13 January 2020 – Ant Financial Backs Zomato with $150m at a $3bn Valuation

The Big Ones

Zomato has kicked off its next funding round, expected to reach $500m, by raising $150m from existing investor Ant Financial at a $3bn valuation. The cash will help it in its ongoing battle against domestic rival Swiggy for supremacy in India’s online food ordering sector.

SoftBank Vision Fund has reportedly pulled out of a series of large-scale investments, in companies including Honor, Seismic and Creator, in recent months despite signing term sheets. The decisions appear to have taken place in the wake of WeWork’s failure to float in the autumn but could just as easily be due to a general slowdown in investments due to the second Vision Fund still not being close to its initial $100bn target.

Internet-of-things security provider Armis has agreed to a $1.1bn acquisition by Insight Partners in which Alphabet’s CapitalG unit is set to provide $100m. The France-based company had disclosed $112m in funding as of a $65m series C round last year, though none of its VC investors were corporates.

In university – and crossover – news, Soul Machines, a New Zealand-based artificial intelligence-powered avatar platform spun out of University of Auckland, has received $40m in a series B round featuring the institution’s Inventors Fund. Singaporean state-owned investment firm Temasek led the round, which also included Salesforce Ventures, the corporate venturing subsidiary of enterprise software producer Salesforce. Daimler Financial Services, the financial and mobility services subsidiary of carmaker Daimler, was previously revealed as a backer when Soul Machines raised a first series B tranche in 2018.

Deals

Quibi has to be one of the most eagerly-awaited pre-launch startups in history, and its leaders revealed this week it will launch its 10-minutes-or-less streaming platform in April with contributors including Guillermo Del Toro, Jennifer Lopez and Liam Hemsworth.

Fitness and wellness subscription service ClassPass has meanwhile raised $285m in a series E round that lifted its valuation to the billion-dollar mark. Alphabet’s GV unit is among its investors but the latest funding came in a round co-led by L Catterton and Apax Digital with additional participation by Temasek.

Further along the line is Byju’s, reportedly now the world’s most valuable VC-backed edtech company, which has just received $200m in funding from Tiger Global Management at a valuation of about $8bn. That’s an increase in valuation of nearly 40% in just six months and has to be good news for existing backers and corporates Naspers, Tencent and Bennett Coleman & Co.

Hesai has raised $173m in series C funding, in a round it claims is the largest ever for a lidar system developer. Robert Bosch co-led the round, two years after Hesai took part in its automotive AI accelerator in China, while ON Semiconductor also contributed capital.

Zhiyun Health, developer of a chronic disease management platform, has secured a total of $144m across series C-plus and series D rounds, the investors including Samsung, SIG Asia and China Electronics Corporation affiliate OP Financial.

Business accounting software provider High Radius is now valued at more than $1bn, having raised $125m in a series B round featuring Citi Ventures and Susquehanna Growth Equity. Both took part as existing backers and the round was led by Iconiq Capital.

Sisense, the creator of a data simplification tool for app developers and business analysts, has increased its valuation to more than $1bn, securing $100m from investors including Access Industries subsidiary Claltech.

Transcenta Holdings, the biopharmaceutical company formed through the merger of HJB and MabSpace Biosciences – both backed by Lilly Asia Ventures – has also raised $100m, in a series B-plus round that included the Eli Lilly-affiliated venture firm.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has chipped into a $73m series C round for digital accounting software provider Receipt Bank. The round was led by Insight Partners, the venture firm that had invested $50m in Receipt Bank in 2017, and the cash will fund growth across Europe, North America and Australia.

ClearCover has become the latest online insurance portal to raise substantial funding, pulling in $50m through a series C round featuring Cox Enterprises and American Family Ventures, both participating as existing investors.

Funds

US-based tire manufacturer Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company has launched a $100m corporate venture capital vehicle known as Goodyear Ventures at CES. Goodyear produces a range of vehicle tires in addition to running service centres and providing synthetic rubber and chemical products.

India-based poultry product supplier IB Group has formed a $28m strategic investment fund. IB’s central business focuses on its chicken and egg supply, though it has diversified into areas such as livestock feed, pet food, solvents and hospitality.

Exits

Megvii has received regulatory approval to float in Hong Kong and reportedly expects to raise about $500m in the initial public offering. Alibaba and its Ant Financial affiliate own upwards of 29% of the image recognition software provider, which was valued at $4bn as of its last funding round in May.

One Medical has filed to go public having raised a total of $400m in primary funding from investors including Alphabet’s GV unit. The primary care provider has set a placeholder target of $100m that will almost certainly increase by the time it sets terms for the IPO.


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

02 September 2019 – ThoughtSpot Closes $248m Round

The Big Ones

Enterprise analytics platform developer ThoughtSpot has closed a $248m round that valued it at $1.95bn, though existing corporate investors HPE and Capital One do not seem to have participated.

Megvii is one of the two key players in China’s ever increasing – and ominous – facial recognition technology sector (the other being SenseTime), and it’s filed for a Hong Kong IPO that sources tell Reuters is set to raise at least $500m and possibly up to $1bn.

