16 November 2020 – SentinelOne Bags $267m in Series F

The Big Ones

“The door is always open for a second and third [Vision] fund, but we’re not very popular,” according to Masayoshi Son, founder of SoftBank, who was quoted in the Financial Times. SoftBank raised almost $100bn for its first Vision Fund back in 2016 and invested three-quarters of it, showing a slight paper profit in its latest results to the end of September. SoftBank’s Vision Funds are very much back in the game, and Vision Fund I has participated in a $500m series C round for autonomous delivery vehicle producer Nuro. This round valued Nuro at $5bn, nearly double the $2.7bn valuation at which Vision Fund provided $940m in series B funding for the company early last year, and it was led by funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price.

As we head to the end of a turbulent year, the IPO option continues to be taken up by some of the more highly valued venture-backed companies. DoorDash has filed to go public on the New York Stock Exchange, six months after it raised $400m at a $16bn valuation. The food delivery service is one of the tech companies that has thrived as the coronavirus has caused more people to stay home, and it more than tripled revenue in the first nine months of 2020 while more than halving losses. SoftBank Vision Fund is its biggest shareholder, with a 24.9% stake.

Let’s take a quick look at another interesting story from the past week – a crossover between the corporate VC and university spinout worlds. Menlo Security, a spinout of UC Berkeley, has raised a nine-figure amount, the cybersecurity software provider having received $100m in a series E round valuing it at $800m. American Express Ventures, HSBC and Ericsson Ventures are among the company’s earlier investors, and it has now raised a total of about $260m. The cash will go to upgrading its engineering and go-to-market activities.

Deals

Cybersecurity software provider SentinelOne has bagged $267m in a series F round led by Tiger Global Management that roughly tripled its valuation to $3.3bn in the space of nine months. Qualcomm Ventures was among the investors in the February series E round, while another corporate VC unit, Samsung Ventures, backed SentinelOne’s series D in June last year.

Autonomous driving technology producer Pony.ai has completed a $267m series C round that included automotive manufacturer FAW Group, increasing its valuation from $4bn to $5.3bn in the process. Toyota previously led a $462m series B round in February.

Everyone welcomed news this past week that a coronavirus vaccine might be on the horizon – based, notably, on the technology of a spinout as BioNTech emerged out of Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. Electric scooter rental service Tier is one company to benefit, and it secured $250m in a series C round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The cash will support expansion into additional European markets and comes after Tier raised more than $100m in an Axa Germany-backed round in February.

Rec-Biotechnology is another startup working on a covid vaccine. The China-based company has raised $227m in series B funding from investors including Legend Capital and the proceeds will fund work on the prospective covid-19 vaccine as well as those for HPV, shingles and tuberculosis.

Online mortgage lending platform Better.com has secured $200m in a series D round backed by Ping An, Ally Financial and American Express Ventures while pushing its valuation up to $4bn. Better’s overall funding has now gone past the $450m mark and its earlier backers include Citi.

Aixuexi Education Group is the latest member of China’s online education community to pull in significant funding, securing $200m in a series D2 round led by GIC. Tencent invested an undisclosed amount just under a year ago following some $290m in earlier funding.

Funds

Bentley Systems, a provider of infrastructure engineering software, has joined the likes of Kellogg, Scotts Miracle-Gro and T-Mobile by harnessing Touchdown Ventures to launch a corporate venturing fund. Bentley iTwin Ventures is equipped with $100m and will make strategic investments on behalf of its parent, supplying up to $5m per deal. Its first portfolio company is subsea installation software developer FutureOn.

Exits

Instacart has hired Goldman Sachs to oversee an offering early next year it expects will value it at about $30bn. That’s a huge increase from the $17.7bn valuation the grocery delivery service registered when it last raised money, a few weeks ago. Instacart counts Comcast Ventures, Amazon and American Express Ventures as backers, with the last of those having invested at a $400m valuation.

