02 November 2020 – Ant Gets Ready for Global Expansion

The Big Ones

Ant aims to raise $34.5bn – the biggest initial public offering – by splitting its stock issuance equally across Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges, according to news provider CNBC.

Discussion at the GCV Digital Forum 2.0 last month about Including Both Halves of Society heard Lara Koole, partner at Netherlands-based conglomerate Philips’ corporate venturing unit, describe how it could start using its limited partner commitments to look at the underlying diversity of the venture funds’ general partners.

Scale Venture Partners, the now 20-year-old venture capital firm, is looking to raise $500m for its seventh fund, according to news provider Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The firm closed its most recent fund with $400m in 2018 but there is a nice synergy to its target given Bank of America was the sole limited partner for its first fund with $500m.

Funds

Eli Lilly elevates TVM Capital fund to $478m

Legend Star shines with $118m fund close

Bixin tricks out $100m investment vehicle

Taxmantra stacks up $100m for ProfitBoard

Exits

Elliptic Labs detects public listing

Galecto gathers $85m in initial public offering

Exact Sciences took part in a $110m series A round for cancer screening system developer Thrive Earlier Detection in May last year and obviously liked what it saw, because it’s returned to agree an acquisition deal that could reach $2.15bn once milestone payments are factored in. The brunt of that – roughly $1.1bn in cash and $600m in shares – is up front too, and corporate VC vehicle Blue Venture Fund is also set to exit through the transaction.

Microchip ingests LegUp Computing

Following news late last week that Quibi and Renrenche were set to shutter and be acquired for pennies on the dollar respectively, Yiguo looks to be the latest tech company to hit the skids after raising hundreds of millions of dollars. The Chinese online fresh fruit and vegetable retailer had reportedly secured well over $800m from backers including Alibaba and Suning but several of its subsidiaries are going into bankruptcy while the company has debts totalling more than $340m. Funding hasn’t been suffering much during the coronavirus period but it does look as if we’re entering a period where there will be a few big-name casualties

Deals

Dmall, a China-based online platform that connects consumers to the offline offerings of some 120 brick-and-mortar chains, has completed a $419m series C round backed by Lenovo Capital, Tencent and Hengan International. The round was co-led by China Structural Reform Fund and an equity investment platform for Industrial Bank, and about $150m will go to research and development.

Scopely closed its last round, a $400m series D featuring Advance Media and Chernin Group, at a $1.9bn valuation just seven months ago but has already secured $340m in series E funding. The round values the mobile game publisher, which is also backed by Take-Two Interactive, at $3.3bn and lifted its overall funding to about $900m. The proceeds will support M&A activities, Scopely having agreed four acquisition deals in the past 18 months.

Zhenkunhang, the Chinese operator of an e-commerce marketplace for industrial components, supplies and services, has closed a $315m series E round featuring returning investor Tencent. The corporate had led Zhenkunhang’s $160m series D round last year, and the latest round included Legend Capital as well as GLP-backed joint venture GLP-C&D Equity Fund.

LianBio was launched two months ago with a brief to commercialise existing drug candidates developed by its pharmaceutical partners for the Asian market, and particularly its home country of China. It has also raised $310m in crossover financing from investors including Pfizer to support development of cancer and cardiorenal disease candidates. The round was co-led by RA Capital, CMG-SDIC Capital and Venrock Healthcare Capital Partners.

The success of Megvii and SenseTime has shown the potential in China’s image sensor space, and the latest well-funded entrant is SmartSens, which has raised $225m in a round co-led by Xiaomi Changing Industrial Fund. The round also featured three more corporate investors – Lenovo Capital, Wingtech Technology and Transsion Holdings – Lenovo Capital having already backed the company two years ago. Huawei unit Hubble Ventures added an undisclosed amount in August this year.

Elsewhere in China, ECarx is focusing on in-car systems and in particular what it refers to as internet-of-vehicles technology. It has pulled in a huge $194m through a series A round led by Baidu that also featured SIG Asia. ECarx had formed a strategic partnership with Baidu’s autonomous driving subsidiary, Baidu Apollo, in mid-2019 and the series A funding was captured at a $1.5bn valuation.

Autohome is investing $168m in TTP Car, the Chinese online automotive auction platform also known as Tiantian Paiche, having supplied it with $100m in convertible bond financing two years ago. The deal will also give Autohome the option to acquire up to $200m in additional convertible bonds in the company, which counts Tencent, BitAuto, SIG Asia and SoftBank’s SB China Capital fund among its earlier backers.

