02 December 2019 – SoftBank Leads Oyo’s $1.5bn Funding Round

The Big Ones

SoftBank Vision Fund is putting up $807m to lead a $1.5bn funding round for one of its most notable portfolio companies, India-based short term accommodation platform Oyo. The round values Oyo at $10bn and the extra cash will fund expansion in the US, a prime market in the company’s ongoing international expansion. Its other investors include Didi Chuxing, Hero Enterprise and Huazhu Hotels Group.

Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial is putting together a $1bn fund that will focus on emerging markets such as India or Southeast Asia. Its name can be translated as Ant Unicorn Fund and it will concentrate on strategic investments in areas such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, security, the internet of things and computing as well as digital financial services platforms.

Aporeto’s investors, which include Comcast Ventures, National Grid Partners, Symantec and Telia Ventures, are in line for exits, through a $150m acquisition by Palo Alto Networks. The machine identity-based cybersecurity software provider had raised almost $35m, and its pending acquisition marks the third corporate-backed company to be bought by Palo Alto in the past six months, following Zingbox and Twistlock.

In crossover news with Global University Venturing, Heartseed, a Japan-based developer of treatments for heart failure based on research at Keio University, has secured ¥2.8bn ($25.8m) in series B funding from investors including medical data technology provider JMDC.

Deals

Another of Vision Fund’s key Indian investments is mobile financial services provider Paytm, and it has contributed to a $1bn series G round for the company that also featured fellow corporate investor Ant Financial.

Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia-based Tokopedia is seeking what will likely be its last VC funding before its own flotation, and is reportedly in talks to raise $1bn to $1.5bn in a round that will probably include existing backers and unnamed US internet companies.

Impossible Foods is looking to raise $300m to $400m in a round expected to value it in the $3bn to $5bn range. The plant-based burger provider was most recently valued at $2bn and is reportedly eyeing 2020 for its initial public offering.

Online supermarket Picnic has raised $275m in funding, chiefly from the same investors that backed its last round, when it secured $108m in early 2017.

Online pharmacy operator PharmEasy has raised $220m at a $700m valuation, in a round led by the Singaporean government-owned Temasek. India-based PharmEasy has now secured more than $320m altogether, its earlier investors including corporates Ascent Health and Wellness, Medi Assist and Manipal Education and Medical Group.

Ferring Pharmaceuticals has spun off a new company to manage the late-stage development and eventual commercialisation of a gene therapy intended to treat bladder cancer.

Lithuania-headquartered fashion e-commerce marketplace Vinted has meanwhile received $141m from investors including Burda Principal Investments at a valuation of about $1.1bn.

We’ve been through the ride hailing gold rush and the bicycle rental frenzy but neither sector has even approached profitability yet. Despite that, electric scooter rental platforms are continuing to raise big money, the latest being India-based Bounce, which has bumped its series D round up to $150m.

Online job listings and recruitment portal Boss Zhipin has received a seven-figure dollar amount in a series E round featuring Tencent, which reportedly led one tranche of the round while participating in another.

Enterprise AI software provider Appier has bagged $80m in series D funding from investors including UMC Capital and Hopu-Arm Innovation Fund, nearly doubling its overall funding to $162m in the process.

Real estate developer Daito Trust Construction has provided $50m in equity funding for co-working space operator JustCo, and is pumping a further $24m into a joint venture that will enable the Sinagporean company to expand into Daito’s home market of Japan.

Despite its name, Jybd is not a recruitment platform but an aftermarket services platform for truckers. The China-based company has received $50m in a series B round led by Sino-Ocean Capital, a subsidiary of Sino-Ocean Group, the transaction coming after trucking services marketplace Manbang Group supplied $46m in series A funding for it last year.

Funds

Now this isn’t really a new fund but it is an interesting development: Thailand-based financial services firm Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) is looking to spin off some of its financial technology entities, potentially including venture capital subsidiary SCB Digital Ventures. Digital Ventures was launched in 2016 with $50m in capital and its early investments focused on limited partner commitments, including funds being raised by Nyca Partners and Dymon Asia Ventures.

