17 August 2020 – Impossible Foods Closes $200m Series G

The Big Ones

A lot of brick-and-mortar retailers have suffered during coronavirus lockdowns in recent months but certain parts of the e-commerce sector have done very well. That includes online sports apparel retailer Fanatics, whose business is reportedly 30% up year on year and which has raised $350m in a series E round that hiked its valuation from $4.5bn to $6.2bn. SoftBank Vision Fund led its last round in 2017, and the company’s earlier backers also include Alibaba.

Israel-based medical technology fund Alive HealthTech Fund has raised $150m, including $50m from four anchor investors including healthcare provider Carillon Clinics and health maintenance organisation (HMO) Maccabi Healthcare Service. The other two were Leumi Partners, the investment banking subsidiary of financial services firm Bank Leumi, which put up $10m, and Consensus Business Group, the investment vehicle for entrepreneur Vincent Tchenguiz. Maccabi Healthcare contributed through its Maccabi Fund. Alive HealthTech is concentrating on growth-stage investments in medical technology developers and intends to lead 10 to 15 rounds by 2024 sized between $10m and $30m, providing $5m to $10m for each company. The vehicle was formed by Maccabi Healthcare, care provider Assuta and Tchenguiz’s CBG Asset Management firm in partnership with chairman Ascher Shmulewitz and Michel Habib, Tchenguiz’s Israeli representative. The founding partners jointly provided $50m for the fund.

Online lending and wealth management platform Lufax may be dialling back its peer-to-peer lending services but its user base still tops 40 million, and the Ping An spinoff has reportedly confidentially filed to raise up to $3bn in a US initial public offering. Several large Chinese companies have filed for offerings in the country which has to be a testament to the heated activity in those markets given they aren’t being put off by anti-Chinese rhetoric from the government or the prospect of regulations that will make them subject to US auditing rules.

Crossover news: Vegan burger and sausage producer Impossible Foods – founded in 2011 by Patrick Brown, then a professor of biochemistry at Stanford University – has closed a $200m series G round led by Coatue Management at a reported $4bn valuation. Alphabet’s GV subsidiary invested in Impossible back in 2014, and since then it has expanded into thousands of shops and restaurants courtesy of partnerships with chains like Burger King and The Hard Rock Cafe. It also sells direct to consumers online and it will use the latest round for R&D, manufacturing, increase its retail presence and international operations. It raised $500m in a series F round in March to be able to cope with an expected impact of the pandemic, but it’s actually achieved 60-fold growth since then as consumers avoided meat (probably in no small part due to well publicised Covid outbreaks in abattoirs and meat processing plants).

Deals

HMD Global secured the licence to manufacture smartphones and feature phones under the Nokia brand in 2016 and, after raising $100m in a Foxconn-backed series A round two years later, has added $230m in funding from Google, Qualcomm and Nokia itself. HMD is expanding from hardware into mobile carrier services, and the fact Google and Qualcomm have also recently pumped significant amounts into telecommunications operator and digital services provider Jio Platform suggests 5G is going to be the fuel for some big deals.

Gong has raised $200m in a series D round featuring Salesforce Ventures at a $2.2bn valuation, increasing its overall funding to more than $330m. The company has developed an analytics software platform for customer service interactions and is one of several in that area to have raised money of late, as more and more interactions become remote. Salesforce participated as a new investor but Cisco Investments had backed Gong since its series B round – one of three it’s notched up in the past 18 months.

Funds

Myanmar conglomerate UMG formed incubator and accelerator UMG Idealab in 2015 and it generally invests $50,000 to $1m at pre-seed to series A stage. Now however, its portfolio companies are moving to later stages and it is preparing to raise $100m for a fund that will support follow-on investments. It is looking to tap external backers and is seeking a close in 2022. That would also likely be the largest fund to be raised by a Mynamar-based corporate venturer.

