04 April 2022 – Instacart snips valuation to $24bn

Instacart snips valuation to $24bn

US-based online grocery delivery service Instacart, which is backed by corporates American Express, Comcast and Amazon, is cutting its valuation from $39bn to $24bn.

GoTo gets $1.1bn in initial public offering

GoTo Group, the Indonesia-based joint venture between ride hailing platform operator Gojek and e-commerce group Tokopedia, has floated in a $1.1bn IPO.

AN2 Therapeutics prices $69m IPO

US-based lung disease therapy developer AN2 Therapeutics, which counts pharmaceutical firm Brii Biosciences as a backer, has raised $69m in an IPO.

Liberty Strategic Capital to buy Zimperium for $525m

US-based mobile security platform developer Zimperium, which counts corporates SoftBank, Telstra, Toyo Corporation and Samsung as investors, agreed to a $525m acquisition by private equity firm Liberty Strategic Capital.

LetsGetChecked to buy Veritas Genetics

At-home diagnostic test provider LetsGetChecked agreed to acquire US-based genetic testing technology developer Veritas Genetics for an undisclosed sum, providing exits for pharmaceutical firms Eli Lilly and Jiangsu Simcere Pharmaceutical.

JD Property houses $800m

E-commerce group JD.com’s real estate services subsidiary, JD Property, has raised approximately $800m in series B funding.

WeRide zooms to $400m

China-based autonomous driving technology producer WeRide has raised $400m from investors including car manufacturer GAC and industrial technology and appliance manufacturer Robert Bosch.

Soterea buckles up $204m

Insurance group Ping An has led an over $204m series B round for China-based driving safety technology provider Soterea.

Nova Labs surges to $200m series D

US-based decentralised wireless communications technology provider Helium rebranded to Nova Labs, having secured $200m in series D funding from investors including Alphabet, Goodyear, Liberty Global and Deutsche Telekom.

Deepki tracks Statkraft to raise $167m

Deepki, the creator of a software platform which tracks ESG data for the real estate sector, secured $167m in series C funding from investors including power producer Statkraft.

LayerZero Labs stacks up $135m

Canada-based blockchain technology developer LayerZero Labs secured $135m in a funding round co-led by cryptocurrency exchange FTX.

Tishman Speyer tips $100m into venture fund

US-based real estate developer Tishman Speyer has raised $100m for a property technology-focused venture capital fund.


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

26 April 2021 – UK National Grid Commits Further $150m to its Silicon Valley-based Corporate Venture and Innovation Group

The Big Ones

1

In November, this column said, if demotivated, “talented people will quickly cut the cord”.

This was in response to US-listed cable group Comcast’s decision to limit its successful corporate venturing unit, as GCV reported at the time.

Almost six months on and the team has broken up as feared. And the unit, which was founded in 1999 and which has more than 120 portfolio companies, has announced investments in just two companies since November when it co-led a $38m round for Zapata Computing.

Amy Banse, managing director and head of funds for Comcast Ventures, announced in September last year she would be retiring, while managing director David Zilberman left shortly afterwards to join venture capital firm Norwest Venture Partners.

Of the other managing directors, Sam Landman is now co-founder and general partner at venture capital fund Mastry while Dinesh Moorjani has left to return to angel investing and his portfolio of board seats, such as Zoox, and Rick Prostko has become managing director for North America at Ontario Teachers’​ Pension Plan’s innovation platform.

Others who appeared to have cut their ties with Comcast directly are Gil Beyda, whose LinkedIn page states he has stopped being a managing director at Comcast and returned to a managing partner position at Genacast Ventures, and Daniel Gulati, who became the founding partner at Forecast Fund in May 2020 and whose LinkedIn profile reveals he left Comcast last year. Comcast, however, effectively retained their talents, as a spokesperson said Forecast Fund was set up within Comcast Ventures while Genacast was established with Comcast support.

The upshot is that only Andrew Cleland is left directly as an MD at Comcast Ventures, though other experienced people within the group include Sam Schwartz, executive vice-president and chief business development officer for Comcast.

