21 June 2021 – Waymo Drives $2.5bn Investment

The Big Ones

Waymo, the autonomous driving technology developer spun off by Alphabet, has raised $2.5bn in funding from investors including its former parent company. AutoNation and Magna International also took part in the round, as did group Fidelity Management & Research, Mubadala, Temasek, Andreessen Horowitz, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Perry Creek Capital, Silver Lake, Tiger Global Management and funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price. The company reportedly closed its first external funding round at $3.2bn in July 2020, at a $30bn valuation, having pulled in $750m from investors including Fidelity, Perry Creek Capital and funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price two months earlier. Alphabet, Magna, AutoNation, Silver Lake, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Mubadala Investment Company and Andreessen Horowitz had supplied $2.25bn for Waymo in March the same year.

US-based venture capital firm G2 Venture Partners (G2VP) has closed its Fund II at $500m with commitments from Shell, Mitsui, Daimler and ABB Switzerland. The McKnight Foundation and John Doerr, chairman of VC firm Kleiner Perkins, reportedly also committed to the fund. Shell contributed through its corporate venturing arm, Shell Ventures. It was also a limited partner in G2VP’s inaugural fund, which was sized at $350m. G2VP was founded in 2017 as a spinoff from Kleiner Perkins’ Green Growth fund. It focuses on companies developing emerging technologies that could accelerate sustainable transformation in traditional industries.

Marqeta, a US-based card-issuing platform developer backed by CommerzBank, CreditEase, Visa and Mastercard, has closed its initial public offering at approximately $1.41bn. The company raised an initial $1.22bn in the offering last week, issuing 45.5 million class A shares on the Nasdaq Global Select Market priced at $27 each. Its shares are currently (that’s Friday afternoon UK time) for $29.43 each, and the underwriters have taken up the option to buy more than 6.8 million more shares. The IPO followed over $526m in funding for the company.

This isn’t a crossover (although there actually were several worth more than $100m last week – check our websites for more on those), but this one’s too interesting to skip just because there aren’t any CVCs. Celonis, a Germany-based business process analytics software spinout of Technical University of Munich (TUM), has raised $1bn in a series D round co-led by Durable Capital Partners and funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price Associates. What makes this one special isn’t so much the size of the round (as impressive as that is, obviously) but that it valued Celonis at $11bn post-money, making it Germany’s first decacorn. Celonis has now raised nearly $1.37bn in funding altogether. The spinout fetched a $2.5bn valuation when it raised $290m in a series C round led by Arena Holdings, and – almost as notable as being the first decacorn in the country – Celonis also became TUM’s first unicorn when it closed a $50m series B round backed by Accel and 83North in June 2018. How’s that for a European success story?

Deals

China-based semiconductor technology developer Horizon Robotics has raised $1.5bn in series C7 funding from electronic parts manufacturer BOE Technology and chipmaker Will Semiconductor. The round was secured at a $5bn valuation, and it came after a $300m series C6 round at an unspecified time that included Legend Capital, Huangpu River Capital and unnamed others.

Byju’s, an India-based online learning portal backed by Bennett Coleman & Co, Naspers and Tencent, has secured Rs 25bn ($340m) in funding. UBS Group, Blackstone, Abu Dhabi government-backed ADQ and Phoenix Rising–Beacon Holdings as well as Eric Yuan all took part in the round. The cash injection is part of a $1.5bn round Byju’s began raising in April this year, sources privy to the matter told the Economic Times, and it valued the company at $16.5bn post-money.

US-based graph technology provider Neo4J received $325m in a series F round featuring GV. Private equity firm Eurazeo led the round at a valuation exceeding $2bn, and DTCP, the investment firm backed by Deutsche Telekom, also took part, as did One Peak, Creandum, Greenbridge Partners and Lightrock. The company was founded in 2007 as Neo Technology and has now raised $515m.

ApplyBoard, the Canada-based international student facilitation service that counts educational services firm Educational Testing Service (ETS) as an investor, has confirmed a C$375m ($308m) series D round. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board led the round through its Teachers’ Innovation Platform, and it included investment and financial services group Fidelity in addition to BDC, Harmonic Growth Partners, Index Ventures, Garage Capital and Blue Cloud Ventures. The company’s confirmation came in the wake of media reports a week earlier suggesting it had raised $230m in the round, which it said this week valued it at $3.2bn post-money.

Chehaoduo, the China-based automotive e-commerce marketplace backed by SoftBank, Tencent and Shougang, has closed a $300m funding round valuing it at $10bn. H Capital led the round, which also featured Sequoia Capital China, IDG Capital and Chehaoduo founder and CEO Yang Haoyong. The company’s overall equity funding now stands at about $3.8bn. It was spun off by online classified listings operator Ganji in 2015.

Thumbtack, the US-headquartered operator of a home renovation services marketplace, has raised $275m from investors including CapitalG, the growth equity arm of Alphabet. Sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority led the round, which also featured Blackstone’s Alternative Asset Management subsidiary, G Squared, Baillie Gifford, Founders Circle Capital, Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global Management. The round valued the company at $3.2bn. The latest round boosted the company’s overall funding to $697m.

Yaoshibang, the China-based operator of a supply chain platform for the pharmaceutical industry, has raised $270m in funding from investors including internet group Baidu. Zhejiang Pearl River Investment Management, Green Pine Capital Partners and Guangzhou City Construction Investment’s SF Fund also participated in the round, along with unnamed insurance firms and sovereign wealth funds. It was facilitated by China Renaissance.

Funds

Flagship Pioneering, a US-based biotechnology venture studio that regularly taps into university research to build companies such as Moderna, has raised another $2.23bn for its Fund VII from new and existing limited partners, bringing the vehicle to $3.37bn. It reopened the fund to additional capital in April this year but didn’t identify the LPs. Flagship now has $14.1bn in assets under management and is operating with an aggregate capital pool of $6.7bn. It has launched more than 100 ventures since its founding, with a current portfolio of 41 companies.

Exits

UK-based clean aircraft developer Vertical Aerospace has agreed to a reverse takeover with special purpose acquisition company Broadstone Acquisition Corp that will be backed by American Airlines, Avolon, Honeywell, Rolls-Royce, Standard Industries’ 40 North vehicle and Microsoft’s M12 unit. The merged business will be valued at $2.2bn and will take up the listing on the New York Stock secured by Broadstone through a $300m initial public offering in September 2020.

Kanzhun, a China-based online job portal operator backed by internet group Tencent and insurance firm Sunshine Life, has floated in a $912m initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. The company issued 48 million American depositary shares, each representing two ordinary shares, priced at the top of the IPO’s $17 to $19 range. As we’re recording this on Friday afternoon UK time, shares are going for $38.

Monday.com, the US-based software development platform operator that now counts Salesforce and Zoom as investors, has closed its initial public offering at $631m. The corporates each purchased $75m of shares in a private placement alongside the offering, which involved Monday issuing an initial 3.7 million shares on the Nasdaq Global Select Market a week ago priced at $155 each. The underwriters subsequently took up the option to buy another 370,000 shares to close the offering. As we’re recording this on Friday afternoon UK time, shares are priced at $230.96.

Lyell Immunopharma, a US-based immunotherapy developer which counts GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Celgene as investors, has raised $425m in its initial public offering. The company issued 25 million shares on the Nasdaq Global Market at a price of $17 each, the mid-point of the offering’s $16 to $18 range. Its shares closed at $16.89 at the end of the first day. Lyell had raised $834m across just three rounds since it was founded in 2018. GSK has walked away with a 12.5% stake post-IPO, while Celgene’s retained 4.5%.

Verve Therapeutics, a US-based cardiovascular disease therapy developer advancing Broad Institute and University of Pennsylvania research, has gone public in a $267m initial public offering representing exits Alphabet and Novo. The offering consists of just over 14 million shares issued on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, increased from 11.8 million and priced at $19.00 each, above the $16 to $18 range set for the offering. The IPO price valued the company at approximately $876m.

Wise, the UK-based operator of a cross-border capital transfer service, plans to launch a direct listing that would give conglomerate Mitsui a chance to sell its shares. The company plans to list on the London Stock Exchange. Formerly known as TransferWise, Wise runs an online platform that allows users to send money internationally without paying exorbitant fees typically associated with international bank transfers. Wise last raised primary funding in 2017 but was valued at $5bn in a $319m secondary share sale in July 2020.


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

14 June 2021 – Cambridge Launches Deeptech Labs

The Big Ones

1

There is a lot happening in Cambridge, England. The university might have passed its 800th anniversary earlier in this century but the basics of its operating model to bring the smartest people in the world together to solve its hardest challenges remains intact.

The latest advances include the launch and first cohort for Deeptech Labs (DTL), a new post-seed accelerator aimed at deep technology startups, Honeywell’s quantum computing division’s merger and up to $300m investment in Cambridge Quantum Computing and the potential acquisition of local tech champion Arm by US-based artificial intelligence (AI) chip maker Nvidia following the blow-out flotation of cybersecurity champion Darktrace.

DTL is backed by Arm and the University of Cambridge as well as venture capital firm Cambridge Innovation Capital (CIC, the “unicorn factory” at the heart of the city), its chairman Ewan Kirk (founder of hedge fund Cantab Capital Partners), and local industrial conglomerate Marshall’s corporate angel fund, Martlet Capital.

Its inaugural cohort that runs to a demo day on 18 June it has made investments in five machine learning and data science companies: AutoFill, BKwai, Circuit Mind, Contilio and Mindtech.

Zara Riahi, CEO and co-founder of Contilio, said “We are building the world’s first 3D AI analytics platform used by global construction companies and asset owners. To accelerate the next phase of our growth, we were looking for a scaling partner that understood deeptech and had access to the best advisers, deeptech investors, and global operators. The people who have been in the trenches. We are delighted to have found an amazing one in Deeptech Labs.”

