on society, while Nestlé has earmarked approximately $258m for a fund that will invest in startups operating in the sustainable packaging space.

In crossover news, Skylo Technologies, a Stanford spinout, has emerged from stealth with $116m, $103m of which was recently raised in a series B round led by SoftBank. Stanford spinout Skylo has developed an internet-of-things system designed to work in remote areas while utilising off-the-shelf cellular network components in order to offer a more affordable service.

Deals

GoPuff has not been a big name on the startup scene despite reports that it had raised money at a $1bn valuation in late 2018, but the snack delivery service received $750m six months ago, in a round led by SoftBank Vision Fund, it has emerged.

Berkshire Grey, a US-based robotic fulfilment systems developer, may have come out of stealth 13 months ago but when it came to funding, the company has continued to fly under the radar. That’s now changed, to a degree, with a $263m series B round led by SoftBank.

Two weeks ago, a regulatory filing told us that Mastercard-backed AvidXchange had secured $130m in fresh funding from two unnamed investors, but it looks like the company was much further ahead in discussions: it’s actually raised $260m in funding – though it’s only revealed TPG Sixth Street Partners as an investor. Notably, AvidXchange has been around much longer than most companies we come across in the daily newsletter, having been founded in 2000 and already clocking 5,500 clients for its automated invoicing and payment processing platform.

Doing even better when it comes to a large customerbase is AppsFlyer, a marketing platform that serves more than 12,000 brands including many well-known companies, such as eBay, Macy’s and HBO. That alone was likely reason enough for Deutsche Telekom Capital

The meat alternatives sector is one that’s really picking up pace on the funding side, though most of the capital has so far gone to plant-based meat substitute developers. However, Memphis Meats is pursuing meat that is grown directly from cells and has raised $161m in a series B round co-led by SoftBank.

Qonto has raised almost as much, $115m, in a series C round it claims is the largest ever for a French fintech company. Tencent co-led the round with DST Global, and the business banking platform developer is seeking a full European licence while boosting its staff numbers from 200 to 300.

Electric scooter and bike rental service Bounce has secured $105m in series D funding from investors including Qualcomm Ventures at a valuation that sits around the $500m mark.

Goldman Sachs has invested in cloud cybersecurity platform developer Sysdig as part of a $70m series E round that increased its overall funding to more than $200m. US-headquartered Sysdig disclosed the round, which was led by venture firm Insight Partners, on the same day as the launch of a dedicated Japanese subsidiary that comes in the wake of offices opening in Spain and Italy.

Elsewhere in Asia, LivSpace has lifted its latest funding round to $60m as it moves towards the close of a round reportedly expected to reach $90m to $100m next month. The interior design services marketplace reportedly boasts Ikea franchisee Ingka as an investor, the company having invested an amount between $10m and $15m in the company last May that looks as if it could have been part of the ongoing round.

Funds

MassMutual Ventures, US-based insurance firm MassMutual’s corporate venture capital arm, has launched a $100m Southeast Asia fund, bringing the unit’s overall capital under management to $350m. Founded in 2014, MassMutual Ventures invests in areas such as fintech, digital health, cybersecurity and enterprise software.

Exits

Uber divested several regional services prior to going public, through mergers with local operators that gave them sizeable stakes in the buyers. Now it looks to be repeating the trick with its Uber Eats food delivery business. The company has sold its Indian Uber Eats operation to food listings and ordering platform Zomato in a transaction that gave it a 10% stake. Considering Zomato is raising money at a reported $3bn valuation, that isn’t a bad chunk of change.

Revolution Medicines, a US-based cancer treatment exploiting research from multiple universities, has filed for a $100m initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Market. Revolution was established by biotech company builder Third Rock Ventures and co-founded by Martin Burke from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Michael Fischbach from Stanford University and Kevan Shokat from University of California, Berkeley. Sanofi is also in line for an exit here, as the pharma company obtained series B shares in Revolution Medicines when the latter acquired US-based genomic medicine developer Warp Drive Bio, which was co-founded by Sanofi, in an all-share deal in 2018.

E-commerce firm Mercari has agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to acquire Origami, the developer of QR code-based mobile payment app that will be integrated into the Merpay platform Mercari launched in 2017. Origami had raised $88m in funding and typically for a Japanese company, it had a substantial amount of corporate backers including SoftBank, KDDI, Nihon Unisys, Mitsui Sumitomo Card Company, Union Pay International, JCB, Credit Saison and several banks.


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

20 January 2020 – Joby Aviation Raises $590m in Series C to Create Flying Taxis

The Big Ones

Joby Aviation is developing an electric-powered aerial taxi for urban use, a product that would appear to be a big jump into the future even without taking into account sustainability issues concerning its stated aim to serve ‘a billion’ people a day. But corporate investors are taking it seriously and none more than Toyota which invested $394m to lead its $590m series C round.

UPMC Enterprises functions as the investment and innovation arm of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (which sounds like it’s just the one but actually it’s a system comprised of 40 hospitals) and has built up an 18-strong portfolio alongside investments in internal projects. It looks to be upgrading its activity as well, announcing plans to allocate $1bn in capital through 2024, $800m of which is newly disclosed and $200m has already been dedicated to an immuno-therapy research partnership with the university.

