18 January 2021 – GV Returns for EQRx’s $500m Series B

The Big Ones

EQRx formally launched a year ago with $200m from investors including GV and Nextech, and all its series A investors have now returned for a $500m series B round. The startup is collaborating with stakeholders including pharmaceutical companies to develop more affordable medicines, with late-stage cancer drugs a particular focus. It is also part of an increasingly diverse portfolio of early-stage life sciences companies in GV’s portfolio.

Mobile network operator Orange is the latest corporate to spin off its venture capital unit with a healthy addition to its funding allocation. Orange Ventures will henceforth operate as an independent entity, and has received $426m in capital from its former parent company in addition to the portfolio of its predecessor, Orange Digital Ventures. That portfolio includes Monzo, Raisin and Actility.

Qualcomm Technologies has agreed to buy silicon chip technology developer Nuvia for $1.4bn less than two years after it was founded. Nuvia had raised $293m across two rounds pre-acquisition, both of which included Dell’s corporate venturing subsidiary, Dell Technologies Capital. It could well be an early marker of some of the M&A activity that will spring up as 5G technology begins to get a real foothold in the mainstream.

Dice Molecules, a US-based biopharmaceutical spinout of Stanford University, has closed an $80m series C round featuring spinout-focused investment firm Osage University Partners. RA Capital Management led the round, which also attracted Sanofi Ventures and Alexandria Venture Investments on behalf of pharmaceutical firm Sanofi and real estate investment trust Alexandria Real Estate Equities. Founded in 2014, Dice Molecules has developed a drug discovery platform leveraging technology dubbed DNA-encoded library, which it hopes will make it possible to target a range of conditions with oral treatments rather than requiring injections. Its lead asset is aimed at psoriasis, and the company has been collaborating with Sanofi since 2016.

Deals

WeWork aside, Vision Fund’s biggest failure was perceived as OneWeb, the satellite internet operator that declared bankruptcy early last year after SoftBank had pumped some $2bn into the company. However, Bharti Enterprises joined the UK government to buy it for $1bn in the resulting auction, and now SoftBank is back, putting in $350m of a $400m investment expected to help OneWeb complete its initial satellite constellation. It will come out with a 30% stake, and the other $50m was put up by another pre-bankruptcy investor.

Online fitness was earmarked as one of the big growth sectors in our 2021 preview, and the first company in the space to raise big money this year is Keep, which has bagged $360m in series F funding at a valuation of about $2bn. SoftBank Vision Fund led the livestreamed fitness class provider’s latest round, which also featured existing backers Tencent and Bertelsmann Asia Investments.

Autonomous driving software developer WeRide raised $200m in series B funding from bus manufacturer Yutong Group last month and it has now added $110m to close the round at $310m. The round comes after earlier funding provided by investors including Nvidia GPU Ventures, SenseTime, Johnson Electric and Alliance Ventures.

Digital lending software provider Blend has closed a $300m series G round that doubled its valuation to $3.3bn in just five months, which is very impressive. The round was co-led by Tiger Global and Coatue, though no mention of existing corporate backer Salesforce.

Blend isn’t the only fintech developer to have experienced a huge jump in valuation last week. Cross-border payment platform developer Rapyd has also received $300m, in a series D round also led by Coatue. The series D boosted the valuation of Rapyd, which counts Stripe as an earlier investor, to $2.5bn post-money, more than double that of a year ago.

Tessera Therapeutics is the latest in a series of life sciences startups that have raised nine-figure amounts for their first external rounds, having pulled in $230m for its gene writing technology, which aims to prevent disease by rewriting the genome. The series B round was co-led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, which may itself be looking to get more involved in the sector.

Elsewhere in China, employee management software provider WorkTrans has announced over $190m in funding, $140m coming in a Tencent-backed series D round. The round was disclosed together with a $50.5m series C round and it increased WorkTrans’ overall funding to approximately $236m. It will support further development of the company’s HR management product, which makes use of deep learning and cloud computing technology.

SoftBank’s $5bn Latin America fund has given it a sizeable foothold on the continent, and it has co-led a $190m round for one of its portfolio companies, furnishing and home decor marketplace MadeiraMadeira. The corporate also led MadeiraMadeira’s last round, in which it secured $110m, and the funding is set to fund the expansion of the company’s brick-and-mortar footprint and a prospective range of own-brand products.

GV was among the participants in a $160m funding round for distributed database technology provider Cockroach Labs that valued it at $2bn. The Alphabet subsidiary has been a Cockroach investor since its $6.3m series A round in 2015 and has been along for every round since, as the company has hiked its total funding to $355m.

