28 January 2019 – Stanford StartX Fund Comes to an End

The big 3

For all the talk about the big numbers of 2018 – Global Corporate Venturing tracked 2,775 deals worth an estimated total of $180bn, the details of which you can find in the January issue out and the World of Corporate Venturing annual review published at the GCVI Summit at the end of the month – the headline increase in CVC units masks continued evolution in units and structures.

GE Ventures has become one of the most prominent figures in the corporate venture capital space since being formed in 2013, but its parent company is reportedly looking to divest the unit as part of a large-scale restructuring effort that has already claimed its transportation subsidiary and could shortly include GE Healthcare.

Big deal: Stanford-StartX Fund reaches the end

Insurance group Axa formed its corporate venturing unit, then known as Axa Strategic Partners, in 2015 and it has now boosted its early-stage investing by putting $150m into a second early-stage fund that will provide up to $6m per deal.

And startups founded by women or minorities are still having a tough time getting capital. Enterprise software producer SAP is the latest corporate to try and change that, unveiling its No Boundaries initiative that will invest 40% of the existing SAP.io Fund in startups led by underrepresented entrepreneurs.

Other big news sees a sweep of large deals continuing. Go-Jek is one on the up. The ride hailing platform, Grab’s main rival in Southeast Asia, has raised $920m from existing investors that include Google, JD.com and Tencent for the first close of a round with a $2bn target.

Still, getting financial and hopefully strategic benefits remains the game. Reports earlier this week suggested Viacom was set to acquire online television streaming platform Pluto TV for up to $500m. The final price has proven to be a more realistic $340m, but it will still give a healthy exit to a round of investors including Sky, ProSiebenSat.1, UTA, Universal Music Group, Samsung Scripps and Windsor Media.

Funds

Menlo Ventures hires Qualcomm’s Haghighi

Deals

Genetic disease drug developer BridgeBio has received $299m in funding from investors including AIG that will be used to move a 15-strong pipeline of assets forward.

Desktop Metal has confirmed recent reports that it was raising new funding by confirming it has closed a $160m round led by Koch Disruptive Technologies, the then undisclosed large industrial company featured in those reports.

FirstCry was reported last week to be in the process of securing $400m from SoftBank, but now the company has revealed the round will be raised over two tranches – with a first $150m investment closed – and that the cash is actually coming from the Vision Fund rather than the corporate directly.

LinkedIn-backed data streaming platform developer Confluent has secured $125m in a series D round that valued it at $2.5bn. The round increased Confluent’s total funding to $206m and was led by Seqouia Capital, the venture firm that also led its series C two years ago.

AutoAI was unveiled by mapping technology provider Navinfo late last year to further develop smart in-car technology created by the firm’s subsidiaries.

Andela recruits GV for $100m series D

SoftBank Vision Fund has made a $100m investment in Globality, the operator of a platform where businesses can source service providers, that valued the company at nearly $1bn, a source told the WSJ.

Sunmi shines with Ant Financial investment

University

Minervax finds verve with $5m

Nexiot checks in series B funding

CIC makes cut in Imagen series B

Exits

Beleaguered Blippar finds a buyer

Avedro heads to public markets


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

7 March 2016 – Google Capital, Alphabet, Magic Leap, Snapchat, Mercari, AXA, Slack, Souqcom, Vertex, Purdue University, Oregon State University and more

Deals

We tracked 132 deals in the month. While this would be the lowest month for deal activity since September 2014, it is not much below activity in many of the months during the last year and a half, while it is significantly above most months in 2014 as well as prior years. We also typically track some deals after a month ends.

The most active corporate during the month was holding company Alphabet, which invests through its two venturing units Google Capital and GV, which matches trends in recent years, where it has regularly been one of the most active investors.

The most active corporate partner among venture firms was Arch Venture Partners, which invested alongside US-based healthcare company Johnson and Johnson, US-based asset manager Fidelity, China-based healthcare company Wuxi Pharmatech, real estate company Alexandria, and healthcare company Pfizer.

The largest deal in February was the $793.5m series C round raised by US-based augmented reality technology developer Magic Leap, in a deal led by e-commerce firm Alibaba.

The biggest exit of the month was the sale of Ravello Systems, the US-based virtualisation software developer, which was sold to Oracle for $500m. Ravello had raised $54m in venture funding, including $28m in a January 2015 series C round co-led by Qualcomm and SanDisk’s corporate venturing units: Qualcomm Ventures and SanDisk Ventures.

Snapchat, backed by Tencent, Alibaba and Yahoo, boosted its series F round to more than $710m and its overall funding to more than $1.3bn with $175m from Fidelity.

Mercari rises with $75m round.

