06 April 2020 – Lyell Immunopharma Gains $493m Investment from GlaxoSmithKline

The Big Ones

It is the sort of line to awaken the curiosity in an annual report: “Cash payments to acquire equity investments amounted to £258m [$314m] (2018 – £309m), primarily relating to Lyell Immunopharma.”

Thus, the accountants revealed UK-listed drugs maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) had invested a sizeable amount in US-based cancer treatment developer Lyell Immunopharma, which raised $493m earlier this month.

Late last week, US-listed software provider Microsoft fell into the latter camp as it agreed with AnyVision that “it is in the best interest of both enterprises for Microsoft to divest its shareholding in AnyVision”.

AnyVision Interactive Technologies, an Israel-based computer vision technology provider specialising in face, body and object-recognition software, only announced the close of a $74m series A round featuring M12, Microsoft’s corporate venture fund, as a new investor, in mid-June. But the deal came under public attention with media reports alleging its system was being used for a mass surveillance program in the West Bank.

American firms have a long history of running into competition concerns when trying to buy UK-based chipmaker Plessey. The latest is social media company Facebook, which has turned from acquisition plans to an agreement just to buy all the augmented reality displays made by Plessey over the next several years.

Deals

WeWork has had its six months of hell compounded after SoftBank pulled away from a $3bn share tender offer connected to a proposed $1.5bn in debt financing. The corporate cited WeWork’s failure to meet certain conditions set in the tender agreement and said it has now supplied more than $14bn – $14bn! – in debt and equity financing for the company since it first invested just three years ago. With Covid-19 keeping office workers at home, the future looks anything but bright for the startup space’s most visible falling star.

Adapting rather better to the situation is artificial intelligence technology provider 4Paradigm, which has closed $230m in funding from investors including Lenovo and existing backer Cisco at a $2bn valuation. China-based 4Paradigm said it has been developing AI tools to track infection rates and model coronavirus-related scenarios in addition to helping businesses accelerate digital transformation. It had last raised funding in a late 2018 series D round valuing it at $1.2bn.

And despite general concerns around slowing transportation needs, Via Transportation offers a diverse range of transport options that can be integrated into an organisation’s existing activities. Holding company Exor has pumped $200m into Via as part of a series E round of undisclosed size that valued it at $2.25bn. Shell, Mori Building and Hearst Ventures also contributed to the round. Via’s existing backers include Daimler, which led a reported $250m round for the company three years ago.

And Crisitunity! The Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions associated with it are likely to be around for a while, but while it is devastating large swathes of the worldwide economy, some others are benefitting. Zoom and Netflix have been held up as examples of this, but the online education and media sector is also in place to do well.

Yuanfudao has reportedly topped Chinese app downloads in the space since January and has raised $1bn in a series G round co-led by long-term corporate investor Tencent. The cash was secured at a $7.8bn valuation and boosted the company’s overall funding to more than $1.5bn. Expect more to follow in that sector. Businesses are suffering but it looks as if a by-product of the crisis will be to accelerate the move toward mobile activities and socialising touted by the tech space for so long.

Tiger Global waltzes into Bytedance

As are ecommerce and producers. Plenty prepares to raise $100m

Online marketplace Ozon has been a fixture in Russia for more than two decades and is still getting big interest from investors. It’s just added $50m in convertible note financing from Princeville Capital to $100m recently secured from conglomerate Sistema and Baring Vostok. The $150m financing round follows $154m from the latter two last April and a $119m secondary investment by Sistema shortly before.

On healthcare and life sciences, which is another part of the tech space that’s unsurprisingly booming right now. Hillhouse Capital and Chen Yi Investment are putting up $292m for a secondary investment in Hualan Biological Vaccines, the vaccine developer spun off from biopharmaceutical firm Hualan Biological Engineering. It was formed in 2015 and was responsible for a third of its parent company’s revenue last year. It’s now valued at about $1.94bn.

