25 November 2019 – SoftBank Reportedly Reaches Vision Fund II First Close

The Big Ones

And what better way to get back into the swing of things than with SoftBank, which has reportedly reached a first close for Vision Fund II. Although it secured nearly $100bn for the first fund and has received $108bn in MOUs for the new vehicle, sources told Bloomberg it has so far raised only $2bn for the second vehicle. 2019 so often feels like a bizarre alternative reality, but did you ever think we’d be at a point this decade where a figure like that could be regarded as a disappointment for the first close of a CVC fund?

Better news for fibrotic disease drug developer Promedior, which has agreed to be acquired by Roche for $390m upfront and potentially $1bn in milestone payments. Promedior had raised about $50m in equity financing from investors including Shire Strategic Investment Group, the now inactive corporate venturing subsidiary of Shire.

Automation Anywhere, a provider of robotic process automation technology, secured $300m from SoftBank Vision Fund late last year as part of a $550m series A round that valued it at $2.6bn. Very impressive, but the company has now gone further, pulling in $290m in series B funding at a $6.8bn valuation.

And on Global University Venturing, we had Psiquantum, a UK-based quantum computer developer leveraging University of Bristol research, which has reportedly secured $230m in funding.

Deals

LyVue, a spinoff of Trip.com – the online travel agent formerly known as Ctrip – has raised ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ across series A and A-plus rounds that were co-led by Baidu Capital and Tencent along with Goldman Sachs and Sequoia Capital.

Oncology data platform operator MedBanks Network Technology has meanwhile raised $142m in its second round of the year. The series D-plus round was led by Tencent and included China Electronics Corporation, both corporates having already participated in a $58.8m series D in January. MedBanks’ early investors also include insurance group Ping An.

OPay, the African mobile payment and local services platform spun off from Opera, has raised $120m in series B funding from investors including Meituan Dianping, SoftBank Ventures Asia and Bertelsmann Asia Investments.

4D imaging sensor provider Vayyar Imaging has boosted its overall funding to $188m, raising $109m in a series D round led by Koch Disruptive Technologies. The cash was reportedly secured at a valuation of more than $600m and Vayyar intends to channel it into technology development and global expansion.

Banco Vorantim has led a $95.6m round for Brazilian digital bank Neon, 18 months after becoming the company’s institutional banking partner. It stepped in when Neon’s previous partner was liquidated by Brazil’s central bank, ironically in the wake of its $22m series A round.

LeFrak-backed real estate asset management platform Juniper Square has secured $75m in a series C round led by Redpoint Ventures, taking its total funding to $108m. No word on a valuation but it was reportedly valued at $168m when it last raised money, in a $25m series B that closed almost a year ago.

Werewolf Therapeutics has launched with $56m in series A funding, taking money from Taiho Ventures and UPMC Enterprises as part of the round. Werewolf is working on immuno-oncology drugs intended to treat cancer without damaging surrounding tissue. It was founded by healthcare investment firm MPM Capital, which co-led the series A round with venture firm Longwood Fund.

Funds

University of California, Berkeley-focused venture capital firm The House Fund has closed its second fund at $44m. The capital came from endowments for UC Berkeley and the wider University of California system as well as Ahoy Capital and undisclosed other fund-of-fund vehicles, unnamed family offices, UC Berkeley alumni and tech industry executives. The fund originally had a $50m target, according to a late 2017 regulatory filing.

Exits

Alkermes has agreed to buy neurological disease therapy developer Rodin Therapeutics in a deal that could reach $950m should every milestone and sales target be reached. Rodin had raised about $57m from investors including GV, Biogen and Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, and the agreement marks the second big CVC exit to be agreed through a healthcare M&A deal in the past week, following Roche’s deal to acquire Promedior last Friday.

A lot of Chinese tech companies have filed for initial public offerings on US markets recently, but Yeahka is opting for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, having reportedly filed for an IPO in which it expects to raise about $300m. Investors in Yeahka, provider of the second largest non-banking QR code payment platform in China by market share, include corporates Tencent and Recruit.

Recruitment services firm 51job invested $60m in HR management software producer CDP Holdings only last month, but it could be in for a quick exit after China-based CDP filed for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.

