08 February 2021 – Robinhood Raises $3.4bn

The Big Ones

Few VC-backed companies have had as busy a week in the mainstream media as Robinhood. The share trading platform developer has been ground zero for the GameStop rush as well as increased activity for other “meme” stocks like AMC, Nokia and BlackBerry. But those increased trading levels means more cash required to meet SEC requirements, and the Alphabet and Roc Nation-backed company first raised $1bn from existing investors along with some $500m to $600m in debt financing a week ago Friday and then another $2.4bn over the weekend to come out with $3.4bn last Monday.

Kuaishou went public in Hong Kong this Friday morning in a hugely oversubscribed initial public offering in which it raised $5.4bn, only to see its shares open at a price nearly three times that of its IPO. The short-form video app developer had secured $4.35bn in funding from investors including Tencent and Baidu prior to the offering and now has a market cap that stands around the $160bn mark.

US-based printing technology producer Xerox plans to launch innovation and corporate development divisions through a reorganisation involving the formation of a $250m corporate venturing arm. Xerox’s Corporate Development group will engage in investments and merger and acquisition deals as well as deploying the recently announced $250m fund. The unit is yet to be launched but will invest in mid-sized, growth-stage companies aligned with Xerox’s strategic interests. It will be led by executive vice-president Louie Pastor, who has also been appointed chief corporate development officer and chief legal officer.

Crossover is an exit this week. Stem cell immunotherapy developer Sana Biotechnology –based on research at Harvard, UCSF and University of Washington, and co-founded by former executives of Juno that was acquired by Celgene for $9bn a couple of years ago – has floated in an offering that netted it nearly $588m (more than four times as much as its $150m original target), reputedly representing the largest IPO yet for a preclinical biotech company. Shares surged 40% on the first day (from $25 to $35.10) so that greenshoe option seems likely, which could push proceeds to nearly $676m. It comes about eight months after Sana Bio disclosed $700m in early-stage funding from investors including GV, the Alphabet subsidiary formerly known as Google Ventures. Its current share price gives it a market cap of about $7bn.

Deals

It’s interesting that after the Ubers and Airbnbs of the world have gone public, a wave of new companies in more coronavirus-resistant sectors have stepped up to fill that void at the top of the VC-backed valuation heap, and quickly too. Data engineering software producer DataBricks has received $1bn from investors including Microsoft, AWS, CapitalG and Salesforce Ventures in a series G round valuing it at $28bn. That’s a more than fourfold increase from its series F, just over a year ago.

UiPath’s valuation is even higher, the automation software provider having pulled in $750m in series F funding at a $35bn post-money valuation. Corporate investors Tencent and CapitalG weren’t identified as participants in the round, which more than tripled UiPath’s valuation from its July series E, and it’s going to be interesting to see how much higher that valuation can go when it executes the IPO for which it confidentially filed in December.

Online food delivery has been heavily boosted in the past year and Good Eggs combines several different areas – prepared food and meal kits, farm-to-table produce, alcohol and flower delivery – in a single offering. It’s also managed to raise $100m from investors including GV and Rich’s despite operating mainly in the San Francisco Bay Area. The capital will support its expansion into Southern California, with wider movement surely on the horizon.

Tealium, developer of a management software tool for customer data, has secured $96m in series G financing at a $1.2bn valuation, increasing its overall funding to $160m. Its earlier funding came from investors including Sumitomo’s Presidio Ventures unit, ABN Amro Digital Impact Fund, Citi Ventures and Parkwood, though none were named in the latest round, which was co-led by Georgian and Silver Lake Waterman.

Mobile Premier League, the developer of an online gaming platform focused on the South and Southeast Asian markets, was founded about three years ago and has already notched up its fourth funding round, raising $95m from investors including Susquehanna International Group, Go-Ventures and Telstra Ventures. The series D round valued it at $945m post-money and the proceeds will go to bolstering its esports offering.

Funds

Telecoms and internet group SoftBank is launching a $100m fund to invest in companies based around the Miami, Florida area of the United States. The vehicle has already chosen its first portfolio companies, including cybersecurity software developer Lumu Technologies. It will invest in locally-founded startups as well as those willing to move to the area.

Exits

Genetic testing service 23andme has chosen to go the reverse merger route for a public listing, joining with VG Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company sponsored by conglomerate Virgin Group in a deal that will value the merged business at about $3.5bn. It had received more than $870m in funding pre-IPO from an investor base that includes GV (which is scoring some huge exits right now), WuXi AppTec, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche and Illumina.

