05 October 2020 – Sophia Genetics Raises $110m Series F

The Big Ones

It was a privilege to hear the insights at the GCV Digital Forum 2.0 yesterday. Combining our regional and sector events, GCV Asia Congress, Synergize and Energy, was always a recipe for some of the world’s leaders to gather and share as well as network. The insights started with Gen Tsuchikawa, CEO of Sony Innovation Fund, as chairman of the Asia stream explain how it had made 10 deals since April through the covid-19 crisis and launched a new fund with an impact focus on the environment. Impact and sustainability was a running theme through the whole agenda, with Sir Ronald Cohen, chairman of the Global Steering Group working on impact investing, giving a keynote and answering questions from attendees about his new book, Impact: Reshaping capitalism to drive real change.

Sir Ronald Cohen’s insights from his second book, Impact: Reshaping Capitalism to Drive Real Change, lay out a methodology for adding impact to the usual risk and return decision-making for investing. Here’s a case study example from his keynote to be delivered at the www.GCVDigitalForum.com tomorrow, with a live Q&A with Sir Ronald starting at 12.30pm UK time.

Change is coming. The only question remains how to maximise the impact at a corporation through sophisticated use of open innovation tools, such as corporate venturing, and align them to traditional research and development and mergers and acquisitions. Switzerland-based healthcare insurer CSS Insurance has set up the CHF50m SwissHealth Ventures fund managed by Redstone’s venture capital-as-a-service. Jonathan Fraser, head of venturing at CSS, said it would on focus digital health startups contributing to a high quality and cost-efficient health system.

Sophia Genetics, a Switzerland-based clinical insights platform, has raised $110m in its series F round from a consortium including Hitachi Ventures. It is an interesting deal for Stefan Gabriel, CEO of Hitachi Ventures and GCV Powerlist 100 winner last month. Typically, the $150m Hitachi Ventures programme has targeted early-stage deals in Europe and the US.

Exits

Palantir is arguably Peter Thiel’s most infamous endeavour: the company has been shrouded in secrecy ever since it was founded in 2003 and was often thought to have almost peerless capabilities when it came to big data analytics (capabilities that have landed it some big US government contracts). But its direct listing on the NYSE (which came after six – yes, six – revisions to its SEC filing) was, as Reuters called it, “choppy”. Shares dropped from the $10 opening price to $9.50 and the company ended up with a valuation of $20.6bn – which might seem a good amount, but it was worth $20.3bn five years ago and has raised hundreds of millions of dollars since then. Adding insult to injury was the fact that Morgan Stanley couldn’t get its software to work for Palantir employees to sell shares.

McAfee has had a more eventful history than most. Once upon a time (the olden days of 2011), the company was listed on NYSE before Intel decided to snap up the cybersecurity giant for $7.7bn. To say the shoe didn’t fit might be an understatement: officially rebranding the company to Intel Security in 2014, the operation actually retained its McAfee name and by 2016 had been spun off again through a private equity deal that saw Intel selling a majority stake to TPG Capital, with Thoma Bravo also taking a small shareholding. And now it seems McAfee is ready to yet again trade publicly and has filed for an IPO on Nasdaq – putting that infamous $100m placeholder figure in its draft prospectus and not yet giving away any details on terms. Fun fact: the IPO has gathered a baker’s dozen worth of underwriters – this might be one to watch closely as it unfolds.

JD.com’s healthcare spinoff has filed for an initial public offering after raising more than $1.9bn in equity funding from investors including Hillhouse Capital and Citic Capital.

Tencent is also in line for an exit as Beijing Logicreation Information & Technology, an education services provider, has filed for a RMB1.04bn ($152m) initial public offering on Shenzhen Stock Exchange’s ChiNext board. The company plans on issuing 10 million shares and is targeting a valuation of $586m. Details about Logicreation’s funding are hazy, but DealStreetAsia surfaced a series D round of undisclosed size backed by Tencent Investment in 2017 and a $14m funding round in 2015 backed by Heyi Group. Neither corporate owns more than 5% pre-IPO, however.

Deals

Electric vehicles and grid-scale energy storage are going to be fundamentally necessary parts of a clean energy future, but despite the fact that they generate no emissions once they reach the user they come with a big catch: mining lithium is incredibly destructive to the environment and its effects have been known to pollute rivers and kill wildlife. So, recycling lithium-ion batteries is key if we want to avoid solving one problem (climate change) by creating another (pollution). The recycling process is a relatively new development, but Northvolt is one of the most important players in the space and the company has added $600m to its coffers from Volkswagen, Scania and others to not only reach 150GWh of manufacturing output in Europe by 2030, but also to build a recycling facility that will mean at least 50% of raw materials in its batteries will be from recycled products. VW had already backed a $1bn round last year.

Cazoo, a UK-based online marketplace for used vehicles, has been raising equity at an incredible pace: founded two years ago, it’s amassed $558m in capital and a valuation of $2.5bn thanks to commitments from, among others, repeat investor DMG Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of media group Daily Mail and General Trust. The corporate also participated in Cazoo’s latest deal, a $308m funding round that was co-led by General Catalyst and D1 Capital Partners (which you will have noticed investing a lot of money over the past few weeks – cf. Robinhood, Alkami and Goat).

SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and PICC Group’s PICC Capital joined forces with Morningside to co-lead a $319m series C round for XtalPi that also featured existing backers SIG China, Tencent and China Life. XtalPi, which has built a platform to predict the physicochemical and pharmaceutical properties of small-molecule drug candidates, will use the money to further develop its technology. Its shareholders also include Google and Renren.

Rappi has grown from a delivery service initially focused on drinks to a courier service that delivers pretty much any consumer product you can think of. It even allows users to get cashback. The company has also expanded across nine countries in South America and has raised more than $300m from T. Rowe Price and undisclosed investors. That both is and isn’t a lot of money: SoftBank injected $1bn in May last year, and Rappi’s earlier backers also include Delivery Hero.

SoftBank has contributed to a $225m series D round for VTex, a Brazil-based provider of end-to-end e-commerce services, after the corporate had already led a $140m round last November. VTex is now valued at $1.7bn and its platform is used by international giants such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Walmart to power their online stores – not a bad list of clients for a Brazilian company that hardly any consumer will have ever heard of.

Airwallex has added $40m in a series D extension that brought the round to a $200m close. No word on who the “new and existing” backers of the second tranche are, but ANZi Ventures, Salesforce Ventures and Tencent were all among the investors for the $160m initial tranche five months ago. The money will allow Airwallex to chase big plans: add another 100 staff (for a 240-strong headcount) and an expansion into the US, all while doubling down on its existing markets. Airwallex has now obtained some $400m altogether.

Taimei’s software helps life sciences companies manage their clinical trials, including assessing and monitoring adverse effects. It’s added $176m to its coffers in a round co-led by Tencent, GL Ventures and YF Capital, while SoftBank China Venture Capital also got a slice of the pie. Tencent previously led a $132m series E-plus round just under a year ago, while SBCVC had contributed to an $80m series E round in early 2019.

BioCatch has added four big banks – Barclays, Citi, HSBC and National Australia Bank – to a series C round that now stands at $168m. American Express Ventures and CreditEase had backed a $145m first tranche six months ago and the Israel-based behavioural biometrics technology provider has now raised $215m in funding altogether. It’s also launched a so-called client innovation board, where Barclays, Citi, HSBC, NAB and AmEx will be able to exchange ideas on how best to prevent online fraud.

Caloga-backed Sendinblue has added $160m to its coffers thanks to investors including Bpifrance and BlackRock.

Lilly Asia Ventures has returned for a $147m series D round that will allow InventisBio to advance its treatments for breast cancer and gout into phase 2 clinical trials.

Cloud-based banking platform developer Alkami Technology’s total financing meanwhile stands at $365m after attracting $140m in a funding round featuring Fidelity. D1 Capital Partners led the round, while Franklin Templeton and Stockbridge Investors also took part. Details about Alkami’s earlier funding rounds are sparse, though it did announce its series E and D rounds, and its shareholders also include General Atlantic, MissionOG, S3 Ventures and Argonaut Private Equity.

Joyson Electronics has farmed out a stake in its smart driving subsidiary Joy Next to investors including Baofeng Energy and Ningbo Gaofa Automotive Control System.

Tencent has led a round worth “hundreds of millions of dollars” for veterinary care services provider New Ruipeng Pet Healthcare Group. Boehringer Ingelheim and Country Garden Venture Capital, the investment arm for Country Garden, also took part in the round which will allow Ruipeng, which operates more than 1,400 animal clinics and hospitals, to bolster its offering.

University

Monte Rosa climbs $96m series B: University of London-linked Monte Rosa Therapeutics is working on biotechnology to degrade disease-driving proteins.

XY spells out $59m series B: Zhejiang University-backed optical chip maker XY Technology will put the series B cash to strengthening its capacity and product.

Wise conceives $17.6m: University of Milan spinout Wise is a developer of low-invasive neuromodulation implants for treating pain and neurological disorders.

Funds

China’s courier service operator SF Holdings has joined forces with Citic Capital to launch a $308m fund that will focus on the domestic logistics sector. Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC provided the largest chunk of cash – a total of $216m – though the size is (at least so far) below an original target of $400m envisaged earlier this year. Fundraising was put on hold at the time and, although the report doesn’t explicitly say this, it’s likely the pandemic was a big factor here.

Long-time readers will be aware of Kickstart Ventures, the investment arm of Philippines-based Globe Telecom, but there has never been a lot of corporate venture capital available in the archipelagic state. This is changing – and in dramatic fashion, too: local conglomerate Ayala has closed a $180m fund (managed by Kickstart Ventures and also backed by Globe Telecom), seemingly making it the country’s biggest venture fund to date. Because that is a lot of money, the Active Fund will actually invest internationally and target series A through D rounds.

BA Capital lures corporates to $147m fund: BA Capital has raised a total of $247m this month across its yuan and dollar-denominated vehicles targeting the consumer and media sectors.

Nippon Life makes an impact with $100m: The insurance provider has committed $100m to the Life Science Impact Program, which is managed by Grove Street Advisors and will focus on healthcare businesses.

