10 January 2022 – SenseTime Sees $851m in Initial Public Offering

SenseTime scores $851m in initial public offering

China-based computer vision technology provider SenseTime, which floated in Hong Kong in a $851m IPO late last month, marking exits for Corporate investors SoftBank, Qualcomm, Alibaba, Suning and Dalian Wanda.

Lineage successfully lines up $1.7bn

US-headquartered cold supply chain service Lineage secured $1.7bn from investors including financial services firm Rabobank, representing one of the largest corporate-backed rounds for a logistics provider in recent months.

Miro onboards $400m in funding

Miro, a US-based collaboration software provider for remote working, completed a $400m series C round featuring enterprise software provider Salesforce and software development technology producer Atlassian at a $17.5bn valuation post-money, as cash continues to flow to remote working technology.

OpenSea’s valuation exceeds $13bn in $300m round

NFT marketplace operator OpenSea, which counts corporates Coinbase, Animoca Brands and Gumi as backers, received $300m in series C funding, further highlighting the growing popularity of digital blockchain-based assets.

Alto attracts $40m series B

Advance Venture Partners, the investment affiliate of media group Advance Publications, led a $40m series B round for Alto Solutions, a US-based retirement investment platform developer which offers options including crypto investing.

Mojo Vision mops up $45m

Augmented reality (AR) and smart contact lens technology developer Mojo Vision secured $45m in series B-1 funding from multiple corporates, strengthening its hand in a competitive wearable technology market.

Dunzo zooms to $240m

Dunzo, the India-based provider of a consumer product delivery app, raised $240m in a funding round led by Reliance Retail, the retail subsidiary of conglomerate Reliance Industries.

GenFleet generates $75m in series C funding

Baidu Ventures, a subsidiary of internet company Baidu, took part in a $75m series C round for China-based immuno-oncology therapeutics developer GenFleet Therapeutic.

Focal Systems hauls in series B funding

Retail automation technology provider Focal Systems has secured $25.8m in a series B round featuring workplace performance data and management software provider Zebra Technologies, as brick-and-mortar retailers integrate more automated technology.


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

29 November 2021 – J&T Express Gets $2.5bn Funding Delivery

J&T Express gets $2.5bn funding delivery

Indonesia-headquartered logistics provider J&T Express has received $2.5bn in funding from investors including internet and gaming group Tencent at a valuation of $20bn as the company is getting set for an initial public offering in Hong Kong in early 2022.

Deliverr captures $250m in series E round

US-based e-commerce fulfilment service Deliverr – which provides logistics and fulfilment services for online merchants such as Amazon, Walmart, Ebay and Target – secured $250m in a series E round featuring logistics, real estate and investment management firm GLP at a $2bn valuation.

Impossible Foods bites down on $500m

Impossible Foods, the US-based vegetarian meat product manufacturer backed by internet and technology conglomerate Alphabet, closed its latest funding round at $500m.

SoftBank backs LTK with $300m

US-based influencer marketing platform developer LTK secured $300m in funding from telecommunications and internet group SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 at a $2BN valuation.

Ionity plugs into $786m

Ionity, the Germany-headquartered electric vehicle charging network, raised €700m ($786m) from its existing backers in addition to investment management firm BlackRock.

Lancium mines $150m in funding

Conglomerate Hanwha Group led a $150m funding round for US-based renewable energy software developer Lancium through its chemical production subsidiary Hanwha Solutions.

Gemini signs up for $400m round

Digital payment technology provider Mogo revealed it was among the investors in the $400m funding round recently disclosed by US-headquartered cryptocurrency trading and storage platform developer Gemini.

Coinbase buys BRD to boost crypto offering

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has acquired Switzerland-based cryptocurrency wallet developer BRD for an undisclosed sum, marking exits for corporates SBI Holdings, Ripple, OKWave and Credit Saison.

Global-e to absorb Flow Commerce for $500m

Cross-border e-commerce services provider Global-e agreed to acquire US-based cross-border e-commerce tools provider Flow Commerce for up to $500m, marking an exit for corporates American Express and Li & Fung Group.

Vigil Neuroscience files for IPO

US-based neurodegenerative disease drug developer Vigil Neuroscience has filed for an initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Market, setting a $100m placeholder target for the offering and marking a potential exit for pharmaceutical firm Amgen.

Telenor and CP explore Thai investment vehicle

Norway-headquartered telecommunications firm Telenor and Thailand-based conglomerate CP Group plan to merge their telecommunications subsidiaries in Thailand in a deal worth approximately $8.6bn, as they also plan to collaborate on a joint corporate venturing effort.

Kompas points towards $160m investment vehicle

Kompas, a Denmark-headquartered venture capital partnership has formed a $160m inaugural fund anchored by building materials manufacturer VKR Holding.


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

19 April 2021 – Coinbase Lists on Nasdaq

The Big Ones

1

Spend enough time in venture and you can see the transformation in startups and the economy almost as if time has speeded up.

GCV’s first article on Coinbase, eight years ago to the day, described it as “a digital wallet for Bitcoin transactions”, which “had raised $600,000 from accelerator Y Combinator and publisher International Data Group’s corporate venturing unit IDG Ventures.

“Bitcoin was set up without central bank backing but with a predetermined limit of 21 million available to be issued from its software and has seen fluctuations in its value from $9 in January to $200 on 9 April 2013 and back down to $150 a day later.”

Now, Bitcoin’s price is $63,063.90 and investors have valued Coinbase at $75.9bn after its debut on Nasdaq stock exchange on Wednesday.

The Financial Times described it as “the first listing of a major cryptocurrency exchange and a moment of validation for the digital asset class some 12 years after the creation of bitcoin”. After a direct listing of Coinbase shares – rather than the more traditional initial public offering which raises new capital – the price fell to $328 from an opening price of $381 to give a market capitalisation of $85.8bn, including options and other kinds of stock-based awards.