Astra is set to become the first private space launch services provider to hit the public markets, having agreed a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company Holicity at an implied valuation of $2.1bn. The deal was agreed a year after Astra emerged from stealth having secured over $100m from investors including Airbus Ventures, which is slowly growing a significant presence in the spacetech sector, and two months after it launched its first rocket into space.

Drizly’s investors, which include Vayner/RSE, are heading for an exit of a different kind after the alcohol delivery service agreed to be acquired by Uber for $1.1bn. The company had disclosed approximately $85m in funding and will join an expanding range of Uber delivery services spearheaded by its Uber Eats subsidiary. It also stands as a sign of growth in the on-demand service sector, and perhaps forthcoming consolidation.

Roblox has had an extremely busy couple of months, filing for and then postponing its initial public offering, changing over to a direct listing, raising $520m from investors including Warner Music Group at a hugely increased $29.5bn valuation and now reportedly putting its plans to go public on hold. The game creation platform developer, which also counts Tencent among its investors, is postponing the listing due to regulatory scrutiny on how it classifies revenue from sales of its Robux currency on the platform.

Shared workspace provider Knotel was valued above $1bn just 18 months ago but has now filed for bankruptcy, a reminder that while some business models have thrived during the coronavirus pandemic, others have been far unluckier. Knotel had raised roughly $560m from investors including Mori Trust, Rocket Internet, Itochu, Bloomberg Beta, The Sapir Organization, Raiffeisen, Wolfson Group, Moinian Group and Wainbridge Capital.


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

28 October 2019 – We Company Gains $18.5bn in Debt and Equity Funding

The Big Ones

SoftBank COO Marcelo Claure revealed on Thursday that it has committed a total of $18.5bn in debt and equity financing to WeWork owner We Company. It comes after SoftBank, on Tuesday, confirmed details of a $9.5bn rescue package for We Company that includes a $3bn tender offer which will allow earlier investors including Jin Jiang International and Legend Holdings to exit, albeit at a sizeable loss. SoftBank will emerge with an 80% stake in a streamlined company while We Co will come out with enough capital to sustain itself for the time being, hopefully.

Happier times for Databricks, the UC Berkeley spinout that has built a data preparation platform tailored for work with advanced analytics tools. It’s secured $400m in a Microsoft-backed series F round that boosted its valuation from $2.75bn to $6.2bn in just eight months.

Total has launched a $400m investment unit called Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures that looks as if it is assuming the mantle of the petroleum supplier’s main corporate venturing vehicle. The capital is intended to be allocated over the next five years and will fund developers of technologies in areas like energy storage, smart energy and mobility.

On GUV, Oxford Nanopore, the UK-based genetic sequencing technology spinout of University of Oxford, is reportedly seeking £1.6bn ($2.1bn) in a forthcoming private placement. The purported transaction could help Woodford Investment Management, soon to close having failed to restore its liquidity, by enabling the firm to sell down equity that reportedly represents the biggest stake in its portfolio by market value. It is unclear how the move tallies with earlier suggestions that the spinout was looking to go public.

Speaking of Woodford, good news for the spinout-focused Patient Capital Trust. Asset management firm Schroders has rescued trust and agreed terms for the switch to take place before the end of 2019, when it will be renamed Schroder UK Public Private Trust. Schroders will waive its management fee for the first three months and will then charge 0.8% or 1% annually depending on the size of each client’s investment.

Deals

Taimei Technology, which provides clinical trials software that helps multiple stakeholders in the process interact with each other, and ¨has confirmed $212m in funding across two rounds. One of those is a $132m series E-plus round led by Tencent, which added to an $80m series E featuring SoftBank China Venture Capital, some details of which originally emerged in January.

Elsewhere in China, global positioning technology provider Qianxun Spatial Intelligence has secured $141m in series A funding, four years after it was co-founded by Alibaba and Norinco Group. The cash was reportedly raised at a $1.84bn valuation and the round was co-led by government-owned vehicles Shanghai International Group, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China State-Owned Capital Venture Investment Fund.

Funds

Security and surveillance technology provider Hikvision is putting together its own investment fund, Hikvision Smart Industry Investment Fund, which will be equipped with some $141m in capital.

Aerospace and defence equipment manufacturer Safran launched corporate venturing unit Safran Corporate Ventures in 2015 and, after allocating most of its original capital, has added another $33.5m to take its total budget to about $89m. The fund has invested in 10 companies, one of which has so far heralded an exit, and the capital is expected to be spent over the next two years.