VIPkid has been one of the main players in China’s burgeoning online tutoring sector, but the company, which employs North American English language teachers who work with students through video, may have been indirectly impacted by recent regulations tightening up on credentialling.

US-based, blockchain-focused financial services provider Algo Capital has closed its venture capital fund at $200m – twice as much as its initial target! – having raised capital from limited partners including data marketplace Wibson and consulting firm Rokk3r.

The biggest deal on GUV was the up-to $400m acquisition of Modis Therapeutics, a US-based rare genetic disease therapy developer partly based on Columbia University research, by its peer Zogenix.

Deals

Kuaikan Manhua runs a mobile platform where users can upload original art – much of which is comic based – so it can be bought and read. It has some 40 million monthly active users, half of which are teenagers or younger, and that has attracted Tencent, which has invested $125m.

Tencent has also contributed to a $100m series C round for Whale Network, the owner of e-commerce offerings including Haoyiku. The round was led by venture capital firm Sky9 and it will fund the company’s growth in smaller Chinese cities in addition to the strengthening of its social commerce and livestreaming activities. T

On-demand car leasing service Fair has received $100m in equity and debt financing from Ally Financial, eight months after SoftBank led its $385m series B round.

Agribusiness Cargill has invested $75m in Puris, a producer of pea protein-based food ingredients, money that will be used to expand production at its main facility.

HiFiBio Therapeutics has completed a $67m series C round featuring Kite Pharma and Legend Star, and will put the proceeds toward expanding a pipeline of antibody-based drug candidates targeting cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Online life insurance portal Ethos has secured $60m in a GV-led round, at a valuation of somewhere between $400m and $500m according to Forbes. GV had previously contributed to the company’s $35m series B round just under a year ago, and the latest funding has been earmarked for product development and the strengthening of the Ethos engineering team.

Even with the recent uptick in Latin American investment, we don’t talk about too many Mexico-based companies on this podcast, but Credijusto has bucked the trend, securing $42m in a series B round co-led by Goldman Sachs Principal Strategic Investments.

Exits

Temenos has agreed to acquire digital banking software provider Kony in a deal that will involve it paying $559m upfront and up to $21m in earn-outs.

Peloton Interactive has filed to raise up to $500m in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, roughly a year after raising $550m in a Comcast NBCUniversal-backed series F round valuing it at $4.15bn.

Funds

Indonesia-based venture capital firm East Ventures has closed its sixth fund at $75m with contributions from conglomerate Sinar Mas, media group Emtek and investment holding company Triputra Group.

Cybersecurity software producer CrowdStrike launched a $20m US-based investment fund on Monday in partnership with venture capital firm Accel in a bid to build an ecosystem around its products.


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

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

17 December 2018 – Grab Reaches $2.85bn in Latest Round

Deals

Grab has boosted its latest round to $2.85bn, taking in $150m from Yamaha Motor through a strategic partnership agreement.

Indonesian online marketplace Tokopedia has confirmed it has secured $1.1bn in a round led by Alibaba and SoftBank Vision Fund, with contributions from SoftBank Ventures Korea and unnamed existing backers.

Facial recognition technology provider Megvii is set to raise $500m in a round that could be led by $200m from Bank of China Group Investment with a possible investment by existing backer Alibaba.

Zymergen raised $130m in a SoftBank-led round two years ago, and now SoftBank’s Vision Fund has returned to lead a $400m series C round for the molecular manufacturing technology provider that included Goldman Sachs, Hanwha Asset Management and several existing investors.

Naspers Ventures is leading a funding round for online education provider Byju’s that has reached $322m on its way to a $400m close.

Financial software provider Plaid has secured $250m in a series C round led by Kleiner Perkins and backed by Goldman Sachs, Andreessen Horowitz, NEA, Spark Capital and Index Ventures that valued it at $2.65bn.

Niantic, the augmented reality game developer best known for Pokémon Go, is close to raising $200m in funding from investors including Samsung and Axiomatic, the eSports company that’s becoming increasingly involved in corporate venturing.

Parking services and technology platform ParkJockey was reported the week before last to be closing in on a SoftBank-led round that could be sized between $800m and $1bn.

Automotive e-commerce platform Vroom has raised $146m in a series G round that was led by a $50m investment from brick-and-mortar car retail chain AutoNation.

Meiri Yitao was incubated as a social commerce-focused fresh produce offshoot of online grocer MissFresh, but has sped out of the blocks, following a $30m series A round in July with $100m in series B funding from investors including SIG Asia Investments.

Things have started to quieten down a bit on Global University Venturing ahead of the Christmas holidays but Genomics, a UK-based drug discovery engine developer spun out of University of Oxford, still managed to extend its series B round to $42m with the close of an oversubscribed second $10.2m tranche.

Funds

Bytedance closed its last round at a valuation of $75bn – enough to make it the world’s most valuable VC-backed private company – and it’s now looking to get into the corporate venturing game itself.