6 Dimensions supports $125m round for iTeos

Collibra collects $112m

Pandion packs in $80m

Aspen Neuroscience ascends with $70m

Affinia affirms $60m series A

AM-Pharma has added $52m in debt and equity financing from Cowen Healthcare Investments and European Investment Bank to a round that now stands at $182m. The company, which is developing a treatment for acute kidney injury, has now disclosed almost $340m in funding altogether, its earlier backers including Pfizer and AbbVie.

Olive collects $51m

University

Zucara sweetens $21m series A deal

MiDiagnostics brings experiment to a $15.4m close

Funds

Yamato delivers Kuroneko Innovation Fund

Exit

OneWeb is the latest of SoftBank Vision Fund’s large-scale investments to go sour, filing for bankruptcy after failing to raise a reported $2bn from investors including Vision Fund. SoftBank has pumped upwards of $1bn into the satellite internet system developer, which has secured a total of $3.4bn prior to the move, from investors also including Qualcomm, Airbus, Coca-Cola Company, Virgin, Bharti Enterprises, Totalplay, Hughes Network Systems and Intelsat.

And distressed exits will increase. Hooq clasps liquidation option

IPOs may have dropped off but we’ve already seen some large M&A deals in recent weeks, the latest being Affirmed Networks, which has agreed to an acquisition by Microsoft that reportedly valued it at $1.35bn. The mobile network technology provider had disclosed $141m in funding and its exiting investors include Qualcomm Ventures, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, the latter having taken over the stake from another Deutsche Telekom subsidiary, T-Venture.

Palo Alto Networks agreeing to buy network technology provider CloudGenix in a $420m deal that will enable Intel Capital to exit. Longtime readers will of course recognise Palo Alto as one of the most frequent providers of CVC M&A exits.


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

17 December 2018 – Grab Reaches $2.85bn in Latest Round

Deals

Grab has boosted its latest round to $2.85bn, taking in $150m from Yamaha Motor through a strategic partnership agreement.

Indonesian online marketplace Tokopedia has confirmed it has secured $1.1bn in a round led by Alibaba and SoftBank Vision Fund, with contributions from SoftBank Ventures Korea and unnamed existing backers.

Facial recognition technology provider Megvii is set to raise $500m in a round that could be led by $200m from Bank of China Group Investment with a possible investment by existing backer Alibaba.

Zymergen raised $130m in a SoftBank-led round two years ago, and now SoftBank’s Vision Fund has returned to lead a $400m series C round for the molecular manufacturing technology provider that included Goldman Sachs, Hanwha Asset Management and several existing investors.

Naspers Ventures is leading a funding round for online education provider Byju’s that has reached $322m on its way to a $400m close.

Financial software provider Plaid has secured $250m in a series C round led by Kleiner Perkins and backed by Goldman Sachs, Andreessen Horowitz, NEA, Spark Capital and Index Ventures that valued it at $2.65bn.

Niantic, the augmented reality game developer best known for Pokémon Go, is close to raising $200m in funding from investors including Samsung and Axiomatic, the eSports company that’s becoming increasingly involved in corporate venturing.

Parking services and technology platform ParkJockey was reported the week before last to be closing in on a SoftBank-led round that could be sized between $800m and $1bn.

Automotive e-commerce platform Vroom has raised $146m in a series G round that was led by a $50m investment from brick-and-mortar car retail chain AutoNation.

Meiri Yitao was incubated as a social commerce-focused fresh produce offshoot of online grocer MissFresh, but has sped out of the blocks, following a $30m series A round in July with $100m in series B funding from investors including SIG Asia Investments.

Things have started to quieten down a bit on Global University Venturing ahead of the Christmas holidays but Genomics, a UK-based drug discovery engine developer spun out of University of Oxford, still managed to extend its series B round to $42m with the close of an oversubscribed second $10.2m tranche.

Funds

Bytedance closed its last round at a valuation of $75bn – enough to make it the world’s most valuable VC-backed private company – and it’s now looking to get into the corporate venturing game itself.

