21 February 2021 – Blockchain.com Raises $120m in Strategic Growth Round

The Big Ones

1

Wishing our readers around the world a wonderful prosperous lunar new year – welcome to the year of the ox.

There has been a plateau in deal volumes in China over the past two years with other Asia-Pacific markets catching up, as adjunct professor Martin Haemmig noted at our last GCV Digital Forum at the end of January.

But China’s market has set the innovation bar higher in a host of fields, from ecommerce to artificial intelligence (AI) and electric vehicles. State-supported, mission-led innovation is a powerful aid to delivering a society’s vision – in China’s case leading the world in AI by 2030, Wired’s article notes.

The capital requirements, therefore, have scaled up to compete with the US and so fewer, larger deals makes sense.

A glance at the past week’s $100m-plus rounds, prepared by news editor Rob Lavine, shows China and the US still dominate the entrepreneurs gaining the funding to scale up to global champions.

China’s large, corporate-backed deals included:

Fenbi Education – $390m (IDG Capital, Huaxing Growth Capital, Hony Capital, Trustbridge Partners and unnamed others)

Pony.ai – $100m (Brunei Investment Agency and Citic Private Equity Funds Management)

Horizon Robotics – $350m (Sunny Optical Technology, BYD Auto, Great Wall Motors, Changjiang Automobile Electronic, Changzhou Xingyu Car Light, Dongfeng Asset, CMC-SDIC Capital, Shougang Fund and Shanghai AI Industry Fund)

Plus – $200m (Wanxiang International Investment, Guotai Junan International, Citic CPE and Full Truck Alliance/Manbang Group)

It was a powerful end to a year that saw the state tackle the power of a previous generation of entrepreneurial superstars, such as Alibaba and Tencent. And it remains a delicate balance to encourage innovation within restrictions.

The past 30 years have seen unprecedented numbers of people move out of poverty in China and the world through innovation and market forces. What the next year will bring will be further shocks and tensions – notably around Taiwan and geopolitics but remembering the sacrifices and accomplishments to get this far is important to build in the right direction.
Health, wealth, love, happiness and the time to enjoy it all.

2

AI quarterly report and monthly GCV published

“Artificial intelligence [AI] will change how business, governments and societies operate for decades to come.”

This was the theme at Tortoise Media’s AI discussion between editor James Harding and Mariana Mazzucato, academic and author of the new book, Moonshot.

There have been relatively few general purpose technologies since the first industrial age. The use of steam power and then electricity transformed society and business. In the first and second ages of industry with semiconductors, and then the internet created the conditions for data and information to be shared. AI will then write the software to capitalise on the opportunities and as the hardware improves so does the scale and speed.

As Jeff Herbst, vice president of business development at Nvidia and head of Nvidia GPU Ventures, in discussion with George Hoyem, managing partner at In-Q-Tel, shared at the GCV Digital Forum 2021 last month: “Modern AI is basically pattern recognition on data, whether it is images or voice.

“Fundamentally what is going on in the world right now is that the traditional model of how computers are programmed has been turned on its head.”

Herbst predicted the industries that would be most transformed by AI will be those that manage large amounts of data such as healthcare or retail.

Hoyem said that in the same way most technology uses the internet today, AI was also heading in a similar direction.

“It is going to creep into every vertical application and it starts with things that are highly parallelised and data sets like images, voice and even unstructured text.

“It is going to cover pretty much everything in about 10 years.”

This creates a question for governments for how best to steer or manage the progress. Mazzucato rightly argues for “goal-oriented, public private partnerships.

“What does it mean to have purpose at centre of public governance and system? Be bold on outcomes wanted and open on methods to get there.

“Have the ability to learn through trial and error and not outsourcing to consultants. Develop organisational capacity beyond administration but through dynamic procurement to bring policy redesign. Dynamic procurement to scale up not just VC.

“Going to the moon and back in a generation [the 1960s] gave immense spin-overs. [Our current] materials, software, traces back to those days. What does it mean today?