A similar but smaller exodus has occurred at the principal level. Chris Hill departed in December to become a strategic adviser at Retina AI, Andre Iguodala left his venture partner role at Comcast’s Catalyst fund and Morgan Polotan joined B Capital Group as a principal.

This has left Sheena Jindal, Min-Sik Jun and Adam Spivack as principals and the operations team, such as Arjun Kapur and Madura Wijewardena, under managing director and chief financial officer Kim Armor.

Comcast’s spokesman said by email: “Comcast Ventures was just repositioned to be within the strategic development group at Comcast Cable and continues to operate as a fund and as Comcast Ventures. It just went from one department to another. We issued a statement on this and here is what we said which has not changed: ‘Comcast Ventures has been a valuable innovation pipeline, providing insight into adjacent industries and investment opportunities.

‘We are aligning our approach to venture investing more closely with our business units and repositioning Comcast Ventures and its fund under the strategic business development team at Comcast Cable.

‘Our business development teams across the company continue to invest in new technology and businesses, which we believe will yield more strategic opportunities and benefits for Comcast and the companies in which we invest. We will continue to support our existing portfolio companies through investment and strategic partnership.’”

Comcast has aligned its corporate venturing activities – it also runs Sky Ventures in the UK under James McClurg and Mike Martin, and NBCUniversal’s growth team under Don Mathis – around its broader entrepreneurial activities, which include Danielle Cohn’s Lift Labs accelerator, now on its fourth cohort managed by Techstars.

Since its launch, 32 companies from around the world have completed the Lift Labs accelerator programme and 75% have secured pilots or agreements with a division or business unit of Comcast NBCUniversal.

Another insider left at one of the corporate venturing divisions of Comcast privately said they were also looking at their governance and compensation, and whether to leave.

Comcast had been a top quartile venture investor – the enterprise value of Gulati’s portfolio alone while at Comcast Ventures was more than $4bn, he said – but has to now rebuild just as the parent’s strategy has to.

Comcast had risen to the status of a Fortune 50 company in the past generation by riding the wave of pay television in the US. But this peaked in 2012 with 90% of people subscribing to one bundle or another.

Now, cable’s cords are being cut and the range of options people have to consume media has grown.

At a time when the cable and media industry is undergoing disruption, therefore, having fresh eyes and direction for Comcast Ventures might yet end up a blessing if it brings a growth mindset and new resources. The alternative is a narrow focus on trying to protect a cash cow slowly being undermined in the way print media has been by the internet.

2

UK-listed utility National Grid has committed a further $150m to its Silicon Valley-based corporate venture and innovation group.

It is smart timing beyond being so-called Earth week – a series of events around the world focused on climate and sustainability, including GCV’s Earth Day webinar on carbon capture and hydrogen on 22nd.

National Grid is sponsor of the United Nations’ COP26 climate conference – the biggest convening of global environmental policy and industry leaders since the 2015 Paris Agreement – expected in early November in the UK and will include the 10th GCV Symposium gala dinner at St Paul’s cathedral.

Since its launch less than three years ago, National Grid Partners (NGP) has put $227m into 29 startups at the intersection of energy and information technology.

Now, the rest of the world is catching up to the opportunities in the field, including tech company Apple’s $200m committed last week to the Restore Fund for carbon removal through forestry innovation, and so National Grid is committing more to its pace of investment.

Its most recent deals include $7.5m invested into seed-stage, US-based companies Pathr, a spatial intelligence platform to generate anonymous location data in real time as people work around buildings, and AccuKnox, a Stanford Research Institute spinout whose KubeArmor technology provides a kubernetes platform for security, compliance and governance in public and private clouds.

Lisa Lambert, chief technology and innovation officer of National Grid and the founder and president of NGP as well as chairwoman of the Global Energy Council, said: “Earth Week is a perfect time to announce this vote of confidence from our senior leadership.

“We are investing in and deploying technologies across National Grid’s networks to enhance resilience and reliability, while more easily integrating renewable energy.”

