30 March 2020 – Lime in Talks to Raise Funding at a Reduced $400m Valuation

The Big Ones

In what may be an ominous sign, electric scooter rental service Lime is reportedly in talks to raise funding at a $400m valuation, a steep fall from its last round just over a year ago, when it secured $310m in a series D round featuring Alphabet that valued it at $2.4bn. The company has secured $777m altogether but the Covid-19 pandemic has led it to suspend operations in every market outside South Korea and it reportedly only has enough cash to last for the next few months on its current burn rate.

A good exit at a challenging time in the global economy for US-based mobile networking service Affirmed Networks had a year ago raised $38m in a funding round that included Qualcomm Ventures, the corporate venturing unit of semiconductor technology manufacturer Qualcomm.

The round was led by investment firm Centerview Capital Technology and included Eastward Capital Partners and unnamed existing shareholders.

Vodafone Ventures and T-Venture, the respective corporate venturing units of mobile phone operators Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom, previously took part in the company’s $51m series C round in 2013.

Bessemer Venture Partners led the series C round, also investing alongside KCK Group, Charles River Ventures (CRV), Lightspeed Venture Partners and Matrix Partners.

Affirmed Networks had emerged from stealth in 2012 with $52m in funding from T-Venture, Vodafone Ventures, Matrix, Charles River and Lightspeed.

Hassan Ahmed created the idea behind Affirmed when he was working out of CRV’s office in Boston in 2009 as an executive in residence. When Hassan joined the firm, he was already the most successful CRV entrepreneur of all time, having run engineering at Cascade Communications, a networking company sold to Ascend for more than $3bn in 1997 and then subsequently running Sonus Networks, a high-flying communications company that had gone public in 2000. Hassan had the magic touch.

Funds

China-based company, mobile game publisher Kunlun Tech, certainly seems to be bullish. It is one of two cornerstone investors for a $424m vehicle called Kunlun (Beijing) Internet Intelligent Industry Investment Fund that will back internet and AI technology developers. Kunlun is putting up about $140m for the fund while subsidiary Xinyu Shijie Wuji Investment Management will act as general partner.

Shortly after news emerged that Kunlun Tech was partnering investment manager Beijing Huayu Tianhong to put together a $424m fund, two more Chinese corporates – Yuexiu Group and People’s Insurance Company of China – have announced they are establishing an industry investment fund the same size that will focus on technology developers in China’s Greater Bay Area. It follows a $1bn Taiping Insurance-backed fund targeting the same region in January.

Dating.com commits $50m to meeting startups

Afterpay unveils AP Ventures fund

Exits

Mobile commerce platforms Letgo and OfferUp are set to merge in a deal accompanied by a $120m round led by classified listings manager OLX Group, part of Naspers’ Prosus subsidiary. The deal will give OLX a 40% stake in the combined business. It first invested in Letgo in 2015, the year the company was founded, and it had disclosed $975m in funding prior to the merger agreement.

FuboTV fuses with FaceBank

Checkmarx ticks acquisition box

OneWeb examines bankruptcy possibilities

North Wearables seeks direction to buyers

Deals

We mentioned in the big news intro that ride hailing services were among those likely to be hit by Covid-19 social isolation measures, and China’s Didi Chuxing looks like it could be first off the mark to raise money. It is reportedly lining up $300m in a round set to be led by SoftBank, at a time when its home country is beginning to ease travel restrictions. Didi was valued at $62bn as of a July investment by Toyota, and it’s going to be interesting to see if any valuation information leaks out once the deal closes.

Data mining software provider MiningLamp has secured $300m in a series E round co-led by Tencent and state-owned investment firm Temasek that included another corporate, Kuaishou. The company, whose business model is similar to Palantir’s, has now raised more than $785m altogether and the capital will be used to support research and development, recruitment and the development of an intelligent marketing software platform.

Vertical take-off and landing vehicle developer Lillium has closed more than $240m in funding, in a round led by Tencent. The round was made up entirely of existing investors and marks a downgrade from the $400m to $500m target it had reportedly set late last year. The deal may be emblematic of what we may increasingly see going forward: existing investors continuing to back portfolio companies while being more conservative when it comes to new bets.

Ping An’s Global Voyager Fund has led a $146m round for iCapital, a provider of alternative investment management software. The round included strategic investors such as UBS Financial Services, BNY Mellon, Goldman Sachs, BlackRock and Blackstone, and the company’s overall funding likely now tops $200m.

