21 February 2021 – Blockchain.com Raises $120m in Strategic Growth Round

The Big Ones

1

Wishing our readers around the world a wonderful prosperous lunar new year – welcome to the year of the ox.

There has been a plateau in deal volumes in China over the past two years with other Asia-Pacific markets catching up, as adjunct professor Martin Haemmig noted at our last GCV Digital Forum at the end of January.

But China’s market has set the innovation bar higher in a host of fields, from ecommerce to artificial intelligence (AI) and electric vehicles. State-supported, mission-led innovation is a powerful aid to delivering a society’s vision – in China’s case leading the world in AI by 2030, Wired’s article notes.

The capital requirements, therefore, have scaled up to compete with the US and so fewer, larger deals makes sense.

A glance at the past week’s $100m-plus rounds, prepared by news editor Rob Lavine, shows China and the US still dominate the entrepreneurs gaining the funding to scale up to global champions.

China’s large, corporate-backed deals included:

Fenbi Education – $390m (IDG Capital, Huaxing Growth Capital, Hony Capital, Trustbridge Partners and unnamed others)

Pony.ai – $100m (Brunei Investment Agency and Citic Private Equity Funds Management)

Horizon Robotics – $350m (Sunny Optical Technology, BYD Auto, Great Wall Motors, Changjiang Automobile Electronic, Changzhou Xingyu Car Light, Dongfeng Asset, CMC-SDIC Capital, Shougang Fund and Shanghai AI Industry Fund)

Plus – $200m (Wanxiang International Investment, Guotai Junan International, Citic CPE and Full Truck Alliance/Manbang Group)

It was a powerful end to a year that saw the state tackle the power of a previous generation of entrepreneurial superstars, such as Alibaba and Tencent. And it remains a delicate balance to encourage innovation within restrictions.

The past 30 years have seen unprecedented numbers of people move out of poverty in China and the world through innovation and market forces. What the next year will bring will be further shocks and tensions – notably around Taiwan and geopolitics but remembering the sacrifices and accomplishments to get this far is important to build in the right direction.
Health, wealth, love, happiness and the time to enjoy it all.

2

AI quarterly report and monthly GCV published

“Artificial intelligence [AI] will change how business, governments and societies operate for decades to come.”

This was the theme at Tortoise Media’s AI discussion between editor James Harding and Mariana Mazzucato, academic and author of the new book, Moonshot.

There have been relatively few general purpose technologies since the first industrial age. The use of steam power and then electricity transformed society and business. In the first and second ages of industry with semiconductors, and then the internet created the conditions for data and information to be shared. AI will then write the software to capitalise on the opportunities and as the hardware improves so does the scale and speed.

As Jeff Herbst, vice president of business development at Nvidia and head of Nvidia GPU Ventures, in discussion with George Hoyem, managing partner at In-Q-Tel, shared at the GCV Digital Forum 2021 last month: “Modern AI is basically pattern recognition on data, whether it is images or voice.

“Fundamentally what is going on in the world right now is that the traditional model of how computers are programmed has been turned on its head.”

Herbst predicted the industries that would be most transformed by AI will be those that manage large amounts of data such as healthcare or retail.

Hoyem said that in the same way most technology uses the internet today, AI was also heading in a similar direction.

“It is going to creep into every vertical application and it starts with things that are highly parallelised and data sets like images, voice and even unstructured text.

“It is going to cover pretty much everything in about 10 years.”

This creates a question for governments for how best to steer or manage the progress. Mazzucato rightly argues for “goal-oriented, public private partnerships.

“What does it mean to have purpose at centre of public governance and system? Be bold on outcomes wanted and open on methods to get there.

“Have the ability to learn through trial and error and not outsourcing to consultants. Develop organisational capacity beyond administration but through dynamic procurement to bring policy redesign. Dynamic procurement to scale up not just VC.

“Going to the moon and back in a generation [the 1960s] gave immense spin-overs. [Our current] materials, software, traces back to those days. What does it mean today?

“It means targeting spill-overs rather than cost-benefit analysis.”

In the UK’s industrial strategy announced in 2017, Mazzucato and former universities minister David Willetts put AI and data as central to any challenge. She described it as “a fundamental input to transform”. The missions set out in the strategy focused on healthy ageing, the climate and the future of mobility to be safe, sustainability, have equal access and net-zero carbon emissions.

The European Union is going further with its green deal as part of its 2021 to 2027 Horizon Europe budget. Similarly, both China and the US are setting ambitious climate goals.

