17 July 2017 – A Look at Unicorns

Editorial: A Look at Unicorns

Funds

Toyota’s research division, Toyota Research Institute, has launched a dedicated corporate venturing fund called Toyota AI Ventures that will invest in artificial intelligence as well as robotics, autonomous mobility, data and cloud technology.

Partech Ventures, a US-headquartered venture firm with a significant presence in Europe,has closed its seventh VC-stage fund, Partech International Ventures VII, at $455m.

Global Brain heads for $180m close

Ground transport-focused venture firm Autotech Ventures, which had already revealed commitments from BorgWarner and Autoliv to its first fund, has now closed it at $120m.

Government

Hong Kong to launch matched venture fund

Singapore springs to action with new fund

University

Adelaide realises ThincLab

Exits

Set-top box producer Roku has hired underwriters for an IPO that could value it at up to $1bn, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The merger agreed by DraftKings and FanDuel in November was supposed to help them combat long-running regulatory issues, but those seem to have struck again.

Symantec finds Skycure in $250m acquisition

Fireglass to melt into Symantec

Baidu catches Kitt.AI

Samsung Next embarks on European trip

Government

SBI Life prepares $1bn IPO

Investments

Uber’s on-demand ride and food ordering operations in 21 cities across four countries in Eastern Europe will be merged with Yandex Taxi, a subsidiary of Russian internet company Yandex, in a deal that will create a $3.7bn company, of which Uber will own 36%.

Co-working space provider WeWork has raised $760m in a series G round that reportedly increased its valuation to $20bn.

Artificial intelligence technology provider SenseTime has completed a $410m series B round featuring Dalian Wanda that reportedly valued it at more than $1.5bn.

Shouqi Limousine and Chauffeur, a ride hailing offshoot of services Shouqi Group and Xianglong Taxi, has raised $88m in series B funding from an undisclosed investor at a valuation of about $750m.

Darktrace, the developer of a cybersecurity platform that looks to mimic the human immune system, has received $75m in a series D round led by Insight Venture Partners that valued it at $825m.

E-Scape Bio has reached the final close of a $63m series A round featuring Novo as well as CVC units Lilly Asia Ventures, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC and Novartis Venture Fund which E-Scape will use to advance its pipeline of neurodegenerative disease treatments.

Growth equity firm Spectrum Equity has acquired a majority stake in link management platform Bitly in return for a $63m investment.

CompareAsiaGroup, the operator of a comparison platform for financial products in Southeast Asia, has closed a $50m series B round that included Alibaba and SBI Group.

Government

Floadia flows towards $14.5m series B

University

NYGC spins out Gencove

Phytelligence harvests series B


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

19 June 2017 – Ride Hailing Services Grab Deals and Much More

Funds

Ping An outlines fintech investment plans

Medicxi nabs corporates to close $300m fund

Novartis and Alphabet subsidiary Verily were among the limited partners for a the late-stage fund, which will complement the GSK and Johnson & Johnson-backed fund  Medicxi closed in 2016.

Japan-based ICT equipment provider Nihon Unisys has formed a $45m corporate venturing unit that will seek out investments in sectors such as robotics, financial technology and the internet of things.

Palo Alto Networks puts together $20m fund

GUV

Galaxy stars in IP Group’s $264m fundraising

GGV

London looks to Better Futures

Exits

Wanderful finds path to acquisition

GGV

Hello bids farewell

Deals

News leaked out in March that ride hailing service Grab was set to raise $1.5bn in a round led by existing investor SoftBank, and sources have told Bloomberg firstly that the round already includes Didi Chuxing, and secondly that Alibaba or Ant Financial is also considering an investment, in order to promote their Alipay platform to Grab’s Southeast Asian customers.

Mobike has raised $600m in a Tencent-led round that will fuel expansion not only in its home country but also in Singapore and the UK.

Careem is taking the Uber model to the Middle East and surrounding countries, and is growing rapidly in the process, doubling the number of cities in which it operates to 80 in the past six months.

A regulatory filing in April indicated Indian ride hailing company Ola was seeking another $100m in funding, and it has reportedly secured some of that already. Hedge fund Tekne Capital Management has provided a sub-$50m amount.

Jaguar Land Rover and its corporate venturing and incubator subsidiary InMotion have invested a combined $25m in ride hailing company Lyft as part of a partnership agreement that will involve Lyft helping test its autonomous driving and mobility services.

Elsewhere in the transport sector, Chinese second hand vehicle marketplace Guazi.com has received $400m in series B funding from investors including steel producer Shougang Group’s Jingxin Venture Capital fund.

