26 October 2020 – Ant Group Aims for World’s Biggest Floatation Topping $250bn

The Big Ones

Yuanfudao is the latest Chinese online education provider to raise a huge amount, reportedly securing $1bn in a series G2 round led by DST Global that valued it at $15.5bn post-money. Its earlier investors include Tencent, which co-led the company’s $1bn series G round in March at a $7.8bn valuation, and which was reported last month to be taking part in a $1.2bn round that media reports state had already closed in the run up to the series G2 funding.

Ant Group has secured regulatory approval for the Shanghai leg of a dual listing expected to raise some $35bn at a valuation that may top $250bn, having got clearance for the Hong Kong offering on Monday. Which would make it the biggest flotation in history. The financial services provider was valued at $150bn when it raised $14bn in its 2018 series C round, and Alibaba, which spun the company off, is set to buy about 20% of the shares being issued to come out with a 32% stake post-IPO.

The biggest fund this week is actually a crossover: UVC Partners, the Germany-based venture capital firm affiliated with Technical University of Munich (also known as TUM), unveiled its €150m ($178m) third fund on Tuesday backed by LPs including specialty chemicals company Lanxess. The co-founders of mobility services provider Flixbus also invested in the fund, as have a range of unnamed institutional investors, family offices, corporates and family businesses. UVC Partners maintains a close relationship with UnternehmerTUM, the university’s centre for innovation and business creation. The two entities actually share leadership in Helmut Schönenberger, who is the chief executive of UnternehmerTUM and a managing partner of UVC Partners.

Deal-wise, in crossover news, AavantiBio is the latest entrant to the genetic therapy space, launching on Thursday with $107m in series A funding, $15m of which came from genetic drug developer Sarepta Therapeutics. The spinout’s president and CEO had spent some eight years in an executive position at Sarepta and its core technology is based on University of Florida research. AavantiBio will concentrate on genetic therapeutics for rare diseases and its initial focus is on Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA), an inherited genetic disease that leads to central nervous system and cardiac dysfunction.

Deals

Google has reportedly invested $300m in Tokopedia, one of Southeast Asia’s largest e-commerce marketplaces, as part of a late-stage round already equipped with $500m from Temasek on its way to a targeted close around the $1bn mark. Tokopedia’s earlier investors include CyberAgent Capital, Alibaba and SoftBank vehicles Vision Fund, SoftBank Ventures Asia and SB Pan Asia Fund.

Shouqi Yueche is one of several companies that had seen funding drop off in the wake of China’s regulatory crackdown on its ride hailing sector, but it claims to have increased its registered users by more than 30% in the last year and has also pulled in ‘hundreds of millions of dollars’ in series C funding. The investors in the round have not been revealed but the company’s existing backers include Baidu and Nio Capital.

Arctic Wolf is one of the fastest rising operators in the cybersecurity scene, the cybersecurity concierge provider having raised $200m in a DTCP-backed series E round valuing it at $1.3bn. It had secured $60m in series D funding just seven months ago and its overall funding now stands at more than $350m. It is also moving its head office from California to Minnesota amidst plans to up headcount significantly.

Online education has thrived during the coronavirus pandemic but another Chinese company, online pharmacy operator Dingdang Kuaiyao, has also seen user numbers rise significantly. It has pulled in $150m through a series B-plus round that included existing backers Softbank China and Sinopharm-CICC Capital. Both had already taken part in the company’s $89m series B early last year.

VectivBio has closed a $110m crossover financing round that included Novo to advance its short bowel syndrome treatment through phase 3 clinical trials. The company was spun off from Therachon, a Novo-backed genetic disease therapy developer acquired for $810m in May last year. Novo had also been among the investors to provide the $35m VectivBio had when it launched in January this year.

Hyperscience has developed software that allows organisations to automate back-office tasks to increase efficiency, and has raised $80m in a series D round led by Tiger Global Management. The company’s earlier backers include QBE, TD Ameritrade and Penna and Company, and the series D round took its overall funding past the $190m mark.

Funds

Spain-based telecommunications firm Telefónica has launched a cybersecurity-focused investment vehicle called Telefónica Tech Ventures that expects to provide funding for 15 cybersecurity technology developers over the next three years, investing up to $7m per deal at series A to C stage. Follow-on funding will be available for the better performing recipients.

Exits

Big funding isn’t necessarily the fuel for success however, with short-form streaming service Quibi announcing yesterday it is set to shutter its platform, which launched just six months ago. It will have about $350m to return from the $1.75bn it raised from investors including Alibaba, Sony, 21st Century Fox, Walt Disney, WarnerMedia, Entertainment One and, reportedly, Google and Facebook. Quibi itself has blamed the coronavirus for much of its trouble getting subscribers, but the low adoption rate following free trials points to a lack of good programming and, perhaps deeper, to too many execs with TV experience and not enough with online expertise.