Benson Hill is using machine learning and biology technology to optimise breeding patterns with a view to creating new forms of plant-based foods and ingredients. It secured $150m yesterday in a series D round co-led by GV that also featured Louis Dreyfus Company and Emart. GV (formerly known as Google Ventures) also led Benson Hill’s last round two years ago, when it raised $60m.

Honor takes care of $140m series D

Eightfold brings in $125m

Applied Intuition, a developer of testing software for autonomous driving systems, said its revenues have increased, and it has accordingly secured $125m in a series C round completely funded by existing backers. The company received $40m just over a year ago in a series B round backed by Microsoft’s M12 unit, and the latest round was co-led by venture firms Lux Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and General Catalyst at a $1.25bn valuation.

FreshToHome delivers $121m series C

Kodit homes in on $117m

Although it’s been quiet for a while, the signs are that SoftBank Vision Fund is starting to stir again. It led OrderMark, the developer of a system that coordinates restaurant orders from a range of online platforms in a single place. Ordermark received $120m in its series C round, a round that came less than three years after a $3.1m seed round, and the growth of online ordering and virtual kitchens points to further growth.

Whoop straps on $100m

Digital consumer data provider SimilarWeb has also raised $120m, in a late-stage round co-led by Viola Growth and Ion Crossover Partners. The round doubled SimilarWeb’s total funding to $240m, its earlier investors including Naspers, and it is also experiencing rapid growth at present. So much so that it intends to grow its 600-person team by 20% by the end of January.

Scorpion escapes stealth with $108m

Sirnaomics syncs with Walvax in $105m round

VSPN broadcasts Tencent-led series B round

Gracell keeps pace with $100m series C


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

19 August 2019 – Zhihu Raises $434m at $3.5bn Valuation

Big Ones

Zhihu is often referred to as China’s answer to Quora, but its services extend beyond an online community Q+A service to areas like online publishing and livestreamed sessions with experts. It’s just raised $434m at a reported $3.5bn valuation. Livestreaming service Kuaishou led the series F round, which included fellow strategic partner Baidu and another corporate investor, Tencent.

Insurance group MS&AD has tripled the size of its MS&AD Ventures unit to about $128m, just 10 months after its launch. The company said it made more than 20 investments in that time, and seeing as its subsidiaries include Mitsui Sumitomo and Aioi Nissay Dowa – both of which maintain their own corporate venturing units – it’s going to be interesting to see if it has plans to formally unify the vehicles under the MS&AD Ventures banner.

We Company, the workspace provider formerly known as WeWork, has filed for one of the year’s most eagerly awaited initial public offerings. It has set a $1bn target as a placeholder figure but reports suggest it will go for $3bn to $4bn through the flotation. The filing also confirms SoftBank, its Vision Fund and related affiliates have provided a whopping $12.4bn in financing.

On GUV, Landos Biopharma, a US-based autoimmune disease therapeutics developer exploiting Virginia Tech research, has closed a $60m series B round backed by spinout-focused investment firm Osage University Partners. Biopharmaceuticals-focused investment firm RTW Investments and hedge fund manager Perceptive Advisors co-led the round, with the latter investing from its Xontogeny Venture and Life Sciences funds.

Deals

JD.com and iFlytek have contributed to a $283m series C1 round for another Chinese company, Terminus Technologies. Connected AI technology developer Terminus received $173m in a SenseTime-backed round less than a year ago, and has raised about $530m altogether.

Meesho has raised $125m in a Naspers-led series D round that included a $25m investment that had been made by Facebook in June. The round was reportedly set to value the social commerce marketplace at $600m to $650m and the cash will support it extending its reach further into India’s rural areas.

The renewables technology sector is a long way from its peak but the brunt of the funding that is coming in for startups in that space is going to energy storage. Energy Vault, a Swiss company developing a hydro power-inspired grid-scale storage system, has received $110m in series B funding in what is SoftBank Vision Fund’s first renewable energy investment.

ShareChat, the Indian operator of a multilingual social network with some 60 million users, has secured $100m in a Twitter-led series D round that valued it at $650m. The deal took its total funding past the $220m mark, but there was no sign of its other corporate backer, Xiaomi.

ScaleFactor has closed a $60m series C round featuring existing investor Citi Ventures that increased its overall funding to approximately $103m.

Carpooling platform Scoop Technologies has raised $60m from investors including corporate VC units Total Ventures and Workday Ventures to take its overall funding to more than $106m.

Uniphore, the developer of a range of speech recognition tools, has raised $51m in series C funding from investors including Sistema Asia Fund, and will channel the proceeds into R&D and a geographic expansion that will focus on the North American market.

Funds

Female founder-focused fund BBG Ventures was formed by AOL and then, when the company was acquired by Verizon, absorbed into the Oath digital media group. It formally spun off late last year and is seeking external investors for a third fund that, according to a recent regulatory filing, has a $50m target for its close.