Adobe has agreed a $1.5bn acquisition of marketing collaboration platform developer Workfront, 18 months after investors including Susquehanna International Group made a $280m secondary investment in the company. Workfront had previously raised about $95m in equity financing and will operate as a subsidiary of Adobe’s Experience Cloud division.

Vista Equity Partners has agreed to purchase a majority stake in customer management software provider PipeDrive at a $1.5bn valuation, with DTCP among the existing investors that will retain shares. DTCP, spun off and backed by Deutsche Telekom, invested $10m in PipeDrive through a 2018 series C round that valued it at about $300m, which means it’s looking at a very nice paper profit on that deal.


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

13 July 2020 – Rivian Strikes Deal with Amazon for 100,000 Electric Delivery Vans

The Big Ones

Now ride hailing has matured past the stage where it requires multi-billion dollar rounds, one of the biggest fundraisers in recent months has been Rivian, an electric truck and SUV developer that won’t even have a product out until next year. It has however struck a deal to sell 100,000 electric delivery vans to strategic partner Amazon, and Amazon was among the investors that have provided $2.5bn in financing for the company. It has now raised a total of more than $6.1bn from an investor base also including Ford, Cox Automotive, Sumitomo and Abdul Latif Jameel.

UK-based oil and gas company BP revealed it intends to provide $70m for India and UK-focused cleantech investment vehicle Green Growth Equity Fund (GGEF). GGEF was formed to invest in India-based technology developers operating in fields such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, electric mobility and resource conservation. It has a target size of $700m and BP’s investment is set to close later this year. The government of India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and the UK Department for International Development are anchoring the vehicle, having each made a £120m ($170m) commitment at its April 2018 launch. The fund is managed by Eversource Capital, an India-based joint venture created by BP’s solar power subsidiary, Lightsource BP, and private equity and real estate investment firm Everstone Capital.

Ant Financial was valued at a gargantuan $150bn when it last raised money, through a $14bn series C round in 2018, but Alibaba’s financial services spinoff is reportedly seeking to go public as soon as this year in an initial public offering set to take place at a projected valuation exceeding $200bn. In addition to Alibaba, which owns about a third of the company, Ant’s shareholders include insurance group China Life and postal service China Post.

Vor Biopharma, a US-based cancer treatment developer spun out of Columbia University, has raised $110m in a series B round featuring spinout-focused investment firm Osage University Partners. RA Capital Management led the round, which also included healthcare group Johnson & Johnson, pharmaceutical companies PureTech Health, life science real estate investment trust Alexandria Real Estate Equities and financial services group Fidelity, as well as Pagliuca Family Office, 5AM Ventures and undisclosed backers. Vor Biopharma is working on engineered haematopoietic stem cell (eHSC) therapies that have biologically redundant proteins removed – essentially making the stem cells invisible to complementary treatments that target those proteins. The company’s lead asset, Vor33, is aimed at acute myeloid leukaemia and is expected to avoid toxicity to blood and bone marrow associated with current treatments.

Deals

Epic Games is no slouch, the Fortnite developer having secured $250m from Sony at a reported valuation not far from $18bn. Epic was reported last month to be in talks with institutional investors to raise $750m at a $17bn valuation, but Sony’s interest may well be linked to the forthcoming release of the Playstation 5 this Christmas. It’s worth mentioning Fortnite has been a goldmine not only for Epic but also for Sony, which gets a 30% cut of every sale made through its online store. The Playstation 4 has, by the way, sold more than 100 million units since its late 2017 debut.

Instacart has added $100m from T.Rowe Price to a late-stage round that now stands at $325m and which values it at $13.8bn post-money. The grocery delivery service’s earlier investors include American Express Ventures, Comcast Ventures and Whole Foods but none of them have invested since 2016, during which time its valuation has climbed from $2bn. General Catalyst, DST Global and D1 Capital Partners supplied the first $225m for the round.

