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

13 January 2020 – Ant Financial Backs Zomato with $150m at a $3bn Valuation

The Big Ones

Zomato has kicked off its next funding round, expected to reach $500m, by raising $150m from existing investor Ant Financial at a $3bn valuation. The cash will help it in its ongoing battle against domestic rival Swiggy for supremacy in India’s online food ordering sector.

SoftBank Vision Fund has reportedly pulled out of a series of large-scale investments, in companies including Honor, Seismic and Creator, in recent months despite signing term sheets. The decisions appear to have taken place in the wake of WeWork’s failure to float in the autumn but could just as easily be due to a general slowdown in investments due to the second Vision Fund still not being close to its initial $100bn target.

Internet-of-things security provider Armis has agreed to a $1.1bn acquisition by Insight Partners in which Alphabet’s CapitalG unit is set to provide $100m. The France-based company had disclosed $112m in funding as of a $65m series C round last year, though none of its VC investors were corporates.

In university – and crossover – news, Soul Machines, a New Zealand-based artificial intelligence-powered avatar platform spun out of University of Auckland, has received $40m in a series B round featuring the institution’s Inventors Fund. Singaporean state-owned investment firm Temasek led the round, which also included Salesforce Ventures, the corporate venturing subsidiary of enterprise software producer Salesforce. Daimler Financial Services, the financial and mobility services subsidiary of carmaker Daimler, was previously revealed as a backer when Soul Machines raised a first series B tranche in 2018.

Deals

Quibi has to be one of the most eagerly-awaited pre-launch startups in history, and its leaders revealed this week it will launch its 10-minutes-or-less streaming platform in April with contributors including Guillermo Del Toro, Jennifer Lopez and Liam Hemsworth.

Fitness and wellness subscription service ClassPass has meanwhile raised $285m in a series E round that lifted its valuation to the billion-dollar mark. Alphabet’s GV unit is among its investors but the latest funding came in a round co-led by L Catterton and Apax Digital with additional participation by Temasek.

Further along the line is Byju’s, reportedly now the world’s most valuable VC-backed edtech company, which has just received $200m in funding from Tiger Global Management at a valuation of about $8bn. That’s an increase in valuation of nearly 40% in just six months and has to be good news for existing backers and corporates Naspers, Tencent and Bennett Coleman & Co.

Hesai has raised $173m in series C funding, in a round it claims is the largest ever for a lidar system developer. Robert Bosch co-led the round, two years after Hesai took part in its automotive AI accelerator in China, while ON Semiconductor also contributed capital.

Zhiyun Health, developer of a chronic disease management platform, has secured a total of $144m across series C-plus and series D rounds, the investors including Samsung, SIG Asia and China Electronics Corporation affiliate OP Financial.

Business accounting software provider High Radius is now valued at more than $1bn, having raised $125m in a series B round featuring Citi Ventures and Susquehanna Growth Equity. Both took part as existing backers and the round was led by Iconiq Capital.

Sisense, the creator of a data simplification tool for app developers and business analysts, has increased its valuation to more than $1bn, securing $100m from investors including Access Industries subsidiary Claltech.

Transcenta Holdings, the biopharmaceutical company formed through the merger of HJB and MabSpace Biosciences – both backed by Lilly Asia Ventures – has also raised $100m, in a series B-plus round that included the Eli Lilly-affiliated venture firm.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has chipped into a $73m series C round for digital accounting software provider Receipt Bank. The round was led by Insight Partners, the venture firm that had invested $50m in Receipt Bank in 2017, and the cash will fund growth across Europe, North America and Australia.

ClearCover has become the latest online insurance portal to raise substantial funding, pulling in $50m through a series C round featuring Cox Enterprises and American Family Ventures, both participating as existing investors.

Funds

US-based tire manufacturer Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company has launched a $100m corporate venture capital vehicle known as Goodyear Ventures at CES. Goodyear produces a range of vehicle tires in addition to running service centres and providing synthetic rubber and chemical products.

India-based poultry product supplier IB Group has formed a $28m strategic investment fund. IB’s central business focuses on its chicken and egg supply, though it has diversified into areas such as livestock feed, pet food, solvents and hospitality.

Exits

Megvii has received regulatory approval to float in Hong Kong and reportedly expects to raise about $500m in the initial public offering. Alibaba and its Ant Financial affiliate own upwards of 29% of the image recognition software provider, which was valued at $4bn as of its last funding round in May.

One Medical has filed to go public having raised a total of $400m in primary funding from investors including Alphabet’s GV unit. The primary care provider has set a placeholder target of $100m that will almost certainly increase by the time it sets terms for the IPO.


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

21 January 2019 – SenseTime Prepares for $2bn Round

The big ones

Image recognition software provider SenseTime raised a total of $1.7bn in the year running up to May 2018, and news has emerged that it’s preparing a new round with a target of $2bn.

Slack has been mooted as one of 2019’s likeliest IPO candidates for months now, but it’s reportedly looking to emulate Spotify and choose a direct listing rather than issuing new shares.

On GUV, news of note was that Purdue University has now launched a total of 223 university-linked businesses since 2013, more than half which were based on intellectual property (IP) licensed through Purdue Research Foundation’s office of technology commercialisation (OTC).

Deals

End-to-end construction and renovation services platform Katerra last raised money in an $865m series D round led by SoftBank Vision Fund a year ago.

SoftBank is reportedly in talks to pay $400m for a 42% stake in baby and child product retailer FirstCry, representing a signficant jump in valuation from the $350m figure reported for the company’s last round.

