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

29 April 2019 – Uber Sets Terms for $9bn IPO

The Big 3

Uber has set terms for an IPO that will raise $9bn if it floats at the top of its range. SoftBank is among the selling shareholders, though it will remain the largest shareholder in the on-demand ride provider.

Uber has also confirmed its autonomous driving division, otherwise known as Uber Advanced Technologies Group, has raised $1bn from external investors. Toyota said its share consisted of the $500m it provided for strategic partner Uber last August, while SoftBank Vision Fund invested $333m with the rest provided by Denso.

Hitachi has not been too active in the corporate venturing space, but that looks likely to change with the institution of a $150m fund called Hitachi Ventures that is set to formally begin operations in June.

And in a nice university-corporate VC crossover, US-based online education platform Coursera secured $103m in a series E round led by online education and recruitment firm Seek Group.Future Fund, Australia’s sovereign wealth fund, also took part in the round, as did venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates (NEA).

Deals

Ford has agreed to invest $500m in electric SUV and truck developer Rivian, just two months after the latter pulled in $700m in an Amazon-led funding round.

3D printing hasn’t yet become the goldmine some were predicting, but the market leaders are still raising funds quite easily. Carbon is seeking $300m in its forthcoming series E round according to a regulatory filing, at a valuation expected to be around the $2.5bn mark.

KeepTruckin has raised $149m at a $1.25bn valuation, from investors including Alphabet subsidiary GV. GV has been an investor in KeepTruckin since its seed round, back when the unit was still known as Google Ventures, and the series D round took the fleet management technology producer’s total funding to $228m. Greenoaks Capital led the round, which included IVP, Index Ventures and Scale Venture Partners.

Two affiliates of state-owned aerospace manufacturer Aviation Industry Corporation of China have provided $149m of funding for airline services provider Global Wings.

Loon, the orbital internet connectivity system developer formed by Alphabet, has received $125m from HapsMobile, a joint venture between SoftBank and Aerovironment that is developing high-altitude digital infrastructure.

Funds

Allianz has become the latest company to fund an independent venture firm alongside its existing corporate venturing activities.

University of Chicago at Illinois (UIC) partnered investment firm Deerfield Management yesterday to launch translational research funding and commercialisation vehicle West Loop Innovations. Deerfield will provide up to $65m in capital to West Loop Innovations, which will help advance promising discoveries at the university. In particular, the fund is expected to solidify UIC’s strengths in drug discovery.

Exits

Douyu, the game streaming platform that’s been called China’s Twitch, has filed for a $500m initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange.

Content management software provider Fastly has become the latest corporate-backed tech company to file for an IPO, and is officially targeting $100m.

Peer-to-peer car rental marketplace Getaround has paid $300m to acquire peer Drivy in order to create a car sharing service with 5 million users across the US and Europe.

On GUV, Bellwether Bio, a US-based oncological diagnostics spinout of University of Washington, has been acquired by early cancer detection test company Guardant Health for an undisclosed sum.


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

03 September 2018 – Uber Reaffirms Toyota Partnership

Deals

Uber has reaffirmed its partnership with Toyota, extending a pre-existing deal to include the development of an autonomous car-based ride hailing service, with Toyota investing $500m at a $72bn valuation as part of the deal.

Berkshire Hathaway has invested in One97 Communications, the Indian owner of financial services platform Paytm and e-commerce marketplace Paytm Mall.

SoftBank Vision Fund has joined forces with the international arm of ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance to launch an as-yet-unnamed joint venture with $200m in funding to sell ZhongAn’s technology to financial and healthcare companies in Asia-Pacific, including SoftBank’s portfolio companies.

Outset Medical, the mobile dialysis machine maker formerly known as Home Dialysis Plus, meanwhile added $132m in series D funding to its coffers thanks to Baxter Ventures, the Abu Dhabi state-owned Mubadala Investment Company and others.

Zhenkunhang finds corporate suppliers for $129m round

Cloudian stores $94m series E

Makeblock, the developer of a programmable robot kit that aims to teach children how to code, has closed a $44m series C round backed by Yuexiu Industrial Investment Fund, the corporate venturing arm of conglomerate Yue Xiu Enterprises, at a valuation of $367m.

Jacobio dispenses $55m series C

Funds

Singapore-based ride-hailing service Grab has added $250m to its Indonesia-focused corporate venturing unit.

Wisconn Valley Venture Fund surges with $100m

645 calls universities for $40m fund

Exits

The IPO frenzy continues as we head into the Labor Day weekend, with plenty of offerings. Meituan Dianping is still preparing its Hong Kong IPO, and sources have told Bloomberg that Tencent will buy $400m of shares in the offering as cornerstone investor.

Nio, the China-based smart electric vehicle producer backed by Baidu, Lenovo, JD.com and Tencent, made headlines earlier this year when reports emerged it was gearing up for a $2bn initial public offering.

