17 May 2021 – Grocery Delivery App Dingdong Maicai Orders Up $330m Series D

The Big Ones

China-based grocery delivery app operator Dingdong Maicai closed a $330m series D-plus round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund. Founded in 2017, Dingdong Maicai has built a grocery e-commerce platform it claims delivers fresh produce and seafood ingredients door-to-door in under 30 minutes. It has served more than 5 million households across 27 markets in its home country. The company’s overall funding now stands at more than $1bn. It had secured $700m in a series D round last month co-led by DST Global and Coatue.

SoftBank has increased the size of its Vision Fund 2 from $10bn to $30bn. Its original Vision Fund closed at $98.6bn in 2017 with contributions from corporate LPs and sovereign wealth funds, but it has so far been unable to secure backing for its successor, instead committing the capital itself. The first Vision Fund booked a $16.8bn net loss for 2019 due to bankruptcies for portfolio companies OneWeb and Brandless, the failure of WeWork to successfully float and lacklustre share performance for others such as Uber. However, the coronavirus pandemic has caused tech stocks in several industries to skyrocket while also driving the pre-IPO funding market, leading to a considerable turnaround in SoftBank’s fortunes – the Vision Funds have now made a $37bn paper profit. The overall fair value of Vision Fund 1 and 2 stood at $154bn as of the end of March this year and SoftBank has returned $22.3bn to its LPs.

Better, the US-based digital mortgage services provider backed by SoftBank, American Express, Ping An, Citi and Ally Financial, agreed a reverse merger at a $7.7bn post-deal valuation. The company will join forces with SPAC Aurora Acquisition Corp, taking the position on the Nasdaq Capital Market that Aurora acquired in a $220m initial public offering in March this year. The deal will be supported by $1.5bn in PIPE financing from SoftBank’s SB Management subsidiary, Activant Capital and Novator Capital, Aurora Acquisition Corp’s sponsor.

University

Ginkgo Bioworks, a US-based microbe engineering services spinout of MIT, agreed to a reverse merger with SPAC Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp. The deal values Ginkgo at $15bn and includes a $775m PIPE financing co-led by Baillie Gifford, Putnam Investments and Morgan Stanley Investment Management’s Counterpoint Global. Soaring Eagle had raised $1.73bn through its own initial public offering three months ago, putting the reverse merger deal’s total value at a jaw-dropping $17.5bn. Ginkgo had raised more than $789m in equity financing since being founded in 2009.

Deals

Vinted, the Lithuania-based operator of a second-hand fashion marketplace, picked up €250m ($303m) today in a series F round featuring Burda Principal Investments, a subsidiary of media group Hubert Burda. The round was led by EQT Growth, a fund operated by investment firm EQT, at a $4.2bn valuation, and it included Insight Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sprints Capital.

Telkomsel, the mobile network subsidiary of Telkom Indonesia, has invested $300m in Indonesia-based ride hailing service Gojek, having supplied $150m for the company in November 2020. Gojek runs an app-based on-demand ride service which has expanded into food, package and grocery delivery in addition to mobile financial services. The funding comes as the company prepares to merge with e-commerce marketplace Tokopedia in a deal that will create a company called GoTo which would be valued at about $18bn. The deal is reportedly expected to be formally agreed by the end of June.

US-based diagnostic testing technology developer Cue Health completed a $235m financing round backed by Koch Industries and Johnson & Johnson, which took part through subsidiaries Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC and Koch Strategic Platforms respectively, joining Perceptive Advisors, MSD Capital, Decheng Capital, Cavu Ventures, Acme Capital and undisclosed other investors.

Masterclass, the US-based online education provider backed by Bloomberg, Endeavor and Novel Group, secured $225m in a series F round led by investment and financial services group Fidelity. Baillie Gifford, Balyasny Asset Management, Eldridge, IVP, New Enterprise Associates, Javelin Venture Partners and Owl Ventures also took part in the round. It valued the company at $2.75bn, sources told CNBC.

