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

21 February 2021 – Blockchain.com Raises $120m in Strategic Growth Round

The Big Ones

1

Wishing our readers around the world a wonderful prosperous lunar new year – welcome to the year of the ox.

There has been a plateau in deal volumes in China over the past two years with other Asia-Pacific markets catching up, as adjunct professor Martin Haemmig noted at our last GCV Digital Forum at the end of January.

But China’s market has set the innovation bar higher in a host of fields, from ecommerce to artificial intelligence (AI) and electric vehicles. State-supported, mission-led innovation is a powerful aid to delivering a society’s vision – in China’s case leading the world in AI by 2030, Wired’s article notes.

The capital requirements, therefore, have scaled up to compete with the US and so fewer, larger deals makes sense.

A glance at the past week’s $100m-plus rounds, prepared by news editor Rob Lavine, shows China and the US still dominate the entrepreneurs gaining the funding to scale up to global champions.

China’s large, corporate-backed deals included:

Fenbi Education – $390m (IDG Capital, Huaxing Growth Capital, Hony Capital, Trustbridge Partners and unnamed others)

Pony.ai – $100m (Brunei Investment Agency and Citic Private Equity Funds Management)

Horizon Robotics – $350m (Sunny Optical Technology, BYD Auto, Great Wall Motors, Changjiang Automobile Electronic, Changzhou Xingyu Car Light, Dongfeng Asset, CMC-SDIC Capital, Shougang Fund and Shanghai AI Industry Fund)

Plus – $200m (Wanxiang International Investment, Guotai Junan International, Citic CPE and Full Truck Alliance/Manbang Group)

It was a powerful end to a year that saw the state tackle the power of a previous generation of entrepreneurial superstars, such as Alibaba and Tencent. And it remains a delicate balance to encourage innovation within restrictions.

The past 30 years have seen unprecedented numbers of people move out of poverty in China and the world through innovation and market forces. What the next year will bring will be further shocks and tensions – notably around Taiwan and geopolitics but remembering the sacrifices and accomplishments to get this far is important to build in the right direction.
Health, wealth, love, happiness and the time to enjoy it all.

2

AI quarterly report and monthly GCV published

“Artificial intelligence [AI] will change how business, governments and societies operate for decades to come.”

This was the theme at Tortoise Media’s AI discussion between editor James Harding and Mariana Mazzucato, academic and author of the new book, Moonshot.

There have been relatively few general purpose technologies since the first industrial age. The use of steam power and then electricity transformed society and business. In the first and second ages of industry with semiconductors, and then the internet created the conditions for data and information to be shared. AI will then write the software to capitalise on the opportunities and as the hardware improves so does the scale and speed.

As Jeff Herbst, vice president of business development at Nvidia and head of Nvidia GPU Ventures, in discussion with George Hoyem, managing partner at In-Q-Tel, shared at the GCV Digital Forum 2021 last month: “Modern AI is basically pattern recognition on data, whether it is images or voice.

“Fundamentally what is going on in the world right now is that the traditional model of how computers are programmed has been turned on its head.”

Herbst predicted the industries that would be most transformed by AI will be those that manage large amounts of data such as healthcare or retail.

Hoyem said that in the same way most technology uses the internet today, AI was also heading in a similar direction.

“It is going to creep into every vertical application and it starts with things that are highly parallelised and data sets like images, voice and even unstructured text.

“It is going to cover pretty much everything in about 10 years.”

This creates a question for governments for how best to steer or manage the progress. Mazzucato rightly argues for “goal-oriented, public private partnerships.

“What does it mean to have purpose at centre of public governance and system? Be bold on outcomes wanted and open on methods to get there.

“Have the ability to learn through trial and error and not outsourcing to consultants. Develop organisational capacity beyond administration but through dynamic procurement to bring policy redesign. Dynamic procurement to scale up not just VC.

“Going to the moon and back in a generation [the 1960s] gave immense spin-overs. [Our current] materials, software, traces back to those days. What does it mean today?

“It means targeting spill-overs rather than cost-benefit analysis.”

In the UK’s industrial strategy announced in 2017, Mazzucato and former universities minister David Willetts put AI and data as central to any challenge. She described it as “a fundamental input to transform”. The missions set out in the strategy focused on healthy ageing, the climate and the future of mobility to be safe, sustainability, have equal access and net-zero carbon emissions.

