27 May 2019 – Age of Turbulence

Thanks to everyone who came to the Global Corporate Venturing Symposium this past week.

We are entering an “age of turbulence” – the theme for this month’s GCV Symposium at London’s County Hall. Whether caused by eventual economic downturn, protectionism or regulatory concerns over the impact of technology-led disruption, the headwinds for those providing innovation capital to entrepreneurs are only likely to increase.

Deals

Parvus Therapeutics lands $800m in Genentech deal

DoorDash has had one of the fastest growth spurts in memory and has just raised $600mfrom investors including SoftBank Vision Fund, in a round that boosted its valuation from $7.1bn to $12.6bn in just three months.

Baidu and Citic Bank have jointly invested some $576m in AIBank, but the online financial services provider is now seeking up to $1bn in external funding that it expects to raise in the coming months.

Back in the outside world, payment card processing service Marqeta has secured $260m in series E funding at a valuation of almost $2bn, a huge jump from the reported $545m valuation it achieved when last raising funds nearly a year ago.

Mafengwo’s core product is an online travel reviews and information platform, but it has added a range of travel services to its offering including hotel room and tour booking.

Gilead Sciences was among the participants in a $120m series B round for cell therapy developer AlloVir that was led by Fidelity Management and Research.

Drug development software producer Schrödinger has raised another $25m to take its latest round to $110m.

Digital identity verification and management platform developer Auth0 has meanwhile secured $103m at a valuation of more than $1bn.

Unit DX marks $25.5m in portfolio funding

Funds

Salesforce Ventures launched its fifth Trailblazer fund earlier and the fourth with an international focus. Europe Trailblazer Fund is equipped with $125m of capital and it comes after the unit committed a total of $250m to Trailblazer vehicles in Canada, Australia and Japan over the past year.

UnityPoint Health, the owner of 32 hospitals and home care services, has formed a strategic investment arm called UnityPoint Health Ventures Innovation Fund, and has provided it with $100m in capital.

Corporates coax third MD Start to close

PSL Innovation Fund reaches $72.3m

Exits

Bicycle Therapeutics rides into public markets

Just Bio to jump to Evotec

Vidyo enters Enghouse in $40m acquisition

Cross-border financial transfer platform TransferWise has also overseen a jump in valuation, to $3.5bn, through a $292m secondary transaction.


“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

20 August 2018 – Podcast and Radio Streaming Service Ximalaya Secures $580m

Deals

With much of the western VC industry seemingly on summer holiday (and frankly, who can blame them?), it’s up to China to pick up the slack in corporate venturing. Ximalaya, the operator of a streaming platform for radio shows and podcasts, has secured $580m in a Tencent-backed round that reportedly valued it at about $3.5bn post-money.

Pfizer has provided an undisclosed amount of equity funding for immunotherapy developer Biontech as part of a collaboration agreement that could reach $425m if it reaches every milestone.

Alphabet has paid about $375m for a stake of around 10% in health insurance provider Oscar Health, which will put the funding toward beefing up its existing team.

TZero, a blockchain lending technology developer spun off from listed e-commerce firm Overstock, is raising up to $270m from GSR Capital, which is set to acquire an 18% stake in the company.

DoorDash, a last-mile delivery service for restaurants, appears to be one of the success stories of 2018. The company was valued at $1.4bn post-money when it raised $535m in a SoftBank-led round in March, but has now raised another $250m at a whopping $4bn valuation just five months later.

Orchard Therapeutics, which is working on gene therapies for rare diseases based on research at University College London, has secured $150m in a series C round that included Sphera Global and corporate venturing unit Medison Ventures.

Exabeam, a cybersecurity information and event management software provider, has raised $50m in series D cash from backers including Cisco Investments.

Funds

E-commerce firm JD.com has begun taking a more active part in corporate venturing in the past year or two, backing the likes of Traveloka, Dada-JD Daojia, Aihuishou and Go-Jek at growth stage alongside post-IPO investments in companies such as Secoo and VIPshop.

Educational services firm New Oriental Education and Technology has put together a $220m fund that will invest between $3m and $15m in early-stage education-focused startups in China.

Exits

Electric vehicle developer Nio recently began shipping its first commercial vehicle, and now it’s filed for a $1.8bn initial public offering in the US.