AI has already allowed Alphabet and other tech companies to reduced energy use and costs for data centres – as Callum Cyrus notes in his main feature.

But, as Nvidia’s chart on the AI startup ecosystem shows, most entrepreneurs are targeting the global health system. Already, scientists are weaving human brain cells into microchips, as the blog Futurism notes.

David Saad, mathematician at Aston University, said: “We believe this project has the potential to break through current limitations of processing power and energy consumption to bring about a paradigm shift in machine learning technology.”

AI will only fix the problems set for it by the politicians if they are clear what societal challenges they want tackled.

As Pope Francis put it in November: “Artificial intelligence is at the heart of the epochal change we are experiencing… Future advances should be oriented towards respecting the dignity of the person and of creation.”

3

How do you get startups to go from zero to scale?

When you see hundreds if not thousands of ideas and startups, as Jeff Schumacher, founder of New Asset Exchange (NAX), has then you realise a good team and product-market fit takes you only so far.

The differentiator is volume, often using capital to spend on marketing. Schumacher’s latest startup, NAX, has taken this idea and developed a software platform to create corporate asset-backed products, ventures and securities.

Emerging with stealth with $65m in funding from a dozen corporate, institutional and family office investors, NAX has a development unit to take data and turn it into a security or venture with the software to trade it.

This model could, for example, turn an insurance company’s data around the 25 attributes needed to underwrite a work of art and allow banks to lend money against it in order to help fund its purchase.

The law of large numbers then works if there are lots of these credit notes to package them up and syndicate or tranche the bundles of debt into asset-backed securities, similar to car loans or house mortgages.

Take the idea on and NAX wants to apply the same model to indie games developers for securitising expected revenues. But its biggest target is climate change.

How can carbon be priced or corporations offset emissions? Schumacher, former founder of BCG Digital Ventures and Axon Advisory Partners, said: “Climate is hard to trade because it is opaque, compare and has no scale.

“The Paris Accord will not work because social investment funds are not enough. We need financial innovation and instruments to attract capital.”

There is increased attention on the topic this year as COP26 is being held in London and expected to update the Paris Accord with new emissions targets, carbon reporting, investor incentives and corporate governance standards.

As George Serafeim, professor at Harvard Business School, noted in September’s GCV Digital Forum, the creation of impact-weighted accounting standards will help push the main listed corporations to explaining and tackling their externalities.

Creating a financial market to help, say, a smelter plant minimise or offset their environmental impact would be useful.

GCV through its Global Energy Council and its sister publications, Global Impact Venturing and Global University Venturing, will be preparing its Symposium in the UK in early November around COP26 with special events planned to cover the golden triangle between London, Oxford and Cambridge and in Scotland and the north of England.

4

UK-based cryptocurrency exchange provider Blockchain.com, which raised a $120m strategic growth round.

These investors included Access Industries, an investment and industrial group founded by Leonard Blavatnik, GV (formerly known as Google Ventures and one of Alphabet’s corporate venturing units), venture capital firms Lakestar and Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Moore Strategic Ventures (Louis Bacon’s hedge fund’s venture unit), Kyle Bass (founder and principal of Hayman Capital Management hedge fund), Eldridge and Rovida Advisors.

When Blockchain.com set out to raise its series A round in late 2014, there were only a handful of venture-backed crypto companies and a bitcoin was worth hundreds of dollars.

Six years later and Bitcoin has crossed what Blockchain called the “monumental price target of $50,000” and the company provides 65 million wallets in 200-plus countries. More than a quarter (28%) of all Bitcoin transactions since 2012 have occurred via Blockchain.com, it added.

Peter Smith, Blockchain.com’s CEO and founder, said: “The current bull run is dominated by stories of Fortune 500 companies, investment funds, and institutions driving net inflows into crypto. The fact that the best macro investors in the world participated in our latest fundraise is further proof that institutions are taking a serious look at their crypto strategy.”

Jalak Jobanputra, founder of VC firm Future Perfect Ventures, which invested in Blockchain.com’s 2014 round, in her newsletter put part of the institutional moves down to bitcoin having decoupled from other assets over fears of inflation. She said: “The last couple of weeks have felt like we have moved decades forward in the sector, and this seems to be accelerating daily.”

Funds

Adjuvant stimulates $300m fund

Sesame Workshop, National Geographic Society and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals have all thrown their weight behind a $165m third fund raised by edtech-focused VC firm Reach Capital. The fund will specifically target educational technology producers that are looking to remove barriers, particularly those faced by ethnic minorities, disabled students and under-resourced communities. Reach’s existing portfolio already includes Outschool – also backed by Sesame Workshop – and Springboard – also backed by Telstra Ventures.

