28 January 2019 – Stanford StartX Fund Comes to an End

The big 3

For all the talk about the big numbers of 2018 – Global Corporate Venturing tracked 2,775 deals worth an estimated total of $180bn, the details of which you can find in the January issue out and the World of Corporate Venturing annual review published at the GCVI Summit at the end of the month – the headline increase in CVC units masks continued evolution in units and structures.

GE Ventures has become one of the most prominent figures in the corporate venture capital space since being formed in 2013, but its parent company is reportedly looking to divest the unit as part of a large-scale restructuring effort that has already claimed its transportation subsidiary and could shortly include GE Healthcare.

Big deal: Stanford-StartX Fund reaches the end

Insurance group Axa formed its corporate venturing unit, then known as Axa Strategic Partners, in 2015 and it has now boosted its early-stage investing by putting $150m into a second early-stage fund that will provide up to $6m per deal.

And startups founded by women or minorities are still having a tough time getting capital. Enterprise software producer SAP is the latest corporate to try and change that, unveiling its No Boundaries initiative that will invest 40% of the existing SAP.io Fund in startups led by underrepresented entrepreneurs.

Other big news sees a sweep of large deals continuing. Go-Jek is one on the up. The ride hailing platform, Grab’s main rival in Southeast Asia, has raised $920m from existing investors that include Google, JD.com and Tencent for the first close of a round with a $2bn target.

Still, getting financial and hopefully strategic benefits remains the game. Reports earlier this week suggested Viacom was set to acquire online television streaming platform Pluto TV for up to $500m. The final price has proven to be a more realistic $340m, but it will still give a healthy exit to a round of investors including Sky, ProSiebenSat.1, UTA, Universal Music Group, Samsung Scripps and Windsor Media.

Funds

Menlo Ventures hires Qualcomm’s Haghighi

Deals

Genetic disease drug developer BridgeBio has received $299m in funding from investors including AIG that will be used to move a 15-strong pipeline of assets forward.

Desktop Metal has confirmed recent reports that it was raising new funding by confirming it has closed a $160m round led by Koch Disruptive Technologies, the then undisclosed large industrial company featured in those reports.

FirstCry was reported last week to be in the process of securing $400m from SoftBank, but now the company has revealed the round will be raised over two tranches – with a first $150m investment closed – and that the cash is actually coming from the Vision Fund rather than the corporate directly.

LinkedIn-backed data streaming platform developer Confluent has secured $125m in a series D round that valued it at $2.5bn. The round increased Confluent’s total funding to $206m and was led by Seqouia Capital, the venture firm that also led its series C two years ago.

AutoAI was unveiled by mapping technology provider Navinfo late last year to further develop smart in-car technology created by the firm’s subsidiaries.

Andela recruits GV for $100m series D

SoftBank Vision Fund has made a $100m investment in Globality, the operator of a platform where businesses can source service providers, that valued the company at nearly $1bn, a source told the WSJ.

Sunmi shines with Ant Financial investment

University

Minervax finds verve with $5m

Nexiot checks in series B funding

CIC makes cut in Imagen series B

Exits

Beleaguered Blippar finds a buyer

Avedro heads to public markets


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

14 January 2019 – CloudEndure Acquired by Amazon

The big ones

Reports in late 2018 suggested SoftBank Vision Fund was planning to invest between $15bn and $20bn in order to take a majority stake in portfolio company WeWork, but sources have told the FT that after the fund’s LPs balked at the idea (though a separate report said Masayoshi Son decided to pull out during the economic turmoil on the stock markets ahead of the Christmas period), SoftBank itself is set to provide $2bn of funding for the company.

Amazon has paid a reported $200m to acquire CloudEndure, a cloud migration and disaster recovery software producer that had disclosed a little over $18m in venture funding.

Healthcare system Providence St Joseph Health launched Providence Ventures in 2014 with $150m and a brief to make strategic investments of up to $5m in health technology developers.

On GUV, Ribon Therapeutics, a US-based biotechnology company developing enzyme families activated under cellular stress conditions, has come out of stealth with $65m in series B capital provided by a consortium led by Novartis Venture Fund, the corporate venturing division of pharmaceutical firm Novartis.

