18 October 2021 – Celsius Network Warms Up with $400m in Funding

Celsius Network transacts $400m in funding

Celsius Network, the US-based cryptocurrency services platform developer backed by stablecoin issuer Tether International, received $400m in funding in a round valuing the company at over $3bn.

Trumid traps $208m in funding

US-based online bond trading platform Trumid closed on $208m in funding featuring trading exchange operator Singapore Exchange (SGX) at a reported valuation of $2.4bn.

Halo grabs series C funding

Allianz Life Ventures, a corporate venturing subsidiary of insurance provider Allianz, was among the investors putting $100m into a series C round for Halo Investing, a US-based developer of an online investment tools platform.

Open opts for $100m series C funding

Internet technology provider Google participated in a $100m series C round for India-based neobank Open Financial Technologies.

BetterUp nets $300m in series E funding

US-based professional coaching services provider BetterUp recevied $300m in a series E round featuring enterprise software provider Salesforce’s corporate venturing unit, Salesforce Ventures, at a valuation of $4.7bn.

Hibob hits $150m in series C round

Hibob, a UK-based human resources software provider backed by online recruitment marketplace Seek and conglomerate Sumitomo, hauled in $150m in a series C round led by growth equity firm General Atlantic, hiking its total funding to $274m to date as a $1.65bn valuation.

Swile Benefits from $200m series D round

France-based developer of employee benefits management technology, Swile, raised $200m series D funding led by telecommunications and internet group SoftBank at a valuation of over $1bn.

Sense Photonics Detects $71m exit

Sense Photonics, a US-based developer of lidar technology that offers an ultra-wide field of view, agreed to a takeover deal lidar system producer Ouster, marking an exit to University of California-aligned Congruent Ventures, in an acquisiton worth nearly $71.3m.

BP lays out Blueprint Power acquisition

Another Congruent Ventures company, US-based energy distribution technology platform Blueprint Power, is being taken over by oil and gas company BP for an undisclosed sum.

Munich Re Ventures introduces $500m Fund II

Munich Re Ventures, the corporate venturing subsidiary of Germany-headquartered reinsurance group Munich Re, closed its second fund at $500m.

Hubspot Ventures hatches $100m fund

US-headquartered provider of customer relationship management (CRM) software, HubSpot, launched a $100m investment vehicle through its corporate venture capital arm, HubSpot Ventures.

Thomson Reuters trumpets $100m fund

Canada-headquartered news and information tools provider Thomson Reuters launched a $100m corporate venturing fund aimed at supporting “future professionals”.

Docusign concocts corporate venturing vehicle

US-headquartered electronic signature technology provider DocuSign announced its own corporate venture capital vehicle called DocuSign Ventures.


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

11 October 2021 – Rivian Reveals IPO Filing

PTTOR organises corporate venturing unit

Orzon Ventures will receive $25m in initial capital from PTTOR, which has partnered 500 Global to seek out deals in the Thai and Southeast Asian venture ecosystems.

AFB attracts corporates for $102m Fund II

Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and Pierre Fabre have made capital commitments to Advent France Biotechnology’s second fund.

Rivian reveals IPO filing

Amazon, Ford, Cox Enterprises and Abdul Latif Jameel each own stakes in the electric vehicle maker sized at 5% or higher, as it targets a reported $80bn valuation in the offering.

Exscientia expands IPO to over $350m

The cancer drug developer has closed an initial public offering which took place alongside a $160m SoftBank-led private placement.

Rigetti regulates $1.5bn reverse merger

The Bloomberg Beta-backed quantum chipmaker is joining forces with the publicly listed Supernova Partners Acquisition Company II.

Snyk increases series F funding to $605m

Salesforce Ventures and Atlassian Ventures topped up the cybersecurity software provider’s latest round with $75m in funding at an $8.6bn valuation.

Orca Security upgrades series C to $550m

SAIC and Splunk Capital helped add $340m to the cloud cybersecurity software provider’s latest round, following a GV-backed first close.

Honor hones $370m series E

Prosus Ventures has returned to back an equity and debt round for the homecare management platform developer secured at a $1.25bn valuation.

Byju’s befriends investors to raise $300m

IIFL has returned to invest in the Tencent, BCC and Naspers-backed online learning platform, which is now valued at $18bn and potentially on its way to a $21bn valuation.

Coinswitch Kuber consolidates with $260m

Coinbase Ventures was among the investors in a series C round valuing the digital currency exchange at just over $1.9bn.

Elemy elevates itself with $219m

SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led autistic childcare platform developer Elemy’s latest round, which valued it at $1.15bn.

Lilac mines investors for $150m close

SK Materials, Presidio Ventures and BMW i Ventures were among the investors that helped the lithium mining process developer complete its series B round.


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

04 October 2021 – Oyo Eyes $1.16bn Initial Public Offering

The Big Ones

Oyo, an India-based accommodation platform backed by corporates Airbnb, Didi Chuxing, Hero Enterprise, Huazhu Hotels Group, Microsoft and SoftBank, filed for a $1.16bn initial public offering. The company will issue up to $942m in new shares while the rest will come from secondary transactions involving existing investors. Telecommunications and internet group SoftBank plans to divest more than $175m of its stake. Founded in 2013, Oyo has built an online platform that helps users book short-term accommodation in locations including India, the US, the UK, Japan and other countries in Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

Warby Parker, a US-headquartered eyewear retailer backed by payment services firm American Express, went public in a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange. The company set a reference price of $40.00 for its shares, which opened at $54.05 and closed at $54.49, equating to a market capitalisation just over $6.1bn. No new shares were issued and none of its largest shareholders have disclosed sales. Founded in 2010, Warby Parker sells eyewear both through its online platform and a network of brick-and-mortar outlets. The company increased revenue 53% year on year to just over $270m for the first six months of 2021 and cut its net loss from $10m to $7.3m in the process.

