13 May 2019 – Uber Raises $8.1bn in IPO

The Big Ones

Uber has finally gone public, raising $8.1bn in an IPO that allowed SoftBank Vision Fund to retain its position as largest shareholder while selling $249m of shares. The company priced its shares toward the lower end of the range, and so fell well short of early reports suggesting it could be valued at up to $120bn.

SoftBank is still weighing up options for boosting the size of its Vision Fund to match its ongoing flurry of investments, and is reportedly considering taking it to the public markets. It has spoken to banks about a possible IPO for the fund in addition to talking to Oman about a multibillion-dollar contribution to a second Vision Fund.

General Motors acquired autonomous driving software provider Cruise Automation in 2016 and has now contributed to a $1.15bn funding round featuring Honda and SoftBank Vision Fund, and which valued it at $19bn post-money.

And in a nice crossover, Twentyeight-Seven (28-7) Therapeutics, a US-based cancer drug development spinout of Harvard University, has extended its series A round to $82.8m with a $15m second tranche backed by spinout-focused investment firm Osage University Partners.

Deals

Megvii’s facial recognition technology is facing scrutiny due to its role in China’s increasingly widespread surveillance activities, but that doesn’t seem to have deterred investors.

Chinese smart electric car developer Byton is raising $100m from automotive manufacturer FAW Group that will form part of a series C round Byton expects to close at $500m.

Goldman Sachs Principal Strategic Investments has invested in VC asset management platform and services provider Carta as part of a $300m series E round that valued it at $1.7bn.

Electronics and appliance retailer Suning has agreed to commit $210m to a fund being raised by private equity firm Yunfeng Capital that is expected to close at $2.5bn.

MGI, genomics service provider BGI’s genetic sequencing technology spinoff, has raised $200m in funding from several institutional investors, money that will be put toward R&D and international expansion.

Taxi-ordering platform developer Gett has added $120m from Volkswagen and Access Industries to a round that now totals $200m, at a $1.5bn post-money valuation.

Funds

Electronics and appliance retailer Suning has agreed to commit $210m to a fund being raised by private equity firm Yunfeng Capital that is expected to close at $2.5bn.

On GUV, MIT Solve, the social enterprise incubator and forum run by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is looking to raise $30m for an impact-centred philanthropic investment vehicle dubbed Solve Innovation Fund.

Exits

Razor and men’s grooming product subscription service Harry’s has agreed to a $1.37bn purchase by Edgewell, owner of brands like Wilkinson Sword and Schick.

DouYu was planning to kick off its IPO roadshow this week but has instead put proceedings on hold, due to US tariffs on Chinese imports. The China-based game streaming and eSports platform developer had set an initial $500m target, and Tencent – the internet group that is the world’s largest game publisher – owns more than 40% of the company.


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

14 January 2019 – CloudEndure Acquired by Amazon

The big ones

Reports in late 2018 suggested SoftBank Vision Fund was planning to invest between $15bn and $20bn in order to take a majority stake in portfolio company WeWork, but sources have told the FT that after the fund’s LPs balked at the idea (though a separate report said Masayoshi Son decided to pull out during the economic turmoil on the stock markets ahead of the Christmas period), SoftBank itself is set to provide $2bn of funding for the company.

Amazon has paid a reported $200m to acquire CloudEndure, a cloud migration and disaster recovery software producer that had disclosed a little over $18m in venture funding.

Healthcare system Providence St Joseph Health launched Providence Ventures in 2014 with $150m and a brief to make strategic investments of up to $5m in health technology developers.

On GUV, Ribon Therapeutics, a US-based biotechnology company developing enzyme families activated under cellular stress conditions, has come out of stealth with $65m in series B capital provided by a consortium led by Novartis Venture Fund, the corporate venturing division of pharmaceutical firm Novartis.

Deals

One of several China-based smart electric car developers to raise substantial funding last year, Byton is reportedly now lining up an additional $500m or so in a round set to value it at $4bn.

Mobile banking service N26 has secured $300m at a $2.7bn valuation, in a series D round led by Insight Venture Partners.

Just three weeks ago in our 2018 round up we were talking about the rapid growth of e-scooter rental platforms, and now news has emerged that Bird – one of the two key players in the sector – is lining up $300m in funding at a $2bn valuation.

Financial leasing service Tokyo Century has been an investor in strategic partner Grab since 2016, and has expanded its overall commitment to the ride hailing platform to $175m, consisting of both equity funding and financing for its Grab Rentals subsidiary.