US-based life insurance platform developer Ethos Technologies received $200m in series D funding from investors including Roc Nation and GV. General Catalyst led the round, which valued the company at $2bn. It included Sequoia Capital and Accel as well as Will Smith’s Dreamers VC fund and a vehicle representing fellow actor Robert Downey Jr that may have been Downey Ventures.

WeRide, a China-based autonomous driving technology provider that counts several corporates among its investors, has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in series C funding. IDG Capital, Homeric Capital, CoStone Capital, Cypress Star, Sky9 Capital, K3 Ventures, CMC Capital Partners, Qiming Venture Partners and Alpview Capital supplied the capital at a valuation of $3.3bn. The series C proceeds will be channelled into research and development and commercialisation activities. The deal comes four months after WeRide closed a series B round led by $200m from bus manufacturer Yutong Group at $310m.

Funds

China-based cryptocurrency trading platform developer Huobi has established a $100m strategic investment fund. Founded in 2013, Huobi operates a blockchain-equipped online platform where users can buy and sell digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and XRP. Huobi Ventures will make early-stage investments in blockchain-focused companies which can integrate their operations with its parent company’s businesses, in addition to decentralised finance projects and merger and acquisition deals. The unit has reserved $10m of the capital for investments in NFTs and NFT marketplaces, and it brings together existing Huobi subsidiaries including Huobi Eco Fund, Huobi Capital and Huobi DeFi Labs.

Exits

Plus, a US-based automated driving technology developer backed by Full Truck Alliance, Quanta Computer, Wanxiang and SAIC, announced a reverse merger. The deal involves the company merging with SPAC Hennessy Capital Investment Corp V at a $3.3bn valuation, with the combined business taking the Nasdaq Capital Market listing secured by the latter in a $300m initial public offering in February this year. Funds and accounts managed by BlackRock and DE Shaw Group are among the participants in a $150m PIPE financing.

Bird, the US-based mobility services provider backed by Simon Property, is merging with SPAC Switchback II Corporation. The company will acquire the position on the New York Stock Exchange taken by Switchback II in a $275m initial public offering in January this year. The deal grants Bird a $2.3bn pro forma enterprise valuation. The transaction will be boosted by $160m a PIPE financing from investors including Fidelity Management & Research.

Science 37, a US-based clinical trials technology provider backed by Sanofi, Amgen, Alphabet, Novartis and PPD, agreed to a reverse merger with LifeSci Acquisition II Corp. The transaction will involve the Science 37 taking the position on the Nasdaq Capital Market taken by LifeSci in a $75m initial public offering in November 2020. It will give Science 37 an initial enterprise value of about $1.05bn. Science 37’s technology helps run clinical trials for developmental stage therapeutics and medical devices, helping bridge the gap between laboratory research and patient care.

UK-based encryption technology developer Arqit agreed to a reverse merger with Centricus Acquisition Corp that will be backed by corporates Sumitomo and Virgin Orbit. The deal will create a new company called Arqit Quantum, which will be valued at $1.4bn and which will take on the listing Nasdaq Capital Market Centricus Acquisition got in a $300m initial public offering in February 2021. The merged business will receive approximately $70m from a PIPE deal featuring Virgin Orbit, Sumitomo Corporation and Heritage Group.

Waterdrop, a China-based digital health insurance marketplace which counts corporates Meituan Dianping, Tencent and Swiss Re as investors, raised $360m in an initial public offering. The company issued 30 million American depositary shares (ADSs) on the New York Stock Exchange, each ADS representing 10 ordinary class A shares. Waterdrop priced the ADSs at $12 each, at the upper end of the $10 to $12 range it had set for the offering, valuing the company at over $4.7bn. The shares closed on $9.70 on the first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, but dropped over the course of the week to open at $7 on Friday morning.