Deals

One of several China-based smart electric car developers to raise substantial funding last year, Byton is reportedly now lining up an additional $500m or so in a round set to value it at $4bn.

Mobile banking service N26 has secured $300m at a $2.7bn valuation, in a series D round led by Insight Venture Partners.

Just three weeks ago in our 2018 round up we were talking about the rapid growth of e-scooter rental platforms, and now news has emerged that Bird – one of the two key players in the sector – is lining up $300m in funding at a $2bn valuation.

Financial leasing service Tokyo Century has been an investor in strategic partner Grab since 2016, and has expanded its overall commitment to the ride hailing platform to $175m, consisting of both equity funding and financing for its Grab Rentals subsidiary.

ClearMotion, a developer of object-sensing systems for use in autonomous vehicles that was spun out of MIT, emerged from stealth almost two years ago having just raised $100m in series C funding from investors including Qualcomm.

Boom Supersonic is working on an aircraft that will be able to reach supersonic speeds while producing the same carbon footprint as business class travel. Its earlier investors include Japan Airlines and Ctrip, and it’s raised $100m in a series B round led by Emerson Collective.

Energy utility CLP has co-led a $100m series C round for digital health management platform Kang Sheng Health Management with China International Capital Corporation.

Instalment buying platform and credit provider Akulaku is in advanced talks to raise $100m in a series D round set to be led by Ant Financial, e-commerce firm Alibaba’s financial services affiliate.

Indian ride hailing service Ola has received $74m in funding from Steadview Capital at a reported valuation of $5.7bn, adding to an ongoing round it aims to close at $1bn.

Funds

Appliance producer Midea has raised $104m for an investment fund with a targeted close of up to $293m that will target developers of intelligent home products, smart manufacturing, retail and new energy technology.

Exits

Neurological disorder drug developer Alector has filed to raise up to $150m in an initial public offering that will enable investors including corporate venturing units MRL Ventures (which owns a 6% stake), GV, AbbVie Ventures, Lilly Asia Ventures and Amgen Ventures to exit. All five contributed to Alector’s last funding round, a $133m series E closed six months ago.


“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

9 January 2017 – Welcome to 2017 with Bike Sharing Deals, Fund backing from Apple and Much More

Deals

Easy Life Financial Services, a tourism-focused financial services spinout of aviation and travel conglomerate HNA Group, has raised approximately $273m in series B+ funding from a string of Chinese investors.

Bike sharing looks likely to be a big area for VC funding in 2017, and China’s Mobike, which raised more than $100m in autumn last year, has followed it up with a $215m series D round co-led by existing backers Tencent and Warburg Pincus.

China-based iCarbonX is looking to build a what it calls an online ecosystem of digital life, and has raised about $200m of funding from investors including Tencent. It has also provided almost $400m of funding from its ecosystem for seven members of its Digital Life Alliance.

Electric bus producer Proterra has raised $140m from investors including Edison Energy and the corporate venturing subsidiaries of General Motors and Exelon.

Cancer test developer Grail spun out of genomics producer Illumina a year ago with $100m in funding that was quickly upped to $125m.

Tasly Pharmaceuticals took part in the $55m series A round closed by liver disease treatment developer Ascletis at the end of 2015, and has come back for its $100m series B.

Online investment manager Nutmeg took its series D round over the $50m mark with a £12m investment by Fubon Financial Holdings.

There have been a few big deals on GlobalUniversityVenturing.com and GlobalGovernmentVenturing.com as well. An intriguing crossover is a $40m series A round for Therachon, a Switzerland-based biotech developer focused on rare genetic diseases such as short-limbed dwarfism, thanks to a $5m extension that featured Bpifrance, the public investment bank of France.

Funds

News emerged last month that Apple could chip in up to $1bn for SoftBank’s $100bn Vision Fund, and that news has now been confirmed along with reports that fellow corporates Qualcomm and Foxconn are also set to invest.

Samsung’s mooted $1.1bn Next47 fund is yet to announce any investments but the same can’t be said for Samsung Next Fund, a $150m initiative announced by the corporate this week.