Quibi isn’t the only tech unicorn set to call it a day however. Chinese online car marketplace Renrenche has raised $760m from investors including Didi Chuxing and Tencent and was reportedly valued at $1.7bn after its most recent round in 2018, but Bloomberg has reported it is in talks to sell its major assets to 58.com for a token amount a little over $1,000. Renrenche’s branch of the startup space has been impacted heavily by the coronavirus, but it also competes in a crowded sector. These may be just the start of several parts of the startup space thinning out as revenues dip and money gets increasingly tight.

Back to some better news: although both the US and China have been hotbeds for tech IPOs in recent months, ride hailing has been visibly apart from that as the sector’s inhabitants look to offset the damage to their businesses done by the coronavirus. Dida Chuxing was recently reported to be mulling a Hong Kong IPO, and market leader Didi Chuxing is reportedly looking at the same destination for a 2021 offering. The purported IPO is expected to value Didi at up to $60bn and investors including SoftBank, Apple, Alibaba, China Life, Tencent, Booking Holdings, Ping An, eHi and Sina Weibo would be in line for exits.

Small molecule drug developer Aligos Therapeutics has raised $150m in an initial public offering that involved it pricing 10 million shares in the middle of their $14 to $16 range. Those shares are currently (that’s Friday afternoon UK time) at $15.12, but the offering nevertheless represents exits for Roche Finance and Novo, which were among the investors that had supplied more than $230m in venture funding for Aligos.

Advanced hearing aid provider Eargo on the other hand has celebrated a bumper IPO, floating above its range in an upsized offering to raise more than $141m, then seeing its shares open at double the IPO price on their first day of trading. You know who else must be celebrating? Nan Fung Life Sciences, which participated in Eargo’s last three rounds and which is now backing a company with a market cap over $1.2bn.

Compass Therapeutics is the latest drug developer to file for an initial public offering, though the $50m target it has set suggests its aim may be lower than most. The immuno-oncology therapy developer had secured $132m in a 2018 series A round featuring life sciences-focused real estate investment trusts Alexandria Real Estate Equities and Biomed Realty, but neither possess a stake in the company sized at 5% or greater.


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

08 June 2020 – GCV Digital Forum Roundup

GCV Digital Forum Roundup

Thank you to the team and all who have worked their socks off for the first GCV Digital Forum, and also the sponsors, speakers and attendees who have made it such a success. The platform will stay open for 30 days.

It was exciting to hear the industry on the GCV Leadership Society Advisory Board chaired by Young Sohn from Samsung this week share their perspectives on how communities can come closer together through these trials and create more diverse and inclusive investing environments – Samsung NEXT will share its playbook for this at the Forum and beyond.

The GCV Digital Forum has had 600 attendees from across the time zones, creating a unique network and sharing of insights yesterday and today.

Exits

Covid-19 does not seem to have done much to dampen investors’ spirits outside a few key areas and if anything, it’s accelerated what was beginning to become a comparatively stagnant M&A market. One of the biggest beneficiaries has been Intel Capital, which has already recorded exits from portfolio companies including Nysansa, CloudGenix and Moovit this year, and which is now set to exit Spot, a developer of cloud workload management software. The reported price tag is $450m, following $52m in VC funding, which looks to me like a decent return.

Thoma Bravo to execute $100m Exostar acquisition

Fibrosis drug developer Pliant Therapeutics has become the latest life sciences company to launch a successful IPO, floating at the top of its range to raise $144m after increasing the number of shares in the offering by 50%. It also represents an immediate return for Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, which bought $10m of shares in the flotation only to see Pliant’s share price shoot up some 50% post-IPO.

Branding Engineer gets IPO plans on track

Canada-based Repare Therapeutics is the latest drug developer to file for an initial public offering, and the precision oncology-focused company is targeting $100m in a Nasdaq IPO. The filing came just days after it raised $15m in equity funding from Bristol Myers Squibb as part of a research collaboration deal, and Repare’s existing investors also include Celgene Switzerland, a participant in its 2017 series A round.

Vroom sets $319m target for IPO

China’s stock markets look set to benefit from increasingly stringent rules in the US, and one of the country’s latest companies to file for an initial public offering is Shenzhen Yanmade Technology. It provides industrial testing equipment for flexible printed circuits and its investors include Legend Capital, which was spun off by Legend Holdings. Yanmade is looking to raise up to $98.8m and it plans to float on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s Star Market.

Deals

On-demand ride provider Didi Chuxing has raised more than $500m for an autonomous driving subsidiary, in a round led by SoftBank’s second Vision Fund. The spinoff is the outcome of four years of driverless vehicle research from Didi and it has approval to test the technology on roads across three Chinese cities as well as California. Vision Fund was already one of Didi’s key investors, and it took part in a $150m round for the company’s bicycle rental spinoff in April.

Varo Money is one of several digital banks to spring up in the past few years, but it intends to be the first to secure a national bank charter in the United States. It has also closed a $241m series D round featuring automotive insurance specialist Progressive that hiked its overall funding to nearly $420m. Fintech has been one of the notable growth sectors in recent years, but if digital operators can start competing head to head with traditional banks we could see that growth accelerate quite quickly.

