The Big Ones
Netherlands-based customer service software provider Messagebird has added $800m to a series C round featuring Bonnier, expanding it to $1bn. Bonnier joined Eurazeo, Tiger Global Management, BlackRock, Owl Rock, Glynn Capital, LGT Lightstone, Longbow, Mousse Partners, NewView Capital, Accel, Atomico and Y Combinator in the extension, which was made up of 70% equity financing and 30% debt. Spark Capital led the round’s $200m first close in October 2020 at a $3bn valuation, investing alongside Glynn Capital, LGT Lightstone, Longbow, Mousse Partners, Accel, Atomico, Y Combinator and New View Capital. MessageBird had raised a total of $100m prior to this round. The company revealed it has channelled $600m of the extension into acquiring SparkPost, the US-based creator of an email optimisation software platform it claims oversees some 4.5 trillion emails a year on behalf of its customers.
Main Sequence Ventures, the Australia-based venture capital firm founded by Commonwealth Scientific Research Organisation (CSIRO), has secured A$250m ($194m) for its second fund from LPs including Lockheed Martin, Temasek, HostPlus, Horizons Ventures and unspecified family offices and individual investors. Main Sequence was founded in 2017 to manage CSIRO Innovation Fund 1, an investment vehicle established by CSIRO and the Australian federal government. The firm specialises in commercialising academic research and investing in spinouts. It focuses on deep tech solving one of six key objectives – feeding 10 billion people, population-scale healthcare, industrial productivity, accessing space, enabling next-generation computing and decarbonisation. Decarbonisation technologies is an added focus with Fund II and partner Martin Duursma will lead on this effort. I previously interviewed another partner of Main Sequence, Mike Zimmerman, late last year and I highly recommend you seek out our other podcast, Talking Tech Transfer, on your favourite app or on GlobalUniversityVenturing.com to listen to that episode (and all the others, we have close to 30 interviews with thought leaders in university innovation from all over the world, including our most recent with Sara Wallin, the CEO of Chalmers Ventures, the number one-ranked incubator in the Nordics).
UiPath, the robotic process automation software producer that counts Alphabet and Tencent as investors, closed its initial public offering at almost $1.54bn just over a week ago (April 23). The company issued 9.4 million shares priced at $56 each, above the $52 to $54 range for the offering, while investors including CapitalG sold nearly 14.5 million more shares. The extra stock bumped the number issued by UiPath to 13 million and the move came after UiPath’s shares rose significantly post-IPO. They are, as of the time of recording on Friday afternoon UK time, trading at $73.50 on the New York Stock Exchange.
And more interesting crossover news this week in the form of an exit: Vaccitech, a UK-based vaccine developer spun out of University of Oxford, priced its shares at $17 to raise more than $110m in its debut on the Nasdaq Global Market. Founded in 2016, Vaccitech initially aimed to develop a universal flu vaccine but the technology’s arguably most fundamental impact to date has been the creation of the covid-19 vaccine now deployed by pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca. Vaccitech’s pipeline now features assets targeting chronic hepatitis B infection, HPV, prostate cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, shingles and Mers. OSI is the largest shareholder ahead of the offering, with a 29.5% stake, which will be diluted to 23.9%. GV will come out with 5%, Tencent (4.2%) and Gilead Science is also a shareholder but held less than 5% ahead of the offering.
Eutelsat Communications has agreed to invest $550m in UK-based satellite internet technology developer One Web, in return for a stake sized at about 24%. OneWeb is building a 648-satellite constellation intended to provide broadband coverage to remote areas from low orbit. The initial system is expected to be operational by the end of this year and Eutelsat’s capital will take it most of the way towards its funding goal. The company had raised a total of $3.4bn from investors including SoftBank Vision Fund, Bharti Enterprises and Hughes Network Systems before filing for bankruptcy in March 2020. Bharti subsequently joined the UK government to buy OneWeb’s assets for $1bn in July the same year. SoftBank paid $350m for a 30% stake in the resurrected company in January 2021 while Hughes invested $50m.
US-based blockchain infrastructure technology developer Paxos has received $300m in a series D round featuring PayPal Ventures. Venture capital firm Oak HC/FT led the round, which included Declaration Partners, Mithril Capital, Senator Investment Group, Liberty City Ventures and WestCap. The company has secured more than $535m since it was founded in 2012 and the round valued it at $2.4bn post-money.
