14 September 2020 – Online Education Company Byju Raising $500m

The Big Ones

Online education has firmly established itself as the key sector in India’s startup space, and Byju’s has effectively confirmed that, raising an amount reported by TechCrunch to be $500m. Byju’s, which is backed by Tencent, Naspers and Times Internet, was valued at $10.8bn post-money in the round, which came in the wake of it adding an extraordinary 20 million users since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown. That means the company has almost trebled its valuation inside two years.

Saudi Aramco has a market cap of some $1.8 trillion but is looking to explore diversification into other areas besides oil and gas (perhaps not surprisingly given the direction of oil prices this year). To that end, it has formed a $1bn fund called Prosperity 7 Ventures that is tasked with investing in innovative technologies like AI, 5G, robotics, blockchain and the internet of things. It will join the company’s Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures unit as well as its Wa’ed Ventures vehicle.

Illumina spinoff Grail has filed for what may be one of this year’s biggest healthtech IPOs. The cancer diagnostics technology developer has set a $100m placeholder target for the offering but has raised $1.9bn in venture funding from investors including Johnson & Johnson, WuXi AppTec, Tencent, Amazon, Varian, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Bristol-Myers Squibb, McKesson, Celgene, Alphabet and Merck & Co. It was valued at a reported $3.2bn back in 2018, prior to its last round.

X-over: Recursion, a University of Utah spinout, is using digital technologies such as automation and machine learning to develop drugs for various diseases and has built up a 30-strong drug pipeline, four of which have reached the clinical trials stage. It has also secured $239m in a series D round led by a $50m investment from Leaps by Bayer. The unit’s parent company, Bayer, has also formed a strategic partnership with Recursion, which was valued at about $1.2bn post-money.

Deals

Industrial technology has not been among the winners during the coronavirus lockdown, but advanced materials producer Zymergen has nevertheless snagged $300m in a series D round led by investment manager Bailie Gifford. The company, which has developed a bio-based polyimide film called Hyaline, has now raised a total of $874m in funding, its earlier backers including SoftBank Vision Fund and Hanwha Asset Management.

A sector that hasn’t done brilliantly – for understandable reasons – is ride hailing, but that impact has been somewhat mitigated by the fact several companies in that space have seen their food delivery businesses pick up. Southeast Asia’s Grab will hypothetically see an uptick in its digital financial services arm, Grab Financial Group, and the subsidiary is reportedly in advanced talks with investors including insurers AIA and Prudential to raise $300m to $500m at a valuation of roughly $2bn. That funding would support an expansion into wealth management and the possible securing of an online banking licence.

Melio, developer of an online payment management platform for businesses, revealed today it has collected a total of $144m in funding since 2018, most recently netting $80m in a series C round last month. It hasn’t provided precise details but did say its backers include American Express Ventures. Amex’s corporate venturing unit has quietly been racking up some big exits over the last two or three years, most notably from Plaid, iZettle and Bill.com, showing that CVC investing can bag some nice returns alongside strategic interests.

AnyVision, an image and facial recognition software provider that counts Qualcomm Ventures and Robert Bosch among its backers, has pulled in $43m in funding from unnamed investors. The deal comes just over a year after its $74m series A round and roughly four months after Microsoft subsidiary M12, a participant in that round, announced it was divesting its stake due to doubts about the ethics of the use of facial recognition technology by governments.

Funds

Thursday/Friday were a heady 24 hours for corporate fund announcements (which included the Saudi Aramco vehicle we talked about earlier). And Toyota Research Institute – Advanced Development has launched an $800m growth-stage fund called Woven Capital that will back Toyota AI Ventures portfolio companies as they grow, in addition to backing external venture funds. Companies backed by the early-stage vehicle that have raised big rounds of late include personal aircraft developer Joby Aviation, driver safety technology provider Nauto and electric bus producer Proterra.

Santander has had a good degree of success since launching its Santander Innoventures unit with $100m in 2014, snagging big exits from iZettle and Kabbage while accessing technology from several portfolio companies. It has now spun off the unit into an autonomously managed fund dubbed Mouro Capital and doubled its capital allocation again from $200m to $400m. It will make initial investments of about $15m at early and growth stage.

Exits

KAR Auction Services has agreed to acquire BacklotCars, the owner of an online dealer-to-dealer automotive marketplace, for $425m, enabling Renren to exit. BacklotCars had raised roughly $50m pre-acquisition. Renren has pulled back from corporate venturing almost completely since 2017, but it’s going to be interesting to see if it can pull some more big exits out of its existing portfolio.

Fabless semiconductor maker 3Peak is set to bag $339m in its IPO, on the red-hot Shanghai Star Exchange. The Huawei-backed company is simply the latest to choose the Star Exchange to go public, the market having benefited from regulations introduced by US exchanges to combat what was perceived as unsatisfactory accounting practices by Chinese companies. It will also jointly host what may be the biggest IPO ever, when Ant Financial floats later this year.