India-based online reselling platform Meesho amassed $570m in funding at a $4.9bn valuation from investors including social network operator Facebook, internet and telecommunications group SoftBank and internet group Prosus. Investment and financial services group Fidelity and investment firm B Capital Group co-led the round, which also featured Footpath Ventures and Trifecta Capital. SoftBank tapped its Vision Fund 2 to participate in the round while Prosus, which was formed by media and e-commerce group Naspers, was represented by its corporate venturing unit, Prosus Ventures. Founded in 2015, Meesho runs an online platform that lets small businesses and entrepreneurs sell products to consumers through social media.

Online food ordering service Delivery Hero led a $950m series C round for Germany-based grocery delivery service Gorillas. The round included internet group Tencent, investment management firm Coatue Management, investment firm DST Global and venture capital firm A-Star Partners, and reportedly valued the startup at $3bn. Founded in 2020, Gorillas offers groceries to customers in 57 cities across eight European countries for delivery within 10 minutes of an order, selling items at retail price.

Fanatics Trading Cards, a subsidiary of US-based digital sports memorabilia retailer Fanatics, closed a $350m series A round featuring talent agency Endeavor. Private equity firm Silver Lake and growth equity firm Insight Partners also participated in the round, which valued the company at $10.4bn, according to the Wall Street Journal. Fanatics Trading Cards provides a direct-to-consumer (D2C) marketplace that helps rightsholders and fans sell, resell or buy cards affiliated with professional sports leagues including Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and the National Football League.

Crossover

Oxford Nanopore, the UK-based DNA sequencing technology developer backed by corporate investors Nikon, Tencent, Amgen and Illumina, went public in a $478m initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange. The company issued 82.4 million shares priced at £4.25 ($5.81) each, securing a valuation of $4.7bn, while shareholders including commercialisation firm IP Group offloaded $238m worth of stock. Software producer Oracle had already committed to being a cornerstone investor for the IPO, putting aside $205m. Oxford Nanopore’s shares soared 45% on the first day of trading. Founded in 2005, Oxford Nanopore provides DNA and RNA sequencing technology that has been applied to a wide range of products ranging from handheld devices to population-scale platforms.

Funds

Energize Ventures, a US-based venture capital offshoot of power producer Invenergy, closed a $330m second fund featuring a host of corporate investors as limited partners (LPs). Invenergy anchored the fund and was joined by backers including energy management technology producer Schneider Electric’s SE Ventures vehicle and industrial and power equipment maker General Electric’s GE Renewable Energy subsidiary. Energy utilities American Electric Power, Equinor (through its Equinor Ventures subsidiary) and Xcel Energy also committed capital, as did financial services firm Credit Suisse, pension fund manager Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and property investment trust Hannon Armstrong. Formed in 2016, Energize Ventures has over $700m under management and targets energy technology developers focusing on process automation, decentralisation, risk mitigation, electrification and asset optimisation.


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

27 September 2021 – Toast and Freshworks Make Strong Public Market Debuts

The Big Ones

US-based restaurant organisation technology provider Toast is floating on the New York Stock Exchange today in an $870m initial public offering representing an exit for internet and technology group Alphabet. Toast, a US-based restaurant management software provider backed by Alphabet’s subsidiary GV, floated on the New York Stock Exchange in an $870m IPO, pricing its shares at $40 each, with an implied market capitalisation of around $20bn. The shares closed at around $62, equating to a market capitalisation of approximately $31bn, which made Toast’s IPO one of the largest US listings of the year.

Freshworks, a customer relationship management (CRM) software developer, backed by internet and technology group Alphabet, raised $1.03bn in Nasdaq IPO. Its shares closed at almost $48, equating to a market capitalisation of $13.5bn. Freshworks produces a variety of software used by companies for improving customer experience and optimising IT service management processes.

Mexico-based used car marketplace Kavak raised $700m in a series E round featuring telecommunications and internet group SoftBank and consumer internet company Sea, Reuters reported today. The round, which more than doubled the company’s valuation to $8.7bn, included General Catalyst, Founders Fund, Tiger Global Management, D1 Capital Partners, Ribbit Capital and Spruce House.

Telecommunications and internet group SoftBank led a $680m series B round for Sorare, the France-headquartered creator of a fantasy football game focused on non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Atomico, Bessemer Ventures, D1 Capital, Eurazeo, IVP, Liontree, Benchmark, Accel and Partech also participated in the round along with private investors Alexis Ohanian, Gerard Piqué, Rio Ferdinand, Antoine Griezmann and César Azpilicueta.
Canada-based virtual trading card developer Dapper Labs received $250m from investors including GV, a corporate venturing arm of internet and technology conglomerate Alphabet. Investment manager Coatue Management led the round, which included Andreessen Horowitz, Bond, Version One Ventures and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC. The round reportedly valued the company at $7.6bn.

Crossover

US-based lithium mining technology producer Lilac Solutions raised $150m in a series B round featuring commodity trading firm Mercuria Energy Trading. Lowercarbon Capital co-led the round with funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price, while The Engine, Valor Equity Partners and Breakthrough Energy Ventures also participated. Lilac has created an ion exchange technology which makes the extraction of lithium from brine resources – naturally occurring sources of saltwater – more efficient than current methods.

Funds

Thailand-based financial services group Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) and conglomerate Charoen Pokphan Group (CP Group) launched a venture capital fund with an $800m target. The vehicle, dubbed Global Disruptive Technology Venture Capital Fund, will focus on investments in emerging technology areas such as digital assets, the blockchain and general fintech.