“It means targeting spill-overs rather than cost-benefit analysis.”

In the UK’s industrial strategy announced in 2017, Mazzucato and former universities minister David Willetts put AI and data as central to any challenge. She described it as “a fundamental input to transform”. The missions set out in the strategy focused on healthy ageing, the climate and the future of mobility to be safe, sustainability, have equal access and net-zero carbon emissions.

The European Union is going further with its green deal as part of its 2021 to 2027 Horizon Europe budget. Similarly, both China and the US are setting ambitious climate goals.

AI has already allowed Alphabet and other tech companies to reduced energy use and costs for data centres – as Callum Cyrus notes in his main feature.

But, as Nvidia’s chart on the AI startup ecosystem shows, most entrepreneurs are targeting the global health system. Already, scientists are weaving human brain cells into microchips, as the blog Futurism notes.

David Saad, mathematician at Aston University, said: “We believe this project has the potential to break through current limitations of processing power and energy consumption to bring about a paradigm shift in machine learning technology.”

AI will only fix the problems set for it by the politicians if they are clear what societal challenges they want tackled.

As Pope Francis put it in November: “Artificial intelligence is at the heart of the epochal change we are experiencing… Future advances should be oriented towards respecting the dignity of the person and of creation.”

3

How do you get startups to go from zero to scale?

When you see hundreds if not thousands of ideas and startups, as Jeff Schumacher, founder of New Asset Exchange (NAX), has then you realise a good team and product-market fit takes you only so far.

The differentiator is volume, often using capital to spend on marketing. Schumacher’s latest startup, NAX, has taken this idea and developed a software platform to create corporate asset-backed products, ventures and securities.

Emerging with stealth with $65m in funding from a dozen corporate, institutional and family office investors, NAX has a development unit to take data and turn it into a security or venture with the software to trade it.

This model could, for example, turn an insurance company’s data around the 25 attributes needed to underwrite a work of art and allow banks to lend money against it in order to help fund its purchase.

The law of large numbers then works if there are lots of these credit notes to package them up and syndicate or tranche the bundles of debt into asset-backed securities, similar to car loans or house mortgages.

Take the idea on and NAX wants to apply the same model to indie games developers for securitising expected revenues. But its biggest target is climate change.

How can carbon be priced or corporations offset emissions? Schumacher, former founder of BCG Digital Ventures and Axon Advisory Partners, said: “Climate is hard to trade because it is opaque, compare and has no scale.

“The Paris Accord will not work because social investment funds are not enough. We need financial innovation and instruments to attract capital.”

There is increased attention on the topic this year as COP26 is being held in London and expected to update the Paris Accord with new emissions targets, carbon reporting, investor incentives and corporate governance standards.

As George Serafeim, professor at Harvard Business School, noted in September’s GCV Digital Forum, the creation of impact-weighted accounting standards will help push the main listed corporations to explaining and tackling their externalities.

Creating a financial market to help, say, a smelter plant minimise or offset their environmental impact would be useful.

GCV through its Global Energy Council and its sister publications, Global Impact Venturing and Global University Venturing, will be preparing its Symposium in the UK in early November around COP26 with special events planned to cover the golden triangle between London, Oxford and Cambridge and in Scotland and the north of England.

4

UK-based cryptocurrency exchange provider Blockchain.com, which raised a $120m strategic growth round.

These investors included Access Industries, an investment and industrial group founded by Leonard Blavatnik, GV (formerly known as Google Ventures and one of Alphabet’s corporate venturing units), venture capital firms Lakestar and Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Moore Strategic Ventures (Louis Bacon’s hedge fund’s venture unit), Kyle Bass (founder and principal of Hayman Capital Management hedge fund), Eldridge and Rovida Advisors.

When Blockchain.com set out to raise its series A round in late 2014, there were only a handful of venture-backed crypto companies and a bitcoin was worth hundreds of dollars.