There aren’t too many companies at the top end of the sector but developers of vegan dairy and meat substitutes have raised some big rounds in recent years. Perfect Day, which uses microflora in its vegan dairy proteins, has just secured another $160m from investors including Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to take its series C round to $300m. Perfect Day’s earlier backers include Continental Grain, which backed the company’s series A round two years ago.

Intel Capital has invested about $253m in Jio Platform, the mobile network service provider spun off by conglomerate Reliance Industries, getting a 0.4% stake at a valuation of more than $63bn. Jio has picked up a series of large investments in recent weeks including $5.7bn from Facebook and additional capital from the likes of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the Abu Dhabi government, L Catterton, TPG, Silver Lake Partners, General Atlantic, KKR and Vista Equity Partners.

Primary care provider VillageMD has received $250m in equity funding from pharmacy group Walgreens Boots Alliance as part of a three-year $1bn financing commitment that will involve the corporate providing a mixture of equity and convertible debt, giving it a 30% stake. The two have also formed a strategic alliance that will involve VillageMD opening clinics at hundreds of Walgreens Boots Alliance outlets over the next few years.

Newlink provides car refuelling and electric vehicle charging services in China through an online platform, and has received $129m in a series D round that included electronics producer Xiaomi and Nio Capital, the investment arm of smart EV manufacturer Nio. Xiaomi has pursued a long-term strategy of investing in consumer hardware developers to build an ecosystem around its products, but Nio has been an increasingly active investor in the transport tech and AI space, indicating it may well have similar ideas.

Funds

Multiple unnamed university endowments were yesterday revealed to have backed US-based venture capital firm Rethink Impact’s $182m second impact fund. The fund has also pulled in contributions from financial institutions including UBS in addition to Pivotal Ventures, the investment firm founded by Melinda Gates, and philanthropic investment offices Ford Foundation and WK Kellogg Foundation.

University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus yesterday closed a $50m healthcare-oriented fund with commitments from multiple university departments and affiliates. CU Healthcare Innovation Fund has been backed by University of Colorado along with its healthcare system UCHealth, medical school CU Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. All the LPs have a presence at Anschutz Medical Campus.

Exits

The latest decacorn to make the leap looks to be big data technology provider Palantir which said yesterday it has confidentially filed to go public. It’s still unclear whether Palantir, which rised $550m from Sompo Holdings and Fujitsu last month, will pursue an initial public offering or a direct listing but it will likely be among the year’s biggest listings either way. Its other backers include Relx subsidiary REV (née Reed Elsevier Ventures).

Orbital internet service developer OneWeb filed for bankruptcy in March having raised $3.4bn from investors including SoftBank, Qualcomm, Totalplay, Bharti Enterprises, Airbus, Virgin, Coca-Cola, Intelsat and Hughes Network Systems. Now however, one of those corporates – Bharti – has combined with the UK government to acquire the company at auction for just over $1bn. The deal is expected to formally go through by the end of the year once regulatory approval is provided by the US.

Open source software provider Suse has agreed to acquire Rancher Labs in a deal sources told CNBC will be in the $600m to $700m range. Rancher has developed a deployment and management tool for Kubernetes containerised application management software, and has raised $95m from investors including Telstra Ventures. This’ll be a fast exit for the unit too. It led Rancher’s $40m series D round less than four months ago.

Cambricon Technologies has priced its own initial public offering, which will raise $368m for the AI chipmaker. The company chose Shanghai’s Star Market, which is rapidly becoming a big player in world markets, particularly due to increased restrictions on Chinese tech companies looking to float in the US. It followed more than $200m in funding for Cambricon from investors including iFlytek, Alibaba, Lenovo, Tuling Century and Chinese Academy of Sciences.

University of Tübingen spinout Immatics has opted for neither option to get a public listing, instead executing a reverse merger with a Nasdaq-listed special purpose acquisition company. The Germany-based immuno-oncology drug developer had raised about $250m in equity funding from investors including Amgen but its market cap is currently hovering around the $5.6bn mark.