Exits

KE Holdings, the Chinese company that combines real estate services providers Beike and Lianjia, floated in the United States on Thursday in a $2.12bn initial public offering that values it above $26bn. Some $330m of that amount consists of existing investors buying shares, with Tencent providing $160m of the total. SoftBank Vision Fund is also a notable shareholder while Baidu and several real estate developers are among its earlier investors.

A lot of tech companies have seen their business models validated by lockdown conditions but others are more vulnerable. Kabbage uses AI technology to process loans for small businesses, but with the wider economy in trouble it may see more and more customers default. That environment makes it ripe for an acquisition and American Express is reportedly in talks to buy it for up to $850m. That’s a lower valuation than its last two rounds but not dramatically so, and it would hand exits to SoftBank, UPS, Recruit, Santander, ING and Scotiabank

One of the most recent examples of that heat is primary care network Oak Street Health, which floated late last week and which has closed its IPO at $377m after its share price more than doubled. Health system Humana, which invested $50m in the company in September 2018, now owns a stake valued in excess of $550m.

Another Chinese company, silicon and semiconductor production services provider VeriSilicon Microelectronics, is meanwhile set to float on Shanghai’s Star Exchange in a $268m offering. Xiaomi will own 5.6% of VeriSilicon’s shares when the IPO closes while Intel Capital will own a 2.1% stake. Its investors also include Samsung Ventures.

Online retail software provider BigCommerce has shown the potential in the market, having closed its initial public offering at $249m on Friday just two days after it floated. The company, which counts Softbank Capital, Telstra Ventures and American Express Ventures among its investors, saw its shares skyrocket on their first day of trading, more than tripling in price by the day’s closed. Its share price is still around that mark today, giving it a market cap of roughly $4.9bn.

Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen spinout CureVac has had an eventful few months, pulling in $640m from investors including GlaxoSmithKline last month due to the prospect its messenger RNA technology could form the basis of a Covid-19 vaccine. The Germany-based company has now gone public in the US, in an initial public offering that topped $213m. GSK’s stake is now sized at 8.4%, and CureVac’s investors also include strategic partners Eli Lilly and Genmab.

Another China-based company, Shanghai SK Automation Technology, has gone public but unlike KE Holdings it is doing so in its home country, having raised $105m in an offering on Shanghai’s Star Market. SK Automation provides intelligent manufacturing technology and its backers include SAIC Capital, a subsidiary of carmaker and SK customer SAIC, which retains a 3.4% stake post-IPO.

As the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc throughout the world the IPO rush seems to be carrying on unabated. Xpeng, the smart electric carmaker also known as Xiaopeng Motors, has filed for an initial public offering in the US, having raised some $2.5bn in venture funding from investors including Alibaba, UCar, Foxconn, Xiaomi and Fosun. It has set $100m for a placeholder target but expect that to rise sharply when it comes to setting terms for the offering.

Checkmate Pharmaceuticals has gone public in a $75m initial public offering, floating in the middle of its range. The immuno-oncology therapy developer had previously raised $175m in funding from investors including Novo, and at a time when companies are floating above their range in upsized offerings that’s probably a disappointing result, especially with its shares having dropped from the IPO price.


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

23 March 2020 – Fox Agrees to Buy Tubi for $440m in Cash

The Big Ones

When SoftBank emerged with a $9.5bn rescue package for beleaguered workspace provider WeWork in October, $3bn of the amount had been earmarked for a tender that would have involved it buying shares from existing investors and shareholders – likely including hotel chain Jin Jiang International and Legend Capital. However, the company has sent a letter to the shareholders stating that it believes regulatory probes into the WeWork business frees it from that obligation. It’s an interesting approach, but considering SoftBank’s influence at the company even before its IPO attempt, one that may be hard to follow through with.

Speaking of everyone’s favourite corporate. SoftBank’s efforts to raise capital for a second Vision Fund have been largely unsuccessful so far, but it is reportedly seeking $10bn, including $5bn from external backers, to shore up portfolio companies in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, and maybe acquire rivals struggling with the same issues. Some of the portfolio companies set to be affected include Uber, WeWork, Didi Chuxing and Oyo, though others such as Slack, Paytm and DoorDash could find their business models strengthened by the virus and related social distancing.