UCar, the China-based chauffeured car service that went public last year at a $5.5bn valuation, has formed a corporate venturing fund sized at almost $1.5bn, and its first investment has been to lead a $324m series B round for electric vehicle developer Xiaopeng Motors.

Electric bus producer Proterra raised $140m a recently as January, in a ‘series 5’ round featuring Edison Energy, GM Ventures and Exelon’s Constellation Technology Ventures unit, but it wasn’t finished.

Oppo takes a ride on Ponycar

Drone Racing League takes off with $20m

Following on from news that Amazon is interested in acquiring Slack for upwards of $9bn, but recently bought US-listed Whole Foods for $13.7bn, it turns out Slack is in the process of raising $500m of new funding at a $5bn post-money valuation.

AvidXchange, a provider of automated payment processing technology, has raised $300m in financing from investors including Mastercard, with which it has struck a strategic partnership agreement to supply AvidXchange’s technology to its customers.

Temasek and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec have contributed to a $300m funding round for AvidXchange that also attracted Mastercard and Peter Thiel.

Online brokerage Futu Securities has received more than $145m in a series C round led by Tencent, the corporate investor that also took part in its series A and B rounds.

Element AI elevates itself to $102m series A

Actility admits Cisco to $75m series D

Clutter is one of several on-demand platforms seeking to disrupt the personal storage space, and it has raised $64m in a GV-backed series C round to support growth, both in its home country of the US and abroad.

Twist finds the material to raise $60m

Omada goes on the attack with $50m

GGV

Protix breeds $50.5m investment


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

22 August 2016 – Autonomous and Smart Car Investments, $30bn Fund in China and more

Funds

China has just reportedly approved the establishment of a state-owned $30bn VC fund in Shenzhen.

ONGC to drill into startups with $15m fund

Uber and Digi to experiment with Malaysian ideation lab

Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC), a university venturing fund commercialises science and technology advances made at Cambridge University, has raised £75m ($90m).

Prudential Retirement, a business unit of New York-listed Prudential Financial, has closed its seed stage-focused corporate venturing group, Gibraltar Ventures, so the company can build a new innovation strategy around design, acquiring and partnering with startups.

People

Lambert, who is chair of our Shift conference in NYC on October 28 in partnership with the NVCA, became managing partner with Sand Hill Road-based private venture capital firm Westly Group.

Jerneja Loncar, who has been an entrepreneur-in-residence at car maker General Motors’ GM Entrepreneurs after nearly four years at GM Ventures until the start of 2014, has been planning her next step after successfully running one startup.

Jon Lauckner, chief technical officer at General Motors and president of GM Ventures, who will be attending the GCV-NVCA SHIFT: Accelerating Corporate and Venture Partnerships conference.

Exits

General Motors reportedly made advances to portfolio company Lyft in the past few weeks to propose an acquisition, an offer Lyft turned down in order to raise more funding.

Twitch has acquired Curse for an undisclosed amount, roughly a year after the gaming media and community platform received $30m in funding from Riot Games.

Japan-based Rakuten has acquired the assets of Bitnet, a US-based bitcoin wallet startup, for an undisclosed amount.

Tencent is reportedly set to exit contextualised services search app Vurb through a $110m stock and cash acquisition by Snapchat.

Investments

It’s been a big week for internet group Tencent, with news emerging of three sizeable deals in which it’s involved. The company has first of all led a $227m series C for game livestreaming platform Douyu TV – essentially a Chinese version of Twitch – as part of a deal that will involve Douyu’s sports offering being absorbed into its own Qie Live platform.

Tencent also co-led a $175m round for India-based Hike, which is developing an all-purpose messaging app not too dissimilar to Tencent’s own WeChat platform, which connects to a huge range of e-commerce services in its home country of China.

Tencent enters Keep in series C+ round

Film and TV studio STX Entertainment has received an undisclosed amount of funding from investors including Chinese corporates Tencent and PCCW at a reported valuation of $1.5bn.

Ford has been upping its corporate venturing activity of late, investing $182m in Pivotal Software at one end of the scale and in a $6.6m round for Civil Maps at the other, as it seeks to strengthen its software capabilities on the way to the planned launch of its first autonomous car in 2021.

Chinese technology group LeEco continues to make a name for itself, diversifying into ever more areas, and now it’s raised $50m from conglomerate Macrolink for its smart car unit.

Amazon launched its $100m Alexa Fund just over a year ago, and the unit has now made its largest investment yet, as part of a $35m round closed by smart thermostat developer Ecobee.

Corporate venturing units Novo Ventures, Roche Venture Fund and SR One have co-led an $86m series A round for Tioma Therapeutics, which is working on a cancer treatment that will target the CD47 immune checkpoint inhibitor, with venture firm RiverVest Venture Partners.

