13 August 2018 – Alibaba Plans to Merge Koubei and Ele.me

Deals

Alibaba spun off its local services platform, Koubei, with a $1.1bn round at the start of last year, and acquired food delivery service Ele.me in April 2018 at a $4.5bn valuation. Now the e-commerce firm plans to merge the two in a deal that could be supported with a $3bn to $5bn round that could be led by SoftBank Vision Fund.

Bytedance, the owner of news aggregation app Toutiao and short-form video platform TikTok, is reportedly seeking $3bn in funding in a monster round that would value it at $70bn to $75bn.

WndrCo has formally confirmed that NewTV, the short-form video content platform it founded, has raised $1bn in funding.

WeWork has been among the biggest fundraisers in the VC space in recent years and has added to that by securing $1bn in convertible note financing from SoftBank.

Manbang, the market leader in China’s trucking services market, raised $1.9bn in an April round featuring SoftBank Vision Fund, Tencent and CapitalG, but is reportedly already seeking more funding.

Naspers has been an investor in mobile second-hand e-commerce platform Letgo since 2015 when it supplied $100m in series A funding, and it’s just committed a total of $500m to the company, $150m of which it provided earlier this summer.

Walmart has invested $320m in Chinese grocery delivery platform Dada-JD Daojia as part of a $500m funding round, with another existing investor, JD.com, providing the rest.

Slack had raised more than $840m from investors including SoftBank, Comcast and Alphabet, as of its last round, a $250m series G last September that valued it at $5.1bn post-money.

Zhihu, the Chinese owner of an online platform where some 160 million registered users can crowdsource answers to queries, has confirmed a $270m series E round, though it did not name the participants.

Moviebook runs an online advertising platform that used AI technology to insert product placement into online content. It’s just secured $199m in a series D round co-led by SenseTime and SoftBank’s SBCVC, and will put the proceeds into R&D as it looks to enhance its image optimisation technology with algorithms supplied by SenseTime.

Tot Biopharm has raised $102m in a series C round featuring Center Laboratories Group that will fund the advancement of a pipeline of antibody-drug conjugates intended to treat cancer.

Things were very busy by the end of the week on GUV, with the biggest deal of the day – and week – being an $84m oversubscribed series B round for UK-based cancer-focused biotechnology company Artios Pharma that featured commercialisation firm IP Group.

On GGV, Singaporean state-owned investment firm Temasek has paid $225m for a stake in India-based, corporate-backed ride hailing platform Ola through a secondary share purchase.

Funds

SoftBank is nearing the final $100bn close for its Vision Fund and is already eyeing a second iteration, but in the meantime it’s reportedly looking to put together a $5bn fund for Asian investments, with some 50% earmarked for India-based companies.

Parkwalk Advisors, a fund management subsidiary of commercialisation firm IP Group, has launched University of Cambridge Enterprise Fund VI in partnership with the university’s tech transfer unit, Cambridge Enterprise.

On GGV, Temasek has become a limited partner in the $140m second growth fund run by US-based Ten Eleven Ventures. Ten Eleven focuses on investment in cybersecurity businesses and the new fund – known as TEG II – is expected to enable expansion into new geographic regions including Southeast Asia.

Exits

Social media marketing technology platform Weimob, is heading to the public markets having filed for an initial public offering in Hong Kong.

Linio, the Mexico-based operator of an online marketplace spanning eight Latin American countries, had raised $230m from investors including Tengelmann, Access Industries and Rocket Internet, but some of its backers are bound to have made a loss after it was bought by big-box retailer Falabella for $137m.

GraphicsFuzz, a UK-based graphics driver testing technology spun out of Imperial College London, has been acquired by Google, the internet subsidiary of diversified conglomerate Alphabet.


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

30 July 2018 – Alphabet Shares Hit All-time High

With Facebook and Netflix stumbling without recognised corporate venturing units, it has been interesting to see the other big four US internet companies, Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet and Apple, with powerful CVC investments report or predict strong results.

Alphabet was the most clear-cut as it reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings last Monday, driving Alphabet shares to a new all-time high the following day. It generated adjusted earnings per share of $11.75 versus the Wall Street consensus of $9.59 for the quarter, according to cable news provider CNBC. Alphabet also posted a $1.06bn gain in its equity investments for the time period, which translated into $1.17 EPS of the outperformance.

Funds

With the growth of investment in the VC space, it’s often not just the hard transactions that raise an eyebrow but also prospective deals, and so it is today. Rocket Internet has built up a mass of e-commerce holdings by focusing on Europe and the emerging markets, but is reportedly now eyeing the US and raising between $1bn and $2bn for a corporate venturing fund that will focus on that region.