These startups receive £350,000 (about $500,000) and a structured three-month development programme, including mentors from Arm, CSR, Imagination Technologies, Analysis, Active Hotels, Arieso, Blinkx, Cloudamize, Focal Point, Riverlane and Ubisense. Its second cohort will start in September and include a delegation of investors from the GCV Symposium being held on 3-4 November.

Miles Kirby, CEO of DTL, who has also been inventor and holder of more than 30 patents and former founder of Allianz-backed AV8 Ventures as well as European managing director of Qualcomm Ventures, said: “This ambitious, new 13-week seed to series A programme is designed to enable deeptech startups to leverage the best minds in this space.”

Andrew Williamson, the managing partner at CIC, added: “Cambridge is one of the best places in the world to build a deeptech business, with access to best-in-class talents, exceptional intellectual property, and experienced entrepreneurs and investors. Deeptech Labs enables a new generation of entrepreneurs to access this ecosystem. As a cofounder, CIC has been delighted to support Miles and his team in shaping the vision. This is a very high quality first cohort and we look forward to working with them in the future and supporting their growth.”

Adam Bastin, vice-president of corporate development at Arm, said: “From Arm’s earliest days in a barn just outside the city, to its position as a global technology leader headquartered here today, Cambridge has remained a critical hub of talent, creativity and innovation. In co-founding Deeptech Labs, we are pleased to support the next generation of game-changing technology companies by helping them to access the world-class Cambridge technology ecosystem.”

2

Tim Haines, managing partner of Abingworth, a biotech venture-capital firm, in the latest Economist said we were in “the golden age of diagnostics”.

What that really seems to mean it is faster and easier than ever before for groups such as Roche and Merck to test and design treatments using genetics and epigenetics. This is leading to more personalised care rather than blockbuster drugs applicable to the masses.

The model works if the insights derived and results delivered can be more profitable, which likely means targeting rich people’s problems and delivering their longevity escape velocity where their life expectancy increases by more than a year for each year they live.

Severin Schwan, Roche’s seventh CEO in 125 years, in an interview with the Economist talked about the “insights” business as a third pillar for Roche—as big, if not bigger, than diagnostics and pharma.

Beyond the social inequality and impact on social services, it also opens up healthcare to consumer-facing technology companies.

As the Economist noted, Roche’s insights business was effectively formed through its acquisitions of Foundation Medicine, a gene-sequencing company that can identify cancers from DNA in blood samples, and Flatiron Health, a specialist in cancer-related health records that generates data on patients from the real world, supplementing clinical trials. Roche valued Flatiron at $2.15bn in its 2018 purchase and closed out the purchaseof the remaining minority shares in Foundation the same year at a $5.3bn valuation.

Both Foundation and Flatiron were backed by GV, formerly known as Google Ventures and a corporate venturing unit for US-listed Alphabet.

GV has made much of its name and returns over the past decade from a string of life sciences and healthcare deals and exits but Carole Nuechterlein, head of Roche Venture Fund at the drugs group’s headquarters in Switzerland, takes much of the credit for the handling of these deals.

Roche had been shareholder in both Flatiron and Foundation before taking control but leaving much autonomy with both groups.

This is the model Roche followed with its $47bn purchase of Genentech back in 2009. As probably the founding biotech – a then-young VC firm in Kleiner Perkins had its partner Bob Swanson close a seed deal over a beer with lead scientist Herb Boyer – Genentech listed in 1980 before eventually falling to Roche and bringing its blockbuster drugs to the Swiss group for greater distribution and up to $21bn in annual sales a decade later.

Now celebrating 20 years running Roche Ventures, Nuechterlein – a prior GCV Powerlist award winner – has seen it all before.

But never at such scale. It is actually a golden age for healthcare not just diagnostics as the century for biology is now firmly underway.

The next GCV Powerlist will be announced on 21 July thanks to partner Dentons as part of the GCV Digital Forum and my thanks to the Global Healthcare Council for its work on the latest quarterly report out next week.

Fund

Alibaba Cloud floats $1bn investment scheme

Fortune VC smiles on $858m first close

Asset manager Alantra has reached the first close at more than €80m ($97m) for its Klima Energy Transition Fund including commitments from Enagás, a Spain-based gas grid operator.

Uncle Nearest drinks to $50m investment vehicle

Coupa creates $50m corporate venturing fund

Recorded Future, a US-based threat intelligence company previously backed by corporate venturing unit REV Venture Partners over the past six years, has set up a $20m fund for early-stage startups.

Recorded Future’s Intelligence Fund will back seed and series A rounds, with its first deals including SecurityTrails and Gemini Advisory.

United Airlines, a US-based flight operator, has started its corporate venturing unit.
United Airlines Ventures will focus on sustainability concepts that support the company’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, as well as other travel-related startups.

Michael Leskinen, United’s vice-president of corporate development and investor relations, will oversee the venture unit as president and incorporate its initial investments in Archer Aviation, Clear and Fulcrum BioEnergy.

Rapyd, a UK-based payments company that earlier in the year closed a $300m round, has set up a corporate venturing unit to invest in early-stage fintech startups.

Rapyd Ventures said its first investment would be in the seed round for Gotrade, a fractional stock trading platform that enables users in over 150 countries to invest in US shares.

Exit

Didi begins IPO proceedings in the US

MissFresh to pay visit to public markets

Monday.com meets Salesforce and Zoom amid $574m IPO

Wallbox opens to $1.5bn reverse merger

1stdibs dives into $115m IPO

Ciox and Datavant converge in $7bn deal

Sinch sets out $1.3bn MessageMedia acquisition

Dave banks on $4bn reverse merger

One Medical eyes $2.1bn Iora acquisition

Marqeta gets to market in $1.2bn IPO

Dingdong Maicai bids for public markets spot

Clear makes space for initial public offering

Babylon agrees $4.2bn reverse merger

Xometry looks to assemble IPO
CVRx looks to pump $75m out of IPO

University

Metacon makes Helbio its own

Deals

Northvolt plugs into $2.75bn

Nubank cashes $750m in series G extension

Klarna claws in $639m

Chubby Bear gets its paws on $400m

Investors entrust Trulioo with $394m

Ledger leaps to $380m series C

Hesai gets handed $300m

ApplyBoard recruits investors for $230m round

Dingdang gets $220m funding delivery

Eightfold AI employs SoftBank for $220m series E

Scalable Capital secures $183m

Monogram Health identifies Humana for $160m round

Verbit eyes public listing amid $157m series D

LetsGetChecked executes $150m series D

Lilly helps inject $108m into Synthekine

MatchMove meets $100m funding

Embroker embraces $100m series C

EcoFlow stores $100m in series B round


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

07 June 2021 – Wefox Completes $650m Series C

The Big Ones

Germany-based digital insurance provider Wefox completed a $650m series C round that included online lending platform developer Creditease and Salesforce Ventures. The round was led by Target Global and included Omers Ventures, Gsquared, Merian and its Jupiter subsidiary, Horizons Ventures, Eurazeo, Mubadala, Speedinvest, LGT, Alma Mundi Ventures, Victory Park Capital, GR Capital, Mountain Partners, Seedcamp, Sound Ventures, Partners Group and FinTLV. Wefox previously closed a $235m series B round in 2019 that included CreditEase and electronics producer Samsung’s Catalyst Fund.

Toyota has committed another $300m in capital to its corporate venturing unit, also rebranding it from Toyota AI Ventures to Toyota Ventures. Toyota AI Ventures had been launched under the auspices of the company’s Toyota Research Institute in 2017 with $100m in capital. Toyota subsequently provided a further $100m for its Fund II in late 2019. The capital will be divided evenly between two funds: Toyota Ventures Climate Fund will concentrate on developers of innovative technologies to promote carbon neutrality, such as renewable energy and hydrogen production. Meanwhile, Toyota Ventures Frontier Fund will invest in developers of technology in areas like artificial intelligence, cloud computing, autonomy, mobility, robotics, smart cities, digital health, advanced materials, energy and fintech.

E-commerce marketplace Etsy agreed to acquire Depop, the UK-based social commerce platform developer backed by consultancy group Lumar, for over $1.62bn. Depop operates a mobile platform with 30 million registered users – 90% of whom are under 26 – who can buy and sell second-hand and new fashion items in addition to offering styling services. It generated $70m in revenue in 2020. The deal comes after roughly $100m in funding for Depop since it was founded in 2011, $62m coming from General Atlantic, HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, Balderton Capital, Creandum, Octopus Ventures, TempoCap and Sebastian Siemiatkowski in a 2019 series C round.

Crossover

FlixMobility, the Germany-headquartered public transport provider that counts UVC Partners – the VC firm linked to TU Munich’s tech transfer office UnternehmerTUM – and automotive manufacturer Daimler as investors, raised over $650m in debt and series G equity yesterday at a $3bn valuation. Investment firm Canyon Partners joined existing investors including General Atlantic, Permira, TCV, HV Capital, Blackrock, Baillie Gifford and Silver Lake in the round. FlixMobility runs an inter-city bus service called FlixBus which spans most of Europe and parts of the United States, and which promises efficient onboard wifi and an easy-to-use online ticketing system.

Deals

US-based blockchain payment platform developer Circle has closed a $440m round that included cryptocurrency exchange FTX, reportedly the largest round so far for a crypto-focused company. Financial services and investment groups Fidelity and Digital Currency Group also took part in the round, as did Atlas Merchant Capital, Breyer Capital, Intersection Fintech Ventures, Marshall Wace, Pillar VC, Valor Capital Group, Willett Advisors and Michael J Price and Friends.