Fox has agreed to buy online streaming service Tubi for $440m in cash, allowing MGM and Lionsgate to exit. Both contributed to Tubi’s $6m series A round, part of the $31m in funding it had disclosed prior to the acquisition. Fox should still have a big chunk of the Disney money it got from the 21st Century Fox purchase so it won’t be a surprise to see some more big acquisitions from it coming up soon.

In crossover news, Circle Pharma, a US-based oncology therapeutics spinout of UC San Francisco and UC Santa Cruz, has secured $45m in a series B round backed by UC Berkeley’s investment vehicle, Berkeley Catalyst Fund. Healthcare-focused venture capital fund Column Group led the round, which also included pharmaceutical firm ShangPharma, Nextech Invest and LifeForce Capital. Circle began operations when pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and Mission Bay Capital supplied an undisclosed amount of seed funding in 2014. ShangPharma added an undisclosed sum to the round in mid-2016.

Deals

Despite recent reports it was set to merge with key competitor Grab, ride hailing platform Gojek has raised $1.2bn in funding, reportedly bringing its series F round to nearly $3bn. The round already included Tencent, JD.com, Google, AIA, Mitsubishi, Visa, Siam Commercial Bank and Astra International, but no word yet on the identities of the new investors.

AI and imaging technology provider SenseTime has reportedly dropped plans for a Hong Kong IPO and is instead pursuing between $500m and $1bn in new funding. Its existing investors include Alibaba, Qualcomm, Suning and Dalian Wanda, and reports last year suggested its valuation could have reached $7.5bn. In any case, it’s possible a by-product of the coronavirus could be another push back in the IPO space leading to more late-stage rounds.

Plant-based meat product supplier Impossible Foods has raised $500m in series F funding and, in a sign of things to come, told Forbes it will use the money to offset expected difficulties caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The GV-backed company has reportedly now secured about $1.25bn in funding altogether, and the latest round was led by Mirae Asset Global Investments.

Digital currency technology developer Bakkt has secured $300m as it prepares to expand its crypto wallet to a more diversified crypto services app. The series B funding came from Microsoft unit M12, Naspers subsidiary PayU, Boston Consulting Group, CMT Digital and Intercontinental Exchange, the exchange operator that had spun off Bakkt in the first place.

Data streaming software provider Confluent is reportedly seeking $200m to $300m in a round that could double its valuation to $5bn. Its early investors include LinkedIn, which developed the open source Apache Kafka software on which the company relies. The funding would hypothetically be raised prior to an IPO taking place. Enterprise software has been one of the more resilient sectors of late, especially post-IPO, so that wouldn’t be a huge shock.

StackPath has secured $216m in a series B round co-led by corporates Juniper Networks and Cox Communications, following a $180m series A round revealed when it came out of stealth in 2016. Both leads took board seats at the edge computing technology developer, which plans to put the funding toward enhancing engineering and product development while commercialising its system.

Airwallex is meanwhile looking to raise $200m in a series D round set to be led by an as-yet unnamed financial services provider. The cross-border remittance service has so far secured just over $200m, with approximately half coming in a Tencent-led series C round a year ago that valued it at $1bn. The prospective round would be raised at a $1.5bn pre-money valuation.

Novo has participated in a $100m series G round for drug development software provider Tempus that valued it at $5bn post-money. The participants in the round had all previously contributed to the company’s last round, a $200m series F that closed in May 2019, the funding being raised at a $3.1bn valuation. It will use the series G proceeds to expand the range of conditions its technology serves.

Sigilon Therapeutics is developing bio-engineered cells to treat chronic illnesses without a patient’s immune system rejecting the treatment, and has completed an $80.3m series B round that lifted its overall funding to more than $195m. The round’s participants included Eli Lilly, already an equity investor as of a 2018 collaboration agreement that could potentially top $470m should all milestones be reached.

