21 September 2020 – Klarna Raises $650m to Almost Double its Valuation

The Big Ones

Klarna, operator of an app that lets consumers pay for items from some 200 retailers through instalment payments, has raised $650m in a round that almost doubled its valuation to $10.65bn in the space of just over a year. Klarna’s earlier investors include Bestseller Group, Visa, Ant Group and Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and media group Bonnier is one of several investors that acquired shares in the company through a concurrent secondary investment deal.

It’s a year for big tech IPOs (and there’s actually several more multi-billion-dollar news coming up in this episode), but one of the biggest upcoming offerings could reportedly take place in January next year, when short-form video app developer Kuaishou is reportedly planning to float in a $5bn offering at a $50bn valuation. Tencent owns about 20% of the company’s shares having invested $2bn to lead a December 2019 round valuing it at $28.6bn. It’s going to be interesting to see whether its growth outside of China is affected positively or negatively by the ongoing US acquisition saga surrounding its biggest competitor, TikTok (known as Douyin in China).

Panasonic provided $100m for the first fund to be launched by growth equity firm Conductive Ventures in April 2018, and it has ploughed $150m into a second vehicle that will carry on investing in sectors like artificial intelligence, digital health and advanced manufacturing technology. The corporate is the only limited partner for Conductive, the owner of a portfolio that includes Proterra, Sprinklr and Desktop Metal.

It’s been a big week for crossover deals as well. The most notable perhaps was Lava Therapeutics, a Netherlands-based immuno-oncology therapy spinout of Amsterdam University Medical Centers (Amsterdam UMC), which secured $83m in a series C round on Thursday. The round was co-led by Novo Ventures and Sanofi Ventures, and also featured MRL Ventures Fund, a subsidiary of Merck & Co’s Merck Research Laboratories division. Lava is working on treatments for haematological and solid cancers and has allocated the capital to advancing its portfolio into proof-of-concept trials in 2021. The company advances research by Hans van der Vliet at Amsterdam UMC, the university hospital group affiliated with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and University of Amsterdam.

Deals

One of the biggest tech success stories during the pandemic has been Peloton’s communal home fitness equipment and services, but Zwift operates in a similar sphere, providing a social exercise platform that allows users to race each other on bikes or treadmills in front of a simulated CGI-based environment. It has just pulled in $450m from investors including Amazon Alexa Fund and Zone 5 Ventures, a CVC vehicle for bicycle maker Specialized Bicycle Components. Its earlier backers include Samchuly and Colopl.

Daily fantasy sports were a big magnet for VC cash five years or so ago but the sector went quiet as companies found themselves having to deal with more and more regulatory hurdles. India’s Dream11 has however raised $225m in primary and secondary financing at a valuation reported by TechCrunch to be over $2.5bn. Tencent had invested in the company in 2018, leading a $100m series D round that valued it at $700m.

Indoor farming may not have been the big growth area some people though it might be this year, but there are still some sizeable players in the market and Infarm is one of them. It’s raised $170m in debt and equity financing from investors including Bonnier as part of a series C round in which it is targeting $200m. The first close pushed its overall funding past the $300m mark and will support the growth of its vertical farm network.

Home fitness has of course also been a big winner. Social exercise app developer Zwift secured $450m earlier this week, and now Tonal, developer of a wall-mounted digital weight machine for home use, has pulled in $110m from investors including Amazon Alexa Fund and the CAA-backed Evolution Media. Its overall funding now stands at $200m and it is testing the potential of its technology in physical therapy through a partnership with Mayo Clinic.

Funds

Japan-based real estate developer Mitsui Fudosan has partnered venture capital firm Global Brain to form an ¥8.5bn ($81m) corporate venturing vehicle dubbed 31Ventures Global Innovation Fund II. The second fund, abbreviated as CVC II, will invest in startups developing real estate services or digitisation and smart city technologies. The initiative will also seek out companies with innovative business models that can complement Mitsui Fudosan’s core business.

Tencent Trusted Doctors, the digital healthcare subsidiary of internet group Tencent, has formed a RMB1bn ($148m) healthcare industry fund with state-owned holding company China Resources. China Resources subsidiary CR Capital will manage the CR Tengkang fund, which counts municipal funds Chengdu Hi-tech Investment Group, Chengdu Xincheng Investment Group and Chengdu Industry Investment’s Chengdu Advanced Manufacturing Investment subsidiary as partners.

Australia-based software development technology provider Atlassian has launched a corporate venture capital fund, Atlassian Ventures, with $50m in capital. Areas of interest for Atlassian Ventures include early-stage developers of enterprise collaboration applications that could be added to Atlassian’s app marketplace, innovative cloud software providers and established companies with products that could interact with its existing offering.

