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

03 June 2019 – Possible PhonePe Spinout from Flipkart in $1bn Deal

Big Ones

Right now it feels like we’re gearing up for another period of significant funding, if the rumour mill is anything to go by. Mobile payment platform PhonePe was acquired by Flipkart in 2016, the year after it was founded, but could now be spun back out in a round that could reportedly reach $1bn.

Life insurance firm Northwestern Mutual launched its $50m Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures unit in early 2017 and has since built up one of the more notable CVC portfolios for an insurer, adding the likes of Chime, Ojo Labs and Ladder to existing investments such as Betterment.

Investment firm Insight Partners was already an investor in threat intelligence provider Recorded Future but has taken a step further, acquiring a controlling stake at a valuation of $780m.

Thrive Earlier Detection, a US-based developer of a blood test for cancer, was spun out of Johns Hopkins University on Thursday with $110m in series A funding from investors led by venture capital firm Third Rock Ventures. BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, the corporate venturing subsidiary of health insurer Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, participated in the round, as did molecular diagnostics company Exact Sciences.

UK-based investment firm Woodford Investment Management has sold its entire shareholding in Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), the university venture fund of University of Oxford. The stake, worth £55m ($69.6m), has seemingly been sold to family offices and international investors.

Morningstar downgraded the Equity Income fund from bronze to neutral last week after its value shrunk from £10.2bn in 2017 to just £4.4bn, while St James’ Place, the largest wealth manager in the UK, put the firm on its watchlist after a prolonged poor performance.

Deals

SpaceX has added $1.02bn in new funding according to two separate securities filings, though it hasn’t disclosed details of the investors.

Toyota already has Uber and Grab in its portfolio but it is said to be mulling over an investment of about $550m in fellow ride hailing service Didi Chuxing.

SoFi has expanded from its core business of online lending and student loan refinancing to take in services such as online investments and digital banking, and it has also raised a further $500m in funding, this time in a round led by Qatar Investment Authority.

Lenskart has been one of Asia’s most successful proponents of the consumer goods business model involving an expansion from e-commerce to the offline world, and the eyewear retailer is reportedly in discussions to raise $350m from SoftBank Vision Fund at a $1.3bn valuation.

Oncology data platform developer Tempus has raised $200m in series F funding from investors including Novo at a $3.1bn valuation.

RobinHood was valued at $5.6bn back when it last raised money, early last year, but the Alphabet and Roc Nation-backed trading app developer is seeking $200m from existing investors at a reported valuation of up to $8bn.

Funds

Growth equity vehicle EV Growth was formed by East Ventures and corporate VC units SMDV and YJ Capital early last year with a $150m target for its first fund. It’s ended up overshooting that by a food amount, closing the fund at $200m having received commitments from limited partners including SoftBank. The fund has invested in 12 portfolio companies to date.

Exits

Palo Alto Networks has agreed to pay $410m to acquire container security software developer Twistlock, which had raised $63m from investors including Dell Technologies Capital.

BridgeBio Pharma is developing drugs to treat genetic diseases including forms of cancer linked to genetic causes. It has filed for a $225m initial public offering that will follow more than $480m in venture funding from investors including AIG, though only KKR and Viking Global Investors hold stakes of 5% or more.


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

14 May 2018 – China About to Finalise $47bn Semiconductor and Chip Investment Fund

Deals

Online medical booking and healthcare services portal WeDoctor has raised $500m at a $5.5bn valuation, securing the cash in a round co-led by insurer AIA, which is now the company’s life and health insurance partner, and conglomerate NWS Holdings.

Commission-free online trading platform Robinhood is on a tear, having raised $363m in a series D round that more than quadrupled its valuation to $5.6bn in just over a year, during which it added options and cryptocurrency trading features.

Hybrid cloud software provider Mesosphere has raised $125m in a series D round co-led by Koch Industries subsidiary Koch Disruptive Technologies that also featured Hewlett Packard Enterprise and the Qatar Investment Authority.

Moderna Therapeutics first formed a strategic collaboration agreement with Merck & Co two years ago, and now the RNA therapeutics developer has received $125m from Merck as part of a deal to enhance that agreement.

Intel Capital’s annual Global Summit has revealed its latest batch of portfolio companies, which received a total of $72m from the corporate, which was spread across 12 companies.

On GUV, Escient Pharmaceuticals, a US-based biotechnology spinout from Johns Hopkins University, launched last week with a $40m series A round backed by spinout-focused investment firm Osage University Partners.

Funds

Logistics firm GLP has set up a $1.6bn investment fund that will target technology-focused companies in the logistics sector.

China is about to finalise a $47bn investment fund focusing on semiconductor research and chip development.

US-based life sciences investment firm Foresite Capital has closed a $668m fund that included several unnamed university endowments among the limited partners.

On GUV, Yale University received a $15m grant from philanthropic organisation Blavatnik Family Foundation yesterday to expand the Blavatnik Fund for Innovation to $25m.

Exits

Walmart has confirmed its $16bn purchase of a 77% stake in India-based e-commerce company Flipkart, in what is the biggest M&A exit of a VC-backed company since Facebook’s $19bn purchase of WhatsApp in 2014.

Recruit has agreed to acquire employment listings and employee review platform Glassdoor for $1.2bn in cash, enabling Alphabet’s CapitalG to exit.

Huya, livestreaming platform YY’s game-themed spinoff, secured $180m on Friday in a US IPO in which it floated at the top of its range.

Meili, the Chinese fashion e-commerce platform formed by the merger of Meilishuo and Mogujie, has hired underwriters for an initial public offering in the US that is expected to raise about $500m.

Indian renewable power producer ReNew Power, which counts Japan-based utilities Tokyo Electric and Chubu Electric as well as a subsidiary of sovereign wealth fund Abu Dhabi Investment Authority as backers, has filed for an IPO in its home country that it expects will raise up to $386m.

Mobile POS technology producer iZettle announced plans to go public in its home country of Sweden, in an IPO slated to raise approximately $226m.

On GUV, Benevir Biopharm, a US-based immunotherapy developer based on research at New York University (NYU), is set to be acquired by biotechnology firm Janssen Biotech for up to $1.04bn.

Autolus, a UK-based cancer-focused biopharmaceutical spinout from University College London (UCL), filed for a $100m initial public offering on Nasdaq.

And one exit that has collapsed is StretchSense, a New Zealand-based wearable sensor manufacturer spun out from University of Auckland, which has had to let go 140 staff after e-commerce firm StartToday terminated an acquisition deal.


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