Engineered T cell therapy developer Eureka Therapeutics has bagged $45m in a series E round led by Lyell Immunopharma, which invested through a strategic partnership deal. Eureka has now raised approximately $134m altogether and will work with Lyell on solid tumour treatments, its own liver cancer candidate having entered phase 1/2 clinical trials.

Funds

Cryptocurrency exchange operator Binance has joined forces with its India-based subsidiary WazirX to launch a $50m fund that will invest in blockchain technology developers located in India. The Blockchain for India fund follows a decision by the country’s supreme court to allow financial services firms to take on blockchain companies as clients. As a result, cryptocurrency exchanges in the country are now also able to offer bank account transfers. Apart from providing funding, the vehicle will also look to incubate startups and support blockchain initiatives within universities.

Congruent Ventures, the venture capital firm anchored by University of California, is aiming to raise $125m for its second, sustainability-focused fund, according to a regulatory filing. The filing states Congruent Ventures II is still to raise capital. None of its potential limited partners have been identified. Founded in 2017, Congruent backs early-stage startups that advance sustainability objectives in areas such as urbanisation and mobility, clean energy, food and agriculture and industrial and supply chains. The first Congruent fund closed at $92m in 2018 with a $50m contribution from University of California’s Office of the Chief Investment Officer in addition to Prelude Ventures and undisclosed additional investors.

Exits

These are a different kind of exit, but Vietnam-based conglomerate Vingroup has shut down its corporate venturing unit, Vingroup Ventures. Founded in Ukraine in 1993, Vingroup moved into Vietnam in 2000 and has concentrated its activities in the country since then. Its main areas of interest include technology, manufacturing and a range of services in sectors including education, health and real estate. Vingroup established its CVC unit in late 2018 and had targeted $100m of investments across the globe according to its LinkedIn page, though it has failed to disclose a single deal in which it had participated.

DuPont Ventures, the corporate venturing subsidiary of chemicals producer DuPont, is set to close at the end of this month, according to a person familiar with the matter. Formed by DuPont in 2003, its investments have included deals for biofuel feedstock supplier NexSteppe, taste modification molecule developer Linguagen and ethernet services provider Actelis Networks. However, the unit has been relatively quiet of late, its last disclosed investment being its participation in a $75m round for Indiana University’s drone management software spinout PrecisionHawk in early 2018. DuPont Ventures’ closure comes as part of a restructuring that will involve the company’s larger corporate innovation activities being cut as part of a cost-saving process. The firm has not revealed whether it plans to divest the existing equity stakes held by its subsidiary.


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

02 December 2019 – SoftBank Leads Oyo’s $1.5bn Funding Round

The Big Ones

SoftBank Vision Fund is putting up $807m to lead a $1.5bn funding round for one of its most notable portfolio companies, India-based short term accommodation platform Oyo. The round values Oyo at $10bn and the extra cash will fund expansion in the US, a prime market in the company’s ongoing international expansion. Its other investors include Didi Chuxing, Hero Enterprise and Huazhu Hotels Group.

Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial is putting together a $1bn fund that will focus on emerging markets such as India or Southeast Asia. Its name can be translated as Ant Unicorn Fund and it will concentrate on strategic investments in areas such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, security, the internet of things and computing as well as digital financial services platforms.

Aporeto’s investors, which include Comcast Ventures, National Grid Partners, Symantec and Telia Ventures, are in line for exits, through a $150m acquisition by Palo Alto Networks. The machine identity-based cybersecurity software provider had raised almost $35m, and its pending acquisition marks the third corporate-backed company to be bought by Palo Alto in the past six months, following Zingbox and Twistlock.

In crossover news with Global University Venturing, Heartseed, a Japan-based developer of treatments for heart failure based on research at Keio University, has secured ¥2.8bn ($25.8m) in series B funding from investors including medical data technology provider JMDC.