Funds

Zoom rushes to create $100m Apps Fund

CyberAgent spies third domestic fund

Exits

UiPath reaches public markets

Zymergen produces $500m initial public offering

NeuroPace nets $102m in IPO

Confluent chooses confidential IPO filing

Oatly to milk public markets for capital

Waterdrop runs down to $100m IPO plans

Gyroscope gees itself up for US IPO

SimilarWeb sets out IPO filing

Talaris tries out public markets

SmartRent houses $2.2bn reverse merger

Makesense agrees to PolicyBazaar merger

Affirm comes back to buy Returnly

Deals

Byju’s bolts down billion-dollar round

Adagio Therapeutics picks up pace with $336m

ActiveCampaign activates $240m series C round

Alan amasses $223m in series D funding

Razorpay cleaves $160m in series E round

Druva draws in $147m

SES seeks out corporates to raise $139m

NextData inputs $135m series D

MatHem shops for $131m

Digital Asset arranges $120m series D

TechMet takes in $120m

Classy clasps $118m

BlaBlaCar drives through $115m round

Tamara takes in $110m through series A round

Solegreen kicks in $104m for Kuubix

C2i Genomics detects $100m


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

09 July 2018 – Telstra Ventures Partners HarbourVest to Create Investment Vehicle

Funds

Telstra Ventures has had some big exits in the past four years including IPOs for Snap, DocuSign and Box, but the unit is now electing to reshape itself by forming a partnership with private equity firm HarbourVest that will create a $500m investment vehicle.

Malaysia-based conglomerate Sunway is raising $50m for a venture capital vehicle called Sun Sea Capital that will invest in early-stage Southeast Asian tech companies.

Tokyo Electric powers up new unit

Université PSL assembles deep tech fund

Deals

Altana adds funding to Landa Digital Printing

American Well last received funding in January this year when Allianz invested $59m in connection with a strategic partnership, but the telehealth platform developer has now raised a further $291m of a planned $315m funding round according to a securities filing.

I-Mab Biopharma was formed in March last year from the merger of immunotherapy developers Third Venture Biotech and Tasgen Bio as well as $150m in series B funding from corporate Tasly Pharmaceuticals and C-Bridge Capital.

Trax has developed a computer vision-based platform that uses photos taken by mobile devices to assess retail displays, and the Singapore-based company has secured $125m in funding from investors including DC Thomson.

Small business-focused lending platform Furongbao last raised funding in a 2015 series A round featuring SoftBank’s SBCVC unit, but it’s now added to that with a reported $120m in series B funding that was provided by a single undisclosed investor.

Aikucun, the operator of a service that enables fashion brands to sell excess inventory to online merchants, has raised $87.5m in a Legend Capital-led series B round that included Xiamen C&D Corp and Eastern Bell Venture Capital.

Airwallex accesses corporates for $80m

Corporates get in Bind for $70m round

BitSight builds $60m series D

BrightFarms reaps $55m in series D cash

Haifeng hits up TAL Education for cash

Comcast goes Away again in $50m round

One of several up-and-coming insurance providers, Bought By Many started life as a platform that enabled those wanting specialist insurance options to band together for discounted rates from providers. Now however, it’s moving into offering that cover itself, and has raised $19.8m in a CommerzVentures-led series B round that included Marsh and Munich Re.

XL Innovate goes Windward in series C round

Cerebri celebrates $5m series A

Manus Bio makes series A breakthrough

Xcelerator embraces first cohort

Exits

Uber has already merged its businesses in China, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe with local operators, and next on the block could be its Middle Eastern operations. The company has opened talks with Careem, the MENA-based operator that is backed by a host of corporates and which is currently raising cash at a $1.5bn valuation, but reportedly favours an outcome in which it will take a majority stake in any merged company.

BP fuels BMW exit with Chargemaster acquisition

Cloud-based business management software provider Domo has gone public in a $193m IPO that allowed WPP and Salesforce to exit.

Forty Seven fetches $112m in IPO

Neuronetics, the developer of a device that uses magnetic stimulation to treat psychiatric disorders, has closed its initial public offering at $107m after the IPO’s underwriters exercised the over-allotment option.

Hong Kong may be surging but the US is still proving to be the destination of choice for many Chinese tech companies looking to go public.The latest is group buying platform Pinduoduo, which has filed for a $1bn initial public offering that would allow Tencent to exit.

