11 May 2020 – Intel picks up Moovit for $900m

Big Stories

Korys, the family office behind the France and Belgium-based retailer Colruyt Group, and Mérieux Equity Partners, the asset management arm of the Institut Mérieux holding company, have set up joint funds targeting companies in the healthcare and nutrition sectors in Europe and North America.

OMX Europe Venture Fund has raised more than €60m from Korys and Mérieux and third party subscribers and is targeting a final close at €90m. OMX Europe will be managed by Mérieux Equity Partners in Europe, with the operational support of Korys’ Life Science team as a key advisor to the fund.

The value of Intel’s acquisition of Israel-based urban mobility app developer Moovit for a $900m enterprise value lies almost as much as what it says about the ecosystem developed there over the past 30 years since Russian immigration after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Israel had always battled its neighbours and developed a strong military but the influx of people needing jobs helped catalyse a startup ecosystem and funding of venture capitalists to enable it.

The integration of corporate research and development and venturing units has catalysed this trend even further over the past decade, as identified in the latest GCV Israelconference in February.

We have seen some big deals so far this year in the financial services sector, with Visa acquiring Plaid and Mastercard joining AvidXchange, but while payments remains localised in many cases the opportunities to join up the global commerce world beckons.

Hence the after-market performance of Australia-listed Afterpay, which surged following China-based Tencent’s acquisition of a 5% stake. Alibaba had its purchase of Western Union’s spinout MoneyGram turned down by US authorities but is also trying to become the global payments provider of choice given Chinese blocks on Visa and Mastercard’s expansion in the world’s second-largest economy.

We live in a world of seemingly the very large and the very small.
An exabyte of data is the equivalent of a stack of DVDs about 255.3 kilometres high. Each transistor in a state-of-the-art chip measures only 5 nanometres (nm) — the length a human fingernail grows in five seconds.
The world increasingly turns around data and processing power and if data is the new oil the 21st century wars could see as many wars fought over control of the ones and zeros as were fought over black gold in the last century. In which case Taiwan becomes an important centre to watch.
In last month’s Global China, Saif Khan and Carrick Flynn argued for maintaining China’s dependence on democracies for advanced computer chips through export controls. These democracies, particularly Taiwan, the US and South Korea, lead the development of the most advanced chips – those with transistors of between 5nm and 16nm.

Japan has struggled to keep up and so it was little surprise in the past week to seeDealStreetAsia report Japanese venture capital firm Jafco has made the final close of its debut Taiwan venture fund at NT$2bn ($67.1m) with limited partners including the National Development Fund of Taiwan.

Funds

Kurma sets the stage for $175m fund

Some areas may not be an obvious choice for investment in the time of lockdown but it seems the automotive sector is well and truly alive with Autotech Ventures announcing that it has closed its second fund at more than $150mthanks to a long list of corporate LPs – though only Lear, Stoneridge, Bridgestone and Volvo were identified. The firm now has more than $270m under management and will, apart from the obvious areas of connectivity, automation and electrification, also explore more niche investments, such as junkyard inventory management technologies.

University

Shift hits play on $70m fund

Fitz Gate seals second Princeton-focused fund

Edinburgh sparks food science incubator

Deals

It is easy enough to forget, with the world’s focus on coronavirus, that other diseases are costing countless more human lives. Chief among these is cancer, some forms of which have become easier to treat but prognoses are still significantly better the earlier the disease is caught. Illumina spun out Grail four years ago to make that early detection a reality through a blood test that can not only detect the presence of more than 50 different cancer indications but can also tell the oncologist where in the body the cancerous tissue is – all while boasting an almost negligible false positive rate of less than 1%. But developing such a test costs a lot of money, so it is heartening to see that Illumina and others have doubled down on the company and backed a $390m series D round that brought Grail’s total funding to some $2bn.

Another company that has done well out of people asked to stay at home is Byju’s, the online education provider backed by Prosus and Tencent, which is looking to add $400m to an ongoing funding round that reportedly already stands at $300m to $350m. Better news for the company still: it is set to push its valuation from $8bn just three months ago to more than $10bn. That seems fast, and it is, but consider that Byju’s added six million users in March alone and India’s lockdown was only implemented in the last week of that month.