E-commerce marketplaces have been one of the more exciting investment areas in Southeast Asia in recent years, and Vietnam’s Tiki has so far been among the market’s winners. It has reportedly raised $130m in a round led by private equity firm Northstar Group, following earlier funding from the likes of CyberAgent, JD.com, Sumitomo and VNG. The company is also said to be in line for a merger with domestic competitor Sendo that would really set it up for the future.

Xiaolinggou plugs into series A round

Microbe processor Ginkgo Bioworks has increased its overall funding to nearly $790m in a $70m funding round that included strategic partner Illumina. The round also featured General Atlantic and Viking Global Investors – both of which backed a $350m vehicle called Ferment Consortium that was formed last October to invest in companies formed and spun off by Ginkgo.

University

Athira accepts $85m series B

Oxford encodes Base Genomics

Funds

Pfizer to augment VC investments with $500m

MassMutual amasses third $100m fund

No need to tell anyone that inclusion and support for black lives is on everyone’s lips right now, not least due to the recent reams of public dedications by different companies’ social media accounts. However, SoftBank is putting actual skin in the game by forming a $100m investment vehicle called the Opportunity Growth Fund specifically to back entrepreneurs and founders of colour. Not that it’s the first corporate to launch such an initiative: Comcast Ventures’ Catalyst Fund was formed in 2011 and Intel Capital put $125m into a Diversity Fund in 2015.

India-based classified listings operator Info Edge has had some success investing off its own balance sheet, particularly with Zomato and PolicyBazaar owner ETechAces, but not it’s looking to establish a dedicated corporate venturing vehicle. Info Edge Venture Fund has a $100m target, and the corporate is putting up almost half. The rest is set to come from external LPs, in what looks to be an increasingly popular model.

Real Tech goes local with latest fund


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

27 April 2020 – AvidXchange Raises $128m Bringing Total Round to $388m Plus Audio from our Second COVID19 Webinar

The Big ones

AvidXchange, a developer of accounts payable automation software, has raised $128m to hike its latest round to $388m. Mastercard was among the investors, having contributed to the company’s last round, when it secured $300m in 2017 at a $1.4bn valuation. Reports in December stated AvidXchange was chasing a $2bn valuation for this round but the company is yet to confirm those details.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect startups, the UK government has pledged up to $1.25bn in financing, a quarter of which will be channelled into the Future Fund, a vehicle that will provide convertible debt financing to match private investment. The rest will support loans and grants made through the state-owned Innovate UK vehicle. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how useful the measures will be, but the way things are going it feels impossible to make any kind of definitive judgement on that, especially seeing as the Future Fund isn’t set to launch for another month or so.

Several corporate-backed companies in China’s travel and consumer startup space have shut down due to the lockdown related to the coronavirus. Founded in 2019, Wujiang Hotels operated five hotel brands that spanned eight Chinese cities. It had $30m in registered capital after raising money from online travel agency Trip.com, but chairman Ma Xiaodong said in an internal announcement that it is unable to continue operating. Online travel booking platform Baicheng had been founded in 2000 and had received $20m in a 2014 series B round featuring e-commerce group Alibaba according to KrAsia, which cited information from deals database Tianyancha. The company floated two years later but declared bankruptcy in late February this year after its income completely dried up. Meili Jinrong, the automotive-focused spinoff of consumer loans provider Meiliche also shut down operations last month and has laid off all its employees. The Covid-19 restrictions all but eliminated sales which, combined with an immediate cash shortage, meant it had no choice but to close. The move came after the company had raised more than $200m as of 2018, from investors including conglomerate New Hope Group, personal finance app developer Wacai, e-commerce firm JD.com’s JD Finance affiliate and Bertelsmann Asia Investments, representing media group Bertelsmann.

SwanBio Therapeutics, a US-based neurological gene therapy developer based on Harvard University research, is set to increase its series A funding to $77m with a $52m extension led by founding investor and life sciences investment trust Syncona. Syncona has provided an initial $19.6m tranche, a spokesperson revealed to GUV, while Partners Innovation Fund – a vehicle for health system Partners Healthcare that includes Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) – also contributed to bring the extension to $20m so far. The remainder of Syncona’s commitment – amounting to a total of $51m – is dependent on milestones. Syncona had invested $23m to lead SwanBio’s initial $25m series A tranche in June 2018 with participation from Partners Innovation Fund. SwanBio Therapeutics is working on drugs for treating serious neurological diseases. Its lead candidate targets adrenomyeloneuropathy, a rare inheritable neurological disorder that can cause impaired mobility, eyesight and hearing. No approved treatments currently exist for the disease.

Deals

Epic Games is best known for massively successful online shooting game Fortnite but its acquisition of social gaming and video platform Houseparty last year now looks like a stroke of genius, with some 50 million new users signing up in a month amidst the Covid-19 lockdown. And Epic is striking while the iron is hot, reportedly holding talks with potential investors to raise $500m to $1bn at a valuation ‘significantly’ higher than the $15bn valuation at which it last received funding, in 2018. That round included Axiomatic, and the company’s other corporate investors include Tencent, Endeavor Group and Walt Disney.