Progress has bought software deployment automation platform Chef in another nine-figure acquisition deal, paying $220m in cash for the company. Chef had received a total of $105m in funding, most recently securing $40m in a 2015 series E round that included Citi Ventures and Hewlett Packard Ventures, which passed its stake in the company on to Hewlett Packard Pathfinder.

Emphysema treatment device developer Pulmonx has filed for an $86.3m offering that would provide exits to Boston Scientific and Posco Bioventures. The former is Pulmonx’s largest investor, the owner of a stake that tops 30%.

Episerver has signed an agreement to purchase Optimizely, a web optimisation software producer that has raised roughly $200m from backers including Accenture Ventures, GV, Citi Ventures and Salesforce Ventures. The size of the deal has not been disclosed but it will consist of a mixture of cash and shares. It comes less than two months after Optimizely revealed it had cut staff numbers by about 15% in the wake of impact from Covid-19.


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

18 February 2019 – Mitsubishi Takes 20% Ovo Energy Stake for $256m

Big 3

Mitsubishi Corporation has paid $256m for a 20% stake in energy retailer and smart systems provider Ovo Energy, which plans to use the funding as the basis for an expansion from Germany and its home country of the UK into markets such as France, Australia and Spain. Ovo’s investors also include Mayfair Equity Partners, which acquired a 15% stake in 2015, but its founder and CEO remains its majority shareholder.

Evonik launched its first corporate venturing fund in 2012 with €100m of capital and now, six years on, it’s added €150m ($170m) in the form of a second fund.

Allied Minds prepares cost reductions

Deals

SoftBank Vision Fund has already gone big when it comes to autonomous driving, pumping some $2.25bn into Cruise Automation last year, and it’s now invested $940m in Nuro, the creator of a driverless vehicle designed for deliveries.

Ride hailing service Didi Chuxing has invested $100m in short-term accommodation booking platform Oyo, allowing the latter to close a $1bn round that valued it at $5bn.

Go-Jek is a little further along, the Southeast Asian ride hailing service having raised $1bn from investors including Google, Tencent, JD.com and Mitsubishi two weeks ago.

Two or three years ago it looked as if the e-commerce space may have been heading for some rough times (remember Fab.com?), but the sector looks to have largely steadied since then. Zillingo is the latest e-commerce marketplace to have raised sizeable funding, pulling in $226m in a series D round featuring long-term backer Burda Principal Investments. The round valued it at $970m and increased its overall funding to more than $300m.

Cancer diagnostics technology developer Burning Rock has completed a $126m series C round backed by corporate venturing unit Lilly Asia Ventures, which is in the process of raising its fifth fund (see below).

Six Fintech Ventures, the VC arm of banking services provider Six, has led a series A round for Tradeplus24, the operator of a service that provides debt financing to small businesses insured against account receivables, that was sized at approximately $119m.

Arvelle arrives with $100m

Reddit has meanwhile confirmed a TechCrunch report from last week that stated Tencent was about to lead a $300m round for the social posting platform, which has some 330 million monthly active users but which reportedly generated less than $90m of revenue in 2018.

University

Nuvaira shares $79m series E news

Recida rolls out from Frazier Healthcare

Exits

Euclid goes to WeWork in acquisition

DMP maps out Ushr acquisition

Stanford-backed Eero connects to Amazon

Harpoon snags public markets listing

Nan Fung fund Pivotal Beta was among the investors that provided $100m in convertible note financing for Stealth BioTherapeutics, developer of treatments for conditions related to mitochondrial dysfunction.

Huya went public in the US nine months ago, and now another Chinese livestreaming platform, Douyu, plans to make a similar move, confidentially filing to raise up to $500min a US IPO.

Peloton Interactive has now sold some 400,000 of its $2,000 advanced exercise bikes, which work in tandem with a subscription-based interactive workout service.

Funds

Evonik launched its first corporate venturing fund in 2012 with €100m of capital and now, six years on, it’s added €150m ($170m) in the form of a second fund.

Lilly Asia Ventures lifts $40m for fifth fund

MML seeks corporate commitments for second fund

Morgan Creek mines $40m fund


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

14 January 2019 – CloudEndure Acquired by Amazon

The big ones

Reports in late 2018 suggested SoftBank Vision Fund was planning to invest between $15bn and $20bn in order to take a majority stake in portfolio company WeWork, but sources have told the FT that after the fund’s LPs balked at the idea (though a separate report said Masayoshi Son decided to pull out during the economic turmoil on the stock markets ahead of the Christmas period), SoftBank itself is set to provide $2bn of funding for the company.