Octopus Energy, a British renewable energy supplier that has steadily grown to more than 1.3 million customers since it was launched five years ago, has attracted its first external funding thanks to a $327m commitment from Origin Energy in return for a 20% stake. Origin made the investment specifically to secure a licence for Kraken, Octopus’ cloud-based software platform to interact with customers and enable functionality such as wholesale market trading and consumption forecasting. With Australia increasingly feeling the impact of global warming (even if the catastrophic fires earlier this year already seem like a distant memory), partnering with a green energy supplier is a welcome move.

Another sector that is doing well out of reduced human contact are financial services providers and N26 has wasted no time in adding $100m to a series D round that now stands at $570m. Notably, the additional capital was raised at a flat valuation of $3.5bn. That may not be too unusual for a third tranche, but the company had managed to increase its valuation by $800m between the first and second tranche, backed by Tencent and Allianz X. Consider, however, that N26 actually pulled out of market between the first and second extension, as the UK’s exit from the European Union just caused too much of a headache for the digital bank that relies on an EU-wide banking licence for its business.

Robinhood captures $280m series F

SoftBank and its Vision Fund may have been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately, but that doesn’t mean there is no support left for portfolio companies. Indeed, new and used car trading platform operator Chehaoduo has secured an additional $200m from the Vision Fund and Sequoia Capital to add to a $1.5bn initial series D tranche – supplied in full by the corporate – in February last year. It may not be an obvious candidate to raise money in the current climate, but with trouble brewing elsewhere in the fund’s portfolio, an automotive marketplace and after-sales services provider seems like a decent bet.

SoftBank also hasn’t had the best experience dealing with Mexico’s regulator the Federal Economic Competition Commission (Cofece), having been sanctioned recently because it failed to notify Cofece that it had acquired a larger stake in WeWork. You can understand then that the corporate treaded a bit more carefully with its lead investment in US-based digital lending platform AlphaCredit’s $125m series B round through the Vision Fund. AlphaCredit, which targets customers in Mexico and Colombia, had initially announced the deal in January, but it took until last week for Cofece to give the all-clear. That timing is good news not just for SoftBank and AlphaCredit, but also for the consumers and SMEs that are in desperate need of loans right now to weather the crisis.

Ninja Van picks up $279m in funding

Asapp accesses $185m series B

Flint Hills Resources, the chemicals and biofuel subsidiary of conglomerate Koch Industries, is not a corporate backer we come across often on GCV – in fact, it has seemingly only taken part in half a dozen deals since 2010 – but as the world battles an ever-increasing mountain of plastic polluting the environment, the need for a commercial-scale biodegradable alternative is becoming imperative. Enter RWDC Industries, which is working on just such a material and has secured $133m in a series B round backed by Flint Hills Resources to scale up its US operations by repurposing an idle factory in Athens, Georgia.

Back Market certifies $120m round

ASR processes $119m round

Praxis Precision was co-founded four years ago by faculty from Columbia University and University of Melbourne, but the gene therapy developer – targeting neurological and psychiatric disorders – remained quiet about its business until now, emerging from stealth with more than $100m in funding raised to date from investors including Novo Holdings. All of that money has clearly been put to good use: Praxis already has two assets in phase 2 clinical development, one for major depressive disorder and one for essential tremor.

Enflame lights up $98.7m series B

Exits

Kingsoft Cloud to claim IPO throne

University

Abiomed absorbs Breethe


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

30 March 2020 – Lime in Talks to Raise Funding at a Reduced $400m Valuation

The Big Ones

In what may be an ominous sign, electric scooter rental service Lime is reportedly in talks to raise funding at a $400m valuation, a steep fall from its last round just over a year ago, when it secured $310m in a series D round featuring Alphabet that valued it at $2.4bn. The company has secured $777m altogether but the Covid-19 pandemic has led it to suspend operations in every market outside South Korea and it reportedly only has enough cash to last for the next few months on its current burn rate.

A good exit at a challenging time in the global economy for US-based mobile networking service Affirmed Networks had a year ago raised $38m in a funding round that included Qualcomm Ventures, the corporate venturing unit of semiconductor technology manufacturer Qualcomm.

The round was led by investment firm Centerview Capital Technology and included Eastward Capital Partners and unnamed existing shareholders.

Vodafone Ventures and T-Venture, the respective corporate venturing units of mobile phone operators Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom, previously took part in the company’s $51m series C round in 2013.

Bessemer Venture Partners led the series C round, also investing alongside KCK Group, Charles River Ventures (CRV), Lightspeed Venture Partners and Matrix Partners.