Inspiration Capital sparks $73m fund: Hexing Electrical, CSD Environment, Hailang Group and SIG are among the limited partners in a $73m fund raised by Qiming spinoff Inspiration Capital.


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

25 May 2020 – SenseTime Expands to Help Track Coronavirus

The Big Ones

Chinese AI software provider SenseTime has expanded its visual surveillance technology to assess the internal temperature of individuals in order to more efficiently track coronavirus patients, and is considering seeking $1bn in funding. Reports in March suggested it was chasing $500m to $1bn in lieu of an IPO, but sources have told the Wall Street Journal it is now considering a $1bn fundraise at a post-money valuation of $9.5bn. No word on possible participants yet, but its existing backers include Qualcomm Ventures, Alibaba, Suning and Dalian Wanda.

ADC Therapeutics is the latest pharmaceutical company to buck the market downturn to successfully go public, and it certainly has proven to be a successful IPO. The cancer therapy developer – a spinoff from AstraZeneca – floated above its range in an upscaled offering and has now closed that IPO at almost $268m after its shares rose significantly on their first day of trading. Passage Bio, Zentalis, Keros Therapeutics and Oric Pharmaceuticals have had similarly profitable IPOs in the past two months.

Mauritius-based venture capital firm Novastar Ventures has raised $108m from limited partners including insurance firm Axa for its second Africa-focused fund. Axa’s Impact Fund joined the European Investment Bank (EIB), the state-owned Dutch Good Growth Fund and Proparco, Norfund, Sifem and CDC Group: development banks representing France, Norway, Switzerland and the UK respectively. Multiple unnamed family offices also participated alongside unspecified investors from Novastar’s first fund, which closed at $80m in 2015 with backing from Axa Investment Management, financial services firms Triodos Bank and JP Morgan, CDC, Proparco, Norfund, EIB, Fisea and FMO. Novastar targets startups located in East and West Africa and has built a 15-strong portfolio, investing from $250,000 for an early round, up to a total of $8m in each company. Its investments include off-grid solar system provider SolarNow and organic food supplier GreenPath.

In crossover news, SQZ Biotechnologies, a US-based cellular vaccine developer spun out of MIT, has closed a $65m series D round that included GV and Illumina Ventures, respective investment subsidiaries of internet technology conglomerate Alphabet and genomics technology producer Illumina. The round was led by Singaporean government-owned investment firm Temasek and also featured NanoDimension, Polaris Partners, an unnamed US-based fund and JDRF T1D Fund, which is managed by diabetes-focused charity JRDF. SQZ is working on cell therapies that exploit the body’s immune system to fight diseases. The series D proceeds will enable the company, which has so far focused on cancer and autoimmune diseases, to expand its cellular vaccine development platform into infectious diseases. It will also begin work on a point-of-care system that could allow treatments to be generated in clinics.

Deals

Messaging and social communication apps have seen user numbers and business boom in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and Discord is no different. Although some companies (see Giphy and NextVR below) are facing acquisitions at reduced valuations, Discord is reportedly in talks with potential investors over a funding round set to value it between $3bn and $4bn. That’s a sizeable increase from the $2.05bn valuation at which it raised $150m from investors including Tencent in late 2018.

Augmented reality technology developer Magic Leap has had question marks over its business for years as it struggled to build a customer base despite raising over $2.6bn in funding and hitting a $6.3bn valuation. The company was reportedly set to cut around 1,000 staff members, but has managed to pull in $350m from undisclosed new and existing backers. It’s still going ahead with cuts, alongside a slight pivot to enterprise customers, but hopefully they won’t be as bad. Its earlier investors include Google, Alibaba, Qualcomm Ventures, Legendary Entertainment, Warner Bros, Grupo Globo and Axel Springer, but it’s unclear how many of them – if any – chipped in this time.

E-commerce group JD.com’s maintenance, research and operations subsidiary, JD MRO, has received $230m in series A financing from GGV Capital, Sequoia Capital China and Citic Group subsidiary CPE. JD MRO follows in the footsteps of other JD.com spinoffs such as JD Health, JD Logistics and JD Digits which have also achieved unicorn status.

SoftBank revealed that its first Vision Fund has closed for new investments, but it still has powder left over for portfolio companies, one of which is construction services provider Katerra. Vision Fund has invested $200m in Katerra having previously led a round that closed at $999m in late 2018. Reports early last year suggested it could lead a $700m round for Katerra at a valuation potentially topping $4bn, but the reduced size is probably a sign that valuation has also dropped.

Throughout the disruption over recent weeks, telehealth has been one of the standout areas of the tech space that has done very well. Amwell (formerly known as American Well) claims the sector has made two years of progress in two months, and it has closed $194m in series C funding from investors including Takeda and Allianz X. The latter took part as an existing backer, Amwell’s earlier investors also including Philips and Teva.

RallyBio is developing treatments for rare and serious diseases, and has secured $145m in a series B round led by Nan Fung’s Pivotal BioVenture Partners fund. Mitsui & Co Global Investment and Fidelity’s F-Prime Capital were also among the participants in the round, which will fund a phase 1/2 trial for RallyBio’s lead candidate that is expected to kick off later this year.