However, after early support from CVCs, such as IDG and USAA’s Victor Pascucci and Jon Cholak, Coinbase cashed in with a $75m series C round in 2015 including from BBVA, NYSE and NTT and not looked back. Coinbase’s big investors include venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz, Ribbit Capital and Union Square Ventures.

Coinbase’s financial fortunes have surged with the cryptocurrency markets, producing a nine-fold jump in revenues to an estimated $1.8bn in the first quarter, translating to about $1.1bn in adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, the FT said.

But while still primarily a business-to-consumer exchange for people to buy and sell bitcoin and ethereum based on the blockchain, financial services firms are more interested in the underlying technology than its value as a monetary store or gold equivalent.

Jay Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve, said: “No one is using them for payments, for example, like the dollar. It’s a little bit like gold . . . Human beings have given gold this special value that it doesn’t have from an industrial standpoint, but nonetheless for thousands of years they’ve done that. Bitcoin is much more like that.”

Behind the scenes, however, and the big asset managers and financial groups are working on pragmatic implementations of blockchain and crypto as platform or infrastructure to trade, price, settle and be the custodians. From there, products to deploy and engage on alternative assets and how even venture capital is affected can flow.

Similar riches are now being reaped from early investments in other emerging fields created in the past two decades.

2

Tuesday’s daily leader looked at the $25bn of cash returned from Naspers/Prosus selling four percentage points of its holding in Tencent over the past few years.

Netherlands-listed technology investor Prosus, formed out of the corporate venturing assets collected by South Africa-listed media group Naspers, has sold 2% of China-based gaming and social media group Tencent for $14.7bn.

This is the world’s largest-ever block trade – 191.89 million shares for HK$114.1bn – but leaves Prosus still holding 28.9% of Tencent, according to newswire Reuters.

The block trade – or the usually private, single trade of a large amount of securities – surpassed the previous record set in 2018 when Naspers also sold 2% of Tencent for $9.8bn, Refinitiv data showed. Its remaining stake is worth about $200bn, from an original $31m corporate venturing deal struck 20 years ago.

Bob van Dijk, CEO at Prosus, said: “The proceeds of the sale will increase our financial flexibility, enabling us to invest in the significant growth potential we see across the group, as well as in our own stock.”

Prosus, which also invests in online food delivery platforms, classified marketplaces and digital payments businesses, has built up its warchest for new and existing investments given the rapid scaling up of the innovation capital ecosystem at the later stage.

Global venture capital investments hit $125bn in the first quarter, the first time the figure has surpassed $100bn in a quarter, according to data published by Crunchbase, even though deal volumes held relatively stable.

The opportunity for social network or “platform economy” companies to dominate across sectors or verticals remains, especially as Tencent peer Alibaba’s share price rose on Monday after it was able to have the term written into law.

This is particularly the case as finance becomes embedded into media. As James Thorne, a venture capital reporter at PitchBook, noted at the weekend, Angela Strange, general partner at VC firm Andreessen Horowitz (A16Z), made the case in 2019 that most people would be working in financial services soon, even if we don’t change jobs, as finance becomes embedded into software.

At that point, media and content becomes the differentiator, which is why A16Z calls itself a media company that monetizes through venture capital.

In his annual letter last week, Jamie Dimon, CEO at bank JPMorgan Chase, said: “Fintech’s ability to merge social media, use data smartly and integrate with other platforms rapidly (often without the disadvantages of being an actual bank) will help these companies win significant market share.”
And this helps explain why even in a world where media advertising is dominated by Facebook and Google that there remains so much attention and focus on social media and networks.

3

Things are heating up in Italy’s media landscape as a microcosm of wider changes in the sports and gaming ecosystem. The country’s main phone operator, TIM, has returned as a “long-term investor in venture capital” through the anchor commitment to a €100m UV T-Growth fund managed independently by United Ventures, while Nerio Alessandri, founder and executive chairman of Italy-listed fitness equipment supplier Technogym, has launched Wellness Ventures.

UV T-Growth, managed by Fabio Pirovano and Damiano Coletti, targets a wide swathe of digital innovation, including gaming. Similarly, Wellness is targeting digital projects in general but in particular in sports and fitness.
There are plenty of opportunities in sports and gaming in the digital age. Online gambling and advertising, electronic as well as physical sports and gaming and unbundling of viewers from cable or television packages are coalescing to create plenty of disruption.

The latest being Amazon, which acquired Twitch for in-game streaming and chats, paying $11bn for exclusive rights to stream Thursday night National Football League games on its Prime service.
There are now dozens of VC funds targeting games, which is a far bigger market than films. Most recently, the Games Fund has raised $50m for a game-focused venture capital fund to invest in early-stage games in both Europe and the US, according to VentureBeat.

Maria Kochmola and Ilya Eremeev started the fund having both previously worked at Russia-listed internet group Mail.ru’s My.Games division, which started a game fund called MGVC, VentureBeat said. Kochmola was the investment director at MGVC since its inception in 2017, and she led more than 35 investments (with six exits).