China-based oncology diagnostics technology producer Genetron has revealed somewhat of a double whammy, filing for a $100m initial public offering in the US while announcing a $71m funding round backed by Alexandria Venture Investments.


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

18 November 2019 – Orbital Insight Enters $50m Series D

The Big Ones

Chevron Technology Ventures has thrown its weight behind US-based geospatial software technology provider Orbital Insight, which also welcomed back GV and Sky Perfect JSAT.

Softbank over the past few years has tended to skew the numbers and so it’s significant to hear the group has quietly completed a first close on its second Vision Fund, and according to Bloomberg, the amount investors have committed is $2 billion, a far cry from the $108 billion that it has said that it’s targeting.

Once bitten, twice shy appears to be the new motto for the SoftBank Vision Fund, which said it is now pushing companies to seek a profit rather than “chasing growth for the sake of growth”. That approach has meant the fund did agree to backing a $1bn round for fintech developer Paytm, but has put in a clause that it must go public within five years or else SoftBank will have the right to dump its shareholding. That’s a significant turning point for the fund that was previously hell-bent on scaling companies globally without any concern for high burn rates.

Funds

Salesforce forges $50m Consultant Trailblazer Fund

Heidelberg sets up new tech transfer operation

Deals

Cainiao Smart Logistics Network, a logistics services platform co-founded by Alibaba, Fosun Group and Intime Retail Group six years ago, has collected another $3.33bn from Alibaba, thereby increasing the corporate’s majority stake (which it had held since 2017) from 51% to 63%. The deal included a secondary share purchase, though the size is unclear and it is unknown which investor decided to sell. Cainiao’s investors also include government-owned investments firms Temasek, GIC and Khazanah Nasional, as well as Primavera and, according to TechCrunch, several unnamed logistics firms.

Xiaopeng Motors (also known as Xpeng) may not be much of a known quantity in the Western world, but the smart EV developer has already sold more than 10,000 of its first model, an SUV called G3. It also has some powerful corporate investors with Alibaba, Foxconn and UCar. And now it’s added another to the list: Xiaomi, which has led a $400m series C round for Xiaopeng as part of a strategic partnership. There might be a lot of Tesla cars in Silicon Valley, but globally the competition is clearly heating up.

OLX has committed $400m to Frontier Car Group (FCG), a Germany-based second-hand car marketplace operator, that it will invest over multiple tranches and reportedly includes a secondary share purchase of undisclosed size.

CapitalG has been busy. The growth equity arm of Alphabet once known as Google Capitalhas taken part in a $400m series D round for US-based trucking services provider Convoy, which will use the money to accelerate business growth.

And CapitalG also co-led a $150m series H round for CRM software provider Freshworks with Sequoia Capital and Accel. The round valued Freshworks at $3.5bn – though it remains subject to customary closing conditions, including US antitrust regulatory clearance.

Many will be familiar with password manager 1Password, but not for its funding history. In fact, the 14-year-old company has never raised equity – until now, that is, and it’s attracted a respectable $200m in series A capital from investors including Slack Fund.

Salesforce Ventures and Workday Ventures meanwhile returned for a $157m series D round for US-based education benefits software provider Guild Education. General Catalyst led the round, and its chairman and managing director Ken Chenault (who was previously in charge of American Express) will join the board of directors.

ACV Auctions – the US-based online automotive marketplace backed by telecommunications conglomerate SoftBank – has picked up $150m in a series E roundco-led by Fidelity and Wellington Management Company less than a year after closing a $50m series D round.

Avidity devotes itself to $100m series C

AMP amplifies $16m

PureLifi lights up $18m

Exits

The bad news keep on coming for We Co and the latest development is its decision to divest its stake in US-based women-focused work and social space provider The Wing and sell off US-based social networking platform Meetup. We Co owns a 23% stake in The Wing, but not only has the corporate struggled to survive its failed attempt at going public, its chief legal officer Jen Berrent is also facing a lawsuit for pregnancy discrimination, allegedly calling employee Medina Bardhi’s pregnancy a “problem” that needed “a solution” and “to be fixed,” according to the court filing. Berrent is currently a board member of The Wing, but she is expected to lose that position following the stake sale.

