07 December 2020 – Salesforce Announces $27.7bn Purchase of Slack

The Big Ones

Electronics and appliance retailer Suning has spun off its online retail platform and e-commerce services activities into a newly formed business called Yunwang Wandian with approximately $913m in funding. The capital was provided by Shenzhen Capital Group, SenseRobot Management, Ningbo Xianshi Enterprise Management and Central China Asset Management at a reported $3.8bn valuation.

Carmaker Dongfeng Motor has pumped $91m into a $243m investment fund that will target developers of automotive technology in addition to products in adjacent sectors such as big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence. Dongfeng Bocom Yuanjing Motor Investment Fund has received the same amount from Bank of Communications’ Bocom International Holdings unit, and the two will each own 37.3% stakes in the vehicle.

We don’t generally cover acquisitions of publicly-listed companies, but Salesforce’s forthcoming and just announced $27.7bn cash and stock purchase of enterprise messaging tool developer Slack is notable enough to make an exception. Slack hit the public markets in a direct listing 18 months ago with a guidance price valuing it at $13.1bn – and many had labelled its growth in the past few months as underwhelming, indicating the fever for enterprise software right now. Its backers include SoftBank Vision Fund, owner of a 7.3% stake pre-listing; GV, which first invested at a $1.12bn valuation; and Comcast Ventures, which initially invested at a $3.8bn valuation. The acquisition is a somewhat unceremonious – if lucrative ending – for Slack as a standalone business, which in 2016 welcomed Microsoft’s entrance into the market with a ballsy full-page ad in the NY Times. Now, of course, Microsoft Teams has several times the amount of daily active users that Slack has – but with Salesforce’s considerable clout behind it, this could turn into the moment where Slack really becomes big business and justify that hefty price tag despite a very volatile share price.

Monzo, a UK-based digital bank, secured £60m to increase a series G round featuring Vanderbilt University to £125m ($167m). The new funding came from conference operator Ted Global, Novator, Kaiser and Goodwater Capital, according to TechCrunch. Monzo confirmed it as an extension to its existing series G funding. Payment services provider Stripe, telecoms firm Orange, Y Combinator, General Catalyst, Accel, Goodwater Capital, Thrive Capital, Passion Capital and Reference Capital and provided the first £60m in June this year, and the company had since quietly raised another £5m. Monzo runs a digital bank with more than 4.8 million customers, offering current accounts as well as business accounts, which are used by some 60,000 of its customers. It has now raised in excess of $550m since it was founded in 2015. The series G funding was secured at a $1.57bn valuation, a notable downturn to the $2.5bn valuation achieved when Monzo raised $144m in June 2019 from investors including Orange subsidiary Orange Digital Ventures and Stripe.

Deals

Lastly, Indian e-commerce marketplace Flipkart is spinning off PhonePe, a digital financial services business with more than 250 million users. Flipkart’s parent company, Walmart, is leading a $700m round that will provide the basis of PhonePe’s emergence as a partially separate company, and the remainder of the funds will be sourced from as yet undisclosed Flipkart backers, valuing PhonePe at $5.5bn post-money.

Space and satellite technology isn’t one of the busiest parts of the startup space but its companies are among the better founded inhabitants. China-based Chang Guang is developing a satellite constellation that will provide high-definition images and video, and has raised $375m from investors including iFlytek, reportedly as it prepares to go public. Other companies in China’s space tech space that have raised notable amounts include iSpace and LandSpace.

The United States’ VC space may have had its annual Thanksgiving lull, but China looks to have picked up the funding baton. Virtual classroom software provider Empower Education Online (EEO) leads the pack, having picked up $265m in a series C round featuring Tencent and Susquehanna International Group. Its earlier strategic investors include New Oriental Education and Technology, TAL Education Group and ATA, none of which were named as participants in the latest round.

Healthcare organisation software provider Olive has had a busy 2020, closing its third round this year by welcoming GV to a $225m round valuing it at $1.5bn. The Tiger Global Management-led round also served to double the company’s overall funding to about $450m, its earlier backers including multi-corporate backed venture firm Ascension Ventures.

Community buying platform developer Nice Tuan has meanwhile closed its fourth round of 2020, raising $196m in a C3 round co-led by existing investor Alibaba. Nice Tuan’s previous three rounds totalled about $250m and while there’s no official word on its valuation, the considerable growth of many of its peers in China’s online education sector this year indicates it’s likely in the multiples of what it was valued at in January.

Everlywell is one of the companies that has experienced major growth this year, adding a covid-19 product to its range of home testing kits and now raising $175m in a series D round featuring over-the-top media company The Chernin Group. The round valued Everlywell at $1.3bn according to Forbes, and it has now secured over $250m in funding since being founded.