Visa invested in financial data technology provider Plaid just four months ago and must have liked what it saw because it has agreed to acquire financial data technology provider Plaid in a $5.3bn transaction that what will surely be one of the year’s biggest acquisitions of a VC-backed company.

Deals

Xiaohongshu, the social commerce platform also known as Little Red Book, is resuming fundraising activities and is reportedly seeking $400m to $500m at a $6bn valuation. The company secured $300m in a 2018 series D round featuring Tencent and Alibaba at a $3bn valuation and was exploring new funding last year, only to suspend efforts after its app was temporarily pulled from Chinese app stores.

Tradeshift, a provider of supply chain-management and payment processing software, has raised $240m in debt and equity financing from undisclosed new and existing investors. No word on the former but its existing backers include American Express Ventures, Wipro Ventures, PayPal, Intuit, CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund and HSBC.

EQRx has launched with $200m in series A funding from GV and Nextech and a mission to develop more affordable copies of drugs already on the market. In contrast to licensed biosimilars, the startup will use advanced technology to create its own patent-protected versions, in theory providing more accessible medicines while generating more profit.

Electric vehicle technology developer Arrival has been relatively stealthy since it was founded in 2015 but has disclosed a $112m investment by carmaker Hyundai and subsidiary Kia. The funding came as part of a strategic collaboration through which Arrival will provide technology for Hyundai’s own mobility and EV initiatives.

Emendo Biotherapeutics is developing genetic medicines using a proprietary platform that utilises Crispr gene editing and protein engineering. It has also raised $61m in a series B round led by biopharmaceutical company AnGes, which is developing its own genetic therapies and which plans to work with Emendo on certain indications.

Funds

China-based insurer Taiping, has formed a $1bn investment vehicle called TP-CICC GBA Investment Master Fund in partnership with China International Capital Corporation’s CICC Capital division. The fund will target companies based in China’s Bay Area that are developing technology for the financial, healthcare, consumer and insurance sectors among others.

Saudi Aramco has pumped its IPO up to $29.4bn, making it the largest in history, and the petrochemical producer is also looking to expand its corporate venturing activity. The corporate is reportedly lining up a $500m second fund for its Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures unit that will likely be launched later this year.

IT services firm Wipro launched its Wipro Ventures subsidiary in 2015 with a $100m fund that has so far invested in 16 companies and exited two – one of which was Palo Alto Networks’ $560m acquisition of Demisto. The unit has now announced a second fund with an upgraded size of $150m.

Exits

Teladoc has agreed to buy telehealth technology producer InTouch Health for $150m in cash and $450m in shares. The company had raised less than $100m in funding, $6m of which was supplied by iRobot through a 2012 expansion to a partnership agreement.

Suzhou Zelgen Biopharmaceuticals has priced a $294m initial public offering on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s Star Market that is impressively sized despite not meeting its initial target of $346m. The cancer therapy developer had raised money across five rounds including a $62m series B two years ago that included insurance firm Minsheng Life.

NGP Capital has exited on-device AI technology developer Xnor.ai in an acquisition by Apple reportedly sized around the $200m mark. NGP Capital was spun off from Nokia but the corporate is still a prominent backer, and the deal will be pulling in some decent returns considering Xnor had disclosed less than $15m in funding pre-acquisition.

Casper Sleep, one of a wave of high-end mattress developers to launch in recent years, has filed to go public having raised $340m in venture funding from investors including Target. It is set to beat corporate-backed competitors like Helix and Eve Sleep to the public markets, though it’s as yet unclear whether the $67m loss it suffered in the first nine months of 2019 will affect its valuation, which stood at $1.1bn as of last March.


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

13 January 2020 – Ant Financial Backs Zomato with $150m at a $3bn Valuation

The Big Ones

Zomato has kicked off its next funding round, expected to reach $500m, by raising $150m from existing investor Ant Financial at a $3bn valuation. The cash will help it in its ongoing battle against domestic rival Swiggy for supremacy in India’s online food ordering sector.

SoftBank Vision Fund has reportedly pulled out of a series of large-scale investments, in companies including Honor, Seismic and Creator, in recent months despite signing term sheets. The decisions appear to have taken place in the wake of WeWork’s failure to float in the autumn but could just as easily be due to a general slowdown in investments due to the second Vision Fund still not being close to its initial $100bn target.

Internet-of-things security provider Armis has agreed to a $1.1bn acquisition by Insight Partners in which Alphabet’s CapitalG unit is set to provide $100m. The France-based company had disclosed $112m in funding as of a $65m series C round last year, though none of its VC investors were corporates.

In university – and crossover – news, Soul Machines, a New Zealand-based artificial intelligence-powered avatar platform spun out of University of Auckland, has received $40m in a series B round featuring the institution’s Inventors Fund. Singaporean state-owned investment firm Temasek led the round, which also included Salesforce Ventures, the corporate venturing subsidiary of enterprise software producer Salesforce. Daimler Financial Services, the financial and mobility services subsidiary of carmaker Daimler, was previously revealed as a backer when Soul Machines raised a first series B tranche in 2018.