HawkEye 360 is one of the more successful university spinouts formed by commercialisation firm Allied Minds (which itself has had a tumultuous year with multiple executive-level changes) and that’s led the firm to sell its entire stake to family office Advance. The latter has also chosen to boost HawkEye’s series B round to $85m, following a $70m first tranche that featured Airbus and Esri this past August.

Money Forward yields Smartcamp

Considering Nikkei and Ant Financial-backed 36Kr, and in particular its news portal 36Kr Media, is sometimes hailed as the Crunchbase of China, you might have expected its IPO in the US to go a little better than it did, but the company is the latest to disappoint investors after not only pricing shares at the bottom of the range at $14.50, but also deciding to issue just 1.4 million shares instead of 3.6 million – raising merely a fifth of its targeted $100m in proceeds. Adding insult to injury, shares dropped by 10% on the first day of trading to close at $13.06.

SpaceMarket gets ready for IPO take-off

Lancers sets its sights on IPO

Makuake makes its way to TSE

Another company that’s not been very active on the funding front is OneConnect Financial Technology, a Singapore-based fintech platform that that was spun out of insurance group Ping An, two years ago.


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

28 October 2019 – We Company Gains $18.5bn in Debt and Equity Funding

The Big Ones

SoftBank COO Marcelo Claure revealed on Thursday that it has committed a total of $18.5bn in debt and equity financing to WeWork owner We Company. It comes after SoftBank, on Tuesday, confirmed details of a $9.5bn rescue package for We Company that includes a $3bn tender offer which will allow earlier investors including Jin Jiang International and Legend Holdings to exit, albeit at a sizeable loss. SoftBank will emerge with an 80% stake in a streamlined company while We Co will come out with enough capital to sustain itself for the time being, hopefully.

Happier times for Databricks, the UC Berkeley spinout that has built a data preparation platform tailored for work with advanced analytics tools. It’s secured $400m in a Microsoft-backed series F round that boosted its valuation from $2.75bn to $6.2bn in just eight months.

Total has launched a $400m investment unit called Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures that looks as if it is assuming the mantle of the petroleum supplier’s main corporate venturing vehicle. The capital is intended to be allocated over the next five years and will fund developers of technologies in areas like energy storage, smart energy and mobility.

On GUV, Oxford Nanopore, the UK-based genetic sequencing technology spinout of University of Oxford, is reportedly seeking £1.6bn ($2.1bn) in a forthcoming private placement. The purported transaction could help Woodford Investment Management, soon to close having failed to restore its liquidity, by enabling the firm to sell down equity that reportedly represents the biggest stake in its portfolio by market value. It is unclear how the move tallies with earlier suggestions that the spinout was looking to go public.

Speaking of Woodford, good news for the spinout-focused Patient Capital Trust. Asset management firm Schroders has rescued trust and agreed terms for the switch to take place before the end of 2019, when it will be renamed Schroder UK Public Private Trust. Schroders will waive its management fee for the first three months and will then charge 0.8% or 1% annually depending on the size of each client’s investment.

Deals

Taimei Technology, which provides clinical trials software that helps multiple stakeholders in the process interact with each other, and ¨has confirmed $212m in funding across two rounds. One of those is a $132m series E-plus round led by Tencent, which added to an $80m series E featuring SoftBank China Venture Capital, some details of which originally emerged in January.

Elsewhere in China, global positioning technology provider Qianxun Spatial Intelligence has secured $141m in series A funding, four years after it was co-founded by Alibaba and Norinco Group. The cash was reportedly raised at a $1.84bn valuation and the round was co-led by government-owned vehicles Shanghai International Group, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China State-Owned Capital Venture Investment Fund.

Funds

Security and surveillance technology provider Hikvision is putting together its own investment fund, Hikvision Smart Industry Investment Fund, which will be equipped with some $141m in capital.

Aerospace and defence equipment manufacturer Safran launched corporate venturing unit Safran Corporate Ventures in 2015 and, after allocating most of its original capital, has added another $33.5m to take its total budget to about $89m. The fund has invested in 10 companies, one of which has so far heralded an exit, and the capital is expected to be spent over the next two years.

