23 September 2019 – We Company IPO Issues Ongoing + Telecoms Sector Webinar

Big Ones

We have a lot of IPO news for you this week but let’s talk about We Company for a moment, because no other company has had quite as tough a time of trying to go public (not even Uber’s failure to reach the IPO price for weeks after going public comes close). Really, We Co hasn’t found the path to its IPO very much fun but arguably even more eyes have been focused on its largest investor, SoftBank. The IPO may have been delayed until… sometime later this year after rumours that the offering could be cancelled altogether. Sources have told the Wall Street Journal that SoftBank is set to buy up $750m of shares in an IPO that will raise about $3bn when (if!) it eventually happens. The bigger shock has of course been news that We Company’s valuation is set to tumble from $47bn in January to between $15bn and $20bn when it floats.

The ongoing issues with the We Company IPO appear to be hitting SoftBank in other areas, too. The corporate is still in the process of finalising LP commitments for its second Vision Fund, but sovereign wealth funds PIF and Mubadala are reportedly pulling back their exposure having supplied a total of $60bn for the first fund. Taking big bets, as Masayoshi Son is prone to do, after all can also mean you might end up losing big.

Automattic is valued at just (just!) $3bn despite claiming to power around one third of the world’s websites, having received $300m in series D funding from Salesforce Ventures. The company is likely doing okay financially too, considering it last raised money five years ago, in a $160m series C round that valued it at $1bn pre-money and it’s fresh off a purchase of reportedly less than $3m acquisition of Tumblr, the blogging platform that Yahoo purchased for $1.1bn in 2013, before Yahoo was acquired by Verizon, Verizon banned any sexual content in December 2018 and user numbers crashed.

In a fascinating GCV-GUV crossover, robotic surgery technology developer CMR Surgical has secured $240m in series C funding at a reported valuation of about $1.2bn. The company, whose earlier backers include ABB Technology Ventures, raised the cash from investors including Cambridge Innovation Capital, LGT, Watrium, Zhejiang Silk Road Fund and Escala Capital.

Deals

GitLab has completed a $268m series E round co-led by Goldman Sachs that valued the software development and management platform at $2.75bn. The company, whose investors also include Alphabet unit GV, is aiming for a November 2020 IPO and will channel the series E proceeds into hiring and product development.

Online payment technology provider Stripe is now one of the few VC-backed private companies to have outdone that valuation, having secured $250m in funding at an eye watering $35bn pre-money valuation.

DataRobot is meanwhile also valued at $1.2bn, having confirmed a $206m series E round that included Intel Capital. Reports in July had suggested the enterprise AI technology provider was raising $200m, and the round boosted its overall funding to more than $430m.

Self-driving truck developer TuSimple has raised $120m from investors including Mando and UPS Ventures for a series D round that now totals $215m. The overall round is being led by another corporate, Sina, and the capital will go to expanding the range of TuSimple’s fleet and the further co-development of an autonomous truck for commercial use.

Funds

Data analysis software producer Splunk has been a relatively low-profile figure in the corporate venturing space but expect that to pick up following its formation of a unit called Splunk Ventures that will be equipped with $150m of capital.

On GUV, Italy-based venture capital firm Eureka! Venture has launched a €50m ($55m) fund with an initial close of $33m thanks to a commitment by investment platform ItaTech. The Eureka! Fund I – Technology Transfer will focus on the commercialisation of deeptech and has partnered a total of 19 universities and research institutes across the country, though only Polytechnic University of Turin and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia’s Technology Transfer office were named.

Exits

A lot of huge startups have gone public this year but it’s been a mixed bag in terms of outcomes. Airbnb is one of the few decacorns ($10bn+ valuations) still to make the jump in the US, but has now said it plans to list its shares publicly in 2020.

Cloud hosting services provider CloudFlare has secured $525m in its IPO, floating above a range that it had already increased last week. Its investors include Microsoft, Baidu, CapitalG and Qualcomm Ventures, and the company’s stock closed at $18.00 on its first day of trading on Friday.

Henlius, a developer of biosimilar treatments for cancer and autoimmune disorders, has priced its shares for an initial public offering that will net the company $410m when it floats in Hong Kong next week. Fosun Pharma is the largest investor in Henlius, which was valued at $3bn when it last raised funding, in July 2018.

IGM Biosciences has secured $175m in its own IPO, floating at the midpoint of its range before seeing its shares shoot up some 50% in their first day of trading yesterday. The company, which is developing antibodies to treat cancer, counts Haldor Topsøe as its largest shareholder, though the corporate’s stake was diluted from a majority share to 39% in the offering. IGM’s market cap is around the $700m mark at time of writing.

Pfizer spinoff SpringWorks Therapeutics has raised $162m after floating at the top of its range. The rare disease and cancer therapy developer had collected $228m in funding across two rounds, from investors that also included GlaxoSmithKline, and its shares are trading around 30% higher than its IPO price at the time of writing.

SoftBank has at least done very well out of the IPO of one of its portfolio companies. Cancer test developer Guardant Health’s shares were priced at $19 each when it floated last October but SoftBank has just sold 4.9 million shares at $77 a pop to raise a total of $377m. That’s a huge return but it also comes after Guardant’s shares fell from a peak of about $110 last month. SoftBank remains the company’s largest shareholder.