Another cancer drug developer, Nkarta Therapeutics, has set the range for an offering set to raise between $140m and $160m, though going by recent IPOs that figure may well end up rising. Nkarta’s investors include GlaxoSmithKline unit SR One and Novo – which each own a 13.3% stake – as well as Amgen Ventures. It last raised money through a $114m series B round in November.

Ucommune, generally regarded as China’s answer to WeWork, is however set to secure a US listing, through a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company Orisun Acquisition Corp that will value the combined company at $769m. That in itself is significant. Ucommune doesn’t represent the same kind of disaster as WeWork but Covid-19 has hit its takings hard and that valuation is a big decline from the $1.5bn valuation at which it raised money in 2018. Its backers include Beijing Xingpai, Aikang, Dahong Group, Star Group, Junfa Group, Prosperity Holdings and Yintai Land.


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

15 June 2020 – Zuoyebang in Talks to Raise up to $800m in Coronavirus Boost

Big Ones

Online student answer and livestreamed education provider Zuoyebang was spun off by Baidu and has since received $585m in venture funding. Like many online education platforms however, it has seen a big uptick in business during China’s coronavirus lockdown, and is in talks to raise between $600m and $800m. The round would reportedly value Zuoyebangat $6.5bn pre-money, more than doubling the valuation at which it last raised money two years ago.

Novo has agreed to acquire Corvidia, developer of a phase 2b-stage treatment for chronic kidney disease, for an initial $725m that could potentially rise to $2.1bn if every milestone is reached post-purchase. That’s a hefty chunk of change, not least since Corvidia had disclosed just $86m in funding (not including a seed investment by VC firm Sofinnova Partners). Investors set to exit it include AstraZeneca and Fresenius Medical Care.

US-based social media company Facebook has begun setting up a corporate venture capital unit, Axios reported yesterday, citing a job listing posted by the firm. The prospective employee will be head of investments at Facebook’s New Product Experimentation (NPE) subsidiary, which it formed to launch consumer-focused apps. The post has since been deleted but it stated: “In this role, you will manage a multimillion-dollar fund that invests in leading private companies alongside top venture capital firms and angel investors. You will develop investment and impact theses, lead the execution of new investments and support existing portfolio companies as needed.” The fund will be partially managed by Shabih Rizvi, who spent two years as founding partner at internet technology provider Google’s artificial intelligence fund, Gradient Ventures, before moving to a business development role at Google in April 2019. A source familiar with the plans told Axios that Facebook is pursuing investments as a method of keeping track with emerging technologies, rather than operating what they termed as a general purpose fund. It will make small investments in early-stage companies.

In crossover news, it’s an exit this time. Fusion Pharmaceuticals, a Canada-based cancer radiopharmaceuticals developer spun out of McMaster University, has filed for a $100m initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Market. The spinout’s lead asset is undergoing phase 1 studies in an injected form for advanced, refractory solid tumours. Fusion said in its prospectus it had been forced to pause further recruitment as the pandemic led to clinical trial sites to be closed. It has administered the drug to 12 patients to date, out of a planned 30. Fusion most recently secured nearly $112m in a series B round closed this month featuring Fight Against Cancer Innovation Trust, a commercialisation unit backed by Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and the province of Ontario, oncology technology provider Varian Medical Systems, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, and others. Varian and Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC had already backed a $46m series A in 2017.

Deals

Many over the years have questioned the business model of grocery delivery app Instacart but the coronavirus stay-in-place restrictions have vindicated it somewhat and it has been hiring like crazy in recent months to meet demand. It has also now raised more money, taking in $225m through a round co-led by DST Global and General Catalyst that hiked its valuation from about $7.9bn to $13.7bn. Its earlier investors include Comcast, American Express and Whole Foods, the latter since consumed by Amazon.