The European Union is going further with its green deal as part of its 2021 to 2027 Horizon Europe budget. Similarly, both China and the US are setting ambitious climate goals.

AI has already allowed Alphabet and other tech companies to reduced energy use and costs for data centres – as Callum Cyrus notes in his main feature.

But, as Nvidia’s chart on the AI startup ecosystem shows, most entrepreneurs are targeting the global health system. Already, scientists are weaving human brain cells into microchips, as the blog Futurism notes.

David Saad, mathematician at Aston University, said: “We believe this project has the potential to break through current limitations of processing power and energy consumption to bring about a paradigm shift in machine learning technology.”

AI will only fix the problems set for it by the politicians if they are clear what societal challenges they want tackled.

As Pope Francis put it in November: “Artificial intelligence is at the heart of the epochal change we are experiencing… Future advances should be oriented towards respecting the dignity of the person and of creation.”

3

How do you get startups to go from zero to scale?

When you see hundreds if not thousands of ideas and startups, as Jeff Schumacher, founder of New Asset Exchange (NAX), has then you realise a good team and product-market fit takes you only so far.

The differentiator is volume, often using capital to spend on marketing. Schumacher’s latest startup, NAX, has taken this idea and developed a software platform to create corporate asset-backed products, ventures and securities.

Emerging with stealth with $65m in funding from a dozen corporate, institutional and family office investors, NAX has a development unit to take data and turn it into a security or venture with the software to trade it.

This model could, for example, turn an insurance company’s data around the 25 attributes needed to underwrite a work of art and allow banks to lend money against it in order to help fund its purchase.

The law of large numbers then works if there are lots of these credit notes to package them up and syndicate or tranche the bundles of debt into asset-backed securities, similar to car loans or house mortgages.

Take the idea on and NAX wants to apply the same model to indie games developers for securitising expected revenues. But its biggest target is climate change.

How can carbon be priced or corporations offset emissions? Schumacher, former founder of BCG Digital Ventures and Axon Advisory Partners, said: “Climate is hard to trade because it is opaque, compare and has no scale.

“The Paris Accord will not work because social investment funds are not enough. We need financial innovation and instruments to attract capital.”

There is increased attention on the topic this year as COP26 is being held in London and expected to update the Paris Accord with new emissions targets, carbon reporting, investor incentives and corporate governance standards.

As George Serafeim, professor at Harvard Business School, noted in September’s GCV Digital Forum, the creation of impact-weighted accounting standards will help push the main listed corporations to explaining and tackling their externalities.

Creating a financial market to help, say, a smelter plant minimise or offset their environmental impact would be useful.

GCV through its Global Energy Council and its sister publications, Global Impact Venturing and Global University Venturing, will be preparing its Symposium in the UK in early November around COP26 with special events planned to cover the golden triangle between London, Oxford and Cambridge and in Scotland and the north of England.

4

UK-based cryptocurrency exchange provider Blockchain.com, which raised a $120m strategic growth round.

These investors included Access Industries, an investment and industrial group founded by Leonard Blavatnik, GV (formerly known as Google Ventures and one of Alphabet’s corporate venturing units), venture capital firms Lakestar and Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Moore Strategic Ventures (Louis Bacon’s hedge fund’s venture unit), Kyle Bass (founder and principal of Hayman Capital Management hedge fund), Eldridge and Rovida Advisors.

When Blockchain.com set out to raise its series A round in late 2014, there were only a handful of venture-backed crypto companies and a bitcoin was worth hundreds of dollars.

Six years later and Bitcoin has crossed what Blockchain called the “monumental price target of $50,000” and the company provides 65 million wallets in 200-plus countries. More than a quarter (28%) of all Bitcoin transactions since 2012 have occurred via Blockchain.com, it added.

Peter Smith, Blockchain.com’s CEO and founder, said: “The current bull run is dominated by stories of Fortune 500 companies, investment funds, and institutions driving net inflows into crypto. The fact that the best macro investors in the world participated in our latest fundraise is further proof that institutions are taking a serious look at their crypto strategy.”