Deals

Another of Vision Fund’s key Indian investments is mobile financial services provider Paytm, and it has contributed to a $1bn series G round for the company that also featured fellow corporate investor Ant Financial.

Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia-based Tokopedia is seeking what will likely be its last VC funding before its own flotation, and is reportedly in talks to raise $1bn to $1.5bn in a round that will probably include existing backers and unnamed US internet companies.

Impossible Foods is looking to raise $300m to $400m in a round expected to value it in the $3bn to $5bn range. The plant-based burger provider was most recently valued at $2bn and is reportedly eyeing 2020 for its initial public offering.

Online supermarket Picnic has raised $275m in funding, chiefly from the same investors that backed its last round, when it secured $108m in early 2017.

Online pharmacy operator PharmEasy has raised $220m at a $700m valuation, in a round led by the Singaporean government-owned Temasek. India-based PharmEasy has now secured more than $320m altogether, its earlier investors including corporates Ascent Health and Wellness, Medi Assist and Manipal Education and Medical Group.

Ferring Pharmaceuticals has spun off a new company to manage the late-stage development and eventual commercialisation of a gene therapy intended to treat bladder cancer.

Lithuania-headquartered fashion e-commerce marketplace Vinted has meanwhile received $141m from investors including Burda Principal Investments at a valuation of about $1.1bn.

We’ve been through the ride hailing gold rush and the bicycle rental frenzy but neither sector has even approached profitability yet. Despite that, electric scooter rental platforms are continuing to raise big money, the latest being India-based Bounce, which has bumped its series D round up to $150m.

Online job listings and recruitment portal Boss Zhipin has received a seven-figure dollar amount in a series E round featuring Tencent, which reportedly led one tranche of the round while participating in another.

Enterprise AI software provider Appier has bagged $80m in series D funding from investors including UMC Capital and Hopu-Arm Innovation Fund, nearly doubling its overall funding to $162m in the process.

Real estate developer Daito Trust Construction has provided $50m in equity funding for co-working space operator JustCo, and is pumping a further $24m into a joint venture that will enable the Sinagporean company to expand into Daito’s home market of Japan.

Despite its name, Jybd is not a recruitment platform but an aftermarket services platform for truckers. The China-based company has received $50m in a series B round led by Sino-Ocean Capital, a subsidiary of Sino-Ocean Group, the transaction coming after trucking services marketplace Manbang Group supplied $46m in series A funding for it last year.

Funds

Now this isn’t really a new fund but it is an interesting development: Thailand-based financial services firm Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) is looking to spin off some of its financial technology entities, potentially including venture capital subsidiary SCB Digital Ventures. Digital Ventures was launched in 2016 with $50m in capital and its early investments focused on limited partner commitments, including funds being raised by Nyca Partners and Dymon Asia Ventures.

Exits

There weren’t too many exits last week, but another notable one was insurance provider Maif’s exit from France-based voice technology developer Snips in a $37.5m acquisition by speaker system producer Sonos. Snips is the creator of a full-stack software platform that can be used to develop custom voice-based digital assistants.


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

20 May 2019 – JD Health Agrees Series A Funding Suspected to Total More Than $1bn

The Big Ones

JD.com has agreed to take in series A funding from CICC Capital, Baring Private Equity Asia and CPEChina Fund that is expected to total more than $1bn, for healthcare services subsidiary JD Health.

Not the week’s biggest fund in terms of numbers, but an intriguing one nonetheless: Telkomsel, the mobile network subsidiary of Indonesia-headquartered telecommunications company Telkom Indonesia, has launched a $40m VC fund in collaboration with telecoms firm Singapore Telecommunications.

When it came to exits, we had a nice crossover between corporate and university with NextCure, a US-based immuno-oncology drug developer based on research at Yale University, that secured $75m in its initial public offering.

Deals

Quibi raised $1bn for its short-form streaming platform back when was known as New TV, and it’s now seeking an additional $1bn to fund content production.

SoftBank Vision Fund’s latest investment involves it supplying $800m in funding for supply chain finance provider GreenSill at a $3.5bn valuation.