Partners Healthcare has run corporate venturing unit Partners Innovation Fund since 2008 but has elected to also provide $80m for two specialist funds. The care system operator will put $50m into a vehicle known as Translational Innovation Fund, which will support development of preclinical drugs based on research at its hospitals, while $30m is going to Artificial Intelligence and Digital Translation Fund, which will work on innovative digital technologies with Partners Healthcare’s vendors.

Bloomberg Beta has meanwhile launched its third $75m fund in six years, with the cash again coming solely from Bloomberg. The firm is sponsored by Bloomberg but operates separately, with a focus on ‘the future of work’ and has built up a portfolio that includes unicorns Knotel and Flexport as well as the likes of Masterclass, AppZen, Rigetti Computing and InfluxData, which each look well on their way to that status.

And Yissum, the tech transfer company of Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJ), has joined forces with drug discovery firm Evotec to launch Lab555, the latest iteration of the latter’s academic commercialisation bridge model.

Exits

More waves in the IPO space, with Singapore-based online real estate marketplace PropertyGuru pulling out of an offering in Australia that would have raised $257m had the company floated at the top of its range. Media conglomerate Emtek had been looking to sell some $55m of shares in the IPO but a bigger concern may be for the Australian Stock Exchange itself.


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

21 October 2019 – SoftBank Prepares We Company Restructuring Deal

The Big Ones

The latest twist in the We Company/WeWork saga is that SoftBank, the largest shareholder in the workspace operator and also the investor that provided most of its late-stage funding, is preparing a restructuring deal that will involve it acquiring a majority stake while ensuring it has enough money to make it through the next 12 months.

Vice Media is dealing with a valuation cut of its own, having raised money from Lupa Systems, the investment holding vehicle for ex-21st Century Fox exec James Murdoch, at a $4bn valuation.

Fund-wise, Lakala Payment may have found itself forced to operate in the shadow of Ant Financial and Tencent’s WePay app, but the payment services firm floated in April, and is now looking to establish its own fintech investment fund.

And talking of new funds, we need to give a shoutout to Wendell Brooks of Intel Capital, who’s donated personal money to seed an up-to $20m philanthropic venture fund being raised by U-M Tech Transfer, the tech transfer office of University of Michigan, for its early-stage spinouts.

On GUV, Neil Woodford has had the worst week of his career yet as he was forced to admit the end is nigh for his fund management firm Woodford Investment Management. He also intends to leave the spinout-focused Woodford Patient Capital Trust (WPCT) and the recently-suspended Woodford Income Focus Fund – having been sacked from the flagship Equity Income Fund by its administrator Link Fund Solutions earlier last week.

Deals

Paytm is looking to cement its position near the top of Asia’s highest valued VC-backed companies and is close to raising $2bn in equity and debt financing at a reported $16bn valuation.

We’re likely to see edge computing turn up increasingly often on this site, and the latest startup to break out in the sector is Pensando Systems, which has emerged from stealth having raised a total of $278m. Pensando has just nabbed $145m in a series C round led by HPE at a reported $645m post-money valuation.

Digital invoicing technology developer and services provider Hainan Golden Technology has closed a $141m series B round led by Tencent that will fund research and development work, in areas such as big data, blockchain and cloud computing technology.

Algolia, a developer of online search software, has raised $110m in series C funding from investors including Salesforce Ventures to boost its total funding to approximately $184m.

Ant Financial has co-led a $100m series C round for Tsign, whose offering can probably be most easily described as ‘the Chinese DocuSign’. Gobi Capital and Eminence Ventures also participated in the round, which reportedly took the total raised by Tsign to at least $131m since it was founded in 2002.

Midu, a spinoff from Chinese news aggregation app developer Qutoutiao, has secured $100m in a CMC Capital-led series B round that included its parent company. Midu oversees online literature platforms Midu Novels and Midu Novels Lite, and is aiming to hit 10 million daily active users before the end of the year.

Pendo has raised its own nine-figure sum, securing $100m in a series E round that valued it at $1bn. The company’s technology helps developers build customer-friendly software, and the round boosted its overall funding to $206m in under five years.

Provivi is working on pesticides designed to prevent certain kinds of pests from mating without affecting the surrounding ecosystem, and has received $85m in series C funding from investors including BASF Venture Capital.