Partners Healthcare has run corporate venturing unit Partners Innovation Fund since 2008 but has elected to also provide $80m for two specialist funds. The care system operator will put $50m into a vehicle known as Translational Innovation Fund, which will support development of preclinical drugs based on research at its hospitals, while $30m is going to Artificial Intelligence and Digital Translation Fund, which will work on innovative digital technologies with Partners Healthcare’s vendors.

Bloomberg Beta has meanwhile launched its third $75m fund in six years, with the cash again coming solely from Bloomberg. The firm is sponsored by Bloomberg but operates separately, with a focus on ‘the future of work’ and has built up a portfolio that includes unicorns Knotel and Flexport as well as the likes of Masterclass, AppZen, Rigetti Computing and InfluxData, which each look well on their way to that status.

And Yissum, the tech transfer company of Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJ), has joined forces with drug discovery firm Evotec to launch Lab555, the latest iteration of the latter’s academic commercialisation bridge model.

Exits

More waves in the IPO space, with Singapore-based online real estate marketplace PropertyGuru pulling out of an offering in Australia that would have raised $257m had the company floated at the top of its range. Media conglomerate Emtek had been looking to sell some $55m of shares in the IPO but a bigger concern may be for the Australian Stock Exchange itself.


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

11 February 2019 – Tencent and the Gaming Industry

Big Three

General Electric’s corporate venturing unit is launching a content portal called Flux to help companies overcome barriers to diversity and inclusiveness.

In game-industry deal-making, there’s Tencent, then there’s everyone else. As a sign of both financial muscle and the need to expand beyond core markets given the effective closing of the Chinese market to new games in 2018, Tencent was either a major shareholder in or investor in four of the top five deals last year that saw record $5.7bn invested in startups, according to Digi-Capital’s Q1 report by Tim Merrell.

SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son has said he wants the corporate to eventually raise several iterations of its Vision Fund, and it may have to, considering the vehicle, which is yet to reach its initial $100bn target, has reportedly passed the halfway point in terms of capital allocated.

Deals

Chinese automotive e-commerce platform Guazi could well be the next investment target for SoftBank Vision Fund, which is reportedly in talks to invest up to $1.5bn at an $8.5bn pre-money valuation.

Autonomous driving technology developer Aurora Interactive was formed by alumni of Google, Uber and Tesla’s driverless software units, and has made a big move by raising $530m from investors including Amazon.

OakNorth, a digital bank that caters to both consumers and business customers, has meanwhile become SoftBank Vision Fund’s latest portfolio company.

Electric scooter and e-bike rental service Lime has completed a $310m series D round co-led by GV, whose parent company Alphabet also participated.

Microsoft has invested in Databricks as part of a $250m series E round that valued the big data analytics technology producer at $2.75bn, more than two years after forming a partnership to create a version of its software specifically for Microsoft’s Azure platform.

Zomato has meanwhile received $39.7m from Glade Brook Capital and added it to the $210m invested by Ant Financial in October for a funding round that now stands at about $250m, and which reports last month suggested could potentially reach $1bn.

Raisin puts $114m in its account

Emerging Markets Property Group, the online real estate listings operator whose key brand is Bayut, has raised $100m in series D funding from investors including Exor Seeds, the $100m fund formed by reinsurance company PartnerRe and its parent, Exor.

Healthcare data software provider Health Catalyst on the other hand is valued at about $1bn following a $100m series F round backed by corporate venturing vehicles UPMC Enterprises and Kaiser Permanente Ventures.

Foot Locker kicks $100m into Goat Group

Corporates help scale Himalaya with $100m

University

Spin Memory banks Abies for series B

Blue Water seeks $15m injection

Funds

Sojitz sorts out $33m joint venture fund

Partech packs $143m into African fund

Berkeley encrypts Blockchain Xcelerator

Exits

Palo Alto Networks picks Demisto for acquisition

Alector is developing immuno-neurology drugs that will target the immune system in order to fight neurodegenerative disorders, and it raised $176m when it floated today after pricing its IPO in the middle of its range.

Marinomed hits Vienna Stock Exchange

Long touted as one of the world’s most valuable VC-backed startups, Palantir reached a $20bn valuation in 2015 and reports from 2018 suggested it would seek a valuation roughly double that in a flotation expected to take place this year.

After months of speculation Slack has finally filed, albeit confidentially, to go public. The enterprise messaging platform plans to opt for a direct listing, as Spotify did last year, meaning existing investors including GV, Comcast Ventures and SoftBank Vision Fund will get the chance to divest shares despite Slack not looking to raise additional capital through a flotation. Slack was valued at just over $7.1bn as of its last funding round, in August.

TCR² Therapeutics has set the terms for an initial public offering that will net it $80m if it floats at the top of its range.


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