Digital banking has done well so far in 2020, and the latest neobank to close a nine-figure round is Aspiration, which has secured $135m in series C funding from investors including IUBS hedge fund manager UBS O’Connor. Aspiration targets a more ethical model of investment and cash management and its earlier investors include Renren, the social media platform that caused a stir when it began investing heavily in fintech earlier this decade. Apart from Aspiration and SoFi, those bets are yet to really pay off, but the strategy itself looks sounder than ever.

States Title operates in another part of the fintech space, having developed AI software that automates part of the title and escrow element of real estate transactions, but it’s raised $123m in a series C round featuring Assurant and corporate venture capital units Lennar Ventures and Scor Global P&C Ventures. The real estate industry has been affected by Covid-19 restrictions but investors clearly believe in the underlying potential of State Title’s technology, which could help fulfil tech’s promise of simplifying complex financial transactions.

Rapid Micro, a provider of automated microbial contamination detection systems, said this week it has also seen business pick up lately, and it has completed a $120m financing round featuring Asahi Kasei Medical. The round expanded the company’s overall funding to more than $255m and shows that while the greatest rewards may be reaped by whoever comes up with the first viable Covid-19 vaccine, it’s providing a boost to practically the entire healthcare sector.

Masterclass may not be a healthtech company but its remote learning service, which provides video tutorials hosted by well-known experts and celebrities such David Axelrod, Neil Gaiman and Gordon Ramsay, lies in an online services space that has benefitted from the coronavirus lockdown. It has raised $100m in a series E round led by Fidelity at a reported valuation of more than $800m, boosting its total funding to more than $263m. Bloomberg Beta, WME Ventures, Novel TMT and Evolution Media are all earlier investors.

Digital bank Monzo is also looking for new funding and is reportedly after approximately $85m to $98m, though it looks likely to be at a reduced valuation. The company raised $144m last June from investors including Orange Digital Ventures and Stripe at $2.55bn valuation but sources informed the Financial Times that the new round will probably cut that to about $1.5bn. Some fintech developers have been relatively unaffected by the Covid-19 downturn but online banking does not seem to be among them.

Chinese online fitness community and technology provider Keep has raised $80m in a series E round featuring Tencent and Bertelsmann Asia Investments that increased its valuation to more than $1bn. Both corporate backers were existing investors in Keep – which has now received more than $260m altogether – going back to at least 2016.

Exits

Healthcare companies have been doing well, not least the ones brave enough to opt for an initial public offering. ADC Therapeutics, a cancer therapy developer spun off by AstraZeneca’s Spirogen subsidiary, withdrew its initial attempt to go public last year, but refiled late last month and has now raised nearly $233m in its IPO. That’s an upsized offering that involved ADC floating at $19 per share, above the IPO’s $16 to $18 range. Its shares closed at almost $30 after its first day of trading.


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

19 August 2019 – Zhihu Raises $434m at $3.5bn Valuation

Big Ones

Zhihu is often referred to as China’s answer to Quora, but its services extend beyond an online community Q+A service to areas like online publishing and livestreamed sessions with experts. It’s just raised $434m at a reported $3.5bn valuation. Livestreaming service Kuaishou led the series F round, which included fellow strategic partner Baidu and another corporate investor, Tencent.

Insurance group MS&AD has tripled the size of its MS&AD Ventures unit to about $128m, just 10 months after its launch. The company said it made more than 20 investments in that time, and seeing as its subsidiaries include Mitsui Sumitomo and Aioi Nissay Dowa – both of which maintain their own corporate venturing units – it’s going to be interesting to see if it has plans to formally unify the vehicles under the MS&AD Ventures banner.

We Company, the workspace provider formerly known as WeWork, has filed for one of the year’s most eagerly awaited initial public offerings. It has set a $1bn target as a placeholder figure but reports suggest it will go for $3bn to $4bn through the flotation. The filing also confirms SoftBank, its Vision Fund and related affiliates have provided a whopping $12.4bn in financing.

On GUV, Landos Biopharma, a US-based autoimmune disease therapeutics developer exploiting Virginia Tech research, has closed a $60m series B round backed by spinout-focused investment firm Osage University Partners. Biopharmaceuticals-focused investment firm RTW Investments and hedge fund manager Perceptive Advisors co-led the round, with the latter investing from its Xontogeny Venture and Life Sciences funds.

Deals

JD.com and iFlytek have contributed to a $283m series C1 round for another Chinese company, Terminus Technologies. Connected AI technology developer Terminus received $173m in a SenseTime-backed round less than a year ago, and has raised about $530m altogether.

Meesho has raised $125m in a Naspers-led series D round that included a $25m investment that had been made by Facebook in June. The round was reportedly set to value the social commerce marketplace at $600m to $650m and the cash will support it extending its reach further into India’s rural areas.

The renewables technology sector is a long way from its peak but the brunt of the funding that is coming in for startups in that space is going to energy storage. Energy Vault, a Swiss company developing a hydro power-inspired grid-scale storage system, has received $110m in series B funding in what is SoftBank Vision Fund’s first renewable energy investment.