Deals

Cruise increases latest round to $2.75bn

Epic picks out investors for $1bn round

SambaNova rams through $676m series D

Polestar attracts $550m

SoftBank finds Better option for $500m investment

Groq locks up $300m series C

Fiture fits in $300m series B

Astranis ascends with $250m series C

Bukalapak escalates funding with $234m

Tempo works out $220m series C

Signifyd secures $205m in series E round

Clearcover coasts to $200m series D

Repertoire Immune Medicines gets $189m result

Degreed delivers $153m series D

ZJS Express zooms to $153m series B

Jaguar Gene Therapy roars to $139m

Tend drills into $125m series C

Arcellx amasses $115m in series C round

CeQur secures $115m in series C5

StoneWise stocks up with $100m

Gaussian Robotics sweeps up $100m

Hack the Box cracks $10.6m round

Funds

Axa accelerates to $295m close for second growth vehicle

Amazon shows Indian ambitions with $250m fund

TDK to deploy $150m through second fund

Exits

Grab takes reverse merger option

Tango Therapeutics arranges reverse merger

TuSimple delivers $1.35bn initial public offering

Alkami appears on public markets

MissFresh looks to deliver $1bn IPO

Brii brightens up with IPO plans

Darktrace discloses IPO plans

Vaccitech shoots for US IPO

Artiva activates $100m IPO plans

Anjuke advances to IPO stage

Hologic hoists in Mobidiag

Keyfactor turns to PrimeKey for merger

University

Schroders shifts Carrick stake at discount


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

01 March 2021 – Could the Sleeping Giant of Corporate Venturing – India – Finally Be Waking Up?

The Big Ones

1

Bonny Simi, pilot and founder of US airline JetBlue’s corporate venturing unit, read the runes correctly in December when she left to join portfolio company Joby Aviation as head of air operations and people.

This week, Joby, which is in prototype phase of developing an all-electric, vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) passenger aircraft, has agreed a $6.6bn reverse acquisition with New York-listed special purpose acquisition vehicle Reinvent Technology Partners.

Simi, who remains an adviser to JetBlue Technology Ventures (JTV), said: “The regional transportation ecosystem is ripe for disruption, and startups like Joby Aviation will revolutionize how people move across urban areas. Joby’s vehicle platform will be the standard to beat. Nearly four years ago, we saw that Joby already was the emerging leader in the eVTOL space, and [the developments with Reinvent] validate our early investment.”

Simi had uncovered the Joby soon after setting up JTV in 2016 – it was the GCV award winner as new entrant of the year – through her network in Silicon Valley (she studied under legendary finance professor Ilya Strebulaev at Stanford) and was a big proponent on the power of eVTOL to disrupt airlines even a few years ago.

Joby is expected to operate for commercial use in the US beginning in 2024 after becoming the first company to receive an eVTOL certification basis plan with the Federal Aviation Administration and receiving the US Air Force’s first ever airworthiness approval for an eVTOL aircraft. The piloted, four-passenger aircraft is faster than existing rotorcraft, flies 150 miles on a single charge, and will be 100 times quieter than existing rotorcraft or small planes during takeoff and landing, JetBlue said.

Raj Singh, managing director of investments at JTV and co-winner of the GCV Powerlist award with Simi in September, said: “As with all of our investments, JetBlue Technology Ventures’ goal is to better position JetBlue with startup-led innovation that could radically change the travel industry. Travelers today are more conscious of their carbon footprint than ever before, so the reduction of pollution that comes with electrification is highly appealing.”

The deal is also noteworthy for bringing together the digital with physical ways of connecting people.

Long- and short-haul travel is being disrupted through the covid-19 disease, accelerating shifts to cheaper or more sustainable modes and reflecting changing communication and work patterns caused by technology more broadly.

Reid Hoffman and Mark Pincus, the two directors of Reinvent alongside Michael Thompson as CEO, were among the first three investors in social network Facebook and early investors in Twitter and Airbnb. As Pincus was in the early phases of founding gaming group Zynga in 2007, Hoffman was among his earliest investors having earlier set up business network LinkedIn.

Pincus and Hoffman acquired the six degrees patent that enabled the social media and network effects model to flourish based on Metcalfe’s law, which states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2).

These network effects, as well as undermining the need to travel so frequently given online ties, also are starting to disrupt finance.

Pincus and Thompson began investing together in 2017 after the latter reportedly returned investors’ money from BHR Capital, a successor to hedge fund Bay Harbour Management, according to Hedge Fund Alert at the time.

Alongside Hoffman, they established Reinvent Capital in 2018 with an eye to tapping into the late-stage venture deals being agreed.

In its regulatory filing for the Reinvent Spac, they said: “A substantial market opportunity exists for a potential business combination in the private technology sector. As of August 2020, per PitchBook Data, there were 417 private technology companies valued over $1bn globally, accounting for over $1.65 trillion of cumulative valuation, up from 18 private technology companies valued over $1bn in 2010.

“More than half of these companies are headquartered within the US, and most are focused on our key investment sectors, including consumer internet, games, marketplaces, ecommerce, and other technology subsectors.

“While the quantity and scale of private technology companies have grown, the number of technology initial public offerings (IPOs) has remained constant at approximately 40 technology companies per year. Per studies from Jay Ritter, the average age of a technology company going public has increased from four years in the first dot-com boom to 11 years in the last decade.

“Based on Dealogic data, the average market capitalisation of technology company IPOs has increased from approximately $400m to approximately $2.8bn in this time. We believe this disconnect between the quantity of scaled technology companies and the number of those companies that actually go public each year h
as created an attractive backlog of potential targets for our blank-check company.”

It is an opportunity set to make the three even richer as the initial shareholders in Reinvent collectively own 20% of the Spac. In the S-1 regulatory filing: “In August 2020, our sponsor paid an aggregate of $25,000 to cover for certain expenses on behalf of us in exchange for issuance of 14,375,000 Class B ordinary shares, par value $0.0001 per share, or approximately $0.002 per share.”

The deal with Joby now prices each share at $10 each, according to the 8-K filing this week.

Whether in business, finance or life, the power of relationships and networks holds true.

But if things are bubbling away for many startups but even more so for the big, listed tech companies.

The K-shaped covid economy, where some companies and individuals do well even if the majority struggle, is evidenced in a number of ways.