France-based, biotech-focused private equity firm Jeito Capital has closed its Jeito I fund, which is backed by pharmaceutical company Sanofi and insurers Axa, Aviva, Pro BTP and CNP Assurances, at $632m. The latest batch of limited partners for the fund include pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS), the Singaporean government owned Temasek and the multilateral European Investment Fund (EIF).

Japan-headquartered consumer electronics producer Sony has formed a $200m corporate venturing fund which will concentrate on India-based investments.

US-based venture capital firm Fifth Wall raised over $140m for its Climate Tech Fund which targets $500m, from investors including housing provider Invitation Homes and property manager Ivanhoé Cambridge.

Illumina Ventures, the venture capital firm sponsored by US-headquartered genomics technology producer Illumina, closed its second fund at $325m.

HSBC Group launched a $100m dollars US-based venture capital vehicle named HSBC Ventures which will back climate and net-zero emission technology developers. Its portfolio companies will have access to the parent firm’s resources, including its global network, commercial and investment banking offering and experience in supporting startups and public companies.


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

20 September 2021 – Investors help Canva paint $200m picture at $40bn valuation

The Big Ones

Canva, an Australia-based graphic design software provider backed by advertising agency VaynerMedia, raised $200m at a $40bn valuation. Investment manager T Rowe Price led the round, which included Franklin Templeton, Sequoia Capital Global Equities, Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP), Greenoaks Capital, Dragoneer Investments, Blackbird, Felicis Ventures and AirTree Ventures. Canva has built a visual visual communications software that helps users without a graphic design background create media assets including illustrations, presentations, posters and videos. The company provides free templates, stock photos, audio and video clips and fonts through its platform. Canva plans to use the fresh capital raised in this latest round to double its headcount, which reached 2,000 people this year, further boost its products’ development and possibly finance strategic acquisitions.

Discord, a US-based online messaging platform developer backed by corporates Tencent and WarnerMedia, has raised $500m in a funding round led by Dragoneer Investment Group. The round also featured investment and financial services group Fidelity, Baillie Gifford, Coatue Management, Franklin Templeton and unnamed existing investors, and it valued the company at approximately $15bn. Discord’s platform was launched for gamers to communicate with each other in real time but experienced an explosion in demand during the pandemic and has expanded its chat products to include events beyond gaming. The funding will be used to grow the company’s workforce and invest in new products. It had previously raised about $600m in funding, according to Bloomberg.

Citi Ventures, the venture capital arm of financial services firm Citi, joined Israel-based identity authentication software developer Transmit Security’s $543m series A round.
Investment bank Goldman Sachs’ Asset Management subsidiary has also come onboard. The round was disclosed in June this year and was co-led by Insight Partners and General Atlantic and backed by Cyberstarts, Geodesic, Syn Ventures, Vintage Investment Partners and Artisanal Ventures. Transmit Security has developed authentication software which eschews passwords in favour of biometrics. The round values it at $2.2bn pre-money and the company said it had previously been bootstrapped after being founded in 2014.

US-based cybersecurity ratings company BitSight received a $250m capital injection from credit rating provider Moody’s yesterday through a strategic partnership agreement, valuing it at $2.4bn. BitSight provides companies with ratings of between 250 and 900 to assess their cybersecurity risk, a service likely to rise in demand amid the backdrop of escalating cyber threats such as ransomware attacks, which have cost both public and private organisations hundred of billions of dollars. Moody’s supplied the funding through an agreement which will support the development of a software platform which will assess cyber risk. BitSight will also form a Risk Solutions Division. Parallel to the investment, BitSight has agreed to buy VisibleRisk, a joint venture between Moody’s and venture group Team8 that rates cyber risk. It had received $25m from the two in May this year.

Funds

Japanese telecommunications group SoftBank has allocated $3bn to a second Latin America-focused fund, which will invest in technology-enabled companies across various industries at every stage of their development. The Latin America-dedicated unit, which is headed by chief operating officer Marcelo Claure, has also appointed two new managing partners Rodrigo Baer and Marco Camhaji. The firm said that the new fund’s initial commitment of $3bn might be increase, and that is exploring options to raise additional capital. Softbank launched its first Latin America-dedicated fund, a $5bn vehicle previously known as the Innovation Fund, in March 2019. The fund has invested around $3.5bn so far, across 48 companies, with an aggregate fair value of around $6.9bn. According to the firm, the fund has generated an 85% net IRR. SoftBank has invested in several unicorns with its first fund, including on-demand delivery service Rappi, online real estate portal QuintoAndar, digital currency exchange Mercado Bitcoin, wellness programmer operator Gympass and online furniture retailer MadeiraMadeira.

Chinese venture capital firm Fibonacci VC has closed its latest fund at $202m, with commitments from state-backed conglomerate Xiamen C&D and property developer China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Development Group. Other limited partners (LPs) committing to Fund II include funds-of-funds CICC Genesis Fund and Oriza FOFs Investment Management in addition to Guangzhou Finance Holdings and Haining Semiconductor Industry Investment Fund. Fibonacci’s management team also backed the fund with their own capital. Nearly half of the fund’s commitments were supplied by existing LPs, while 85% were institutional investors. It is Fibonacci’s second renminbi-denominated fund. Fibonacci will use the fund to invest in the industrial internet sector, in areas including the industrial internet-of-things, industrial intelligence and smart manufacturing. It typically participates in series A and B rounds.

Netherlands-based venture capital firm Finch Capital is looking to set up a fund in partnership with Indonesia-headquartered financial services firm Bank Central Asia (BCA)’s strategic investment arm, Central Capital Ventura. The vehicle is understood to be targeting $200m and is pursuing investments in financial services providers and financial technology developers, participating in series A rounds and later. Central Capital Ventura and Finch Capital are reportedly in the process of applying for fund management licences in Singapore.