ShareChat, the Indian operator of a multilingual social network with some 60 million users, has secured $100m in a Twitter-led series D round that valued it at $650m. The deal took its total funding past the $220m mark, but there was no sign of its other corporate backer, Xiaomi.

ScaleFactor has closed a $60m series C round featuring existing investor Citi Ventures that increased its overall funding to approximately $103m.

Carpooling platform Scoop Technologies has raised $60m from investors including corporate VC units Total Ventures and Workday Ventures to take its overall funding to more than $106m.

Uniphore, the developer of a range of speech recognition tools, has raised $51m in series C funding from investors including Sistema Asia Fund, and will channel the proceeds into R&D and a geographic expansion that will focus on the North American market.

Funds

Female founder-focused fund BBG Ventures was formed by AOL and then, when the company was acquired by Verizon, absorbed into the Oath digital media group. It formally spun off late last year and is seeking external investors for a third fund that, according to a recent regulatory filing, has a $50m target for its close.

Exits

WeWork owner The We Company was responsible for the most eagerly awaited IPO filing of the week but hosting services provider CloudFlare has also filed, some five months after raising cash at a $3.2bn valuation.

Enterprise communication platform developer Chatwork has secured approval for its own IPO, which will take place in its home country of Japan. The company has raised at least $15m in venture funding from investors including GMO Venture Partners, and the GMO unit that owns a 6% stake.

Novartis and Eli Lilly have secured exits, after Jazz Pharmaceuticals acquired Cavion, a developer of therapies for neurological diseases, and merged the company with one of its subsidiaries.

Things have been less rosy for microsatellite launcher Vector, which has shut down operations indefinitely due to a change in financing just days after sealing a contract with the US Air Force.


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

01 July 2019 – Grab Boosts Series H Round to $4.8bn

Big Ones

Southeast Asian ride hailing service Grab has boosted an already swelling series H round to $4.8bn, taking in $300m from investment management firm Invesco.

Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners was launched by its parent company nearly five years ago, and has now formed a $350m second venture and growth capital fund.

Who says the IPO market is on the dip? Adaptive Biotechnologies – backed by Microsoft, Celgene, Illumina, LabCorp and BD Biosciences – saw its share price double on its first day of trading – from $20 to $40.30 – while BridgeBio Pharma, which is developing drugs to treat diseases driven by genetic defects, floated above its range despite increasing the number of shares in its offering by a third.

On GUV, Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), a US-based fusion power technology spinout of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has closed a $115m series A round backed by MIT’s The Engine.

Deals

SpaceX is reportedly looking to raise more than $314m in its forthcoming round, with most or potentially all of it set to come from Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which has confirmed it has invested in the GV-backed space services provider.

Ouyeel, an online trading platform spun off by China Baowu Steel, has raised $294m in a round featuring corporates Sinotrans, Benxi Group and Beijing Jianlong Heavy Industry as well as Baowu itself together with its Baoshan Iron and Steel subsidiary.

Digital manufacturing technology producer Carbon has received more than $260m in a round that pushed its overall funding past $680m.

Digital bank operator Monzo is going from strength to strength, helping to indicate that the UK’s Brexit woes have not affected its status as a centre of fintech.

StockX, the operator of an online marketplace for authenticated rare fashion items, has shown once again that the upmarket fashion space is an attractive one for investors. It has notched up $110m in a series C round featuring GV, which participated as an existing backer, at a valuation of more than $1bn.

Cardiac imaging technology provider Acutus Medical has secured $100m in series D funding from investors including GE Ventures as part of a larger round that included a $70m credit facility. Acutus has now raised roughly $230m in equity financing altogether, with GE Ventures having been an investor since at least 2013, and the funding will go to strengthening its atrial access product range.

Funds

That model of corporate venturing looks like it’s gaining some traction. Logistics services provider JD Logistics was spun off by e-commerce company JD.com two years ago but it is now getting into the corporate venturing game itself and has accumulated $218m for a strategic fund.

Exits

Fast fashion retail brand Miniso raised its first outside funding just eight months ago, having launched in 2013, but it is reportedly now gearing up for an initial public offering that could raise $1bn.

Upmarket fashion marketplace TheRealReal, proving it isn’t just the biotech sector that’s doing well, also completed a $300m initial public offering and went public on Friday.

Slack’s direct offering has pulled in the headlines but Stoke Therapeutics held its own successful listing last week, which it has now closed at just over $163m.

Atreca is working on immunotherapeutics to treat cancer, and raised $125m when it floated today, having priced the IPO at the midpoint of its range.

Velodyne Lidar is meanwhile pushing to become the first lidar technology developer to go public, having hired banks to underwrite an IPO expected to value it at about $1.8bn.


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

10 June 2019 – Google Agrees $2.6bn Acquisition of Looker

The Big Ones

JD.com has agreed to lead a round for electronics recycler Aihuishou that will be more than $500m in size. The deal will also involve JD.com, an investor in the company since at least 2015, merging its second-hand e-commerce subsidiary, Paipai, with Aihuishou.

Google has agreed to purchase data analytics software provider Looker in a $2.6bn acquisition that will surely be one of the year’s largest.

SoftBank Vision Fund is still seeking out new forms of financing, and is reportedly in talks with banks such as Goldman Sachs over a $4bn debt financing package that will effectively use its stakes in Uber, Guardant Health and the soon-to-list Slack as its basis.

