29 July 2019 – SoftBank Secures $108bn for Second Vision Fund

Big ones

SoftBank confirmed on Friday morning that it has secured a total of $108bn for its second Vision Fund, providing $38bn of the cash itself. That’s slightly less than the $50bn rumoured earlier in the week, but still a significant increase on the $28bn the telco giant put into the first fund.

Short-term accommodation platform developer Oyo has raised a total of about $1.6bn from investors including SoftBank, Airbnb, Didi Chuxing, Grab, Hero Enterprise and China Lodging Group, and two of its other investors – Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners – are reportedly divesting about $1.5bn of shares through a buyback scheme led by Oyo CEO Ritesh Agarwa.

Ke.com, a spinoff of online real estate portal Lianjia that utilises technologies such as virtual reality and 3D modelling, has secured nearly $1.2bn in a series D round led by an $800m investment by Tencent.

And in an interesting cross-over deal, X-Vax Technology, a US-based herpes vaccine developer based on research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, received $56m in a series A round featuring Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, the corporate venturing vehicle for medical products group Johnson & Johnson.

Deals

Microsoft is making its own big capital outlay, investing $1bn in artificial intelligence research organisation OpenAI. Formed as an entity that would seek to steer AI research away from malevolent or even dystopian uses toward more universally beneficial areas, OpenAI is run by a non-profit organisation and had not revealed details of any prior financing.

Toyota has invested $600m in Didi Chuxing at a reported $62bn valuation, as part of a joint venture agreement that will involve the companies partnering to provide additional services to the latter’s drivers. Didi Chuxing isn’t the only ride hailing service to get funding from Toyota either.

Hellobike has entered discussions to raise $400m in a round led by existing corporate investor Ant Financial. The bicycle sharing service will reportedly be valued at about $5bn and the news comes three months after backers including WM Motor, Fosun and Bertelsmann Asia Investments exited the company.

Digital brokerage RobinHood has received $323m in a series E round that valued it at $7.6bn. The round was led by DST Global and it took the total raised by the company, which counts Alphabet and Roc Nation as investors, to more than $860m.

Vietnamese payment technology and services provider VNPay is reportedly in talks to raise $300m at a $1bn+ valuation, with SoftBank Vision Fund in line to provide up to $200m.

Bicycle and electric scooter rental service Lime raised $310m in February, and now its key rival, Bird, is reportedly seeking up to $300m of series D funding at a $2.5bn valuation.

Gusto is proving there are still some big enterprise software exits to come, the human resources platform developer having raised $200m in a Fidelity-led round at a $3.8bn valuation.

Funds

Financial services firm Industrial Bank and insurance group Ping An’s Real Estate Investment unit have backed the inaugural healthcare-focused fund raised by China-based venture capital firm Shenzhen Capital.

VR hardware and software developer Moiin is putting together a $100m fund that will back startups working on small-scale tech that would boost VR gaming.

On GUV, life sciences incubator Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center of Bucks County is to establish a $50m fund that will take equity in resident businesses including those exploiting academic research.

Exits

Livongo Health has had one of the year’s more successful IPOs, securing more than $355m and floating well above its range while adding 2 million shares to the offering.

Healthcare data analytics platform Health Catalyst operates in a broadly similar area to Livongo and guess what – it’s also had a bumper IPO. It too increased the number of shares in the offering and priced them above its range to raise $182m.

On GUV, Jukedeck, a UK-based digital music production software developer spun out of University of Cambridge, has been acquired by  TikTok, a video-based social media platform owned by internet technology producer Bytedance, for an undisclosed sum. Jukedeck had developed an online software platform that exploited artificial intelligence to automatically compose original, royalty-free music based on certain parameters, such as genre and tempo, set by the user.


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

11 February 2019 – Tencent and the Gaming Industry

Big Three

General Electric’s corporate venturing unit is launching a content portal called Flux to help companies overcome barriers to diversity and inclusiveness.

In game-industry deal-making, there’s Tencent, then there’s everyone else. As a sign of both financial muscle and the need to expand beyond core markets given the effective closing of the Chinese market to new games in 2018, Tencent was either a major shareholder in or investor in four of the top five deals last year that saw record $5.7bn invested in startups, according to Digi-Capital’s Q1 report by Tim Merrell.

SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son has said he wants the corporate to eventually raise several iterations of its Vision Fund, and it may have to, considering the vehicle, which is yet to reach its initial $100bn target, has reportedly passed the halfway point in terms of capital allocated.

Deals

Chinese automotive e-commerce platform Guazi could well be the next investment target for SoftBank Vision Fund, which is reportedly in talks to invest up to $1.5bn at an $8.5bn pre-money valuation.

Autonomous driving technology developer Aurora Interactive was formed by alumni of Google, Uber and Tesla’s driverless software units, and has made a big move by raising $530m from investors including Amazon.

OakNorth, a digital bank that caters to both consumers and business customers, has meanwhile become SoftBank Vision Fund’s latest portfolio company.

Electric scooter and e-bike rental service Lime has completed a $310m series D round co-led by GV, whose parent company Alphabet also participated.

Microsoft has invested in Databricks as part of a $250m series E round that valued the big data analytics technology producer at $2.75bn, more than two years after forming a partnership to create a version of its software specifically for Microsoft’s Azure platform.

Zomato has meanwhile received $39.7m from Glade Brook Capital and added it to the $210m invested by Ant Financial in October for a funding round that now stands at about $250m, and which reports last month suggested could potentially reach $1bn.

Raisin puts $114m in its account

Emerging Markets Property Group, the online real estate listings operator whose key brand is Bayut, has raised $100m in series D funding from investors including Exor Seeds, the $100m fund formed by reinsurance company PartnerRe and its parent, Exor.

Healthcare data software provider Health Catalyst on the other hand is valued at about $1bn following a $100m series F round backed by corporate venturing vehicles UPMC Enterprises and Kaiser Permanente Ventures.

Foot Locker kicks $100m into Goat Group

Corporates help scale Himalaya with $100m

University

Spin Memory banks Abies for series B

Blue Water seeks $15m injection

Funds

Sojitz sorts out $33m joint venture fund

Partech packs $143m into African fund

Berkeley encrypts Blockchain Xcelerator

Exits

Palo Alto Networks picks Demisto for acquisition

Alector is developing immuno-neurology drugs that will target the immune system in order to fight neurodegenerative disorders, and it raised $176m when it floated today after pricing its IPO in the middle of its range.

Marinomed hits Vienna Stock Exchange

Long touted as one of the world’s most valuable VC-backed startups, Palantir reached a $20bn valuation in 2015 and reports from 2018 suggested it would seek a valuation roughly double that in a flotation expected to take place this year.

After months of speculation Slack has finally filed, albeit confidentially, to go public. The enterprise messaging platform plans to opt for a direct listing, as Spotify did last year, meaning existing investors including GV, Comcast Ventures and SoftBank Vision Fund will get the chance to divest shares despite Slack not looking to raise additional capital through a flotation. Slack was valued at just over $7.1bn as of its last funding round, in August.

TCR² Therapeutics has set the terms for an initial public offering that will net it $80m if it floats at the top of its range.


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

11 June 2018 – Ant Financial Raises $14bn not $10bn

The European Commission has today released its draft budget for its next financial period to start after 2020 with its draft plans for about $100bn for innovation funding (nice analysis by Science Business here).

Deals

Last month, Ant Financial was reported to have closed a jaw-dropping $10bn funding round at a $150bn that would have been the largest ever round at the largest ever valuation for a private company. It turns out, those reports were wrong – in fact, Ant Financial has raised a mind-blowing $14bn from investors including two Singapore government-owned entities, GIC and Temasek.

Geo-Jade Petroleum has led a series D round for Caogen Touzi, which also featured a range of unnamed, existing investors.

Bigo, a livestreaming platform based in Singapore, has now raised $272m in series D funding to further drive its growth. The round was led by another video platform, YY.

Lime (previously known as LimeBike) will hope that a $250m it is reportedly trying to raise from investors including GV will help it stay ahead of competitors. The company was previously rumoured to be seeking a total of $500m in equity and debt, but it appears the latter financing has been put on hold for unknown reasons.

Hyperchain Technologies, which has raised $234m in a round led by real estate developer Xinhu Zhongbao.

Dataminr, which has developed technology to detect, classify and determine the significance of public information on social media in real time, has now raised more than $380m after attracting $221m from as-yet unnamed backers. Fidelity and Credit Suisse previously backed a $130m series D in 2015.