Around a week after news that its biggest rival, Bird, was lining up $300m in funding, reports suggest scooter and bicycle rental platform Lime is set to raise about $400m in a round that will value it at $2bn pre-money.

English language tutoring platform Dada has concluded its latest round, securing $255m in series D funding from investors including TAL Education.

Logistics service provider Yimi Dida has meanwhile raised $266m in series D funding from investors including Prologis.

Niantic has confirmed it has raised $245m in a series C round featuring Samsung Ventures and Axiomatic at a post-money valuation near to $4bn.

Funds advised by Apax Partners have agreed to invest $200m in big data software and services provider Fractal Analytics through a transaction expected to close next month.

Beta Bionics has attracted $13m from investors including medical device producers Zealand Pharma and Dexom to close its series B round at $63m.

Outdoorsy, the operator of a rental platform for recreational vehicles, has closed a $50m series C round that involved the return of Aviva Ventures, the corporate venturing unit that also backed its series B early last year.

Exits

Online film ticketing platform Maoyan has set the terms for its initial public offering in Hong Kong and will raise approximately $344m if it floats at the top of its range.

Educational services provider Byju’s has acquired connected toy producer Osmo in a $120m all-share transaction that will add a range of coprorates to the former’s investor base.

Cirius Therapeutics, a developer of therapies for liver and metabolic diseases, has filed for an $86.3m IPO that will provide an exit for Novo, which owns almost 20% of its shares.

On GUV, consumer electronics producer Samsung is in advanced discussions over a $150m to $160m acquisition of Corephotonics, an Israel-based smartphone camera technology provider based on Tel Aviv University research.

Funds

Venture firm Magenta Venture Partners has launched in Israel with substantial backing from Mitsui, which is also providing two of its four founding general partners, one of the others being Motorola Solutions Venture Capital alumnus Ori Israely.


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

08 October 2018 – Grab Looking To Raise Another $1bn

Deals

Southeast Asian ride hailing platform Grab closed $2bn in funding just two months ago, but Reuters has reported that it’s looking to raise another $1bn, and that SoftBank is close to putting up half the funding.

SoftBank Vision Fund has also initiated talks to invest $500m in China-based online educational assistance platform Zuoyebang.

Traveloka, an Indonesian company that has grown into a leading holiday and travel services booking platform for Southeast Asia, is in talks with unnamed investors to raise $400m.

Elsewhere in Asia, SoftBank is reportedly in talks to invest between $200m and $250m in India-based Delhivery, one of several companies that have sprung up to feed the rapidly expanding e-commerce sector.

Enterprise cybersecurity software provider Tanium has secured $200m in a round led by Wellington Management that valued it at $6.5bn pre-money. Tanium, whose investors include Citi Ventures, has now raised about $780m altogether, and has amped up its valuation by some $1.5bn in just five months, the company having raised $175m from TPG Growth in a May round that valued it at $5bn.

Tencent and KKR’s KKR Asian Fund III have agreed to lead a $175m investment in Voyager Innovations, a fintech spinoff from telecommunications firm PLDT.

Fast fashion retailer Miniso was only founded in 2013 but has been growing at a rocket-like pace, currently standing at some 3,000 branches worldwide. Now Tencent is getting in on the act, joining Hillhouse Capital to provide $146m in funding for the company.

Education app developer Byju’s is now valued at $2bn following a $100m investment by General Atlantic India. Byju’s has raised a total of $344m from investors including Times Internet and Tencent, but the round is perhaps notable for not including SoftBank, which was said to be in talks with the company a couple of months back.

Call centre software provider Talkdesk closed a $21m series A round backed by Salesforce three years ago, but has taken a bug step forward with a $100m series B round that valued it at more than $1bn.

JHL Biotech has raised an undisclosed sum from investors including Sanoft at a $750m valuation and will put the cash toward further development of its biosimilar cancer therapies.

Drawbridge Health, a US-based medical diagnostics spinout of industrial conglomerate General Electric (GE), received an undisclosed amount of funding yesterday from Kyoto University’s venturing arm Innovation Capital (Kyoto-iCap).

Funds

Biopharmaceuticals-focused venture firm Forbion Capital Partners has closed its latest fund at $415m, a 44% upgrade on its initial target. The fund’s LPs include insurers ASR Insurances, KLP, the EU-backed European Investment Fund and the German government-owned bank KfW.

Excell Partners, a VC fund affiliated to University of Rochester, is to manage a $25m vehicle intended to spur tech activity around Rochester in upstate New York. The vehicle, dubbed Finger Lakes Forward Venture Capital (FLX) Fund, will be managed by Excell’s Technology Ventures division and funded by the New York State government.

Exits

Funding Circle has gone public in London, in a $576m initial public offering that included $184m of share sales by the online lending platform’s shareholders.

Guardant Health had a health first day as a public company, floating above its range to raise almost $238m in its IPO before seeing its share price rise by 69%.

SurveyMonkey has raised less but had a more successful IPO, floating above its range last week to raise an initial $180m.

Sutro Biopharma, a US-based cancer drug developer based on research at Stanford University and backed by pharmaceutical firms Amgen, Celgene, Eli Lilly and Merck & Co, raised $85m in its initial public offering.

NGM Biopharmaceuticals has filed to raise up to $75m in an initial public offering that will give Merck & Co and Takeda the chance to exit.

On GGV, French solar firm Neoen is aiming for a market capitalisation of €1.5bn ($1.7bn) in an initial public offering (IPO) on the Paris stock exchange.


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