Deals

Quibi has to be one of the most eagerly-awaited pre-launch startups in history, and its leaders revealed this week it will launch its 10-minutes-or-less streaming platform in April with contributors including Guillermo Del Toro, Jennifer Lopez and Liam Hemsworth.

Fitness and wellness subscription service ClassPass has meanwhile raised $285m in a series E round that lifted its valuation to the billion-dollar mark. Alphabet’s GV unit is among its investors but the latest funding came in a round co-led by L Catterton and Apax Digital with additional participation by Temasek.

Further along the line is Byju’s, reportedly now the world’s most valuable VC-backed edtech company, which has just received $200m in funding from Tiger Global Management at a valuation of about $8bn. That’s an increase in valuation of nearly 40% in just six months and has to be good news for existing backers and corporates Naspers, Tencent and Bennett Coleman & Co.

Hesai has raised $173m in series C funding, in a round it claims is the largest ever for a lidar system developer. Robert Bosch co-led the round, two years after Hesai took part in its automotive AI accelerator in China, while ON Semiconductor also contributed capital.

Zhiyun Health, developer of a chronic disease management platform, has secured a total of $144m across series C-plus and series D rounds, the investors including Samsung, SIG Asia and China Electronics Corporation affiliate OP Financial.

Business accounting software provider High Radius is now valued at more than $1bn, having raised $125m in a series B round featuring Citi Ventures and Susquehanna Growth Equity. Both took part as existing backers and the round was led by Iconiq Capital.

Sisense, the creator of a data simplification tool for app developers and business analysts, has increased its valuation to more than $1bn, securing $100m from investors including Access Industries subsidiary Claltech.

Transcenta Holdings, the biopharmaceutical company formed through the merger of HJB and MabSpace Biosciences – both backed by Lilly Asia Ventures – has also raised $100m, in a series B-plus round that included the Eli Lilly-affiliated venture firm.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has chipped into a $73m series C round for digital accounting software provider Receipt Bank. The round was led by Insight Partners, the venture firm that had invested $50m in Receipt Bank in 2017, and the cash will fund growth across Europe, North America and Australia.

ClearCover has become the latest online insurance portal to raise substantial funding, pulling in $50m through a series C round featuring Cox Enterprises and American Family Ventures, both participating as existing investors.

Funds

US-based tire manufacturer Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company has launched a $100m corporate venture capital vehicle known as Goodyear Ventures at CES. Goodyear produces a range of vehicle tires in addition to running service centres and providing synthetic rubber and chemical products.

India-based poultry product supplier IB Group has formed a $28m strategic investment fund. IB’s central business focuses on its chicken and egg supply, though it has diversified into areas such as livestock feed, pet food, solvents and hospitality.

Exits

Megvii has received regulatory approval to float in Hong Kong and reportedly expects to raise about $500m in the initial public offering. Alibaba and its Ant Financial affiliate own upwards of 29% of the image recognition software provider, which was valued at $4bn as of its last funding round in May.

One Medical has filed to go public having raised a total of $400m in primary funding from investors including Alphabet’s GV unit. The primary care provider has set a placeholder target of $100m that will almost certainly increase by the time it sets terms for the IPO.


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

23 December 2019 – SoftBank invests $231m in Lenskart at $1.5bn Valuation

The Big Ones

India-based eyewear e-commerce platform Lenskart has been growing steadily in recent years, expanding its retail footprint to more than 530 stores and further commercialising its own brand. That work has been reflected in a $231m investment by SoftBank Vision Fund, made at a $1.5bn valuation – more than three times its reported valuation in May.

Insurance group Ping An has raised $786m for the second consumer-focused fund to be operated by its Ping An Capital subsidiary. Ping An Capital makes large-scale investments in both private and publicly-traded companies and has built a portfolio that includes Grab and Fullerton Financial.

Delivery Hero is pressing on with its international expansion, having agreed to pay $4bn to acquire Korea-based food delivery app developer Woowa Brothers. The price represents a premium from the $2.6bn valuation at which the company last raised money a year ago, and CyberAgent and Naver are both set to exit through the transaction, the former having backed Woowa Brothers at seed stage five years ago.

Italian energy utility A2A has formed a strategic investment fund called A2A Horizon that has been launched with some $78m in capital. What’s noteworthy here however is that the fund has been backed by Poli360 – the university venture fund of Polytechnic University of Milan – (yes, you heard right: a university venture fund helped a corporate put together a CVC unit). LPs also include 360 Capital Partners, the VC firm that already manages Poli360.

Deals

Glovo has become Spain’s second unicorn, after Cabify, the on-demand delivery services platform having pulled in $167m through a series E round that included existing backer Drake Enterprises. The company’s other investors include Rakuten, Delivery Hero and AmRest but the latest round was led by Abu Dhabi state-owned investment vehicle Mubadala.

Original design manufacturer Huaqin Communication Technology has received $143m in series B funding from investors including Intel Capital, Qualcomm Ventures and Zhangjiang Hi-Tech at a valuation that topped $2bn.