Although it also delivers groceries, DoorDash’s focus is on on-demand food delivery from restaurants, and it is reportedly seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in a forthcoming round set to value it at more than $15bn pre-money. Like Instacart, which faced strike action over safety precautions a few months back, Verizon-backed DoorDash has also encountered scrutiny over business practices that allegedly include taking tip money intended for staff and fees some restaurants see as exorbitant. But it doesn’t seem to have had an effect yet.

The coronavirus lockdowns have given a big shot in the arm to companies operating in the online grocery industry, be it Instacart or Tongcheng Life, a China-based spinoff of travel services provider LY.com that operates a group buying service focused on fresh produce. The company has just raised $200m in a series C round led by social video platform Joyy that included Bertelsmann Asia Investments and Legend Capital, both of which took part in its $100m series B nine months ago.

Unacademy is among the online learning platforms to have seen activity shoot up as students have to stay home, and it is reportedly seeking up to $150m in funding to cover expansion. It raised $110m from investors including Facebook as recently as February but is said to be looking to double its $510m post-money valuation for the next round. The possible investors include Tencent, which has built a stable of edtech portfolio companies in its home country of China.

The uptick in e-commerce activity also has a knock-on effect for surrounding technologies. Anti-fraud software provider NS8 has completed a $123m series A round co-led by Axa Venture Partners and will allocate the funding to international expansion and product development. That’s a big haul for a series A and it comes after a year when NS8 quadrupled the size of its team from 50 to 200.

DNAnexus, the Stanford University spinout that has built a healthcare data software platform, has meanwhile raised $100m from investors including GV and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. The round boosted the total raised by DNAnexus to more than $270m, its earlier investors including Microsoft and WuXi NextCode.

Cue Health specialises in molecular testing devices for both home and professional use, and has pulled in $100m through a series C round featuring Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC. The company has now raised at least $169m altogether, and JJDC participated in the latest round having contributed to its 2018 round alongside another corporate VC unit, Dentsu Ventures.

Contract biopharmaceutical development and manufacturing services provider MabPlex has raised approximately $70.7m in series B funding from investors including Sunshine Insurance Group. The round, co-led by DT Capital Partners and Huajin Capital, comes in the wake of $59.1m in a series A round closed early last year.

Nano-X Imaging, developer of an advanced body scanner that is smaller and cheaper than established alternatives, has added $20m from SK Telecom to a series B round that now stands at $51m. The telecommunications firm had already put up $5m for the round before joining investors including Foxconn and Fujifilm in a $26m tranche in January.

Funds

Theodorus, the university venture arm of Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), has increased the size of its fourth fund to €42m ($47.3m) following commitments from pension fund manager Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and Belgian government-owned investment firm SFPI-FPIM. CDPQ supplied $3.9m through investment fund TFAQ2019, managed by Teralys Capital, while SFPI-FPIM injected $560,000, adding to a $5m it had already provided previously. Theordous IV will invest $18m in Canada-based and another $29.3m in Belgium-based spinouts over the next five years, aiming to bridge the two countries’ ecosystems. It will provide between $563,000 and $3.4m per spinout, targeting a 20-strong portfolio.

Exits

Cancer treatment developer Legend Biotech floated just over a week ago and has already closed the offering having raised about $487m. It was spun off by Genscript Biotech, which bought a further $23m of shares in the offering which have increased in value by more than 70% since the flotation. Legend’s other investors include Lilly Asia Ventures and Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC.

Conventional wisdom said just a couple of months back that pursuing an initial public offering in the wake of the massive market drops in the spring would be futile, but several life sciences companies have proven otherwise, in many cases floating at the top or above their range, and now online car retail platform Vroom has followed suit. The AutoNation-backed company has gone public in a $468m IPO, having increased the number of shares and floating above an upscaled range. The offering may well reach $538m before it formally closes.

