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

23 January 2017 – $20m Series B-1 for Moon Express, Rocket Internet Capital Partners Fund Closes at $1bn and Much More

Deals

Chinese used vehicle marketplace Uxin has raised $500m in new funding, making it only the latest player in the sector to close a nine-figure round.

Mobile commerce platform Letgo has taken its overall funding to $375m since the start of 2015 with a $175m round backed by early investor Naspers.

Zoom Video Communications has launched the latest iteration of its cloud-based video conferencing platform and disclosed a $100m series D round that values it at more than $1bn.

Workspace provider UrWork has raised $58m from investors including property developers Junfa Group and Dahong Group in a round that reportedly increased its overall equity financing to about $175m.

Marketing data provider AppsFlyer has welcomed Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners as a new investor, completing a $56m series C round in the process.

InsideSales, developer of an AI-equipped online sales engine, has taken its overall funding to about $250m with a $50m series E round featuring existing backer Microsoft and new investor Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, the investment arm of the Irish government.

Tencent has led a $40.5m series D round for Xiaoshouyi, which is developing a customer relationship management platform not too dissimilar to that of Salesforce.

Moon Express is one of several companies competing for the $20m grand prize of Google’s Lunar X-Prize contest, and has raised $20m in series B-1 funding in a round featuring Autodesk.

Amra, a personalised medicine spinout of Linköping University, raised $9m in a series A round on Tuesday from investors including Stiftelsen Industrifonden, the investment arm of the government of Sweden.

Exits

ObsEva, a Swiss developer of therapies focused on women’s reproductive health, has set terms for a Nasdaq IPO that will raise approximately $97m if the company floats at the middle of the range.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is set to acquire data centre software producer Simplivity in a $650m cash deal that will provide an exit to corporate backer Swisscom.

International Data Group, one of the earliest firms to invest heavily in corporate venturing, has agreed to an acquisition by conglomerate China Oceanwide and IDG Capital, one of its own venture capital affiliates.

Cambridge Graphene, a graphene ink developer spun out of Cambridge University, has been acquired by advanced materials company Versarien for a total of £170,000 ($210,000), providing an exit to the institution’s tech transfer office Cambridge Enterprise.

Funds

Rocket Internet has closed its Rocket Internet Capital Partners fund at $1bn, a year after it reached its $420m first close.

Elsewhere in China, Concord Medical Services, the owner of a chain of radiotherapy and diagnostic imaging centres across the country, has formed a $150m healthcare fund in partnership with investment firm Zhongrong International Trust.

Speaking of healthcare funds, life insurance company Northwestern Mutual has launched a $50m corporate venturing vehicle called Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures it says will target technology or services that can boost financial security.

CreditEase, the owner of peer-to-peer lending platform Yirendai, has raised $32.2m for the first close of a venture capital fund that will invest in Israeli tech startups.

Paris-Saclay University this week achieved the first close of its €50m ($53m) seed fund thanks to contributions from investors including France’s public investment bank Bpifrance.

The Technology Transfer Strengthening Initiative (TTSI), a program introduced by export credit agency Enterprise Ireland and managed by Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI), has received a €34.5m ($37m) boost from Enterprise Ireland.

The city government of Suzhou in China and private equity firm Shenzhen Capital Group have partnered to launch a RMB5bn ($732m) initiative dubbed Suzhou Hongtu Big Data Venture Capital Fund, China Money Network reported yesterday.

Bpifrance, the public investment bank of France, is the international leader for government venture capital firms backing technology companies, according to a report from research firm CB Insights.

Temasek, the investment arm of Singapore’s Ministry of Finance, came in second place, while GIC, the investment unit of Singapore Investment Corporation, rounded off the top three.

What’s interesting here, of course, is that the UK is sorely missing from the list. That’s in the same week that the country’s prime minister Theresa May said she would put immigration restrictions above the economic wellbeing of the country and is ready to walk away from the EU without any deal in place.


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

16 January 2017 – Funding Circle Raises $100m, Starship Technologies Raises $17.2m Seed Funding and Much More

Deals

Insurance and reinsurance firm Arch Capital Group has contributed to a $510m round that has launched Premia Holdings, a Bermuda-based company that will offer property & casualty runoff insurance to businesses.

Chinese real estate service Lianjia raised more than $920m at a $6.2bn post-money valuation last April, in a series B round backed by Tencent and Baidu.