Six years later and Bitcoin has crossed what Blockchain called the “monumental price target of $50,000” and the company provides 65 million wallets in 200-plus countries. More than a quarter (28%) of all Bitcoin transactions since 2012 have occurred via Blockchain.com, it added.

Peter Smith, Blockchain.com’s CEO and founder, said: “The current bull run is dominated by stories of Fortune 500 companies, investment funds, and institutions driving net inflows into crypto. The fact that the best macro investors in the world participated in our latest fundraise is further proof that institutions are taking a serious look at their crypto strategy.”

Jalak Jobanputra, founder of VC firm Future Perfect Ventures, which invested in Blockchain.com’s 2014 round, in her newsletter put part of the institutional moves down to bitcoin having decoupled from other assets over fears of inflation. She said: “The last couple of weeks have felt like we have moved decades forward in the sector, and this seems to be accelerating daily.”

Funds

Adjuvant stimulates $300m fund

Sesame Workshop, National Geographic Society and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals have all thrown their weight behind a $165m third fund raised by edtech-focused VC firm Reach Capital. The fund will specifically target educational technology producers that are looking to remove barriers, particularly those faced by ethnic minorities, disabled students and under-resourced communities. Reach’s existing portfolio already includes Outschool – also backed by Sesame Workshop – and Springboard – also backed by Telstra Ventures.

Spain-based bank BBVA has committed a further $150m to financial sector-focused venture capital firm Propel Venture Partners and bringing its total commitment to more than $400m since 2016. BBVA has committed an initial $50m to an annual fund as the sole limited partner (LP). This will be followed by similar funds in 2022 and 2023, which will be open to outside investors.

Eurazeo is going in a different direction with its $97m Smart City II Venture Fund, focusing on early-stage startups in the energy, mobility, property technology and logistics industries. Limited partners for the fund’s first close include car manufacturer Stellantis, electric utilities EDF and Mainova, public transport operator RATP, energy producer Total, logistics company Duisport and real estate developer Sansiri. The predecessor vehicle, Smart City I, invested in approximately 25 companies across Europe, North America and Asia.

Masco puts finishing touch to $50m fund

SCB 10X, the corporate venturing unit of Thailand-based Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), has set up a $50m fund for early and growth-stage startups targeting blockchain, decentralised finance (DeFi) and digital assets.

Kraken Digital Asset Exchange, a US-based cryptocurrency service provider, has set up a corporate venturing unit.

Kraken Ventures will target early-stage companies and protocols across the crypto and financial technology ecosystem, including decentralized finance (DeFi), as well as enabling technologies, such as artificial intelligence, regulation tech and cybersecurity.

BIG goes local with Hyogo Kobe Fund

Costco Wholesale, a Nasdaq-listed retailer, has committed $1m to Fearless Fund, a US-based venture capital firm set up to invest in women of colour (WOC).

Costco’s investment marks a string of corporate interest in the fund, following recent investments from PayPal and Bank of America.

Savola Group, a Saudi Arabia-based food and retail conglomerate, has set up its corporate venturing unit and completed its first investment.

Its corporate venture capital fund will invest in disruptive technologies and opportunities in the food and retail space regionally and globally, according to news provider Wamda.

DexCom, a Nasdaq-listed supplier of continuous glucose monitoring for people with diabetes, has set up its corporate venturing unit under Steve Pacelli.

Dexcom Ventures will invest in glucose sensing technology and adjacent areas, such as data analytics, remote patient monitoring and population health.

LightShed Partners, a US-based boutique research firm founded by media analyst Rich Greenfield in 2019, has set up a corporate venturing fund.

LightShed Ventures is raising $75m to invest in seed and series A rounds across technology, media and telecom sectors, according to news provider Barron’s.

Ensemble Innovation Ventures (EIV), the holding company of US-based healthcare provider Delta Dental of Colorado, has set up a corporate venturing fund.

Ensemble Innovation Ventures Fund (EIVF) will target the health and wellness space and invest in early-stage venture companies primarily in its local region.