In his latest blog post, Ray Dalio, co-chief investment officer and co-chairman of hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, states about 5% of the top 1,000 companies in the US are in a bubble, according to his analysis and classification. This works out at about 3% of the S&P 500 index, and these relative handful of companies have seen stellar share price increases of about 350% on average over the past year or so (chart below from Dalio).

Naturally, this sort of bifurcated market attracts investors to find the next big thing, and speed is of the essence. This creates the demand for faster flotations, particularly if they can include egregious remuneration for insiders bringing these deals to market – otherwise known as special purpose acquisition companies (Spacs).

Matt Taibbi and Eric Salzman recently added Spacs to their Financial Devil’s Dictionary in their podcast.

As they note: “America still leads the world in one thing: inflating speculative bubbles using gibberish finance acronyms. Meet the latest ‘Get-Super-Rich-Quick’ scheme, the Special Purpose Acquisition Company.”

The temptation to leap on these Spacs is certainly high. As the Economist notes in its latest issue: “Last year in America, underpricing led to $30bn of unrealised gains for newly public companies (and their employees). With Spacs and direct listings, another route to going public, there is no pressure for a price to pop.”

In its earlier article, the Economist quoted academics Michael Klausner and Emily Ruan of Stanford University and Michael Ohlrogge of New York University, who looked at blank-cheque firms that made acquisitions between January 2019 and June 2020. They found that while companies that went public through the Spac route fell in value by an average of 3% after three months, 12% after six months and by a third after 12 months, about half the sample were “high-quality” – defined as those run by former Fortune 500 bosses or set up by large private equity firms – and these performed much better.

Whether quality will remain high is unclear. As Taibbi and Salzman said: “In 2021 already, 160 Spacs have raised over $50bn, nearly matching last year’s record of $83.4bn.”

Given Spacs tend to raise more cash once they find an acquisition target (about five times that in the initially listed pot, the Economist reckons) this could bring $600bn of deals in the next one to two years, which is about double the entire global VC market, based on Pitchbook’s data for 2020 deal values.

A bit more speed and a chance to replace venture capital or private equity in some businesses makes it a development that could outlast these bubble conditions. If not, it will return to the dusty archives already storing investment trusts, payment-in-kind notes and collateralised debt obligations used in prior bubble eras to soak up excess liquidity and irrational exuberance.

2

Could India as the sleeping giant of corporate venturing finally be waking up?

Economic Times of India’s (ET) scoop that conglomerate Reliance Industries’ Jio Platforms is finalising a potential $200m commitment to domestic venture capital fund Kalaari Capital could be the signal for a wider local commitment and corporate venturing efforts.
The Mukesh Ambani-led conglomerate has reportedly closed a $100m first commitment, with an additional commitment of $100m planned for later as part the group’s plans to deepen its footprint in India’s tech scene, ET said.

Kalaari’s portfolio companies, such as furniture retailer Urban Ladder and lingerie retailer Zivame, were acquired by units of Reliance Industries, ET said, with a source adding: “Reliance’s investment in Kalaari will give the company an early line of sight into startups and upcoming sectors.

“RIL won’t necessarily acquire all the companies in which Kalaari invests, but it will certainly act as a discovery pipeline.”

In November, Reliance committed $50m to Breakthrough Energy Ventures primarily for international deals.

It is a scale-up from earlier commitments. In 2018, for example, a Reliance Industries subsidiary contributed to Indian venture firm 3one4 Capital $39.3m Fund II.

But there have been false dawns before. Back in 2016, Ambani said Reliance Industries would set up a Rs 50bn ($750m) corporate venturing fund to invest in digital technology developers.

At the time Ambani said: “We also have plans to partner with thousands of Indian entrepreneurs, whose digital ventures can bloom in the ground that Jio is preparing.”
Back in 2010, its Reliance Capital aimed for $500m fund and it made investments through two subsidiaries, Network18 and GenNext Ventures.

The difference potentially now is Reliance has itself raised tens of billions of dollars in the past year to fund Jio and transform itself from primarily an energy-focused conglomerate to a telecom and tech one.

In an emailed response to ET, a Reliance spokesperson said, “Reliance remains committed to supporting the build-up of a thriving startup ecosystem in India, particularly in digital enablement space, and will continue to explore various avenues to do so.”

Reliance’s commitment could also come at an important time for India’s ecosystem more widely.

Martin Haemmig, adjunct professor at Cetim, in his keynote at the GCV Digital Forum in January, noted GCV Analytics data showed about a 20% drop in both domestic-only and foreign-only CVC investment last year in India.

This is different both from other Asia-Pacific countries and US/Europe. Gateway House’s report last year uncovered the importance of China to India corporate venture capital (CVC) deal activity. This was affected in the past year especially with the so-called techlash by politicians limiting Chinese tech companies in India.

That local CVCs reduced activity is unclear but would be a warning signal. You might expect a reduction in foreign-only deals in favour of hybrid deals as local CVCs become more active – this is generally seen as an important source of FDI (foreign-direct investment) and to help local entrepreneurs scale up globally.

That India has dropped from a relatively low base vis a vis China that has many more large deals would be concerning. The first generation of CVC champions in China – Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent – encouraged their portfolio companies, such as Didi Chuxing and Meituan Dianping, to scale up and start CVC quickly.

The tech incumbents in India, including Tata, Infosys and Reliance, have perhaps looked more internationally and to dominate local markets without local CVC in the main.
That Reliance is now supporting third-party VCs and acquiring portfolio companies will create a more dynamic ecosystem for startups alongside its own corporate venturing backers, such as search engine Google, giving it greater global heft.

3

There is a new breed of solutions for global challenges.

It is, therefore, exciting to see Victoria Slivkoff, global head of innovation and entrepreneurship at University of California (UC) System, has become executive managing director of the Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC).