Ane Logistics, a China-based small freight services provider backed by insurer Ping An and dairy product manufacturer Yili, has filed for an initial public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The size of the offering has not been disclosed but the company was looking to raise $500m, according to a Bloomberg report in February. CICC Capital and JPMorgan Chase are lead underwriters for the flotation.


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

15 June 2020 – Zuoyebang in Talks to Raise up to $800m in Coronavirus Boost

Big Ones

Online student answer and livestreamed education provider Zuoyebang was spun off by Baidu and has since received $585m in venture funding. Like many online education platforms however, it has seen a big uptick in business during China’s coronavirus lockdown, and is in talks to raise between $600m and $800m. The round would reportedly value Zuoyebangat $6.5bn pre-money, more than doubling the valuation at which it last raised money two years ago.

Novo has agreed to acquire Corvidia, developer of a phase 2b-stage treatment for chronic kidney disease, for an initial $725m that could potentially rise to $2.1bn if every milestone is reached post-purchase. That’s a hefty chunk of change, not least since Corvidia had disclosed just $86m in funding (not including a seed investment by VC firm Sofinnova Partners). Investors set to exit it include AstraZeneca and Fresenius Medical Care.

US-based social media company Facebook has begun setting up a corporate venture capital unit, Axios reported yesterday, citing a job listing posted by the firm. The prospective employee will be head of investments at Facebook’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) subsidiary, which it formed to launch consumer-focused apps. The post has since been deleted but it stated: “In this role, you will manage a multimillion-dollar fund that invests in leading private companies alongside top venture capital firms and angel investors. You will develop investment and impact theses, lead the execution of new investments and support existing portfolio companies as needed.” The fund will be partially managed by Shabih Rizvi, who spent two years as founding partner at internet technology provider Google’s artificial intelligence fund, Gradient Ventures, before moving to a business development role at Google in April 2019. A source familiar with the plans told Axios that Facebook is pursuing investments as a method of keeping track with emerging technologies, rather than operating what they termed as a general purpose fund. It will make small investments in early-stage companies.

In crossover news, it’s an exit this time. Fusion Pharmaceuticals, a Canada-based cancer radiopharmaceuticals developer spun out of McMaster University, has filed for a $100m initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Market. The spinout’s lead asset is undergoing phase 1 studies in an injected form for advanced, refractory solid tumours. Fusion said in its prospectus it had been forced to pause further recruitment as the pandemic led to clinical trial sites to be closed. It has administered the drug to 12 patients to date, out of a planned 30. Fusion most recently secured nearly $112m in a series B round closed this month featuring Fight Against Cancer Innovation Trust, a commercialisation unit backed by Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and the province of Ontario, oncology technology provider Varian Medical Systems, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, and others. Varian and Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC had already backed a $46m series A in 2017.

Deals

Many over the years have questioned the business model of grocery delivery app Instacart but the coronavirus stay-in-place restrictions have vindicated it somewhat and it has been hiring like crazy in recent months to meet demand. It has also now raised more money, taking in $225m through a round co-led by DST Global and General Catalyst that hiked its valuation from about $7.9bn to $13.7bn. Its earlier investors include Comcast, American Express and Whole Foods, the latter since consumed by Amazon.

Although it also delivers groceries, DoorDash’s focus is on on-demand food delivery from restaurants, and it is reportedly seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in a forthcoming round set to value it at more than $15bn pre-money. Like Instacart, which faced strike action over safety precautions a few months back, Verizon-backed DoorDash has also encountered scrutiny over business practices that allegedly include taking tip money intended for staff and fees some restaurants see as exorbitant. But it doesn’t seem to have had an effect yet.

The coronavirus lockdowns have given a big shot in the arm to companies operating in the online grocery industry, be it Instacart or Tongcheng Life, a China-based spinoff of travel services provider LY.com that operates a group buying service focused on fresh produce. The company has just raised $200m in a series C round led by social video platform Joyy that included Bertelsmann Asia Investments and Legend Capital, both of which took part in its $100m series B nine months ago.