The cleantech-focused $52m Icos Capital Fund III meanwhile has received commitments from the city of Rotterdam as well as corporates Wuppermann, Bühler and AkzoNobel to achieve a first close.

International Finance Corporation is one of 65 limited partners that have backed SOSV’s third fund, doubling the firm’s total assets under management to $300m.

The European Investment Fund (EIF), the investment arm of EU agency European Investment Bank, and Cassa depositi e prestiti (CDP), the state-owned national promotional institution of Italy, have joined forces to launch Itatech with €200m ($208m).

Greece’s Ministry of Economy and Development has signed an agreement with the European Investment Fund (EIF), the investment arm of EU agency European Investment Bank, to establish a €260m ($270m) fund of funds.

And EU agency European Investment Bank (EIB) has achieved a final close of its third Lebanon-based Euromena private equity fund, managed by Capital Trust Group, at $150m.

Exits

Jounce meanwhile is developing antibody-based immunotherapy treatments for cancer, and has filed for a $75m IPO.

Sogou, operator of China’s third most popular search engine, is looking to float in the US at some point later in the year at a valuation of up to $5bn, CEO Wang Xiaochuan has told Bloomberg.

A sadder exit came for Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of economic development agency Scottish Enterprise, which saw portfolio company TeamRock collapse just three months after making a £2m investment.

People

Neil McGregor, senior managing director at Temasek, the investment arm of the government of Singapore, will depart on March 31 to join Sembcorp Industries as chief executive and group president. McGregor has been Temasek’s head of energy and resources, head of Australia and New Zealand since he joined in June 2014.


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

21 March 2016 – Intel Capital, Qualcomm, Spoonrocket, Corvus Pharmaceuticals, Hutchison China MediTech, GenomeDx, LendInvest, DouyuTV, Cainiao and more

Exits

Intel Capital is reportedly looking to sell up to $1bn worth of its venture assets.

Qualcomm meanwhile looks to have scored a major exit after General Motors agreed to buy driverless vehicle technology developer Cruise Automation in a deal reportedly sized north of $1bn. Cruise, which was founded in 2013, had disclosed only $18m in debt and equity financing.

Just days after announcing it was shutting down, VC-backed SpoonRocket has been acquired by iFood, a delivery service in Latin America that has raised more than $60m from Brazil-based Movile Internet and Warehouse Investimentos, among others.

Corvus Pharmaceuticals, an oncology therapy developer backed by Roche and Novo, filed for a $115m IPO in January but has subsequently set a range between $70m and $80m. It had raised $108m in venture capital over the past two years.

Hutchison China MediTech (Chi-Med), a China-based healthcare group backed by conglomerate Mitsui, raised $101.3m when it floated on Nasdaq yesterday.

Investments

GenomeDx released a prostate cancer testing product last week and has followed it with $25.4m in series C funding, according to an SEC filing. The funding represents the first to be publicly disclosed – in terms of size anyway – for the company, which is backed by investors including Merck’s Global Health Innovation fund.

Having received £22m from Beijing Kunlun in June last year, LendInvest raised £17m from VC firm Atomico, bringing its total debt and equity financing to more than £200m.

DouyuTV, a streaming service focused on the livestreaming of video games, has raised $100m in a series B round led by Tencent, which reportedly provided more than $60m.

Alibaba’s financial services affiliate Ant Financial is said to be raising money at a $60bn valuation but its logistics spinout Cainiao isn’t doing too badly either, having raised a reported $1.54bn in a round that values it at $7.7bn.

Diversified conglomerate HNA Group has agreed to invest RMB1.2bn ($185m) in online sports streaming platform Le Sports as part of a series B round that could reach $1.08bn, according to a regulatory filing.

Ring, a US-based smart doorbell developer backed by insurance provider American Family Insurance and home builder JF Shea, has raised $61.2m in a series C round featuring Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

University College London cancer treatment spinout Autolus licences additional technology from the university as it raises $57m in its series B round.

Biotechnology startup Aprea, a spinout of Karolinska Institute that is backed by a range of public investors, has raised the biggest round for a Sweden-based life sciences company in a decade.