Exits

There weren’t too many exits last week, but another notable one was insurance provider Maif’s exit from France-based voice technology developer Snips in a $37.5m acquisition by speaker system producer Sonos. Snips is the creator of a full-stack software platform that can be used to develop custom voice-based digital assistants.


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

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

11 November 2019 – Marianne Wu Moves On From GE Ventures

The Big Ones

Marianne Wu, president of GE Ventures, has left the corporate venturing unit as the US-listed industrial conglomerate has agreed to sell 16 healthcare portfolio companies to an affiliate of Leerink Revelation Partners.

Over the past few years, China has – partially out of necessity – been responsible for a lot of healthcare innovation and that hasn’t gone unnoticed by international players. AstraZeneca is the latest corporate to want a slice of the action and the pharmaceutical firm is going all in with the launch of a $1bn fund it unveiled together with investment bank CICC. No word on how much money it’s put in, though AstraZeneca’s chief executive Pascal Soriot told Bloomberg his company wasn’t the majority investor. Expect to read about the Healthcare Industrial Fund a lot.

Also looking at $1bn is Japan-based accounting software provider Freee, which has confidentially filed for an initial public offering on the TSE Mothers Market and hopes to attain unicorn status. If the flotation goes ahead, it would provide exits to a long list of varied corporates, including Line, Mitsubishi UFJ, Nippon Life, Life Card, Salesforce, Sharp, Recruit, SBI, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking and Chiba Bank, as well as the Toyota-backed Future Creation Fund.

Congrats to SetSquared sweeps UBI crown. SetSquared fended off competition from peers such as RMZ, Chalmers Ventures and Yes!Delft to seal UBI’s global university incubator award for a third time.

Funds

Air conditioner producer Daikin Industries has pumped $100m into a corporate venture capital unit dubbed Technology and Innovation Center CVC Office and plans to deploy the capital over a five-year period. The vehicle will make VC investments but will also house an accelerator and will look to launch new startups through a partnership with the University of Tokyo.

IAN closes $53m fund

Vives finds $27.7m for Inter-University Fund

Exits

Aerial technology developer Ehang has filed for an initial public offering expected to raise up to $500m if reports earlier this year are accurate. The Chinese company has raised $52m from investors including Shanghai International Group across two equity rounds and has set an initial $100m target. It’s one of several compatriots who have filed in the US and are looking to float in the coming weeks.

The biggest M&A exit is the $540m all-cash acquisition of Scout RFP by Workday, less than a year after the corporate’s investment unit Workday Ventures last invested in the sourcing platform. Salesforce Ventures and GV are among the exiting shareholders, having contributed to more than $60m in equity financing since Scout’s founding in 2014.

Corporate banking services isn’t an area that’s popped up a lot but Ebury has been making a name for itself with functionality such as mass payments in multiple currencies and foreign exchange risk management. That’s previously convinced financial services firm such as NIBC to invest and now Santander is getting in on the action with a $450m primary and secondary share purchase that gives it a majority stake – just about – of 50.1%. Ebury will continue to operate as an independent entity, and existing investors have also reinvested in the business.

Jask joins Sumo Logic

Deals

Riskified has built an e-commerce fraud prevention software that confirms legitimate customers in real-time to prevent fraudulent transactions, and its potential previously convinced Capital One Growth Ventures, Phoenix Insurance Company and NTT Docomo Ventures to invest. It’s now also attracted investors such as Fidelity to raise $165m in series E funding and push its valuation beyond $1bn.

Chinese antibody drug developer Akeso Biopharma has also been busy raising a big pile of cash, attracting $150m in series D funding co-led by pharmaceutical firm Sino Biopharmaceutical and with participation from K. Wah Group.