Hive Box, the logistics station network established by corporates GLP, SF Express, STO Express, ZTO Express and Yunda Express in 2015, has received approximately $360m in series A funding.

Mobile payment platform iZettle has raised $63m in financing to almost double the size of its series D round to $130m.

Much of the activity in the peer-to-peer lending sector has been concentrated in the US and China, but UK-based Funding Circle is proving it’s no slouch, raising $100m from investors including Rocket Internet and Temasek, the investment arm of Singapore’s government.

Zhihu, China’s answer to Quora, has secured $100m in a series D round backed by Tencent, which had previously invested in the company’s $55m series C just over a year ago, and search engine provider Sogou.

Alibaba’s local services subsidiary, Koubei, has co-led a funding round for restaurant table booking platform Meiweibuyongdeng that valued the company at just over $430m. T

Flash storage technology producer Kaminario has secured $75m in a series F round led by private equity firm Waterwood that it will use to expand in regions such as Eastern and Western Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East.

Ascentage Pharma spun out of oncology drug developer Ascenta Therapeutics in 2009 and has now closed a $72m series B round led by the Chinese government’s Future Industry Investment Fund that will be used to advance its pipeline of small-molecule drug treatments for cancer, hepatitis B and age-related diseases.

Immuno-oncology company Neon Therapeutics has raised $70m in a series B round backed by Access Industries, the conglomerate that took part in its $55m series A round just over a year ago.

Here’s a smaller one by amount but an enormous one for its stage: drone technology and logistics have both been hot areas of late so it’s no surprise that a company that combines the two, Starship Technologies, has raised a huge $17.2m in its seed round.

Another one that doesn’t exactly count as one of the week’s biggest, but is noteworthy nonetheless happened on GlobalUniversityVenturing.com, where Alta Innovations, the tech transfer office of Birmingham University, made a first investment from its £5m Spinout Investment Fund.

Funds

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Co has been cited as an investor in SoftBank’s $100bn Vision Fund since November, and people familiar with the matter have told Bloomberg it is set to provide between $10bn and $15bn.

Tekes Venture Capital, the investment arm of Tekes, the state-owned Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, has backed Butterfly Venture Fund III, a €24m ($25m) seed fund aimed at startups in Nordic countries.

The nanotechnology-focused commercialisation firm is set to establish two investment funds in the first half the year and is seeking co-investors from China and the Middle East as well as Japan.

The week’s largest fund on GlobalUniversityVenturing.com meanwhile was healthcare-focused VC firm Versant Ventures closing its sixth investment fund at a hard cap of $400m, with a third of that sum allocated towards the commercialisation of university research.

Exits

Fog Creek Software launched cloud collaboration tool Trello in 2011, spinning it out three years later when it raised $10.3m from VC investors.

SoftBank has had some notable successes through its CVC activity in Asia but it’s fair to say realty listings platform Housing.com is not among them. SoftBank had reportedly invested up to $95m in Housing.com, which has now been acquired by rival PropTiger in an all-share deal that valued it at no more than $75m. The corporate hasn’t given up however, and is investing $5m in the merged company together with a $50m contribution from PropTiger investor News Corp.

People

Akshay Naheta, chief investment officer of Knight Assets, has joined SoftBank to help manage the company’s $100bn fund that is backed by a range of sovereign wealth funds.


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

19 December 2016 – $225m for BlueRock Therapeutics, Microsoft Ventures Invests from its AI Fund and Much More

Deals

Bayer and investment firm Versant Ventures have jointly provided $225m in series A funding for a regenerative medicine startup called BlueRock Therapeutics.

Symphony emerged two years ago with $66m from 14 banks and followed that funding up with a $100m Google-backed round last year. Now the company, which offers a secure messaging platform for use in the financial services industry, is in the process of raising between $125m and $200m at a pre-money valuation north of $1bn.

SenseTime, which provides deep learning technology to Chinese corporates, has secured $120m in a round that included Dalian Wanda Group and existing backer IDG Capital.

Podotree, the Kakao affiliate that deals with the social media company’s online publishing offerings, has raised $107m in funding from investors including Anchor Equity Partners and GIC at a reported valuation of about $428m.

JetSmarter has big ambitions to become the Uber of private jet travel, and has just raised $105m in series C funding at a $1.5bn pre-money valuation.

Virtual reality gaming company Survios has raised $50m across two rounds, the latter of which was led by MGM.