Forma Therapeutics has completed a $100m series D round led by RA Capital Management that will fund the advancement of drug candidates for sickle cell disease and cancer.

Chinese mother and babycare product retailer Hipac has closed its own $100m series D round and will use the cash for recruitment, enhancing its supply chain and making strategic M&A deals.

Short-term managed apartment provider Domio has secured $100m, half of which consisted of a series B equity round featuring SoftBank Capital NY. The other $50m was provided in the form of debt financing and the capital will support expansion efforts as the company looks to double the 12 US cities in which it currently operates to 25 worldwide.

Fusion power technology developer General Fusion has completed a $65m series E round led by Temasek that, together with a further $38m in government funding from Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund, will support construction of a pilot plant.

Healthcare analytics platform developer OM1 has received $50m in funding in a round led by venture firm Scale Venture Partners that was also backed by existing investors that may have included corporate venturing unit Wanxiang Healthcare Investments.

Funds

Chemicals producer Sinochem is putting together a $143m fund that will invest in the new materials, energy and electronics chemicals spaces. The corporate will provide about 20% of its capital, with the rest set to come from a group of limited partners that will include another China-based chemicals company.

Exits

In the second huge corporate venturing-related M&A deal in the past week, following Delivery Hero’s $4bn purchase of Woowa Brothers, Intel has paid $2bn to acquire AI training processor developer Habana Labs. Intel Capital had led Habana’s $75m series B round in November last year, two months after it emerged from stealth, taking the company’s overall funding to $120m.

Beike Zhaofang, the online-focused spinoff of real estate brokerage Lianjia, has hired an adviser to help it prepare an initial public offering that could raise upwards of $1bn and take place as early as next year.

OneConnect has generated its own exit, in a $312m initial public offering in the US. Formed as Chinese insurer Ping An’s financial technology platform and spun off in 2017, OneConnect subsequently raised $750m from investors including SoftBank Vision Fund and SBI early last year.


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

16 December 2019 – Petronas Launches Piva with $250m in Capital

Funds

Petronas has officially launched Piva, a growth-stage vehicle that will target developers of energy, industrial and materials applications in North America and Europe. The fund is equipped with $250m of capital and will be overseen by Petronas Corporate Venture Capital, the larger, more generalised unit that was launched by the corporate in October.

Telkom Indonesia and KB kick off $150m fund

Plexo flexes corporate connections to close first fund

Vertex closes Master Fund at $730m

UChicago helps shape $160m Pear fund

Epidarex dials up drug discovery scheme

Fundraising for SoftBank Vision Fund’s second vehicle is ongoing, but insiders have told The Telegraph it could end up closing at a size up to 30% lower than its first fund. Vision Fund is in talks with Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which contributed a joint $60bn to its first vehicle, but some public missteps, particularly in the case of WeWork, may end up giving them pause.

Exits

SoftBank Vision Fund elected to pump $9.5bn into WeWork in order to rescue the company but it’s shifting another problematic asset out completely. The fund invested $300m in petsitting platform Wag at a $650m valuation but has now agreed to sell its stake back to the company, reportedly at a loss. Wag has had some high-profile issues in the past year and the move comes after a recent resignation from its CEO and before a series of job cuts.

Rock Content draws up Scribble acquisition

Business finance automation platform Bill.com went public in a $216m initial public offering that allowed Fleetcor, Mastercard, American Express, Bank of America, Fifth Third Bank, JP Morgan Chase and the Citi-owned Financial Partners Fund to exit. It’s been a successful offering too, Bill having lifted the range at the start of the week and then floating at a higher price. It had raised more than $275m in VC funding and the IPO values it at about $1.55bn.

UCommune has proven itself to be WeWork’s largest competitor in East Asia but it’s selected the US for its initial public offering. The co-working space operator, whose investors include Ant Financial, Aikang Group, Star Group and several property developers, has set a placeholder target of $100m but the final fate of the IPO may be anyone’s guess, with reports that Citigroup and Credit Suisse walked away from underwriter positions due to disagreements over valuation.

Molbase assays $70m IPO

Deals

Digital bank operator Chime has closed a $500m series E round led by tech investment firm DST Global, upping its valuation from $1.5bn to $5.8bn in just nine months. The company has raised more than $800m to date, from investors that include Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures. It will put the latest funding toward product development and staff expansion as it prepares to open an office in Chicago.

Online automotive e-commerce platform Vroom took its overall funding to $721m in a $254m series H round led by investment adviser Durable Capital Partners. The round valued Vroom, whose existing backers include car dealership owner AutoNation, at $1.5bn and the funding will support recruitment, product development and the establishment of a newly opened engineering hub.

Elsewhere in fintech, online lending platform WeLab has raised its first funding in over two years, securing $156m in a series C round featuring Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund and China Construction Bank, two of five existing investors that joined undisclosed new participants in the round. WeLab filed for an IPO itself in mid-2018 but pulled it before the end of the year. It’s now preparing to launch a digital bank and is eyeing Southeast Asia for expansion.