Network event streaming platform Confluent has also had a good year, and the company has capped it with $250m in series E funding. The round was led by Coatue Management and valued Confluent, whose early backers include LinkedIn, at $4.5bn. LinkedIn was not much of a corporate venturer prior to its 2016 acquisition by Microsoft, but its 2014 investment in Confluent’s series A round now looks inspired.

China-based Didi Chuxing may have had difficulties with its core ride hailing business in the face of Covid-19, but it has an ambitious growth plan to increase its customer base to 800 million monthly active users by 2022. That will involve beefing up adjacent services such as that of its bicycle rental service Qingju, which just received $150m from SoftBank and Legend Capital. The round is the first external funding to be raised by Qingju and will be added to an $850m cash injection by parent company Didi.

Medical device manufacturer MicroPort Scientific formed subsidiary MicroPort CardioFlow Medtech in 2015 to focus on valvular heart disease, and the offshoot has disclosed $130m in funding secured at a $1.1bn pre-money valuation. The round did not include any additional corporates but the capital will be used for research and development, marketing and market expansion.

STX Entertainment has been responsible for 34 feature films since being founded in 2014 in addition to TV shows and burgeoning digital content, but the US-based studio has bigger plans and has agreed to merge with Bollywood counterpart Eros International in a deal that will be sweetened by $125m from investors including STX backer Liberty Global. Other investors in STX include Tencent, PCCW and Madison Wells, and they’re going to get an exit of sorts when the merged company, Eros STX Global Corporation, inherits Eros’s NYSE spot.

Healthcare services platform developer Aledade has closed a $64m series C round featuring both GV and Echo Health Ventures to take its overall funding to about $175m. Both corporate VC units participated in the round as existing investors, and the funding will support the growth of both Aledade and its care provider members. Aledade’s earlier investors reportedly also include Utimco, the investment management arm of University of Texas.

Accent Therapeutics has completed a $63m series B round that saw it welcome aboard corporate venturing units GV and AbbVie Ventures as new investors. The company launched two years ago with $40m in series A cash and will put the series B proceeds toward advance development of drug candidates that target RNA-modifying proteins to treat cancer.

Immunomic Therapeutics has created a vaccine development platform focused on diseases including – surprise, surprise – Covid-19, and has closed $61.3m in financing led by oncology-focused pharmaceutical company and partner HLB. The company is also partnering HLB on the launch of a research hub called the Asian Brain Cancer Research Center in the latter’s home country of South Korea.

Paige, a US-based cancer pathology software provider based on Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center research, increased its series B round to $50m today following a $5m extension supplied by investment bank Goldman Sachs’s merchant banking division. Paige did not reveal the size of the extension in its release, but a spokesperson confirmed the amount to GUV. The company raised an initial $45m in December 2019 from a consortium led by Healthcare Venture Partners that included Brey Capital, private investor Kenan Turnacioglu and undisclosed funds.

Guru is the developer of a software product that helps employees share knowledge with each other, and which utilises AI technology to bring crucial insights to the surface. It just completed a $30m series C round that included Slack Fund, to increase its overall funding to $68m. Slack Fund had already participated in Guru’s late 2018 series B round, and its early backers include Salesforce Ventures, which invested at seed stage.

Adverity is located in a similar spot, having created a software platform enabling marketing staff to generate usable information from siloed data, and it has raised $30m in its own series C round. SAP subsidiary SAP.io was among the investors in the transaction, which was led by Sapphire Ventures nine years after it was spun off by the enterprise software provider under the moniker of SAP Ventures. It’s good to see the two working together.

Exits

Enterprise software producer Kingsoft formed cloud services provider Kingsoft Cloud in 2012 and has since grown it into China’s third largest player in the sector. Kingsoft Cloud has raised about $700m from investors including its parent company and electronics provider Xiaomi, and has now filed to go public in the US. It’s curious timing considering the ongoing coronavirus disruption, but perhaps Kingsoft sees the sector as relatively immune.


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

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

12 August 2019 – Didi Chuxing Spins Off Autonomous Driving Division

Big Ones

SoftBank Vision Fund recently announced that it has secured memoranda of understanding for $108bn in capital for its second investment vehicle, and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son has now said it will begin investing as soon as next month.

Didi Chuxing is spinning off its autonomous driving division and will likely seek funding at a multi-billion-dollar valuation. The ride hailing service has raised more than $18bn in debt and equity financing but is keen to gain external investors for a part of the company that may prove invaluable in future, but which is a cash drain right now.

Pharmaceutical and chemical producer Bayer acquired US-based stem cell treatment developer and portfolio company BlueRock Therapeutics in a deal that could value it at up to $1bn. The terms of the transaction involve Bayer paying a total of up to $600m to acquire the shares in BlueRock it did not already own, investing $240m upfront that will be followed by preclinical and clinical milestone payments that could reach $360m.

In this week’s GCV and GUV crossover news, the biggest deal was a $70m series B round for HawkEye 360, a US-based radio-frequency data satellite developer based on Virginia Tech research. The round included commercialisation firm Allied Minds (Hawkeye’s parent company) as well as aerospace manufacturer Airbus and mapping software developer Esri.