LinkedIn, the US-based professional network operator owned by software producer Microsoft, has unveiled a $25m creator fund and a creator accelerator programme.
The programme, which will last 10 weeks, will welcome up to 100 US-based content creators to participate in a creator network, undergo coaching and receive a $15,000 grant each. It will also provide opportunities to be featured on LinkedIn’s brand, marketing and editorial channels as well as access to LinkedIn tools.

Crossover

AgBiome, a US-based agricultural technology spinout from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill backed by corporates Bayer Crop Science, Novozymes and Syngenta, collected $116m in series D funding. The round was co-led by venture capital firm Novalis LifeSciences and investment firm Blue Horizon, while undisclosed new and existing investors also contributed to the financing. Founded in 2013, AgBiome has developed the Genesis platform, which is able to identify the gene sequences and strains of microbial life that could potentially protect agricultural crops from pests and disease. The spinout has also created a fungicide that can protect against more than 300 combinations of crop disease. It plans to use the series D capital to expand its product portfolio and grow its scientific and commercial activities.


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

13 September 2021 – PayPal Picks Up Paidy in $2.7bn Deal

The Big Ones

Digital payment processor PayPal agreed to acquire Japanese consumer finance service Paidy for about $2.7bn. Paidy provides a buy-now-pay-later service that allows customers to make instant credit purchases that can be paid back on a monthly basis. PayPal will use the acquisition to strengthen its capabilities and presence in the domestic payments market in Japan. Following the close of the deal in the fourth quarter of 2021, Paidy will continue to operate under the leadership of founder and executive chairman Russell Cummer and president and CEO Riku Sugie. The company had raised $585m of overall financing prior to the acquisition announcement, including $337m of equity funding.

Varo Bank, a US-based digital bank that counts automotive insurance provider Progressive as a backer, raised $510m in a round led by investment manager Lone Pine Capital.

Declaration Partners, Eldridge, Marshall Wace, Berkshire Partners’ Stockbridge unit and funds and accounts managed by BlackRock took part in the round, as did Gallatin Point Capital, HarbourVest Partners, TPG’s The Rise Fund and Warburg Pincus. It valued the company at $2.5bn, according to Reuters. Founded in 2015, Varo provides digital banking services without a minimum balance requirement or the overdraft fees associated with traditional banks. It also offers additional banking products including automatic saving schemes and short-term loans of up to $100m.

British cybersecurity technology developer Snyk collected $530m in a series F round at a valuation of $8.5bn. The injection consisted of $300m in new money and $230m in secondary funding. The round featured project management technology provider Atlassian, chemical and energy group Koch Industries and enterprise software provider Salesforce. Asset manager Sands Capital and investment firm Tiger Global Management co-led the round, which included Accel, Addition, Alkeon, Baillie Gifford, funds managed by BlackRock, Boldstart Ventures, Canaan Partners, Coatue, Franklin Templeton, Geodesic Capital, Lone Pine Capital, T Rowe Price, Temasek and Whale Rock Capital Management. Snyk has built a cloud-based IT security software tool, Developer Security Platform, which helps app developers create safer products. Some 1,200 organisations including Asurion, Google, Intuit, Revolut and Salesforce use the company’s platform and its total funding stands at $775m.

China-based semiconductor wafer manufacturer FerroTec received $511m in a series B round featuring communications equipment producer Yangtze Optical FC (YOFC). The round was co-led by State-owned investor Capital Operation and Sunic Capital. It also included Bocom International Holdings and CCB International, on behalf of financial services firms Bank of Communications and China Construction Bank. SDIC Chuangyi, a subsidiary of State Development & Investment Corp (SDIC), also took part in the round, as did FTZ Fund, China SME Development Fund, Orient Securities Capital Investment and China International Capital Corporation’s CICC Capital unit. FerroTec produces semiconductors, automotive electronics, medical devices and other industrial equipment and components. It plans to use the funding to reach a monthly production capacity of 200,000 12-inch silicon wafers by the end of 2022.

Crossover

Spiber, a Japanese synthetic biomaterial developer synthetic spun out of Keio University and backed by corporates Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Toyoshima, Ebara, Toyota Boshuko and Dai-Chi Life, raked in ¥34.4bn ($312m) in funding. Private equity firm Carlyle led the round through its Carlyle Japan Partners fund and was joined by investment and financial services group Fidelity, Cool Japan Fund and Baillie Gifford. The round valued the company at over $1.2bn post-money. Founded in 2007, Spiber produces synthetic silk and other materials using synthetic proteins with no need for the spiders and silkworms usually required. The company is looking to capitalise on a growing market for sustainable textiles and will put the proceeds of the round into accelerating its expansion and commercialisation plans.

Funds

Germany-headquartered automotive manufacturer Volkswagen intends to set up a €300m ($356m) corporate venture capital fund to invest in startups and decarbonisation initiatives. Another Germany-based automotive manufacturer, BMW, launched a $300m second fund for its BMW i Ventures subsidiary last Summer. A third, Daimler, spun off its 1886Ventures research hub into a separate entity in December 2020.

Baidu Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of China-based internet company Baidu, raised $400m for its third fund. The fundraising has increased the unit’s assets under management to over $700m. The fund will primarily be used to invest in early-stage technology startups in artificial intelligence (AI) technology-focused business sectors. Baidu Ventures has already tapped the fund to complete several investments including in Tsing Standard, a developer of electric vehicle testing technology, and cancer drug and diagnostics technology developer Gene+.