9Unicorns, an India-based incubator and startup fund set up by Venture Catalysts, has raised INR1bn ($14m) from local food provider Haldiram’s and other investors.

Haldiram’s had announced a partnership with Venture Catalysts in April 2019.

University

Venture capital firm Global Accelerated Ventures (GAV) has partnered with Oxford University Innovation (OUI), the research commercialisation unit of UK-based University of Oxford to set up a $25m special purpose investment vehicle (SPV) targeting conservation-focused startups.

The Oxford GAV Conservation Venture Studio will support and bring prototypes to market

Exits

It has barely been four years since JD.com spun off its warehousing and distribution services provider as JD Logistics, but the unit quickly went on to raise $2.5bn in 2018 from Tencent, China Life and others. That capital seemingly provided a decent runway and now JD Logistics is looking to build on its business growth thanks to a surge in online shopping during the pandemic by filing to go public in Hong Kong. Financial terms have not yet been set, but sources told DealStreetAsia the company is eyeing a $40bn valuation. That’s not a bad multiple on the $12.8bn it was reportedly valued for that 2018 round.

Also benefiting from a surge in online shopping is BigBasket, the India-based grocery delivery company that has now agreed to an acquisition by Tata Group in a deal that values it between $1.8bn and $2bn. Tata is buying a 60% stake in the business and existing shareholders, which include Alibaba with a near-30% stake, are set to exit almost entirely. Tata is not stopping there: the plan for BigBasket is said to be turning it into a public company as early as 2021.

Coupang, the Korean online retailer that ships products to customers nationwide within hours of purchase, is reportedly eyeing a $50bn market cap with a planned $1bn initial public offering that would provide an exit to SoftBank and its Vision Fund. The corporate and the fund have invested $2.5bn between themselves and that market cap would be a more than fivefold increase on the $9bn valuation that Coupang fetched in 2018. Coupang more than halved its net loss over the past two years, though it still stood at nearly $475m for 2020.

Cloopen Group – also known as Ronglian Cloud Communications and as Yuntongxun – has already completed its IPO and brought in $320m through a listing on the New York Stock Exchange that provided exits to New Oriental and Telstra Ventures (though neither owned more than 5% before the offering). It had priced its ADSs at just $16 but as of yesterday’s close they were already worth $29.65 so there is every expectation that underwriters will jump at the chance to buy the additional 3 million ADSs.

Adagene advances to IPO

Hearing loss treatment developer Decibel has already gone public, pricing its shares at $18 to raise more than $127m through a listing on the Nasdaq Global Select Market that provided exits to GV, SR One and Regeneron. It was more than the $75m in proceeds that Decibel had originally targeted but despite a brief climb to $24.39 a share on the first day of trading, they closed back down at only $18.03.

Amgen and Pfizer also celebrated exits as cancer immunotherapy developer NexImmune – a spinout of Johns Hopkins University – raised $110m in an upsized initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Market. NexImmune’s shares closed at $25.33 on the first day of trading on Friday. Neither corporate owned more than 5% in NexImmune ahead of the offering.

Another week, another set of reverse mergers. Today it is AEye’s turn, the lidar system developer having agreed to combine with CF Finance Acquisition Corp III at a $2bn valuation. Existing shareholders Subaru-SBI Innovation Fund, Intel Capital and Hella Ventures joined GM Ventures and others for a $225m Pipe financing. AEye’s backers, which had supplied more than $60m in equity funding, also include Aisin, LG, SK Hynix and Airbus Ventures. The merger is expected to complete in the second quarter of the year.

Owlet grows into public company

Humacyte, a US-based developer of tissue-based medical technology backed by conglomerate Access Industries and healthcare company Fresenius Medical Care, is the latest company to jump on the reverse merger bandwagon. The business is set to merge with Alpha Healthcare Acquisition Corp to list on Nasdaq, and the deal will land it $175m in financing from Fresenius and Alexandria Venture Investments, among others. Alpha Healthcare already raised $100m when it went public, and Humacyte is looking at a $1.1bn market cap once the transaction closes. Fresenius took a 19% stake in 2018, while Access Industries made its investment in 2015 as part of a $150m series B.