Spain-based bank BBVA has committed a further $150m to financial sector-focused venture capital firm Propel Venture Partners and bringing its total commitment to more than $400m since 2016. BBVA has committed an initial $50m to an annual fund as the sole limited partner (LP). This will be followed by similar funds in 2022 and 2023, which will be open to outside investors.

Eurazeo is going in a different direction with its $97m Smart City II Venture Fund, focusing on early-stage startups in the energy, mobility, property technology and logistics industries. Limited partners for the fund’s first close include car manufacturer Stellantis, electric utilities EDF and Mainova, public transport operator RATP, energy producer Total, logistics company Duisport and real estate developer Sansiri. The predecessor vehicle, Smart City I, invested in approximately 25 companies across Europe, North America and Asia.

Masco puts finishing touch to $50m fund

SCB 10X, the corporate venturing unit of Thailand-based Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), has set up a $50m fund for early and growth-stage startups targeting blockchain, decentralised finance (DeFi) and digital assets.

Kraken Digital Asset Exchange, a US-based cryptocurrency service provider, has set up a corporate venturing unit.

Kraken Ventures will target early-stage companies and protocols across the crypto and financial technology ecosystem, including decentralized finance (DeFi), as well as enabling technologies, such as artificial intelligence, regulation tech and cybersecurity.

BIG goes local with Hyogo Kobe Fund

Costco Wholesale, a Nasdaq-listed retailer, has committed $1m to Fearless Fund, a US-based venture capital firm set up to invest in women of colour (WOC).

Costco’s investment marks a string of corporate interest in the fund, following recent investments from PayPal and Bank of America.

Savola Group, a Saudi Arabia-based food and retail conglomerate, has set up its corporate venturing unit and completed its first investment.

Its corporate venture capital fund will invest in disruptive technologies and opportunities in the food and retail space regionally and globally, according to news provider Wamda.

DexCom, a Nasdaq-listed supplier of continuous glucose monitoring for people with diabetes, has set up its corporate venturing unit under Steve Pacelli.

Dexcom Ventures will invest in glucose sensing technology and adjacent areas, such as data analytics, remote patient monitoring and population health.

LightShed Partners, a US-based boutique research firm founded by media analyst Rich Greenfield in 2019, has set up a corporate venturing fund.

LightShed Ventures is raising $75m to invest in seed and series A rounds across technology, media and telecom sectors, according to news provider Barron’s.

Ensemble Innovation Ventures (EIV), the holding company of US-based healthcare provider Delta Dental of Colorado, has set up a corporate venturing fund.

Ensemble Innovation Ventures Fund (EIVF) will target the health and wellness space and invest in early-stage venture companies primarily in its local region.

9Unicorns, an India-based incubator and startup fund set up by Venture Catalysts, has raised INR1bn ($14m) from local food provider Haldiram’s and other investors.

Haldiram’s had announced a partnership with Venture Catalysts in April 2019.

University

Venture capital firm Global Accelerated Ventures (GAV) has partnered with Oxford University Innovation (OUI), the research commercialisation unit of UK-based University of Oxford to set up a $25m special purpose investment vehicle (SPV) targeting conservation-focused startups.

The Oxford GAV Conservation Venture Studio will support and bring prototypes to market

Exits

It has barely been four years since JD.com spun off its warehousing and distribution services provider as JD Logistics, but the unit quickly went on to raise $2.5bn in 2018 from Tencent, China Life and others. That capital seemingly provided a decent runway and now JD Logistics is looking to build on its business growth thanks to a surge in online shopping during the pandemic by filing to go public in Hong Kong. Financial terms have not yet been set, but sources told DealStreetAsia the company is eyeing a $40bn valuation. That’s not a bad multiple on the $12.8bn it was reportedly valued for that 2018 round.

Also benefiting from a surge in online shopping is BigBasket, the India-based grocery delivery company that has now agreed to an acquisition by Tata Group in a deal that values it between $1.8bn and $2bn. Tata is buying a 60% stake in the business and existing shareholders, which include Alibaba with a near-30% stake, are set to exit almost entirely. Tata is not stopping there: the plan for BigBasket is said to be turning it into a public company as early as 2021.