Credit Suisse Next Investors closes $261m fund

BIF’s fundraising efforts beget $50m

University

UNC Chapel Hill details incubator proposal

Deals

New TV, the short-form video producer formed by entertainment vet Jeffrey Katzenberg and overseen by his WndrCo company, has closed $1bn in funding, $200m of which was supplied by large entertainment companies such as Disney, Warner Bros, 21st Century Fox and Entertainment One.

Elsewhere in China, facial recognition software provider Megvii has raised upwards of $600m from investors including Alibaba and will use the cash to spearhead an expansion of its technology in the retail space.

WeWork launched its WeWork China offshoot a year ago with $500m in series A funding, and WeWork China has now doubled that, raising another $500m in a series B round co-led by five investors including both SoftBank and SoftBank Vision Fund.

Tencent is reportedly lining up an investment of $300m to $500m in India-based short-term accommodation provider Oyo Rooms that will support the latter’s expansion in China, a market now responsible for almost all its overseas revenue.

Genetic testing services and research provider 23andme was valued at $1.75bn last September when it last raised funding, but that valuation is surely higher now it’s closed a $300m investment by GlaxoSmithKline in connection with a collaboration agreement.

Alector collects $133m in series E funding

The RealReal luxuriates in $115m

Stem grows bigger to close $106m round

Cancer radiotherapy technology and services provider Allcure was spun off with the telemedicine assets of hospital management services provider Concord Medical Services in 2015, and three years later the company has raised a reported $103m in series B funding.

University

Galvanize animates $32m series C

Beddr snuggles up to $5.6m series A

Exits

Group buying platform Pinduoduo has become the latest Chinese tech company to go public in the US, floating at the top of its range to raise $1.6bn, just three years after it was founded.

Pinterest meanwhile is looking to launch an initial public offering in a year’s time in order to capitalise on a boost to its advertising stream that is set to double ad revenue to $1bn in 2018.

Huya had a fairly successful IPO in the US a few months back and now its chief rival in China’s livestreaming space, Douyu, is looking to follow the same path, preparing for an offering expected to net it between $600m and $700m.

Ascletis has priced a $400m initial public offering in Hong Kong in the middle of its range, a month after its lead hepatits C treatment received regulatory approval in China.

It’s been a long wait for fuel cell system supplier Bloom Energy, which was founded in 2001 and first touted for an IPO at the latter end of that decade.

Allakos, which is developing antibodies to treat white blood cell-related conditions, has had one of the year’s more successful IPOs, pricing its shares above the range to raise $128m, before watching its stock almost double in price in the first two days of trading.

Constellation consummates $60m IPO

Aridis arrows to public markets

LevelUp rewards investors with $390m exit

Stamps.com collects MetaPack in $230m deal


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

28 August 2017 – VIPKid Closes Round with Reported $1.5bn Valuation

Funds

China Life and Baidu combine for $1bn fund

SparkLabs sets up $50m Seah-anchored fund

Kuppam’s Epsilon anticipates $350m close

Government

Monash BDI joins MRCF

Investments

SoftBank ploughs $4.4bn into WeWork

VIPKid is the latest participant to close a substantial round, pulling in $200m from investors including Tencent at a reported valuation of more than $1.5bn.

Deep learning chipset developer Cambricon has secured $100m in a series A round that included subsidiaries of Alibaba and Lenovo as well as robotics technology provider Zhongke Tuling Century Beijing Technology.

JD.com gets $100m to Go-Jek

Druva, a developer of cloud data management and protection software, raised $80m today in a round led by private equity firm Riverwood Capital that increased its overall funding to almost $200m.

Internet-of-things platform developer Cubic Telecom has raised $47m in a round featuring Qualcomm, Audi Electronics Venture and Valid Soluciones Tecnologicas that increased its overall funding to $88m.

Another data-oriented company, in-memory database platform developer Redis Labs, has meanwhile secured $44m in a series D round that included Dell Technologies Capital, representing the latter’s second deal in the space of a few days.

Behavioural health technology provider AbleTo has closed a $36.6m round featuring health insurer and long-term customer Aetna as well as healthcare provider Horizon Healthcare Services.

ZingBox, a developer of security technology for internet-of-things systems, has raised $22m in a series B round led by Dell Technologies Capital.

Saudi Aramco-backed online payment processing platform PayTabs has received $20m in funding from unnamed investors, and the capital will support a growth drive that will enable the Middle East-based company to expand into Africa, Europe and India.

Corporates dive into Immersv series A

University

IndoorAtlas spins another $4.3m in funding

Yahoo Japan has led a series B round for the University of Oulu spinout, which uses geomagnetic activity to detect an object’s location in a room.

Government

Sumdog fetches $1.8m

Exits

Accenture has exited digital testing and brand services provider Applause through an acquisition of undisclosed size by investment firm Vista Equity Partners. Accenture’s corporate venturing unit Accenture Ventures took part in Applause’s last round, a $35m series F last September that took the company’s total funding to about $115m.