There are a range of companies out there trying to take the house sales process from the high street to an online marketplace, but HomeLight’s proposition is unique in that it scours more than 40 million real estate transactions and more than 1.4 million agent profiles to find the best realtor for a homeowner looking to sell.

Medical device manufacturer Peijia Medical hasn’t appeared on GCV’s radar up until now, but the company has been attracting capital since it was launched in 2012. Lilly Asia Ventures, which seemingly backed a series B of unspecified size in 2018, has also supported a $100m series C round announced by Peijia this week, and the money will help drive product development of the company’s devices to treat heart valve disease.

Almost 114,000 people are currently waiting for a transplant in the US alone, but if eGenesis is successful such lists may not be an issue anymore: the Harvard University spinout is using gene editing technologies to make animal organs compatible with human patients – a process known as xenotransplantation. It’s initially focusing on kidneys andhas attracted $100m in series B funding from investors including Leaps by Bayer to make the procedure a reality.

Geltor to apply for $100m

Shape boxes up $35.5m


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

04 November 2019 – Greensill Raises $655m from SoftBank

The Big Ones

Greensill, a UK-based company that taps the capital markets in order to provide working capital for businesses, received one of this year’s biggest investments in May when it secured $800m from SoftBank Vision Fund. Now it’s added a further $655m from the same investor at a valuation reportedly nearing $4bn.

Singapore-based venture capital firm Jungle Ventures has closed its latest fund at $240m, securing the capital from LPs including, according to DealStreetAsia, Cisco Investments and Bualuang Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Bangkok Bank, as well as Temasek, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, development finance institutions DEG and FMO, and Kuok Khoon Hong, chief executive of agribusiness Wilmar International.

Wag raised $300m from SoftBank Vision last year but the petsitting service has been among the vehicle’s less successful bets, after a series of management changes, layoffs and (perhaps we need a trigger warning here) reports that users’ dogs have died while in the custody of its walkers. The company is now pursuing a sale and is in talks with Petco, though things might be complicated by the fact the latter is an investor in Wag rival Rover. Any sale is also likely to be for less than the $650m valuation at which Vision Fund invested.

Finally, in a nice crossover story (and ongoing one, since several of the corporates were returning investors) we have Tmunity Therapeutic, a developer of T-cell immunotherapy treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases, has boosted its overall funding to $231m with a $75m series B round featuring Gilead Sciences and Be The Match BioTherapies as well as University of Pennsylvania, of which Tmunity is a spinout.

Deals

Trading app developer RobinHood has added $50m to a series E round that now stands at $373m, and which values it at $7.6bn. The extra cash came from existing investor DST Global and it increased the total raised by RobinHood, which also counts Roc Nation’s Arrive unit and Alphabet subsidiaries CapitalG and GV among its past investors, to more than $910m.

Vacasa has notched up its own nine-figure round, raising $319m from investors led by Silver Lake. It operates a peer-to-peer holiday accommodation booking platform that incorporates property management services, allowing owners of properties where they are often not present to garner extra income with minimal effort.

Mobile game publisher Scopely is on the growth trail and plans to follow up its acquisition of collaborator Digit Games earlier this year with additional M&A deals. They will be financed with $200m of series D funding the company just raised at a reported $1.7bn valuation, with NewView Capital leading the round.

Japanese online consumer credit provider Paidy has raised $143m in debt and equity financing that included an $83m extension to its series C round. That extension included PayPal Ventures and followed on from a $55m first tranche featuring corporates Itochu and Visa.

And after-sales automotive services provider CassTime has secured $80m in a series C1 round co-led by Sequoia Capital China and Source Code Capital that boosted its overall funding to some $175m.

Pollinate has officially launched its digital banking technology offering having secured $77.8m in funding from investors including Mastercard and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) as well as Motive Partners and EFM Asset Management.