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

Summer Break 2021

We’re on summer break but will be back in September. Check out our websites for news stories in the meantime:


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

02 August 2021 – Rhiti Group and Kanodia Launch VC Firm Deep Pockets Capital Venture

Story 1

While immediate attention is on China’s latest crackdown of sectors, such as tech and education, and the ability for foreign investors to back them or even if they can make profits, there is greater optimism in another rising economic power: India.

India-based sports-focused Rhiti Group has collaborated with local cement maker Kanodia Group to launch venture capital firm Deep Pockets Capital Venture.

“India is on the cusp of a revolution in technology, including artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain, which are set to revolutionise agriculture, finance and entertainment in coming years,” according to Rhiti Group Chairman Arun Pandey in the Economic Times of India.

Venture capital funding for Indian firms hit a six-year high of $12.1bn in the first six months of 2021, according to Venture Intelligence, many of them by foreign investors.

Tiger Global has struck almost 170 deals in India since 2006 with 29 so far this year, according to PitchBook data, under a strategy by key executives such as Lee Fixel, alongside other corporate investors, such as Naspers (now called Prosus), and Chinese peers, such as Xiaomi, Tencent and Alibaba.

In 2014, Tiger and Prosus helped lead a $1bn investment in Indian ecommerce group Flipkart, at a valuation that represented a three to four times multiple of the company’s sales, according to the Financial Times in its profile of Tiger.

And exits are starting to flow following the seminal $16bn acquisition of a majority of Flipkart by US peer Walmart three years ago. The successful listing of food delivery service Zomato and expected bumper initial public offerings of payments provider Paytm, insurance aggregator Policybazaar, bueaty retailer Nykaa and delivery company Delhivery. Even Flipkart could reportedly come to the public markets as soon as this year after its latest $3.6bn round.

But India’s regulators favour incumbents and the risks remain that a change in approach to international investment could collapse sentiment in the way the FT reported that SoftBank Vision Fund’s bet on China-based ride hailing service Didi Chuxing had fallen $4bn into the red after the past few weeks since its US listing was subsequently attacked by the authorities.

The Economist this week warned these investors might struggle. Local corporate investors, however, are waking up to the possibilities.

Story 2

A week ago, US-based stock exchange Nasdaq said it would separate its existing marketplace for private company shares into a new unit. With Wall Street giants Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup alongside California ingenue Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) buying into the new division it “will prove exceptionally difficult to compete against”, according to the Financial Times.

There is already $30bn traded on private exchanges, such as Carta and EquityZen, the FT added. But the potential market is vast, and growing.

After raising an almost $6.7bn fund in March, hedge fund Tiger Global had invested the vast majority of the capital by June, according to a letter to investors seen by the FT. Its new $10bn fund will begin accepting capital as soon as October and, in marketing documents, Tiger Global said it had “consistently underestimated” the market for private tech companies. Six months earlier, data suggested a $3tn market opportunity. It was now closer to $5tn, the firm said, as it looked to purchase billions of dollars of shares in ByteDance, the owner of social media application TikTok, through secondary sales at prices valuing the company between $400bn and $450bn, according to the FT.

But with even more liquidity to venture potentially surging in from retail and other investors will come tighter bid-ask spreads and effectively little to choose for an entrepreneur whether the business has to sell or float at all.

Alex Lazovsky, managing partner and co-founder of venture capital firm Scale-Up VC, in an article for Forbes thinks this is the biggest change for VCs.

“Perhaps the biggest change is just now emerging on the horizon, and it could dissolve the entire concept of ‘exit’ from below. The secondary market looks set to go retail, which might largely erase the difference between the public and private equity markets.

“If anyone with some extra income and a smartphone can invest in startup equity, does that make everyone a VC? Will existing VCs be priced out of their own market? If startups have access to unlimited public finance while still in the garage, what would ‘exit’ mean? Where is the gap? Will Sequoia meet the same fate as the once-mighty record company EMI?”

Probably not. As the Economist noted in its obituary for Yang Huaiding – China’s “first shareholder”, known as “Yang Millions” – it is “no good treating the market like a casino. You had to study it constantly, the companies, the conditions, the mood, before you jumped.”

The winners, therefore, are rarely the Robinhood traders but those with an edge – inside information on the likely future performance of a business.

And here, SVB is likely to be far more disruptive to the traditional investment banks as a result of the Nasdaq spinout.

SVB has the financials for the main VC firms and hence which ones to support as well as many of the entrepreneurs.

Throw in SVB’s work with corporations to help them partner these entrepreneurs as a customer and the future revenues it can bring then this is an unprecedented edge.

The only surprise is the big banks have yet to buy SVB before it reached this stage.

Story 3

Potential exciting news by the Wall Street Journal as US-based Form Energy recently initiated a $200m funding round, led by a strategic investment from Luxembourg-based steelmaking group ArcelorMittal, which is also one of the world’s leading iron-ore producers.

Form could use iron to store energy for days, which is helpful for utilities grappling with the intermittent supply of electricity from renewable power – check out the Global Energy Council’s latest report with a focus on the electricity grid.

The deal is also part of the so-called cleantech 2.0 movement. The first wave of cleantech startups before 2009 struggled for years with a number of high-profile flameouts, such as Solyndra.

Now, a wave of liquidity through special purpose acquisition companies (Spacs) is targeting many of the survivors and promising new companies with an eye on the disruption and opportunities to affect the business world as it tackles climate change and the move to net zero carbon emissions.

Paul Holland, managing director and VC-in-residence at Mach49, will discuss with Scott Gale, executive director at Halliburton Labs, and Grégoire Viasnoff, vice-president for incubation business at Schneider Electric, on how multinationals can tackle the world’s most pressing problems through venture building and investing in cleantech, energy transition, circular economy and mobility.