Alcoholic beverage provider Constellation Brands formed its corporate venturing unit three years ago and has now launched a $100m initiative called Focus on Female Founders that will invest in female-led portfolio companies.

On Global University Venturing, we had news that the UCL Technology Fund – co-managed by tech transfer office UCL Business and Albion Capital, is in the process of raising between $95m and $126m for a second vehicle (in the original currency of British pounds, the upper number is actually double that of the first fund – £100m compared with £50m).

Exits

Moderna has raised $604m in what’s reportedly the largest biotech IPO ever, increasing the number of shares in the offering by more than 4.5 million, and it has earmarked the proceeds for the further development of a pipeline that now has more than 20 mRNA therapy and vaccine candidates.

2018’s been quite a year for IPOs but it increasingly looks like next year could dwarf it as unicorn after unicorn moves their chips in place. The latest two to have made a step forward are Uber, which has confidentially filed for an offering some onlookers have suggested could value it at a staggering $120bn, and Slack, which has hired Goldman Sachs as lead underwriter for an IPO that could value it at $10bn.

Basis had big plans to create a stablecoin tied to the US dollar that would potentially be usable as a steady alternative in volatile countries, and raised $133m from investors including GV in April. But those plans have screeched to a halt and Basis announced yesterday it will instead wind down due to regulatory difficulties.


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

29 October 2018 – Bytedance Raises $3bn at $75bn Valuation

Deals

Bytedance has agreed to raise $3bn in funding from investors including SoftBank at a $75bn valuation that will make it the most valuable independent VC-backed company in the world.

Manbang, the trucking services marketplace also known as Full Truck Alliance, is reportedly in advanced discussions with Tencent and SoftBank over a $1bn round that would value the Chinese company at $9bn.

Huashenghaoche is one of several automotive marketplace operators competing in China’s used vehicle industry, and has secured $210m in a series D round that included JD Finance, the financial services affiliate of e-commerce firm JD.com.

Elsewhere in China, artificial intelligence and internet-of-things technology provider Terminus Technologies has raised $173m in a round that included image and facial recognition software producer SenseTime.

Plaid Technologies last raised money more than two years ago, in a $44m round led by Goldman Sachs that reportedly valued it at $250m.

Aikucun, a fashion e-commerce platform that specialises in surplus stock, has received $110m in series B-plus funding from Sinovation Ventures, GGV Capital, Zhongyuan Capital and BA Capital.

Synthego, the creator of a genome engineering platform for gene and cell therapy developers, has also secured $110m, in a Founders Fund-led series C round that took its total funding to $160m.

Precision oncology drug developer TP Therapeutics has raised $80m in a mezzanine round that included Lilly Asia Ventures and SR One, the corporate venturing units that co-led its last round, a $45m series C in May last year.

Satellite launch services startup Vector has secured $70m in a series B round that will support the company as it looks to begin producing its rockets.

Enable Injections, a US-based medical device developer, has achieved the first close of a series B round featuring Ohio Innovation Fund, the university venture fund formed by Ohio State University and Ohio University.

And on GGV, GoEuro, a Germany-based transport booking service aimed at consumers, has raised $150m in a funding round backed by Singaporean government-owned investment firm Temasek, Kinnevik and firm Hillhouse Capital.

Funds

Brightlands Agrifood Ventures, a venture fund focused on agritech developers connected to the Brightlands campuses in the Netherlands, has achieved a second close at $22.7m thanks to three additional limited partners.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund the Public Investment Fund has contributed $500m to the Russia-China Investment Fund.

Exits

Brazil-based payment technology provider StoneCo is gearing up for one of the year’s biggest IPOs. It will raise about $1.1bn if it floats at the top of its range, and has attracted a range of cornerstone investors that could take a large chunk of those shares.

Online travel services provider Tongcheng-eLong is looking to raise $1bn in an initial public offering in Hong Kong.

Innovent Biologics has priced its Hong Kong IPO near the top of its range to raise $421m.

