27 September 2021 – Toast and Freshworks Make Strong Public Market Debuts

The Big Ones

US-based restaurant organisation technology provider Toast is floating on the New York Stock Exchange today in an $870m initial public offering representing an exit for internet and technology group Alphabet. Toast, a US-based restaurant management software provider backed by Alphabet’s subsidiary GV, floated on the New York Stock Exchange in an $870m IPO, pricing its shares at $40 each, with an implied market capitalisation of around $20bn. The shares closed at around $62, equating to a market capitalisation of approximately $31bn, which made Toast’s IPO one of the largest US listings of the year.

Freshworks, a customer relationship management (CRM) software developer, backed by internet and technology group Alphabet, raised $1.03bn in Nasdaq IPO. Its shares closed at almost $48, equating to a market capitalisation of $13.5bn. Freshworks produces a variety of software used by companies for improving customer experience and optimising IT service management processes.

Mexico-based used car marketplace Kavak raised $700m in a series E round featuring telecommunications and internet group SoftBank and consumer internet company Sea, Reuters reported today. The round, which more than doubled the company’s valuation to $8.7bn, included General Catalyst, Founders Fund, Tiger Global Management, D1 Capital Partners, Ribbit Capital and Spruce House.

Telecommunications and internet group SoftBank led a $680m series B round for Sorare, the France-headquartered creator of a fantasy football game focused on non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Atomico, Bessemer Ventures, D1 Capital, Eurazeo, IVP, Liontree, Benchmark, Accel and Partech also participated in the round along with private investors Alexis Ohanian, Gerard Piqué, Rio Ferdinand, Antoine Griezmann and César Azpilicueta.
Canada-based virtual trading card developer Dapper Labs received $250m from investors including GV, a corporate venturing arm of internet and technology conglomerate Alphabet. Investment manager Coatue Management led the round, which included Andreessen Horowitz, Bond, Version One Ventures and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC. The round reportedly valued the company at $7.6bn.

Crossover

US-based lithium mining technology producer Lilac Solutions raised $150m in a series B round featuring commodity trading firm Mercuria Energy Trading. Lowercarbon Capital co-led the round with funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price, while The Engine, Valor Equity Partners and Breakthrough Energy Ventures also participated. Lilac has created an ion exchange technology which makes the extraction of lithium from brine resources – naturally occurring sources of saltwater – more efficient than current methods.

Funds

Thailand-based financial services group Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) and conglomerate Charoen Pokphan Group (CP Group) launched a venture capital fund with an $800m target. The vehicle, dubbed Global Disruptive Technology Venture Capital Fund, will focus on investments in emerging technology areas such as digital assets, the blockchain and general fintech.

France-based, biotech-focused private equity firm Jeito Capital has closed its Jeito I fund, which is backed by pharmaceutical company Sanofi and insurers Axa, Aviva, Pro BTP and CNP Assurances, at $632m. The latest batch of limited partners for the fund include pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS), the Singaporean government owned Temasek and the multilateral European Investment Fund (EIF).

Japan-headquartered consumer electronics producer Sony has formed a $200m corporate venturing fund which will concentrate on India-based investments.

US-based venture capital firm Fifth Wall raised over $140m for its Climate Tech Fund which targets $500m, from investors including housing provider Invitation Homes and property manager Ivanhoé Cambridge.

Illumina Ventures, the venture capital firm sponsored by US-headquartered genomics technology producer Illumina, closed its second fund at $325m.

HSBC Group launched a $100m dollars US-based venture capital vehicle named HSBC Ventures which will back climate and net-zero emission technology developers. Its portfolio companies will have access to the parent firm’s resources, including its global network, commercial and investment banking offering and experience in supporting startups and public companies.


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

02 March 2020 – Grab Raises $856m from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group

The Big Ones

There may be fewer rounds being closed but ride hailing continues to be a money magnet, with Grab raising $856m from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group – which invested $706m – and TIS, both investing through newly struck partnership deals that will centre on the joint development of payment and financial services technology. There may be a bigger deal in the pipeline too, with reports stating Grab has been in talks with key rival Gojek over a merger that could value the combined company at $23bn.

Southeast Asia has been one of the fastest growing areas of the world for corporate VC funds. One of the relatively early participants was state-owned telecommunications operator Telkom Indonesia, which launched unit MDI Ventures in 2016 with $100m, and which has rapidly expanded since. MDI Ventures is targeting $300m to $500m for its second fund, according to comments made by a government minister this week, and that amount would represent a big step forward in terms of capital. Probably justifiably, given the recent emergence of unicorns like Grab, Gojek and Tokopedia.

CapitalG, the growth equity subsidiary of Alphabet is in line for a healthy exit, as media reports suggest tax software provider Intuit is set to buy credit management platform Credit Karma in a $7bn cash-and-stock deal. CapitalG first invested in Credit Karma at a valuation of less than $1bn in 2014, and the company was valued at $3.5bn in its last funding round the following year.

And in crossover news (of which there was actually a lot last week and we’ll get to more of them in a minute), we have another exit. University of Pennsylvania-linked Passage Bio went public on Friday in a $216m IPO in which it is floating at the top of its range ($18 a pop), after increasing the number of shares by more than 60% (from 7.4 million to 12 million shares). The genetic medicine developer only officially launched a year ago (though it was incorporated in 2017) but had pulled in $226m across two rounds, from investors including corporate vehicles Access Biotechnology and Lilly Asia Ventures. It’s also allocated 1.8 million shares to a greenshoe option (also up from 1.5 million) and if stock goes the way everyone wants it to, it likely won’t be too long before underwriters jump on that chance.