Halliburton Labs, the clean energy accelerator from one of the world’s largest providers to the energy industry, this month announced the second cohort of startups.

Schneider Electric, another Mach49 partner focused on sustainability and the circular economy, has been incubating new companies, such as eIQ Mobility, Clipsal Solar and Dash Energy, and investing in external startups through its $600m SE Ventures fund since 2018.

“Mach49 was founded on the belief that through venture building and venture investing, global businesses can solve the world’s most pressing problems, including climate change, water, poverty, health, and education,” said Linda Yates, founder and CEO of Mach49. “Embracing a Silicon Valley mindset is the first step. With a nimble, startup and VC mindset, large global corporations are leveraging their talent, assets, and innovation to create a growth engine fuelled by a pipeline and portfolio of new ventures.”

Reduce, reuse and recycle was a helpful way to think about limiting personal impact on the planet (along with the handy advice to take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints).

And it seems corporations are taking up the mantra as their venturing units increasingly focus on sustainable development goals.

Most recently, Germany-based consumer technology subscription platform Grover has raised $1bn in debt financing to add to April’s series B equity round from Samsung Next among others.

The company offers users consumers electronics, such as Samsung phones, to rent and then reuse saving about 1,400 tonnes of waste.

Meanwhile, Amazon Climate Pledge Fund has reinvested in the battery recycling services provider Redwood’s $700m round at a reported $3.7bn post-money valuation and UK-based all-inclusive electric vehicle (EV) subscription service Onto has raised $175m in a combined equity and debt series B round including from oil major TotalEnergies, industrial group Vlerick Group and Netherlands-based insurer Achmea’s Innovation Fund.

And more such deals are likely to come. Private equity firm TPG has raised $5.4bn for its TPG Rise Climate fund with a hard cap of $7bn and existing commitments from 20 or so corporations, including Alphabet, Bank of America, Dow, General Motors and Nike.

Earlier in the month, private market investor General Atlantic created a strategy focused on climate change that is reportedly looking to raise about $4bn.

According to Pitchbook, investors around the world have already closed as many climate-focused funds, such as $7bn for Brookfield Asset Management’s carbon neutrality fund, as were raised in the past five years.

These impact, environmental and sustainability strategies will be discussed around the COP26 meeting in November as part of the www.GCVsymposium.com


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

26 July 2021 – Swiggy Raises $1.25bn in Series J

The Big Ones

SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 and Prosus co-led a $1.25bn series J round for India-based food delivery service provider Swiggy at a $5.5bn valuation. The round also featured sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority as well as Accel, Wellington Management, Falcon Edge Capital, Amansa Capital, Goldman Sachs, Think Capital and Carmignac. TechCrunch said the round includes an $800m tranche led by Prosus’ corporate venturing arm, Prosus Ventures, in April this year. SoftBank provided a reported $450m for that close, which included Falcon Edge, Goldman Sachs, Amansa Capital, Think Capital, Carmignac and Accel.

Aurora, a US-based self-driving technology developer, has agreed a reverse merger with Reinvent Technology Partners Y. The combined company will have a $13bn pro forma implied market capitalisation and will take on Reinvent’s listing on the Nasdaq Capital Market, which was secured through an $850m initial public offering in March this year. It is sponsored by investment firm Reinvent Capital. The transaction includes a $1bn PIPE financing featuring truck manufacturer Paccar, ride hailing service provider Uber and commercial vehicle producer Volvo Group, as well as Reinvent Capital, Baillie Gifford, XN, Primecap Management Company, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Index Ventures, Sequoia Capital, funds and accounts managed by Morgan Stanley’s Counterpoint Global unit and funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price.

Italy-based venture capital firm Panakès Partners has achieved a $180m first close for its second fund with a commitment from pharmaceutical firm Menarini. The Purple Fund was anchored by the European Investment Fund and FoF VenturItaly, a fund-of-funds managed by VC firm CDP Venture Capital. The vehicle is also backed by unnamed Italy-based banking foundations, pension funds, life science companies and the Cogliati, Colombo, Rovati, Petrone, Re and Bassani families.

University

Form Energy, a US-based grid-scale battery developer spun out of MIT, secured $200m in a series D round led by $25m from ArcelorMittal’s XCarb innovation fund. As part of the deal, ArcelorMittal and Form Energy have signed a joint development agreement to further boost the latter’s iron battery production. The other participants in the round were not disclosed.

Deals

Cryptocurrency exchange operator FTX Trading completed a $900m series B round featuring SoftBank, Coinbase Ventures and Circle. The funding was raised at an $18bn valuation from a consortium of more than 60 investors including quantitative trading firm Hudson River, Paradigm, Sequoia Capital, Thoma Bravo, Ribbit Capital, Insight Partners, Bond, New Enterprise Associates, Third Point and Lightspeed Venture Partners, Willoughby Capital, 40North, Senator Investment Group, Sino Global Capital, Multicoin, VanEck, Altimeter, the Paul Tudor Jones family, and private investors Izzy Englander and Alan Howard.

Colombia-based on-demand delivery service Rappi has secured over $500m in series F funding from investors including SoftBank. T Rowe Price led the round, which also featured Baillie Gifford, Third Point, Octahedron Capital and GIC. The cash was reportedly raised at a $5.25bn valuation.