Honest Company, the ethical household, beauty and baby products business launched by actress Jessica Alba, appears to be on an upwards trajectory again after receiving $200m from L Catterton, the private equity firm co-founded by LVMH.

Alibaba has purchased a 10% stake in Babytree that valued the e-commerce platform at $2.2bn.

Sina has co-led a $103m funding round for Pintec, which focuses on retail financial services.

Autohome has made a strategic investment in used car auction platfom Tiantianpaiche, whose backers already include SoftBank, SIG, Tencent and Bitauto.

Western Digital has joined a consortium of investors led by BlackRock for a $93m series D round in Qumulo.

Pivotal BioVenture Partners and Roche have both returned to back a series C round for SutroVax, which has also added TPG, Medicxi and Foresite Capital to its shareholders.

Volkswagen and Access Industries have supported Gett’s latest funding round that valued the ride hailing business at $1.4bn.

Kunlun-backed Nashwork has attracted $78m in a series B+ round backed by Sino-Ocean Group.

Bertelsmann Asia Investments was among the returning investors in a $70m series B+ round, which followed an initial $100m series B in February this year.

Lilly Asia Ventures and existing investor Alexandria Venture Investments have taken part in a $65m series C round for metabolic disease treatment developer Metacrine.

BlueVine, backed by Rakuten and Citi, will use the money to expand its product offering and accelerate recruitment of its research and development team.

Avi Networks has received $60m in an oversubscribed series B round that featured long-time partner Cisco’s corporate venturing arm as a new investor.

Exits

Kuaishou has acquired AcFun, which was reported earlier this year to have wound down but had in fact experienced a major server crash.

Neon Therapeutics is among the latest to file for an initial public offering, hoping to raise $115m to support several clinical trials. The listing would provide exits to shareholders including Pharmstandard International and Access Industries, though only Access is among the larger shareholders.

Domo, a business optimisation software provider backed by enterprise software developer Salesforce and marketing firm WPP, that is targeting $100m in proceeds. The company is using the offering as a way of avoiding reduced operations – despite emerging from stealth with $200m in series D funding in 2015, it has been making heavy losses and money is running out fast.

Neuronetics has filed for an $86.3m initial public offering on Nasdaq that will offer exits to corporates Pfizer, General Electric and Ascension.

Xiaomi’s eagerly awaited initial public offering, which is already noteworthy for its $10bn target, became even more interesting this week when it emerged that the company will undertake a dual listing, issuing the majority of shares in Hong Kong as expected and offering up to 30% in mainland China through Chinese Depositary Receipts (CDRs).

Marley Spoon, a Germany-based on-demand food delivery service backed by e-commerce group Rocket Internet, is gearing up for a $53m initial public offering… in Australia. The country is one of Marley Spoon’s largest markets and the one where it has actually broken even.

Funds

Pfizer isn’t exactly a new player in the corporate venturing space, having launched its Pfizer Venture Investments unit in 2004, but the pharmaceutical giant is clearly embracing the current boom by putting another $600m towards its CVC efforts – with approximately $150m of that dedicated to neuroscience startups.

Lockheed Martin follows closely behind today by doubling the size of its CVC arm, Lockheed Martin Ventures, to $200m. A key interest for the unit will be early-stage startups in the areas of sensor technologies, autonomy, artificial intelligence and cybertechnology. It’s already revealed a first investment from the new cash, too: NTopology, a US-based developer of computer-aided design software.

Real estate is ripe for disruption by technology startups and that’s led property manager JLL to enter the corporate venturing space with a $100m commitment to its new unit JLL Spark – which was revealed this week but actually founded last year.

The ride hailing firm has launched Grab Ventures, which is set to make eight to 10 investments over the next two years, and established an accelerator called Velocity.

Huobi and Kiwoom Securities have joined forces with NewMargin Capital to launch a blockchain-focused investment fund.

Veolia, La Capitale, Groupe ADP, Ubisoft and Unisys are among the limited partners in White Star’s second fund, which has achieved a $180m close.

GUV

Ripple will pour $50m into R&D at 17 academic institutions, including institutions in the US, UK, India and Brazil.

UC Riverside has partnered the Know Hub Chile partnership to help Chile conduct better research and tech transfer.


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