Amazon isn’t a huge participant in the corporate venturing space despite its establishment of the early stage-focused Alexa Fund. But it’s led a $575m series G round for UK-based online food delivery service Deliveroo that took the latter’s funding past the $1.5bn mark.

Telecommunications technology provider China Electronics Corporation is investing approximately $548m in Beijing Qianxin Technology, a network security product supplier spun off from Qihoo 360.

Reports last month stated SoftBank was set to invest more than $550m in Germany-based tour booking service GetYourGuide but the end result is slightly more modest, if still impressive.

Vegan burger producer Impossible Foods recently launched in Asia and is set to ramp up its partnership with Burger King. It plans to fund that expansion with a $300m funding round closed at a reported $2bn valuation.

SoftBank Vision Fund’s latest Indian investment has involved it leading a $200m series F round for online grocery delivery service Grofers that valued it at more than $1bn.

Speaking of innovative business models, tube-based transport developer Virgin Hyperloop One has already raised new funding, netting $172m according to a regulatory filing, with at least $90m of that sum coming from port operator DP World and the rest from around 80 additional investors.

ETechAces, the owner of financial product comparison platforms PolicyBazaar and PaisaBazaar, has raised $152m in a round led by SoftBank Vision Fund.

Working space provider Kr Space is one of China-based 36 Kr’s network of companies, but the spinoff has fared better than most, having just secured $145m that will support an expansion into the Asia Pacific region.

Nextdoor’s geographically-arranged social network now spans more than 230,000 neighbourhoods across multiple countries, and it’s secured $123m in series D funding to support an international growth drive that has most recently seen it enter Scandinavia.

Funds

Gree Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of Japan-based digital media company Gree, has reached the first close of a fund called Strive III which it intends to close at ¥15bn ($137m).

Diversified Philippines-based conglomerate JG Summit Holdings has launched a $50m corporate venturing fund dubbed JG Digital Equity Ventures (JG DEV).

Nabventures, the investment arm of the India-based National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard), is aiming to raise up to Rs 7bn ($99.4m) for a venture capital fund.

Universal Display Corporation, the US-based developer of organic light emitting diode (OLED) technologies and materials, has established a corporate venturing arm called UDC Ventures.

Exits

CrowdStrike was valued at more than $3bn when it last raised funding, in 2018, and now it’s filed for an initial public offering.

Family tracking and communication app developer Life360 may be headquartered in the US but it’s taken the unusual step of floating on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Sansan has been one of Japan’s more well-funded VC-stage companies, raising some $120m from investors that include Salesforce as well as home-grown corporates Japan Post, CyberAgent, Recruit, GMO, Nippon Life and Nikkei.


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

07 August 2017 – Possible UK National Investment Fund

Funds

The government of the UK revealed it is considering the creation of a National Investment Fund to support startups that could become unicorns.

The Canadian government has announced it will make its visa scheme for entrepreneurs a permanent fixture.

Singapore-based venture capital firm Prestellar Ventures has raised $100m for a fund that counts Nepal-headquartered conglomerates CG Corp Global and NE Group as general partners.

Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance, a subsidiary of Japan-based insurer Sompo, is committing at least $40m and possibly up to $80m, to venture capital firm TransLink Capital to manage its corporate venture capital fund.

India-based seed-grant impact fund Nudge Foundation, which targets poverty reduction, has collected capital from Tata Trusts, the philanthropic shareholder in conglomerate Tata and Sons, as well as motorcycle maker Maruti, networking technology producer Cisco, IT services firm Mphasis, conglomerate Godrej, retailer Target, bank Wells Fargo, Social Venture Partners and entrepreneur Nandan Nilekani.

N/Core is one of a few programs launched or announced last week – others included Morgan Stanley launching an accelerator that will focus on startups with female or multicultural founders, co-founders or chief technology officers.