AXA invested €75m in e-commerce holding vehicle Africa Internet Group last month and the round has now been boosted to €300m ($326m) with commitments from MTN, Rocket Internet and Goldmn Sachs.

Messaging platform Slack has so far raised $340m from investors including GV but is now seeking an additional $150m in the wake of it ramping up staff numbers and launching a TV advertising campaign.

Influitive, the creator of an advocacy marketing platform, raised about $30m in July and has now attracted new funding to take its NTT Docomo-backed series B round to almost $39m. The capital helped to support the acqui-hire of scheduling app developer Ironark Software.

Souq.com has shown that e-commerce growth in Asia isn’t restricted to the usual suspects of China, India and Southeast Asia, raising more than $270m at a reported $1bn+ valuation.

Electronic component manufacturer Murata Manufacturing Company led a $19m series B round for US-based power conversion semiconductor developer Arctic Sand Technologies, a spinout of MIT. more

People moves

Ben Brabyn, former COO of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) Innovation Gateway, has been appointed head of UK-based technology accelerator Level39.

Michael Fernandes has left Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional to become a partner and co-head of South and Southeast Asian operations at Leapfrog Investments. At Khazanah Nasional, he was manager of the healthcare portfolio, valued at $7bn on the Singapore stock exchange.

Monika Gierszewska has been appointed as director of incubator SetSquared’s Bristol branch. SetSquared is a collaboration between the universities of Bristol, Bath, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey. (more)

Funds

Vertex Venture Holdings, the wholly-owned investment arm of Singapore government’s state fund Temasek, has held the final close of its Vertex Ventures Israel fund at $150m. The fund had a target of $100m.

InnovFin, a joint initiative of EIF and EIB, has signed a deal to provide $100m to LeumiTech to support Israel-based businesses.

Purdue University has set up a $10m seed-stage fund to build on its successes from last year, when Purdue created a total of 40 new businesses, incl. 25 spinouts. The fund will be jointly managed by the university’s startup accelerator, Purdue Foundry, and the University Development Office.

Oregon State University launches fund with Rogue Venture Partners that is expected to raise between $10m and $20m and will invest in companies within the state. OSU will provide a fifth of the capital.


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

15 February 2016 – Chinese new year, fintech investor BBVA, Innogy Venture Capital, triple French biotech fund, Unicef, Shanghai reimburses venture capital firms and more

Funds

Financial services provider BBVA has been a notable fintech investor since early 2013 when it formed a $100m fund that has since backed companies including DocuSign, Taulia and Prosper. The bank has now elected to upgrade its participation, committing another $150m and spinning out its investments into a new VC firm called Propel Venture Partners. Propel is already operational in San Francisco and is actively recruiting for a London office.

RWE’s Innogy Venture Capital may have been quiet of late but that doesn’t mean the utility has given up on corporate venturing. Chief executive Peter Terium reiterated its commitment to innovation on Friday and revealed plans for another investment unit which will be sized at $145m.

In addition to that fund, RWE is also set to invest $15m in a so far unnamed greentech-focused venture capital fund.

France triples its biotech fund.

Unicef’s $9m Innovation Fund opens for expressions of interest from entrepreneurs, inventors and companies with working prototypes of open source technology that can improve the lives of vulnerable children.

The government of Shanghai’s plans to compensate venture capital firms that fail to make back their initial investment in startups has drawn criticism.

Investments

Uber has targeted $2.1bn in new equity funding at a jawdropping $62.5bn valuation in spite of a fundraising climate generally agreed to be cooling. Today it came a step closer, raising $200m from investment firm LetterOne, which joins a range of backers including corporates Alphabet, Baidu, Times Group, Ping An and China Life Insurance.

One of the biggest areas for VC funding last year was India’s e-commerce sector, and One97 Communications was one of the biggest recipients, securing $680m from Alibaba and Ant Financial. One97 is now looking to raise another $400m by the end of June to fund the spinning out of its flagship brand, Paytm, into a separate mobile banking and payment company.

A possible partnership with e-commerce marketplace Flipkart could also be on the cards. Africa Internet Group (AIG), the collection of African businesses overseen by Rocket Internet that is also backed by telecom companies MTN and Millicom, has welcomed a new backer. AXA paid $83m for an 8% stake in AIG as part of a strategic partnership that will allow it to sell insurance products through AIG’s companies, and in particular e-commerce marketplace Jumia.

Cambridge University breaks its own seed funding record for the third year in a row, investing $5.5m last year.

Exits

Proteostasis raised $50m (see below) while AveXis secured $95m, floating in the middle of its $19 to $21 range. AveXis, which is backed by Roche’s corporate venturing fund, will use the proceeds to steer its lead candidate, a gene therapy treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, through phase 1 trials.

Good analysis recommendation: Bruce Booth at Life Sci VC 

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