The Vroom offering, together with that of business data provider ZoomInfo, is set to open the floodgates in the IPO markets. Even Airbnb – which has been hit harder than almost anyone in recent months – is reportedly considering moving forward with its flotation, but Lemonade is significantly ahead. The digital insurance provider, valued at $2bn+ as of April, has filed for an offering with a $100m placeholder target that will almost certainly rise. It has received about $480m in funding from investors including SoftBank, Allianz, XL Innovate and GV since being founded.

One of the larger upcoming IPOs will be Snowflake, a cloud data software provider backed by Salesforce Ventures and Capital One Ventures that has reportedly filed confidentially to go public. Snowflake has pulled in some $1.3bn in funding and was valued at $12.4bn when it last raised money, in February. To put things in perspective, the FT reports that bankers have told the company it could float at valuation between $15bn and $20bn.


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

22 October 2018 – Alibaba Confirms Ele.me and Koubei Merger

Deals

Alibaba has confirmed the merger of Ele.me, the food delivery service it acquired in April, with Koubei, the local services platform it launched in 2015 and spun off two years later. The deal will be bolstered by $3bn of funding from Alibaba and SoftBank, and the newly formed entity will be going head to head with Meituan Dianping, the local services platform heavily backed by Alibaba’s key rival, Tencent.

Indian online food ordering platform Swiggy is preparing to raise $900m in a Naspers-led round that will reportedly include Tencent, and which will consist of $600m in equity funding and $300m in secondary share sales.

Instacart is growing like a weed and has announced a $600m round led by hedge fund D1 Capital Partners that valued it at $7.6bn. That would be some achievement in itself, but the grocery delivery service closed a $350m round at a $4.35bn valuation just six months ago.

Alibaba has invested approximately $288m in alcoholic beverages retailer 1919 Wines, taking a 29% stake in the process. 1919 sells its drinks through the combination of an e-commerce platform, for which Alibaba could surely help, and brick-and-mortar stores, and the investment comes at a time when China is learning to love wine.

LinkLogis, which uses AI to power a supply chain finance platform for small and micro-sized businesses, has received $220m in a series C round led by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC with participation from corporates GLP, Skyworth, Tencent and Bertelsmann Asia Investments.

Ant Financial, Alibaba’s financial services affiliate, has invested $210m in Zomato, the India-based restaurant listings platform that is moving into food delivery.

Oxford Nanopore Technologies, a UK-based sequencing technology spinout of University of Oxford, has raised $66m from pharmaceutical firm Amgen that brought its latest round to $206m.

Careem has received $200m from existing investors that include Rakuten, Al Tayyar and the Saudi Telecom-anchored STV according to Reuters, capital that will likely form the first part of a $500m round that values it at $2bn pre-money.

Automotive e-commerce platform Chehaoduo has meanwhile secured $162m in a series C+ round, seven months after Tencent led its $818m series C. It has reportedly now raised a total of more than $1.85bn in total, and the city of Kunshan has provided $430m as part of a deal that will involve it being the location for Chehaoduo’s Maodou subsidiary.

Funds

SoftBank is still yet to officially close its $100bn Vision Fund, but it is reportedly arranging $9bn in debt financing for the unit, from the banks that are acting as underwriters for the IPO of its wireless division, an offering expected to raise some $27bn.

US-based growth equity firm Edison Partners closed its ninth fund at $365m yesterday having raised capital from limited partners including Rutgers University and American Family.

Taiho Pharmaceutical launched corporate venturing arm Taiho Ventures in 2016 with $50m of capital. The unit has since backed several companies, many of which are cancer therapy developers, and achieved an exit when Arcus Biosciences went public in March.

The Chinese city of Xuzhou has partnered with venture capital firm SummitView capital to launch a $433m fund focusing on sensors and technology related to the internet of things.

36Kr has long been cited as a news source for Chinese deals, but the technology news platform has been busy in recent years, adding a slate of data provision, event promotion and fundraising services to its bow.