Funds

Qualcomm Ventures has announced an investment vehicle called the 5G Ecosystem Fund which will fund developers of 5G technologies as parent company Qualcomm looks to move more significantly into the area. The unit will look to invest up to $200m through the vehicle, the launch of which follows the formation of a $100m AI Fund almost a year ago.

Exits

Phathom Pharmaceuticals has gone public, securing nearly $182m in an initial public offering in which the gastrointestinal disease therapy developer floated in the middle of its range. Phathom has licensed its core product from pharmaceutical firm Takeda, which has already successfully marketed the drug in its home country of Japan, and which has seen its stake rise from 9.1% to 24.7% in connection with the IPO as part of the licensing agreement.

Fertility benefits management platform Progyny has also floated, in a $130m offering in which Merck Group sold almost $4.9m of shares. That divestment was made as part of nearly $43m of sales from existing shareholders, while Progyny reaped more than $87m. Its other investors include GlaxoSmithKline’s corporate venturing unit, SR One.

Xiaomi-backed podcasting platform Lizhi has filed for an initial public offering in the US and is targeting $100m. Lizhi is yet to finalise its choice of a market for its listing (it’s a choice between NYSE and Nasdaq Global Market) and it’s going to be interesting to see the timeline of the proposed offering, considering the IPO market is slowing down and relations between its home country and the US continue to be, well, let’s just say uneven.

Chinese apartment rental platform Danke Apartment has also filed for an initial public offering in the US, having raised $875m from investors including Ant Financial, UCommune and Bertelsmann Asia Investments. The company was valued at more than $2bn as of a $500m round led by Ant Financial in March, and has set a placeholder amount of $100m for the IPO. Expect that to rise substantially.

And another one: I-Mab Biopharma has also opted for the US, having filed for a $100m initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Market. The company is developing several drug candidates to treat cancer or autoimmune diseases and its largest investors include Tasly and Genexine.


“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

14 October 2019 – Oyo in $1.5bn Series F Round

The Big Ones

Short-term accommodation platform Oyo is reportedly in the process of raising $1.5bn in series F funding at a $10bn valuation. Existing investor SoftBank is also set to take part in the round but the big news is that Oyo co-founder and CEO Ritesh Agarwal plans to put up a whopping $700m of the cash. Given that the only collateral Agarwal could likely put forward to get that kind of financing is his existing stake in Oyo, that obviously raises all kinds of questions, not least with the increased scrutiny around founder behaviour right now.

The IPO market appears to be slowing down, what with We Company and Postmates both withdrawing their initial public offerings, and immuno-oncology drug developer BioNTech – a spinout of Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz – hasn’t done brilliantly either. It went public in a $150m IPO that involved it floating at the bottom of its range while also cutting the number of shares. Despite that, Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Sanofi – all development partners – will score exits through the offering.

Ginkgo Bioworks – itself an MIT spinout – has already spun out two companies, Joyn Bio and Motif Foodworks, which have raised decent sums of money, but now the custom microbe developer has formed a $350m vehicle specifically to fund other spinouts.

Deals

Chime is one of a string of digital banks that have sprung up in recent years and claims to be the fastest growing, increasing the number of accounts it oversees from 3 million in March to 5 million in September.

Zomato is locked in a battle with Swiggy for domination of India’s food delivery market, and just like Tencent-backed Swiggy, it has a major Chinese corporate providing cash. Ant Financial has invested more than $400m in Zomato and is reportedly in line to participate in a $600m round that would value it at up to $4bn.

Chinese tutoring platform VIPKid has confirmed it has raised money in a Tencent-led series E round, without confirming the size of that round. Recent media reports could give some clues on that front however, with $500m being put forward as an upper target and Tencent’s contribution placed around the $150m mark.

Lilium, a flying car developer spun out of Technical University of Munich, is also fundraising and is in talks with Tencent over a round that will reportedly be sized at $400m to $500m. Tencent contributed to Germany-based Lilium’s last round, a $90m series B, two years ago but the new funding will follow its unveiling of a working prototype of its vehicle in May.