Perfect Day is one of a number of companies exploring the plant-based food substitute space, having created a protein it claims is as tasty and nutritional as cow’s milk. It has also received $140m in series C funding at a $440m valuation, with Sinagpore’s Temasek leading the round. The company has now raised more than $200m since being founded five years ago, its earlier investors including agribusiness Continental Grain.

Genome engineering platform Inscripta has received $125m in a Paladin Capital-backed series D round that took its total funding up to about $260m. Mérieux Développement contributed to Inscripta’s last round, a $106m series C that closed in April, and the series D proceeds will go to commercialising and enhancing its Onyx Digital Genome Engineering system.

Online insurance platform Wefox Group has added $110m from investors including Samsung Catalyst Fund to a series B round that now stands at $235m. The round already included CreditEase and the latest influx of capital was secured at a $1.65bn valuation according to TechCrunch, a substantial jump from the reported $1.1bn valuation for the first tranche in March.

HomeTap is only about two years old but operates a model where users can access finance using equity in their homes. It has also just raised $100m from investors including American Family Ventures. The series B funding will support its expansion in the US, in addition to increasing headcount and work on further development of the platform.

Small molecule cancer drug developer Zentalis Pharmaceuticals has come out of stealth with $147m in funding, $85m of which was just secured in a series C round. No corporate investors were mentioned in that transaction but its investors do include Pharmaron and Alexandria Venture Investments, while Pfizer, which is collaborating with it on a phase 1/2 clinical trial that combines two drug treatments, may have gained a stake through the partnership deal.

Jasper springs to life with $35m

Paragraf amplifies series A to reach $21.3m


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

09 December 2019 – Kuaishou Lining Up One of 2019’s Largest Rounds

Big Deals

It’s edging towards the end of the year but Kuaishou is lining up one of 2019’s largest rounds, having reportedly secured $2bn from Tencent as part of a series F round it plans to formally close at $3bn in the coming weeks. The round will value the short-form video platform at $28.6bn and is expected to be the last before a planned initial public offering. Tencent’s stake will stand at almost 20%.

Healthcare consortium Kaiser Permanente oversees one of the oldest corporate venturing units in the Bay Area in Kaiser Permanente Ventures, and it has just closed its fifth fund at $141m. Fund V has also brought additional corporates onboard, taking in contributions from Highmark Health’s Highmark Ventures subsidiary, Tufts Health Plan and Henry Ford Health System. It now has some $500m under management.

Indian ride hailing platform Ola is preparing to enter London (though it is already present in other UK markets, such as here in Cardiff), but in the longer term has set early 2021 as the point when it will formally begin IPO preparations. It has already hired consultants and reportedly intends to cut headcount by 5% as part of those plans. SoftBank, Tencent, Didi Chuxing, Hyundai and Kia are all investors in the company.

In GCV/GUV crossover news, wellness services and goods provider CureFit is in talks with Singaporean state-owned investment firm Temasek to raise $100m in a round reportedly set to boost its valuation from $575m to $800m. The former valuation was sealed in a $120m round closed in June that included Unilever Ventures, and the prospective new funding would support the growth of CureFit’s Eat.Fit and Care.Fit divisions. UC-RNT Fund, a joint investment fund formed by University of California with industrial group Tata Sons’ chairman emeritus Ratan Tata, had injected $25m in 2016.

Deals

Reports a week ago stated that blockchain-based online lender Figure Technologies was set to announce a $103m series C round, and so it has proved, the company raising the cash from investors including MUFG Innovation Partners. The round values Figure, which is less than two years old, at $1.2bn.

Business finance provider Konfio has become the latest company to take in a nine-figure investment from SoftBank’s $5bn Innovation Fund, raising $100m from the corporate. Konfio aims to take advantage of increasingly strict business lending practices in Mexico by offering quick loans to small and medium-sized businesses through its data technology-equipped online platform, and will use the capital to add features such as life insurance to its offering.

Alphabet’s CapitalG unit has bought an undisclosed amount of shares in data collaboration platform developer Dataiku from venture firm and existing investor Serena Capital at a reported $1.4bn valuation – apparently 100 times that at which Serena co-led Dataiku’s seed round.

FinAccel, the owner of Indonesian e-commerce credit provider Kredivo, has secured $90m at a $500m valuation, in a series C round co-led by the Naver-backed Asia Growth Fund.

Precision cancer drug developer Black Diamond Therapeutics has emerged from stealth with $194m of funding, $85m of which was just closed in a series C round featuring Roche Venture Fund. Roche’s corporate venturing vehicle participated in the round as an existing backer, and Black Diamond intends to move its lead product candidate into a phase 1/2 clinical trial in early 2020.

Impulse Dynamics has received $80.5m in funding from investors including Minth Group, Zoll Medical and Abiomed as it prepares to commercialise its heart failure treatment device in the US. Amzak Health Investors led the series D round, which increased the company’s funding over the past four years to about $155m.

Highspot has now raised $200m altogether, having secured $75m in a series D1 round that included long-term backer Salesforce Ventures. The company, which has developed a software platform that optimises sales performance, received $60m in funding just six months ago, through a series D round that included all the participants in the latest deal.