Deals

FlixMobility, a Germany-based travel services provider backed by carmaker Daimler, has added a “substantial” amount of funding to its series F round, which attracted $561m last month. The additional funding, seemingly worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was supplied by Baillie Gifford, Luxor Capital, Odyssey 44 and certain funds managed by BlackRock.

Tencent invested $350m in Kuaishou in early 2017 at a reported $2.5bn valuation, and as the short-form video sector has grown as a whole, the company has expanded its presence to the point it now has some 200 million daily active users.

E-commerce payment services provider Klarna has raised $460m from investors including new strategic partner Commonwealth Bank of Australia at a $5.5bn post-money valuation.

Existing backer SoftBank has invested a further $200m in endpoint cybersecurity software provider Cybereason together with several undisclosed affiliates, at a reported $900m valuation.

Online business finance marketplace C2FO has pulled in $200m in a round led by SoftBank Vision Fund that, according to Bloomberg, also featured existing backer Allianz X. The round roughly doubled the company’s overall funding to about $400m and it will put the money toward boosting international growth.

Wickedride Adventure Services, the owner of India-based electric vehicle rental service Bounce backed by mobile chipmaker Qualcomm, is raising $200m in fresh funding. Bounce has already received an initial $120m, people familiar with the matter told TechCircle.

Automotive e-commerce marketplace CarDekho has added $19m from investors including Emtek subsidiary Kreatif Media Karya to a series C round that has reached $129m. CapitalG, Dentsu, Bennett, Coleman & Co and Axis Bank contributed to the round’s earlier tranches, and the funding was reportedly secured at a $500m valuation.

Keyless lock technology provider Latch has also beefed up its latest round, closing a series B at $126m. RxR Realty, Tishman Speyer and the Berman Enterprises-backed Camber Creek all participated in the round, which was pumped up with a $56m second tranche.

Rakuten has increased its stake in cancer therapy developer Rakuten Medical to more than 22% with a $100m investment made in the shape of a series C-1 round. The e-commerce firm had joined SBI Group for the $284m series C the company closed in December, back when it was still known as Rakuten Aspyrian (and a while after it was founded as Aspyrian Therapeutics).

Rakuten Ventures has contributed to a $93.9m round for Japanese digital marketing software provider From Scratch that also featured Link and Motivation and Japan Post Investment. The unit has been an investor in From Scratch since its 2017 series C round, and the company’s other backers include Dentsu Digital Holdings and Itochu Technology Ventures.

Ibotta, the creator of a rewards app that gives consumers money back on selected purchases, has secured an undisclosed amount in a series D round that hiked its valuation to $1bn. Koch Disruptive Technologies led the round, which followed about $95m of earlier funding, and which will support an expansion of Ibotta’s Denver headquarters as it prepares to increase recruitment.

Funds

American Family Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of US-based insurance firm American Family, has raised more than $162m for a venture capital fund, according to a securities filing. The fund, dubbed AmFam VC Fund III LP, has taken in $162.5m from four investors and has set a $200m target for its close.

Exits

Delivery services provider Glovo has raised at least $340m in funding from investors including AmRest, Drake, Delivery Hero and Rakuten, and was reportedly valued at $950m in its last round. It has also begun discussions to raise money from – guess who – SoftBank, and is in talks with Uber and Deliveroo who have approached the company over a possible acquisition.

And here’s an exit… from an exit. Rapt Therapeutics, a US-based small molecule drug developer backed by internet and technology conglomerate Alphabet and pharmaceutical firm Celgene, has postponed its initial public offering without offering a new timeline. The company set its price range at $14 to $16 two weeks ago and hoped to issue 5 million shares on the Nasdaq Global Market to raise between $70m and $80m. Rapt is working on small molecule drugs that it hopes will boost a patient’s immune response to cancer and inflammatory conditions.


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

29 July 2019 – SoftBank Secures $108bn for Second Vision Fund

Big ones

SoftBank confirmed on Friday morning that it has secured a total of $108bn for its second Vision Fund, providing $38bn of the cash itself. That’s slightly less than the $50bn rumoured earlier in the week, but still a significant increase on the $28bn the telco giant put into the first fund.

Short-term accommodation platform developer Oyo has raised a total of about $1.6bn from investors including SoftBank, Airbnb, Didi Chuxing, Grab, Hero Enterprise and China Lodging Group, and two of its other investors – Sequoia Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners – are reportedly divesting about $1.5bn of shares through a buyback scheme led by Oyo CEO Ritesh Agarwa.

Ke.com, a spinoff of online real estate portal Lianjia that utilises technologies such as virtual reality and 3D modelling, has secured nearly $1.2bn in a series D round led by an $800m investment by Tencent.

And in an interesting cross-over deal, X-Vax Technology, a US-based herpes vaccine developer based on research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, received $56m in a series A round featuring Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, the corporate venturing vehicle for medical products group Johnson & Johnson.

