10 February 2020 – Netskope Gains $340m in Round Led By Sequoia Capital Global Equities

The Big Ones

Sequoia Capital Global Equities has led a $340m round for cloud security platform developer Netskope at a valuation of near $3bn. Netskope has now raised $740m altogether from investors including Dell Technologies Capital. Given the propensity of cybersecurity companies to be acquired, the unit – which has already scored exits from Packet and Big Switch Technologies this year – must feel good about that increased valuation.

Lots of Japanese financial services firms are active in the country’s venture capital space but SBI Group is one of the most strategic, having also backed international fintech developers such as Ripple and CurrencyCloud. It also raised a mid-nine figure amount for an AI and blockchain fund last year, and is now targeting $920m for a new vehicle called the 4+5 Fund.

Cybersecurity continues to be one of the most reliable areas for M&A exits and the latest case is Emailage, an email security software provider that has agreed to an acquisition by LexisNexis Risk Solutions, reportedly for around $480m.

And in crossover news, another exit… Harvard University-founded genomic medicine developer Beam Therapeutics looks set for one of the most successful of recent months, floating at the top of its range in an upsized IPO that will net it $180m.

Deals

SoftBank Vision Fund has provided another $150m for Indian childcare product retailer FirstCry, following on from a similarly sized investment a year ago and doubling its series E round to $300m.

GV’s latest investment involved it leading a $100m round for Verana Health, the operator of a software platform that pools clinical and life sciences information from a range of databases. The Alphabet-owned unit had already led Verana’s last round, a $30m series C 18 months ago, and it forms part of what’s becoming an increasingly lucrative healthcare technology stable.

Moda Operandi, the operator of an e-commerce marketplace for luxury goods, has secured $100m in debt and equity financing, increasing its equity funding to $345m in the process. The company, whose earlier investors include Advance Publications and LVMH, is one of several e-commerce entities to target the high-end market.

JenaValve Technology is moving its transcatheter aortic valve replacement prosthesis towards full regulatory approval in the US and has raised $50m from investors including Legend Capital to fund that journey. Legend Capital also took part in the company’s last publicly disclosed round, a series C that closed at $99m nearly five years ago.

Sendoso, the operator of a platform that combines software and warehousing services to help businesses with their postal marketing, has received $40m in funding from investors including logistics real estate manager Prologis. The round was led by Oak HC/FT and it boosted the company’s overall funding to more than $54m.

Exits

Qorvo has agreed to acquire Decawave, an indoor positioning technology developer that had raised about $60m from investors including ST Electronics and LG, for a reported $400m in cash. The deal was announced alongside semiconductor technology producer Qorvo’s purchase of another company, for a total of $500m.

Schrödinger, which provides chemical simulation software enabling drug developers to more precisely analyse molecules, floated above its range to raise $202m. The GV and WuXi AppTec-backed company then saw its shares shoot up 68% on their first day of trading.

Cancer therapy developer Revolution Medicines has set the terms for its initial public offering and will raise $150m if it floats at the mid-point of its range, $160m if it floats at the top.

Passage Bio, a University of Pennsylvania-linked drug developer that – by a bizarre coincidence – has also raised $226m, has filed for its own IPO, setting a $125m target.

Casper Sleep on the other hand has had some of the worst pre-IPO publicity since, well, WeWork, with onlookers pointing to steady losses and what’s perceived as an (ahem) relatively sleepy corner of the consumer products sector. The Target-backed mattress and bedding brand raised a sliver over $100m, floating at the bottom of an already slashed price range at less than half the $1.1bn valuation at which it last raised funding. Ouch.


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

20 January 2020 – Joby Aviation Raises $590m in Series C to Create Flying Taxis

The Big Ones

Joby Aviation is developing an electric-powered aerial taxi for urban use, a product that would appear to be a big jump into the future even without taking into account sustainability issues concerning its stated aim to serve ‘a billion’ people a day. But corporate investors are taking it seriously and none more than Toyota which invested $394m to lead its $590m series C round.