AI technology developer Aibee took its total funding to $175m in a $74m series A1 round featuring conglomerate Chow Tai Fook. The Chinese company has now racked up four rounds inside two years and its investor base includes fellow corporate backers Lenovo Capital and Incubator Group, Red Star Macalline and K11.

Online automotive e-commerce platform CarDekho has secured $70m in a round led by Ping An Global Voyager Fund at a $700m valuation. The deal is the first for China-based Ping An’s corporate venturing vehicle in India, and CarDekho’s existing investors include Kreatif Media Karya, CapitalG, Dentsu Bennett Coleman & Co.

Funds

Portag3 Ventures, the fintech-focused venture firm formed by financial holding group Power Corporation, has closed its second fund at $321m.

US-based venture capital firm Harlem Capital has closed its inaugural fund at $40.3m with limited partners including Vanderbilt University, surpassing its $25m target and $40m cap. Harlem Partners Venture Fund I engaged 55 LPs, including student startup-focused VC firm Dorm Room Fund, trade convention operator Consumer Technology Association and private equity group TPG.

Exits

Cybersecurity software producer Tenable has acquired Indegy, a US-based industrial cybersecurity technology developer backed by energy utility Centrica, mass media group Liberty Media and diversified holding company Ofer Global, for $78m. Indegy had received $18m in an August 2018 series B round led by Liberty Media’s corporate venturing arm, Liberty Technology Venture Capital, and which included Centrica Innovations and OG Tech Ventures, respective investment vehicles for Centrica and Ofer Global.


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

02 December 2019 – SoftBank Leads Oyo’s $1.5bn Funding Round

The Big Ones

SoftBank Vision Fund is putting up $807m to lead a $1.5bn funding round for one of its most notable portfolio companies, India-based short term accommodation platform Oyo. The round values Oyo at $10bn and the extra cash will fund expansion in the US, a prime market in the company’s ongoing international expansion. Its other investors include Didi Chuxing, Hero Enterprise and Huazhu Hotels Group.

Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial is putting together a $1bn fund that will focus on emerging markets such as India or Southeast Asia. Its name can be translated as Ant Unicorn Fund and it will concentrate on strategic investments in areas such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, security, the internet of things and computing as well as digital financial services platforms.

Aporeto’s investors, which include Comcast Ventures, National Grid Partners, Symantec and Telia Ventures, are in line for exits, through a $150m acquisition by Palo Alto Networks. The machine identity-based cybersecurity software provider had raised almost $35m, and its pending acquisition marks the third corporate-backed company to be bought by Palo Alto in the past six months, following Zingbox and Twistlock.

In crossover news with Global University Venturing, Heartseed, a Japan-based developer of treatments for heart failure based on research at Keio University, has secured ¥2.8bn ($25.8m) in series B funding from investors including medical data technology provider JMDC.

Deals

Another of Vision Fund’s key Indian investments is mobile financial services provider Paytm, and it has contributed to a $1bn series G round for the company that also featured fellow corporate investor Ant Financial.

Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia-based Tokopedia is seeking what will likely be its last VC funding before its own flotation, and is reportedly in talks to raise $1bn to $1.5bn in a round that will probably include existing backers and unnamed US internet companies.

Impossible Foods is looking to raise $300m to $400m in a round expected to value it in the $3bn to $5bn range. The plant-based burger provider was most recently valued at $2bn and is reportedly eyeing 2020 for its initial public offering.

Online supermarket Picnic has raised $275m in funding, chiefly from the same investors that backed its last round, when it secured $108m in early 2017.

Online pharmacy operator PharmEasy has raised $220m at a $700m valuation, in a round led by the Singaporean government-owned Temasek. India-based PharmEasy has now secured more than $320m altogether, its earlier investors including corporates Ascent Health and Wellness, Medi Assist and Manipal Education and Medical Group.

Ferring Pharmaceuticals has spun off a new company to manage the late-stage development and eventual commercialisation of a gene therapy intended to treat bladder cancer.

Lithuania-headquartered fashion e-commerce marketplace Vinted has meanwhile received $141m from investors including Burda Principal Investments at a valuation of about $1.1bn.

We’ve been through the ride hailing gold rush and the bicycle rental frenzy but neither sector has even approached profitability yet. Despite that, electric scooter rental platforms are continuing to raise big money, the latest being India-based Bounce, which has bumped its series D round up to $150m.

Online job listings and recruitment portal Boss Zhipin has received a seven-figure dollar amount in a series E round featuring Tencent, which reportedly led one tranche of the round while participating in another.

Enterprise AI software provider Appier has bagged $80m in series D funding from investors including UMC Capital and Hopu-Arm Innovation Fund, nearly doubling its overall funding to $162m in the process.

Real estate developer Daito Trust Construction has provided $50m in equity funding for co-working space operator JustCo, and is pumping a further $24m into a joint venture that will enable the Sinagporean company to expand into Daito’s home market of Japan.

Despite its name, Jybd is not a recruitment platform but an aftermarket services platform for truckers. The China-based company has received $50m in a series B round led by Sino-Ocean Capital, a subsidiary of Sino-Ocean Group, the transaction coming after trucking services marketplace Manbang Group supplied $46m in series A funding for it last year.