Humio is choosing a more traditional exit by agreeing to a $400m acquisition by CrowdStrike that will primarily consist of cash but include some equity. It is a sizeable amount of change dropped by CrowdStrike, not least because Humio had only raised slightly more than $30m in equity financing – most recently completing a $20m series B round led by Dell Technologies Capital in March last year.

University

Talis takes in IPO proceeds

Deals

Xingsheng Youxuan, which allows neighbourhood communities to club together to purchase goods in bulk, has added $2bn to its coffers thanks to commitments from Tencent and China Evergrande Group, among others. The company said it now processes more than 8 million daily orders and is delivering to more than 30,000 towns across China. The latest cash injection comes just a couple of months after JD.com committed $700m and less than a year after Xingsheng secured $800m in its series C-plus from Tencent and others.

SpaceX meanwhile is showing no ambitions to go public just yet and the US-based spacecraft producer and launch services provider backed by Alphabet, has added $850m in fresh funding from unspecified investors at a reported valuation of $74bn. It is not the biggest round raised by SpaceX – for now that remains the $1.9bn transaction last summer – but it is notable for one because the company had allegedly lined up offers totalling $6bn within three days (yes, you read that right) and for another because existing shareholders took the opportunity to sell $750m worth of stock. No word on their identity either, however.

University

Axiom Space lifts off with $130m

Kakao Mobility hails Carlyle for $200m

Locus Robotics is one of two companies to have raised $150m (see Standard Cognition below, too) and the warehouse automation technology producer’s series E round featured returning backer Prologis Ventures (though it is unclear when the corporate first invested). Zebra Ventures did not participate this time, having previously contributed to the $40m series D and $26m series C rounds.

Standard Cognition checks out $150m series C

Mainstay Medical puts away $108m

TigerGraph charts course to $105m

University

LegalForce powers up with series C


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

01 February 2021 – Xerox Sets Up $250m Corporate Venture Capital Fund

The Big Ones

GCV Digital Forum 2021 event had a host of highlights, including awards, the World of Corporate Venturing annual review, magazines and to bring together such luminaries to share insights and deal flow through the GCV Connect powered by Proseeder platform as well as commercially bring in the subscribers, sponsors and attendees.

To have about 1,000 at the forum and Mach 49 workshop and hundreds of meetings and engagement with the pitch sessions is awesome, particularly through the regional and sectoral meetings, such as for the hydrogen roundtable and Global Energy Council meeting and report.

The event also showcased the launches of our professional development and community platforms for venture investors of all types to meet up, the GCV Institute and Global Innovation Venturing, respectively.

We have together really set out the stall for this year for the growth of the GCV Leadership Society, GCV Connect powered by Proseeder platform, Global Innovation Venturing, GCV Institute including Academy and a boost to readers across our titles, with my colleague, Thierry Heles bringing out the latest quarterly report for Global University Venturing.
Let us work together to achieve our common goals. There is strength in unity.

Xerox sets up $250m corporate venture capital fund

Xerox’s has now set up a reported $250m corporate venture capital (CVC) fund. The timing is notable for a few reasons.

First, Tolga Kurtoglu, Xerox’s head of research, left late last year, to this month join computer maker HP – probably Silicon Valley’s original archetypal company having been founded by Stanford University students from their garage – as chief technology officer.
Second, Xerox is back into CVC after one of the most seminal journeys into CVC.

As CB Insights in its excellent history of the industry noted: “Xerox had had an active CVC program since the 1960s, operating an internally managed fund that invested in some of the most legendary figures in Silicon Valley, including Raymond Kurzweil [proponent of the singularity between people and machines] and Steve Jobs [founder of Apple]….

“Xerox started Xerox Technology Ventures (XTV) in 1988 to exploit and monetize the technology created in Parc and its other research labs, funding it with $30m.