UK-based pet insurance provider Bought By Many has secured $350m in series D funding from investors including Munich Re Ventures. The round was led by investment firm EQT through its EQT Growth subsidiary, and it also featured venture capital firm Octopus Ventures. The capital was raised at a $2bn valuation pre-money.

Delhivery, an India-based, corporate-backed shipping service, has raised Rs20.1bn ($277m) in a series H round led by financial services and investment group Fidelity. Gamnat, Chimera Investments and Pacific Horizon Trust filled out the round, and the cash was secured ahead of an initial public offering slated to take place in 2022. Two people familiar with the matter told the Times of India in March this year it is expected to value the company at $3bn. The round took the company’s overall funding to $1.1bn.

Urban Company, the India-based developer of a professional services ordering platform, has closed a $255m series F round co-led by Prosus Ventures, Dragoneer Investment Group and Wellington Management. It was filled out by Steadview Capital, Tiger Global and Vy Capital, and valued Urban Company at $2.1bn. The round consisted of a $188m primary transaction revealed last month and a secondary sale of roughly $67m of shares by unnamed individuals and early backers.

US-based sales analysis software provider Gong received $250m in a series E round featuring Salesforce Ventures at a $7.25bn valuation. Franklin Templeton led the round, which included Coatue Management, Sequoia Capital, Thrive Capital and Tiger Global Management. The company has raised $584m since it was founded in 2015.

Prosus co-led a $240m series A round for Germany-based grocery delivery service Flink. The round was co-led with venture capital firm Bond and Abu Dhabi state-owned investment vehicle Mubadala Capital. A source told TechCrunch it valued the startup below $1bn.

Exabeam, a US-based cybersecurity software developer which counts networking technology provider Cisco as an investor, collected $200m in series F funding at a $2.4bn valuation. Alternative asset manager Blue Owl Capital led the round through its Owl Rock subsidiary and was joined by Acrew Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Norwest Venture Partners. Exabeam has raised at least $390m of funding to date.

US-based sales technology developer Outreach closed a $200m series G round featuring Salesforce Ventures at a $4.4bn valuation. Premji Invest and Steadfast Capital Ventures co-led the round, which included DFJ Growth, Lone Pine Capital, Mayfield Fund, Sands Capital, Sequoia Capital Global Equities, Tiger Global Management, Trinity Ventures and Vista Public Strategies. Outreach said it has now raised $489m since it was founded in 2014.

Funds

V-Capital, the corporate venture capital arm of China-based cigarette packaging materials producer Huaxi Holding, reached a RMB1.5bn ($235m) first close for its latest fund. Local government-backed funds and corporations have committed capital as limited partners, as have new and returning other investors. The vehicle will target developers of healthcare, telecommunications, cultural services, semiconductors, IT, smart manufacturing and new energy technologies across China. V-Capital now has about $3bn under management.

Exits

Centessa Pharmaceutical, a UK-based pharmaceutical conglomerate formed through a ten-way merger involving spinouts from various universities, has gone public in a $330m initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. Founded in October 2020 as a holding group, Centessa subsequently acquired multiple biotech developers in January 2021 – including spinouts from University of Cambridge, University of Toronto Mississauga, the universities of Dortmund and Cologne, and one spinoff from biopharmaceutical group Sosei Heptares. Vida Ventures and Janus Henderson Investors co-led a $250m series A round at the time of the official launch in February.


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

31 May 2021 – Perch Raises $755m in Record-breaking Series A

The Big Ones

US-headquartered e-commerce holding company Perch completed a $775m series A round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2. The round also featured venture capital firm Spark Capital and alternative investment manager Victory Park Capital. It is the largest series A yet to be closed by a US-based company, according to Perch.

JD Logistics, the logistics offshoot of China-headquartered e-commerce group JD.com, floated on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in a HK$24.6bn ($3.2bn) initial public offering. The offering consisted of approximately 609 million shares priced at HK$40.36 each, towards the lower end of the range. They opened at HK$46.05 on Friday morning and closed at HK$41.70. JD.com’s stake in the spinoff was diluted from 79.1% to 64.4% in the offering. It had raised $2.5bn from investors including internet and gaming group Tencent and insurance firm China Life in 2018.

Legend Capital, a China-based venture capital offshoot of conglomerate Legend Holdings, has closed a healthcare technology-focused vehicle dubbed LC Healthcare Continued Fund I at $270m. Accounts managed by alternative investment manager Hamilton Lane and private equity firm Coller Capital co-led the transaction, with participation from unnamed institutional investors. The capital was secured through secondary financing, which was carried out alongside a transfer of healthcare portfolios of two vintage funds. The new vehicle intends to supply cash flow, help boost financial returns for existing shareholders and provide follow-on funding for portfolio companies.

Crossover

Oatly, the Sweden-based oat milk producer based on research at Lund University and backed by talent and entertainment agency Roc Nation, has floated on the Nasdaq Global Select Market in a $1.43bn initial public offering. The company issued almost 84.4 million shares priced at $17 each, at the top of the IPO’s $15 to $17 range. Oatly provides oat milk and other oat-derived food products traditionally made from cow’s milk, including ice cream, coffee, yoghurt, cream, spread and custard. The company most recently raised $200m in a July 2020 round led by investment management firm Blackstone that included Roc Nation and Rabo Corporate Investments, a corporate venturing vehicle for agriculture-focused banking group Rabobank.

Deals

Noom, the US-based creator of an online platform that guides healthy behaviour, secured approximately $540m in a series F round featuring Novo and Samsung Ventures. Silver Lake led the round, which included Oak HC/FT, Temasek, Sequoia Capital and RRE Ventures. It valued the company at $3.7bn, according to Bloomberg.

US-based website analytics platform developer ContentSquare closed a $500m series E round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 at a $2.8bn valuation. Bpifrance, Canaan, Eurazeo, Highland Europe, KKR and funds and accounts managed by BlackRock filled out the equity investors, while Sapiance Capital supplied debt financing. ContentSquare has secured approximately $810m in funding in total.

US-based vertical farming technology developer Bowery Farming raised $300m in series C funding from investors including GV. Fidelity Management & Research led the round, which included Amplo, General Catalyst, GGV Capital, Groupe Artémis, Gaingels, Temasek and private investors José Andrés, Lewis Hamilton, Chris Paul, Natalie Portman and Justin Timberlake. The round valued Bowery at $2.3bn and brought its overall funding to $472m.

Ivi, a Russia-based digital streaming platform backed by media group Prof-Media, raised $250m in a series D round led by financial services firm VTB. Invest AG, an investment subsidiary of Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich, also took part in the round, as did Baring Vostok, Flashpoint Venture Capital, Millhouse and Russian Direct Investment Fund. VTB will be the company’s largest shareholder after the deal, while representatives of Baring Vostok, Flashpoint and RTP Global will all join its board of directors.

US-based banking software provider Zeta hiked its valuation to $1.45bn with a $250m investment by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2, which was joined in the round by food services and facility management provider Sodexo, though Zeta did not reveal how much the latter invested.

China-based freight management software provider For-U has raised $200m in series E funding from investors including Legend Capital, the venture capital firm formed by conglomerate Legend Holdings. Insurer China Life’s Investment Management subsidiary, China Structural Reform Fund, Greater Bay Area Homeland Investments, China Merchants Sino-BLR Capital Management, China Merchants Capital, Parantoux Capital and Matrix Partners China also took part in the round.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 provided $175m in funding for South Korea-based intelligent education software provider Riiid. Riiid has developed AI technology used to personalise education and will utilise the cash to enhance that technology. It is also looking to build out R&D and data labelling hubs across the US, Canada and Ghana.

Funds

IP Group, the UK-based commercialisation firm, unveiled a joint venture called IPG-CEL China Ventures with asset manager China Everbright that will raise a fund sized up to RMB1.5bn ($235m). The fund is expected to achieve a first close of $77m this year, before growing to its target size within the next three years. It will exclusively invest in joint ventures and subsidiaries of overseas companies incorporated in China. It will deploy no less than 40% of its capital to IP Group portfolio companies looking to establish a presence in the People’s Republic.

Exits

China-based trucking services provider Full Truck Alliance filed for a $1.5bn initial public offering that would enable Baidu, Tencent, Alphabet and SoftBank to exit. Also known as Manbang Group, Full Truck Alliance runs an online platform where businesses can book space for freight delivery in trucks across a network of some 2.8 million drivers.

Flywire, a US-based payment software provider that counts Goldman Sachs among its backers, went public in a $251m initial public offering. The company upsized the size of the offering from 8.7 million to 10.44 million shares and priced them at $24 each, at the top of the $22 to $24 range it had set. The shares opened at $34 each on their first day of trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, although at the time of recording on Friday afternoon UK time, they’re down to $32.36.

China-based online recruitment platform developer Kanzhun filed for an initial public offering in the United States that will give corporates Tencent and Sunshine Life the chance to exit. Kanzhun runs an online platform called Boss Zhipin with almost 25 million monthly active users that utilises artificial intelligence to link jobseekers to prospective employers. It almost doubled revenue year on year to $295m in 2020, though its net loss rose 87% to $144m in the same period.


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

24 May 2021 – Goldman Sachs Invests $20m in British Anti-money Laundering Company ComplyAdvantage

The Big Ones

1

Delighted the May issue of GCV is now out covering the media sector, a special report on AI, Israel as the innovative region, extracts from Global University Venturing and Global Impact Venturing sister titles and all the monthly data from GCV Analytics.

From the editorial:

The innovation ecosystem we find ourselves in arguably has its roots with Charles Babbage, a University of Cambridge mathematician, perhaps best-known as the inventor of computers.

His work, however, also led to the creation of the Penny Post, where (eventually) a letter could be sent anywhere in the British Empire for one penny.

The Penny Post, therefore, predates Metcalfe’s Law, which postulates the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of users it connects.