Exits

It’s been quite a while but slowly, inch by inch, ride hailing services Uber and Lyft are moving toward the public markets.

Meanwhile, prospective underwriters for a Palantir IPO have told the company it could double its last disclosed valuation to $41bn in its own 2019 IPO.

Innovent Biologics filed for its Hong Kong IPO in June but has now revealed it is seeking $400m to $500m in the offering and has lined up cornerstone investors.

Anaplan has raised almost $264m in an IPO that involved it floating at the top of its range before seeing its share price jump some 40% immediately.


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

12 February 2018 – Ant Financial in Potential $5bn Funding Round

Deals

Ant Financial, e-commerce group Alibaba’s financial services affiliate, is reportedly preparing to raise $5bn in funding in a round that will value it at betwen $80bn and $100bn, making it the most valuable VC-backed private company of all time.

Go-Jek has been raising a $1.2bn round over the past six months that already includes JD.com, Tencent, Google and Meituan-Dianping, and now the on-demand ride service is reportedly set to receive up to $290m from e-commerce firm Blibli and industrial conglomerate Astra International in order to increase the round to $1.5bn.

Byton, the smart electric car developer formerly known as Future Mobility, is reportedly in talks with a Chinese state-owned institution to raise between $300m and $400m of funding at a valuation of at least $1.2bn.

Grocery delivery service Instacart is also gearing up to raise funding – up to $250m according to a Delaware securities filing.

Enerkem, a producer of fuels and biochemicals from municipal waste, has raised approximately $224m in its latest round, which included Sinobioway and long-time backer Waste Management of Canada.

Joby Aviation is developing a five-seater electric aircraft that will be able to take off and land vertically, but which is intended to be far quicker than established alternatives like helicopters.

Swiggy is looking to ward off competitors in India’s app-based food delivery sector, such as Zomato and Foodpanda, and has secured $100m in a round led by Naspers Ventures.

Toyota has invested almost $69m in JapanTaxi, a ride hailing app that has signed up about a quarter of Japan’s taxi drivers, as part of a strategic partnership agreement.

AvroBio has raised $60m in a series B round featuring Brace Pharma Capital, the investment firm backed by pharmaceutical company EMS, and will use the proceeds to advance a pipeline of gene therapies for rare diseases.

Broadlink, the China-based developer of a range of connected home products, has secured $54.5m in series D funding from investors including Baidu and Libai. Its past backers include
Qualcomm Ventures, and the company disclosed the funding alongside news that it is preparing an initial public offering in its home country.

Automotive leasing service provider Fair seems like a company on the move. It acquired Uber’s leasing business, Xchange Leasing, last week and has now raised additional funding in a round led by Next47 that included BMW and CreditEase FinTech Investment Fund.

These weren’t the biggest deal on GUV, but they were the most intriguing because it looks as if MIT has spun out two companies that are developing the same technology: Lightmatter, which raised $11m in a series A, and Lightelligence, which secured $10m in a seed round, are developing computer chips that rely on light (or photonic) signals rather than electric signals – boasting orders of magnitude of processing power and having profound implications for data-intensive applications such as AI.

Funds

Insurance firm Ping An has emerged as one of the more prominent China-based corporate venturers over the past couple of years and its CVC arm, Ping An Ventures, is now targeting up to $1.3bn in capital for two new funds.

Workday formed its corporate venturing unit, Workday Ventures, in 2015, but the unit has only been sporadically active since. That looks set to change however, with the corporate committing $250m to a Workday Ventures fund that will add AR, VR and blockchain-based enterprise technologies to the AI and machine learning it already targets.

UK-based innovation platform Future Planet Capital has signed a memorandum of understanding with venture capital vehicle Eight Great Technologies Fund (8GT) for an initiative that will invest in British spinouts and companies.

And 4490 Ventures, a US-based venture capital firm co-founded by Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (Warf), has raised $49m for its second fund, according to a regulatory filing.