Deals

Meituan-Dianping, the Chinese local listing and services portal formed in late 2015 by the merger of unicorns Meituan and Dianping, is reportedly in talks with investors to raise between $3bn and $5bn in a round that will feature a $1bn investment by existing backer Tencent.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund is reportedly in talks to invest $1.5bn to $2bn in Flipkart, which was valued at $11.6bn as of its last round earlier this year, in a deal that would enable it to join an investor base that already includes eBay, Tencent, Intel Capital and Bennett Coleman & Co.

Digital marketing company Avazu spun out app developer DotC in 2015, but now the boot’s on the other foot. DotC has raised $350m in a series B round led by Avazu’s parent company Zeus that involved the ownership of Avazu being transferred to DotC in a deal that will give Zeus a stake of just over 30.6% in the company.

Online fresh produce retailer Yiguo has secured $300m in funding from Alibaba subsidiary Tmall as part of a partnership agreement that will involve Tmall integrating Yiguo’s product into its existing offering.

Online business lending platform Kabbage has received $250m in funding from existing investor SoftBank, roughly doubling its overall funding in the process. Past investors in Kabbage, which will use the SoftBank cash to further develop its technology and expand its service offering, include UPS, Santander, ING and Recruit, while SoftBank initially invested in the company as part of a $50m series D round in 2014.

Peer-to-peer lending platform Dianrong has secured $220m in a round led by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, which was announced just after it agreed to acquire banking services provider Quark Finance’s asset generation operations in order to expand its physical presence in its home country of China.

E-commerce software and services provider ShopEx has secured $104m in a series D round led by venture firm Joy Capital.

Genetic therapeutics developer Homology Medicines has raised $83.5m in series B funding from investors including pharmaceutical firm Novartis, taking its overall equity financing to $127m across two rounds.

Impossible Foods has secured $75m in a round that will likely support the construction of a dedicated production facility for its plant-based burgers.

Novo has led cardiovascular therapy developer Milestone Pharmaceuticals’ $55m series C round, investing alongside Canadian state-owned BDC Capital, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, the development capital organisation for Quebec, as well as Forbion Capital Partners, Domain Associates, Pappas Capital, Go Capital and funds managed by Tekla Capital Management.

And on GlobalUniversityVenturing.com, we’ve had a few $20m deals. Among them: IonQ. GV, the corporate venturing unit of diversified conglomerate Alphabet, co-led a $20m series B round for quantum computing startup IonQ with New Enterprise Associates.

Another one was US-based car refuelling service provider Booster Fuels, which raised $20m in a series B round yesterday from investors including Stanford University’s StartX Fund. Booster allows drivers to park their car in work and request their tank be refilled through a mobile app.

And finally, US-based authentication technology developer UnifyID raised $20m in a series A round on Monday from investors including Stanford University’s StartX Fund. UnifyID has created an authentication platform that relies on sensors built into everyday devices and uses machine learning to identify users based on more than 100 unique characteristics such as the way they walk, sit and type. It requires no manual input from the user.

Exits

As mentioned earlier in the podcast, the long-running saga of Flipkart’s proposed acquisition of Snapdeal appears to have come to an unexpected end with news last Monday that Snapdeal has sensationally decided to call off the talks in favour of a restructuring process.

Twitter-backed music streaming platform Soundcloud is said to have entered talks with two private equity firms to raise funding in a deal that would give the as-yet undisclosed firms stakes that would jointly add up to a majority share.

Canada-based clinical-stage pharmaceutical company Clementia Pharmaceuticals has gone public in the US, floating at the top of its range and raising $120m.

Energy and oil producer China Titans Energy Technology Group has acquired Aquion Energy, a bankrupt US-based energy storage technology developer spun out from Carnegie Mellon University, for $9.16m, according to a regulatory filing.

GameSparks, an Ireland and UK-based platform for games developers backed by Irish state-owned export credit agency Enterprise Ireland, has been acquired by e-commerce company Amazon.

CarTrade, an India-based online automotive classifieds service backed by Temasek, is exploring a merger with its domestic competitor CarDekho, backed by diversified conglomerate Alphabet’s growth equity arm CapitalG, to create the country’s largest online car classifieds platform.