Cisco has agreed to pay $320m to acquire hyperconvergence software provider Springpath, one of its portfolio companies since 2015.

According to a securities filing, Krystal Biotech raised just over $11m in its first round of funding last week, at least $7m of which came from pharmaceutical company Sun Pharmaceutical Industries.

Osram to switch on Digital Lumens acquisition

Avnet captures Dragon Innovation

ST Engineering subsidiary Vision Technologies Land Systems has agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to acquire Aethon, which has created an automated robotic delivery system for hospitals that transports items such as medication, meals and linen.

Smarsh captures Cognia in acquisition deal


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

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

14 March 2016 – Ant Financial, Flipkart, WeWork, Astroscale, Precision Ocular, Replay Technologies, Lasergen, Stanford University and more

Deals

Ant Financial, the financial services affiliate of Chinese giant Alibaba, which is seeking up to $3bn at a valuation of $60bn while it reportedly prepares for an IPO next year.

An equally impressive, if significantly less $1bn is being sought by India-based e-commerce company Flipkart, which is hoping to get a commitment from Alibaba and conglomerate Fosun for the round. Flipkart’s valuation for this round is actually down from its $15bn tag last year, when the company obtained $700m. Claims differ on the current valuation, but it appears to be in between the $11bn to $14bn range, though some have said that it could even be below $10bn.

WeWork, a shared workspace provider, climbed the ranks to sixth most valuable venture-stage business in the world when it claimed $430m in fresh funding at a $16bn valuation.

Japan-based Astroscale raised $35m from the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan. Jafco and other unnamed entities also participated in the round, which will be used by Astroscale to send a satellite into orbit that will track space debris in preparation for later missions that will collect that debris, which is becoming an increasing problem for safe space travel.

The biggest deal on Global University Venturing meanwhile was a $19m for Precision Ocular that was led by Imperial Innovations. Precision Ocular is working on treatments for retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema.

Exits

Replay Technologies is set to be acquired by Intel for an estimated $175m a mere week after closing a $13.5m round led by Deutsche Telekom. Replay, a 3D filming technology producer, had secured $27m in total funding and the acquisition is also providing an exit to Samsung, which had invested in 2014.

Lasergen, a genome sequencing platform that received $80m from lab equipment provider Agilent Technologies last week in return for a 48% stake. Agilent’s also secured a three-year option to purchase the remaining shares for an additional $105m. Until then, the two companies have agreed to collaborated on a workflow product based on Lasergen’s technology.

Meanwhile, RusnanoMedinvest celebrated an exit when Syndax Pharmaceuticals floated on Nasdaq for $52.8m. The IPO followed some $155m in funding.

Stanford University secured an exit through an acquisition, when Immucor purchased spinout Sirona Genomics for an undisclosed amount. Sirona has developed a platform that uses three algorithms to build a database for mapping and managing genomic assessments such as blood type without the need for secondary testing.

Funds

When it came to funds, Cisco took the top spot last week with a three-year $500m initiative named Deutschland Digital. Cisco will invest the cash both directly in startups and in VC funds. It announced Deutschland Digital on the same day that it unveiled a $150m fund that will help foster an ecosystem around its cloud collaboration platform Cisco Spark.

Lan Kwai Fong, a Hong Kong-based conglomerate, is similarly looking at a fund with a target size between $300m and $500m, to be managed by its private equity unit LKF Capital. The fund marks the first time LKF is raising external capital and will focus on Chinese companies in the lifestyle and consumer industries.

Another fund to come out of Hong Kong is the $257m Innovation and Technology Venture Fund. Although first announced in January, the autonomous region only revealed the fund’s size in its budget for 2016/17 now. The fund will focus on local startups and hopes to make more capital available to them by matching private investments.

Parkwalk Advisors, which already manages several funds for Cambridge University, announced the University of Cambridge Enterprise Fund IV, which, much like the previous funds, enables alumni and investors to back Cambridge spinouts. The funds usually co-invest alongside Cambridge University.

Moves

Kaushik Anand, a growth equity investor at corporate venturing subsidiary Google Capital, is set to lead its investments in India, the Economic Times reported on Monday. He first joined Google Capital in June 2015 and has so far been based at its California headquarters.

IDG Ventures Korea has seen Matthew Lee depart to co-found a new venture dubbed Cognitive Investment. Lee had been CEO and managing partner of the unit since 2007.

Franceska Banga is set to step down from her position as CEO of New Zealand Venture Investment Firm later this month. The fund, which has over $200m under management, was set up by New Zealand’s government in 2001 and headed by Banga since then. Steven Joyce, minister of economic development in New Zealand, is using the change in leadership to review the fund’s performance and assess its structure.


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