And Chinese vehicle marketplace, Tuanche, has meanwhile filed for a $150m initial public offering in the US. Bertelsmann Asia Investments has been a Tuanche backer since the company’s 2013 series B round and now owns almost 10%.

PhaseBio Pharmaceuticals, a US-based orphan disease treatment developer exploiting research from Duke University, has floated on the Nasdaq Global Market in a $46m initial public offering.

Endpoint security software provider CrowdStrike was valued at more than $3bn as of its last round, a $200m series E backed by Alphabet unit CapitalG four months ago, and it’s reportedly looking to increase that valuation in an IPO tentatively slated for next year.

CloudFlare has meanwhile begun preparing for its own IPO and could claim a $3.5bn valuation, sources have told CNBC.


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

01 October 2018 – ByteDance in Funding Talks with SoftBank

Deals

Reports that China-based digital media company ByteDance was seeking funding at a $75bn valuation emerged a few weeks back, but now they’ve been fleshed out with news that it is in talks with SoftBank, which could provide $1.5bn of a $3bn round that also looks set to include KKR and General Atlantic.

Another Indian unicorn, ride hailing platform Ola, is reportedly in talks with Naspers and Temasek over a $1bn round that could value it at between $7bn and $8bn.

Short-term accommodation platform Oyo has raised $800m from investors including SoftBank Vision Fund and has reportedly secured commitments for a further $200m.

Swiggy is looking to establish itself as the market leader in India’s on-demand food delivery segment and has reportedly opened talks with investors including Tencent over a funding round that could reach $700m and value it at up to $2.5bn.

SoftBank Vision Fund continues to make its presence felt in the venture capital space, its latest deal being a $400m investment in real estate transaction marketplace Opendoor.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund has also invested in the latest round for online real estate brokerage Compass, which secured $400m in a series F round that valued it at $4.4bn post-money.

Butterfly Network, the developer of a handheld ultrasound device, has meanwhile received $250m in series D funding from investors including Fosun Pharma at a $1.25bn valuation.

Payment technology provider Stripe has taken a big step forward, securing $245m in a round that more than doubled its valuation to $20bn in less than two years.

Trucking services platform Manbang Group has been one of the recent success stories in China’s VC space, and now Convoy is aiming to become the sector’s market leader in the US.

UBiome, a US-based microbial genomics technology developer backed by the Stanford-StartX Fund, has raised $83m in series C funding from investors including Dentsu Ventures, the corporate venturing vehicle formed by marketing firm Dentsu.

Funds

Despite its name, SoftBank Ventures Korea hasn’t limited itself to Korean deals, and the unit is looking to establish itself more thoroughly in China with a $300m fund it has formed in partnership with TPG Growth.

The Engine Fund, a tough tech-focused VC vehicle associated with Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Engine incubator, has reached a final oversubscribed close of $205m.

Exits

2018’s really turning into a banner year for IPOs, with fashion e-commerce marketplace Farfetch the latest tech company to launch a successful offering, floating above its range to raise $885m.

Baxalta Ventures has scored one of the year’s big M&A exits, after Alexion agreed to acquire autoimmune disease drug developer Syntimmune for $400m upfront and up to $800m in milestone-related payments.

Asarina Pharma, a Sweden-based biotechnology spinout of University of Umeå, floated on the Nasdaq First North stock exchange last week after raising more than Skr142m ($16.3m) in an initial public offering.


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

13 August 2018 – Alibaba Plans to Merge Koubei and Ele.me

Deals

Alibaba spun off its local services platform, Koubei, with a $1.1bn round at the start of last year, and acquired food delivery service Ele.me in April 2018 at a $4.5bn valuation. Now the e-commerce firm plans to merge the two in a deal that could be supported with a $3bn to $5bn round that could be led by SoftBank Vision Fund.

Bytedance, the owner of news aggregation app Toutiao and short-form video platform TikTok, is reportedly seeking $3bn in funding in a monster round that would value it at $70bn to $75bn.

WndrCo has formally confirmed that NewTV, the short-form video content platform it founded, has raised $1bn in funding.