Affirmed Networks had emerged from stealth in 2012 with $52m in funding from T-Venture, Vodafone Ventures, Matrix, Charles River and Lightspeed.

Hassan Ahmed created the idea behind Affirmed when he was working out of CRV’s office in Boston in 2009 as an executive in residence. When Hassan joined the firm, he was already the most successful CRV entrepreneur of all time, having run engineering at Cascade Communications, a networking company sold to Ascend for more than $3bn in 1997 and then subsequently running Sonus Networks, a high-flying communications company that had gone public in 2000. Hassan had the magic touch.

Funds

China-based company, mobile game publisher Kunlun Tech, certainly seems to be bullish. It is one of two cornerstone investors for a $424m vehicle called Kunlun (Beijing) Internet Intelligent Industry Investment Fund that will back internet and AI technology developers. Kunlun is putting up about $140m for the fund while subsidiary Xinyu Shijie Wuji Investment Management will act as general partner.

Shortly after news emerged that Kunlun Tech was partnering investment manager Beijing Huayu Tianhong to put together a $424m fund, two more Chinese corporates – Yuexiu Group and People’s Insurance Company of China – have announced they are establishing an industry investment fund the same size that will focus on technology developers in China’s Greater Bay Area. It follows a $1bn Taiping Insurance-backed fund targeting the same region in January.

Dating.com commits $50m to meeting startups

Afterpay unveils AP Ventures fund

Exits

Mobile commerce platforms Letgo and OfferUp are set to merge in a deal accompanied by a $120m round led by classified listings manager OLX Group, part of Naspers’ Prosus subsidiary. The deal will give OLX a 40% stake in the combined business. It first invested in Letgo in 2015, the year the company was founded, and it had disclosed $975m in funding prior to the merger agreement.

FuboTV fuses with FaceBank

Checkmarx ticks acquisition box

OneWeb examines bankruptcy possibilities

North Wearables seeks direction to buyers

Deals

We mentioned in the big news intro that ride hailing services were among those likely to be hit by Covid-19 social isolation measures, and China’s Didi Chuxing looks like it could be first off the mark to raise money. It is reportedly lining up $300m in a round set to be led by SoftBank, at a time when its home country is beginning to ease travel restrictions. Didi was valued at $62bn as of a July investment by Toyota, and it’s going to be interesting to see if any valuation information leaks out once the deal closes.

Data mining software provider MiningLamp has secured $300m in a series E round co-led by Tencent and state-owned investment firm Temasek that included another corporate, Kuaishou. The company, whose business model is similar to Palantir’s, has now raised more than $785m altogether and the capital will be used to support research and development, recruitment and the development of an intelligent marketing software platform.

Vertical take-off and landing vehicle developer Lillium has closed more than $240m in funding, in a round led by Tencent. The round was made up entirely of existing investors and marks a downgrade from the $400m to $500m target it had reportedly set late last year. The deal may be emblematic of what we may increasingly see going forward: existing investors continuing to back portfolio companies while being more conservative when it comes to new bets.

Ping An’s Global Voyager Fund has led a $146m round for iCapital, a provider of alternative investment management software. The round included strategic investors such as UBS Financial Services, BNY Mellon, Goldman Sachs, BlackRock and Blackstone, and the company’s overall funding likely now tops $200m.

Online used car marketplace Cazoo has raised $117m in what represents its fourth round in the space of 18 months.  Daily Mail and General Trust’s DMG Ventures led the round, having backed the startup since its 2018 seed round, and was joined by investors including Fidelity’s Eight Roads Ventures fund. Interestingly, Cazoo expects a bump from the coronavirus conditions as more customers opt for online transactions.

Kallyope took its total funding past $240m in a $112m series C round featuring existing investors Illumina Ventures and Alexandria Venture Investments. The company is developing therapeutics concentrated on the body’s gut-brain axis and intends to use the funding to begin clinical trials for its lead asset, an oral treatment targeting satiety circuits for weight loss.

SutroVax sorts out $110m series D

CureFit cuts to $109m round

Dragonfly Therapeutics drags financing to $300m

Nature’s Fynd, the edible protein developer formerly known as Sustainable Bioproducts, has rebranded and raised $80m in a series B round featuring Danone Manifesto Ventures and Archer Daniels Midland’s ADM Ventures unit. The capital is expected to fund the doubling of the company’s headcount to 100 and the round comes as it has begun production of its edible vegan protein products.

University

Nurix nabs $120m

Recode decodes $80m series A


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