Healthcare-focused investment firm Deerfield Management added a partnership with Columbia University to its roster of academic biomedical alliances yesterday with the launch of an up to $130m investment vehicle, Hudson Heights Innovations.

Deals

Swiggy is battling Zomato for dominance in India’s online food delivery sector, and may be about to recruit a powerful ally in SoftBank.

Bordrin Motor is the latest Chinese smart electric vehicle developer to pull in big funding, securing $362m in a round led by a Sinochem vehicle called Silver Saddle Equity Investment Management.

Speaking of SoftBank, the telecommunications and internet group has also invested $200m in online consumer loan provider Creditas.

Hupu is still preparing to float in its home country of China, but before that, digital media company Bytedance has invested $182m in the sport-focused online media provider in return for a 30% stake.

Foursquare seems to have been around forever and has had some hiccups, but it’s raising more money than ever. Merchant bank Raine Group has invested $150m in the location-based app developer, whose existing backers include Naver and corporate venturing units OATV and Simon Ventures, and is using some of it to acquire location data-tracking software provider Placed from Snap, which bought the company for $135m two years ago.

SoftBank Vision Fund invested $100m in Brazilian logistics platform Loggi towards the end of last year and has now returned to lead another $100m round.

Endpoint security software provider SentinelOne has secured $120m in a series D round that included Samsung Venture Investment to boost its total funding to $230m.

Yellowbrick Data has raised $81m in series C funding from investors including BMW i Ventures, Siemens’ Next47 unit and Alphabet subsidiary GV to boost its overall funding to $173m.

Exits

Global Fashion Group, a consortium made up of investors including Rocket Internet, Access Industries and Tengelmann Ventures that oversees four fashion e-commerce marketplaces is looking to go public as early as next month.

Japanese digital business card platform Sansan has priced its initial public offering at the top of its range and is set to raise about $360m, including the over-allotment option, when it floats in Tokyo.

Adaptive Biotechnologies has filed to raise up to $230m in an initial public offering, following the inking of a collaboration deal with Genetech in December that could potentially be worth $2bn.

Another unicorn, fitness subscription service Peloton, has confidentially filed for an initial public offering. Its investors include Comcast NBCUniversal and Grace Beauty, and it was valued at more than $4.1bn when it last raised money, in August.


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

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

The Big Ones

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

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

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

Deals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funds

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

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

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

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

Exits

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

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

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


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

01 April 2019 – Uber to Acquire Careem for $1.4bn

The Big Three

Uber has confirmed it will acquire Careem, its biggest rival in the Middle Eastern market, for $1.4bn in cash and $1.7bn in convertible notes. The price will mark a significant uptick on the reported $2bn valuation at which Careem last raised money, and a lot more than that for Saudi Telecom, which supplied the company’s $1.7m seed funding back in 2013 through its STC fund managed by Iris Capital, which fortuitously hosted its corporate day at the Eiffel Tower on the day it was announced (and which helped make the after-party go with a swing).

But it’s notable to see five large deals involving Tencent in the week after its financial results: Ke.com, Yipinshengxian, MiningLamp, Airwallex and Shuidi.

JD.com for its annual results for last year noted an “increase in investment in equity investees and investment securities of RMB22bn [$3.3bn]”.

Exits

McDonald’s is also making a sizeable acquisition, having agreed to pay more than $300m to buy Dynamic Yield, a developer of machine learning technology that will make its drive-thru kiosks more intelligent.

Kyriba to score $160m in acquisition deal

Lyft has raised a huge $2.34bn in its initial public offering, floating at the top of its range having extended that range upwards on Wednesday. The IPO valued the company at more than $24bn and should prove somewhat of a vindication for those who invested big money in the ride hailing space when some onlookers suggested it was overvalued.

The year’s biggest IPO will almost certainly be Lyft peer Uber’s, but Pinterest has finally filed for an initial public offering expected to value it at some $12bn. T

Zoom comes face to face with $100m IPO

Hookipa looks to public markets

Turning Point to face IPO moment of truth

Deals

Reports earlier this week revealed mattress producer Casper is getting ready to begin prepping its IPO, but in the meantime it’s raised $100m at a reported $1.1bn valuation.

Paytm owner One97 Communications is reportedly in discussions to raise as much as $2bn in funding from a consortium that will include existing backers SoftBank Vision Fund and Ant Financial, at a valuation of $16bn to $18bn.

Elsewhere in the transport sector, Leap Motor, one of several China-based electric car developers to emerge in the past five years in the wake of Tesla’s success, is reportedly looking to raise approximately $372m in what would be its series B round.

Connected robot developer CloudMinds is in the process of raising $300m in funding and has so far secured SoftBank Vision Fund as an investor in the round.

Delhivery picks up another $413m

Lidar technology developer Innoviz Technologies is a bit further along in the fundraising process, having nailed down $132m in a series C round that includes Phoenix Insurance and Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services.