Nutirinia, a developer of digestible insulin for infants, has raised $30m in a series D round featuring WuXi PharmaTech, taking its overall funding to more than $46m.

US-based cybersecurity software provider ID Experts closed a $27.5m round featuring BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, the corporate venture capital arm of health insurance provider Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

Tekpea connects to EPM for funding

Colombia-based utility service provider Empresas Públicas de Medellín has invested an undisclosed amount in the IoT company through its FCP Innovation unit.


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

06 June 2016 – Funds from Microsoft and Romulus, job moves, Alibaba and Uber gain investments and more

Moves

Stephen Lowery, partner at venture capital firm Frog Capital, has joined Silicon Valley Bank’s (SVB) UK team to lead it corporate and independent VC relationships.

Julia Rebholz, founder and head of Ignite, the UK’s first energy-based corporate impact investment fund, has left to join a consultancy encouraging other companies to set up similar funds.

News

Large Netherlands-based corporations have formed a local networking group to develop their cooperation with startups.

The European Commission said it would propose some changes to the venture capital regulatory framework and set up a fund of funds.

Fundraising

Microsoft Ventures gets into direct investments.

Romulus builds $75m fund.

Investments

Singapore state funds bought $1 billion in Alibaba shares.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund invested in Uber.

YG puts on $85m show for Chinese corporates.

Yuanfudao studies $40m investment.

Qingsongchou campaigns for funding.

Tencent helps Tile key $18m series B.

Naspers tutors Udemy for $60m.

Ionic puts $45m in its basket.

In-Q-Tel Invests in Ephesoft Document Analytics Tool for Intel Community.

3D Media visualises $10m.

Exits

Reata gets $60m reaction in IPO.

Metamaterial Technologies manufactures Rolith acquisition.

Simply Hired lets go.

Line queues up again for IPO.

Clearside opens $50.4m offering.

NantHealth personalises $91m IPO.

Ping Identity pinpoints acquisition.

ServiceNow secures BrightPoint acquisition.


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

15 February 2016 – Chinese new year, fintech investor BBVA, Innogy Venture Capital, triple French biotech fund, Unicef, Shanghai reimburses venture capital firms and more

Funds

Financial services provider BBVA has been a notable fintech investor since early 2013 when it formed a $100m fund that has since backed companies including DocuSign, Taulia and Prosper. The bank has now elected to upgrade its participation, committing another $150m and spinning out its investments into a new VC firm called Propel Venture Partners. Propel is already operational in San Francisco and is actively recruiting for a London office.

RWE’s Innogy Venture Capital may have been quiet of late but that doesn’t mean the utility has given up on corporate venturing. Chief executive Peter Terium reiterated its commitment to innovation on Friday and revealed plans for another investment unit which will be sized at $145m.

In addition to that fund, RWE is also set to invest $15m in a so far unnamed greentech-focused venture capital fund.

France triples its biotech fund.

Unicef’s $9m Innovation Fund opens for expressions of interest from entrepreneurs, inventors and companies with working prototypes of open source technology that can improve the lives of vulnerable children.

The government of Shanghai’s plans to compensate venture capital firms that fail to make back their initial investment in startups has drawn criticism.

Investments

Uber has targeted $2.1bn in new equity funding at a jawdropping $62.5bn valuation in spite of a fundraising climate generally agreed to be cooling. Today it came a step closer, raising $200m from investment firm LetterOne, which joins a range of backers including corporates Alphabet, Baidu, Times Group, Ping An and China Life Insurance.

One of the biggest areas for VC funding last year was India’s e-commerce sector, and One97 Communications was one of the biggest recipients, securing $680m from Alibaba and Ant Financial. One97 is now looking to raise another $400m by the end of June to fund the spinning out of its flagship brand, Paytm, into a separate mobile banking and payment company.

A possible partnership with e-commerce marketplace Flipkart could also be on the cards. Africa Internet Group (AIG), the collection of African businesses overseen by Rocket Internet that is also backed by telecom companies MTN and Millicom, has welcomed a new backer. AXA paid $83m for an 8% stake in AIG as part of a strategic partnership that will allow it to sell insurance products through AIG’s companies, and in particular e-commerce marketplace Jumia.

Cambridge University breaks its own seed funding record for the third year in a row, investing $5.5m last year.

Exits

Proteostasis raised $50m (see below) while AveXis secured $95m, floating in the middle of its $19 to $21 range. AveXis, which is backed by Roche’s corporate venturing fund, will use the proceeds to steer its lead candidate, a gene therapy treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, through phase 1 trials.

Good analysis recommendation: Bruce Booth at Life Sci VC 

“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.