Babytree, the social parenting community that has branched out into e-commerce, is looking to raise between $800m and $1bn in its Hong Kong IPO, sources have told Reuters, adding that it is seeking a valuation between $3bn and $5bn in the offering.

Weidai, which runs a lending service that uses borrowers’ vehicles as collateral, has filed for a $100m IPO in the US that could give exits to corporate investors Hakim Unique, Shanda and Dong Yi Ri Sheng Home Decoration.

On GUV, Sensyne Health, a UK-based healthcare technology developer partially based on research at University of Oxford, raised £60m ($76m) in its initial public offering on Tuesday and began trading on Aim on Friday.

And Quethera, a UK-based glaucoma therapy developer spun out from University of Cambridge, has been acquired by pharmaceutical firm Astellas Pharma for up to $108m in cash and contingent commitments.

And a nice exit for corporate, university and government venturing entities was Millendo Therapeutics, a US-based endocrine disease drug spinout of University of Michigan, which agreed to a reverse merger with US-listed fertility treatment provider OvaScience.


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

12 March 2018 – Magic Leap Increases Series D to $963m

Deals

In last week’s Big Deal on GCV, news editor Robert Lavine looked at DoorDash, which just got its first corporate investment in a $535m series D round led by SoftBank, almost doubling its valuation in roughly two years.

Augmented reality technology developer Magic Leap has to be one of the most well-funded companies to have never released a product. It has increased its series D round to $963m with $461m from investors including Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which put up $400m, and Axel Springer Digital Ventures.

Elsewhere in online entertainment, game livestreaming has been one of the biggest growth areas in the past year or two, as more companies look to follow Twitch’s lead. China-based Douyu, which has some 30 million daily active users, has secured $630m from Tencent, which has backed it since a $100m series B round two years ago.

Internet company Tencent has agreed to provide approximately $462m in series B funding for Huya, a China-based live game streaming spinout from social media platform Huya.

BBVA has led a $207m round for Atom Bank, the UK-based creator of a mobile-only bank with no physical branches.

Zomato has confirmed reports last month stating that Alibaba’s financial services affiliate Ant Financial had invested $200m.

Credit assessment technology provider Wecash has closed a $160m series D round that was co-led by e-commerce firm Sea and a subsidiary of financial services firm Orix.

UiPath, a developer of software bots that automate mundane enterprise tasks, has raised $135m from investors including CapitalG in a series B round that valued it at $1.1bn.

yKujiale, a China-based virtual reality platform for interior design, has raised $100m in a series D round that included Hearst Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of media group Hearst.

On GUV, TauRx Pharmaceuticals, a Singapore-based Alzheimer’s disease treatment developer spun out from University of Aberdeen, has revealed it secured $71m through a rights issue in October 2017.

Funds

Cisco Investments, the corporate venturing arm of networking equipment manufacturer Cisco, has committed an undisclosed amount to venture capital firm IDG Ventures India’s third fund.

Japan-headquartered automotive component maker Aisin Group launched a $50m US-based investment fund on Tuesday in partnership with venture capital firm Fenox Venture Capital. Fenox will manage the fund, with CEO Anis Uzzaman taking a general partner position.

On GUV, University of Montana has become the sole institutional limited partner (LP) in VC firm Next Frontier Capital’s second fund, a $38m vehicle that aims to support high-value Montana industries.

Exits

Kensho, an AI data platform based on research at Harvard University and MIT, has meanwhile agreed to an acquisition by one of its investors, S&P Global, for approximately $550m in cash and stock.

Blibli began life as a comics, anime and gaming-themed online community in China, but has grown rapidly off the back of an anime streaming platform that has licensed more titles than any other in the country.

Hua Medicine, a diabetes treatment developer backed by pharmaceutical company WuXi PharmaTech, also intends to raise upwards of $400m in an initial public offering.

Genetic disease therapy developer Homology Medicines has filed to raise up to $100m in an initial public offering that will support the progress of two drug candidates through preclinical trials.

Immuno-oncology drug developer Unum Therapeutics last raised funding in a $65m series B round in 2015, but it’s filed to raise up to $86.3m in an initial public offering.

Go-Jek is still in the process of raising funds for a round it expects to close at $1.5bn, at a $5bn valuation, but company president Andre Soelistyo has met with the Indonesia Stock Exchange to discuss a possible IPO.


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