Amazon has paid a reported $200m to acquire CloudEndure, a cloud migration and disaster recovery software producer that had disclosed a little over $18m in venture funding.

Healthcare system Providence St Joseph Health launched Providence Ventures in 2014 with $150m and a brief to make strategic investments of up to $5m in health technology developers.

On GUV, Ribon Therapeutics, a US-based biotechnology company developing enzyme families activated under cellular stress conditions, has come out of stealth with $65m in series B capital provided by a consortium led by Novartis Venture Fund, the corporate venturing division of pharmaceutical firm Novartis.

Deals

One of several China-based smart electric car developers to raise substantial funding last year, Byton is reportedly now lining up an additional $500m or so in a round set to value it at $4bn.

Mobile banking service N26 has secured $300m at a $2.7bn valuation, in a series D round led by Insight Venture Partners.

Just three weeks ago in our 2018 round up we were talking about the rapid growth of e-scooter rental platforms, and now news has emerged that Bird – one of the two key players in the sector – is lining up $300m in funding at a $2bn valuation.

Financial leasing service Tokyo Century has been an investor in strategic partner Grab since 2016, and has expanded its overall commitment to the ride hailing platform to $175m, consisting of both equity funding and financing for its Grab Rentals subsidiary.

ClearMotion, a developer of object-sensing systems for use in autonomous vehicles that was spun out of MIT, emerged from stealth almost two years ago having just raised $100m in series C funding from investors including Qualcomm.

Boom Supersonic is working on an aircraft that will be able to reach supersonic speeds while producing the same carbon footprint as business class travel. Its earlier investors include Japan Airlines and Ctrip, and it’s raised $100m in a series B round led by Emerson Collective.

Energy utility CLP has co-led a $100m series C round for digital health management platform Kang Sheng Health Management with China International Capital Corporation.

Instalment buying platform and credit provider Akulaku is in advanced talks to raise $100m in a series D round set to be led by Ant Financial, e-commerce firm Alibaba’s financial services affiliate.

Indian ride hailing service Ola has received $74m in funding from Steadview Capital at a reported valuation of $5.7bn, adding to an ongoing round it aims to close at $1bn.

Funds

Appliance producer Midea has raised $104m for an investment fund with a targeted close of up to $293m that will target developers of intelligent home products, smart manufacturing, retail and new energy technology.

Exits

Neurological disorder drug developer Alector has filed to raise up to $150m in an initial public offering that will enable investors including corporate venturing units MRL Ventures (which owns a 6% stake), GV, AbbVie Ventures, Lilly Asia Ventures and Amgen Ventures to exit. All five contributed to Alector’s last funding round, a $133m series E closed six months ago.


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

09 October 2017 – Uber’s Board Approves SoftBank Investment

Deals

Uber’s board of directors has approved an investment by SoftBank of up to $1.25bn, in a deal that will also give the corporate two board seats, and has resolved to launch an IPO by 2019.

Indian ride hailing platform Ola has raised $400m from Tencent, reportedly as part of a round also backed by SoftBank that is set to close at $2bn.

Harmony Biosciences, a biopharmaceutical company that forms part of the Paragon Biosciences group, has secured $270m in funding from investors including Novo and Nan Fung Life Sciences.

Curated holiday provider Secret Escapes has closed a $111m series D round led by Temasek that featured a combination of equity and debt financing.

Macro, which produces film, TV and online video content with a brief of creating artistic content that portrays people of colour in a realistic fashion, has raised $150m in debt and equity from investors including entertainment company MNM Creative.

KSQ Therapeutics has emerged from stealth with $76m of financing from investors including life sciences real estate trust Alexandria Real Estate Equities.

Amgen was among the investors in a $58m series E round closed by cancer immunotherapy developer Immatics that will enable it to move multiple drug candidates into clinical trials.

On-demand ride platform Grab has been revealed as an investor in the $45m series B round announced by Singapore-based bicycle sharing platform oBike in August.

Recursion Pharmaceuticals, a US-based biotech spinout from University of Utah, obtained $60m in an oversubscribed series B round featuring Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment.

Funds

Union Square Hospitality Group, which oversees a network of restaurants, cafés and bars including the Shake Shack chain of fast food outlets, has formed a $200m growth equity fund called Enlightened Hospitality Investments.

Corporate venturing unit WuXi Healthcare Ventures formed investment vehicle 6 Dimensions in May with venture firm Frontline BioVentures, and the two pledged to raise dollar and renminbi-denominated funds through the entity.

UTokyo Innovation Platform, the venture capital arm of University of Tokyo, has backed a ¥1bn ($8.9m) first close for 360ip Japan Fund 1, which will support technology spinouts from domestic universities and research institutes.

Fletcher McCusker, founder of University of Arizona’s (UA) medication management spinout SinfoníaRx, has launched a venture capital fund called UAVenture Capital to invest in university-linked companies.