Deals

Microsoft is making its own big capital outlay, investing $1bn in artificial intelligence research organisation OpenAI. Formed as an entity that would seek to steer AI research away from malevolent or even dystopian uses toward more universally beneficial areas, OpenAI is run by a non-profit organisation and had not revealed details of any prior financing.

Toyota has invested $600m in Didi Chuxing at a reported $62bn valuation, as part of a joint venture agreement that will involve the companies partnering to provide additional services to the latter’s drivers. Didi Chuxing isn’t the only ride hailing service to get funding from Toyota either.

Hellobike has entered discussions to raise $400m in a round led by existing corporate investor Ant Financial. The bicycle sharing service will reportedly be valued at about $5bn and the news comes three months after backers including WM Motor, Fosun and Bertelsmann Asia Investments exited the company.

Digital brokerage RobinHood has received $323m in a series E round that valued it at $7.6bn. The round was led by DST Global and it took the total raised by the company, which counts Alphabet and Roc Nation as investors, to more than $860m.

Vietnamese payment technology and services provider VNPay is reportedly in talks to raise $300m at a $1bn+ valuation, with SoftBank Vision Fund in line to provide up to $200m.

Bicycle and electric scooter rental service Lime raised $310m in February, and now its key rival, Bird, is reportedly seeking up to $300m of series D funding at a $2.5bn valuation.

Gusto is proving there are still some big enterprise software exits to come, the human resources platform developer having raised $200m in a Fidelity-led round at a $3.8bn valuation.

Funds

Financial services firm Industrial Bank and insurance group Ping An’s Real Estate Investment unit have backed the inaugural healthcare-focused fund raised by China-based venture capital firm Shenzhen Capital.

VR hardware and software developer Moiin is putting together a $100m fund that will back startups working on small-scale tech that would boost VR gaming.

On GUV, life sciences incubator Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center of Bucks County is to establish a $50m fund that will take equity in resident businesses including those exploiting academic research.

Exits

Livongo Health has had one of the year’s more successful IPOs, securing more than $355m and floating well above its range while adding 2 million shares to the offering.

Healthcare data analytics platform Health Catalyst operates in a broadly similar area to Livongo and guess what – it’s also had a bumper IPO. It too increased the number of shares in the offering and priced them above its range to raise $182m.

On GUV, Jukedeck, a UK-based digital music production software developer spun out of University of Cambridge, has been acquired by  TikTok, a video-based social media platform owned by internet technology producer Bytedance, for an undisclosed sum. Jukedeck had developed an online software platform that exploited artificial intelligence to automatically compose original, royalty-free music based on certain parameters, such as genre and tempo, set by the user.


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

18 February 2019 – Mitsubishi Takes 20% Ovo Energy Stake for $256m

Big 3

Mitsubishi Corporation has paid $256m for a 20% stake in energy retailer and smart systems provider Ovo Energy, which plans to use the funding as the basis for an expansion from Germany and its home country of the UK into markets such as France, Australia and Spain. Ovo’s investors also include Mayfair Equity Partners, which acquired a 15% stake in 2015, but its founder and CEO remains its majority shareholder.

Evonik launched its first corporate venturing fund in 2012 with €100m of capital and now, six years on, it’s added €150m ($170m) in the form of a second fund.

Allied Minds prepares cost reductions

Deals

SoftBank Vision Fund has already gone big when it comes to autonomous driving, pumping some $2.25bn into Cruise Automation last year, and it’s now invested $940m in Nuro, the creator of a driverless vehicle designed for deliveries.

Ride hailing service Didi Chuxing has invested $100m in short-term accommodation booking platform Oyo, allowing the latter to close a $1bn round that valued it at $5bn.

Go-Jek is a little further along, the Southeast Asian ride hailing service having raised $1bn from investors including Google, Tencent, JD.com and Mitsubishi two weeks ago.

Two or three years ago it looked as if the e-commerce space may have been heading for some rough times (remember Fab.com?), but the sector looks to have largely steadied since then. Zillingo is the latest e-commerce marketplace to have raised sizeable funding, pulling in $226m in a series D round featuring long-term backer Burda Principal Investments. The round valued it at $970m and increased its overall funding to more than $300m.

Cancer diagnostics technology developer Burning Rock has completed a $126m series C round backed by corporate venturing unit Lilly Asia Ventures, which is in the process of raising its fifth fund (see below).

Six Fintech Ventures, the VC arm of banking services provider Six, has led a series A round for Tradeplus24, the operator of a service that provides debt financing to small businesses insured against account receivables, that was sized at approximately $119m.

Arvelle arrives with $100m

Reddit has meanwhile confirmed a TechCrunch report from last week that stated Tencent was about to lead a $300m round for the social posting platform, which has some 330 million monthly active users but which reportedly generated less than $90m of revenue in 2018.

University

Nuvaira shares $79m series E news

Recida rolls out from Frazier Healthcare

Exits

Euclid goes to WeWork in acquisition

DMP maps out Ushr acquisition

Stanford-backed Eero connects to Amazon

Harpoon snags public markets listing

Nan Fung fund Pivotal Beta was among the investors that provided $100m in convertible note financing for Stealth BioTherapeutics, developer of treatments for conditions related to mitochondrial dysfunction.