Slivkoff joined Barrett Parkman, co-managing director, to develop the Tech for Good startups awards initiative co-founded by Young Sohn and Bill Tai in which Global Corporate Venturing is a partner.

While at UC, Slivkoff had run its entrepreneurs competition with the winners going forward to the XTC final on 15 July.

This year, the UC winners announced at the GCV Digital Forum on January 27 included the champion in the XTC Social Impact contest – Curies, which provides a system for enrolling patients in clinical trials, with a focus on minority groups that have historically been underrepresented, trash-to-cash recycling service Takachar and Sophie’s Bionutrients, a producer of sustainable food proteins using fermented feedstock that is headquartered in Singapore.

Takachar was selected for the early-stage track, while Sophie’s Bionutrients was best among the growth-stage businesses.

This year’s XTC awards are expected to see more than 2,500 applications by the deadline on April 25, with 80 companies selected for the finals on June 4 and then winners on July 15.

Funds

Chevron Technology Ventures has committed $300m to Future Energy Fund II, a newly formed vehicle that will invest in developers of technology that can reduce carbon emissions. It is a successor to the $100m Future Energy Fund launched by Chevron in 2018 that has since backed 10 companies, and is the eighth fund to be formed by the Chevron subsidiary since it was established in 1999.

Exits

Direct listings remain a relatively unpopular way to go public, but the recent issues in securing an accurate valuation at IPO stage may lead to more VC-backed companies taking that option. Cryptocurrency trading platform developer CoinBase is choosing the direct listing route, though a factor in that may be that it just generated a $322m profit over the course of 2020. Its shares are reportedly trading on private markets at a $100bn valuation – more than 200 times that at which BBVA, New York Stock Exchange, USAA and Docomo Capital invested in the company back in 2015.

Electric luxury sedan developer Lucid Motors has agreed a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Churchill Capital Corp IV at a combined equity value of nearly $11.8bn. The transaction will be boosted by a $2.5bn private investment in public equity financing, the largest PIPE investment ever for a SPAC deal. Lucid’s investors include Mitsui and it is gearing up to release its first vehicle later this year.

ReNew Power, the India-based renewable energy provider backed by Chubu Electric Power and Tokyo Electric Power, has set its sights on Nasdaq and will undertake a reverse merger with RMG Acquisition Corporation II to collect up $1.2bn in gross proceeds. ReNew’s post-money valuation is set to be $8bn and it has lined up an even bigger PIPE than Joby – a total of $855m. Of note here is that private investor Chamath Palihapitiya, founder and CEO of Social Capital, is throwing his weight behind the investment. Notable why? Well…

Palihapitiya is a busy man. He has also backed a $165m PIPE for Berkshire Grey, the US-based robotic fulfilment systems developer backed by telecommunications group SoftBank, which has agreed to a reverse merger with Revolution Acceleration Acquisition Corp. Berkshire Grey is looking at $507m in gross proceeds overall and a valuation of $2.7bn when the transaction completes in the second quarter. It has been a relatively quick exit for SoftBank, the telecoms giant having only led a $263m series B for Berkshire Grey in January 2020.

Markforged devises reverse merger plan

Xos carries itself to reverse merger

Advanced battery developer Enovix has agreed a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company Rodgers Silicon Valley Acquisition Corp at an implied pro forma enterprise valuation of $1.13bn. Enovix had previously raised over $200m from investors including Intel Capital, Cypress Semiconductor and Qualcomm Ventures, and it comes after big rounds for fellow energy storage technology providers Sila Nanotechnologies, Powin and Highview Power in the past month.

Fintech has been among the largest growth areas in venture-stage tech over the past year but Marqeta, the operator of a payment card issuing platform, occupies its own specialised part of the sector. It has reportedly confidentially filed to go public, and is targeting a $10bn valuation. That’s more than double the $4.3bn valuation at which Marqeta last raised money, in April, and more than five times that at which it secured $260m from investors including CreditEase, Visa and CommerzVentures in mid-2019.

Smart projector manufacturer Xgimi has filed for a $185m initial public offering on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s tech-focused Star Market that would provide exits for Baidu Ventures, Mango Media and Zhongnan Red Cultural Group. The company has raised at least $177m pre-IPO, and Baidu is currently its second largest shareholder, after founder, chairman and CEO Bo Zhong.

WingArc1st to fly to public markets

Deals

Qingju, the bicycle rental service spun off by on-demand ride provider Didi Chuxing in 2018, is reportedly set to announce $600m in series B funding from unnamed investors together with $400m in debt financing. Its parent company had pumped in $850m last year together with $150m from SoftBank and Legend Capital, and the new funding will support the expansion of its motorised bike offering.

SVolt Energy was formed by China-based automotive manufacturer Great Wall Motor in 2012 and spun off six years later, and now it has raised $541m in a series A round co-led by Bank of China Group Investment and CMG-SDIC Fund Management. No word on a valuation for the round, but the latter had previously invested at a $1.15bn valuation in April, and SVolt is now pushing ahead with its series B fundraising.

Plume Design, a developer of technology that helps increase the speed and security of home wifi, has pulled in $270m for its own series E round, at a valuation of $1.35bn. The capital was supplied by growth equity firm Insight Partners and brought Plume’s overall funding to $397m. Its earlier investors include Liberty Global, Charter Communications, Service Electric Cablevision, Shaw Communications, Belkin, Qualcomm, Comcast Cable, Samsung, Sumitomo and Foxconn.

Reddit revealed earlier this month it had raised $250m in series E funding at a $6bn valuation, and a regulatory filing yesterday revealed it has upped the round to $368m and set a $500m target for its close. The online community had been spun off in 2014 by Condé Nast – which still owns a stake – and its subsequent investors include Tencent, which put up $150m to lead its $300m series D round in 2019.