Next Insurance has received $250m from Munich Re in the form of series C funding that will help the workplace insurance platform grow its business in the US. The round valued Next at more than $1bn and the deal increased Munich Re’s stake in the company to 27.5%.

It’s been a while since we last heard from Benlai, but the China-based grocery e-commerce has been busy expanding its service to hundreds of additional cities since its last round – a combined $117m series C and C+ from investors including Joyoung – in 2016.

SparkCognition has meanwhile collected $100m in a series C round backed by returning investor Boeing HorizonX and new investor Hearst Ventures, as well as 14 others (including Malcom Turnbull – yes, the former prime minister of Australia).

Arcellx is working on immune cell therapies to treat cancer, and has captured $85m in a series B round that included LG Technology Ventures and existing backers Novo, SR One and Takeda Ventures.

Funds

Petroleum supplier Petronas hasn’t been a significant venture capital investor yet but it appears to be making plans to change that. The corporate intends to pump up to $350m into a unit called Petronas Corporate Venture Capital that will fund companies developing tech in areas such as advanced materials, specialty chemicals and energy. It had already launched a $250m investment vehicle known as Piva in January.

Exits

GV made a hefty chunk of change by divesting part of its stake in Uber to a SoftBank-led consortium in late 2017 at a $48bn valuation, but CEO David Krane has disclosed that it may sell the rest once the post-IPO lock-up period expires next month.

Praktikertjänst-backed Aprea Therapeutics went public last week, picking up $85m in proceeds after pricing shares in the middle of the range at $15. It looks like the company may have underestimated the market, as shares shot up to $20.50 on the first day of trading and have continued to trade above the IPO price.

Vir Biotechnology is the latest company not to meet its IPO expectations, floating at the bottom of its range, but still raising $143m. SoftBank Vision Fund is the second largest shareholder of immunology therapy developer Vir, having pumped in at least $180m over two rounds.


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

07 October 2019 – We Co Pulls IPO

We Co, otherwise known as WeWork, formally pulled its initial public offering last week, putting a cap on what will go down as one of the most disastrous attempts to go public in recent memory. So what does that mean for corporate venturers? Is the co-working space still viable? Is it still worth betting on visionary founders? And what about SoftBank? If those are questions you’d like answers to, do check out GCV news editor Robert Lavine’s analysis on GlobalCorporateVenturing.com

Big Ones

Udaan, the Indian operator of an e-commerce platform that links small businesses to large traders and wholesalers, has raised $585m in series D funding from investors including Tencent and Citi Ventures to take its total equity financing to $870m in under three years.

Online content and advertising platforms Taboola and Outbrain operate in a relatively similar space and have elected to join forces, with Taboola buying the latter for $250m in cash, and $600m in stock equating to a 30% stake in what will be a $2bn company.

Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), the university venture fund for University of Oxford, has added China-based telecommunications equipment and services provider Huawei as a limited partner. Huawei is believed to have bought 4.1 million shares over the past year through a Netherlands-based subsidiary called Huawei Technologies Cooeperatief, taking its stake in OSI to about 0.7%. Huawei has never been listed on OSI’s website as a backer. The deal was concluded in late 2018 before University of Oxford blocked the firm’s philanthropic donations due to fears over its influence in the UK technology space.

Deals

IronSource has confirmed a $400m+ investment by private equity firm CVC Capital Partners at a 10-figure valuation. The content monetisation and engagement platform developer raised $105m in a 2015 series A round featuring Access Industries at an apparently similar valuation, though Calcalist reported earlier this week that its shareholders regularly receive sizeable dividends, which would largely offset any flatlining in company value.

Electric scooter and bike rental service Bird has raised $275m at a $2.75bn post-money valuation, in a series D round co-led by Sequoia Capital and pension fund manager CDPQ.

Rapyd has already raised $100m, through a series C round featuring Stripe that valued the digital payment software producer at almost $1bn.

