10 August 2020 – Epic Games Confirms $1.78bn Funding Round

Big ones

Epic Games has confirmed a $1.78bn funding round that included the $250m investment announced by Sony last month. The game developer had substantial success with the Unreal Tournament and Gears of War games, but it’s the immense popularity of Fortnite that has lifted it to the $17.3bn valuation it currently holds – it can’t be a coincidence the latest round was closed just weeks after the commercial release of the co-op version, Fortnite: Save the World.

China-based diversified conglomerate Bloomage International Group has anchored a culture and sports-focused fund with a RMB10bn ($1.43bn) target for its close. Alan Asset Management Company (Alan AMC), an investment firm formed in 2016 by financial services firm Hana Financial Group’s Hana Bank and Hana Financial Investment subsidiaries together with women’s apparel brand Lancy, is also a cornerstone investor.

There’s been a good deal of talk around a prospective IPO for Ant Group (FKA Ant Financial) and now news has emerged that Alibaba’s financial services affiliate is targeting $30bn in a dual offering that would be the largest of all time. The company’s investors also include China Post and China Life, and it’s chasing a $200bn valuation in the flotation, which is reportedly being lined up for September or October.

In crossover news, Taysha Gene Therapies launched out of University of Texas Southwestern under four months ago with $30m in seed funding, but it’s already jumped series A stage and added $95m in a series B round that included GV. Taysha is, like Freeline, a gene therapy developer and it is focusing on central nervous system diseases. It has 17 product candidates in its pipeline and the funding is expected to help push its lead candidates into clinical trials.

Deals

SenseTime is reportedly near to raising $1.5bn at a $10bn valuation, in a round that will likely precede an initial public offering in Shanghai. The China-based image recognition software provider counts Suning, Qualcomm, Alibaba and Dalian Wanda as investors and had reportedly been considering the US as its destination for a public listing before being put on a blacklist by the country’s Department of Commerce late last year.

Agricultural product marketplace Indigo Agriculture has closed the $360m second tranche of its FedEx-backed series F round, which now stands at $535m. The new financing was made up of $260m in preferred equity financing and $100m in convertible equity, and the round reportedly values Indigo above $3.5bn. Its overall funding has been increased to more than $1.2bn.

Several new players have joined China’s grocery sector in recent years and many of them count Tencent as an investor. Its latest move has been to co-lead a $358m series C round for Yipin Fresh, the operator of a chain of close to 900 24-hour grocery stores. Yipin’s last round, a $298m series B it closed early last year, was also led by Tencent, and the corporate’s portfolio also includes MissFresh, Xingsheng Youxuan and Tongcheng Life.

Despite the maturation of the ride hailing space, transport continues to be a boom sector for investment. Automotive e-commerce group Auto1 has pulled in $300m through a convertible note round co-led by Farallon Capital Management and Baupost Group that would have hiked its overall financing to $1.4bn. SoftBank Vision Fund had supplied $565m for Auto1 through a 2018 primary and secondary investment and could have been one of the unnamed existing investors in its latest round.

Xiaopeng, the smart electric vehicle producer also known as Xpeng, is reportedly raising $300m that will be added to a series C-plus round that so far totals $500m. Alibaba is among the purported new investors having initially backed the company in its early 2018 series B round. It has so far disclosed $2.2bn in funding altogether, its existing backers also including Foxconn, UCar and Xiaomi.

Farmer’s Business Network on the other hand runs an online platform where farmers can trade information on pricing and product performance, in addition to selling agricultural products and offering financing. It has completed a $250m series F round featuring GV at a reported $1.75bn valuation, a hefty increase from the $1bn valuation at which it last raised money in early 2019. Its early investors include Capmbell Soup unit Acre Venture Partners.

Lepu Biotech, a cancer immunotherapy developer spun off by medical device maker Lepu Medical, has raised $186m in a series B round co-led by Ping An Capital, a corporate VC unit for insurer Ping An, and Riverhead Capital, a private equity firm backed by insurance firm Sunshine Insurance. The funding came just over a year after Lepu Biotech received $131m in a series A round featuring its parent company and fellow corporate Suzhou Shareate Group.

American Electric Power and Chevron Technology Ventures were among the investors that have provided an extra $127m in funding for electric vehicle charging network ChargePoint, bringing its overall funding to $667m. The company’s earlier backers include BMW i Ventures, Daimler Trucks & Buses, Constellation Technology Ventures, Siemens Venture Capital, Hartford Ventures, Toyota Tsusho, LS Industrial Systems and LS Cable.

Quantum computing is a still nascent part of the technology space, but Rigetti Computing is one of its frontrunners. Rigetti has confirmed it has closed its series C round at $79m, taking its overall funding to almost $200m. The company’s earlier investors include Bloomberg Beta, a participant in its series A round.

Funds

Italy-based venture capital firm United Ventures has formed a growth fund with telecommunications firm Telecom Italia (TIM) with a targeted close of €150m ($175m). TIM is providing approximately $70m in capital for UV T-Growth through corporate venturing unit TIM Ventures. The fund will invest in late-stage domestic and international developers of innovative technology, especially in areas associated with 5G mobile infrastructure.

Japan-based robotic process automation technology provider RPA Holdings has formed a corporate venture capital subsidiary called Open Ventures. The unit will back pre-seed and seed-stage startups founded by young entrepreneurs working on technology in areas such as automation, artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT) and regional revitalisation.

University College London (UCL) has reached an initial close of undisclosed size for the £100m ($131m) successor to its UCL Technology Fund, the early-stage vehicle aimed at commercialising its life, computer and physical sciences research. UCL will act as the fund’s cornerstone investor together with British Patient Capital, the venture arm of government-owned British Business Bank. Unnamed existing and new investors have also joined the consortium. AlbionVC, the venture arm of Albion Capital, will again manage the fund having also supervised its predecessor. It will work in partnership with UCL Business (UCLB), the university’s commercialisation company. The new vehicle is expected to focus on opportunities in the biomedical, artificial intelligence and advanced materials spaces.

Exits

Oak Street Health has floated in a $328m initial public offering in which it priced its shares above an already expanded range. Health system Humana, its main customer, invested $50m in the primary care provider in autumn 2018 and will come out of the offering with a 5.3% stake. That’s a very decent return in a relatively short time, considering the IPO values Oak Street at about $5bn.

BigCommerce has become the latest company to float in an upsized initial public offering, raising $216m after pricing its shares above an already expanded range. The e-commerce software provider had received $219m in funding from investors including Telstra Ventures, American Express Ventures and SoftBank prior to the offering, and the IPO price valued it just short of $1.5bn.

University College London’s Freeline Therapeutics went public on Friday in a $159m initial public offering that represented an exit for the university’s UCL Technology Fund and Novo, the pharmaceutical firm that co-led its $120m series C round in June. The UK-based gene therapy developer – founded by Syncona, which retains a near-majority stake of 49% – had raised $275m pre-IPO and it’s going to be interesting to see if it gets the kind of pop we’ve seen a lot of recently. BigCommerce’s shares were three and a half-times their IPO price by Friday.


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

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