Mobvoi looks to mobilise $100m

SoftBank feels out PharmEasy for $100m round

University

Hyalex extricates $33m in series A

Inivata invites investors to series B

Volta charges up $180m fund with corporate help


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

27 August 2018 – Walmart Completes $16bn 77% Acquisition of Flipkart

Exits

Walmart has completed its $16bn acquisition of a 77% stake in Indian e-commerce marketplace Flipkart, as part of an ongoing drive into e-commerce that has involved investments in JD.com and Dada-JD Daojia and full acquisitions of Jet.com and Bonobos among others.

China-based immunotherapy developer I-Mab Biopharma raised $220m just a few weeks ago in a series C round featuring corporate venturing unit Tasly Capital, but is reportedly eyeing a $500m initial public offering set for Hong Kong.

The biggest player in China’s news aggregation sector is the Bytedance-owned Toutiao, but newcomer Qutoutiao is making ground fast and has filed for its own IPO, which has a $300m target and which is set to occur in the US.

Live event promotion and ticketing software provider Eventbrite has filed to raise up to $200m in an IPO that will give Square an exit less than a year after it invested as part of an agreement that will make it Eventbrite’s payment processor in some of its biggest markets.

High-end fashion marketplace Farfetch has meanwhile raised more than $700m in funding, and is set to go public after filing for a $100m IPO in the US.

Ascentage Pharma has also raised a big round lately, pulling in $150m in its series C round last month, and its IPO plans seem to be going smoothly.

Ant Financial closed an immense $14bn of funding in June at a reported $150bn valuation, but a forecasted IPO for company, e-commerce giant Alibaba’s financial services spinoff, has now been put back until the end of 2019 at the earliest according to the FT.

Amazingly, that aforementioned flotation of Ascentage was neither the only nor the biggest exit on Global University Venturing – despite the summer holidays! – with an up to $800m acquisition of University of Bristol spinout Ziylo by pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk towering over everything else.

Deals

Alibaba acquired food delivery platform Ele.me in May at an enterprise value of $9.5bn, and its latest financial statement reveals it has merged the service with its local services spinoff, Koubei.

Slack has secured $427m in a series H round co-led by Dragoneer and General Atlantic at a valuation exceeding $7.1bn.

Car sharing platform Getaround has become the latest company to raise big money in a SoftBank-led round, taking in $300m from a series D round that included existing backer Toyota.

Primary healthcare service One Medical has raised $180m in funding from investors including GV, and three years after its last round, Carlyle Group has now come in for a $350m primary and secondary investment.

CassTime Technologies, a China-based provider of car servicing and parts to corporate clients, has raised $36.4m to increase its series B round to $95m.

Latch has developed a smart access system for buildings and has secured $70m in a series B round led by Brookfield Ventures, the venture capital arm of Brookfield Asset Management, which will begin installing the systems in buildings being developed by its Brookfield Properties subsidiary.

Upgrade has put together an online offering that combines consumer credit with credit monitoring and financial education tools. It was founded by Renaud Laplanche, also the founder of online lending platform LendingClub (a $1.6bn market cap at present), and it’s moved quickly having just closed a $62m series C round led by CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund.

Funds

Latitude Venture Partners, the Indonesia-based venture capital and business development vehicle affiliated with conglomerate Sinar Mas, has secured $200m in capital.

Drone Fund, the Japan-based venture capital firm that targets unmanned aerial vehicle technology, has now secured telecoms firm KDDI, game producer Sega Sammy, price comparison platform Aucfan, engineering consultancy Japan Asia Group, education provider Leave a Nest and Canal Ventures, the investment arm of systems integrator Nihon Unisys, among others, as limited partners in a fund that is targeting a $27m to $45m final close by the end of September.

Dating platform Bumble has launched a corporate venturing fund that will concentrate on female-founded and female-led businesses.


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

20 August 2018 – Podcast and Radio Streaming Service Ximalaya Secures $580m

Deals

With much of the western VC industry seemingly on summer holiday (and frankly, who can blame them?), it’s up to China to pick up the slack in corporate venturing. Ximalaya, the operator of a streaming platform for radio shows and podcasts, has secured $580m in a Tencent-backed round that reportedly valued it at about $3.5bn post-money.

Pfizer has provided an undisclosed amount of equity funding for immunotherapy developer Biontech as part of a collaboration agreement that could reach $425m if it reaches every milestone.

Alphabet has paid about $375m for a stake of around 10% in health insurance provider Oscar Health, which will put the funding toward beefing up its existing team.

TZero, a blockchain lending technology developer spun off from listed e-commerce firm Overstock, is raising up to $270m from GSR Capital, which is set to acquire an 18% stake in the company.

DoorDash, a last-mile delivery service for restaurants, appears to be one of the success stories of 2018. The company was valued at $1.4bn post-money when it raised $535m in a SoftBank-led round in March, but has now raised another $250m at a whopping $4bn valuation just five months later.

Orchard Therapeutics, which is working on gene therapies for rare diseases based on research at University College London, has secured $150m in a series C round that included Sphera Global and corporate venturing unit Medison Ventures.

Exabeam, a cybersecurity information and event management software provider, has raised $50m in series D cash from backers including Cisco Investments.