Tenaya Therapeutics, a US-based developer of treatments for heart disease, completed a $92m series B round on Thursday featuring GV, a corporate venturing subsidiary of internet and technology group Alphabet. The round was led by healthcare investment firm Casdin Capital and included Column Group and a range of undisclosed new and existing shareholders.

Adicet Bio is meanwhile working on cancer treatments that will utilise gamma delta T cells, and has completed an $80m series B round that took its total funding to $131m.

US-based vaccine developer Icosavax emerged from stealth on Thursday with $51m of series A funding from investors including Sanofi Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of pharmaceutical firm Sanofi. Qiming Venture Partners USA led the round, which was also backed by NanoDimension, Adams Street Partners and undisclosed existing investors.

Funds

Non-profit health system Advocate Aurora Health and Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (Warf), the commercialisation arm of University of Wisconsin-Madison, have become a limited partner in a $75m healthcare-focused fund raised by venture capital firm Venture Investors.

Exits

It’s been a rough ride recently for companies trying to go public: Peloton’s shares have crashed every day since going public and that’s before we get to the disaster that’s been We Company’s struggles. But that isn’t stopping others from chasing the dream and Progyny has filed for a $100m offering on Nasdaq that would provide exits to SR One and Merck Group

36Kr will be hoping its own IPO goes better. The China-based startup media and services company has filed to go public in the US and has set an initial target of $100m. Its investors include Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial and media group Nikkei, and it will be hoping it doesn’t fall foul of reported plans by Nasdaq – the operator of the market on which it intends to float – to tighten regulations for smaller IPOs by Chinese companies which have sometimes chiefly sold shares to investors linked to their executives. With only two named underwriters in the 36Kr IPO, that could be a factor.

Harvard University spinout Beam Therapeutics has filed for its own $100m IPO, which will follow roughly $225m in funding raised across two rounds. The genomic medicine developer’s shareholders include GV and Editas Medicine, the latter having acquired a stake through a licensing agreement last year.

4D Molecular Therapeutics has filed for a $100m initial public offering that will fund the progress of gene therapies for conditions such as Fabry disease and cystic fibrosis. It has raised at least $108m, $90m of which came in a 2018 series B round that included Pfizer Ventures and Chiesi Ventures.

MIT and Harvard spinout Frequency Therapeutics has gone public in an $84m initial public offering that represents a bit of a downgrade on its expectations, the company floating at the bottom of its range and cutting the number of shares in the IPO.

Live streaming software and tools provider Streamlabs has also achieved its own exit, agreeing to an acquisition by Logitech International for up to $118m. The total’s split between an $89m upfront cash payment – slightly more than Streamlabs’ most recent post-money valuation of $80m – and $29m worth of stock dependent on it reaching significant revenue growth.

Aprea Therapeutics, a US-based cancer drug developer spun out of Karolinska Institute and backed by its investment Karolinska Development as well as healthcare provider Praktikertjänst, has raised $85m in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.


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

30 September 2019 – Peloton Interactive Raises $1.16bn in IPO

Big Ones

Who can remember anything like the We Company (that’s WeWork) saga that’s unfolded over the past fortnight? It had been targeting $3bn to $4bn in an IPO that at one time was expected to exceed the $47bn valuation at which it last raised money. Then people started flagging up bits of the IPO filing that looked strange, reports revealed it could float at a valuation of as little as $15bn and all hell broke loose.

Peloton Interactive has had one of the year’s larger tech IPOs, raising $1.16bn after floating at the top of its range. The exercise equipment and class provider had received just shy of $1bn in venture funding but its initial market cap nearly doubles the $4.15bn valuation of its most recent funding round just over a year ago.

KB Investment, a subsidiary of South Korea-based financial services group KB Holding, has formed an investment fund with MDI Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of telecommunications firm Telkom Indonesia.

Crossover: Kandou Bus, a Switzerland-based fabless semiconductor spinout of Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), collected $56m in a series C round featuring telecoms firm Swisscom’s corporate VC arm Swisscom Ventures and its Digital Transformation Fund.