“The company’s chairman said at the time that it was ‘a hedge against repeated missteps of the past’. Apple was one of several examples in which technology initially developed by Xerox was commercialized by more nimble competitors.”

But Parc also developed the laser printer among a host of projects and XTV was an enormous financial success, netting capital gains of $219m on the company’s initial investment, an astounding net internal rate of return of 56%, CB Insights’ history notes.

XTV was terminated, reportedly due to politics, and replaced with Xerox New Enterprises, which did not relinquish control of firms or allow for outside investment and had less success.

Which direction Xerox’s new fund takes will showcase whether the new management since the 1990s has learned the right lessons and there are now plenty of examples of groups setting up for success and longevity, as identified in the GCV Digital Forum over the past week.

Thanks to the 1,000 or so investors, including those part of the GCV Leadership Society who joined this Festival of Corporate Venturing and helped with the pilot and roll out of the GCV Institute launched to provide the professional development to recruit, retain and train CVCs and their business units and executive on the right approaches. In innovation we trust and we welcome Xerox and its CEO, John Visentin, back into the community

Focus on large acquisitions

There are certainly all these elements to Preventice’s acquisition by Boston Scientific for up to $1.025bn. But the conditions for these deals are set by the animal spirits in the wider public markets.

And here the music is certainly playing as Silicon Valley Bank notes in annual healthcare report.

The boom in diagnostics (dx/tools as a subsector) was set by last year’s flotation of  digital disease management company Livongo in an $355m initial public offering. The following year saw telehealth group Teladoc acquire Livongo for $18.5bn.

And behind both Preventice and Livongo was US-listed drugs group Merck’s corporate venturing unit, Global Health Innovation (GHI).

William Taranto, head of Merck GHI, noted by email: “This is our second unicorn for GHI in the last 18 months (Livongo and Preventice). We were majority owner of Preventice.”

Jon Otterstatter, co-founder and CEO of Preventice Technologies, and Taranto in a session moderated by Heidi Mason of Bell Mason Group spoke at length at the GCV Symposium a few years ago. Mason when asked by email remembered it well. “I recall being on your London Symposium stage with Bill and Jon some years ago, talking about strategic vision and gainful implementation before [the] ‘CVC ecosystem investor model’ was common wisdom.

“Bill and Jon discussing how their strategic innovation partnership was forged with vision of new digital health market [and] new sector…and even then, they were anticipating this type of M&A or IPO as a future rung in their strategic platform ‘ascension’ story.”

Merck operates a $500m GHI Fund and added a $700m private equity fund to be able to buy-and-build and take larger stakes across the ecosystem. For his GCV Powerlist 2016 award, Taranto said: “We are focused on using our growth equity firm to create ecosystems around oncology and infectious disease.

“We are very proud to have acquired and merged Preventice Solutions and eCardio, then bringing in Boston Scientific as our partner.”

After a merger with eCardio and a spin-out after acquisition, Joe Volpe, general manager of Merck’s $700m fund and a GCV Rising Star 2016, said the Preventice asset deal paid Merck back more than 80% of what was invested and left it still owning about 48% of the asset with significant value. This was increased to majority control in last year’s $137m round, while Boston Scientific owned about 22% stake in Preventice pre-takeover.

As SVB notes in its annual healthcare report: “Historically, we have seen few, if any, large private dx/tools acquisitions….

“However, in 2020, we saw three multi-billion dollar private M&A (ArcherDX [bought for $1.4bn by Invitae], Grail [acquired by Illumina for $8bn] and Thrive Earlier Detection taken over by Exact Sciences for $2.2bn]), two of which were pre-commercial….

“All three deals exited in less than five years from the close of their series A….

“We anticipate [this year] an even split between $1bn-plus IPOs and M&A, as big-deal IPO/M&A optionality has arrived in the sector.”

Just in the past week has been a further 11 venture-backed healthcare companies filing details on their IPOs and another four trade sales, with the majority backed by corporate venturers.