Small molecule cancer drug developer Cyteir Therapeutics, spun out of Jackson Laboratory, has added $40.2m to a series B round led by Novo that now totals $75.2m. Celgene also contributed to the extension, though neither corporate had been named as an investor when Cyteir closed the $29m first tranche early last year.

Level Home has emerged from stealth, making its invisible smart lock available for order and revealing $71m in funding from investors including Walmart, with which it also has a delivery partnership in place, and Lennar. Although the Level Lock is the company’s flagship product, it bills itself as a home automation technology provider, so expect to see its product range extended in future.

There hasn’t been a great deal going on in the electric vehicle sector of late, but electric chassis producer Motiv Power Systems has raised some money, in a $60m series B round co-led by RV producer Winnebago Industries.

Funds

China-based clinical development services provider Hangzhou Tigermed Consulting has committed up to $12m for a $62m biotech-focused fund dubbed TG Sino-Dragon Fund. The dollar-denominated vehicle will be co-sponsored by Singaporean government-owned investment firm Temasek and will target early to growth-stage opportunities in the biotech and contract research spaces.

Japan-based payment services firm Credit Saison is putting together a $55m corporate venturing fund called Saison Capital. The vehicle will invest at seed and series A stage and will concentrate on India and Southeast Asia-based developers of platforms or economic ecosystems that could potentially provide financial services for underbanked citizens, though it is officially sector-agnostic.

Cogna Educação, the Brazil-based educational services provider formerly known as Kroton Educacional, will launch a corporate venture capital arm in 2020 called Cogna Ventures.

Exits

Phathom Pharmaceuticals has licensed a gastrointestinal disease drug from Takeda and is advancing it towards regulatory approval in the US market. It also plans to float, and has set the terms for an initial public offering set to raise $158m if it floats at the top of its range.


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

23 September 2019 – We Company IPO Issues Ongoing + Telecoms Sector Webinar

Big Ones

We have a lot of IPO news for you this week but let’s talk about We Company for a moment, because no other company has had quite as tough a time of trying to go public (not even Uber’s failure to reach the IPO price for weeks after going public comes close). Really, We Co hasn’t found the path to its IPO very much fun but arguably even more eyes have been focused on its largest investor, SoftBank. The IPO may have been delayed until… sometime later this year after rumours that the offering could be cancelled altogether. Sources have told the Wall Street Journal that SoftBank is set to buy up $750m of shares in an IPO that will raise about $3bn when (if!) it eventually happens. The bigger shock has of course been news that We Company’s valuation is set to tumble from $47bn in January to between $15bn and $20bn when it floats.

The ongoing issues with the We Company IPO appear to be hitting SoftBank in other areas, too. The corporate is still in the process of finalising LP commitments for its second Vision Fund, but sovereign wealth funds PIF and Mubadala are reportedly pulling back their exposure having supplied a total of $60bn for the first fund. Taking big bets, as Masayoshi Son is prone to do, after all can also mean you might end up losing big.

Automattic is valued at just (just!) $3bn despite claiming to power around one third of the world’s websites, having received $300m in series D funding from Salesforce Ventures. The company is likely doing okay financially too, considering it last raised money five years ago, in a $160m series C round that valued it at $1bn pre-money and it’s fresh off a purchase of reportedly less than $3m acquisition of Tumblr, the blogging platform that Yahoo purchased for $1.1bn in 2013, before Yahoo was acquired by Verizon, Verizon banned any sexual content in December 2018 and user numbers crashed.

In a fascinating GCV-GUV crossover, robotic surgery technology developer CMR Surgical has secured $240m in series C funding at a reported valuation of about $1.2bn. The company, whose earlier backers include ABB Technology Ventures, raised the cash from investors including Cambridge Innovation Capital, LGT, Watrium, Zhejiang Silk Road Fund and Escala Capital.

Deals

GitLab has completed a $268m series E round co-led by Goldman Sachs that valued the software development and management platform at $2.75bn. The company, whose investors also include Alphabet unit GV, is aiming for a November 2020 IPO and will channel the series E proceeds into hiring and product development.

Online payment technology provider Stripe is now one of the few VC-backed private companies to have outdone that valuation, having secured $250m in funding at an eye watering $35bn pre-money valuation.