Coupang, the Korean online retailer that ships products to customers nationwide within hours of purchase, is reportedly eyeing a $50bn market cap with a planned $1bn initial public offering that would provide an exit to SoftBank and its Vision Fund. The corporate and the fund have invested $2.5bn between themselves and that market cap would be a more than fivefold increase on the $9bn valuation that Coupang fetched in 2018. Coupang more than halved its net loss over the past two years, though it still stood at nearly $475m for 2020.

Cloopen Group – also known as Ronglian Cloud Communications and as Yuntongxun – has already completed its IPO and brought in $320m through a listing on the New York Stock Exchange that provided exits to New Oriental and Telstra Ventures (though neither owned more than 5% before the offering). It had priced its ADSs at just $16 but as of yesterday’s close they were already worth $29.65 so there is every expectation that underwriters will jump at the chance to buy the additional 3 million ADSs.

Adagene advances to IPO

Hearing loss treatment developer Decibel has already gone public, pricing its shares at $18 to raise more than $127m through a listing on the Nasdaq Global Select Market that provided exits to GV, SR One and Regeneron. It was more than the $75m in proceeds that Decibel had originally targeted but despite a brief climb to $24.39 a share on the first day of trading, they closed back down at only $18.03.

Amgen and Pfizer also celebrated exits as cancer immunotherapy developer NexImmune – a spinout of Johns Hopkins University – raised $110m in an upsized initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Market. NexImmune’s shares closed at $25.33 on the first day of trading on Friday. Neither corporate owned more than 5% in NexImmune ahead of the offering.

Another week, another set of reverse mergers. Today it is AEye’s turn, the lidar system developer having agreed to combine with CF Finance Acquisition Corp III at a $2bn valuation. Existing shareholders Subaru-SBI Innovation Fund, Intel Capital and Hella Ventures joined GM Ventures and others for a $225m Pipe financing. AEye’s backers, which had supplied more than $60m in equity funding, also include Aisin, LG, SK Hynix and Airbus Ventures. The merger is expected to complete in the second quarter of the year.

Owlet grows into public company

Humacyte, a US-based developer of tissue-based medical technology backed by conglomerate Access Industries and healthcare company Fresenius Medical Care, is the latest company to jump on the reverse merger bandwagon. The business is set to merge with Alpha Healthcare Acquisition Corp to list on Nasdaq, and the deal will land it $175m in financing from Fresenius and Alexandria Venture Investments, among others. Alpha Healthcare already raised $100m when it went public, and Humacyte is looking at a $1.1bn market cap once the transaction closes. Fresenius took a 19% stake in 2018, while Access Industries made its investment in 2015 as part of a $150m series B.

Humio is choosing a more traditional exit by agreeing to a $400m acquisition by CrowdStrike that will primarily consist of cash but include some equity. It is a sizeable amount of change dropped by CrowdStrike, not least because Humio had only raised slightly more than $30m in equity financing – most recently completing a $20m series B round led by Dell Technologies Capital in March last year.

University

Talis takes in IPO proceeds

Deals

Xingsheng Youxuan, which allows neighbourhood communities to club together to purchase goods in bulk, has added $2bn to its coffers thanks to commitments from Tencent and China Evergrande Group, among others. The company said it now processes more than 8 million daily orders and is delivering to more than 30,000 towns across China. The latest cash injection comes just a couple of months after JD.com committed $700m and less than a year after Xingsheng secured $800m in its series C-plus from Tencent and others.

SpaceX meanwhile is showing no ambitions to go public just yet and the US-based spacecraft producer and launch services provider backed by Alphabet, has added $850m in fresh funding from unspecified investors at a reported valuation of $74bn. It is not the biggest round raised by SpaceX – for now that remains the $1.9bn transaction last summer – but it is notable for one because the company had allegedly lined up offers totalling $6bn within three days (yes, you read that right) and for another because existing shareholders took the opportunity to sell $750m worth of stock. No word on their identity either, however.

University

Axiom Space lifts off with $130m

Kakao Mobility hails Carlyle for $200m

Locus Robotics is one of two companies to have raised $150m (see Standard Cognition below, too) and the warehouse automation technology producer’s series E round featured returning backer Prologis Ventures (though it is unclear when the corporate first invested). Zebra Ventures did not participate this time, having previously contributed to the $40m series D and $26m series C rounds.

Standard Cognition checks out $150m series C

Mainstay Medical puts away $108m

TigerGraph charts course to $105m

University

LegalForce powers up with series C


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

12 March 2018 – Magic Leap Increases Series D to $963m

Deals

In last week’s Big Deal on GCV, news editor Robert Lavine looked at DoorDash, which just got its first corporate investment in a $535m series D round led by SoftBank, almost doubling its valuation in roughly two years.