Zomato has received $250m in late-stage funding at a $5.4bn valuation, up from the $3.9bn valuation at which it last closed funding, two months ago. The food delivery and restaurant listings service has now raised about $1.45bn altogether from investors including Ant Group, Info Edge and Delivery Hero, and is reportedly preparing to launch an initial public offering set to take place later this year.

Moore Threads emerges with unicorn valuation

Clover discovers $230m in series C funding

ECarX drives through another $200m

Sales management platform developer Highspot has raised $200m in a series E roundfeaturing Bain & Company and existing investor Salesforce Ventures, probably the most successful corporate venturer in the enterprise software space. The round valued Highspot at $2.3bn and doubled its overall funding to $400m.

SPH stacks up $160m in series B

WuXi Diagnostics works out $150m series B

Pocket Outdoor packs in $150m

Vividion invites investors to $135m series C

JG Summit calls Tyme for $110m round

ScienceLogic scoops up $105m in series E

Innovaccer vacuums up $105m

Anuvia gets $103m series C allocation

Orna accumulates $100m

Infra.Market constructs $100m growth round

University

Foxtrot Market stores $42m in series B


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

21 December 2020 – ByteDance Raising $2bn at $180bn Valuation

The Big Ones

Ant Group may not have been able to successfully go public but China’s other hugely valuable VC-backed private company, ByteDance, is reportedly in the process of raising $2bn at a $180bn valuation. KKR and Sequoia Capital are co-leading the round, but no word yet on whether it’s set to include SoftBank, a participant in its last round, in 2018, which valued it at $78bn.

Luxembourg-headquartered venture capital fund European Circular Bioeconomy Fund (ECBF) reached a €175m ($213m) second close on Tuesday with €93m from limited partners including corporates Volkswohl Bund Versicherungen, Nestlé and Neste. Insurance provider Volkswohl Bund Versicherungen, packaged food and beverage producer Nestlé and oil processor Neste were joined in the second close by promotional bank NRW Bank and an unnamed family office. ECBF was launched by the European Commission and European Investment Bank in November 2019. The European Investment Bank has provided a total of €100m for the vehicle as a cornerstone investor. The fund is focused on late-stage investments in bioeconomy technology developers located in Europe. It is two thirds of the way towards a targeted close of €250m.

Roblox and Affirm may be putting their initial public offerings back to 2021, but that hasn’t stopped mobile commerce platform developer Wish pricing an IPO that will net it just over $1.1bn. The JD.com-backed company is floating at the top of its range after pumping its revenue up 32% in the first nine months of 2020, at a valuation about 50% higher than in its last round, in August 2019, so the outcome of this one is going to be very interesting. Were the others priced badly or is the market just supercharged right now?

University of British Columbia-linked AbCellera was one of the recent IPO candidates that saw a huge first-day pop, pricing an upsized $483m IPO at $20 per share early in the week only for its shares to open at more than three times that price. The Eli Lilly-backed antibody therapy developer eventually closed that offering at $556m after the underwriters unsurprisingly took up the over-allotment option. It won’t be the last time that happens this year.

Deals

Google X may not have been the goldmine some at its parent company hoped for, but an unqualified success at this point has to be Verily, the company applying big data technology to healthcare and life sciences. Verily has just raised $700m from existing investors including Google owner Alphabet, representing its third mega round in total. Alphabet was joined by Temasek, which invested $800m in Verily in 2017, as well as Silver Lake and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which had added $1bn two years later.

Xingsheng Preference Electronic Business, the group buying platform mainly known as Xingsheng Youxuan, has agreed to raise $700m from e-commerce group JD.com through a strategic collaboration agreement. The news was revealed in a regulatory filing without a valuation attached, but Xingsheng Youxuan was reportedly in the process of securing $800m in a Tencent-backed round in July at a $4bn post-money valuation.

Apex Microelectronics, a chipmaker spinoff of printing and imaging technology producer Ninestar, has raised $489m from investors including Gree Electric Appliance’s Zhuhai Gree Financial Investment Management vehicle. The round was led by the $31bn China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund II, and Gree Financial Investment Managementsupplied $53.5m in return for a 1.8% stake.

StockX runs an e-commerce marketplace that specialises in collectible and high-grade goods such as sneakers, handbags and electronics, and has raised $275m in series E funding at a $2.8bn post-money valuation. Tiger Global Management led the round, and StockX’s earlier investors include GV, the Alphabet subsidiary formerly known as Google Ventures, which has had some year it’s fair to say.

With vaccines beginning to be rolled out, it feels like the tech space is finally looking forward to a 2021 where some dormant sectors will be making big returns (potentially in both senses of the word). That could be part of the impetus behind the $182m in funding just raised by ride hailing service Bolt. Daimler and Didi Chuxing-backed Bolt has diversified its business model by leaning more heavily on logistics in recent months, and the round looks to have more than doubled its valuation to roughly $4.3bn.

Tencent has co-led a $153m funding round for Yonghui Fresh Food, a business-to-business fresh produce distribution subsidiary of supermarket chain Yonghui Superstore, with China International Capital Corporation’s CICC Qizhi fund. The round also featured Yonghui Superstore itself, which retains a 32% stake in the company having also backed its $145m series A round two years ago.

Funds

China-based venture capital firm BeFor Capital has amassed RMB700m ($107m) of capital across two funds, one backed by solar cell manufacturer Canadian Solar. The firm pulled in approximately $76.4m for the first close of its Fund III and $30.5m for the close of Fund IV. It now has over $306m of capital under management across four funds and a number of special purpose vehicles. Canadian Solar contributed to Befor Capital’s Fund III alongside funds backed by the government of China’s Inner Mongolia and Hohhot regions.