US-based crop nutrition technology developer Pivot Bio completed a $430m series D round that included Tekfen, Bunge and Continental Grain. Temasek and DCVC co-led the round with backing from Generation Investment Management, Rockefeller Capital Management, Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), Prelude Ventures, Pavilion Capital and private investor Roger Underwood. Tekfen and Bunge were represented in the round by their respective corporate venturing units, Tekfen Ventures and Bunge Ventures. It reportedly valued the company at nearly $2bn.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 led a $350m series C round for US-based alternative protein developer Nature’s Fynd. Danone’s corporate venturing arm, Danone Manifesto Ventures, also participated in the round, as did Archer Daniels Midland and SK. The participants were completed by Blackstone Strategic Partners, Balyasny Asset Management, Hillhouse Capital, EDBI, Hongkou Capital, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Generation Investment Management and 1955 Capital.

Lenskart, an India-based online eyewear retailer backed by SoftBank, has raised $220m of funding at a $2.5bn valuation. Temasek and Falcon Edge Capital co-led the round and were joined by Bay Capital and Chiratae Ventures. The company is planning to expand its operations in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Some of the cash from the round will be used to further develop its technology stack.

Cloudwise, a China-based developer of artificial intelligence-driven operational technology, secured $150m in a series E round featuring quantitative and technology trading firm Susquehanna International Group. Sequoia Capital China led the round, which included Albright Stonebridge Group, Boston Investment, CR Capital, FutureX Capital and Citic’s Private Equity Funds Management subsidiary.

SmartRecruiters, a US-based recruitment software developer backed by Salesforce, completed a $110m series E round led by Silver Lake Waterman. Insight Partners and Mayfield Fund also participated in the round, which valued the company at $1.5bn.

Funds

China-headquartered e-commerce group Alibaba’s Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund (AEF) is anchoring a HK$2bn ($258m) vehicle dubbed AEF Greater Bay Area (GBA) Fund. GBA Fund counts undisclosed conglomerates, financial institutions and family offices among its limited partners, and is scheduled to reach its final close in the first half of 2022. The fund will target developers of technologies in areas including deeptech and sustainability, healthcare, artificial intelligence and industry 4.0 technology. It is being managed by venture capital firm Gobi Partners.

Exits

Bukalapak, the Indonesia-based online marketplace, has priced its initial public offering at the top of its range and will raise $1.5bn. The share price values the company at about $6bn and Bukalapak is set to float on the Indonesia Stock Exchange next month. Founded in 2010, Bukalapak operates an e-commerce platform with 6.5 million online sellers and 100 million users, and also runs a business-to-business procurement platform as well as a digital financial services subsidiary called Buka Investasi Bersama. Emtek, Naver, Microsoft, Gree and Aucfan are all in line for an exit.

Shanghai Stock Exchange’s Star Market accepted the initial public offering application submitted by CloudWalk Technology, a China-based facial recognition system developer backed by corporates Bohai, Haier and PCI-Suntek. The company plans to raise RMB3.75bn ($574m) and filed the application in December 2020. It intends to issue up to 112 million shares, and China Securities (CSC Financial) has been appointed lead underwriter for the offering.

US-based lending software provider Blend Labs floated in a $360m initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange, representing an exit for cloud computing giant Salesforce. The company priced 20 million class A shares at the upper end of the IPO’s $16 to $18 range. Blend has developed a cloud software platform which helps financial services providers streamline the loans process. Its net loss rose from $22.9m in the first three months of 2020 to $27.1m in the equivalent period this year, while revenue more than doubled to $31.9m. The company had raised at least $685m prior to the offering, Salesforce having provided an undisclosed amount likely to have been $14m through its Salesforce Ventures unit in May 2019.

VTex, a UK-headquartered e-commerce services provider backed by SoftBank, went public in a $361m initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. The IPO included nearly 13.9 million class A shares priced at $19 each, above the $15 to $17 range, while selling shareholders divested just over 5.1 million more shares for a total of approximately $97.3m. The shares opened at $25.10 a share on their first day of trading.

Caribou Biosciences, a US-based cell therapy developer spun out of UC Berkeley to commercialise research by Jennifer Doudna – one of the researchers that discovered Crispr-Cas9, has gone public in a $304m initial public offering representing an exit for corporate investors Corteva, AbbVie, Novartis and Heritage Medical Systems. The company increased the number of shares in the offering from 17 million to 19 million and priced them at the top of the IPO’s $14 to $16 range. It is floating on the Nasdaq Global Select Market and the share price gives it a valuation of almost $910m.


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

19 July 2021 – SoftBank serves Yanolja with $1.7bn

Big ones

SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 supplied $1.7bn in funding for South Korea-based travel and accommodation services provider Yanolja. It was valued at $1bn in a $180m series D round in mid-2019 backed by Booking Holdings and GIC. It had received $53.2m from SkyLake Investment two years earlier and $8.5m from Partners Investment in 2015.

Softbank plans to invest an additional $5bn in the Latin American region. The corporate formed a $5bn investment vehicle targeting the region in early 2019, and the prospective funding, which would double the allocation to $10bn, may be used to create a new SoftBank Latin America Fund or expand the size of the first. SoftBank also intends to expand the range of Latin America-based companies it targets to include seed and series A-stage startups as well as publicly-listed companies. Chief operating officer Marcelo Claure, who launched the first fund, will continue to lead its Latin America-based operations.

One97 Communications, the India-based owner of payments platform Paytm backed by corporates Alibaba, Ant Financial, SoftBank and MediaTek, filed to go public on the Securities and Exchange Board of India. The company intends to raise up to Rs 16.6bn ($2.2bn) in an initial public offering which would entail it issuing $1.1bn in new shares while its shareholders will divest the same amount. Selling shareholders in the IPO will include founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Alibaba and Ant Group, Elevation Capital, SAIF Partners India and Berkshire Hathaway.