Funds

Now this isn’t really a new fund but it is an interesting development: Thailand-based financial services firm Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) is looking to spin off some of its financial technology entities, potentially including venture capital subsidiary SCB Digital Ventures. Digital Ventures was launched in 2016 with $50m in capital and its early investments focused on limited partner commitments, including funds being raised by Nyca Partners and Dymon Asia Ventures.

Exits

There weren’t too many exits last week, but another notable one was insurance provider Maif’s exit from France-based voice technology developer Snips in a $37.5m acquisition by speaker system producer Sonos. Snips is the creator of a full-stack software platform that can be used to develop custom voice-based digital assistants.


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

25 November 2019 – SoftBank Reportedly Reaches Vision Fund II First Close

The Big Ones

And what better way to get back into the swing of things than with SoftBank, which has reportedly reached a first close for Vision Fund II. Although it secured nearly $100bn for the first fund and has received $108bn in MOUs for the new vehicle, sources told Bloomberg it has so far raised only $2bn for the second vehicle. 2019 so often feels like a bizarre alternative reality, but did you ever think we’d be at a point this decade where a figure like that could be regarded as a disappointment for the first close of a CVC fund?

Better news for fibrotic disease drug developer Promedior, which has agreed to be acquired by Roche for $390m upfront and potentially $1bn in milestone payments. Promedior had raised about $50m in equity financing from investors including Shire Strategic Investment Group, the now inactive corporate venturing subsidiary of Shire.

Automation Anywhere, a provider of robotic process automation technology, secured $300m from SoftBank Vision Fund late last year as part of a $550m series A round that valued it at $2.6bn. Very impressive, but the company has now gone further, pulling in $290m in series B funding at a $6.8bn valuation.

And on Global University Venturing, we had Psiquantum, a UK-based quantum computer developer leveraging University of Bristol research, which has reportedly secured $230m in funding.

Deals

LyVue, a spinoff of Trip.com – the online travel agent formerly known as Ctrip – has raised ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ across series A and A-plus rounds that were co-led by Baidu Capital and Tencent along with Goldman Sachs and Sequoia Capital.

Oncology data platform operator MedBanks Network Technology has meanwhile raised $142m in its second round of the year. The series D-plus round was led by Tencent and included China Electronics Corporation, both corporates having already participated in a $58.8m series D in January. MedBanks’ early investors also include insurance group Ping An.

OPay, the African mobile payment and local services platform spun off from Opera, has raised $120m in series B funding from investors including Meituan Dianping, SoftBank Ventures Asia and Bertelsmann Asia Investments.

4D imaging sensor provider Vayyar Imaging has boosted its overall funding to $188m, raising $109m in a series D round led by Koch Disruptive Technologies. The cash was reportedly secured at a valuation of more than $600m and Vayyar intends to channel it into technology development and global expansion.

Banco Vorantim has led a $95.6m round for Brazilian digital bank Neon, 18 months after becoming the company’s institutional banking partner. It stepped in when Neon’s previous partner was liquidated by Brazil’s central bank, ironically in the wake of its $22m series A round.

LeFrak-backed real estate asset management platform Juniper Square has secured $75m in a series C round led by Redpoint Ventures, taking its total funding to $108m. No word on a valuation but it was reportedly valued at $168m when it last raised money, in a $25m series B that closed almost a year ago.

Werewolf Therapeutics has launched with $56m in series A funding, taking money from Taiho Ventures and UPMC Enterprises as part of the round. Werewolf is working on immuno-oncology drugs intended to treat cancer without damaging surrounding tissue. It was founded by healthcare investment firm MPM Capital, which co-led the series A round with venture firm Longwood Fund.

Funds

University of California, Berkeley-focused venture capital firm The House Fund has closed its second fund at $44m. The capital came from endowments for UC Berkeley and the wider University of California system as well as Ahoy Capital and undisclosed other fund-of-fund vehicles, unnamed family offices, UC Berkeley alumni and tech industry executives. The fund originally had a $50m target, according to a late 2017 regulatory filing.

Exits

Alkermes has agreed to buy neurological disease therapy developer Rodin Therapeutics in a deal that could reach $950m should every milestone and sales target be reached. Rodin had raised about $57m from investors including GV, Biogen and Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, and the agreement marks the second big CVC exit to be agreed through a healthcare M&A deal in the past week, following Roche’s deal to acquire Promedior last Friday.

A lot of Chinese tech companies have filed for initial public offerings on US markets recently, but Yeahka is opting for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, having reportedly filed for an IPO in which it expects to raise about $300m. Investors in Yeahka, provider of the second largest non-banking QR code payment platform in China by market share, include corporates Tencent and Recruit.

Recruitment services firm 51job invested $60m in HR management software producer CDP Holdings only last month, but it could be in for a quick exit after China-based CDP filed for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.

China-based oncology diagnostics technology producer Genetron has revealed somewhat of a double whammy, filing for a $100m initial public offering in the US while announcing a $71m funding round backed by Alexandria Venture Investments.


