12 July 2021 – Wise Floats on London Stock Exchange with $12bn Valuation

The Big Ones

Pine Labs, an India-based digital payment technology provider backed by PayPal and Mastercard, secured over $600m in funding. Kotak Mahindra Bank and investment and Fidelity supplied the cash together with IIFL AMC’s Late-Stage Tech Fund, Ishana, Tree Line, funds managed by BlackRock and a fund advised by Neuberger Berman Investment Advisers.

UK-based cross-border wire transfer service Wise floated on the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday in a direct listing, allowing conglomerate Mitsui to sell its shares to the public. The company’s shares closed at £8.88 a share on their first day of trading, giving it a valuation of nearly £8.8bn ($12bn). It had been seeking a valuation between $6bn and $7bn before the listing, a source familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal.

US-listed advertising technology provider The Trade Desk unveiled a venture capital subsidiary called TD7 to fund technology startups focused on the concept of an open, transparent and competitive internet. Founded in 2009, The Trade Desk operates an online platform through which ad buyers can create and manage digital advertising campaigns across a variety of channels including social media, mobile and television.

Crossover

Muna Therapeutics, a Denmark-based developer of treatments for neurodegenerative diseases, closed a $73m series A round backed by VIB and its venture capital affiliate V-Bio Ventures. Novo, Sofinnova Partners, Droia Ventures and LSP Dementia co-led the round, with additional participation from Sanofi Ventures, Polaris Partners and Polaris Innovation Fund. Muna Therapeutics is focused on neurodegenerative diseases for which no cure is currently available and for which palliative care is scarce. Notably, Muna is actually the result of two spinouts that both launched only last year. The first, also called Muna, was spun out of Aarhus University with the support of Novo Seeds and later attracted a minority investment from contract research and discovery company Axxam. The second, K5 Therapeutics, was based on research at VIB and KU Leuven, with investments from VIB and Droia Ventures.

Deals

JD.com has led a $300m funding round for China-based cross-border e-commerce platform KK Group at a $3bn valuation. Citic Securities, CMC Capital Partners, Harvest Fund Management, Hongtai Capital, Ince Capital and New Horizon Capital filled out the round according to 36Kr, which contacted KK Group to verify the deal but has not received confirmation.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 and Eldridge Industries co-led a $235m funding round for Israel-based image recognition technology provider AnyVision. Undisclosed existing investors also backed the round. Amit Lubovsky, director at SoftBank Investment Advisers, which manages Vision Fund 2, has been appointed to AnyVision’s board of directors. AnyVision produces image recognition systems which leverage artificial intelligence to identify people through video footage.

Outbrain, a US-based online content discovery platform that counts quantitative trading firm Susquehanna International Group and publisher Gruner + Jahr as shareholders, raised $200m from investment manager Baupost Group on Tuesday. The company filed for an initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Select Market late last month. It had been on track to merge with peer Taboola in an $850m deal agreed in October 2019, before the plans were scrapped in September the following year.

Hong Kong-based blockchain-powered game publisher Animoca Brands has closed a funding round sized at almost $139m having secured a $50m second tranche featuring Coinbase, Razer, Samsung and Scopely. The round included Blue Pool Capital, Gobi Partners, Korea Investment Partners, Liberty City Ventures and Token Bay Capital, and the capital was raised at a $1bn pre-money valuation. The initial $88.9m close took place in May this year and featured the Fintech Investment Fund run by HashKey, the blockchain-focused fund affiliated with auto component producer Wanxiang, as well as crypto trading platform developer Huobi, Octava, Kingsway Capital, RIT Capital Partners, AppWorks Fund and LCV Fund.

Funds

Artpark, an India-based non-profit commercialisation firm, is launching a $100m fund for robotics companies. Artpark was established in 2020 by the Indian Institute of Science and AI Foundry, with seed funding from the Indian government’s Department of Science of Technology and the government of Karnataka. It aims to bring together all ecosystem players – academia, industry, government and entrepreneurs – to drive artificial intelligence and robotics technologies that can improve quality of life.

Exits

Circle, a US-based blockchain payment platform developer, agreed to a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company Concord Acquisition Corp. The combined business will be valued at $4.5bn through the deal and will pick up Concord’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange, which it acquired in a $276m initial public offering in December 2020. Circle’s existing shareholders will retain approximately 86% of the merged company’s shares. The merger is supported by $415m PIPE financing from investors including Fidelity and Marshall Wace, Adage Capital Management and Third Point as well as accounts advised by Ark Investment Management.

Heliogen, the US-based renewable energy technology developer backed by ArcelorMittal and Edison International, agreed to a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company Athena Technology Acquisition Corp. The combined business will be valued at $2bn and will retain Athena’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange, taken when Athena raised $250m in an initial public offering in March this year. The deal will include a $165m PIPE transaction backed by XCarb Innovation Fund, the corporate venturing vehicle for ArcelorMittal, as well as investment bank Morgan Stanley’s Counterpoint Global unit, Salient Partners and Saba Capital.

SentinelOne, a US-based cybersecurity software provider that counts Qualcomm and consumer Samsung as investors, has closed its initial public offering at over $1.4bn. The company issued 35 million shares in an upsized offering on the New York Stock Exchange a week ago, priced at $35 each. The underwriters bought a further 5.25 million.

Kakao Pay, a South Korea-based mobile payment service backed by financial services provider Ant Group, is raising between ₩1.6 trillion and ₩1.7 trillion ($1.4bn to $1.5bn) in its initial public offering. The IPO is set to take place on the Korea Exchange on August 12 this year, and will involve the company issuing 17 million new shares priced at approximately $55.60 to $84.70 each. Formed by internet group Kakao in 2014, Kakao Pay Corp was spun off in April 2017, two months after it received $200m in funding from Ant Group (then called Ant Financial).

Xometry, the US-based manufacturing services marketplace backed by BMW, Robert Bosch and Dell, closed its initial public offering at almost $348m. The company raised an initial $302m the week before last when it priced 6.9 million class A shares at $44 each.

Nextdoor, the US-based social network operator that counts Comcast, Alphabet and Axel Springer as investors, agreed a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company Khosla Ventures Acquisition Co II. The deal will give the merged business a pro forma equity valuation of approximately $4.3bn and involve it taking the listing on the Nasdaq Capital Market acquired by Khosla Ventures Acquisition Co II in a $400m initial public offering in March this year. The transaction will be boosted by a $270m PIPE financing featuring funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price in addition to Baron Capital Group, Dragoneer, Soroban Capital, Ion Asset Management, Tiger Global Management, Hedosophia, accounts advised by Ark Invest, Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar and affiliates of Khosla Ventures.

Planet Labs, the US-based orbital data provider backed by O’Reilly, agreed a reverse takeover with special purpose acquisition company DMY Technology Group IV. The deal will be supported by $200m in PIPE financing led by funds and accounts managed by BlackRock and backed by Koch Strategic Platforms – part of chemical and industrial group Koch – as well as Google and Time Ventures. The PIPE values the company at $2.8bn post-transaction, and it will inherit the New York Stock Exchange listing taken by DMY Technology Group IV in a $300m initial public offering in March this year.


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

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