On GlobalUniversityVenturing.com, Intelesens, a UK-based wearable device maker to monitor patients’ vital signs that is based on Ulster University research, has been acquired by medical image management platform Ultralinq for an undisclosed amount.


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

22 February 2016 – Campbell Soup, Statoil, landscaping in China, MindMaze, Yello, Volvo, Google, Pie and more

Fundraising

Food technology developers like Impossible Foods and Juicero have raised some big rounds over the last year or two and that’s spurring food product makers to start entering corporate venturing in a significant way. General Mills set up a strategic investment unit late last year, and now Campbell Soup has joined the fray, putting $125m into an independently managed fund called Arce Venture Partners. Like Garden Fresh, the fresh food producer it acquired in June last year, the fund will link with the firm’s Campbell Fresh division.

Statoil launches $200 million venture fund for renewables

A range of Italy-based corporates – Menarini, RottaPharmBiotech, Elemaster and SapioLife – are among the limited partenrs for the first fund to be raised by venture capital firm Panakès Partners.

One corporate taking a more direct route is China-based garden landscaping company Palm Landscape Architecture, which is teaming with investment firm Hejun Zhengde for a fund that will focus on virtual and augmented reality technology. Palm has targeted $15m for the fund’s first close, and aims to use the technology to boost its town planning activities.

Investments

China’s media sector continues to grow and LeTV Sports, the sports streaming affiliate of Leshi Internet, is set to announce a $460m series B round.

As predicted, virtual and augmented reality continues to go from strength to strength this year. Following on from the $793m raised by Magic Leap earlier this month, MindMaze has secured $100m in a round led by UK-based conglomerate Hinduja Group. MindMaze’s technology is being utilised in the rehabilitation of stroke and brain-injury victims, but the company hopes to eventually deploy it for a variety of uses.

Japan-based digital financial services group SBI Holdings entered into a strategic partnership agreement with Korea-based mobile internet services company Yello Mobile in December that will involve the two helping each other expand in their respective nations. SBI has followed that up with a $30m investment in Yello, bringing the funding in its latest round, which values it at $4bn, to $73m.

Mobi Magic, a Chinese online security app developer, has raised $100m in a round co-led by cybersecurity company Qihoo360 Technology and Frees Fund, the VC fund formed last year by ex-IDG Capital Partners investor Li Feng. Qihoo 360 was also one of the investors that reportedly supplied Mobi Magic with $80m over the course of 2015.

Jana is an internet service provider that operates in emerging markets, pursuing a business model whereby commercial partners fund free access through advertising. Jana announced a $57m series C round today in which Verizon joined existing investors Publicis and Spark Capital, and plans to expand into China to add to the 30 million users it has across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Exits

Volvo’s corporate venturing unit invested an undisclosed amount in strategic partner Lytx in 2013, and it has now exited the driving safety technology producer through an acquisition by private equity firm GCTR. Lytx, which had raised upwards of $160m in debt and equity, was purchased for $500m.

Google today announced that it is building its first engineering team devoted to Southeast Asia and toward that end has acquired Pie, a Slack-like team communications service based in Singapore.

Metalysis is today announcing a combined investment of £20 million from Woodford Patient Capital Trust, managed by Neil Woodford, one of Britain’s most prominent fund managers, and Iluka Resources, an existing investor in Metalysis.  Iluka increases its interest in the Company to 28.8% as a result of this funding round.

Metalysis’ technology produces metal powders – primarily titanium, tantalum and bespoke alloys – at lower cost with reduced environmental impact.

Cybersecurity software developer Cylance said today that it has entered into a strategic partnership with In-Q-Tel.

University of Oxford Isis Fund II, managed by Parkwalk, has invested in Mind Foundry, an Oxford Spin-out company with technology that uses advanced machine learning algorithms to help organisations solve problems by unlocking insights hidden deep within their big data.