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

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

18 September 2017 – ZhongAn Lines up $1.5bn IPO

Exits

All eyes will be on Chinese online property and casualty insurance platform ZhongAn next week as it is lining up a Hong Kong IPO that could net it as much as $1.5bn.

Advanced data centre developer and builder Switch is looking at its fifth straight profitable year, and has filed to raise up to $100m on the NYSE, in an offering that will allow Intel Capital to exit.

Volvo has closed the acquisition of on-demand valet parking service Luxe, which was valued at $140m as of its last funding round, for an amount reckoned by TechCrunch to represent pennies on the dollar.

Perhaps showing that there’s still plenty of room for offline consumer brands to emerge, as long as they appear sufficiently high-quality, Nestlé has agreed to buy a 68% majority stake in Blue Bottle Coffee, an upscale coffee brand that as of the start of 2017 had only 29 branches across four US and Japanese cities.

Investments

Alphabet is already an investor in Uber, its GV unit (then known as Google Ventures) having made a big bet in its 2013 series C round. Now however, the corporate is reportedly in talks to invest $1bn in its main US rival, Lyft.

Uber is reportedly in line for a mammoth investment by SoftBank, Didi Chuxing and Dragoneer that will involve the firms investing between $8bn and $10bn in the company in the form of primary and secondary share purchases.

Augmented reality technology developer Magic Leap remains in stealth and is yet to release a product, but that doesn’t mean investors aren’t still interested. The company is looking to raise $500m in a series D round that could include Singapore’s Temasek, and which would follow a $794m Alibaba-led series C round in early 2016.

United Imaging Healthcare collects $505m series A

Wish aspires to $250m in funding

Genomic testing and research service 23andMe has raised $250m in a Sequoia Capital-led round that reportedly valued it at $1.5bn pre-money, taking its total funding to about $490m.

Goldman Sachs has supplied approximately $133m in debt and equity financing for Neyber, a UK-based online lender that takes repayments directly from a borrower’s salary.

Government

Foodee serves up $8.2m series A

Funds

Samsung meanwhile is making a big play in connected and autonomous car technology,putting together a $300m fund to make strategic investments in the sector.

Asus finds Fenox VC for $50m fund

Madasamy moves from Qualcomm to $50m fund

University

Mars Innovation sets up Lab150 experiment

Austria boosts spinout support

Government

Ireland acts on $120m fund

Kerala accepts $78m mission

ScaleUp grows to $82m with BC Tech Fund


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