Joseph Schumpeter’s ideas of creative destruction had innovation at its core. Ideas rather than accumulation of capital drive long-term growth. Advances in one area lead to more ideas across multiple industries.

Bring both Metcalfe and Schumpeter’s ideas together thanks to a boom in internet connectivity and computing power along with abundant, almost limitless, capital and the potential to tackle almost any challenge beckons.

2

Next month’s issue targets the healthcare sector.

The covid-19 pandemic has been regarded as the long-awaited start of the “biological century”. The rapid response to developing vaccines to the disease and the use of novel methods, such as messenger RNA, to do so has created optimism the same speed and execution is possible for a host of other viruses and more broadly to effectively create the longevity escape velocity – where people’s life expectancy increases by more than a year for each year they live.

But research and startups is just part of the challenge in a geopolitical world with concern about sovereignty of supply and requirements for manufacturing bases as well as requirements to carry our large-scale trials.

The UK plans to build on the recovery trial, which uncovered two treatments for covid-19, by streamlining research and embedding it in the health service and through fast regulation.

UK-based venture capital firm Abingworth this month raised $582m for its second clinical co-development fund.

Abingworth has previously invested through its co-development portfolio companies, Avillion and SFJ Pharmaceuticals, which both finance and facilitate clinical trials, taking on all of the clinical and regulatory risk in return for a pre-agreed return if the drug is approved.

When Abingworth first got into clinical co-development back in 2009, it primarily worked with pharma companies who only paid out if the project was successful, by which time the cost of the deal could be amortized over the sales of the product.

The market has since expanded to cover biotechs, which want to reduce the dilutive impact if they had to go out and raise the money on the public market. And there are plenty more of them.

The Financial Times noted Magdalen College was selling a 40% stake in the Oxford Science Park “after a surge of investor interest in the fast-growing life sciences sector increased the site’s value almost seven-fold in five years”.

As sole owner of the park since 2016, Magdalen has invested in new labs and research space on the site and gained planning consent for a new 165,000 square foot development to support its more than 100 businesses based there, including Vaccitech, which raised $111m from an initial public offering on the Nasdaq stock exchange in April.

Last year British firms raised £1.4bn ($2bn) of venture capital, the Economist said, which was more than anywhere else in Europe but less than the American hubs, Massachusetts (£4.7bn) and San Francisco (£4.5bn).

But the parallels between the UK and US are growing.

A few years ago, Seth Harrison, an American venture capitalist at Apple Tree Partners, was looking to open an office in Europe. The choice came down to Britain or Switzerland, he told the Economist. “I got quite acquainted with the whole UK biotech scene.

“The fantastic research ferment that occurs in the Golden Triangle. You know, the London, Cambridge, Oxford area… And I just said: ‘Wow, this reminds me of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 25 years ago.’”

To learn more about the golden triangle, our sister publication will start its review of the three university-led ecosystems, starting with Imperial College, London, in July before discussion and interaction at the GCV Symposium in November.

Medical devices and diagnostics has often been regarded as the underloved part of the healthcare venture market compared with biotech and pharma, with relatively few deals and limited exit options.

This has changed. Last year’s near-doubling in corporate venturing deal values to more than $5bn has continued this year. Most recently, this week Germany-based Smart4Diagnostics

(S4DX) raised €5m ($6m) in its series A round, including local medical technology manufacturer Sarstedt and the EIC Fund, established in 2020 by the European Commission for direct equity investment in breakthrough technologies.

The startup has developed the “digital human blood sample fingerprint”, a data-picture of all quality aspects for human blood samples from collection to arrival in the lab.

As Hans Maria Heyn, CEO and co-founder of S4DX, said: “As many as three in four medical decisions are based on diagnostic results – often blood samples. Currently, this process is being managed manually which can lead to errors and can cause many issues including slow diagnosis, repeated tests on the patient, and wasted resources.”

The covid-19 disease has focused more attention on diagnosis and whether treatment can be done remotely from hospitals. But the take-off in attention to medical devices and dianostics started beforehand with the flotation then purchase of Merck-backed Livongo, a digital diabetes management platform, which had its initial public offering in 2019 and was acquired by Teladoc for $18.5bn last year.

Livongo had been incubated by venture capital firm 7wireVentures, which has just closed its second venture fund at $150m with limited partners including health plans Florida Blue and Cigna, hospitals and health systems Atlantic Health, Wellforce, Rush University Medical Center, Memorial Hermann Health System and Spectrum Health and large employers Boeing, according to Fierce Biotech.

Similarly, E-merge Capital Partners is raising its debut fund focused on early-stage medical device companies and technologies coming out the Evolve MedTech Venture Studio.

The fund, led by managing partners Brad Klos and John Xitco, is focused primarily on class II medical devices in cardiovascular and orthopedics.

Others are also trying to use strategic ties to add value. Private equity firm Revival Healthcare Capital has closed its second fund at $500m. Revival said it would invest where a corporate strategic partner will have a structural option or right to acquire the company in the future.

Rick Anderson, chairman and managing director at Revival, said: “Consolidation has made it increasingly difficult for medtech leaders to move the needle on growth.”

Lauren Forshey, Revival president and another MD, added: “By removing the guess work and gamesmanship that often defines the relationship and instead aligning goals at the outset, target companies benefit from increased focus, speed, and capital efficiency in driving towards milestones they know they will get rewarded for.”

And the goal remains to gain scale. Venture-backed digital health company Ro has agreed to acquire Modern Fertility, a US-based provider of at-home fertility tests for women, for a reported at least $225m according to Fierce Biotech.

Ro started out four years ago selling erectile dysfunction medication and hair loss supplements to men but after raising $876m has been acquiring other startups, including Workpath to move into the home-based healthcare market.

The next Global Healthcare Council quarterly report published next month will cover the transformation of hospitals with remote care and diagnostics – insights and feedback welcome to jmawson@mawsonia.com.

3

Back in the day, money laundering used to be a relatively simple affair. Take a bag of cash to a casino, “lose” 10% to 20% and walk away with the bulk in cleaned money.

Digitalisation and global capital flows has made the scale bigger – now the laundering is more likely to be by swapping a so-called cold wallet of bitcoin or other cyptocurrency on a USB flash drive – but this also creates opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs has just invested $20m in British anti-money laundering (AML) company ComplyAdvantage.

Charlie Delingpole, founder and chief executive of ComplyAdvantage, told the Financial Times he was optimistic that it would be a precursor to a deeper partnership with the Wall Street bank. “It was more about the partnership and the brand and what they can give us as a firm than the money per se, given we are very well capitalised as it stands.”

There is more attention on finance as the sector reaps the unprecedented growth in money supply as treasuries grapple with the economic impact of the covid-19 disease.

But as Vinay Solanki, head of Channel 4 Ventures, referenced in last night’s GCV Analytics webinar on the media sector, effectively all consumer-facing businesses can create opportunities to become financial service providers – even if they are not all going to be as successful as China-based gaming group Tencent, whose first quarter results saw ballooning revenues and  the fair value of its investments in listed companies at Rmb1.4tn at the end of March, up from Rmb410bn at the same time last year.

This transformation can be done through bolting on the right payment apps, such as Stripe, but it also means the need to know your customer for AML and anti-fraud purposes will become more vital.

This could in turn put pressure on the incumbent financial services corporations to take a leaf out of Goldman Sachs and CVC progenitor, Fidelity, and engage more whole-heartedly in backing startups.

We are delighted, therefore, to be setting up the Global Financial Council, to be chaired by Jacqueline LeSage Krause, founder and managing general partner of Munich Re Ventures, a multi-fund corporate venture capital investing platform for Munich Re Group, the world’s largest reinsurance company that effectively can touch all parts of finance and business.

Do reach out to join the wider group and your insights.

4

The merger of corporate venture-backed Gojek and Tokopedia, Indonesia’s two biggest startups, has focused attention on the global success story happening in southeast Asia.

The merged company, to be called GoTo, will create a food delivery, ride-hailing and ecommerce group preparing for a $40bn public listing in Indonesia and potentially in the US this year, sources told the Financial Times.

SoftBank and Tencent are respective investors in Tokopedia and Gojek, which has also raised $300m from Telkomsel earlier this month.

The merger announcement came weeks after Singapore-headquartered Grab, which offers delivery, ride-hailing and financial services, announced a record $40bn merger with a special purpose acquisition company (Spac), while the Tencent-backed Sea Group, the parent company of Shopee and gaming unit Garena, set up a $1bn corporate venturing unit in March.

GoTo counts more than 100m monthly active users on its platforms and a total group gross transaction value of more than $22bn in 2020, according to the FT.

But already the region’s leaders are planning the next series of disruptive startups to emerge.

This month, the Economic Development Board (EDB) of Singapore, a government agency helping investors in the island state, started a pilot program, the Corporate Venture Launchpad, to support large and established companies to venture into new areas of growth beyond their core business. EDB has allocated S$10m ($7.5m) in funding for the one-year program which has partnered with four venture studios:

  • BCG Digital Ventures,
  • FutureLabs,
  • Leap by McKinsey, and
  • Rainmaking.

Singapore already has about 40 venture studios for corporations, such as Procter & Gamble, Bosch and Schneider Electric. Participating corporates through the Launchpad can receive 50% co-funding for qualifying costs, such as for manpower and other fees (capped at $377,000) and potential follow-on co-investment support by EDB New Ventures.