Augmented reality technology developer Magic Leap has to be one of the most well-funded companies to have never released a product. It has increased its series D round to $963m with $461m from investors including Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which put up $400m, and Axel Springer Digital Ventures.

Elsewhere in online entertainment, game livestreaming has been one of the biggest growth areas in the past year or two, as more companies look to follow Twitch’s lead. China-based Douyu, which has some 30 million daily active users, has secured $630m from Tencent, which has backed it since a $100m series B round two years ago.

Internet company Tencent has agreed to provide approximately $462m in series B funding for Huya, a China-based live game streaming spinout from social media platform Huya.

BBVA has led a $207m round for Atom Bank, the UK-based creator of a mobile-only bank with no physical branches.

Zomato has confirmed reports last month stating that Alibaba’s financial services affiliate Ant Financial had invested $200m.

Credit assessment technology provider Wecash has closed a $160m series D round that was co-led by e-commerce firm Sea and a subsidiary of financial services firm Orix.

UiPath, a developer of software bots that automate mundane enterprise tasks, has raised $135m from investors including CapitalG in a series B round that valued it at $1.1bn.

yKujiale, a China-based virtual reality platform for interior design, has raised $100m in a series D round that included Hearst Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of media group Hearst.

On GUV, TauRx Pharmaceuticals, a Singapore-based Alzheimer’s disease treatment developer spun out from University of Aberdeen, has revealed it secured $71m through a rights issue in October 2017.

Funds

Cisco Investments, the corporate venturing arm of networking equipment manufacturer Cisco, has committed an undisclosed amount to venture capital firm IDG Ventures India’s third fund.

Japan-headquartered automotive component maker Aisin Group launched a $50m US-based investment fund on Tuesday in partnership with venture capital firm Fenox Venture Capital. Fenox will manage the fund, with CEO Anis Uzzaman taking a general partner position.

On GUV, University of Montana has become the sole institutional limited partner (LP) in VC firm Next Frontier Capital’s second fund, a $38m vehicle that aims to support high-value Montana industries.

Exits

Kensho, an AI data platform based on research at Harvard University and MIT, has meanwhile agreed to an acquisition by one of its investors, S&P Global, for approximately $550m in cash and stock.

Blibli began life as a comics, anime and gaming-themed online community in China, but has grown rapidly off the back of an anime streaming platform that has licensed more titles than any other in the country.

Hua Medicine, a diabetes treatment developer backed by pharmaceutical company WuXi PharmaTech, also intends to raise upwards of $400m in an initial public offering.

Genetic disease therapy developer Homology Medicines has filed to raise up to $100m in an initial public offering that will support the progress of two drug candidates through preclinical trials.

Immuno-oncology drug developer Unum Therapeutics last raised funding in a $65m series B round in 2015, but it’s filed to raise up to $86.3m in an initial public offering.

Go-Jek is still in the process of raising funds for a round it expects to close at $1.5bn, at a $5bn valuation, but company president Andre Soelistyo has met with the Indonesia Stock Exchange to discuss a possible IPO.


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

13 March 2017 – Airbnb Closes Series F, IPO for Snap and Much More

Deals

Airbnb has closed its series F round at just over $1bn, bringing its overall equity funding to $3.4bn.

Instacart, the company touted as ‘the Uber of grocery shopping’, has raised $400m at a $3.4bn valuation, with VC firm Sequoia leading the round with a reported $100m investment. Interestingly, none of Instacart’s corporate investors – Comcast Ventures, American Express Ventures and Whole Foods – were named as participants in the series D round.

Alibaba has spent around $250m in a secondary transaction to boost its stake in One97 Communications by an extra 4.3%, giving exits to Reliance Capital, Sapphire Ventures and Saama Capital in the process.

BBVA has led a $102m funding round for mobile banking app Atom Bank, investing just over $36m at a $320m valuation to maintain its 29.5% stake.

Baidu is said to be lining up a $100m investment in NextEV, the smart electric vehicle developer that unveiled what it claims is the world’s fastest electric supercar in November.

Liberty Global and Zain have joined existing backers including Sky and the CAA-backed Evolution Media Capital to invest $90m in iFlix, which has brought the Netflix template to Southeast Asia.

Ping An Overseas Holdings has led a series C round for livestreaming platform and communication services operator Bigo that valued it at $400m.

Spero Therapeutics, a biopharma working on treatments for superbugs, has completed an oversubscribed series C round, raising $51.7m.