DataRobot is meanwhile also valued at $1.2bn, having confirmed a $206m series E round that included Intel Capital. Reports in July had suggested the enterprise AI technology provider was raising $200m, and the round boosted its overall funding to more than $430m.

Self-driving truck developer TuSimple has raised $120m from investors including Mando and UPS Ventures for a series D round that now totals $215m. The overall round is being led by another corporate, Sina, and the capital will go to expanding the range of TuSimple’s fleet and the further co-development of an autonomous truck for commercial use.

Funds

Data analysis software producer Splunk has been a relatively low-profile figure in the corporate venturing space but expect that to pick up following its formation of a unit called Splunk Ventures that will be equipped with $150m of capital.

On GUV, Italy-based venture capital firm Eureka! Venture has launched a €50m ($55m) fund with an initial close of $33m thanks to a commitment by investment platform ItaTech. The Eureka! Fund I – Technology Transfer will focus on the commercialisation of deeptech and has partnered a total of 19 universities and research institutes across the country, though only Polytechnic University of Turin and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia’s Technology Transfer office were named.

Exits

A lot of huge startups have gone public this year but it’s been a mixed bag in terms of outcomes. Airbnb is one of the few decacorns ($10bn+ valuations) still to make the jump in the US, but has now said it plans to list its shares publicly in 2020.

Cloud hosting services provider CloudFlare has secured $525m in its IPO, floating above a range that it had already increased last week. Its investors include Microsoft, Baidu, CapitalG and Qualcomm Ventures, and the company’s stock closed at $18.00 on its first day of trading on Friday.

Henlius, a developer of biosimilar treatments for cancer and autoimmune disorders, has priced its shares for an initial public offering that will net the company $410m when it floats in Hong Kong next week. Fosun Pharma is the largest investor in Henlius, which was valued at $3bn when it last raised funding, in July 2018.

IGM Biosciences has secured $175m in its own IPO, floating at the midpoint of its range before seeing its shares shoot up some 50% in their first day of trading yesterday. The company, which is developing antibodies to treat cancer, counts Haldor Topsøe as its largest shareholder, though the corporate’s stake was diluted from a majority share to 39% in the offering. IGM’s market cap is around the $700m mark at time of writing.

Pfizer spinoff SpringWorks Therapeutics has raised $162m after floating at the top of its range. The rare disease and cancer therapy developer had collected $228m in funding across two rounds, from investors that also included GlaxoSmithKline, and its shares are trading around 30% higher than its IPO price at the time of writing.

SoftBank has at least done very well out of the IPO of one of its portfolio companies. Cancer test developer Guardant Health’s shares were priced at $19 each when it floated last October but SoftBank has just sold 4.9 million shares at $77 a pop to raise a total of $377m. That’s a huge return but it also comes after Guardant’s shares fell from a peak of about $110 last month. SoftBank remains the company’s largest shareholder.


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

26 August 2019 – Uhuru Plans to File for an IPO

Exits

Uhuru to connect to UK’s public markets

Pfizer spinoff Springworks is developing drug treatments for rare forms of cancer, and has filed to raise up to $115m in an initial public offering that would also allow GlaxoSmithKline to exit.

Medical research tool developer 10x Genomics has already reached unicorn status, having closed a SoftBank-backed series D round that valued it at almost $1.3bn earlier this year. Business is going well for 10x, which more than doubled its revenue in 2018, and which has now filed for a $100m initial public offering.

IGM Biosciences has filed for its own $100m IPO – it’s been quite a few days for IPO filings – and the company, which is developing engineered antibodies that will treat cancer, is launching the offering just weeks after it secured $102m in series C funding.

Satsuma sets course for public markets

TSE gives Giftee IPO permission

University

VMware ingrains StartX-backed Intrinsic

Woodford loses touch with Ultrahaptics

Funds

SoftBank is reportedly offering to lend its employees up to $20bn to invest in the second iteration of its Vision Fund, reportedly replicating a process in which staff borrowed $8bn to invest in its predecessor.

Access Ventures accepts corporate backing

Deals

Microfinance provider Tala is reportedly now valued at $750m following a $110m series D round that included existing backer PayPal. The cash will fund international recruitment and an expansion of the company’s product range, and it comes after Tala had received some $100m in debt financing over the past year.