Unacademy is among the online learning platforms to have seen activity shoot up as students have to stay home, and it is reportedly seeking up to $150m in funding to cover expansion. It raised $110m from investors including Facebook as recently as February but is said to be looking to double its $510m post-money valuation for the next round. The possible investors include Tencent, which has built a stable of edtech portfolio companies in its home country of China.

The uptick in e-commerce activity also has a knock-on effect for surrounding technologies. Anti-fraud software provider NS8 has completed a $123m series A round co-led by Axa Venture Partners and will allocate the funding to international expansion and product development. That’s a big haul for a series A and it comes after a year when NS8 quadrupled the size of its team from 50 to 200.

DNAnexus, the Stanford University spinout that has built a healthcare data software platform, has meanwhile raised $100m from investors including GV and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. The round boosted the total raised by DNAnexus to more than $270m, its earlier investors including Microsoft and WuXi NextCode.

Cue Health specialises in molecular testing devices for both home and professional use, and has pulled in $100m through a series C round featuring Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC. The company has now raised at least $169m altogether, and JJDC participated in the latest round having contributed to its 2018 round alongside another corporate VC unit, Dentsu Ventures.

Contract biopharmaceutical development and manufacturing services provider MabPlex has raised approximately $70.7m in series B funding from investors including Sunshine Insurance Group. The round, co-led by DT Capital Partners and Huajin Capital, comes in the wake of $59.1m in a series A round closed early last year.

Nano-X Imaging, developer of an advanced body scanner that is smaller and cheaper than established alternatives, has added $20m from SK Telecom to a series B round that now stands at $51m. The telecommunications firm had already put up $5m for the round before joining investors including Foxconn and Fujifilm in a $26m tranche in January.

Funds

Theodorus, the university venture arm of Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), has increased the size of its fourth fund to €42m ($47.3m) following commitments from pension fund manager Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and Belgian government-owned investment firm SFPI-FPIM. CDPQ supplied $3.9m through investment fund TFAQ2019, managed by Teralys Capital, while SFPI-FPIM injected $560,000, adding to a $5m it had already provided previously. Theordous IV will invest $18m in Canada-based and another $29.3m in Belgium-based spinouts over the next five years, aiming to bridge the two countries’ ecosystems. It will provide between $563,000 and $3.4m per spinout, targeting a 20-strong portfolio.

Exits

Cancer treatment developer Legend Biotech floated just over a week ago and has already closed the offering having raised about $487m. It was spun off by Genscript Biotech, which bought a further $23m of shares in the offering which have increased in value by more than 70% since the flotation. Legend’s other investors include Lilly Asia Ventures and Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC.

Conventional wisdom said just a couple of months back that pursuing an initial public offering in the wake of the massive market drops in the spring would be futile, but several life sciences companies have proven otherwise, in many cases floating at the top or above their range, and now online car retail platform Vroom has followed suit. The AutoNation-backed company has gone public in a $468m IPO, having increased the number of shares and floating above an upscaled range. The offering may well reach $538m before it formally closes.

The Vroom offering, together with that of business data provider ZoomInfo, is set to open the floodgates in the IPO markets. Even Airbnb – which has been hit harder than almost anyone in recent months – is reportedly considering moving forward with its flotation, but Lemonade is significantly ahead. The digital insurance provider, valued at $2bn+ as of April, has filed for an offering with a $100m placeholder target that will almost certainly rise. It has received about $480m in funding from investors including SoftBank, Allianz, XL Innovate and GV since being founded.

One of the larger upcoming IPOs will be Snowflake, a cloud data software provider backed by Salesforce Ventures and Capital One Ventures that has reportedly filed confidentially to go public. Snowflake has pulled in some $1.3bn in funding and was valued at $12.4bn when it last raised money, in February. To put things in perspective, the FT reports that bankers have told the company it could float at valuation between $15bn and $20bn.


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