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