Lixiang, the Chinese electric SUV developer formerly known as Chehejia and CHJ Automotive, has closed its series C round at $530m at a $2.9bn valuation, with, $30m coming from new corporate backer Bytedance.

WeWork (now We Company) is gearing up for one of the year’s biggest IPOs but it isn’t the only company in the working space sector that’s growing quickly. Knotel has secured $400m from investors including Mori Trust, Itochu, Bloomberg Beta and Rocket Internet to increase its total funding to $560m.

Electronic cigarette maker Juul raised a gargantuan $12.8bn from cigarette manufacturer Altria last December at a $38bn valuation, but it isn’t done yet. The company has added$325m in convertible note financing from four investors according to a securities filing, and the cash will likely support an increasingly widespread advertising campaign as it looks to geographically expand.

PlusAI is one of a few autonomous vehicle developers currently in the pre-production stage, but is focusing its efforts on a truck with level 2 autonomous driving functionality that it hopes to be able to mass produce. It is also reportedly near to raising $200m at a valuation exceeding $1bn.

Mortgage financier Better.com is now valued at $600m, following its completion of a $120m series C round. Ping An Global Voyager Fund and American Express Ventures both contributed, as did Citi, Ally Financial, AGNC and Goldman Sachs, and the transaction took Better’s overall funding past the $250m mark.

Once upon a time, when it was a credible threat to Flipkart, Snapdeal’s largest investor was SoftBank. Then, when sales went south the corporate withdrew its support from a funding round in order to try and trigger a merger between the two – both among its portfolio companies. That deal didn’t come off, Walmart acquired SoftBank’s stake in Flipkart, and Snapdeal radically restructured and improbably survived. Now, SoftBank is in talks to lead a $100m round for the company, potentially with an investment of up to $60m. A case of forgive and forget?

Naspers to gamble on $100m Dream11 investment

University

XpectVision meets series B expectations


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

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

17 June 2019 – GE Ventures to Sell its Portfolio

A fascinating feature for you courtesy of Tony Askew, co-founder and partner of REV Venture Partners, who spoke with Global Corporate Venturing about how the media industry has evolved since the corporate venturing unit was launched in 2000. Insights provided by Askew included how its co-investments with In-Q-Tel have helped the unit, while he also explained the group’s aim was to stay three to seven years ahead of everyone else.

Funds

WTW to broker corporate venturing deals

Third Rock counts $770m for fifth fund

Invengo invigorates $145m IoT fund

Crane crowns $90m close for first fund

Wavemaker drifts to $60m close for third fund

Exits

Salesforce processes $15.7bn Tableau acquisition

CrowdStrike is going public today after pricing a $612m IPO that represents a huge jump up from less than two weeks ago, when it was slated to float in an offering that would have raised $378m at its mid-point.

Merck & Co has agreed to acquire Tilos Therapeutics, which is developing antibodies to treat cancer, fibrosis and autoimmune diseases, in a deal that could potentially reach $773m once milestone payments are factored in.

That isn’t the only heavy-duty M&A exit to be agreed in the last day or so. H&R Block isbuying accounting software producer Wave Financial for $405m in cash.

Avi networks its way to VMWare acquisition

Barefoot takes next step with Intel purchase

Cvent goes DoubleDutch in acquisition deal

Deals

Short-term accommodation booking platform Oyo has reportedly begun talks with new and existing investors over a $1bn round that would value it at $10bn.

SoftBank’s recently launched $5bn Innovation Fund that focuses on Latin America has entered discussions with Brazil-based digital bank Nubank to lead a funding round that could reach up to $1bn and value the company at $8bn to $10bn – up from a previous reported valuation of $4bn, achieved when the fintech developer collected $180m from Tencent in October 2018.

SoftBank works out $300m Gympass investment

ADC Therapeutics adjusts series E to $276m

South Korea-based Yanolja also operates a short-term hotel business, refitting venues such as love hotels for a millennial user base seeking good quality accommodation on a budget. It has raised $180m in a series D round at a valuation of more than $1bn, with travel booking platform Booking Holdings joining Singapore’s GIC to supply the cash.

