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

25 February 2019 – LPs Express Concern in SoftBank Vision Fund

Big stories

Reports earlier in the week claimed some of the LPs in SoftBank Vision Fund have concerns about its centralised decision making and the high prices it has paid in its investments, but that doesn’t mean it’s slowing down. Vision Fund has led a $1bn round for shipping marketplace Flexport at a $3.2bn valuation, investing alongside backers including SF Express, the round taking its total funding to more than $1.3bn.

Allianz’s digital investment arm, Allianz X, has made roughly 15 investments but that portfolio, which includes unicorns Go-Jek and N26, has been enough to help convince it to boost the unit’s capital reserves from €430m to €1bn (which equates to more than $1.1bn). Other factors would be the way in which Allianz X informs its parent’s ongoing move toward a digital business model, and the side deals and joint ventures it has sealed with portfolio companies.

On the IPO front, Pinterest has reportedly filed confidentially for an initial public offering it expects will take place at a valuation in excess of $12bn. The Rakuten-backed social media platform has beefed up revenue significantly in recent years, boosting advertising while also ramping up its commerce options. It will form part of a coterie of decacorns (that’s a valuation of $10bn+) set to float in 2019.

Deals

Reports the week before last stating that Amazon and GM were set to invest in electric truck developer Rivian Automotive at a 10-figure valuation, and those reports have turned out to be half right. Amazon has led a $700m round for Rivian that also featured existing backers likely to include corporates Abdul Latif Jameel and Sumitomo, but GM is yet to make its move, though the carmaker reportedly remains in talks over either an investment or a collaboration agreement.

Vision Fund has also invested in last-mile consumer goods delivery service DoorDash, as part of a $400m series F round that valued it at $7.1bn.

On-demand logistics service provider Lalamove has meanwhile secured $300m in a series D round that valued it at more than $1bn.

In another part of the logistics sector, SoftBank Vision Fund has led a $200m series D round for on-demand personal storage service Clutter at a $600m valuation and is taking a board set in the process.

Online property transaction platform OpenDoor is seeking its own nine-figure round, and is reportedly after $200m that will be raised at a $3.7bn valuation.

Arvelle Therapeutics initially revealed it had spun off from Axovant with more than $100m in funding, but the lead investor in the series A round, LSP, has revealed it was $180m in size.

Retailer Clas Ohlson paid $26m for a 10% stake in Sweden-based online grocer MatHem in 2017 and may have already scored an exit. Investment firm Kinnevik has invested $42.5m in the company while also acquiring $53.5m of shares from existing shareholders through a secondary deal.

Funds

Abu Dhabi’s investment vehicle, Mubadala, provided $15bn for SoftBank’s Vision Fund in 2017 and now it looks like the corporate has exchanged the favour, so to speak.

It’s not quite a fund, but universities in Maryland have supported a potential $16m state government program intended to spur local innovation in the cybersecurity and the life sciences sectors.

Another one that isn’t quite a fund but worth mentioning: Mars Innovation, the commercialisation firm focused on the Toronto cluster, has hired three lobbyists with StrategyCorp to lobby the federal government about “tens of millions of funding”.

Exits

Ucommune has emerged as WeWork’s key competitor, particularly in Asia, and has reportedly hired banks to prepare an initial public offering slated to take place in New York that is expected to value it at about $3bn.

Slack launched its Slack Fund in 2015 and it looks like it’s set to potentially make its first exit, after Palo Alto Networks agreed to acquire cybersecurity orchestration platform developer Demisto for $560m in a cash-and-stock deal that will also enable fellow CVC Wipro Ventures to exit.

SoYoung investors are set for a different kind of exit, after the Chinese cosmetic surgery booking and reviews platform filed confidentially to raise up to $300m in an initial public offering in the US.


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