UPMC Enterprises functions as the investment and innovation arm of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (which sounds like it’s just the one but actually it’s a system comprised of 40 hospitals) and has built up an 18-strong portfolio alongside investments in internal projects. It looks to be upgrading its activity as well, announcing plans to allocate $1bn in capital through 2024, $800m of which is newly disclosed and $200m has already been dedicated to an immuno-therapy research partnership with the university.

Visa invested in financial data technology provider Plaid just four months ago and must have liked what it saw because it has agreed to acquire financial data technology provider Plaid in a $5.3bn transaction that what will surely be one of the year’s biggest acquisitions of a VC-backed company.

Deals

Xiaohongshu, the social commerce platform also known as Little Red Book, is resuming fundraising activities and is reportedly seeking $400m to $500m at a $6bn valuation. The company secured $300m in a 2018 series D round featuring Tencent and Alibaba at a $3bn valuation and was exploring new funding last year, only to suspend efforts after its app was temporarily pulled from Chinese app stores.

Tradeshift, a provider of supply chain-management and payment processing software, has raised $240m in debt and equity financing from undisclosed new and existing investors. No word on the former but its existing backers include American Express Ventures, Wipro Ventures, PayPal, Intuit, CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund and HSBC.

EQRx has launched with $200m in series A funding from GV and Nextech and a mission to develop more affordable copies of drugs already on the market. In contrast to licensed biosimilars, the startup will use advanced technology to create its own patent-protected versions, in theory providing more accessible medicines while generating more profit.

Electric vehicle technology developer Arrival has been relatively stealthy since it was founded in 2015 but has disclosed a $112m investment by carmaker Hyundai and subsidiary Kia. The funding came as part of a strategic collaboration through which Arrival will provide technology for Hyundai’s own mobility and EV initiatives.

Emendo Biotherapeutics is developing genetic medicines using a proprietary platform that utilises Crispr gene editing and protein engineering. It has also raised $61m in a series B round led by biopharmaceutical company AnGes, which is developing its own genetic therapies and which plans to work with Emendo on certain indications.

Funds

China-based insurer Taiping, has formed a $1bn investment vehicle called TP-CICC GBA Investment Master Fund in partnership with China International Capital Corporation’s CICC Capital division. The fund will target companies based in China’s Bay Area that are developing technology for the financial, healthcare, consumer and insurance sectors among others.

Saudi Aramco has pumped its IPO up to $29.4bn, making it the largest in history, and the petrochemical producer is also looking to expand its corporate venturing activity. The corporate is reportedly lining up a $500m second fund for its Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures unit that will likely be launched later this year.

IT services firm Wipro launched its Wipro Ventures subsidiary in 2015 with a $100m fund that has so far invested in 16 companies and exited two – one of which was Palo Alto Networks’ $560m acquisition of Demisto. The unit has now announced a second fund with an upgraded size of $150m.

Exits

Teladoc has agreed to buy telehealth technology producer InTouch Health for $150m in cash and $450m in shares. The company had raised less than $100m in funding, $6m of which was supplied by iRobot through a 2012 expansion to a partnership agreement.

Suzhou Zelgen Biopharmaceuticals has priced a $294m initial public offering on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s Star Market that is impressively sized despite not meeting its initial target of $346m. The cancer therapy developer had raised money across five rounds including a $62m series B two years ago that included insurance firm Minsheng Life.

NGP Capital has exited on-device AI technology developer Xnor.ai in an acquisition by Apple reportedly sized around the $200m mark. NGP Capital was spun off from Nokia but the corporate is still a prominent backer, and the deal will be pulling in some decent returns considering Xnor had disclosed less than $15m in funding pre-acquisition.

Casper Sleep, one of a wave of high-end mattress developers to launch in recent years, has filed to go public having raised $340m in venture funding from investors including Target. It is set to beat corporate-backed competitors like Helix and Eve Sleep to the public markets, though it’s as yet unclear whether the $67m loss it suffered in the first nine months of 2019 will affect its valuation, which stood at $1.1bn as of last March.


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