Russia government-owned investment vehicle Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) will join Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund (PIF) to invest $1bn in a Russia-based technology investment fund.

Multilateral development finance provider African Development Bank (AfDB), has agreed to invest in a $200m healthcare-focused fund formed by investment bank EFG Hermes.

SoftBank paid $3.3bn to acquire alternative asset manager Fortress Investment Group at the start of the year, and now news has emerged that it is considering building up a portfolio of $300bn of assets that would be managed within a dedicated unit.

Exits

Roku, the TV subscription service backed by media companies Sky, 21st Century Fox, News Corp and Viacom, went public last week, floating at the top of its range and going off like a rocket once its shares began being traded.

Medical device maker Boston Scientific has agreed to acquire catheter system developer Apama for up to $300m, providing an exit to corporate venture capital unit Ascension Ventures. Boston Scientific will pay $175m upfront, with up to $125m more available in the form of milestone payments.

Private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners has paid an undisclosed amount for a majority stake in online property marketplace Ten-X at a $1.6bn valuation.

Rhythm Pharmaceuticals raised $120m in an upsized IPO and immediately saw its share price increase by 75% on the first day of trading.

E-commerce and internet company Amazon has acquired Body Labs, a US-based body scanner developer based on research at Brown University, in a deal that is worth between $70m and $100m.

Nucana, a UK-based company working on chemotherapies for resistant tumours that is backed by Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of government-owned economic development agency Scottish Enterprise, secured nearly $100m in its flotation on Nasdaq, slightly below its target of $115m, though its shares had climbed from an opening price of $15 to $18.37 on the second day of trading.

Nightstar Therapeutics, a UK-based spinout from University of Oxford that is developing retinal gene therapies, secured slightly more than $75m in its offering – below its initial target of $86m set a month ago.

There is an in-depth look at both Nucana and Nightstar on Global University Venturing.com and Global Government Venturing.com. Do check those out.


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

27 March 2017 – MuleSoft’s Shares Soar Following $221m IPO and Much More

MuleSoft raised $221m in its IPO on Friday, only to see its share price soar to almost twice the mid-point of its range. The offering is good news for the IPO market generally but also for enterprise software providers looking to go public.

Deals

Flipkart has raised $1bn in funding from investors including Tencent, Microsoft and eBay and is reportedly seeking up to $1bn more in the next few months.

Tencent has led a $350m round for Kuaishou, which is also backed by Baidu, and both the corporates will help the company enhance user experience of its app, which boasts 50 million daily active users.

SoftBank has invested $300m in working space provider WeWork at a $17bn valuation and reportedly expects to add another $2.7bn through Vision Fund.

Sutro Biopharma spinout SutroVax has raised $64m, $60m of that coming from a series B round backed by Roche Venture Fund, and will use the funds to advance its development of a conjugate vaccine for pneumococcal disease.

Haoeyou has raised $40m for its medical tourism platform, which allows Chinese patients to access consultancies from US-based doctors through video conferencing, and to travel between countries for treatment.

Legend Capital is among the investors that have provided $39m in series B funding for Suzhou Ribo Life Science, a Chinese company developing RNA therapeutics to treat diseases such as hepatitis B, hyperlipidaemia and liver cancer.

Genome editing technology startup eGenesis has raised $38m in a series A round backed by healthcare services firm Heritage Provider Network and biotech property developer Alexandria Real Estate Equities.

Autonomous car tech continues to roll on, with Autotalks, a developer of chipsets that will be used in vehicle-to-vehicle communication, raising $30m in series D funding.

GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson have contributed to a $30m series B round for Pulmocide, a developer of therapies to combat diseases caused by respiratory syncytial virus.

Funds

Aflac has joined the numerous insurance providers that have established strategic investment arms over the past two years, forming a subsidiary called Aflac Corporate Ventures, in which it plans to invest $100m over the next three years.

Kabbage, the operator of an online lending platform for small businesses, is said to be in talks with investment firms to raise “a few hundred million dollars” that will be put toward acquisitions.

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (Efsi), also known as the Juncker Plan, is now set to trigger more than €177bn ($190bn) in total investments, figures released following a meeting of the European Investment Bank’s board of directors show.

Exits

Amazon has beefed up its international e-commerce holdings, entering the Middle East through a $650m acquisition of local market leader Souq.com that provided Naspers and Jabbar Internet Group with exits.

Alibaba paid an undisclosed sum for a 32% stake in Damai.cn in 2014 and has now finished the job, acquiring the rest of the online ticketing platform.

Netshoes, a Brazil-based sports e-commerce company backed by Singapore government-owned GIC and Temasek as well as the International Finance Corporation, has filed for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange that could bring in $100m in proceeds.


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