Deals

Beta lines up $368m

Back Market sells investors on $335m series D

Pine Labs picks investors for $285m

Extend grows its funding by $260m

Investors pump $250m into Pipe

Figure fits $200m into series D

Factory14 opens with $200m

Good Meat dishes up $170m round

Formlabs fashions $150m series E

Sunbit shines in $130m series D

Loom looks to investors for $130m

Hummingbird takes off with $125m series C

Asapp picks up $120m series C

Numab nabs Novo in $110m series C

Goldbelly fills up on funding

DST drives to $100m series C

University

Vedere Bio II sees light in $77m series A

ThinkCyte contemplates $26m in funding

Axelspace accelerates to series C

Funds

UTEC hits first close for fifth fund

One Capital 1 hits $147m close

Ulu ushers in $138m for Fund III

White Star closes $50m fund

7wireVentures sources corporate for fund close

Pi Labs lands Embassy Group commitment


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

17 May 2021 – Grocery Delivery App Dingdong Maicai Orders Up $330m Series D

The Big Ones

China-based grocery delivery app operator Dingdong Maicai closed a $330m series D-plus round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund. Founded in 2017, Dingdong Maicai has built a grocery e-commerce platform it claims delivers fresh produce and seafood ingredients door-to-door in under 30 minutes. It has served more than 5 million households across 27 markets in its home country. The company’s overall funding now stands at more than $1bn. It had secured $700m in a series D round last month co-led by DST Global and Coatue.

SoftBank has increased the size of its Vision Fund 2 from $10bn to $30bn. Its original Vision Fund closed at $98.6bn in 2017 with contributions from corporate LPs and sovereign wealth funds, but it has so far been unable to secure backing for its successor, instead committing the capital itself. The first Vision Fund booked a $16.8bn net loss for 2019 due to bankruptcies for portfolio companies OneWeb and Brandless, the failure of WeWork to successfully float and lacklustre share performance for others such as Uber. However, the coronavirus pandemic has caused tech stocks in several industries to skyrocket while also driving the pre-IPO funding market, leading to a considerable turnaround in SoftBank’s fortunes – the Vision Funds have now made a $37bn paper profit. The overall fair value of Vision Fund 1 and 2 stood at $154bn as of the end of March this year and SoftBank has returned $22.3bn to its LPs.

Better, the US-based digital mortgage services provider backed by SoftBank, American Express, Ping An, Citi and Ally Financial, agreed a reverse merger at a $7.7bn post-deal valuation. The company will join forces with SPAC Aurora Acquisition Corp, taking the position on the Nasdaq Capital Market that Aurora acquired in a $220m initial public offering in March this year. The deal will be supported by $1.5bn in PIPE financing from SoftBank’s SB Management subsidiary, Activant Capital and Novator Capital, Aurora Acquisition Corp’s sponsor.

University

Ginkgo Bioworks, a US-based microbe engineering services spinout of MIT, agreed to a reverse merger with SPAC Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp. The deal values Ginkgo at $15bn and includes a $775m PIPE financing co-led by Baillie Gifford, Putnam Investments and Morgan Stanley Investment Management’s Counterpoint Global. Soaring Eagle had raised $1.73bn through its own initial public offering three months ago, putting the reverse merger deal’s total value at a jaw-dropping $17.5bn. Ginkgo had raised more than $789m in equity financing since being founded in 2009.

Deals

Vinted, the Lithuania-based operator of a second-hand fashion marketplace, picked up €250m ($303m) today in a series F round featuring Burda Principal Investments, a subsidiary of media group Hubert Burda. The round was led by EQT Growth, a fund operated by investment firm EQT, at a $4.2bn valuation, and it included Insight Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sprints Capital.

Telkomsel, the mobile network subsidiary of Telkom Indonesia, has invested $300m in Indonesia-based ride hailing service Gojek, having supplied $150m for the company in November 2020. Gojek runs an app-based on-demand ride service which has expanded into food, package and grocery delivery in addition to mobile financial services. The funding comes as the company prepares to merge with e-commerce marketplace Tokopedia in a deal that will create a company called GoTo which would be valued at about $18bn. The deal is reportedly expected to be formally agreed by the end of June.

US-based diagnostic testing technology developer Cue Health completed a $235m financing round backed by Koch Industries and Johnson & Johnson, which took part through subsidiaries Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC and Koch Strategic Platforms respectively, joining Perceptive Advisors, MSD Capital, Decheng Capital, Cavu Ventures, Acme Capital and undisclosed other investors.

Masterclass, the US-based online education provider backed by Bloomberg, Endeavor and Novel Group, secured $225m in a series F round led by investment and financial services group Fidelity. Baillie Gifford, Balyasny Asset Management, Eldridge, IVP, New Enterprise Associates, Javelin Venture Partners and Owl Ventures also took part in the round. It valued the company at $2.75bn, sources told CNBC.

US-based life insurance platform developer Ethos Technologies received $200m in series D funding from investors including Roc Nation and GV. General Catalyst led the round, which valued the company at $2bn. It included Sequoia Capital and Accel as well as Will Smith’s Dreamers VC fund and a vehicle representing fellow actor Robert Downey Jr that may have been Downey Ventures.

WeRide, a China-based autonomous driving technology provider that counts several corporates among its investors, has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in series C funding. IDG Capital, Homeric Capital, CoStone Capital, Cypress Star, Sky9 Capital, K3 Ventures, CMC Capital Partners, Qiming Venture Partners and Alpview Capital supplied the capital at a valuation of $3.3bn. The series C proceeds will be channelled into research and development and commercialisation activities. The deal comes four months after WeRide closed a series B round led by $200m from bus manufacturer Yutong Group at $310m.

Funds

China-based cryptocurrency trading platform developer Huobi has established a $100m strategic investment fund. Founded in 2013, Huobi operates a blockchain-equipped online platform where users can buy and sell digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and XRP. Huobi Ventures will make early-stage investments in blockchain-focused companies which can integrate their operations with its parent company’s businesses, in addition to decentralised finance projects and merger and acquisition deals. The unit has reserved $10m of the capital for investments in NFTs and NFT marketplaces, and it brings together existing Huobi subsidiaries including Huobi Eco Fund, Huobi Capital and Huobi DeFi Labs.

Exits

Plus, a US-based automated driving technology developer backed by Full Truck Alliance, Quanta Computer, Wanxiang and SAIC, announced a reverse merger. The deal involves the company merging with SPAC Hennessy Capital Investment Corp V at a $3.3bn valuation, with the combined business taking the Nasdaq Capital Market listing secured by the latter in a $300m initial public offering in February this year. Funds and accounts managed by BlackRock and DE Shaw Group are among the participants in a $150m PIPE financing.

Bird, the US-based mobility services provider backed by Simon Property, is merging with SPAC Switchback II Corporation. The company will acquire the position on the New York Stock Exchange taken by Switchback II in a $275m initial public offering in January this year. The deal grants Bird a $2.3bn pro forma enterprise valuation. The transaction will be boosted by $160m a PIPE financing from investors including Fidelity Management & Research.

Science 37, a US-based clinical trials technology provider backed by Sanofi, Amgen, Alphabet, Novartis and PPD, agreed to a reverse merger with LifeSci Acquisition II Corp. The transaction will involve the Science 37 taking the position on the Nasdaq Capital Market taken by LifeSci in a $75m initial public offering in November 2020. It will give Science 37 an initial enterprise value of about $1.05bn. Science 37’s technology helps run clinical trials for developmental stage therapeutics and medical devices, helping bridge the gap between laboratory research and patient care.

UK-based encryption technology developer Arqit agreed to a reverse merger with Centricus Acquisition Corp that will be backed by corporates Sumitomo and Virgin Orbit. The deal will create a new company called Arqit Quantum, which will be valued at $1.4bn and which will take on the listing Nasdaq Capital Market Centricus Acquisition got in a $300m initial public offering in February 2021. The merged business will receive approximately $70m from a PIPE deal featuring Virgin Orbit, Sumitomo Corporation and Heritage Group.

Waterdrop, a China-based digital health insurance marketplace which counts corporates Meituan Dianping, Tencent and Swiss Re as investors, raised $360m in an initial public offering. The company issued 30 million American depositary shares (ADSs) on the New York Stock Exchange, each ADS representing 10 ordinary class A shares. Waterdrop priced the ADSs at $12 each, at the upper end of the $10 to $12 range it had set for the offering, valuing the company at over $4.7bn. The shares closed on $9.70 on the first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, but dropped over the course of the week to open at $7 on Friday morning.

Ane Logistics, a China-based small freight services provider backed by insurer Ping An and dairy product manufacturer Yili, has filed for an initial public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The size of the offering has not been disclosed but the company was looking to raise $500m, according to a Bloomberg report in February. CICC Capital and JPMorgan Chase are lead underwriters for the flotation.


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

10 May 2021 – Oxford Nanopore Pockets $280m in Equity Financing

The Big Ones

Canada-based digital investment platform developer Wealthsimple received C$750m ($610m) in funding from investors including Allianz X, a subsidiary of Allianz, at a valuation of almost $4.1bn. Meritech Capital and Greylock Partners co-led the round, which also featured DST Global, Sagard, Iconiq Capital, Dragoneer, TCV, iNovia Capital, Base 10 Partners, Redpoint Ventures, Steadfast Capital, Alkeon Capital Management, TSV, Plus Capital and multiple individuals. The valuation represents a large jump from the $1.07bn valuation at which the company raised $86.8m in an October 2020 round led by TCV that included Allianz X, Greylock, Meritech Capital and Two Sigma Ventures.

China-based roasted seed and nut provider Qiaqia Food and domestic snack food producer Juewei Food have formed a RMB1.1bn ($170m) industry investment fund. Sichuan Chengdu Xinjin Siyiwu Investment will be equipped with almost $100m from Juewei Food’s Wangju Capital vehicle, which will take a 58.6% share, while Qiaqia Food is set to provide $9m in return for a 5.45% stake. The vehicle will invest in companies operating in areas like restaurant chains, snack and condiment brands, pet food producers and developers of technology which can enhance the supply chain.