Exits

Acacia Pharma, a UK-based nausea and vomiting treatment developer backed by pharmaceutical firms Lundbeck and Novo, has revealed plans for an initial global offering on the Euronext Brussels market. The company has not disclosed how much it expects to raise in the flotation, which will be conducted as a private placement open to certain institutional and other investors outside the US.

Elastagen, an Australia-based dermatology product manufacturer spun out from University of Sydney, today agreed to an acquisition by pharmaceutical firm Allergan for $95m in an upfront payment.


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

13 March 2017 – Airbnb Closes Series F, IPO for Snap and Much More

Deals

Airbnb has closed its series F round at just over $1bn, bringing its overall equity funding to $3.4bn.

Instacart, the company touted as ‘the Uber of grocery shopping’, has raised $400m at a $3.4bn valuation, with VC firm Sequoia leading the round with a reported $100m investment. Interestingly, none of Instacart’s corporate investors – Comcast Ventures, American Express Ventures and Whole Foods – were named as participants in the series D round.

Alibaba has spent around $250m in a secondary transaction to boost its stake in One97 Communications by an extra 4.3%, giving exits to Reliance Capital, Sapphire Ventures and Saama Capital in the process.

BBVA has led a $102m funding round for mobile banking app Atom Bank, investing just over $36m at a $320m valuation to maintain its 29.5% stake.

Baidu is said to be lining up a $100m investment in NextEV, the smart electric vehicle developer that unveiled what it claims is the world’s fastest electric supercar in November.

Liberty Global and Zain have joined existing backers including Sky and the CAA-backed Evolution Media Capital to invest $90m in iFlix, which has brought the Netflix template to Southeast Asia.

Ping An Overseas Holdings has led a series C round for livestreaming platform and communication services operator Bigo that valued it at $400m.

Spero Therapeutics, a biopharma working on treatments for superbugs, has completed an oversubscribed series C round, raising $51.7m.

Viva Republica, the Korean developer of mobile payment platform Toss, has picked up $48m in a series C round featuring PayPal which Forbes estimates values the company at roughly $250m.

Biohaven Pharmaceutical, a biopharmaceutical spinout of Yale University, yesterday closed an $80m series A round from investors that included spinout-focused investment firm Osage University Partners.

Funds

Joyme Capital, the CVC arm of online gaming community operator Joyme Group, has teamed with gaming services provider Kee Ever Bright Technology to launch a strategic investment fund that will back game developers, eSports companies and gaming ancillary service startups among others.

US-based microfinance non-profit organisation Accion has launched a $141m financial technology and services investment fund with contributions from limited partners including the World Bank’s private sector investment arm International Finance Corporation.

The Cradle Fund, an investment vehicle owned by the government of Malaysia, has announced DEQ800, an initiative that will offer early-stage equity to startups, Tech in Asia wrote on Monday.

Uniseed, the venture fund backed by four Australian universities and research institute CSIRO, has announced a A$20m ($15m) fund that will make follow-on investments in existing portfolio companies.

Exits

Snapchat owner Snap has formally closed an IPO that featured a $500m investment by NBCUniversal at $3.91bn, after its underwriters took up the option to buy an additional $410m in shares following a heady first two days of trading last week, with the company’s stock at one point up more than $12 from its flotation price.

Now that the dust is starting to clear from Snap’s flotation last week, onlookers are getting ready for the next big tech IPO, with MuleSoft setting terms for an offering that will net it $182m in proceeds and a $2bn+ valuation if it floats at the top of its range.

CA Technologies has agreed to buy cloud security platform Veracode in a $614m cash deal that will provide exits for backers including Telus, Tivo and Symantec, which spun the company out in 2006.

Otsuka Pharmaceutical has agreed to acquire ADHD treatment developer Neurovance in a deal that will give an exit to Novartis Venture Fund.


“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