The Big Ones
Uber launched its shipping services platform, Uber Freight, in 2017, and is now spinning it off with $500m in series A financing from Greenbriar Equity Group at a $3.3bn post-money valuation. The funding will help Uber Freight compete against emerging competitors like Flock Freight and Loadsmart, as well as international rivals such as BlackBuck, FreightHub and Manbang Group.
Several corporates have in the past year or so adjusted their CVC models to focus on independent venture firms they sponsor, as opposed to operating internal units. But Russian conglomerate Sistema was among the first, seeding VC firm Sistema Asia Capital in 2015 with a brief to invest in consumer and enterprise technology. The firm closed its first fund at $120m but plans to expand that to between $150m and $175m for the second vehicle. It has so far achieved two exits and intends to boost its ticket size – currently up to $5m – for the next fund.
South Korean record company and talent manager Big Hit Entertainment specialises in K-pop idol groups and has struck gold with BTS, now one of the biggest groups in the world. It has also lined up an initial public offering in its home country that will involve it floating at the top of its range to raise $842m. The IPO is reportedly set to value the company at roughly $4.2bn and will represent a huge return for mobile game developer Netmarble, which paid $190m for a 25.7% stake two and a half years ago.
The biggest crossover of the past week was actually an acquisition, specifically the $350m purchase of Harvard’s gene sequencing technology spinout ReadCoor by 10x Genomics. The company had raised $50m in funding, and pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly subsidiary Lilly Ventures contributed to a $23m series A round for ReadCoor in 2016 that was led by Decheng Capital and also backed by Vivo Capital and Hansjörg Wyss. The latter’s donations to Harvard University led to the establishment of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, from which ReadCoor was spun out so this story has nicely come full circle.
GoPuff’s consumer goods delivery service has been boosted significantly by social distancing measures in recent months and it has accordingly secured $390m from investors including SoftBank Vision Fund at a $3.9bn valuation. Vision Fund had already led a $750m round for GoPuff last year and the proceeds from the latest deal will go to expanding its range of products.
Unqork, creator of a no-code app development platform, has meanwhile pulled in $207m through a series C round featuring Alphabet unit CapitalG, Broadridge Financial Solutions and Hewlett Packard Enterprise that valued it at $2bn. The round increased Unqork’s overall funding to $368m and the capital will support recruitment, technology development and an expansion in its training and go-to-market partnerships.
The market leader in that space is of course Instacart, though it relies on shoppers picking up goods from stores, as opposed to the fulfilment centre model used by GoPuff. It has also raised $200m in a round co-led by Valiant Peregrine Fund and D1 Capital Partners at a colossal $17.7bn valuation, up $3.9bn from the close of its last round three months ago. The company’s earlier investors include Comcast Ventures, American Express Ventures and Whole Foods, which is now owned by Amazon.
Tanium is among the most valuable VC-backed cybersecurity software providers right now and has pulled in $150m from investors including Fidelity Management & Research, Baillie Gifford and T. Rowe Price at a valuation in excess of $9bn. Salesforce invested in the company in June, its earlier backers include Citi Ventures and its overall funding now stands at more than $900m.
Telemedicine has been one of the big success stories this year thanks to social distancing measures, but most of the products focus on diagnostics and consultation. Avail Biosciences’ Procedural Telemedicine system is designed for use in the operating theatre to enable experts to consult on surgical procedures, and it has raised $100m in its series B round. The round was led by investment firm D1 Capital Partners and also featured existing investors that may have included Baidu Ventures.
Germany-based energy utility Eon acquired domestic peer Innogy in June and four months on, it has formed a venture capital investment and collaboration platform called Future Energy Ventures. The unit launched with a portfolio of more than 60 companies and corporate venturing team members from both utilities, and will target developers of digital technology that can enhance the energy sector.
Lufax has less than two months to achieve one of the biggest IPOs of the year, having filed to go public on the New York Stock Exchange two years after raising money at a valuation topping $39bn. The online lending and wealth management platform was spun off by China-based insurance firm Ping An, which still owns a 42% stake, and its subsequent investors include Cofco, Bank of China, UBS, JP Morgan, Macquarie Group, UOB and Goldman Sachs.
Immersive gaming platform developer Roblox is reportedly lining up an initial public offering that could potentially double its valuation to $8bn. The company has raised $550m in funding, most recently pulling in $150m through a February 2020 series G round featuring Tencent that pushed its valuation up from $2.5bn to $4bn.
Alphabet is having a busy week in corporate venturing. One of its portfolio companies, tech-equipped health insurance provider Clover Health, looks set to give it a healthy exit after agreeing to a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp III at a $3.7bn valuation. The deal will follow approximately $925m in funding and the merged business will get some $400m in PIPE financing in addition to $828m in the SPAC’s account.
Ozon, the Russia-based e-commerce marketplace that counts Sistema and Cisco Investments among its backers, has confidentially also filed for an IPO in the United States, according to the Wall Street Journal. The offering is expected to value Ozon, whose business has soared during the coronavirus pandemic, between $3bn and $5bn and is slated to take place in late 2020 or early 2021.
A raft of highly-valued companies in the tech space are currently lining up IPOs, and UK-based Deliveroo is among them. The online food delivery platform has seen user numbers rise significantly during the coronavirus pandemic and is expecting its valuation in the offering to top $2.6bn. That would be good news for Amazon, which led the company’s $575m series G round in May last year, but which had to wait 13 months for the deal to get regulatory approval due to competition concerns.