Huya went public in the US nine months ago, and now another Chinese livestreaming platform, Douyu, plans to make a similar move, confidentially filing to raise up to $500min a US IPO.

Peloton Interactive has now sold some 400,000 of its $2,000 advanced exercise bikes, which work in tandem with a subscription-based interactive workout service.

Funds

Evonik launched its first corporate venturing fund in 2012 with €100m of capital and now, six years on, it’s added €150m ($170m) in the form of a second fund.

Lilly Asia Ventures lifts $40m for fifth fund

MML seeks corporate commitments for second fund

Morgan Creek mines $40m fund


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

06 August 2018 – $585m Series B+ Round for Xiaopeng Motors

Deals

Grab has been on a tear in the last year, raising $2.5bn from SoftBank, Didi Chuxing, Toyota and Hyundai a year ago, before Toyota invested a further $1bn in June this year. That Toyota funding has now been doubled to make a $2bn round, the new cash coming from backers including corporate funds Ping An Capital and Mirae Asset – Naver Asia Growth Fund.

Elsewhere in the Asian transport sector, smart electric vehicle developer Xiaopeng Motors has pulled in $585m in a series B+ round co-led by Primavera Capital, Morningside Venture Capital and company chairman He Xiaopeng.

Peloton, the operator of a home fitness offering that consists of a custom-made exercise bike and streamed fitness classes, is taking a big step forward.

China Diagnostics Medical Corporation, a medical diagnostics service provider that’s been around almost 20 years, has raised approximately $294m in a round featuring Ping An Ventures. Legend Capital co-led the round with China Renaissance, putting in $100m in the process.

Brandless emerged from stealth a year ago having raised a total of $50m from investors including GV, and now SoftBank’s Vision Fund has led a $240m series C round that reportedly values the affordable consumer goods provider at just over $500m.

Zhaoyouwang, the Chinese operator of a fuel trading platform for businesses, has received $150m in a series C round co-led by GLP and backed by returning investor SIG Asia.

China-based immuno-oncology therapy developer Curon Biopharmaceutical has closed a $150m series A round that included 6 Dimensions Capital, the venture capital firm co-founded by pharmaceutical research firm WuXi AppTec. Singaporean government-owned investment firm Temasek and private equity firm Boyu Capital also contributed to the round.

Medlinker, the creator of a social network for medical professionals, has secured $146m in a series D round led by China Capital Zhongcai Fund.

Judo Capital has closed what is reportedly the second largest ever for an Australian startup, securing $104m from investors including Credit Suisse Asset Management.

On Global University Venturing we have Apeel Sciences, a US-based food technology developer that emerged out of UC Santa Barbara, which has raised $70m in a series C round led by hedge fund Viking Global Investors.

Exits

Cisco has agreed to pay $2.35bn to acquire user authentication software provider Duo Security, 10 months after it raised money at a $1.7bn valuation.

Chinese media reports first suggested Didi Chuxing was in talks to buy portfolio company Ofo for $1.5bn early last week but then a source told Reuters the terms of a prospective deal have shifted, with Didi set to partner another of Ofo’s corporate investors, Ant Financial, on a joint deal that could value the bicycle rental platform at $2bn.

Arm has agreed to acquire Treasure Data in a deal reported by Bloomberg to be about $600m in size.

On GUV, Dattus, a US-based industrial connectivity technology developer assisted by the Purdue Foundry accelerator, was acquired by manufacturing automation software provider Plex Systems for an undisclosed sum.

Funds

Singapore-based VC firm Golden Gate Ventures has achieved a $65m first close for a $100m fund, with LPs including conglomerate Hanwha and internet company Naver as well as Temasek.

Patrick Eggen has left Qualcomm Ventures, where he was managing director for North America, to launch a new fund. Counterpart Ventures was co-founded by Eggen and Joe Saijo, who was formerly president and managing director of Recruit Strategic Partners, with both taking partner positions.


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

23 July 2018 – First Half of 2018 Sets Up Record-breaking Spree for University-linked Deals

Funds

Petrochemical group Sinopec is committing approximately $1.5bn to an investment firm that will back technologies in areas such as intelligent manufacturing, new materials and energy.

BlackFin directs fintech fund to $210m close

Cyberdyne assembles corporate venturing fund

The Motley Fool launches $100m fund

Anglo American Platinum has been an occasional VC investor but is now transferring its portfolio, along with $100m in capital, to AP Ventures, a newly-formed venture capital fund that will back developers of technologies that utilise platinum.

University

High Alpha reaches $102m

Deals

In this week’s Big Deal we examine the $500m invested by Booking Holdings, the travel services provider formerly known as Priceline Group, in ride hailing service Didi Chuxing as part of a strategic partnership.

SenseTime has already raised some $1.6bn in funding over the past year, but SoftBank Vision Fund is reportedly readying an investment of up to $1bn in the China-based facial recognition technology provider.

Suning’s sports asset management spinoff, Suning Sports, has meanwhile raised $600m in a series A round co-led by Alibaba and Goldman Sachs that included, interestingly enough, SenseTime.