Roivant Sciences, the US-based biopharmaceutical company backed by telecommunications and internet group SoftBank and pharmaceutical firms Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma and Dexxon, agreed a reverse merger at a combined $7.3bn valuation. The deal will take place with a SPAC called Montes Archimedes Acquisition Corp which floated on the Nasdaq Capital Market in a $400m initial public offering in October 2020. Sumitomo Dainippon, SoftBank subsidiary SB Management and data analytics service provider Palantir Technologies all contributed to a $200m private investment in public equity (PIPE) financing supporting the transaction.

Crossover

Oxford Nanopore, the UK-based DNA sequencing technology spinout of University of Oxford, pocketed £195m ($270m) in equity financing from investors including commercialisation firm IP Group. Nikon, Temasek, Wellington Management and M&G Investment took part in the round, providing $174m, while unnamed, existing backers also contributed capital. IP Group committed £26m, its full pre-emptive allocation, and now owns a 14.5% undiluted stake in Oxford Nanopore. The spinout is now valued at $3.4bn. Founded in 2005, Oxford Nanopore has developed a DNA and RNA sequencing technology that provides real-time analytics. The technology is fully scalable from hand-held devices for use in the field through to benchtop products and population-scale platforms. The spinout is seeking an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange in the second half of the year and reportedly hired book-running managers last month.

Deals

US-based freelancer business software provider HoneyBook secured $155m in series D funding from investors including Citi Ventures. Durable Capital Partners led the round, which also featured 01 Advisors, Battery Ventures, Norwest Venture Partners, OurCrowd, Tiger Global Management and Zeev Ventures. It valued the company above $1bn, according to TechCrunch.

Bitso, a Mexico-based cryptocurrency exchange operator backed by corporates Coinbase, Monex and Ripple, has received $250m in series C funding at a $2.2bn valuation. Hedge fund manager Tiger Global Management and investment manager Coatue Management co-led the round, which included Paradigm, Bond, Valor Capital Group, QED Investors, Pantera Capital and Kaszek Ventures.

China-based heart disease therapy developer Valgen Medtech has secured a nine-digit dollar amount in series B funding from investors including corporates Venus Medtech and China Life. The round was co-led by DCP and Sequoia Capital China and included China Life’s Healthcare Fund Venus Medtech, Ascendum Capital, Lake Bleu Capital and Qiming Venture Partners.

Funds

New York-listed pharmacy chain CVS Health has set up a $100m fund which will targeting digital health technology. CVS Health Ventures formalises a corporate venturing strategy that has resulted in investments in more than 20 startups through the CVS and Aetna businesses, CVS having acquired life insurance provider Aetna in 2018 for $69bn. Current CVS Health investments include Unite Us, the developer a technology platform that connects healthcare and social services providers, and LumiraDx, which has created a point-of-care diagnostic platform.

The universities of Birmingham, Dundee, Edinburgh and Nottingham have joined forces with drug discovery firm Evotec and pharmaceutical firm Bristol-Myers Squibb to launch BeLab1407 Equipped with $20m, BeLab1407 is the latest addition to Evotec’s international network of early-stage academic collaborations called Bridge – an acronym for Biomedical Research, Innovation and Development Generation Efficiency. It will focus on drug discovery. Listeners of our Talking Tech Transfer podcast will already know that Adam Stoten, chief operating officer at tech transfer office Oxford University Innovation, spearheaded the initiative and last month revealed exclusively to me on that podcast that he was joining Evotec to expand the roster of partnerships further. You can find the Talking Tech Transfer podcast on GlobalUniversityVenturing.com – our latest guest is Jason Whitney of IU Ventures – or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you download your podcasts from.

Exits

Financial management software producer Bill.com agreed to purchase payment management platform developer Divvy in a $2.5bn transaction enabling digital payment processor PayPal and electronics wholesaler Hanaco to exit. Divvy’s software platform allows businesses to efficiently track spending on expenses and corporate cards in real time while setting flexible limits. The deal will allow Bill.com to offer business customers accounts payable, accounts receivable and corporate card spend management options from a single place. The deal will consist of $625m of cash and the rest in Bill.com shares. It comes four months after Divvy secured $165m in series D funding from investors including PayPal subsidiary PayPal Ventures and Hanaco at a $1.6bn valuation.

Digital currency-focused financial services provider Galaxy Digital Holdings agreed to purchase BitGo, a US-based cryptocurrency wallet developer backed by bitcoin mining technology producer BitFury, for about $1.2bn in cash and stock. The deal will consist of $265m in cash and 38.8 million Galaxy Digital shares, which closed at $28.47 each on Wednesday – the day of the announcement. BitGo’s shareholders will own about 10% Galaxy Digital on a pro forma basis.

AEye, a US-based lidar system developer that counts several corporates among its investors, has amended its reverse transaction agreement with a SPAC called CF Finance Acquisition Corp III. The deal will now value AEye at $1.52bn pre-money, down from the $1.9bn valuation set when the deal was agreed in February this year. The merged business will take CF Finance Acquisition Corp III’s listing on the Nasdaq Capital Market.

Action Network, a US-based sports betting news provider backed by over-the-top media company The Chernin Group, has agreed to a $240m acquisition by sports betting media group Better Collective. Founded in 2017, Action Network provides news and analysis on betting across multiple sports. Its offering also includes podcasts, data, educational resources and betting tools. The company will continue to operate under the Action Network brand as a separate business unit under Better Collective following the close of the deal.

Day One Biopharmaceuticals, a US-based cancer drug developer which counts conglomerate Access Industries and pharmaceutical firm Takeda as investors, has filed to raise $100m in an initial public offering. Founded in 2018, Day One was incubated by venture capital firm Canaan and is developing drug treatments for cancer patients of all ages, with an initial focus on children. The company’s lead product candidate is being developed to treat progressive low-grade glioma, a common type of brain tumour diagnosed in children.

China-based audio streaming platform developer Ximalaya has filed for an initial public offering in the United States that would give internet and gaming group Tencent the chance to exit. Ximalaya operates an online podcasting platform with some 250 million monthly active users. The company has set a placeholder target of $100m and is set to float on the New York Stock Exchange.


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

03 May 2021 – Messagebird Adds $800m to Series C Round

The Big Ones

Netherlands-based customer service software provider Messagebird has added $800m to a series C round featuring Bonnier, expanding it to $1bn. Bonnier joined Eurazeo, Tiger Global Management, BlackRock, Owl Rock, Glynn Capital, LGT Lightstone, Longbow, Mousse Partners, NewView Capital, Accel, Atomico and Y Combinator in the extension, which was made up of 70% equity financing and 30% debt. Spark Capital led the round’s $200m first close in October 2020 at a $3bn valuation, investing alongside Glynn Capital, LGT Lightstone, Longbow, Mousse Partners, Accel, Atomico, Y Combinator and New View Capital. MessageBird had raised a total of $100m prior to this round. The company revealed it has channelled $600m of the extension into acquiring SparkPost, the US-based creator of an email optimisation software platform it claims oversees some 4.5 trillion emails a year on behalf of its customers.

Main Sequence Ventures, the Australia-based venture capital firm founded by Commonwealth Scientific Research Organisation (CSIRO), has secured A$250m ($194m) for its second fund from LPs including Lockheed Martin, Temasek, HostPlus, Horizons Ventures and unspecified family offices and individual investors. Main Sequence was founded in 2017 to manage CSIRO Innovation Fund 1, an investment vehicle established by CSIRO and the Australian federal government. The firm specialises in commercialising academic research and investing in spinouts. It focuses on deep tech solving one of six key objectives – feeding 10 billion people, population-scale healthcare, industrial productivity, accessing space, enabling next-generation computing and decarbonisation. Decarbonisation technologies is an added focus with Fund II and partner Martin Duursma will lead on this effort. I previously interviewed another partner of Main Sequence, Mike Zimmerman, late last year and I highly recommend you seek out our other podcast, Talking Tech Transfer, on your favourite app or on GlobalUniversityVenturing.com to listen to that episode (and all the others, we have close to 30 interviews with thought leaders in university innovation from all over the world, including our most recent with Sara Wallin, the CEO of Chalmers Ventures, the number one-ranked incubator in the Nordics).

UiPath, the robotic process automation software producer that counts Alphabet and Tencent as investors, closed its initial public offering at almost $1.54bn just over a week ago (April 23). The company issued 9.4 million shares priced at $56 each, above the $52 to $54 range for the offering, while investors including CapitalG sold nearly 14.5 million more shares. The extra stock bumped the number issued by UiPath to 13 million and the move came after UiPath’s shares rose significantly post-IPO. They are, as of the time of recording on Friday afternoon UK time, trading at $73.50 on the New York Stock Exchange.

And more interesting crossover news this week in the form of an exit: Vaccitech, a UK-based vaccine developer spun out of University of Oxford, priced its shares at $17 to raise more than $110m in its debut on the Nasdaq Global Market. Founded in 2016, Vaccitech initially aimed to develop a universal flu vaccine but the technology’s arguably most fundamental impact to date has been the creation of the covid-19 vaccine now deployed by pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca. Vaccitech’s pipeline now features assets targeting chronic hepatitis B infection, HPV, prostate cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, shingles and Mers. OSI is the largest shareholder ahead of the offering, with a 29.5% stake, which will be diluted to 23.9%. GV will come out with 5%, Tencent (4.2%) and Gilead Science is also a shareholder but held less than 5% ahead of the offering.

