07 May 2018 – Tencent Leads $820m Series C for UBTech

Deals

Baidu has spun off the likes of Baidu Video and Zuoyebang in recent years, and video streaming platform iQiyi, in which Baidu owned a majority stake, raised $2.25bn in an IPO in March. The latest deal involves the corporate’s financial services subsidiary, Du Xiaoman, which has raised $1.9bn from investors including Taikang, $1bn of which will go straight to Baidu.

Tencent has led an $820m series C round for consumer robotics developer UBTech that valued it at about $5bn.

Online education has been one of the most notable growth areas in China’s VC space and things appear to be heating up. VIPKid, the operator of a tutoring platform that utilises international teachers, is reportedly looking to secure $500m at a $3bn valuation, double that at which it raised money in a Tencent-backed series C round just eight months ago.

Indian insurance comparison portal PolicyBazaar is close to raising $200m in a round that will be led by a $150m investment by SoftBank Vision Fund.

SF Express, the largest player in China’s logistics sector, has invested $100m in Flexport, the operator of a freight services platform that covers land, air and sea along with adjacent services.

SoundHound raised $75m from a corporate-heavy investor group early last year, and now it’s added $100m from Tencent, Daimler, Orange, Midea Group and Hyundai Motor Company at a reported valuation of more than $1bn.

Masterclass, the online education platform equipped with a host of famous teachers, is reportedly on its way to closing a $70m series D round.

Roivant Sciences raised $1.1bn in a SoftBank Vision Fund-led round last August with a brief to develop and launch a series of offshoot companies.

On GUV, Crescendo Biologics, a UK-based immunotherapy developer spun out from University of Cambridge, closed a $70m series B round that featured commercialisation firm IP Group as well as EMBL Ventures, the investment arm of European Molecular Biology Laboratory.

Funds

Microsoft Ventures has invested in some 50 companies since it relaunched itself as a corporate venturing vehicle two years ago, but has run into identity trouble with people confusing the unit with the similarly-named network of accelerators its parent continues to run around the world. Its solution has been to rebrand to M12, while the corporate’s accelerator initiative will be renamed Microsoft ScaleUp.

The city government of Jerusalem is looking to launch a $130m venture capital fund to support local biotech startups in areas including medical devices and pharmaceutical technology. The government’s contribution to the vehicle would amount to $5.5m at most, with the remainder supplied by private investors.

Exits

Flipkart’s board of directors has approved a deal whereby Walmart will pay approximately $15bn for a 75% stake, according to Bloomberg.

Medtronic spinoff Inspire Medical Systems has gone public in a $108m initial public offering that also represented an exit for Johnson & Johnson.

Consumer electronics and IoT technology provider Xiaomi has officially filed for an initial public offering in Hong Kong that sources told the South China Morning Post will be about $10bn in size, at a valuation of about $100bn.

Laser developer nLight has become the latest tech company to launch a successful IPO, floating above its range to raise $96m.

Mita, a US-based orthopaedic device spinout from University of Colorado, has been acquired by medical technology developer Stryker for an undisclosed sum.


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

25 September 2017 – Gogoro Raises $300m for Electric Scooter with Swappable Batteries

Deals

Gogoro has developed an electric scooter that it sells alongside access to a network of stations where riders can swap batteries, and it’s raised $300m in a series C round featuring Sumitomo, Engie and Panasonic at a reported valuation of more than $800m.

Slack has officially closed a $250m funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund that valued it at $5.1bn post-money, a $1.3bn jump from the valuation at which it last raised cash in April 2016, CEO Stewart Butterfield told Bloomberg and the Financial Times.

One of the at the GCV Asia congress was Jeffrey Li, a managing partner at Tencent Investments which last week also took part in a $230m series C+ round for Chinese fresh produce e-commerce platform MissFresh.

Interior design and construction group Shenzhen Grandland was among the investors in a $182m round for YH Global, a 20-year old logistics service provider that operates centres in 50 Chinese cities.

Bayer and Ginkgo Bioworks have launched an as yet unnamed plant microbiome startup, which will be equipped with $100m from a series A round that also includes Viking Global Investors.

Patreon has received $60m in series C funding, taking its total equity financing past the $100m mark. The creator-based payment platform, backed by talent agencies CAA and UTA at series A stage, however told Recode that the $450m valuation mooted in the press last week was incorrect, though Recode believes the actual valuation was only about 10% lower.