Online used car marketplace Cazoo has raised $117m in what represents its fourth round in the space of 18 months.  Daily Mail and General Trust’s DMG Ventures led the round, having backed the startup since its 2018 seed round, and was joined by investors including Fidelity’s Eight Roads Ventures fund. Interestingly, Cazoo expects a bump from the coronavirus conditions as more customers opt for online transactions.

Kallyope took its total funding past $240m in a $112m series C round featuring existing investors Illumina Ventures and Alexandria Venture Investments. The company is developing therapeutics concentrated on the body’s gut-brain axis and intends to use the funding to begin clinical trials for its lead asset, an oral treatment targeting satiety circuits for weight loss.

SutroVax sorts out $110m series D

CureFit cuts to $109m round

Dragonfly Therapeutics drags financing to $300m

Nature’s Fynd, the edible protein developer formerly known as Sustainable Bioproducts, has rebranded and raised $80m in a series B round featuring Danone Manifesto Ventures and Archer Daniels Midland’s ADM Ventures unit. The capital is expected to fund the doubling of the company’s headcount to 100 and the round comes as it has begun production of its edible vegan protein products.

University

Nurix nabs $120m

Recode decodes $80m series A


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

09 December 2019 – Kuaishou Lining Up One of 2019’s Largest Rounds

Big Deals

It’s edging towards the end of the year but Kuaishou is lining up one of 2019’s largest rounds, having reportedly secured $2bn from Tencent as part of a series F round it plans to formally close at $3bn in the coming weeks. The round will value the short-form video platform at $28.6bn and is expected to be the last before a planned initial public offering. Tencent’s stake will stand at almost 20%.

Healthcare consortium Kaiser Permanente oversees one of the oldest corporate venturing units in the Bay Area in Kaiser Permanente Ventures, and it has just closed its fifth fund at $141m. Fund V has also brought additional corporates onboard, taking in contributions from Highmark Health’s Highmark Ventures subsidiary, Tufts Health Plan and Henry Ford Health System. It now has some $500m under management.

Indian ride hailing platform Ola is preparing to enter London (though it is already present in other UK markets, such as here in Cardiff), but in the longer term has set early 2021 as the point when it will formally begin IPO preparations. It has already hired consultants and reportedly intends to cut headcount by 5% as part of those plans. SoftBank, Tencent, Didi Chuxing, Hyundai and Kia are all investors in the company.

In GCV/GUV crossover news, wellness services and goods provider CureFit is in talks with Singaporean state-owned investment firm Temasek to raise $100m in a round reportedly set to boost its valuation from $575m to $800m. The former valuation was sealed in a $120m round closed in June that included Unilever Ventures, and the prospective new funding would support the growth of CureFit’s Eat.Fit and Care.Fit divisions. UC-RNT Fund, a joint investment fund formed by University of California with industrial group Tata Sons’ chairman emeritus Ratan Tata, had injected $25m in 2016.

Deals

Reports a week ago stated that blockchain-based online lender Figure Technologies was set to announce a $103m series C round, and so it has proved, the company raising the cash from investors including MUFG Innovation Partners. The round values Figure, which is less than two years old, at $1.2bn.

Business finance provider Konfio has become the latest company to take in a nine-figure investment from SoftBank’s $5bn Innovation Fund, raising $100m from the corporate. Konfio aims to take advantage of increasingly strict business lending practices in Mexico by offering quick loans to small and medium-sized businesses through its data technology-equipped online platform, and will use the capital to add features such as life insurance to its offering.

Alphabet’s CapitalG unit has bought an undisclosed amount of shares in data collaboration platform developer Dataiku from venture firm and existing investor Serena Capital at a reported $1.4bn valuation – apparently 100 times that at which Serena co-led Dataiku’s seed round.

FinAccel, the owner of Indonesian e-commerce credit provider Kredivo, has secured $90m at a $500m valuation, in a series C round co-led by the Naver-backed Asia Growth Fund.

Precision cancer drug developer Black Diamond Therapeutics has emerged from stealth with $194m of funding, $85m of which was just closed in a series C round featuring Roche Venture Fund. Roche’s corporate venturing vehicle participated in the round as an existing backer, and Black Diamond intends to move its lead product candidate into a phase 1/2 clinical trial in early 2020.

Impulse Dynamics has received $80.5m in funding from investors including Minth Group, Zoll Medical and Abiomed as it prepares to commercialise its heart failure treatment device in the US. Amzak Health Investors led the series D round, which increased the company’s funding over the past four years to about $155m.