Alcoholic beverage provider Constellation Brands formed its corporate venturing unit three years ago and has now launched a $100m initiative called Focus on Female Founders that will invest in female-led portfolio companies.

On Global University Venturing, we had news that the UCL Technology Fund – co-managed by tech transfer office UCL Business and Albion Capital, is in the process of raising between $95m and $126m for a second vehicle (in the original currency of British pounds, the upper number is actually double that of the first fund – £100m compared with £50m).

Exits

Moderna has raised $604m in what’s reportedly the largest biotech IPO ever, increasing the number of shares in the offering by more than 4.5 million, and it has earmarked the proceeds for the further development of a pipeline that now has more than 20 mRNA therapy and vaccine candidates.

2018’s been quite a year for IPOs but it increasingly looks like next year could dwarf it as unicorn after unicorn moves their chips in place. The latest two to have made a step forward are Uber, which has confidentially filed for an offering some onlookers have suggested could value it at a staggering $120bn, and Slack, which has hired Goldman Sachs as lead underwriter for an IPO that could value it at $10bn.

Basis had big plans to create a stablecoin tied to the US dollar that would potentially be usable as a steady alternative in volatile countries, and raised $133m from investors including GV in April. But those plans have screeched to a halt and Basis announced yesterday it will instead wind down due to regulatory difficulties.


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

30 July 2018 – Alphabet Shares Hit All-time High

With Facebook and Netflix stumbling without recognised corporate venturing units, it has been interesting to see the other big four US internet companies, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet and Apple, with powerful CVC investments report or predict strong results.

Alphabet was the most clear-cut as it reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings last Monday, driving Alphabet shares to a new all-time high the following day. It generated adjusted earnings per share of $11.75 versus the Wall Street consensus of $9.59 for the quarter, according to cable news provider CNBC. Alphabet also posted a $1.06bn gain in its equity investments for the time period, which translated into $1.17 EPS of the outperformance.

Funds

With the growth of investment in the VC space, it’s often not just the hard transactions that raise an eyebrow but also prospective deals, and so it is today. Rocket Internet has built up a mass of e-commerce holdings by focusing on Europe and the emerging markets, but is reportedly now eyeing the US and raising between $1bn and $2bn for a corporate venturing fund that will focus on that region.

Credit Suisse Next Investors closes $261m fund

BIF’s fundraising efforts beget $50m

University

UNC Chapel Hill details incubator proposal

Deals

New TV, the short-form video producer formed by entertainment vet Jeffrey Katzenberg and overseen by his WndrCo company, has closed $1bn in funding, $200m of which was supplied by large entertainment companies such as Disney, Warner Bros, 21st Century Fox and Entertainment One.

Elsewhere in China, facial recognition software provider Megvii has raised upwards of $600m from investors including Alibaba and will use the cash to spearhead an expansion of its technology in the retail space.

WeWork launched its WeWork China offshoot a year ago with $500m in series A funding, and WeWork China has now doubled that, raising another $500m in a series B round co-led by five investors including both SoftBank and SoftBank Vision Fund.

Tencent is reportedly lining up an investment of $300m to $500m in India-based short-term accommodation provider Oyo Rooms that will support the latter’s expansion in China, a market now responsible for almost all its overseas revenue.

Genetic testing services and research provider 23andme was valued at $1.75bn last September when it last raised funding, but that valuation is surely higher now it’s closed a $300m investment by GlaxoSmithKline in connection with a collaboration agreement.

Alector collects $133m in series E funding

The RealReal luxuriates in $115m

Stem grows bigger to close $106m round

Cancer radiotherapy technology and services provider Allcure was spun off with the telemedicine assets of hospital management services provider Concord Medical Services in 2015, and three years later the company has raised a reported $103m in series B funding.

University

Galvanize animates $32m series C

Beddr snuggles up to $5.6m series A

Exits

Group buying platform Pinduoduo has become the latest Chinese tech company to go public in the US, floating at the top of its range to raise $1.6bn, just three years after it was founded.

Pinterest meanwhile is looking to launch an initial public offering in a year’s time in order to capitalise on a boost to its advertising stream that is set to double ad revenue to $1bn in 2018.

Huya had a fairly successful IPO in the US a few months back and now its chief rival in China’s livestreaming space, Douyu, is looking to follow the same path, preparing for an offering expected to net it between $600m and $700m.

Ascletis has priced a $400m initial public offering in Hong Kong in the middle of its range, a month after its lead hepatits C treatment received regulatory approval in China.

It’s been a long wait for fuel cell system supplier Bloom Energy, which was founded in 2001 and first touted for an IPO at the latter end of that decade.

Allakos, which is developing antibodies to treat white blood cell-related conditions, has had one of the year’s more successful IPOs, pricing its shares above the range to raise $128m, before watching its stock almost double in price in the first two days of trading.

Constellation consummates $60m IPO

Aridis arrows to public markets

LevelUp rewards investors with $390m exit

Stamps.com collects MetaPack in $230m deal


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