X Financial, a China-based peer-to-peer lending platform backed by conglomerate Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, which is targeting a $250m IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.

Then we have Tubatu, a marketplace for home renovation contractors and interior designers, that is reportedly seeking $200m in its IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, which would provide an exit to 58.com.

Viomi Technology, which manufactures smart home appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers, is meanwhile hoping to raise $150m when it lists on Nasdaq and that could prove a lucrative deal to Xiaomi, which owns nearly a fifth of Viomi (19.5% to be precise).

SurveyMonkey assesses $100m IPO

Gritstone girds itself for $80m IPO

Amgen, Celgene, Eli Lilly and Merck & Co all have reason to celebrate as their portfolio company Sutro Biopharma (whose underlying technology is based on research at Stanford University) gears up for a $75m initial public offering.

Alzheon relaunches IPO plans

Meanwhile Lyft, backed by Alphabet, Alibaba, GM, Magna International and Rakuten, is seeing an opportunity to go public before its rival Uber and has hired an advisory firm specialising in IPOs, Class V Group.


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

12 February 2018 – Ant Financial in Potential $5bn Funding Round

Deals

Ant Financial, e-commerce group Alibaba’s financial services affiliate, is reportedly preparing to raise $5bn in funding in a round that will value it at betwen $80bn and $100bn, making it the most valuable VC-backed private company of all time.

Go-Jek has been raising a $1.2bn round over the past six months that already includes JD.com, Tencent, Google and Meituan-Dianping, and now the on-demand ride service is reportedly set to receive up to $290m from e-commerce firm Blibli and industrial conglomerate Astra International in order to increase the round to $1.5bn.

Byton, the smart electric car developer formerly known as Future Mobility, is reportedly in talks with a Chinese state-owned institution to raise between $300m and $400m of funding at a valuation of at least $1.2bn.

Grocery delivery service Instacart is also gearing up to raise funding – up to $250m according to a Delaware securities filing.

Enerkem, a producer of fuels and biochemicals from municipal waste, has raised approximately $224m in its latest round, which included Sinobioway and long-time backer Waste Management of Canada.

Joby Aviation is developing a five-seater electric aircraft that will be able to take off and land vertically, but which is intended to be far quicker than established alternatives like helicopters.

Swiggy is looking to ward off competitors in India’s app-based food delivery sector, such as Zomato and Foodpanda, and has secured $100m in a round led by Naspers Ventures.

Toyota has invested almost $69m in JapanTaxi, a ride hailing app that has signed up about a quarter of Japan’s taxi drivers, as part of a strategic partnership agreement.

AvroBio has raised $60m in a series B round featuring Brace Pharma Capital, the investment firm backed by pharmaceutical company EMS, and will use the proceeds to advance a pipeline of gene therapies for rare diseases.

Broadlink, the China-based developer of a range of connected home products, has secured $54.5m in series D funding from investors including Baidu and Libai. Its past backers include
Qualcomm Ventures, and the company disclosed the funding alongside news that it is preparing an initial public offering in its home country.

Automotive leasing service provider Fair seems like a company on the move. It acquired Uber’s leasing business, Xchange Leasing, last week and has now raised additional funding in a round led by Next47 that included BMW and CreditEase FinTech Investment Fund.

These weren’t the biggest deal on GUV, but they were the most intriguing because it looks as if MIT has spun out two companies that are developing the same technology: Lightmatter, which raised $11m in a series A, and Lightelligence, which secured $10m in a seed round, are developing computer chips that rely on light (or photonic) signals rather than electric signals – boasting orders of magnitude of processing power and having profound implications for data-intensive applications such as AI.

Funds

Insurance firm Ping An has emerged as one of the more prominent China-based corporate venturers over the past couple of years and its CVC arm, Ping An Ventures, is now targeting up to $1.3bn in capital for two new funds.

Workday formed its corporate venturing unit, Workday Ventures, in 2015, but the unit has only been sporadically active since. That looks set to change however, with the corporate committing $250m to a Workday Ventures fund that will add AR, VR and blockchain-based enterprise technologies to the AI and machine learning it already targets.

UK-based innovation platform Future Planet Capital has signed a memorandum of understanding with venture capital vehicle Eight Great Technologies Fund (8GT) for an initiative that will invest in British spinouts and companies.

And 4490 Ventures, a US-based venture capital firm co-founded by Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (Warf), has raised $49m for its second fund, according to a regulatory filing.

Exits

Acacia Pharma, a UK-based nausea and vomiting treatment developer backed by pharmaceutical firms Lundbeck and Novo, has revealed plans for an initial global offering on the Euronext Brussels market. The company has not disclosed how much it expects to raise in the flotation, which will be conducted as a private placement open to certain institutional and other investors outside the US.

Elastagen, an Australia-based dermatology product manufacturer spun out from University of Sydney, today agreed to an acquisition by pharmaceutical firm Allergan for $95m in an upfront payment.


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