Funds

UK-headquartered venture capital firm Firstminute Capital has launched a $111m second fund with backing from limited partners including internet group Tencent and consumer goods and chemicals producer Henkel. The vehicle is anchored by investment trust RIT Capital Partners and its LP list also features VC fund Atomico, four undisclosed California-based investment firms and some 70 founders of businesses valued at $1bn or higher.

Exits

It’s been a heady week for spinoffs, those companies flipped out of established businesses with external funding and their parents retaining a stake. First up is JD Health, the healthcare and medical retailer and services provider spun off by e-commerce group JD.com. JD Health has floated in Hong Kong’s largest initial public offering this year, raising $3.48bn after pricing the IPO at the top of its range, at a valuation nearing $29bn. JD.com isn’t finished either: its JD Logistics spinoff is recruiting bankers for an offering expected to raise up to $3bn.

Dynamic glass developer View is one of the most prominent holdouts from the golden age of cleantech funding, having raised a total of $1.8bn in debt and equity financing, $1.1bn coming from SoftBank Vision Fund two years ago. It has now become the latest company to take the reverse IPO route, joining forces with special purpose acquisition company CF Finance Acquisition Corp II to form a publicly-listed business with a valuation of about $1.6bn. View’s earlier backers include Corning and GE Ventures, though the latter may well have divested its stake by now.

Cloudwalk Technology has filed for a $574m initial public offering on Shanghai’s Star Exchange that would allow corporate investors Haier Financial Holdings, Bohai Capital and PCI-Suntek to exit. The company is one of China’s four largest image recognition software providers, along with Megvii, SenseTime and Yitu, none of which have managed to yet complete an IPO.

Cancer and viral infection treatment developer Silverback Therapeutics has just executed a successful IPO of its own, raising almost $242m in an upsized offering priced above its range. Celgene and Bristol-Myers Squibb are among the investors that had provided some $211m in funding for Silverback over three rounds. The IPO price valued the company at approximately $695m.

Cisco Investments seems to be having a good week so far. It’s exiting Kustomer in a reported $1bn acquisition – take a look on GCV for more –, and another portfolio company, customer data software provider GainSight, has agreed to let investment firm Vista Equity Partners buy a controlling stake at a $1.1bn valuation. The transaction will come after $157m in funding for GainSight, from a pool of investors also including Salesforce Ventures.


“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

15 May 2017 – SoftBank Leads Improbable $502m Investment and Much More

Deals

The $5.5bn round on-demand ride provider Didi Chuxing just confirmed was closed at a $50bn valuation that means it is closing ground with rival Uber in terms of size, and the company has indicated it will use the cash to finally expand globally.

Yixin Group, the online automotive marketplace spinout of motoring e-commerce firm Bitauto, has secured $580m in funding commitments in a round that includes both its parent company and internet group Tencent.

Indonesia-based online media, e-commerce and financial services platform Garena has rebranded itself as Sea and revealed $550m in funding from conglomerates JG Summit Holdings and Uni-President Enterprises.

SoftBank is continuing its investment spree, leading a $502m series B round for Improbable, a UK company developing software that will make the creation of large-scale virtual worlds possible.

SoftBank has also led a $360m round for Guardant Health, the developer of a liquid biopsy test for cancer diagnosis, and will help commercialise Guardant’s technology in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Modernizing Medicine had raised a total of $87m in funding as of the $38m series E round it closed in 2015, but the electronic health record system developer has taken a big jump with a $231m investment by private equity firm Warburg Pincus.

Online payment services provider PayU has invested $120m in digital lending platform lending platform Kreditech as part of a strategic partnership agreement.

There’s been more action in the on-demand transport sector, with Spain-based Cabify having raised $100m from an undisclosed single investor as part of a series D round it aims to close at $500m.

India-based mobile wallet operator MobiKwik is working on its own nine-figure round and is reportedly in talks with BlackRock, Bank of Baroda and Canara Bank over a round that will value it at about $1bn.

Music royalties platform Kobalt has raised $75m in a Hearst Entertainment-led series D round that valued the company at $775m post-money.

Signifyd has secured $56m in an American Express Ventures-backed series C round that increased its overall funding to almost $100m.

Social music app developer Smule has raised $54m in a round led by Tencent that reportedly values it at just over $600m.

Customer data software provider Gainsight has closed a $52m series E round featuring Salesforce Ventures and Cisco Investments that took its overall funding to more than $150m.

We’ve already talked about the biggest government venturing deal with Guardant Health just now, but what about the university venturing world? We haven’t had any mind-blowingly large rounds there this week, but still a few interesting ones – among these is SiFive, a US-based fabless provider of customised semiconductors based on UC Berkeley research, which raised $8.5m in a series B round that included spinout-focused investment firm Osage University Partners.