Two entities owned by Tencent have provided $225m for India-based social network operator ShareChat as part of its $502m series E round. The round was led by Tiger Global Management earlier this month and also featured venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners as well as Snap, the owner of messaging app Snapchat. Tencent provided almost half the capital in the form of convertible debt, from Netherlands-registered vehicles Zennis Capital and Hlodyn. Should the debt be converted into equity, they would own a 19.7% stake in ShareChat. Tencent would be unable to invest in the company directly due to strict rules governing the acquisition of stakes in Indian companies by Chinese entities. The same rules have allowed ShareChat to grow without competing against companies such as the China-based TikTok.
Rocket Lawyer, a US-based digital legal services provider backed by Alphabet, Relx and Editions Lefebvre Sarrut, has received $223m in financing. The round was led by Vista Credit Partners, a subsidiary of investment firm Vista Equity Partners, but it has not revealed the identity of the other participants. The company’s last funding came in 2016 when legal publisher Editions Lefebvre Sarrut invested an undisclosed amount as part of a joint venture to launch a Rocket Lawyer Europe entity.
US-based cybersecurity software provider Sysdig has secured $188m in a series F round featuring Siemens’s Next47. Founded in 2013, Sysdig provides a software tool that helps cloud operators run their services securely, preventing and responding to threats and vulnerabilities in a timely manner. The series F was raised at a $1.19bn valuation and lifted the company’s total funding to $394m.
India-headquartered home services marketplace Urban Company has raised $188m in a series F round led by Prosus at a $2bn valuation. The round was filled out by DF International – possibly a vehicle for Dragoneer Investment Group – and Wellington Management, lifting the company’s overall funding to more than $370m.
US-based gas management technology provider Crusoe Energy Systems has completed a $128m series B round featuring Exor, Coinbase Ventures and DRW Venture Capital. The equity funding was raised alongside a $40m project financing facility from growth financing provider Upper90.
US-based cancer therapy developer Boundless Bio completed a $105m series B round that included Alexandria Venture Investments. Boundless is working on a pipeline of precision cancer drugs designed to target the extrachromosomal DNA of aggressive cancers. The latest round follows a $46.4m series A in September 2019 that was also backed by Alexandria Venture Investments.
BigID, a US-based data protection software developer backed by Comcast, Salesforce and SAP, has added $30m from private equity firm Advent International to a series D round now standing at $100m. The deal came after the company secured $70m in a first tranche co-led by Salesforce Ventures and Tiger Global Management in December 2020. Glynn Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, Scale Venture Partners and Boldstart Ventures also took part in the first close. The extension increased BigID’s funding to over $246m and valued it at $1.3bn.
China-based IoT technology producer Tuya has formed a $400m strategic investment fund with Hillhouse Capital. Tuya’s platform enables businesses to access hardware development tools, cloud services and smart business development software in order to build their connected services. The company floated in the US last month in a $915m initial public offering in which affiliates of Hillhouse Capital had expressed interest in buying $100m of shares.
JD Logistics, the logistics services subsidiary of China-headquartered e-commerce firm JD.com, received approval for an initial public offering expected to net it between $3bn and $4bn, according to people familiar with the matter. A source told DealStreetAsia in February this year JD.com would seek a $40bn valuation for the IPO. Launched in 2017, JD Logistics provides delivery and warehousing services to online merchants, the latter through a network of about 900 warehouses across China. It is also looking to automate part of its offering through the use of driverless delivery vehicles. JD.com owns 79.1% of the spinoff and shareholders also include Tencent and China Life.
Tata Group has secured regulatory approval to acquire a majority stake in India-based online grocer BigBasket, with e-commerce group Alibaba set to exit. The deal was agreed in February and is set to be conducted by the corporate’s Tata Digital subsidiary, which will pay a reported $1.2bn for a 64.3% stake in BigBasket, valuing it at nearly $1.87bn. Tata Digital will make a primary investment of $200m to $250m with the rest to come through secondary share sales which will likely involve Alibaba divesting a 29.6% stake – for roughly $550m – and investment firm Artis a 16.5% stake.
India-based food delivery service Zomato has filed for an Rs 82.5bn ($1.1bn) initial public offering, with Info Edge set to sell $100m of shares. The company is planning a dual offering on the National Stock Exchange of India and the BSE and is considering raising a further $200m through a private placement prior to the IPO. Zomato generated $186m in income in the last nine months of 2020, making a loss of $92.7m. The offering will come in the wake of roughly $1.45bn of funding, the most recent of which involved Zomato raising $250m in February this year at a $5.4bn valuation.