Sonendo, the developer of a teeth cleaning system for use in root canals, has secured $35m from investors including Henry Crown and Company affiliate CVF, bringing its overall funding to near $110m.

BillFront, a provider of finance for media companies that may face delays in recouping advertising revenue, has raised $35m in a series A round consisting of debt and equity.

Holiday accommodation rental aggregator Tripping.com has received $35m in series C funding, with investment firm Princeville Global leading the round.

Oxford Nanopore has raised additional funding after announcing earlier this month that it had become the first company to sequence multiple human genomes using portable technology.

Edotco, a Malaysia-based telecoms infrastructure services provider, has amassed $600m from investors including Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional. Khazanah Nasional made the investment via a secondary equity private placement offering of $200m, while public-private partnership Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) contributed through a $400m primary offering.

Funds

Microsoft Ventures only resumed making direct investments in May but has already racked up 19 deals since, including contributions to rounds for Tact, Dynamic Signals (see below for both) and Element AI, the last of which is the first investment to be made from a dedicated artificial intelligence fund which the unit has just formed.

Not long after it confirmed that its $100bn Vision Fund would be headquartered in London, news emerged that SoftBank is in talks with Apple over a $1bn investment in the vehicle.

Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), the university venturing fund of Oxford University, on Friday raised an additional £230m ($290m) from investors including the institution’s endowment fund to bring its total to £580m.

IP Group takes Parkwalk for $12m. The intellectual property investor could pay an extra $12m to buy Parkwalk if the spinout-focused fund manager meets certain key targets.

Sigmar Gabriel, minister of economy for Germany, and his French peer Michel Sapin yesterday revealed a €1bn ($1.1bn) fund aimed at startups in the two countries.

Exits

2016 has been a bad year for a lot of people but in the venture capital space it’s been a worse year than most for Rocket Internet, which is continuing to consolidate its holdings.

Meitu, the Chinese creator of a photo modification app for social media, has raised just over $600m in one of the year’s biggest tech IPOs, giving exits to Sina Weibo, Foxconn and IDG Capital Partners.

Garena, the most highly valued startup in Southeast Asia as of a $170m round in April that valued it at $3.75bn, has reportedly begun talks with banks over a prospective IPO in the US in 2018 that could raise around $1bn.

Germany-based medical device manufacturer Gilupi was acquired yesterday by its investor and strategic partner Viroad, a China-based biotechnology company, for an undisclosed sum.

People

Maryland University at College Park (UMD) has appointed Julie Lenzer, former senior advisor to US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, to two key roles as part of its efforts to bolster innovation.

State-owned investment firm Finnish Industry Investment (FII) announced the promotion of Jan Sasse, head of FII’s Growth Investments team since June 2015, to president and CEO yesterday.


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

25 July 2016 – Last week’s biggest investments, funds, exits and people moves

Covering the week’s venturing news including funding, investments, exits and people moves.


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

8 February 2016 – Munce retires, Jasper exit, Sesame Street, Pierre Fabre and more…

Big news – people moves

Claudia Fan Munce’s retirement as managing director of IBM’s Venture Capital Group, following other high-profile departures such as Nagraj Kashyap and Arvind Sodhani over the past year.

Tom Hockaday leaving Isis.

Exits

Jasper (Singtel and Temasek) after Gilt last month.

Rocket Internet has sold its food ordering sites in Europe, Mexia and Brazil to Just Eat, a London-based competitor, for $140 million.

IPOs

China-based, Merck & Co-backed immuno-oncology drug developer BeiGene floated on Nasdaq yesterday in a $158m IPO, the same day as genome editing company Editas Medicine.

Editas is also trading up, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see several more IPOs before the end of February.

But doubt it’ll be UBER, despite Fred Wilson’s demands as a non-shareholder.

Fundraising

Sesame Street’s new fund

Pierre Fabre, the 2nd largest French independent pharmaceutical group, have launched Pierre Fabre Fund for Innovation.

Two weeks ago, GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson were among the founders of the UK-based Apollo Therapeutics Fund, and they’ve teamed up again as limited partners in the $230m first fund closed by Medicxis Ventures, a life sciences-focused firm spun out of venture firm Index Ventures. GSK and Johnson & Johnson were previously LPs in Medicxis’ predecessor, the first life sciences fund raised by Index, in 2012.
Plus debuts slow, although Luma has two intel capital veterans.

Kuwait potentially throwing $100bn at its sovereign wealth fund.