Funds

Dell has brought its corporate venturing unit, Dell Technologies Capital, out of stealth, revealing a 50-strong portfolio and 27 exits in the past five years.

China has launched a RMB17.8bn ($2.6bn) venture capital fund aimed at startups in industries of strategic importance, such as IT, energy conservation and environmental protection, advanced materials and equipment manufacturing.

International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector-focused investment arm of multilateral financial institution World Bank, has agreed to put $10m into the Stellaris Venture Partners India I fund.

BDC Capital, the investment arm of the government-owned Business Development Bank of Canada, injected C$5m ($3.6m) into the StandUp Ventures Fund I.

Exits

Ovid Therapeutics has gone public in a $75m IPO that provided exits for Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures and Takeda, the latter its largest external investor.


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

13 February 2017 – Used Vehicle Marketplace Uxin Raises $500m and Much More

Deals

Mobile wallet operator Mobikwik has raised more than $120m from an investor base that includes corporates Net1, Cisco, American Express, GMO and Mediatek, and is currently in talks with investors for a round that could value it at up to $1bn, CEO Bipin Preet Singh has told Reuters.

View has been developing its Dynamic Glass, which tints to help control light and temperature in a building, since 2007 and has now added $100m in funding in a round that included $50m from Nuveen affiliate TIAA Investments.

Urban logistics services provider Shansong Express has raised $50m in a series C round co-led by SIG Asia that will be spent on growth and product development.

Alphabet subsidiary GV has led a $45m series C round for metal 3D printing technology developer Desktop Metal that included fellow corporate venturing units BMW i Ventures and Lowe’s Ventures. Desktop Metal, now valued at $350m according to the Wall Street Journal, has raised approximately $97m in total and its previous investors include General Electric and Saudi Aramco.

Mojo Networks, a 13-year old company that provides cloud wifi services to large businesses, has raised $30m in series E equity financing and debt, with strategic partner Alpha Technologies among the participants.

Cisco Investments has co-led a $30m series C round for Exabeam that took the cybersecurity platform developer’s overall funding to $65m.

On Global University Venturing we’ve had Tsinghua Holdings, a subsidiary of Tsinghua University, leading an $18m series B round for THG Ventures, a China-based cancer diagnosis and therapy company.

We also have Leeds University, which has spun out Dietary Assessment, which has developed a tool to enable researchers and health professionals to monitor diet and analyse food and drink consumption with a view of helping reduce diet-related conditions such as diabetes.

Indiana University meanwhile has established Digital Health Solutions to exploit a software that helps paediatricians make better use of electronic health records by collecting and analysing questions about a child’s health and flagging potential health issues.

On GGV, India-based online automotive classifieds service CarTrade, has raised $55m in funding co-led by Singaporean government-owned investment firm Temasek.

Funds

Legend Capital, the Chinese venture firm sponsored by Lenovo owner Legend Holdings, has raised $243m for a fund it is looking to close at $375m, according to a regulatory filing.

In Southeast Asia meanwhile, ride ordering service Grab has committed to providing at least $100m for Indonesia-based startups as part of a $700m investment initiative in the country.

Indian consumer electronics producer Micromax is set to the be the anchor investor in a venture capital fund called Orbis Capital, and is in the process of securing limited partners that will increase the fund’s size to $100m.

Frontline Ventures, a VC firm based in the UK and Ireland, closed a €60m ($65m) fund on Tuesday with support from investors including the European Investment Fund.

Greece on Monday launched a call for financial institutions and private investors to participate in its VC fund Equifund.

Government-owned export credit agency Enterprise Ireland’s €175m ($185m) seed and venture capital programme, the state-owned €8bn Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and the European Investment Fund have committed capital to VC firm Seroba Life Sciences’ €100m third fund.

And finally, Russia Direct Investment Fund, the country’s government venturing arm, has said it expects more than $1bn in additional funding by the end of 2017 as its peer Qatar Investment Authority pledges to increase the size of its co-investments alongside RDIF.

Exits

Kuaishou, the China-based developer of a photo and video-sharing app similar to Instagram and Snapchat, is planning an IPO in the US in the second half of 2017, undisclosed sources have told TechCrunch.

Sophos has agreed to acquire Invincea in a deal that will give an exit to Dell Ventures, just three months after the unit took part in a $10m round for the anti-malware software developer.

Detsky Mir, a Russia-based children’s retailer backed by the Russia-China Investment Fund (RCIF), raised 21.1bn rubles ($355m) yesterday in its initial public offering on the Moscow stock exchange. RCIF is a joint initiative between sovereign wealth funds China Investment Corporation and Russian Direct Investment Fund.


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