Zuoyebang, a homework assistance service spun off from Baidu’s question-and-answer platform, has received $350m in series D funding, with Coatue Management leading the round.

Online Q+A platform Zhihu Technology has reportedly secured $300m in a Tencent-backed round that valued it at about $2.5bn, taking its overall funding past the $480m mark.

Ascentage Pharma, a cancer, hepatitis B and age-related condition drug developer spun out from Ascenta Therapeutics, has completed a $150m series C round co-led by YuanMing Prudence Fund and Oriza Seed Venture Capital.

Glovo’s on-demand delivery service now spans some 60 cities across 17 countries, and it plans to spend more on international growth after raising $134m in funding from investors including AmRest, which reportedly put up $29m, and existing backer Rakuten.

SoftBank Vision Fund has led a $121m series D round for advanced camera developer Light, which will use the funding to expand its imaging technologies into other sectors.

Social investment community Snowball Finance has raised $120m in series D funding from investors including Ant Financial, and will spend the money on recruitment and the expansion of a range of products that includes financial trading and private equity fundraising platforms.

BookMyShow secures $100m ticket

Unisound turns up the volume with $89m

Orbex orders up venture funding

University

Undo debugs $14m series B

Notre Dame breeds 27 companies in 2017-18

Exits

Group buying platform Pinduoduo is further along the IPO path, having just set terms for an offering that will net it more than $1.6bn if it floats at the top of its range.

Live game streaming platform Inke has secured $134m in its initial public offering despite floating at the foot of its range.

A third China-based company, business finance services provider Pintec, has meanwhile filed for its own IPO in the US.

Otsuka works out Recor Medical acquisition

Xilinx digs up DeePhi acquisition

University

Bossa Nova spots Hawxeye


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

02 October 2017 – Roscosmos Establishes Space Ecosystem Fund

Deals

Chinese online services portal Meituan Dianping is reportedly nearing the close of a $3bn round featuring long-term investor Tencent that will value it at up to $30bn.

Alibaba has paid approximately $800m to hike its 47% stake in logistics affiliate Cainiao to 51%, as part of a $5bn investment drive to strengthen its logistics technology capabilities over the next five years.

Food ordering platform Deliveroo has secured $384m in a round co-led by Fidelity and T. Rowe Price set to be announced this week that will reportedly value it at $2bn.

Fosun-backed personal accounting platform Shenzhen Suishou Technology has secured $200m in a series C round led by private equity firm KKR’s newly formed Asian Fund III.

Ride hailing platform Didi Chuxing has invested $200m in Renrenche, the third largest second-hand car e-commerce marketplace in China by market share.

Qingting.fm, an online radio platform that reportedly counts Youku Tudou among its investors, has raised $151m in series E funding from undisclosed investors, according to AllChinaTech.

Pfizer has spun out a startup called SpringWorks Therapeutics to develop treatments for incurable conditions such as desmoid tumours and post-traumatic stress disorder based on therapies licensed from the corporate.

Letgo launched in 2015 as a mobile-focused competitor to Craigslist and eBay, and claims to be one of the fastest growing apps in the country. That growth is set to be fueled by $100m of new funding at a $1bn valuation from undisclosed existing investors.

Customer relationship management software provider ProsperWorks has received $53m in a series C round that took its overall funding to $87m, a sum CEO Jon Lee has claimed makes it the most well-funded CRM company founded in the past 10 years.

Treasury and finance management platform Kyriba has raised $45m in funding from investors including HSBC, the bank that backed its series C and D rounds, in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

We’ve already had the biggest deal on GGV – Cainiao – and on Global University Venturing, the biggest deal came from the UK. Autolus, a biopharmaceutical spinout from University College London (UCL), raised $80m in a series C round that included investment firm Woodford Investment Management. Syncona, backed by medical charities Wellcome Trust and Cancer Research UK, also participated in the round, as did Arix Bioscience, Cormorant Asset Management, Nextech Invest and a range of unnamed investors.

Funds

The Netherlands government-owned Dutch Investment Agency (NIA) and the EU-owned investment vehicle European Investment Fund (EIF) have committed €100m ($117.7m) to a fund targeted at growth-stage startups dubbed the Dutch Growth Co-Investment Program.

The Russian government-owned space agency Roscosmos has established a venture capital fund to commercialise inventions from the space ecosystem.

Exits

Sea, the Southeast Asian online services provider formerly known as Garena, has filed to raise up to $1bn in an initial public offering in the US.

Chinese online video streaming platform iQiyi is considering an initial public offering that will take place in the US early next year and has already started talking to banks, sources have told Bloomberg.

SAP has paid a reported $350m to acquire customer identity management software provider Gigya and will incorporate the company into its SAP Hybrid offering.

Roku has priced a $219m IPO in which Sky Ventures will sell some $9.4m of shares, and is set to float on the the Nasdaq Global Select Market tomorrow.

Nexon has paid $80m for a 65% stake in Korea-based cryptocurrency exchange Korbit, ironically at the exact point when the Korean government has banned initial coin offerings.


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