ClearMotion, a developer of object-sensing systems for use in autonomous vehicles that was spun out of MIT, emerged from stealth almost two years ago having just raised $100m in series C funding from investors including Qualcomm.

Boom Supersonic is working on an aircraft that will be able to reach supersonic speeds while producing the same carbon footprint as business class travel. Its earlier investors include Japan Airlines and Ctrip, and it’s raised $100m in a series B round led by Emerson Collective.

Energy utility CLP has co-led a $100m series C round for digital health management platform Kang Sheng Health Management with China International Capital Corporation.

Instalment buying platform and credit provider Akulaku is in advanced talks to raise $100m in a series D round set to be led by Ant Financial, e-commerce firm Alibaba’s financial services affiliate.

Indian ride hailing service Ola has received $74m in funding from Steadview Capital at a reported valuation of $5.7bn, adding to an ongoing round it aims to close at $1bn.

Funds

Appliance producer Midea has raised $104m for an investment fund with a targeted close of up to $293m that will target developers of intelligent home products, smart manufacturing, retail and new energy technology.

Exits

Neurological disorder drug developer Alector has filed to raise up to $150m in an initial public offering that will enable investors including corporate venturing units MRL Ventures (which owns a 6% stake), GV, AbbVie Ventures, Lilly Asia Ventures and Amgen Ventures to exit. All five contributed to Alector’s last funding round, a $133m series E closed six months ago.


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

21 May 2018 – NewTV Raises $800m in Funding

Deals

Last week’s Big Deal on Global Corporate Venturing looked at a reported $800m in funding raised by NewTV, a stealthy video content producer formed by entertainment mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg that has secured corporates such as 21st Century Fox and Warner Bros as investors.

Reports earlier this year suggested Chinese smart car developer Byton was looking to raise $300m to $400m for its series B round at a $1.2bn valuation.

JD Logistics, the logistics provider spun off by Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com, has invested $306m in ESR Cayman as part of a strategic partnership agreement.

Tanium, an enterprise cybersecurity software provider backed by Citi Ventures, has received $175m from TPG Growth at a valuation of about $5bn, up from the $3.75bn at which it last raised funding a year ago.

Cryptofinance company Circle has secured $110m in a series E round led by new strategic investor Bitmain, at a reported valuation near to $3bn. Bitmain invested as part of an agreement that will involve it supporting USDC, a stablecoin currency Circle is releasing.

Unisound, a Chinese company developing AI technology for use in internet-of-things products, has raised $100m in a round led by China Electronics Health Fund, a corporate venturing subsidiary of telecoms equipment maker China Electronics Corporation Data.

Carousell, the Asia Pacific-focused owner of an e-commerce app for second-hand items, has received $85m in a series C round co-led by Rakuten Ventures and EDBI, the investment arm of state-owned Singapore Economic Development Board. Rakuten has been an investor in Carousell since its 2013 seed round, and also led its $35m series B.

Ansun Biopharma has also secured $85m, in a series A round co-led by corporate venturing units Sinopharm Healthcare Fund and Lilly Asia Ventures, both of which are also taking board seats.

FogPharma, which is developing miniprotein treatments for diseases including cancer, has closed a $66m series B round that included Nan Fung Group, GV and WuXi AppTec Corporate Ventures.

Funds

SoftBank still hasn’t officially closed its first Vision Fund, but is reportedly already in discussions with potential investors for a second Vision Fund that would also be sized at about $100bn, and which would source capital from a wider range of investors.

Southeast Asia has been a notable growth area in terms of VC funding over the past year or two, but it isn’t just foreign investors taking part. Siam Commercial Bank has doubled the size of Digital Ventures, the corporate venturing fund it set up in 2016, to $100m, making it the largest VC fund in Thailand according to the bank. It will also move away from its core fund-of-funds strategy toward more direct investments in startups.

Exits

Japanese e-commerce app Mercari has had a circuitous route to the public markets, but it’s finally succeeded in filing for a $1.1bn IPO in its home country, at a projected valuation of $3.3bn.

M17 Entertainment, formed by the merger or Paktor and 17 Media almost 18 months ago, has filed for its own IPO in the US.

Home furnishings e-commerce platform Home24 has filed for an offering in Frankfurt that is set to raise up to $235m.

Enough about IPOs though – despite the recent boom, the public markets aren’t the only exit route for investors. Case in point: PayPal has agreed to acquire mobile payment technology provider iZettle for $2.2bn in cash, days after Glassdoor was also bought for a billion-dollar sum.


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

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

Deals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funds

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

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

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

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

Exits

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

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


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