Innoviz has boosted a series C round that includes Harel Insurance and Phoenix Insurance from $132m to $170m, the extra funding coming from undisclosed investors.

Symphony plays on with $165m

Shuidi ships in $145m

Thumbtack, the US-based local services listing platform, has collected $120m in series H funding from unnamed investors – reportedly at a flat valuation of $1.3bn.

ShareChat in talks for $100m funding round

Dishangtie parks $100m in series B round

Vectra collects $100m in series E round

Infarm harvests $100m series B round


“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

20 May 2019 – JD Health Agrees Series A Funding Suspected to Total More Than $1bn

The Big Ones

JD.com has agreed to take in series A funding from CICC Capital, Baring Private Equity Asia and CPEChina Fund that is expected to total more than $1bn, for healthcare services subsidiary JD Health.

Not the week’s biggest fund in terms of numbers, but an intriguing one nonetheless: Telkomsel, the mobile network subsidiary of Indonesia-headquartered telecommunications company Telkom Indonesia, has launched a $40m VC fund in collaboration with telecoms firm Singapore Telecommunications.

When it came to exits, we had a nice crossover between corporate and university with NextCure, a US-based immuno-oncology drug developer based on research at Yale University, that secured $75m in its initial public offering.

Deals

Quibi raised $1bn for its short-form streaming platform back when was known as New TV, and it’s now seeking an additional $1bn to fund content production.

SoftBank Vision Fund’s latest investment involves it supplying $800m in funding for supply chain finance provider GreenSill at a $3.5bn valuation.

Amazon isn’t a huge participant in the corporate venturing space despite its establishment of the early stage-focused Alexa Fund. But it’s led a $575m series G round for UK-based online food delivery service Deliveroo that took the latter’s funding past the $1.5bn mark.

Telecommunications technology provider China Electronics Corporation is investing approximately $548m in Beijing Qianxin Technology, a network security product supplier spun off from Qihoo 360.

Reports last month stated SoftBank was set to invest more than $550m in Germany-based tour booking service GetYourGuide but the end result is slightly more modest, if still impressive.

Vegan burger producer Impossible Foods recently launched in Asia and is set to ramp up its partnership with Burger King. It plans to fund that expansion with a $300m funding round closed at a reported $2bn valuation.

SoftBank Vision Fund’s latest Indian investment has involved it leading a $200m series F round for online grocery delivery service Grofers that valued it at more than $1bn.

Speaking of innovative business models, tube-based transport developer Virgin Hyperloop One has already raised new funding, netting $172m according to a regulatory filing, with at least $90m of that sum coming from port operator DP World and the rest from around 80 additional investors.

ETechAces, the owner of financial product comparison platforms PolicyBazaar and PaisaBazaar, has raised $152m in a round led by SoftBank Vision Fund.

Working space provider Kr Space is one of China-based 36 Kr’s network of companies, but the spinoff has fared better than most, having just secured $145m that will support an expansion into the Asia Pacific region.

Nextdoor’s geographically-arranged social network now spans more than 230,000 neighbourhoods across multiple countries, and it’s secured $123m in series D funding to support an international growth drive that has most recently seen it enter Scandinavia.

Funds

Gree Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of Japan-based digital media company Gree, has reached the first close of a fund called Strive III which it intends to close at ¥15bn ($137m).

Diversified Philippines-based conglomerate JG Summit Holdings has launched a $50m corporate venturing fund dubbed JG Digital Equity Ventures (JG DEV).

Nabventures, the investment arm of the India-based National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard), is aiming to raise up to Rs 7bn ($99.4m) for a venture capital fund.

Universal Display Corporation, the US-based developer of organic light emitting diode (OLED) technologies and materials, has established a corporate venturing arm called UDC Ventures.

Exits

CrowdStrike was valued at more than $3bn when it last raised funding, in 2018, and now it’s filed for an initial public offering.

Family tracking and communication app developer Life360 may be headquartered in the US but it’s taken the unusual step of floating on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Sansan has been one of Japan’s more well-funded VC-stage companies, raising some $120m from investors that include Salesforce as well as home-grown corporates Japan Post, CyberAgent, Recruit, GMO, Nippon Life and Nikkei.


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