LifeMine Therapeutics, a startup developing fungi-based therapies for chronic and currently untreatable diseases, has closed a $55m series A round led by WuXi Healthcare Ventures and backed by fellow corporate venturing units GV, Merck Ventures and Alexandria Venture Investments.

Funds

Baidu has launched a massive $1.5bn vehicle, called Apollo Fund, to invest in 100 startups related to the autonomous driving sector over the next three years.

The government of Hong Kong launched its HK$2bn ($256m) Innovation and Technology Venture Fund (ITVF), inviting venture capital firms to become co-investors.

Let’s look at GlobalUniversityVenturing.com. The Engine, a US-based program initiated by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) aimed at complex technologies, has raised $200m for its first fund.

Exits

ZhongAn has finally priced its IPO and is set to raise $1.5bn when it floats at the top of its range with a $500m investment by SoftBank.

Another China-based company, online lender Qudian, is lining up its own IPO, and has filed to raise up to $750m in a US offering.

Alibaba meanwhile celebrated an exit with the flotation of logistics service Best, which has raised $450m in an initial public offering.

Despegar, the Argentina-based travel and accommodation booking marketplace backed by tourism services provider Expedia, has also entered public markets, raising $332m in an initial public offering in the US.

Mobile event ticketing platform Weiying has raised more than $1bn from investors including Tencent, Dalian Wanda and iDreamSky in under three years, and now it has agreed to merge assets including its film and theatre ticketing divisions with those of rival Maoyan, creating an entity with a 43% share of the market in China.

When it came to the university venturing world, the big news was that UK-based commercialisation firm IP Group has obtained the support of shareholders holding a total of 96.5% of shares in Touchstone Innovations, its peer spun out from Imperial College London.

Canada-based commercialisation firm Mars Innovation partnered drug discovery company Evotec to launch Lab150, a collaboration that will drive research translation for projects emerging from Mars’ member institutions.


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

29 May 2017 – Home Fitness Service Peloton Raises $325m and Much More

Deals

Alibaba and Ant Financial are reportedly set to lead a $1bn round for food ordering platform Ele.me that will value it at up to $6bn.

Peloton, the home fitness service that combines a high-tech exercise bike with a subscription-based service that makes it feel like you’re in a live class (within reason obviously, though who would bet against VR being integrated into Peloton’s offering in the near future?), has raised $325m in a series E round featuring Comcast NBCUniversal.

Livestreaming has become one of the fastest growing parts of the media sector, not least in China where Panda TV has raised $140m in a series B round led by brokerage firm Industrial Securities.

R3, a consortium formed by a few dozen financial services operators to develop and commercialise blockchain technology for the industry, has secured $107m in the first two tranches of a series A round that includes Intel Capital, Ping An and Temasek, the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore, as well as around 40 banks.

In other news, Chinese mobile communication app developer Chubao has raised $100m in a series D round that included Susquehanna International Group, which has been an investor in the company since 2011.

Huya, the livestreaming subsidiary of online video streaming platform YY, has spun out with $75m of series A funding led by Ping An Insurance.

UrWork was founded only two years ago but it could yet turn out to be the Didi Chuxing of the co-working sector.

We’ve also had a few nice triple helix deals in the past week, such as Symic Bio, a biopharmaceutical spinout of Purdue University, that has completed a $30m series B round backed by all its existing investors, including Purdue Foundry Investment Fund, a vehicle backed by Purdue University focused on the institution’s spinouts.

Funds

The big news is that SoftBank has finally announced the first close of its Vision Fund, having raised an immense $93bn in capital.

WuXi Healthcare Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of WuXi PharmaTech, has agreed to merge with VC firm Frontline BioVentures to form a healthcare-focused investment firm called 6 Dimensions Capital that will have some $800m of assets under management.

Saudi Telecom formed strategic VC firm STC Ventures in 2011 to invest in the IT, telecommunications and media sectors, but as times change so do the requirements for corporate venturing, and the firm has elected to commit $500m to a new fund named STV that will back more advanced digital technologies.

Gree Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of social media and gaming company Gree, has closed its second fund at $67m.

We didn’t see any big fund launches on GUV, and while there were some on GGV, the most interesting news here was that the European Investment Fund has started pulling out of the UK following the country’s decision to abandon the EU.

Exits

Flipkart’s acquisition of rival Snapdeal is getting closer with news that SoftBank has bought out the shares of various other Snapdeal board members to clear the way for the deal.

Delivery Hero raised more than $420m from Naspers earlier this month at a reported $3.1bn valuation, but sources have told Reuters it is planning to launch an IPO in the next few weeks that could value it at up to €4bn ($4.5bn).