Deals

Eutelsat Communications has agreed to invest $550m in UK-based satellite internet technology developer One Web, in return for a stake sized at about 24%. OneWeb is building a 648-satellite constellation intended to provide broadband coverage to remote areas from low orbit. The initial system is expected to be operational by the end of this year and Eutelsat’s capital will take it most of the way towards its funding goal. The company had raised a total of $3.4bn from investors including SoftBank Vision Fund, Bharti Enterprises and Hughes Network Systems before filing for bankruptcy in March 2020. Bharti subsequently joined the UK government to buy OneWeb’s assets for $1bn in July the same year. SoftBank paid $350m for a 30% stake in the resurrected company in January 2021 while Hughes invested $50m.

US-based blockchain infrastructure technology developer Paxos has received $300m in a series D round featuring PayPal Ventures. Venture capital firm Oak HC/FT led the round, which included Declaration Partners, Mithril Capital, Senator Investment Group, Liberty City Ventures and WestCap. The company has secured more than $535m since it was founded in 2012 and the round valued it at $2.4bn post-money.

Two entities owned by Tencent have provided $225m for India-based social network operator ShareChat as part of its $502m series E round. The round was led by Tiger Global Management earlier this month and also featured venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners as well as Snap, the owner of messaging app Snapchat. Tencent provided almost half the capital in the form of convertible debt, from Netherlands-registered vehicles Zennis Capital and Hlodyn. Should the debt be converted into equity, they would own a 19.7% stake in ShareChat. Tencent would be unable to invest in the company directly due to strict rules governing the acquisition of stakes in Indian companies by Chinese entities. The same rules have allowed ShareChat to grow without competing against companies such as the China-based TikTok.

Rocket Lawyer, a US-based digital legal services provider backed by Alphabet, Relx and Editions Lefebvre Sarrut, has received $223m in financing. The round was led by Vista Credit Partners, a subsidiary of investment firm Vista Equity Partners, but it has not revealed the identity of the other participants. The company’s last funding came in 2016 when legal publisher Editions Lefebvre Sarrut invested an undisclosed amount as part of a joint venture to launch a Rocket Lawyer Europe entity.

US-based cybersecurity software provider Sysdig has secured $188m in a series F round featuring Siemens’s Next47. Founded in 2013, Sysdig provides a software tool that helps cloud operators run their services securely, preventing and responding to threats and vulnerabilities in a timely manner. The series F was raised at a $1.19bn valuation and lifted the company’s total funding to $394m.

India-headquartered home services marketplace Urban Company has raised $188m in a series F round led by Prosus at a $2bn valuation. The round was filled out by DF International – possibly a vehicle for Dragoneer Investment Group – and Wellington Management, lifting the company’s overall funding to more than $370m.

US-based gas management technology provider Crusoe Energy Systems has completed a $128m series B round featuring Exor, Coinbase Ventures and DRW Venture Capital. The equity funding was raised alongside a $40m project financing facility from growth financing provider Upper90.

US-based cancer therapy developer Boundless Bio completed a $105m series B round that included Alexandria Venture Investments. Boundless is working on a pipeline of precision cancer drugs designed to target the extrachromosomal DNA of aggressive cancers. The latest round follows a $46.4m series A in September 2019 that was also backed by Alexandria Venture Investments.

BigID, a US-based data protection software developer backed by Comcast, Salesforce and SAP, has added $30m from private equity firm Advent International to a series D round now standing at $100m. The deal came after the company secured $70m in a first tranche co-led by Salesforce Ventures and Tiger Global Management in December 2020. Glynn Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, Scale Venture Partners and Boldstart Ventures also took part in the first close. The extension increased BigID’s funding to over $246m and valued it at $1.3bn.

Funds

China-based IoT technology producer Tuya has formed a $400m strategic investment fund with Hillhouse Capital. Tuya’s platform enables businesses to access hardware development tools, cloud services and smart business development software in order to build their connected services. The company floated in the US last month in a $915m initial public offering in which affiliates of Hillhouse Capital had expressed interest in buying $100m of shares.

Exits

JD Logistics, the logistics services subsidiary of China-headquartered e-commerce firm JD.com, received approval for an initial public offering expected to net it between $3bn and $4bn, according to people familiar with the matter. A source told DealStreetAsia in February this year JD.com would seek a $40bn valuation for the IPO. Launched in 2017, JD Logistics provides delivery and warehousing services to online merchants, the latter through a network of about 900 warehouses across China. It is also looking to automate part of its offering through the use of driverless delivery vehicles. JD.com owns 79.1% of the spinoff and shareholders also include Tencent and China Life.

Tata Group has secured regulatory approval to acquire a majority stake in India-based online grocer BigBasket, with e-commerce group Alibaba set to exit. The deal was agreed in February and is set to be conducted by the corporate’s Tata Digital subsidiary, which will pay a reported $1.2bn for a 64.3% stake in BigBasket, valuing it at nearly $1.87bn. Tata Digital will make a primary investment of $200m to $250m with the rest to come through secondary share sales which will likely involve Alibaba divesting a 29.6% stake – for roughly $550m – and investment firm Artis a 16.5% stake.

India-based food delivery service Zomato has filed for an Rs 82.5bn ($1.1bn) initial public offering, with Info Edge set to sell $100m of shares. The company is planning a dual offering on the National Stock Exchange of India and the BSE and is considering raising a further $200m through a private placement prior to the IPO. Zomato generated $186m in income in the last nine months of 2020, making a loss of $92.7m. The offering will come in the wake of roughly $1.45bn of funding, the most recent of which involved Zomato raising $250m in February this year at a $5.4bn valuation.


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

26 April 2021 – UK National Grid Commits Further $150m to its Silicon Valley-based Corporate Venture and Innovation Group

The Big Ones

1

In November, this column said, if demotivated, “talented people will quickly cut the cord”.

This was in response to US-listed cable group Comcast’s decision to limit its successful corporate venturing unit, as GCV reported at the time.

Almost six months on and the team has broken up as feared. And the unit, which was founded in 1999 and which has more than 120 portfolio companies, has announced investments in just two companies since November when it co-led a $38m round for Zapata Computing.

Amy Banse, managing director and head of funds for Comcast Ventures, announced in September last year she would be retiring, while managing director David Zilberman left shortly afterwards to join venture capital firm Norwest Venture Partners.

Of the other managing directors, Sam Landman is now co-founder and general partner at venture capital fund Mastry while Dinesh Moorjani has left to return to angel investing and his portfolio of board seats, such as Zoox, and Rick Prostko has become managing director for North America at Ontario Teachers’​ Pension Plan’s innovation platform.

Others who appeared to have cut their ties with Comcast directly are Gil Beyda, whose LinkedIn page states he has stopped being a managing director at Comcast and returned to a managing partner position at Genacast Ventures, and Daniel Gulati, who became the founding partner at Forecast Fund in May 2020 and whose LinkedIn profile reveals he left Comcast last year. Comcast, however, effectively retained their talents, as a spokesperson said Forecast Fund was set up within Comcast Ventures while Genacast was established with Comcast support.

The upshot is that only Andrew Cleland is left directly as an MD at Comcast Ventures, though other experienced people within the group include Sam Schwartz, executive vice-president and chief business development officer for Comcast.

A similar but smaller exodus has occurred at the principal level. Chris Hill departed in December to become a strategic adviser at Retina AI, Andre Iguodala left his venture partner role at Comcast’s Catalyst fund and Morgan Polotan joined B Capital Group as a principal.

This has left Sheena Jindal, Min-Sik Jun and Adam Spivack as principals and the operations team, such as Arjun Kapur and Madura Wijewardena, under managing director and chief financial officer Kim Armor.

Comcast’s spokesman said by email: “Comcast Ventures was just repositioned to be within the strategic development group at Comcast Cable and continues to operate as a fund and as Comcast Ventures. It just went from one department to another. We issued a statement on this and here is what we said which has not changed: ‘Comcast Ventures has been a valuable innovation pipeline, providing insight into adjacent industries and investment opportunities.

‘We are aligning our approach to venture investing more closely with our business units and repositioning Comcast Ventures and its fund under the strategic business development team at Comcast Cable.

‘Our business development teams across the company continue to invest in new technology and businesses, which we believe will yield more strategic opportunities and benefits for Comcast and the companies in which we invest. We will continue to support our existing portfolio companies through investment and strategic partnership.’”

Comcast has aligned its corporate venturing activities – it also runs Sky Ventures in the UK under James McClurg and Mike Martin, and NBCUniversal’s growth team under Don Mathis – around its broader entrepreneurial activities, which include Danielle Cohn’s Lift Labs accelerator, now on its fourth cohort managed by Techstars.

Since its launch, 32 companies from around the world have completed the Lift Labs accelerator programme and 75% have secured pilots or agreements with a division or business unit of Comcast NBCUniversal.

Another insider left at one of the corporate venturing divisions of Comcast privately said they were also looking at their governance and compensation, and whether to leave.

Comcast had been a top quartile venture investor – the enterprise value of Gulati’s portfolio alone while at Comcast Ventures was more than $4bn, he said – but has to now rebuild just as the parent’s strategy has to.

Comcast had risen to the status of a Fortune 50 company in the past generation by riding the wave of pay television in the US. But this peaked in 2012 with 90% of people subscribing to one bundle or another.

Now, cable’s cords are being cut and the range of options people have to consume media has grown.

At a time when the cable and media industry is undergoing disruption, therefore, having fresh eyes and direction for Comcast Ventures might yet end up a blessing if it brings a growth mindset and new resources. The alternative is a narrow focus on trying to protect a cash cow slowly being undermined in the way print media has been by the internet.

2

UK-listed utility National Grid has committed a further $150m to its Silicon Valley-based corporate venture and innovation group.

It is smart timing beyond being so-called Earth week – a series of events around the world focused on climate and sustainability, including GCV’s Earth Day webinar on carbon capture and hydrogen on 22nd.

National Grid is sponsor of the United Nations’ COP26 climate conference – the biggest convening of global environmental policy and industry leaders since the 2015 Paris Agreement – expected in early November in the UK and will include the 10th GCV Symposium gala dinner at St Paul’s cathedral.