Exits

It seems amazing now that just a year ago it looked like the losses suffered by SoftBank’s Vision Fund could have severely impacted its corporate parent as a whole. There have been few bigger winners from the boom in the public markets and VC spaces, and its next exit could be from Auto1. The online car dealership has announced it plans to launch an initial public offering in Frankfurt that could raise some $1.2bn alongside a private placement. Vision Fund invested $565m in Auto1 at a $3.56bn valuation in 2018 and it’s going to be interesting to see how that valuation compares to the company’s market cap when it does float.

Dynamic window producer View announced plans for a reverse merger in November that would be boosted by $300m in PIPE financing. That amount is set to be boosted to $500m after Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC committed a further $200m, adding to some $1.8bn in earlier debt and equity financing. That capital was provided by investors including SoftBank Vision Fund 1, Corning and Seagate.

Cryptocurrency services provider Bakkt was launched by financial exchange operator Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) in 2018 and less than three years on, it has agreed to a reverse merger set to value it at $2.1bn once the deal closes. It will also take an NYSE listing and $325m in PIPE financing from investors including ICE. It had raised more than $480m in venture funding from backers also including Microsoft unit M12, PayU and Boston Consulting Group.

Funds

Germany-listed food delivery service Delivery Hero has committed €50m ($61m) to set up an independently-managed, early-stage corporate venture capital firm called DX Ventures. DX Ventures will invest in sectors including on-demand services, food technology, sustainable innovation, artificial intelligence, financial technology and logistics. It will be led by managing director Duncan McIntyre.


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

23 December 2019 – SoftBank invests $231m in Lenskart at $1.5bn Valuation

The Big Ones

India-based eyewear e-commerce platform Lenskart has been growing steadily in recent years, expanding its retail footprint to more than 530 stores and further commercialising its own brand. That work has been reflected in a $231m investment by SoftBank Vision Fund, made at a $1.5bn valuation – more than three times its reported valuation in May.

Insurance group Ping An has raised $786m for the second consumer-focused fund to be operated by its Ping An Capital subsidiary. Ping An Capital makes large-scale investments in both private and publicly-traded companies and has built a portfolio that includes Grab and Fullerton Financial.

Delivery Hero is pressing on with its international expansion, having agreed to pay $4bn to acquire Korea-based food delivery app developer Woowa Brothers. The price represents a premium from the $2.6bn valuation at which the company last raised money a year ago, and CyberAgent and Naver are both set to exit through the transaction, the former having backed Woowa Brothers at seed stage five years ago.

Italian energy utility A2A has formed a strategic investment fund called A2A Horizon that has been launched with some $78m in capital. What’s noteworthy here however is that the fund has been backed by Poli360 – the university venture fund of Polytechnic University of Milan – (yes, you heard right: a university venture fund helped a corporate put together a CVC unit). LPs also include 360 Capital Partners, the VC firm that already manages Poli360.

Deals

Glovo has become Spain’s second unicorn, after Cabify, the on-demand delivery services platform having pulled in $167m through a series E round that included existing backer Drake Enterprises. The company’s other investors include Rakuten, Delivery Hero and AmRest but the latest round was led by Abu Dhabi state-owned investment vehicle Mubadala.

Original design manufacturer Huaqin Communication Technology has received $143m in series B funding from investors including Intel Capital, Qualcomm Ventures and Zhangjiang Hi-Tech at a valuation that topped $2bn.

Forma Therapeutics has completed a $100m series D round led by RA Capital Management that will fund the advancement of drug candidates for sickle cell disease and cancer.

Chinese mother and babycare product retailer Hipac has closed its own $100m series D round and will use the cash for recruitment, enhancing its supply chain and making strategic M&A deals.

Short-term managed apartment provider Domio has secured $100m, half of which consisted of a series B equity round featuring SoftBank Capital NY. The other $50m was provided in the form of debt financing and the capital will support expansion efforts as the company looks to double the 12 US cities in which it currently operates to 25 worldwide.

Fusion power technology developer General Fusion has completed a $65m series E round led by Temasek that, together with a further $38m in government funding from Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund, will support construction of a pilot plant.

Healthcare analytics platform developer OM1 has received $50m in funding in a round led by venture firm Scale Venture Partners that was also backed by existing investors that may have included corporate venturing unit Wanxiang Healthcare Investments.

Funds

Chemicals producer Sinochem is putting together a $143m fund that will invest in the new materials, energy and electronics chemicals spaces. The corporate will provide about 20% of its capital, with the rest set to come from a group of limited partners that will include another China-based chemicals company.

Exits

In the second huge corporate venturing-related M&A deal in the past week, following Delivery Hero’s $4bn purchase of Woowa Brothers, Intel has paid $2bn to acquire AI training processor developer Habana Labs. Intel Capital had led Habana’s $75m series B round in November last year, two months after it emerged from stealth, taking the company’s overall funding to $120m.