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

18 March 2019 – Uber Lines Up $1bn in External Capital

The Big Ones

Uber is lining up at least $1bn in external capital for its autonomous car division. SoftBank Vision Fund and Toyota, both of which are already investors in Uber itself, are among the consortium that is in advanced talks to supply the cash. Uber is reportedly seeking a $5bn to $10bn valuation in the round.

Waymo has been operating as part of Alphabet predecessor Google since 2009 and was established as a dedicated subsidiary in 2016. Now, the autonomous driving technology developer is seeking external funding for the first time, and while we don’t know a figure quie yet, it will reportedly be at a valuation far higher than the $15bn it was said to be valued at in the past.

SoftBank revealed in January that it was relaunching its SoftBank Ventures Korea unit as SoftBank Ventures Asia with an expanded remit to invest in the US and Europe as well as all over Asia, and now its CEO JP Lee has revealed that it will also make use of a $500m capital injection.

Deals

Film and TV studio STX Entertainment launched in 2014, raising an undisclosed amount in a Tencent and PCCW-backed round two years later at a $1.5bn valuation. Now, it’s added $700m in debt and equity financing from private equity investors that will fund the expansion of its film production rate as well as strategic acquisitions.

SIG subsidiary Susquehanna Growth Equity is part of a group of investors that have spent $280m to buy shares in work management software provider WorkFront through a secondary share purchase. The company had previously raised $95m in equity financing, and SGE director Martin Anger will take a board seat in conjunction with its investment.

Content delivery network operator Cloudflare has meanwhile raised $150m in a Franklin Templeton-led series E round that took its overall funding to $332m.

Indian freight shipping marketplace BlackBuck has been raising money for its latest round since October and has reportedly set a $100m to $150m target for its close.

Kaplan-backed educational content provider Newsela has meanwhile received $50m from TCV in the form of a series C investment.

Funds

Harvard University has announced a partnership with investment firm Deerfield Management to launch a $100m research and development initiative that will focus on the development and translation of biomedical and life science research.

Exits

Cannabis producer and services provider Verano has agreed to an $850m all-share acquisition by competitor Harvest Health and Recreation, in a deal that will qualify as an exit for cannabinoid therapy developer Scythian Biosciences.

Application delivery technology provider Nginx has raised a little over $100m in funding but has agreed to a $670m acquisition by F5 that will enable Telstra Ventures to exit.

Salesforce Ventures and M12 are set to exit machine learning software developer Figure Eight in an acquisition by AI dataset provider Appen that may total $300m.

Africa-focused online marketplace Jumia has filed for a $100m initial public offering in the US that would follow flotations by other Rocket Internet-founded e-commerce platforms.

Abiomed and Trudell Medical-backed Shockwave Medical, the developer of a calcification treatment system, has raised $97m in its initial public offering.


“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

03 July 2017 – The Political Environment and Investment

Funds

Cloudflare, an internet technology provider with its own security products, has launched its own $100m fund.

Cybersecurity technology producer Trend Micro has inserted an initial $100m into a newly formed corporate venturing unit that will target disruptive sectors such as the internet-of-things, which its parent company believes will be the next technology mega wave.

Corporates boost Cathay Innovation fund to $320m

Capnamic Ventures, a VC firm that focuses on startups in German speaking regions, has reached the final close of its latest fund, having raised $130m. The fund’s limited partners include Cisco, which announced a $500m German investment drive early last year, as well as AXA Germany, Rheinische Post Media Group and Sparkassen Group.

Applied Ventures joins KVIC for $40m Korea fund

University

Technion institutes $200m fund

Imec expands with $136m fund

Government

BioGeneration begets $75m fund

Horizon approaches $150m fund

Exits

ProSiebenSat.1 sells media-for-equity assets

Online insurance provider ZhongAn has reportedly filed for a $1.5bn IPO in Hong Kong that will allow the company’s co-founders Ping An, Tencent and Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial to exit.

Best Inc, one of several logistics and supply chain services providers to have sprung up in the wake of China’s e-commerce boom, has filed for a $750m IPO in the US.

Takeda subsidiary Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer have both scored exits in a $75m IPO by Mersana Therapeutics, a developer of antibody drug conjugates that will fight cancer.

Deals

Alibaba paid $1bn for a majority stake in Southeast Asian e-commerce marketplace Lazada last year, and now it’s pumped in another $1bn to take its stake to 83%, giving full exits to backers including Tesco and Rocket Internet, both of which also sold shares in the 2016 deal.

Sources confirmed to Bloomberg over the weekend that Houzz, the Comcast-backed operator of a social image platform for house decoration ideas, has closed a $400m round that valued it at $4bn.

Dynamic glass developer View has doubled its series G round to $200m, $70m of the money coming from BlackRock.

Siemens has joined the participants in electric vehicle charging network ChargePoint’s series G round, which has now closed at $125m.

Naspers reveals $71m Flipkart investment

Brazilian mobile commerce platform Movile has raised $53m in a round that included longtime investor Naspers, which had put up a big part of the $135m the company had raised between 2014 and 2016.

GPU-equipped database developer Kinetica has secured $50m in funding from investors including Citi Ventures, taking its equity financing to $63m in a little over a year.

Government

IDS diagnoses $60m investment

University

Diffblue enters series A spectrum


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