Exits

Online real estate transaction portal OpenDoor has opted for a reverse merger instead and is merging with a special purpose acquisition company in a deal that will value it at $4.8bn and net it $1bn in financing from backers including existing corporate investors Lennar and Access Industries. It had previously raised a total of almost $1.35bn from investors also including GV and SoftBank Vision Fund, and its last round valued it at $3.8bn in March 2019.

Snowflake has floated in one of the year’s biggest initial public offerings and raised $3.36bn after pricing its shares at $120 each, above a range that had already been increased from $75 to $85 per share. The data management software provider will also receive $500m in a private placement, with half of that coming from existing investor Salesforce Ventures. Its exiting backers also include Capital One Growth Ventures, which first invested at a valuation less than 5% of what the company’s market cap will be.

Mobile insurance platform Singapore Life has agreed to merge with Aviva’s Singapore business to form a $2.3bn company that will be called Aviva-Singlife. Sumitomo paid $90m for a 25% stake in Singlife in July 2019 and will retain a 20% stake in the merged business, suggesting it may have contributed to the $1.46bn cash and marketable securities Singlife is paying Aviva as part of the deal. Insurance firm Aflac will also keep a stake, having supplied $20m for Singlife six months earlier.

Amwell has floated in an upsized initial public offering that netted it $742m in addition to $100m supplied by Google through a private placement. Telehealth software has been a big growth area over the past six months but the success of Amwell, which counts Allianz, Philips, Teva and Takeda as investors, could perhaps be more closely related to a week where Snowflake, JFrog, Unity Software and Sumo Logic all floated above their range to raise big money in their IPOs. It’s a heady time for exits right now.

The growth of Snowflake, which floated at a market cap more than 15 times its valuation just two years ago, has been immense. The progress of another enterprise software provider JFrog, which went public the same day in a $509m IPO, has perhaps been understated as a result, but it has almost quadrupled its valuation in less than a year, boasting a $5.75bn market cap after its first day of trading. JFrog, developer of a software-release platform, had raised $227m from investors including Dell Technologies Capital.

Speaking of successful offerings, Outset Medical’s shares have shot off like a rocket and sat at more than double their IPO price within two days. The kidney dialysis system provider has unsurprisingly closed the offering already, at $278m, up from an initial $242m. Baxter Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of medical device maker Baxter International, is among the lucky investors.

C4 Therapeutics is developing small molecule drugs to treat cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, and has filed for a $100m initial public offering under three months after it received $170m in debt and series B equity financing. Its earlier backers include Novartis, Roche and Kraft Group, all of which contributed to a $73m series A round in 2016.


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

09 September 2019 – Nikola Corporation Raises $250m

Deals

Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma is acquiring a stake in medical company builder Roivant that will be at least 10%, as part of a $3bn deal that will involve it also taking Roivant’s stake in five subsidiaries.

Despite being responsible for unicorns DraftKings and FanDuel, daily fantasy sports has run into a string of regulatory issues in the US. India-based Dream11 seems to be faring better, suprassing $1bn of transactions in its last year of operations, and it is reportedly in talks with investors including SoftBank Vision Fund and Naspers Ventures to raise up to $500m in new funding.

E-cigarette brand Juul disclosed $325m of convertible debt financing last month, and a subsequent securities filing has indicated the size of the round is now $785m. It’s currently unclear who the 14 investors are that supplied the capital but they may well include Altria, the tobacco provider that invested a whopping $12.8bn late last year in order to buy more than a third of the company.

Hydrogen electric truck developer Nikola Corporation has raised $250m in cash and services from industrial equipment producer and strategic investor CNH Industrial for a series D round it aims to close at $1bn or more. The round values Nikola at $3bn pre-money, and while there’s no word of additional investors yet, its existing backers include fellow corporates Nel Hydrogen and Wabco.

With all the fuss surrounding Uber and its peers, it can be easy to forget that before ride hailing was ‘a thing’, car sharing was viewed as the future of transport. Getaround is still ploughing that furrow and is pulling in funding, aiming to add $200m in capital to the $300m it raised last year.

Tencent has provided $120m in series E funding for customer relationship management (CRM) software provider Xiaoshouyi. The company, which is also known as IngageApp, had already secured more than $40m in a Tencent-led series D round in 2017 before reportedly adding nearly $16m from the same investor the following year. It has also worked in tandem with Tencent on a specialist CRM product.

Nkarta Therapeutics has emerged from stealth with $114m raised in a series B round featuring Amgen Ventures and existing investors Novo and SR One. The company, which has received $129m in total, is developing treatments for cancer that rely on sparking the body’s natural killer cells to kill cancerous cells.