Liquidia Technologies is among the life sciences companies aiming for the public markets. Liquidia, which is developing therapeutics based on its particle engineering platform, has filed to raise up to $57.5m in its IPO.

IndiaMart formed its business-to-business e-commerce marketplace back in 1996 and received its first corporate investment in 2007, and now it’s finally looking to go public.

Hujiang to graduate to public markets


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

15 August 2016 – VR and Food Delivery Investments, GV People Moves and more

People

Friday was Bill Maris’s last day at GV, the corporate venturing unit he helped to set up for search engine Google in 2009. But it is a new start for David Krane, who is taking the CEO position at GV (formerly known as Google Ventures) and who will have a tough act to follow in Maris.

Eze Vidra, who helped GV set up its aborted European branch in 2014, has taken the chief innovation officer role at clinical trial connection platform TrialReach.

Vosik Shamsiev, a venture partner at Japan-based corporate venturing unit TEL Venture Capital since 2014, is leaving to pursue opportunities in Canada.

Citi’s strategic investment subsidiary has hired Travis Skelly from venture capital fund FinTech Collective as a senior vice-president. No announcement as yet on Debby Hopkins’ replacement.

Joydeep Bose joined Cisco from Intel Capital in 2007 and oversaw its corporate venturing activities in the Asia Pacific Japan region. D

Funds

Telstra and Telekom Indonesia form investment pact

Infosys lines up $15m Stellaris commitment

Exits

Wal-Mart has agreed to acquire Jet.com in a $3.3bn cash and share deal said to be the largest ever acquisition of an e-commerce company, and which will be marked down as a big win for investors including Alphabet and Alibaba.

CME Group looks like it’s secured a decent exit from deep learning technology provider Nervana Systems, just over a year after its corporate venturing vehicle, CME Ventures, took part in a $20.5m series B round.

In another sizeable acquisition, Myriad Genetics has agreed to buy precision medicine developer Assurex Health for up to $410m, giving exits to Mayo Clinic and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Naspers to squeeze out Citrus Pay acquisition

Protagonist Therapeutics has raised $90m in an IPO that gave exits to pharmaceutical firms Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly and Pharmstandard, which collectively held a 45% stake in the company.

Investments

CVRx, the producer of an implantable treatment for heart failure and resistant hypertension, has sealed $93m in equity funding.

Torax strengthens with $25m

Moderna Therapeutics closed the largest round ever by a VC-stage drug developer in January 2015, and one of the investors in that round, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, has invested another $140m to take its stake in the mRNA therapeutics company to 9%.

Turner has led a $45m round for female-focused digital media company Refinery29 as part of a strategic collaboration that will involve it developing video content for Turner’s TV channels.

The Walt Disney Company had been set to team up with Major League Baseball in a funding round for daily sports betting platform FanDuel last year but pulled out at the last minute. The two have now formed a partnership of a different kind, with Disney agreeing to pay $1bn for a 33% stake in BamTech, the online video streaming platform spun out by MLB. BamTech will also set up a paid video subscription platform for Disney subsidiary ESPN as part of the deal.

Andy Bechtolsheim (Sun cofounder and Google’s angel), and Diane Greene (VMware cofounder and Google board as head of cloud) along with corporates Major League Baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers back Xperiel, a US-based provider of a mobile app development tool that works with Internet-connected equipment in sports stadiums and other facilities, $7m round.

Deliveroo raised $100m in November and has added $275m less than a year later with a series E round featuring Nokia Growth Partners.

Healthcare concierge service Accolade has added $70m from investors including Andreessen Horowitz and Madrona Venture Group to the $22.5m in series E funding it raised from McKesson Ventures and Independence Health last year, taking its overall financing to almost $150m.

Comcast targets Interactions in $56m round

Axial capitalises on Comcast backing to raise $14m

NextVR closes an $80m series B round at a pre-money valuation of $800m.

Kaltura has been at the online video game longer than NextVR and is gearing up for an IPO, raising $50m from Goldman Sachs’ Private Capital Investing group.

Yunnex, the Chinese developer of an advanced, connected point-of-sales system, has secured $45m in a series B round backed by one of its customers, fast food chain Ajisen Ramen.

Corporates dish up another $30m for iFood


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