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The Big Ones
Digital payment technology and services provider Stripe last raised money in October 2019, closing $850m from investors including Alphabet unit GV at a whopping $36bn valuation. But its next round could double that valuation, sources told Bloomberg, adding that it has opened discussions with prospective investors and that a $100bn valuation could be possible for the transaction. That hike would mirror the huge share price rises for competitors Square and PayPal in recent months.
Canada-listed phone operator Telus has paid heed in setting up a C$100m ($76.5m) social impact corporate venturing fund to complement its existing Telus Ventures unit under Rich Osborn. Darren Entwistle, president and CEO of Telus, said: “This C$100m investment will accelerate potent, scalable and socially responsible services coming to market, helping to answer some of the most pressing challenges facing our world, including socioeconomic inclusiveness.” The Telus Pollinator Fund for Good will target healthcare entrepreneurs, social and economic inclusion and ensuring sustainable food production under Blair Miller, managing partner and Telus’ former vice-president of consumer products and content.
Mobile commerce platform developer Wish has become the third US-based tech company to file for a $1bn initial public offering in the space of a week, after Airbnb and Roblox. JD.com reportedly invested up to $55m in Wish as part of a 2015 series D that valued it at $3.5bn, but that valuation had soared to over $11bn as of its last round, an August 2019 series H. It has also seen substantial revenue growth this year, though its net losses increased at the same time.
Catamaran Bio, a US-based cancer treatment developer founded out of University of Minnesota and George Washington University (GWU), launched last week with $42m of series A funding co-led by Sofinnova Partners and Lightstone Ventures. Takeda Ventures, a strategic investment arm of Takeda, also took part in the round, as did SV Health Investors and Astellas Venture Management. Incorporated in September 2019, Catamaran Bio is developing cell therapies for a broad range of cancers, including solid tumours. The spinout hopes to deliver off-the-shelf drugs, as opposed to some cell therapy treatments that require samples extracted from the patient. The cash will allow it to progress two lead programmes into the clinic and to upgrade its underlying cell engineering technology.
Manbang Group, the Chinese trucking services platform also known as Full Truck Alliance, has pulled in $1.7bn through a round co-led by SoftBank Vision Fund and backed by another returning corporate investor, Tencent. The cash was reportedly secured at a valuation just short of $12bn and shows the value of consolidation, the company being formed by the merger of rivals Huochebang and Yunmanman three years ago.
On the other end of the experience stakes, Resilience has emerged from stealth with $800m in funding, $750m of which was raised in a series B round featuring Alphabet unit GV. The startup can be seen as one of what may well be a series of large-scale companies formed during the covid-19 pandemic specifically to deal with its effects. It is working on an advanced manufacturing set up for gene and cell therapies as well as vaccines, proteins and viral vectors, and should do brisk business considering the number of drug developers raising big money or going public right now.
Digital property and casualty insurance provider Hippo has raised $350m from Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance at a reported $2bn valuation, as part of a deal that will involve the latter taking on some of the risk for the company. The companies also revealed that MS&AD Ventures – like Mitsui Sumitomo, part of the MS&AD insurance group – was among the investors in its last round, a $150m series E in July that valued it at $1.5bn post-money.
Indian automotive e-commerce marketplace Cars24 has secured $200m in a series E round led by investment firm DST Global at a valuation topping $1bn. The company, which counts KCK Global as an earlier investor, also revealed its business has reached and surpassed pre-coronavirus levels, which could be a testament to the recovery of India’s used car market or perhaps a sign it is simply migrating online.
For all the headlines being grabbed by the pharmaceutical sector, the technology area that has really taken big steps forward this year is arguably online education. Duolingo and Udemy both also raised more money this past week at unicorn valuations while coding education platform developer Codemao has bagged $198m in series D funding. The company’s existing investors include Southern Publishing and Media and Cheetah Mobile, and the latest round was led by an affiliate of Baring Private Equity Asia.
Elsewhere in fintech, digital bank Current has raised $131m in a series C round led by Tiger Global Management that valued it at $750m. The deal came just over a year after the company secured $20m in a round featuring Cuna Mutual’s CMFG Ventures unit. That leap is another sign of the significant growth in the sector, though the neobank space is at the same time beginning to get somewhat crowded.
SomaLogic, a developer of proteomics technology for use in drug treatments and healthcare data, has closed $121m in a round led by life sciences investment firm Casdin Capital. The company, interestingly, termed the round as a series A despite it being 20 years old and now the recipient of more than $485m in funding in that time. Its earlier investors include Nan Fung Life Sciences, iCarbonX, Novartis, Otsuka Pharmaceutical and Quest Diagnostics.
Cleantech isn’t the force it once was in the startup space but it’s a long way from being dead. Vestas, the biggest pure-play wind turbine maker in the world, was reportedly considering the formation of a strategic investment arm back in 2017 but it’s waited until now to launch the vehicle, dubbed Vestas Ventures. It will invest roughly $1m to $7m per deal in renewables and sustainable technology developers.
Financial services provider Orix has invested $60m in Israel-based equity crowdfunding platform operator OurCrowd as part of a strategic collaboration deal. OurCrowd runs a venture capital investment platform that allows businesses and individuals to invest in a curated selection of startups across a range of sectors from seed to pre-IPO stage.
Mobile network operator Orange has committed an undisclosed amount of capital to France-headquartered private equity firm LBO France’s Digital Health 2 (DH2) fund through its Orange Digital Investment vehicle. DH2 has a €200m ($238m) target for its close and is tasked with investing in small-to-medium sized businesses in the digital health sector. Its target areas are France and the rest of Western Europe.
Metromile is the latest company to take the SPAC route to a public markets listing, agreeing a reverse merger with Insu Acquisition Corp. II in a deal set to value the merged business at about $1.3bn. Like Hippo, Metromile is part of a new breed of digital insurers, though its selling point is as an automotive insurance provider that charges by the mile. Its investors include China Pacific, AmTrust, Tokio Marine, Mitsui and Intact Financial.
Amazon has been one of the companies in the tech space that’s benefited most financially from the coronavirus lockdowns, but other online marketplaces are also seeing their business models vindicated. Russia-based Ozon has floated above its range in an upsized initial public offering in the US that netted it $990m, in addition to $135m in a private placement from existing backers Sistema and Baring Vostok. Sistema remains its largest shareholder, with a 37% stake post-IPO.
Covid-19 may have taken the headlines but cancer has been the main driver of corporate venturing activity in the healthcare sector of late. China-based Antengene is the latest oncology-focused company to move to the exit stage, and has gone public in Hong Kong in a $360m IPO in which it floated at the top of its range. It had raised $238m across three rounds from investors including WuXi AppTec’s Corporate Venture Fund, Celgene, Taikang and Tigermed Investment.
Mass spectrometry device producer 908 Devices has filed to go public, setting a $75m target for an initial public offering slated to take place on the Nasdaq Global Market. The company has raised $70m in venture funding from investors including Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV) and Schlumberger and has doubled revenue this year while significantly cutting losses. Just a reminder: Airbnb, Roblox and Wish are among the companies that could theoretically float in what’s sure to be a busy December.
“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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