People

QB3, University of California’s research institute and life science accelerator, loses its associate director as Douglas Crawford steps down.


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

29 February 2016 – Tsinghua Unigroup and TCL Corporation fund, University of California and RNT Associates, Uxin, Didi Kuaidi, Razer, Nestlé, Qualcomm and more

Funds

The start of Mobile World Congress which saw Nokia Growth Partners (NGP), the venture capital firm sponsored by communications equipment maker Nokia, start a $350m fund that will invest in internet of things (IoT) technology companies.

Electronics manufacturer TCL Corporation and fabless semiconductor producer Tsinghua Unigroup are forming a $1.53bn corporate venturing fund that will invest in areas like electronics, TMT, Industry 4.0 and internet+. The corporates have put in $275m so far and will look to expand the fund as it invests. Unigroup is part of the main Chinese university Tsinghua that spoke at last year’s GUV: Fusion summit.

The office of the chief investment officer at University of California, which has joined with Ratan Tata’s RNT Associates to fund Indian startups and enterprises over the next 10 years.

Japan-based electronics conglomerates Omron and Ricoh will launch a ¥5bn ($44.5m) joint corporate venturing fund next month aimed at emerging technology sectors. The fund is also supported by Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ), a ¥300bn public-private partnership backed by Japan’s government and 26 domestic companies, and financial services firm Sumitomo Mitsui.

Singapore’s backing of Red Dot to invest $150m in Israeli companies and Canadian institutions backing Avrio’s third late-stage fund – see more from Global Government Venturing in its round-up.

Investments

Real estate firm Mitsui Fudokan already operates ‘venture co-creation project’ Team 31 Ventures but made a bigger step into corporate venturing yesterday when it launched a $45m fund in partnership with investment firm Global Brain. Despite Fudokan’s core property business, the fund will invest in a wide range of sectors, across Asia, the US and Europe.

Online used car auction platform Uxin has raised some $430m in venture funding but the company is now beginning to make its own CVC moves, participating in a $45m round for salvaged car marketplace Fairlubo.

Other big deals were also in Asia, including Didi Kuaidi lining up another $1bn ride and Naspers to stay in Ibibo with $250m investment

Another unicorn, gaming accessory producer Razer, is meanwhile looking to follow up an Intel Capital investment in 2014 with a hefty series C round that will value it at $1.5bn.

Despite this year’s apparent slowdown, healthcare investment reached new high during 2015 as corporate involvement in the sector stayed strong while ‘crossover’ investment increased substantially, according to Jonathan Norris, managing director for Silicon Valley Bank’s healthcare practice, in an interview with GCV.

Corporates played a part in the increase too, with the most frequent participants being Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation (JJDC), Novartis Venture Funds and GlaxoSmithKline subsidiary SR One. Tom Heyman, president of JJDC will be talking at our GCV Symposium 24-25 May so do join us then for his insights!

Effector Therapeutics boosting its series B round, having already been backed by investors including pharmaceutical firms GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Novartis, among others.

Rani, which has created a process to convert injectable drugs into pills, has attracted capital from investors including AstraZeneca and Ping An, boosting its total funding to $70m.

Oscar Health Insurance, the operator of a personal health insurance platform, has reportedly raised $400m in a Fidelity-led round that valued it at $2.7bn. The round comes in the wake of a $32.5m investment by Google Capital in September 2015, made at a $1.75bn valuation.

Nestlé has invested $42.5m in biotech company Pronutria Bioscience, less than a year after it took part in Pronutria’s $39m series C round. The capital, provided by subsidiary Nestlé Health Science, took Pronutria’s overall funding to about $105m.

Exits

Wireless technology manufacturer Qualcomm and flash storage technology provider SanDisk will exit US-based virtualisation software developer Ravello Systems in an acquisition by computing technology producer Oracle. Oracle did not disclose the purchase price but a source familiar with the matter told VentureBeat it was “close to $500m”.

Probably smaller scale but Medical device maker SpectraScience has acquired the assets of Oncoscope, a US-based optical imaging system developer backed by industrial manufacturing equipment provider Applied Materials, for an undisclosed amount.