Highspot has now raised $200m altogether, having secured $75m in a series D1 round that included long-term backer Salesforce Ventures. The company, which has developed a software platform that optimises sales performance, received $60m in funding just six months ago, through a series D round that included all the participants in the latest deal.

AI technology developer Aibee took its total funding to $175m in a $74m series A1 round featuring conglomerate Chow Tai Fook. The Chinese company has now racked up four rounds inside two years and its investor base includes fellow corporate backers Lenovo Capital and Incubator Group, Red Star Macalline and K11.

Online automotive e-commerce platform CarDekho has secured $70m in a round led by Ping An Global Voyager Fund at a $700m valuation. The deal is the first for China-based Ping An’s corporate venturing vehicle in India, and CarDekho’s existing investors include Kreatif Media Karya, CapitalG, Dentsu Bennett Coleman & Co.

Funds

Portag3 Ventures, the fintech-focused venture firm formed by financial holding group Power Corporation, has closed its second fund at $321m.

US-based venture capital firm Harlem Capital has closed its inaugural fund at $40.3m with limited partners including Vanderbilt University, surpassing its $25m target and $40m cap. Harlem Partners Venture Fund I engaged 55 LPs, including student startup-focused VC firm Dorm Room Fund, trade convention operator Consumer Technology Association and private equity group TPG.

Exits

Cybersecurity software producer Tenable has acquired Indegy, a US-based industrial cybersecurity technology developer backed by energy utility Centrica, mass media group Liberty Media and diversified holding company Ofer Global, for $78m. Indegy had received $18m in an August 2018 series B round led by Liberty Media’s corporate venturing arm, Liberty Technology Venture Capital, and which included Centrica Innovations and OG Tech Ventures, respective investment vehicles for Centrica and Ofer Global.


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

04 September 2017 – Expedia CEO Moves to Uber

Funds

University

OSI secures Legal & General backing

Imperial gives founders a choice

Government

Vertex pushes beyond $150m

Széchenyi gains $31m

St Louis hammers out fund details

Exits

Dara Khosrowshahi, the new chief executive of Uber, did not waste any time in making clear his ambitions for the ride-sharing company: in an all-hands meeting ahead of officially taking over – he starts his job on Tuesday – he declared not only that he is committed to paying the bills and taking big shots to secure the company’s future, but also that he intends to take Uber public within 18 to 36 months.

Best, a supply chain services provider backed by Alibaba, Cainiao and, reportedly, Foxconn, has increased the stakes of its initial public offering by filing an updated regulatory document that puts the figure at $1bn, up from $750m.

Berry Genomics has completed its reverse merger with Shenzen-listed Chengdu Tianxing Instrument and Meter, first announced in December 2016.

Synlogic processes Mirna merger

CSL accesses Calimmune for $91m

Western Digital gets Upthere

University

Big deal: Nightstar to light up stock market

Investments

Singapore-based Grab is slowly inching towards its $2.5bn goal for a series G round that already stood at $2bn thanks to commitments from SoftBank and Didi Chuxing.

GoGoVan reaches for 58 Suyun

Food delivery is hotly contested sector and many of the startups involved have changed hands – be that for example TastyKhana being purchased by Food Panda, which in turn was later acquired by Delivery Hero, or Just Eat subsidiary Hellofood Brazil becoming part of iFood. Now another one is joining the list: Waimai has been acquired by Ele.me for a reported $800m (which would be down significantly from the estimated $2.5bn valuation last year).

Alibaba and Yunfeng Capital, the investment vehicle of the e-commerce group’s founder Jack Ma, have put $152m into cloud computing business Qiniuyun.

Freenome, a healthtech developer has added $7m to its series A to close the round, already backed by GV, at $72m.

Armo Biosciences has added $67m to its coffers in a series C1 round that featured GV and Celgene, who both also participated in a $50m series C in February last year.

The biggest deal of the day comes from the US, where Qadium has amassed $40m in a series B round led by Institutional Venture Partners.

In China, Abcfintech has added $30m to its coffers thanks to investors such as Susquehanna International Group’s SIG Asia Investment. Abcfintech operates cloud-based AI platforms that help financial services firms visualise their data and predict the performance of public stock.

Alice, the developer of a hotel management platform, has secured $26m in series B funding from Expedia in a deal facilitated by Khosrowshahi before he stepped down to join Uber.

VideoAmp, the developer of an advertising technology platform that tracks the impact of campaigns across television, video on-demand, over-the-top and digital content, has secured $21.4m in series B capital from Mediaocean and returning backer RTL, among others.

Government

Vulog eyes $20m series B

University

CureFit exercises with $25m


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