Deals

One of the more interesting corporate investor/portfolio company combinations in recent times is the tendency for carmakers to invest nine-figure sums in autonomous driving software developers in order to get a foothold in an area of technology thought by many to be the future of the industry. The latest is Toyota, which has already backed several ride hailing companies and which just provided $400m for robotaxi system developer Pony.ai as part of a $462m round.

Graphcore, an artificial intelligence processor developer that traces its roots back to University of Bristol (it’s a spinout of Bristol spinout Xmos), has added $150m to a series D round that now stands at $350m, valuing the company at $1.95bn. The $200m first tranche included BMW i Ventures, Robert Bosch Venture Capital, Dell Technologies Capital, Microsoft and Samsung, though none were explicitly identified as being among the existing backers that joined Baillie Gifford, M&G Investments, Mayfair Equity Partners and Merian Chrysalis in the second close.

GV and Intel Capital have both contributed to a $250m series C round for SambaNova Systems, an AI computing platform developer co-founded by Stanford University faculty, that will fuel the enhancement of its technology. GV co-led SambaNova’s series A round while Intel Capital led its $150m series B last year, and the increasing ubiquity of AI combined with the move to more complex areas like edge computing mean we’re likely to see the company continue to move up the fundraising levels in the coming years.

SpaceX is gearing up for another funding round, having raised more than $1.2bn since December 2018 across three different rounds. No word on whether those rounds included existing investor Google, but the new round is reportedly set to be sized at about $250m at a valuation of roughly $36bn. Its overall funding so far stands at around $3.4bn.

Karius has developed a liquid biopsy test that draws blood in order to discover information on disease by crunching data on microbial cell-free DNA found in the samples. It has also secured $165m in a series B round led by SoftBank’s second Vision Fund, which seems to well and truly be up and running (albeit still only with cash from SoftBank itself).

Despite being around some 15 years and racking up 115 monthly active users, Roblox has kept a relatively low profile in the startup scene, though that may be changing with news of a $150m series G round featuring Tencent. The company has created an online platform that allows users to develop virtual worlds and MMO games that others can play, and is reportedly now valued at $4bn. It’s also launching a secondary offering for up to $350m of common and primary shares.

Another company focusing on creativity (of a sort) is Uncorq, developer of a no-code platform enabling users to create software applications without coding. It’s added $51m to a series D round now totalling $131m, and CapitalG, which co-led the first tranche in October, led the extension. The cash will be used for recruitment and expanding the company’s partnerships along with its live event schedule.

JD.id, the Indonesian spinoff of e-commerce group JD.com launched in 2015 with private equity firm Provident Capital, is also valued at more than $1bn, a source has told Indonesian tech news portal Daily Social. The company has yet to confirm the identity of any external investors but rumours suggest they could include another Indonesian unicorn, Gojek. To square the circle, both JD.com and Provident invested in a $1bn round for Gojek early last year.

Funds

Energy management and automation technology producer Schneider Electric has supplied $10m for Israel-based venture capital firm Grove Ventures’ $120m second fund. The oversubscribed fund, Grove II, was closed a week ago without the firm identifying any limited partners, though its described them as institutional and strategic investors as well as industry leaders.

US-based, real estate-focused venture capital firm Fifth Wall closed a $100m fund on Wednesday that includes several property developers as limited partners. Commercial real estate provider Cushman & Wakefield is an LP, as are real estate investment trusts Macerich, Acadia Realty Trust and Nuveen Real Estate, the latter a subsidiary of asset manager TIAA Investments.

Japan-based venture capital firm I-Nest Capital has closed its first fund at ¥6.6bn ($61m) having secured commitments from backers including corporates Power Solutions and NTT Docomo. IT services firm Power Solutions and mobile network operator NTT Docomo were joined by financial services firm Mizuho Bank and Fuji Startup Ventures, a corporate venturing vehicle for media company Fuji TV. The limited partners were filled out by Mizuho Securities Principal Investment, which represents investment bank Mizuho Securities, and the Japanese government’s Organization for Small & Medium Enterprises and Regional Innovation.

Exits

Salesforce has agreed to acquire CRM app developer Vlocity, a portfolio company of its Salesforce Ventures unit, in a $1.33bn all-cash deal. Vlocity had raised $163m from an investor base that also included Accenture and New York Life, and the transaction marks the fifth M&A exit for Salesforce Ventures this year, following Simplus, Evariant, Quid and LevelEleven.

Food delivery has been one of the better funded portions of the mobile commerce market, perhaps second only to ride hailing, and DoorDash’s investors look like they may be in for a lucrative exit. The company has confidentially filed for an IPO, three months after closing its series G round at $700m, at a $13bn valuation.

It isn’t a conventional M&A corporate exit but Takeda is buying coeliac disease drug developer PvP Biologics three years after paying $35m for an option to fully acquire the University of Washington spinout once it had advanced its lead product candidate to a certain stage. The size of the deal could eventually reach $330m if PvP reaches every development and regulatory milestone and, its drug will join Takeda’s own celiac disease candidate in the corporate’s product pipeline.


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