Beike Zhaofang, the online-focused spinoff of real estate brokerage Lianjia, has hired an adviser to help it prepare an initial public offering that could raise upwards of $1bn and take place as early as next year.

OneConnect has generated its own exit, in a $312m initial public offering in the US. Formed as Chinese insurer Ping An’s financial technology platform and spun off in 2017, OneConnect subsequently raised $750m from investors including SoftBank Vision Fund and SBI early last year.


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

10 July 2017 – Looking to the End of Summer

Editorial: What do people want when the summer is over?

Funds

AT&T has been relatively quiet while competitors like Verizon, Telstra and SoftBank have made great strides in corporate venturing, but that may be about to change with the formation of a strategic investment fund in which the telecom firm plans to invest up to $200m.

Autoliv moves $15m to Autotech Ventures

Vinci helps Axeleo draw up first close

Government

RCIF gains $1bn

EIF buys into $198m Cipio fund

Germany awards funding to 48 institutions

Enterprise Ireland launches $68m fund

University

Tel Aviv heads to India

UC Riverside launches $10m Highlander fund

Exits

Jawbone raised hundreds of millions from investors such as Deutsche Telekom as it moved from Bluetooth-enabled speakers to wearable fitness trackers, and at one point was raising cash at a $3bn+ valuation. All that appears to have ground to a halt however, as reports suggest the company has begun liquidation proceedings, weakened by a Fitbit lawsuit and done in by the flatlining wearables sector.

Roche eats up MySugr

Delivery Hero has raised more than $1.1bn in an IPO that enabled the Rocket Internet-owned Global Online Takeaway Group to sell about $148m of shares.

Gaming product maker Razer has filed for its own IPO, in Hong Kong, and is set to raise more than $600m according to TechCrunch.

Sienna to scratch IPO itch

Internet service provider MyRepublic may have failed in its bid to become Singapore’s fourth big telecom company, but it still plans to float by the end of 2018,

Online storage technology platform Dropbox has begun preparations for what will likely be the biggest tech IPO since Snap went public in March, and will shortly begin interviewing investment banks for the underwriting positions.

Canada-based bone disease therapy developer Clementia Pharmaceuticals has filed for a $115m IPO in the US that will provide an exit to strategic backer UCB Pharma, after the latter took part in a $60m series B round for the company in 2015.

Investments

China Money Network today launches the China Unicorn Ranking 2017, the most complete list of all private start-ups in China currently valued at $1 billion or more.

Just weeks after Mobike closed a $600m funding round, its main rival in the bike sharing sector, Ofo, has raised $700m in a series E round led by Alibaba.

Kakao drives $437m mobility spinout

Tencent invested $44m investment in Coocaa, the smart television subsidiary of Skyworth Digital Holdings, last month, and it’s now repeated the trick, paying $66m for a 16.7% stake in TCL’s smart TV unit, Shenzhen Thunderbird Network Technology.

Steel producer Shougang has co-led a $73m round for online steel trading and services platform Zhaogang through a private equity vehicle called West Fund.

Headspace, the developer of a meditation and mindfulness platform that mixes a subscription-based guided meditation service with themed text and video content, has raised $36m in a round led by growth equity firm Spectrum Equity.

Axonics Modulation Technologies, the developer of an implantable neuromodulation system, has added $20.5m to a series C round that now stands at $35m.

Theva conducts $8m in EnBW-backed round

University

MuMac eyes first round


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

12 June 2017 – Essential Houzz Deals and Much More

Deals

Houzz is reportedly nearing the close of a $400m round led by multi-family office Iconiq Capital that will value it at about $400m.

Essential, the smartphone startup founded by Andy Rubin, formerly head of Android at Google, has reportedly raised $300m at a valuation somewhere between $900m and $1bn.

Pinterest has raised $150m from existing investors – one of which may have been Rakuten – at a $12.3bn valuation.

Adaptive cybersecurity technology provider Illumio has raised $125m in a series D round that included a range of new and existing investors, and which reportedly valued it at more than $1bn pre-money.

Bitcoin and ethereum both reached new highs today, which makes it timely that crytocurrency management platform Coinbase is reportedly in talks to raise about $100m of new funding at a $1bn valuation.

Earlens, the developer of an advanced hearing aid that uses light to transmit sound, has closed a $73m series C round backed by medical device makers Medtronic and Cochlear alongside a $45m secured debt facility from CRG.

Tantan, the developer of a Chinese dating and social networking app that bears an, ahem, passing resemblance to Tinder, has pulled in $70m in a series D round led by YY. Tantan.

Coursera has boosted its total funding to $210m with a $64m series D round that, according to TechCrunch, valued it at $800m.

Logistics services provider Shansong Express, already backed by a subsidiary of Susquehanna International Group, has added Hearst Communications and Beijing Hualian Group to its shareholders thanks to a $50m series C+ round.