Since its launch less than three years ago, National Grid Partners (NGP) has put $227m into 29 startups at the intersection of energy and information technology.

Now, the rest of the world is catching up to the opportunities in the field, including tech company Apple’s $200m committed last week to the Restore Fund for carbon removal through forestry innovation, and so National Grid is committing more to its pace of investment.

Its most recent deals include $7.5m invested into seed-stage, US-based companies Pathr, a spatial intelligence platform to generate anonymous location data in real time as people work around buildings, and AccuKnox, a Stanford Research Institute spinout whose KubeArmor technology provides a kubernetes platform for security, compliance and governance in public and private clouds.

Lisa Lambert, chief technology and innovation officer of National Grid and the founder and president of NGP as well as chairwoman of the Global Energy Council, said: “Earth Week is a perfect time to announce this vote of confidence from our senior leadership.

“We are investing in and deploying technologies across National Grid’s networks to enhance resilience and reliability, while more easily integrating renewable energy.”

Funds

Zoom rushes to create $100m Apps Fund

CyberAgent spies third domestic fund

Exits

UiPath reaches public markets

Zymergen produces $500m initial public offering

NeuroPace nets $102m in IPO

Confluent chooses confidential IPO filing

Oatly to milk public markets for capital

Waterdrop runs down to $100m IPO plans

Gyroscope gees itself up for US IPO

SimilarWeb sets out IPO filing

Talaris tries out public markets

SmartRent houses $2.2bn reverse merger

Makesense agrees to PolicyBazaar merger

Affirm comes back to buy Returnly

Deals

Byju’s bolts down billion-dollar round

Adagio Therapeutics picks up pace with $336m

ActiveCampaign activates $240m series C round

Alan amasses $223m in series D funding

Razorpay cleaves $160m in series E round

Druva draws in $147m

SES seeks out corporates to raise $139m

NextData inputs $135m series D

MatHem shops for $131m

Digital Asset arranges $120m series D

TechMet takes in $120m

Classy clasps $118m

BlaBlaCar drives through $115m round

Tamara takes in $110m through series A round

Solegreen kicks in $104m for Kuubix

C2i Genomics detects $100m


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

19 April 2021 – Coinbase Lists on Nasdaq

The Big Ones

1

Spend enough time in venture and you can see the transformation in startups and the economy almost as if time has speeded up.

GCV’s first article on Coinbase, eight years ago to the day, described it as “a digital wallet for Bitcoin transactions”, which “had raised $600,000 from accelerator Y Combinator and publisher International Data Group’s corporate venturing unit IDG Ventures.

“Bitcoin was set up without central bank backing but with a predetermined limit of 21 million available to be issued from its software and has seen fluctuations in its value from $9 in January to $200 on 9 April 2013 and back down to $150 a day later.”

Now, Bitcoin’s price is $63,063.90 and investors have valued Coinbase at $75.9bn after its debut on Nasdaq stock exchange on Wednesday.

The Financial Times described it as “the first listing of a major cryptocurrency exchange and a moment of validation for the digital asset class some 12 years after the creation of bitcoin”. After a direct listing of Coinbase shares – rather than the more traditional initial public offering which raises new capital – the price fell to $328 from an opening price of $381 to give a market capitalisation of $85.8bn, including options and other kinds of stock-based awards.

However, after early support from CVCs, such as IDG and USAA’s Victor Pascucci and Jon Cholak, Coinbase cashed in with a $75m series C round in 2015 including from BBVA, NYSE and NTT and not looked back. Coinbase’s big investors include venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz, Ribbit Capital and Union Square Ventures.

Coinbase’s financial fortunes have surged with the cryptocurrency markets, producing a nine-fold jump in revenues to an estimated $1.8bn in the first quarter, translating to about $1.1bn in adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, the FT said.

But while still primarily a business-to-consumer exchange for people to buy and sell bitcoin and ethereum based on the blockchain, financial services firms are more interested in the underlying technology than its value as a monetary store or gold equivalent.

Jay Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve, said: “No one is using them for payments, for example, like the dollar. It’s a little bit like gold . . . Human beings have given gold this special value that it doesn’t have from an industrial standpoint, but nonetheless for thousands of years they’ve done that. Bitcoin is much more like that.”

Behind the scenes, however, and the big asset managers and financial groups are working on pragmatic implementations of blockchain and crypto as platform or infrastructure to trade, price, settle and be the custodians. From there, products to deploy and engage on alternative assets and how even venture capital is affected can flow.

Similar riches are now being reaped from early investments in other emerging fields created in the past two decades.

2

Tuesday’s daily leader looked at the $25bn of cash returned from Naspers/Prosus selling four percentage points of its holding in Tencent over the past few years.

Netherlands-listed technology investor Prosus, formed out of the corporate venturing assets collected by South Africa-listed media group Naspers, has sold 2% of China-based gaming and social media group Tencent for $14.7bn.

This is the world’s largest-ever block trade – 191.89 million shares for HK$114.1bn – but leaves Prosus still holding 28.9% of Tencent, according to newswire Reuters.

The block trade – or the usually private, single trade of a large amount of securities – surpassed the previous record set in 2018 when Naspers also sold 2% of Tencent for $9.8bn, Refinitiv data showed. Its remaining stake is worth about $200bn, from an original $31m corporate venturing deal struck 20 years ago.

Bob van Dijk, CEO at Prosus, said: “The proceeds of the sale will increase our financial flexibility, enabling us to invest in the significant growth potential we see across the group, as well as in our own stock.”

Prosus, which also invests in online food delivery platforms, classified marketplaces and digital payments businesses, has built up its warchest for new and existing investments given the rapid scaling up of the innovation capital ecosystem at the later stage.

Global venture capital investments hit $125bn in the first quarter, the first time the figure has surpassed $100bn in a quarter, according to data published by Crunchbase, even though deal volumes held relatively stable.

The opportunity for social network or “platform economy” companies to dominate across sectors or verticals remains, especially as Tencent peer Alibaba’s share price rose on Monday after it was able to have the term written into law.

This is particularly the case as finance becomes embedded into media. As James Thorne, a venture capital reporter at PitchBook, noted at the weekend, Angela Strange, general partner at VC firm Andreessen Horowitz (A16Z), made the case in 2019 that most people would be working in financial services soon, even if we don’t change jobs, as finance becomes embedded into software.

At that point, media and content becomes the differentiator, which is why A16Z calls itself a media company that monetizes through venture capital.

In his annual letter last week, Jamie Dimon, CEO at bank JPMorgan Chase, said: “Fintech’s ability to merge social media, use data smartly and integrate with other platforms rapidly (often without the disadvantages of being an actual bank) will help these companies win significant market share.”
And this helps explain why even in a world where media advertising is dominated by Facebook and Google that there remains so much attention and focus on social media and networks.

3

Things are heating up in Italy’s media landscape as a microcosm of wider changes in the sports and gaming ecosystem. The country’s main phone operator, TIM, has returned as a “long-term investor in venture capital” through the anchor commitment to a €100m UV T-Growth fund managed independently by United Ventures, while Nerio Alessandri, founder and executive chairman of Italy-listed fitness equipment supplier Technogym, has launched Wellness Ventures.

UV T-Growth, managed by Fabio Pirovano and Damiano Coletti, targets a wide swathe of digital innovation, including gaming. Similarly, Wellness is targeting digital projects in general but in particular in sports and fitness.
There are plenty of opportunities in sports and gaming in the digital age. Online gambling and advertising, electronic as well as physical sports and gaming and unbundling of viewers from cable or television packages are coalescing to create plenty of disruption.

The latest being Amazon, which acquired Twitch for in-game streaming and chats, paying $11bn for exclusive rights to stream Thursday night National Football League games on its Prime service.
There are now dozens of VC funds targeting games, which is a far bigger market than films. Most recently, the Games Fund has raised $50m for a game-focused venture capital fund to invest in early-stage games in both Europe and the US, according to VentureBeat.

Maria Kochmola and Ilya Eremeev started the fund having both previously worked at Russia-listed internet group Mail.ru’s My.Games division, which started a game fund called MGVC, VentureBeat said. Kochmola was the investment director at MGVC since its inception in 2017, and she led more than 35 investments (with six exits).

Deals

Cruise increases latest round to $2.75bn

Epic picks out investors for $1bn round

SambaNova rams through $676m series D

Polestar attracts $550m

SoftBank finds Better option for $500m investment

Groq locks up $300m series C

Fiture fits in $300m series B

Astranis ascends with $250m series C

Bukalapak escalates funding with $234m

Tempo works out $220m series C

Signifyd secures $205m in series E round

Clearcover coasts to $200m series D

Repertoire Immune Medicines gets $189m result

Degreed delivers $153m series D

ZJS Express zooms to $153m series B

Jaguar Gene Therapy roars to $139m

Tend drills into $125m series C

Arcellx amasses $115m in series C round

CeQur secures $115m in series C5

StoneWise stocks up with $100m

Gaussian Robotics sweeps up $100m

Hack the Box cracks $10.6m round

Funds

Axa accelerates to $295m close for second growth vehicle

Amazon shows Indian ambitions with $250m fund

TDK to deploy $150m through second fund

Exits

Grab takes reverse merger option

Tango Therapeutics arranges reverse merger

TuSimple delivers $1.35bn initial public offering

Alkami appears on public markets

MissFresh looks to deliver $1bn IPO

Brii brightens up with IPO plans

Darktrace discloses IPO plans

Vaccitech shoots for US IPO

Artiva activates $100m IPO plans

Anjuke advances to IPO stage

Hologic hoists in Mobidiag

Keyfactor turns to PrimeKey for merger

University

Schroders shifts Carrick stake at discount


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