The stem cell therapy developer Sana Bio filed to go public to raise $150m seven months after closing $700m in funding from investors including Alphabet unit GV.

WuXi AppTec and New World Development-backed Adagene plans a $125m IPO.

Cambrian Biopharma is the largest investor in cancer immunotherapy developer Sensei Biotherapeutics, which has filed to raise up to $100m.

The immunotherapy developer Immunocore plans to go public in the US with $100m IPO.

PureTech Health, Johnson & Johnson and Novartis are in line for exits after the cancer drug developer Vor Biopharma filed for its initial public offering.

Lilly Asia Ventures is the largest shareholder of liver disease therapy developer Terns, which has filed for $100m IPO.

UnitedHealth Group and Merck are both in line for exits as Decipher Biosciences files for a $100m initial public offering.

Amgen and Pfizer-backed oncology therapy developer NexImmune has filed to raise up to $86.3m in an IPO on the Nasdaq Global Market.

Novo and Pfizer are among the investors set to exit the cancer therapy developer Bolt Biotherapeutics, which has set a $100m target for its initial public offering.

Non corporate-backed Lucira Health and Landos Biopharma also announced pricing of their IPOs.

On trade sales, Biohaven has purchased the 58% stake cancer immunotherapy developer Kleo Pharmaceuticals it did not already own, while Haemonetics acquired Cardiva Medical in a deal worth up to $510m, Thermo Fisher Scientific bought Mesa Biotech for $550m and Philips acquired Capsule Technologies for $635m.

With the rapid flow of capital back to investors at a faster pace, the appetite for more dealmaking is increasing.

SVB noted healthcare company investment surged more than 50% last year from 2019 to set a new high at $52bn so GCV is delighted to announce Taranto and Rob Coppedge, head of Echo Health Ventures (EHV), will co-chair the new Global Health Council being formed next month. You can catch up with Merck and EHV at our GCV Digital Forum this week, which includes an invite-only healthcare roundtable and public discussion moderated by Neil Foster at Brown Rudnick and including Hitachi’s US chairman.

Funds

Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association supplied $100m for Lilly Asia Ventures’ LAV Biosciences Fund V fund two years ago, and it has now put up another $100m that will be spread across its LAV Fund VI and LAV Fund VI Opportunities funds. Lilly Asia Ventures, a spin off of pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly, is looking to raise a total of $1.35bn for the two funds.

Arch structures $1.85bn Fund XI

Xiamen C&D backs $441m Qiming fund

Fireside Ventures finalises $118m second fund

Exits

Kuaishou has priced a $5.4bn initial public offering that will take some beating in 2021, even bearing in mind how bullish the markets are right now. The Tencent and Baidu-backed short-form video app developer will be valued at roughly $61bn in the offering, which will take place early next month in Hong Kong, though reports of the retail portion of the share subscription being 1,200 times oversubscribed suggest that market cap is going to skyrocket.

Decibel sounds out public markets

University

Landos aims for $100m IPO

Electric carmaker and mobility technology provider Faraday Future has had an uneven history, raising a reported $2bn before property developer China Evergrande acquired a 45% stake through subsidiary Evergrande Health Industry for $860m. However, Faraday looks set to snatch a public market listing, having agreed a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company Property Solutions Acquisition Corp. The transaction will be buoyed by $775m in PIPE financing and will value the merged company at about $3.4bn.

Content recommendation engine developer Taboola failed in its bid to merge with peer Outbrain last year but has agreed to go public through a reverse merger with a special purpose acquisition company to form a $2.6bn business. The deal will also include $150m of shares bought from existing Taboola shareholders that could potentially include corporate investors DMGT, Baidu, Advance Publications, Yahoo Japan and Comcast.

Latch unlocks public listing with reverse merger

SAP signals Signavio acquisition

Shell shoots for Ubitricity acquisition

Loon comes back down to earth

Deals

SenseTime looks set to be one of the big tech IPOs of 2021, and news has emerged that the artificial intelligence software producer reportedly raised funding in late 2020 at a $12bn valuation. The size of the round has not been disclosed and nor have the investors, but reports in August suggested SenseTime was targeting $1.5bn in a pre-IPO round, and its existing backers include Alibaba, Qualcomm, SoftBank, Suning and Dalian Wanda.