Sea, the Singapore-registered online services platform that recently rebranded from Garena with a $550m funding round, has confidentially filed for an IPO in the US that will give exits to corporate investors Tencent, JG Summit and Uni-President Enterprises, according to Bloomberg.

Bioverativ has agreed to acquire True North Therapeutics for $400m upfront with up to $425m in milestone payments to come.

On GUV, news emerged on Tuesday that commercialisation firm IP Group had made a bid for Touchstone Innovations, its peer that was spun out of Imperial College London. Touchstone rebuffed the offer, though a majority of its shareholders (some of which also own IP Group stakes) are pushing for the takeover.


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

19 December 2016 – $225m for BlueRock Therapeutics, Microsoft Ventures Invests from its AI Fund and Much More

Deals

Bayer and investment firm Versant Ventures have jointly provided $225m in series A funding for a regenerative medicine startup called BlueRock Therapeutics.

Symphony emerged two years ago with $66m from 14 banks and followed that funding up with a $100m Google-backed round last year. Now the company, which offers a secure messaging platform for use in the financial services industry, is in the process of raising between $125m and $200m at a pre-money valuation north of $1bn.

SenseTime, which provides deep learning technology to Chinese corporates, has secured $120m in a round that included Dalian Wanda Group and existing backer IDG Capital.

Podotree, the Kakao affiliate that deals with the social media company’s online publishing offerings, has raised $107m in funding from investors including Anchor Equity Partners and GIC at a reported valuation of about $428m.

JetSmarter has big ambitions to become the Uber of private jet travel, and has just raised $105m in series C funding at a $1.5bn pre-money valuation.

Virtual reality gaming company Survios has raised $50m across two rounds, the latter of which was led by MGM.

Sonendo, the developer of a teeth cleaning system for use in root canals, has secured $35m from investors including Henry Crown and Company affiliate CVF, bringing its overall funding to near $110m.

BillFront, a provider of finance for media companies that may face delays in recouping advertising revenue, has raised $35m in a series A round consisting of debt and equity.

Holiday accommodation rental aggregator Tripping.com has received $35m in series C funding, with investment firm Princeville Global leading the round.

Oxford Nanopore has raised additional funding after announcing earlier this month that it had become the first company to sequence multiple human genomes using portable technology.

Edotco, a Malaysia-based telecoms infrastructure services provider, has amassed $600m from investors including Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional. Khazanah Nasional made the investment via a secondary equity private placement offering of $200m, while public-private partnership Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) contributed through a $400m primary offering.

Funds

Microsoft Ventures only resumed making direct investments in May but has already racked up 19 deals since, including contributions to rounds for Tact, Dynamic Signals (see below for both) and Element AI, the last of which is the first investment to be made from a dedicated artificial intelligence fund which the unit has just formed.

Not long after it confirmed that its $100bn Vision Fund would be headquartered in London, news emerged that SoftBank is in talks with Apple over a $1bn investment in the vehicle.

Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), the university venturing fund of Oxford University, on Friday raised an additional £230m ($290m) from investors including the institution’s endowment fund to bring its total to £580m.

IP Group takes Parkwalk for $12m. The intellectual property investor could pay an extra $12m to buy Parkwalk if the spinout-focused fund manager meets certain key targets.

Sigmar Gabriel, minister of economy for Germany, and his French peer Michel Sapin yesterday revealed a €1bn ($1.1bn) fund aimed at startups in the two countries.

Exits

2016 has been a bad year for a lot of people but in the venture capital space it’s been a worse year than most for Rocket Internet, which is continuing to consolidate its holdings.

Meitu, the Chinese creator of a photo modification app for social media, has raised just over $600m in one of the year’s biggest tech IPOs, giving exits to Sina Weibo, Foxconn and IDG Capital Partners.

Garena, the most highly valued startup in Southeast Asia as of a $170m round in April that valued it at $3.75bn, has reportedly begun talks with banks over a prospective IPO in the US in 2018 that could raise around $1bn.

Germany-based medical device manufacturer Gilupi was acquired yesterday by its investor and strategic partner Viroad, a China-based biotechnology company, for an undisclosed sum.

People

Maryland University at College Park (UMD) has appointed Julie Lenzer, former senior advisor to US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, to two key roles as part of its efforts to bolster innovation.

State-owned investment firm Finnish Industry Investment (FII) announced the promotion of Jan Sasse, head of FII’s Growth Investments team since June 2015, to president and CEO yesterday.


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