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

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