Passage Bio packs in another $110m

Yongcheng Life has secured $100m in a series B round led by Legend Capital that included Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI).

University

Ginger jumps to $35m series C

Achilles Therapeutics accesses $120m

Exits

Vertex Pharmaceuticals has agreed to buy diabetes treatment developer Semma Therapeutics in a $950m all-cash deal that will enable Medtronic, Novartis and SinoPharm to exit.

Data management software provider Commvaultis set to pay $225m to acquire Hedvig, a software-defined storage technology producer backed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Kabbage pinpoints Radius for acquisition

Viela Bio has filed for a $150m initial public offering less than two years after being spun off by AstraZeneca. The corporate is still the largest shareholder in autoimmune disease drug developer Viela, having invested $142m last year, and it holds a stake sized above 38%.

Vir veers toward public markets

Investors in cloud security software provider Druva may be heading toward a different kind of exit, as news emerges that the company plans to begin prepping an initial public offering over the course of this year.

Uhuru to pursue $50m in London IPO

Funds

Taiwan Life ties $50m to BVP Century Fund

DG Daiwa Ventures, the joint investment venture set up by internet company Digital Garage and brokerage Daiwa Securities, has formed a new fund called DG Lab Fund II that is seeking a close of about $188m.


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

26 August 2019 – Uhuru Plans to File for an IPO

Exits

Uhuru to connect to UK’s public markets

Pfizer spinoff Springworks is developing drug treatments for rare forms of cancer, and has filed to raise up to $115m in an initial public offering that would also allow GlaxoSmithKline to exit.

Medical research tool developer 10x Genomics has already reached unicorn status, having closed a SoftBank-backed series D round that valued it at almost $1.3bn earlier this year. Business is going well for 10x, which more than doubled its revenue in 2018, and which has now filed for a $100m initial public offering.

IGM Biosciences has filed for its own $100m IPO – it’s been quite a few days for IPO filings – and the company, which is developing engineered antibodies that will treat cancer, is launching the offering just weeks after it secured $102m in series C funding.

Satsuma sets course for public markets

TSE gives Giftee IPO permission

University

VMware ingrains StartX-backed Intrinsic

Woodford loses touch with Ultrahaptics

Funds

SoftBank is reportedly offering to lend its employees up to $20bn to invest in the second iteration of its Vision Fund, reportedly replicating a process in which staff borrowed $8bn to invest in its predecessor.

Access Ventures accepts corporate backing

Deals

Microfinance provider Tala is reportedly now valued at $750m following a $110m series D round that included existing backer PayPal. The cash will fund international recruitment and an expansion of the company’s product range, and it comes after Tala had received some $100m in debt financing over the past year.

Lixiang, the Chinese electric SUV developer formerly known as Chehejia and CHJ Automotive, has closed its series C round at $530m at a $2.9bn valuation, with, $30m coming from new corporate backer Bytedance.

WeWork (now We Company) is gearing up for one of the year’s biggest IPOs but it isn’t the only company in the working space sector that’s growing quickly. Knotel has secured $400m from investors including Mori Trust, Itochu, Bloomberg Beta and Rocket Internet to increase its total funding to $560m.

Electronic cigarette maker Juul raised a gargantuan $12.8bn from cigarette manufacturer Altria last December at a $38bn valuation, but it isn’t done yet. The company has added$325m in convertible note financing from four investors according to a securities filing, and the cash will likely support an increasingly widespread advertising campaign as it looks to geographically expand.

PlusAI is one of a few autonomous vehicle developers currently in the pre-production stage, but is focusing its efforts on a truck with level 2 autonomous driving functionality that it hopes to be able to mass produce. It is also reportedly near to raising $200m at a valuation exceeding $1bn.

Mortgage financier Better.com is now valued at $600m, following its completion of a $120m series C round. Ping An Global Voyager Fund and American Express Ventures both contributed, as did Citi, Ally Financial, AGNC and Goldman Sachs, and the transaction took Better’s overall funding past the $250m mark.

Once upon a time, when it was a credible threat to Flipkart, Snapdeal’s largest investor was SoftBank. Then, when sales went south the corporate withdrew its support from a funding round in order to try and trigger a merger between the two – both among its portfolio companies. That deal didn’t come off, Walmart acquired SoftBank’s stake in Flipkart, and Snapdeal radically restructured and improbably survived. Now, SoftBank is in talks to lead a $100m round for the company, potentially with an investment of up to $60m. A case of forgive and forget?

Naspers to gamble on $100m Dream11 investment

University

XpectVision meets series B expectations


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