WeWork has been among the biggest fundraisers in the VC space in recent years and has added to that by securing $1bn in convertible note financing from SoftBank.

Manbang, the market leader in China’s trucking services market, raised $1.9bn in an April round featuring SoftBank Vision Fund, Tencent and CapitalG, but is reportedly already seeking more funding.

Naspers has been an investor in mobile second-hand e-commerce platform Letgo since 2015 when it supplied $100m in series A funding, and it’s just committed a total of $500m to the company, $150m of which it provided earlier this summer.

Walmart has invested $320m in Chinese grocery delivery platform Dada-JD Daojia as part of a $500m funding round, with another existing investor, JD.com, providing the rest.

Slack had raised more than $840m from investors including SoftBank, Comcast and Alphabet, as of its last round, a $250m series G last September that valued it at $5.1bn post-money.

Zhihu, the Chinese owner of an online platform where some 160 million registered users can crowdsource answers to queries, has confirmed a $270m series E round, though it did not name the participants.

Moviebook runs an online advertising platform that used AI technology to insert product placement into online content. It’s just secured $199m in a series D round co-led by SenseTime and SoftBank’s SBCVC, and will put the proceeds into R&D as it looks to enhance its image optimisation technology with algorithms supplied by SenseTime.

Tot Biopharm has raised $102m in a series C round featuring Center Laboratories Group that will fund the advancement of a pipeline of antibody-drug conjugates intended to treat cancer.

Things were very busy by the end of the week on GUV, with the biggest deal of the day – and week – being an $84m oversubscribed series B round for UK-based cancer-focused biotechnology company Artios Pharma that featured commercialisation firm IP Group.

On GGV, Singaporean state-owned investment firm Temasek has paid $225m for a stake in India-based, corporate-backed ride hailing platform Ola through a secondary share purchase.

Funds

SoftBank is nearing the final $100bn close for its Vision Fund and is already eyeing a second iteration, but in the meantime it’s reportedly looking to put together a $5bn fund for Asian investments, with some 50% earmarked for India-based companies.

Parkwalk Advisors, a fund management subsidiary of commercialisation firm IP Group, has launched University of Cambridge Enterprise Fund VI in partnership with the university’s tech transfer unit, Cambridge Enterprise.

On GGV, Temasek has become a limited partner in the $140m second growth fund run by US-based Ten Eleven Ventures. Ten Eleven focuses on investment in cybersecurity businesses and the new fund – known as TEG II – is expected to enable expansion into new geographic regions including Southeast Asia.

Exits

Social media marketing technology platform Weimob, is heading to the public markets having filed for an initial public offering in Hong Kong.

Linio, the Mexico-based operator of an online marketplace spanning eight Latin American countries, had raised $230m from investors including Tengelmann, Access Industries and Rocket Internet, but some of its backers are bound to have made a loss after it was bought by big-box retailer Falabella for $137m.

GraphicsFuzz, a UK-based graphics driver testing technology spun out of Imperial College London, has been acquired by Google, the internet subsidiary of diversified conglomerate Alphabet.


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

14 November 2016 – Imax VR Fund, Space Mining for Luxemburg and Much More

News

Walgreens sues portfolio company Theranos for $140m

Alphabet rebrands Google Capital as CapitalG

Funds

Ten oil their way to $1bn fund

Imax screens partners for $50m VR fund

University Corner

Ramot harnesses corporates for $20m investment initiative

Huawei visits Singapore for IoT incubator

Government Department

Planetary Resources mines Luxembourg for new funding

Exits

ZMP drives forward to IPO

Intel votes for Voke acquisition

SoftBank writes down $555m of Indian unicorn investments

Investments

Bytedance looks to take $1bn step forward

Suning gets fresh with Yiguo in $200m round

Bonobos talks to investors for $100m round

Warmsun heats up Royole with $74m

GV accelerates Acalvio funding to $22m

Gfresh catches $20m from Alibaba and Legend Holdings

Owlet looks after $15m


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