Exits

Boehringer Ingelheim has agreed to acquire one of its portfolio companies, oncology therapy developer NBE-Therapeutics, in a transaction that could reach $1.43bn once milestone payments are factored in. NBE is working on antibody-drug conjugates to treat cancer, and has raised approximately $68m from investors including Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and pharmaceutical firm Novo.

Lidar sensor and software provider Innoviz has chosen the reverse merger route, one boosted by $200m in PIPE financing from investors including corporate backers Magna International and Phoenix Insurance. The combined company will be valued at about $1.4bn once the deal closes, and Innoviz’s existing investors also include Samsung Catalyst, SoftBank Ventures Asia, Naver, Delek Motors, Delphi Automotive and Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services.

Upstart, the owner of an online lending platform that utilises artificial intelligence in its activities, is also valued above $2bn, following a $240m initial public offering. Its shares rocketed up 47% in their first day of trading yesterday and its pre-IPO backers include Rakuten, Progressive and GV, which sold $1.6m of shares having backed Upstart’s $1.75m seed round eight years ago. Its remaining stake is worth about $28m at the current share price.

The second half of 2020 has been a bonanza period for IPOs, and things don’t show any sign of slowing down either, not with the sky-high valuations companies are seeing as soon as they hit the market. UiPath, a provider of robotic process automation software, has filed confidentially to go public, five months after a Tencent-backed series E round valuing it at $10.2bn. It has so far raised some $1.3bn in funding, with Alphabet’s CapitalG also among its investors.

Coinbase is the other unicorn to have confidentially filed to go public in the last day or so, the crypto trading platform having been valued at $8bn in its last round two years ago. Now that figure looks sure to rise, given the increasing activity in blockchain technology and the recent shooting up of Bitcoin prices. It has raised approximately $517m from investors that include New York Stock Exchange, NTT Docomo, BBVA and USAA.


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

04 March 2019 – Honda, Panasonic and Omron Become Limited Partners in NordicNinja VC’s First Fund

Big 3

Charles Conn and Patrick Pichette will join Oxford Sciences Innovation to become chief executive and chairman, respectively, with founder Dave Norwood retiring.

Honda, Panasonic and Omron are among the limited partners of NordicNinja VC’s inaugural fund, which will focus on deep tech and help northern European startups expand into Asia.

Novartis has joined forces with Blackstone Life Sciences to launch cardiovascular drug developer Anthos Therapeutics.

Deals

Reports earlier this month suggested SoftBank Vision Fund was considering a large investment in automotive e-commerce platform Chehaoduo and today the company confirmed it secured a commitment for $1.5bn from the telecoms giant.

AI chip developer Horizon Robotics added $600m to its coffers today thanks to two subsidiaries of conglomerate SK Group – SK China and SK Hynix – as well as several unnamed Chinese carmakers.

Danke Apartment, the Chinese company that splits existing flats for families into smaller units and rents them out to young professionals, has collected $500m in a series C round co-led by Ant Financial and Tiger Global Management.

Coinbase raised $300m in series E capital back in October but now reports have emerged that GIC, the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore, was part of that round too. T

GV has meanwhile helped launch Maze Therapeutics by contributing to a $191m funding round that also featured Alexandria Venture Investments. Maze, which has three preclinical candidates in its pipeline, will exploit genetic modifiers – genes that affect the severity of a disease – to tackle a variety of diseases, though it’s keeping shtum about what those are for now.

Ÿnsect is aiming to tackle environmental issues in the food supply chain by breeding mealworms and using them as the basis for fish feed, pet food and fertiliser, and now the company has added sugar producer Finasucre to its shareholders following a $125m series C round.

Motif Ingredients has been spun out of biotech firm Ginkgo Bioworks with $90m in series A capital from investors including merchant firm Louis Dreyfus Company and dairy cooperative Fonterra.

Exits

Spark Therapeutics publicly listed in 2015 and is set to net Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia up to $458m following its acquisition by Roche.

Reports about Uber wanting to merge its Middle East operations with those of Careem go back to July last year, but it looks like the deal’s closure is approaching fast and with a higher price tag attached – $3bn in cash and shares instead of the initially reported $2bn to $2.5bn. I

A (possible) exit of a different kind came for Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, whose portfolio company GoCanvas has attracted $150m from K1 Investment Management in what has widely been billed as a majority stake purchase.

CStone Pharmaceuticals, a China-based biopharmaceutical company backed by Taikang and WuXi PharmaTech, raised $285m in its IPO and achieved a valuation of $1.5bn after selling shares to both Hong Kong and international investors.

Zoom, the video conferencing platform backed by Qualcomm, is inching ever closer to a long-rumoured initial public offering and it looks like April is the current target.

Tiger Brokers, an online brokerage backed by consumer electronics company Xiaomi and digital brokerage Interactive Brokers Group, meanwhile filed for a $150m initial public offering on Nasdaq.

Digital brokerage Futu has meanwhile revised its initial public offering plans and now hopes to raise up to $150m when it lists on the Nasdaq Global Market.

Centogene scents IPO

Funds

EU-owned institutions including the EIF are pouring capital and assistance into an early-stage tech transfer vehicle for the Fraunhofer network of applied research institutes.


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

05 November 2018 – Game Studio Epic Games Raises $1.25bn

Deals

Game studio Epic Games has had some very notable successes including the Unreal and Gears of War series, but it’s entered the mainstream in a huge way over the past year with Fortnite, a game that passed the $1bn revenue mark in 10 months. It’s also raised $1.25bn in a round that included a strategic investment by eSports team owner Axiomatic, valuing it at almost $15bn.

Zume began as a pizza delivery service that utilised robotics technology to help prepare the food, and now it’s looking to expand that model into other parts of the food industry. To that end, SoftBank Vision Fund has reportedly paid $375m for a 20% stake in the company and is set to invest a further $375m in a deal that will value Zume at $2.25bn post-money.