Deals

With all the fuss surrounding the really big VC-backed companies in recent months, Palantir seems to have slipped off the radar to some extent, it being four years since they raised money. Well that’s apparently about to change, with reports that the controversial data processor is looking to raise $1bn to $3bn at a valuation somewhere between $26bn and $30bn. That would mark a huge increase for the Relx-backed company, valued at just over $20bn in 2015 and substantially lower as recently as this year, according to media reports.

Fundbox has reportedly boosted its own valuation to somewhere in the $500m-to-$1bn range, pulling in $326m in financing that included a $176m equity round.

Chinese cybersecurity software provider Qi An Xin is lining up its own IPO, having already began hiring underwriters, but has in the meantime raised $210m from investors including furniture retailer Red Star Macalline. Qi An Xin, which was spun off from Qihoo 360 in 2014, is set to be one of the first companies to float on the newly launched Sci-Tech Innovation Board.

Checkr uses big data to run the numbers on job applications in a bid to cut down on systemic biases and fraudulent CVs, and it’s just secured $160m in funding at a reported $2.2bn valuation.

An unconfirmed report has stated that ETechAces, the Indian owner of financial product comparison platforms PolicyBazaar and PaisaBazaar, has raised $130m to $150m from Tencent at a valuation of roughly $1.5bn.

In China, cloud computing and big data services provider DT Dream has secured $84m in series B funding at a reported $1.5bn valuation. The company did not name Alibaba, which took part in a $70m round in 2015 as well as a $110m series A two years later, as a participant in the latest round, which will fund hiring and product development in addition to other growth initiatives.

Translation technology and services provider Unbabel has nabbed $60m in a series C round featuring M12 and Samsung Next that increased its total funding to $91m.

Kandou Bus has bagged $56m in a series C round that included Swisscom Ventures as well as the $199m Digital Transformation Fund formed by Swisscom last year. The chipmaker, a spinout from Swiss research university EPFL, had previously received about $40m in funding, and will spend the latest funding on product development and business growth.

Divvy Homes operates a business model where it buys properties in partnership with tenants who reserve part of the rent for a down payment that would allow them to buy the place in question. It has just secured $43m in a series B round co-led by Lennar Ventures – property developer Lennar’s corporate VC unit – to increase its overall funding to $83m.

Qualcomm Ventures, Itochu and Mitsui have all contributed to a $40m series D round for Spire Global, a producer of nanosatellites that are utilised for weather and aviation tracking. Spire, whose existing investors include Qihoo 360, has now raised at least $175m altogether, and the series D comes in the wake of it launching a maritime-focused division in February.

Funds

Canada-based venture capital firm ArcTern Ventures has reached a C$165m ($124m) second close for its Fund II having raised capital from limited partners including crude oil producer Suncor. Financial services firm TD Bank also contributed to the second close, along with the Canadian government-owned BDC Capital, family offices including The Ivey Foundation and an undisclosed pension fund.

Exits

Neural interface technology developer Ctrl-Labs has been acquired by Facebook for a price somewhere between $500m and $1bn, enabling investors including GV and Alexa Fund to exit having contributed to $67m in equity funding. Facebook has made a few of the largest VC-backed acquisitions in recent years, though many of them – notably WhatsApp, Instagram and Oculus VR – were not corporate-backed pre-acquisition.

Investment firm Vista Equity Partners is set to pay an undisclosed amount for a majority stake in digital content management platform Aqcuia in a deal that reportedly values it at $1bn including debt.

Frequency Therapeutics has set terms for an initial public offering that will net $107m for the regenerative medicine developer if it floats at the top of its range. The IPO comes after $147m in venture funding from investors including Alexandria Venture Investments and the proceeds have been earmarked for a phase 2a clinical trial for its lead candidate, a sensorineural hearing loss treatment.


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