Funds

E-commerce firm JD.com has begun taking a more active part in corporate venturing in the past year or two, backing the likes of Traveloka, Dada-JD Daojia, Aihuishou and Go-Jek at growth stage alongside post-IPO investments in companies such as Secoo and VIPshop.

Educational services firm New Oriental Education and Technology has put together a $220m fund that will invest between $3m and $15m in early-stage education-focused startups in China.

Exits

Electric vehicle developer Nio recently began shipping its first commercial vehicle, and now it’s filed for a $1.8bn initial public offering in the US.

Babytree, the social parenting community that has branched out into e-commerce, is looking to raise between $800m and $1bn in its Hong Kong IPO, sources have told Reuters, adding that it is seeking a valuation between $3bn and $5bn in the offering.

Weidai, which runs a lending service that uses borrowers’ vehicles as collateral, has filed for a $100m IPO in the US that could give exits to corporate investors Hakim Unique, Shanda and Dong Yi Ri Sheng Home Decoration.

On GUV, Sensyne Health, a UK-based healthcare technology developer partially based on research at University of Oxford, raised £60m ($76m) in its initial public offering on Tuesday and began trading on Aim on Friday.

And Quethera, a UK-based glaucoma therapy developer spun out from University of Cambridge, has been acquired by pharmaceutical firm Astellas Pharma for up to $108m in cash and contingent commitments.

And a nice exit for corporate, university and government venturing entities was Millendo Therapeutics, a US-based endocrine disease drug spinout of University of Michigan, which agreed to a reverse merger with US-listed fertility treatment provider OvaScience.


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

20 November 2017 – SoftBank Uber Investment Finally Happening

Deals

People have been waiting for SoftBank’s proposed investment in Uber to be confirmed, and it now appears as though it’s happening, after Uber revealed it has come to an agreement with a consortium featuring SoftBank and Dragoneer over a deal.

Consumer and information robotics developer UBTech is in the process of raising $400m in a Tencent-led round set to value it at about $4bn, according to the South China Morning Post.

There are several prominent online car marketplaces in China and one of them, Huashenghaoche, has become the latest to close a nine-figure round. Minsheng Financial Leasing, the vehicle leasing branch of China Minsheng Bank, has invested $150m in the company, which also offers car leasing options, and whose existing investors reportedly include JD.com and Dongfeng Motor Group.

Maoyan, which agreed in September to merge with certain assets of another China-based online ticketing platform, Weiying, has received $150m in funding from Tencent, the internet group that is also one of Weiying’s key investors.

Elsewhere in China, Particle, the owner of personalised news aggregation app Yidian Zixun, has raised $112m in funding in a round that included government guidance fund Long De Cheng Zhang Culture Communication.

GV has led a $107m series D round for immuno-oncology drug developer Arcus Biosciences that included existing backers Taiho Ventures and Celgene, taking its total funding to $227m.

SIG-backed peer-to-peer lending platform 9f has raised an undisclosed amount in a series C round it claimed was sized in the nine-figure range.

Temasek, the Singapore state-owned investment firm, has led an $87.5m series D round for Poshmark, a social fashion marketplace backed by Shea Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of JF Shea.

Graphcore, the creator of a machine intelligence processing unit, has raised $50m in a series C round that included Robert Bosch Venture Capital, Samsung Catalyst Fund and Dell Technologies Capital, all of which also backed its $30m series B just five months ago.

Funds

Aster Capital, the French VC firm sponsored by corporates Solvay, Alstom and Schneider Electric, has closed just over $280m in financing from undisclosed backers, bringing the overall capital it has under management to almost $590m.

On GUV, Johns Hopkins University joined forces with US-based healthcare investment firm Deerfield Management to launch a $65m commercialisation fund called Bluefield Innovations aimed at the university’s therapeutic research.

On GGV, Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), the country’s sovereign wealth vehicle, provided a cornerstone investment to a €250m ($294m) patient capital fund for Ireland-based small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Exits

China-based online consumer lending platform Qudian had some notable success in its US IPO last month, raising $900m after it floated well above its range.

Yixin Group, the automotive e-commerce and finance platform spun out of BitAuto in 2014, has generated $867m in a Hong Kong IPO that also represented an exit for investors Tencent, JD.com and Baidu.

LexinFintech, the Chinese operator of consumer lending and instalment buying platform Fenqile, has filed for a $500 initial public offering.

Mashable was valued at $250m as of its last funding round, but with no additional funding forthcoming, it has been forced into a sale to Ziff Davis for only $50m.

Corporates emerged practically unscathed from the Theranos disaster, but CapitalG, the growth equity unit formerly known as Google Capital, has found itself in a sticky situation with healthcare clinic advertiser Outcome Health.

On GUV, we had two news about IPOs. First, US-based immunotherapy developer Arsanis, backed by research institute European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s investment arm EMBL Ventures, set its pricing range at $15 to $17 – meaning it could raise $61m if it floats at the top of the range.

Apellis Pharmaceuticals, a US-based biopharmaceutical spinout from University of Pennsylvania, meanwhile raised $150m in its IPO, floating on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.

On GGV, OnPoint Technologies, the strategic investment vehicle for the US Army, has exited US-based fabless semiconductor producer InVisage Technologies following its acquisition by electronics producer Apple.


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