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

18 November 2019 – Orbital Insight Enters $50m Series D

The Big Ones

Chevron Technology Ventures has thrown its weight behind US-based geospatial software technology provider Orbital Insight, which also welcomed back GV and Sky Perfect JSAT.

Softbank over the past few years has tended to skew the numbers and so it’s significant to hear the group has quietly completed a first close on its second Vision Fund, and according to Bloomberg, the amount investors have committed is $2 billion, a far cry from the $108 billion that it has said that it’s targeting.

Once bitten, twice shy appears to be the new motto for the SoftBank Vision Fund, which said it is now pushing companies to seek a profit rather than “chasing growth for the sake of growth”. That approach has meant the fund did agree to backing a $1bn round for fintech developer Paytm, but has put in a clause that it must go public within five years or else SoftBank will have the right to dump its shareholding. That’s a significant turning point for the fund that was previously hell-bent on scaling companies globally without any concern for high burn rates.

Funds

Salesforce forges $50m Consultant Trailblazer Fund

Heidelberg sets up new tech transfer operation

Deals

Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, a logistics services platform co-founded by Alibaba, Fosun Group and Intime Retail Group six years ago, has collected another $3.33bn from Alibaba, thereby increasing the corporate’s majority stake (which it had held since 2017) from 51% to 63%. The deal included a secondary share purchase, though the size is unclear and it is unknown which investor decided to sell. Cainiao’s investors also include government-owned investments firms Temasek, GIC and Khazanah Nasional, as well as Primavera and, according to TechCrunch, several unnamed logistics firms.

Xiaopeng Motors (also known as Xpeng) may not be much of a known quantity in the Western world, but the smart EV developer has already sold more than 10,000 of its first model, an SUV called G3. It also has some powerful corporate investors with Alibaba, Foxconn and UCar. And now it’s added another to the list: Xiaomi, which has led a $400m series C round for Xiaopeng as part of a strategic partnership. There might be a lot of Tesla cars in Silicon Valley, but globally the competition is clearly heating up.

OLX has committed $400m to Frontier Car Group (FCG), a Germany-based second-hand car marketplace operator, that it will invest over multiple tranches and reportedly includes a secondary share purchase of undisclosed size.

CapitalG has been busy. The growth equity arm of Alphabet once known as Google Capitalhas taken part in a $400m series D round for US-based trucking services provider Convoy, which will use the money to accelerate business growth.

And CapitalG also co-led a $150m series H round for CRM software provider Freshworks with Sequoia Capital and Accel. The round valued Freshworks at $3.5bn – though it remains subject to customary closing conditions, including US antitrust regulatory clearance.

Many will be familiar with password manager 1Password, but not for its funding history. In fact, the 14-year-old company has never raised equity – until now, that is, and it’s attracted a respectable $200m in series A capital from investors including Slack Fund.

Salesforce Ventures and Workday Ventures meanwhile returned for a $157m series D round for US-based education benefits software provider Guild Education. General Catalyst led the round, and its chairman and managing director Ken Chenault (who was previously in charge of American Express) will join the board of directors.

ACV Auctions – the US-based online automotive marketplace backed by telecommunications conglomerate SoftBank – has picked up $150m in a series E roundco-led by Fidelity and Wellington Management Company less than a year after closing a $50m series D round.

Avidity devotes itself to $100m series C

AMP amplifies $16m

PureLifi lights up $18m

Exits

The bad news keep on coming for We Co and the latest development is its decision to divest its stake in US-based women-focused work and social space provider The Wing and sell off US-based social networking platform Meetup. We Co owns a 23% stake in The Wing, but not only has the corporate struggled to survive its failed attempt at going public, its chief legal officer Jen Berrent is also facing a lawsuit for pregnancy discrimination, allegedly calling employee Medina Bardhi’s pregnancy a “problem” that needed “a solution” and “to be fixed,” according to the court filing. Berrent is currently a board member of The Wing, but she is expected to lose that position following the stake sale.

HawkEye 360 is one of the more successful university spinouts formed by commercialisation firm Allied Minds (which itself has had a tumultuous year with multiple executive-level changes) and that’s led the firm to sell its entire stake to family office Advance. The latter has also chosen to boost HawkEye’s series B round to $85m, following a $70m first tranche that featured Airbus and Esri this past August.

Money Forward yields Smartcamp

Considering Nikkei and Ant Financial-backed 36Kr, and in particular its news portal 36Kr Media, is sometimes hailed as the Crunchbase of China, you might have expected its IPO in the US to go a little better than it did, but the company is the latest to disappoint investors after not only pricing shares at the bottom of the range at $14.50, but also deciding to issue just 1.4 million shares instead of 3.6 million – raising merely a fifth of its targeted $100m in proceeds. Adding insult to injury, shares dropped by 10% on the first day of trading to close at $13.06.

SpaceMarket gets ready for IPO take-off

Lancers sets its sights on IPO

Makuake makes its way to TSE

Another company that’s not been very active on the funding front is OneConnect Financial Technology, a Singapore-based fintech platform that that was spun out of insurance group Ping An, two years ago.


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

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