Funds

Fosun Kinzon Capital, the venture capital firm sponsored solely by conglomerate Fosun International, is set to invest $100m in Indian startups by the end of the calendar year, if an unnamed “top executive” is to be believed.

Legend Capital, the Chinese VC firm backed by Lenovo owner Legend Holdings, has reached the $448m final close of its latest fund.

On GUV, the Pittsburgh Revolution Fund is targeting a $200m close to support drug research teams that will form spinouts of University of Pittsburgh.

And on GGV, the government of Canada is planning to launch a C$400m ($296m) Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative to support small and medium-sized enterprises.

The government-owned Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) is dedicating C$250m ($185m) towards growth equity over the next five years through investment arm BDC Capital.

AP2, a Swedish government-mandated pension fund, has injected $50m into the impact investment vehicle Rise Fund, which is aimed at a variety of global social challenges.

Irish state-owned export credit agency Enterprise Ireland is looking to raise €60m ($67m) with a regional development fund, according to the Irish Independent.

Exits

Mersana Therapeutics, which is working on antibody drug conjugates to treat cancer, has filed to raise $75m in an IPO that will allow Takeda and Pfizer to exit the company.

Delivery Hero has formally revealed it is seeking to go public this year, and is planning to issue more than $500m of shares in Germany and Luxembourg.

Aileron Therapeutics has filed for a $69m IPO that will support research and clinical development for a cancer treatment dubbed ALRN-6924.


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

29 May 2017 – Home Fitness Service Peloton Raises $325m and Much More

Deals

Alibaba and Ant Financial are reportedly set to lead a $1bn round for food ordering platform Ele.me that will value it at up to $6bn.

Peloton, the home fitness service that combines a high-tech exercise bike with a subscription-based service that makes it feel like you’re in a live class (within reason obviously, though who would bet against VR being integrated into Peloton’s offering in the near future?), has raised $325m in a series E round featuring Comcast NBCUniversal.

Livestreaming has become one of the fastest growing parts of the media sector, not least in China where Panda TV has raised $140m in a series B round led by brokerage firm Industrial Securities.

R3, a consortium formed by a few dozen financial services operators to develop and commercialise blockchain technology for the industry, has secured $107m in the first two tranches of a series A round that includes Intel Capital, Ping An and Temasek, the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore, as well as around 40 banks.

In other news, Chinese mobile communication app developer Chubao has raised $100m in a series D round that included Susquehanna International Group, which has been an investor in the company since 2011.

Huya, the livestreaming subsidiary of online video streaming platform YY, has spun out with $75m of series A funding led by Ping An Insurance.

UrWork was founded only two years ago but it could yet turn out to be the Didi Chuxing of the co-working sector.

We’ve also had a few nice triple helix deals in the past week, such as Symic Bio, a biopharmaceutical spinout of Purdue University, that has completed a $30m series B round backed by all its existing investors, including Purdue Foundry Investment Fund, a vehicle backed by Purdue University focused on the institution’s spinouts.

Funds

The big news is that SoftBank has finally announced the first close of its Vision Fund, having raised an immense $93bn in capital.

WuXi Healthcare Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of WuXi PharmaTech, has agreed to merge with VC firm Frontline BioVentures to form a healthcare-focused investment firm called 6 Dimensions Capital that will have some $800m of assets under management.

Saudi Telecom formed strategic VC firm STC Ventures in 2011 to invest in the IT, telecommunications and media sectors, but as times change so do the requirements for corporate venturing, and the firm has elected to commit $500m to a new fund named STV that will back more advanced digital technologies.

Gree Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of social media and gaming company Gree, has closed its second fund at $67m.

We didn’t see any big fund launches on GUV, and while there were some on GGV, the most interesting news here was that the European Investment Fund has started pulling out of the UK following the country’s decision to abandon the EU.

Exits

Flipkart’s acquisition of rival Snapdeal is getting closer with news that SoftBank has bought out the shares of various other Snapdeal board members to clear the way for the deal.

Delivery Hero raised more than $420m from Naspers earlier this month at a reported $3.1bn valuation, but sources have told Reuters it is planning to launch an IPO in the next few weeks that could value it at up to €4bn ($4.5bn).

Sea, the Singapore-registered online services platform that recently rebranded from Garena with a $550m funding round, has confidentially filed for an IPO in the US that will give exits to corporate investors Tencent, JG Summit and Uni-President Enterprises, according to Bloomberg.

Bioverativ has agreed to acquire True North Therapeutics for $400m upfront with up to $425m in milestone payments to come.

On GUV, news emerged on Tuesday that commercialisation firm IP Group had made a bid for Touchstone Innovations, its peer that was spun out of Imperial College London. Touchstone rebuffed the offer, though a majority of its shareholders (some of which also own IP Group stakes) are pushing for the takeover.


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