Exits

WeWork owner The We Company was responsible for the most eagerly awaited IPO filing of the week but hosting services provider CloudFlare has also filed, some five months after raising cash at a $3.2bn valuation.

Enterprise communication platform developer Chatwork has secured approval for its own IPO, which will take place in its home country of Japan. The company has raised at least $15m in venture funding from investors including GMO Venture Partners, and the GMO unit that owns a 6% stake.

Novartis and Eli Lilly have secured exits, after Jazz Pharmaceuticals acquired Cavion, a developer of therapies for neurological diseases, and merged the company with one of its subsidiaries.

Things have been less rosy for microsatellite launcher Vector, which has shut down operations indefinitely due to a change in financing just days after sealing a contract with the US Air Force.


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

03 October 2016 – Funding news from Canada, the EU and the UK, Exits for Nokia and Much More

People

Jack Leeney, US head of investing for Telefonica Ventures, the corporate venturing unit of the eponymous Spain-based phone operator, has left after nearly five years at the firm in order to be a partner at SP Global Capital.

Microsoft Ventures has hired Leo de Luna, previously a principal at venture capital firm Split Rock Partners, as managing director to cover California’s Bay area and New York; Rashmi Gopinath, previously an investment director at Intel Capital, as an investing partner covering enterprise software investments in the Bay area; Lisa Nelson, previously chief of staff to the head of business development and the chief financial officer at Microsoft, as a partner; and Priya Saiprasad, previously part of financial services startup Square’s corporate development team, as a principal.

Mérieux Développement has appointed Jean-François Billet, Daniel Fero and Benoit Pierret as it expands its investment capabilities in Europe and the US.

Funds

Canada could start a second funds of venture capital funds (FoF) support programme in its next federal budget allied to support for corporate venturing.

The government-backed European Investment Fund (EIF) has set up a collaboration with national promotional institutions (NPIs) or banks (NPBs) across European Union (EU) member states, with one of its first initiatives expected to be a venture capital coinvestment programme with the Netherlands, according to an attendee.

Baidu, the internet company has added another fund, the $60m Easterly Ventures, to its arsenal. This latest vehicle will focus on Brazil-based technology startups.

Line, the messaging app spun out of Naver, has joined forces with its parent company to put $112m in a fund being raised by Korelya Capital – both companies providing $62m.

ServiceNow has set up an investment division dubbed ServiceNow Ventures and launched a competition to award a total of $500,000 to startups.

Havas, the France-based advertising and PR firm, will provide capital and consulting to Australian startups.

Wayra joins UK government for cybersecurity accelerator
The Telefónica subsidiary will establish the accelerator initiative

Daimler’s Startup Autobahn accelerator reaches Singapore
The scheme, initiated in Stuttgart last year, will be replicated in Singapore in partnership with NUS

Nationwide Children’s Hospital partners Rev1 for $5.5m fund
The healthcare system has joined venture capital firm Rev1 Ventures for a unit that will invest in life sciences

Exits

One of the companies that was expected to list back in January after filing for a $200m IPO at the backend of last year was Nutanix, an enterprise cloud company backed by Sapphire Ventures, the VC firm spun out of SAP. Market conditions turned out to be less than favourable then, but the company has now finally moved ahead valuing the company at $4bn.

Nokia exits Gridsum in $87m IPO

Nokia gets out of Intermedia in MDP acquisition

One97 comes to the rescue as EduKart crashes

SoundCloud, a music streaming service popular with independent artists, is reportedly in acquisition talks again. This time it’s not Twitter, which discussed such plans in 2014 but withdrew that same year before injecting $70m in series E capital a few months ago, but Spotify.

Investments

Another maybe deal but Wal-Mart enters talks to drive $1bn Flipkart investment

FIH Mobile subsidiary has contributed $125m to Tink’s funding round, a company that partners hotels and puts smartphones in rooms that are free to use for guests.

Didi Chuxing enters Ofo’s funding cycle

Online sales technology developer Apttus, backed by Salesforce Ventures, has welcomed back sovereign wealth fund Kuwait Investment Authority for an $88m series D round that put the company’s total equity at $274m.

Bloomberg helps ship $65m to Flexport

Xiaochuan Chuhai does its series B homework

Merck Ventures takes a ride on iOMX

Line seasons $45m Snow investment

Shape Security fits $40m into series D

Instacart consumes Whole Foods funding

NS1 directs $20m to series B

Eli Lilly breaches Fortis in $18m series A

University Corner

GE and Allied Minds study collaboration

Government Department

Druva drives $51m series E


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