Crossover

US-based gene-editing technology developer Prime Medicine emerged from stealth with $315m of series A and B funding to commercialise research conducted at the Broad Institute. The company raised $115m in a series A round backed by GV, Arch Venture Partners, Newpath Partners and F-Prime Capital. Prime Medicine concurrently unveiled a $200m series B round featuring all the series A investors in addition to Casdin Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, Moore Strategic Ventures, PSP Investments, Redmile Group, Samsara BioCapital, funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price, and unspecified life science investment funds. The startup is using gene-editing technology to advance a number of drug discovery programmes targeted at areas such as the liver, eye, ex-vivo hematopoietic stem cell and neuro-muscular indications.

Deals

UK-based financial services app developer Revolut secured $800m yesterday in a series E round that included SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2. The corporate was joined by hedge fund manager Tiger Global Management and the funding was raised at a $33bn valuation.

China-based smart car technology manufacturer Banma Technologies has secured up to ¥3bn ($465m) in funding from investors including Alibaba and SAIC Motor. Yunfeng Capital and CMG-SDIC Capital also contributed to the round, which followed a $233m series A round in 2018 led by CMG-SDIC and backed by Yunfeng Capital and Shangqi Capital, a vehicle for SAIC Motor subsidiary SAIC Capital.

Netskope, a US-based networking and security software provider backed by computing technology provider Dell, closed a $300m funding round at a $7.5bn post-money valuation. The round was led by investment firm Iconiq Growth and also featured Sequoia Capital’s Global Equities unit alongside Lightspeed Venture Partners, Accel, Base Partners, Sapphire Ventures, Geodesic Capital and unnamed existing investors.

Ascension Ventures, an investment fund representing 13 healthcare providers in the United States, contributed to a $260m series D round for US-based medical device developer Imperative Care. D1 Capital Partners led the round, which included Bain Capital’s Life Sciences subsidiary as well as HealthCor Investments, Innovatus Capital Partners, Ally Bridge Group, Delos Capital, Rock Springs Capital and Amed Ventures.

Denmark-based challenger bank Lunar secured €210m ($249m) in a series D round co-led by Tencent, Heartland and Kinnevik. Chr Augustinus Fabrikker, Fuel Ventures, Greyhound Capital, IDC Ventures, MW&L Capital Partners, Seed Capital, Socii Capital and private investor Peter Mühlmann filled out the participants in the round.

Funds

Japan-based semiconductor manufacturer Rohm launched a ¥5bn ($45.4m) corporate venture capital fund that will be overseen by its group chief technology officer. The vehicle will identify ideas and technologies with the potential to solve social issues and create growth opportunities for Rohm over the next decade, including semiconductor materials, decarbonisation technology and in-vehicle and industrial equipment-related chip applications. Rohm will also make limited partner commitments to other VC funds through the unit, which is slated to operate over a 10-year period. It had previously collaborated with universities and startups to develop semiconductor technologies.

Exits

SES, a Singapore-headquartered lithium-metal battery developer spun out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and backed by GM, Applied Materials, SAIC Motor and SK Group, agreed to a reverse merger with Ivanhoe Capital Acquisition Corp. The merged business will be valued at $3.6bn in the transaction and will take up Ivanhoe Capital Acquisition Corp’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange, acquired through a $276m initial public offering earlier this month. The deal will be supported by a $200m private placement featuring carmakers GM, Hyundai, Kia, Geely, SAIC Motor, Foxconn, Koch Strategic Platforms and LG Technology Ventures.

Zomato, an India-based food delivery service backed by Ant Group, Info Edge and Delivery Hero, listed on the National Stock Exchange of India and the BSE in a dual listing. The offering valued the company at up to $8.6bn. The company intended to raise approximately $1.25bn through the initial public offering, which involves it issuing about $1.2bn in new shares. Classified listings operator Info Edge is selling $50m of shares. The offering was oversubscribed 55-fold as of the time of recording on Friday afternoon UK time.

Bullish, a US-based digital asset services provider backed by blockchain software provider Block.one, has agreed a reverse merger with Far Peak Acquisition Corporation. The deal will give Bullish the listing on New York Stock Exchange taken by Far Peak through a $550m initial public offering in December 2020. EFM Asset Management is anchoring a $300m private investment in public equity deal supporting the transaction that includes funds and accounts managed by BlackRock in addition to Cryptology Asset Group and Galaxy Digital, at a $9bn pro forma equity valuation.

MobiKwik, an India-based online payments service that counts Cisco, GMO, American Express, Bajaj Finance, MediaTek, Net1 and New Delhi Television among its investors, filed for a Rs 19bn ($255m) initial public offering on the Securities and Exchange Board of India. The offering will involve the company issuing approximately $201m of new shares while its existing shareholders will sell up to $54m.

US-based biologics delivery technology developer Rani Therapeutics has filed to raise up to $100m in an initial public offering that would allow Alphabet, GeneScience, AstraZeneca, Shire, Novartis, Ping An, KPC and Stevanato to exit. Rani is developing a capsule called the RaniPill, which would allow for biologics to be delivered orally to patients, instead of through subcutaneous or IV injection.The IPO proceeds have been earmarked for research and development and the advancement of Rani’s product pipeline, as well as growing its manufacturing capabilities and paying back a $1.3m Paycheck Protection Program loan taken out in April 2020.

People

Sacha Mann has been appointed a senior partner at Takeda Ventures. Her LinkedIn profile describes Mann as being in “stealth” at the unit from June 2020 to February 2021. Mann had previously been a venture partner at healthcare-focused VC firm Zoic Capital from 2018 to 2020. Inventages Venture Capital, a VC firm formed with the support of packaged food producer Nestlé, hired her as a principal in 2009 and she was promoted to venture partner in 2016 before leaving the following year.