Viva Republica, the Korean developer of mobile payment platform Toss, has picked up $48m in a series C round featuring PayPal which Forbes estimates values the company at roughly $250m.

Biohaven Pharmaceutical, a biopharmaceutical spinout of Yale University, yesterday closed an $80m series A round from investors that included spinout-focused investment firm Osage University Partners.

Funds

Joyme Capital, the CVC arm of online gaming community operator Joyme Group, has teamed with gaming services provider Kee Ever Bright Technology to launch a strategic investment fund that will back game developers, eSports companies and gaming ancillary service startups among others.

US-based microfinance non-profit organisation Accion has launched a $141m financial technology and services investment fund with contributions from limited partners including the World Bank’s private sector investment arm International Finance Corporation.

The Cradle Fund, an investment vehicle owned by the government of Malaysia, has announced DEQ800, an initiative that will offer early-stage equity to startups, Tech in Asia wrote on Monday.

Uniseed, the venture fund backed by four Australian universities and research institute CSIRO, has announced a A$20m ($15m) fund that will make follow-on investments in existing portfolio companies.

Exits

Snapchat owner Snap has formally closed an IPO that featured a $500m investment by NBCUniversal at $3.91bn, after its underwriters took up the option to buy an additional $410m in shares following a heady first two days of trading last week, with the company’s stock at one point up more than $12 from its flotation price.

Now that the dust is starting to clear from Snap’s flotation last week, onlookers are getting ready for the next big tech IPO, with MuleSoft setting terms for an offering that will net it $182m in proceeds and a $2bn+ valuation if it floats at the top of its range.

CA Technologies has agreed to buy cloud security platform Veracode in a $614m cash deal that will provide exits for backers including Telus, Tivo and Symantec, which spun the company out in 2006.

Otsuka Pharmaceutical has agreed to acquire ADHD treatment developer Neurovance in a deal that will give an exit to Novartis Venture Fund.


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

15 February 2016 – Chinese new year, fintech investor BBVA, Innogy Venture Capital, triple French biotech fund, Unicef, Shanghai reimburses venture capital firms and more

Funds

Financial services provider BBVA has been a notable fintech investor since early 2013 when it formed a $100m fund that has since backed companies including DocuSign, Taulia and Prosper. The bank has now elected to upgrade its participation, committing another $150m and spinning out its investments into a new VC firm called Propel Venture Partners. Propel is already operational in San Francisco and is actively recruiting for a London office.

RWE’s Innogy Venture Capital may have been quiet of late but that doesn’t mean the utility has given up on corporate venturing. Chief executive Peter Terium reiterated its commitment to innovation on Friday and revealed plans for another investment unit which will be sized at $145m.

In addition to that fund, RWE is also set to invest $15m in a so far unnamed greentech-focused venture capital fund.

France triples its biotech fund.

Unicef’s $9m Innovation Fund opens for expressions of interest from entrepreneurs, inventors and companies with working prototypes of open source technology that can improve the lives of vulnerable children.

The government of Shanghai’s plans to compensate venture capital firms that fail to make back their initial investment in startups has drawn criticism.

Investments

Uber has targeted $2.1bn in new equity funding at a jawdropping $62.5bn valuation in spite of a fundraising climate generally agreed to be cooling. Today it came a step closer, raising $200m from investment firm LetterOne, which joins a range of backers including corporates Alphabet, Baidu, Times Group, Ping An and China Life Insurance.

One of the biggest areas for VC funding last year was India’s e-commerce sector, and One97 Communications was one of the biggest recipients, securing $680m from Alibaba and Ant Financial. One97 is now looking to raise another $400m by the end of June to fund the spinning out of its flagship brand, Paytm, into a separate mobile banking and payment company.

A possible partnership with e-commerce marketplace Flipkart could also be on the cards. Africa Internet Group (AIG), the collection of African businesses overseen by Rocket Internet that is also backed by telecom companies MTN and Millicom, has welcomed a new backer. AXA paid $83m for an 8% stake in AIG as part of a strategic partnership that will allow it to sell insurance products through AIG’s companies, and in particular e-commerce marketplace Jumia.

Cambridge University breaks its own seed funding record for the third year in a row, investing $5.5m last year.

Exits

Proteostasis raised $50m (see below) while AveXis secured $95m, floating in the middle of its $19 to $21 range. AveXis, which is backed by Roche’s corporate venturing fund, will use the proceeds to steer its lead candidate, a gene therapy treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, through phase 1 trials.

Good analysis recommendation: Bruce Booth at Life Sci VC 

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