Coinbase has secured $300m in a Tiger Global Management-led series E round that valued it at $8bn post-money. The company, which has built a trading platform and digital wallet for cryptocurrencies, has now raised a total of almost $520m in funding since 2012, and its existing investors include New York Stock Exchange, Docomo Capital, BBVA, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and USAA, none of which took part in the latest round.

China has played host to several smart electric vehicle producers and one of them, WM Motor, is reportedly in talks to raise some $287m in funding, with half of the cash to be put up by Baidu, sources have told Reuters (though WM itself suggested the figure would be 50% higher).

Grab, the Southeast Asian ride hailing platform that has moved into mobile services and payment technology, has received $200m from Booking Holdings, the travel and accommodation booking service formerly known as Priceline, as part of a strategic alliance.

Chinese music tutoring service Peilian has raised $150m from investors including Tencent, in a series C round that came less than a year after its series B.

Southeast Asian real estate platform PropertyGuru has raised $145m in a series D round led by KKR that boosted its overall funding to about $325m.

India-based online grocer Grofers is reportedly in talks with existing investor SoftBank over a round sized between $100m and $150m that could value it at up to $650m.

The lidar sensor industry is one that has been attracting ever increasing amounts of funding, and one of its companies, Quanergy, has just raised an undisclosed sum in a round that valued it at more than $2bn.

Galecto Biotech, a Denmark-based developer of treatments for cancer and fibrosis based on research at Lund and Edinburgh universities, closed a $90m series C round co-led by Ysios Capital and OrbiMed.

And Astroscale, a Singapore-based space debris removal technology developer, raised $50m on Wednesday in a series D round featuring property developer Mitsubishi Estate and games publisher Koei Tecmo’s Koei Tecmo Capital investment unit.

Funds

Five Japan-based financial services groups have agreed to form a fund in partnership with sovereign wealth fund China Investment Corporation (CIC) reported by Bloomberg to be up to $1.8bn in size.

Arch Venture Partners, the venture capital firm spun out of University of Chicago, is aiming to raise $600m for its tenth fund. The firm has not yet raised any money but if it reaches its $600m target, Fund X would be the largest flagship vehicle raised by Arch to date and bring total assets under management to $2.86bn.

Exits

StoneCo has made a big step forward for Brazilian startups, securing more than $1.22bn in an IPO that came alongside a $100m private placement by Ant Financial.

Orchard Therapeutics has raised $200m in an IPO that involved it floating at the foot of its range but upping the number of shares involved.

Medical device developer Axonics Modulation Technologies has floated in a $120m initial public offering in which it increased the number of shares and floated in the middle of its range.

Twist Bioscience has gone public in a $70m IPO that saw it float at the bottom of its range.

Video conferencing software provider Zoom is looking to float in an initial public offering in which it will seek a valuation significantly above the $1bn valuation at which it last raised cash almost two years ago.


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

12 June 2017 – Essential Houzz Deals and Much More

Deals

Houzz is reportedly nearing the close of a $400m round led by multi-family office Iconiq Capital that will value it at about $400m.

Essential, the smartphone startup founded by Andy Rubin, formerly head of Android at Google, has reportedly raised $300m at a valuation somewhere between $900m and $1bn.

Pinterest has raised $150m from existing investors – one of which may have been Rakuten – at a $12.3bn valuation.

Adaptive cybersecurity technology provider Illumio has raised $125m in a series D round that included a range of new and existing investors, and which reportedly valued it at more than $1bn pre-money.

Bitcoin and ethereum both reached new highs today, which makes it timely that crytocurrency management platform Coinbase is reportedly in talks to raise about $100m of new funding at a $1bn valuation.

Earlens, the developer of an advanced hearing aid that uses light to transmit sound, has closed a $73m series C round backed by medical device makers Medtronic and Cochlear alongside a $45m secured debt facility from CRG.

Tantan, the developer of a Chinese dating and social networking app that bears an, ahem, passing resemblance to Tinder, has pulled in $70m in a series D round led by YY. Tantan.

Coursera has boosted its total funding to $210m with a $64m series D round that, according to TechCrunch, valued it at $800m.

Logistics services provider Shansong Express, already backed by a subsidiary of Susquehanna International Group, has added Hearst Communications and Beijing Hualian Group to its shareholders thanks to a $50m series C+ round.

Funds

Fosun Kinzon Capital, the venture capital firm sponsored solely by conglomerate Fosun International, is set to invest $100m in Indian startups by the end of the calendar year, if an unnamed “top executive” is to be believed.

Legend Capital, the Chinese VC firm backed by Lenovo owner Legend Holdings, has reached the $448m final close of its latest fund.

On GUV, the Pittsburgh Revolution Fund is targeting a $200m close to support drug research teams that will form spinouts of University of Pittsburgh.

And on GGV, the government of Canada is planning to launch a C$400m ($296m) Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative to support small and medium-sized enterprises.

The government-owned Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) is dedicating C$250m ($185m) towards growth equity over the next five years through investment arm BDC Capital.

AP2, a Swedish government-mandated pension fund, has injected $50m into the impact investment vehicle Rise Fund, which is aimed at a variety of global social challenges.

Irish state-owned export credit agency Enterprise Ireland is looking to raise €60m ($67m) with a regional development fund, according to the Irish Independent.

Exits

Mersana Therapeutics, which is working on antibody drug conjugates to treat cancer, has filed to raise $75m in an IPO that will allow Takeda and Pfizer to exit the company.

Delivery Hero has formally revealed it is seeking to go public this year, and is planning to issue more than $500m of shares in Germany and Luxembourg.

Aileron Therapeutics has filed for a $69m IPO that will support research and clinical development for a cancer treatment dubbed ALRN-6924.


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