Elsewhere in China, electric vehicle producer Leapmotor has received $665m in series B funding from investors including a Hefei government fund, SDIC Chuangyi Industrial Fund Management, Hangzhou Jiuzhi Investment Management and Shanghai Yonghua Capital Management. The company was spun off by Dahua Technologies and counts corporates Shanghai Electric and CRRC among its earlier investors.

Investors have been looking out for a resurgence in the cleantech sector for a while now, and the bull market for electric carmakers could pull up an adjacent part of the market: battery technology. Sila Nanotechnologies, which is developing more effective forms of battery chemistry, has raised $590m in a series F round that more than tripled its valuation to $3.3bn. The round was led by Coatue but none of Sila Nano’s corporate backers – Daimler, Siemens, Samsung and Amperex – were named as participants.

The covid-19 pandemic has boosted business for food ordering apps and grocery delivery services, and Finland-based Wolt has taken advantage, expanding from the first group to the second. It has also just raised $530m from investors including Prosus to hike its total funding to $856m. The round comes as the company disclosed that it roughly tripled revenue during 2020.

The digitalisation of the financial services sector is continuing apace, with neobanks still raising big money. The latest is Brazil-based Nubank, which has bagged $400m in a series G round featuring Tencent that boosted its valuation to $25bn. Tencent also took part in Nubank’s last round, a $400m series F in mid-2019 that valued it at $10bn. The latest capital influx will support its Latin American expansion.

Didi digs up $300m for autonomous driving unit

Samsung-backed cloud networking technology provider DriveNets has pulled in $208mthrough a series B round valuing it at over $1bn. D1 Capital Partners led the round, which follows $117m in series A funding DriveNets had raised at a reported valuation of about $500m. Samsung Venture Investment Corporation lists it as a portfolio company but has not confirmed when it invested.

Tourism and leisure booking platform developer Klook is in one of the sectors hit hardest by covid-2019 but has accordingly added features like interactive video content and a contact tracing tool to its offering. It’s been rewarded with $200m in series E funding from investors including Softbank Vision Fund 1. It had secured $225m in its last round, which was led by Vision Fund 1 in 2019.

Lyra Health wires in $187m

In China, autonomous driving technology developer Uisee has received $154mfrom investors including the corporate-backed National Manufacturing Transformation and Upgrade Fund. It had raised an undisclosed amount of series B funding from investors including Robert Bosch Venture Capital last February.

Bloomreach, developer of digital experience technology that helps online retailers drive sales, has raised its first funding in five years, taking $150m from Sixth Street Growth at a reported $900m valuation. That earlier round was a $56m series D that included Salesforce Ventures, increasing Bloomreach’s overall funding to nearly $100m. The latest round supported the company’s acquisition of customer experience software developer Exponea.

Huohua Siwei has become the latest Chinese digital education provider to raise money, having secured $150m in a series E3 round featuring Tencent that reportedly valued it at $1.5bn post-money. Trustbridge Partners led the round, which expanded the company’s overall series E funding to $400m over the past six months. Online tutoring service Yuanfudao backed its series E1 round back in August, and its total funding is near the $600m mark.

Agile Robots manoeuvres to $130m

Digital health insurance has been doing big numbers of late, and Sidecar Health has pulled in $125m through a series C round led by Drive Capital. Sidecar, which counts Comcast Ventures among its investors, is present in 16 US states and intends to expand that reach over the course of 2021.

Design Therapeutics discovers $125m in series B

Melio gets $110m payment

Stripe makes Fast work in $102m round

TScan hangs up $100m in series C

Albert absorbs $100m in series C funding

Yunxuetang yanks in $100m from Tencent

University

Soci cements $80m series D

Deerfield sets Nuvalent in motion with $50m series A


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