Jalak Jobanputra, founder of VC firm Future Perfect Ventures, which invested in Blockchain.com’s 2014 round, in her newsletter put part of the institutional moves down to bitcoin having decoupled from other assets over fears of inflation. She said: “The last couple of weeks have felt like we have moved decades forward in the sector, and this seems to be accelerating daily.”

Funds

Adjuvant stimulates $300m fund

Sesame Workshop, National Geographic Society and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals have all thrown their weight behind a $165m third fund raised by edtech-focused VC firm Reach Capital. The fund will specifically target educational technology producers that are looking to remove barriers, particularly those faced by ethnic minorities, disabled students and under-resourced communities. Reach’s existing portfolio already includes Outschool – also backed by Sesame Workshop – and Springboard – also backed by Telstra Ventures.

Spain-based bank BBVA has committed a further $150m to financial sector-focused venture capital firm Propel Venture Partners and bringing its total commitment to more than $400m since 2016. BBVA has committed an initial $50m to an annual fund as the sole limited partner (LP). This will be followed by similar funds in 2022 and 2023, which will be open to outside investors.

Eurazeo is going in a different direction with its $97m Smart City II Venture Fund, focusing on early-stage startups in the energy, mobility, property technology and logistics industries. Limited partners for the fund’s first close include car manufacturer Stellantis, electric utilities EDF and Mainova, public transport operator RATP, energy producer Total, logistics company Duisport and real estate developer Sansiri. The predecessor vehicle, Smart City I, invested in approximately 25 companies across Europe, North America and Asia.

Masco puts finishing touch to $50m fund

SCB 10X, the corporate venturing unit of Thailand-based Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), has set up a $50m fund for early and growth-stage startups targeting blockchain, decentralised finance (DeFi) and digital assets.

Kraken Digital Asset Exchange, a US-based cryptocurrency service provider, has set up a corporate venturing unit.

Kraken Ventures will target early-stage companies and protocols across the crypto and financial technology ecosystem, including decentralized finance (DeFi), as well as enabling technologies, such as artificial intelligence, regulation tech and cybersecurity.

BIG goes local with Hyogo Kobe Fund

Costco Wholesale, a Nasdaq-listed retailer, has committed $1m to Fearless Fund, a US-based venture capital firm set up to invest in women of colour (WOC).

Costco’s investment marks a string of corporate interest in the fund, following recent investments from PayPal and Bank of America.

Savola Group, a Saudi Arabia-based food and retail conglomerate, has set up its corporate venturing unit and completed its first investment.

Its corporate venture capital fund will invest in disruptive technologies and opportunities in the food and retail space regionally and globally, according to news provider Wamda.

DexCom, a Nasdaq-listed supplier of continuous glucose monitoring for people with diabetes, has set up its corporate venturing unit under Steve Pacelli.

Dexcom Ventures will invest in glucose sensing technology and adjacent areas, such as data analytics, remote patient monitoring and population health.

LightShed Partners, a US-based boutique research firm founded by media analyst Rich Greenfield in 2019, has set up a corporate venturing fund.

LightShed Ventures is raising $75m to invest in seed and series A rounds across technology, media and telecom sectors, according to news provider Barron’s.

Ensemble Innovation Ventures (EIV), the holding company of US-based healthcare provider Delta Dental of Colorado, has set up a corporate venturing fund.

Ensemble Innovation Ventures Fund (EIVF) will target the health and wellness space and invest in early-stage venture companies primarily in its local region.

9Unicorns, an India-based incubator and startup fund set up by Venture Catalysts, has raised INR1bn ($14m) from local food provider Haldiram’s and other investors.

Haldiram’s had announced a partnership with Venture Catalysts in April 2019.

University

Venture capital firm Global Accelerated Ventures (GAV) has partnered with Oxford University Innovation (OUI), the research commercialisation unit of UK-based University of Oxford to set up a $25m special purpose investment vehicle (SPV) targeting conservation-focused startups.

The Oxford GAV Conservation Venture Studio will support and bring prototypes to market

Exits

It has barely been four years since JD.com spun off its warehousing and distribution services provider as JD Logistics, but the unit quickly went on to raise $2.5bn in 2018 from Tencent, China Life and others. That capital seemingly provided a decent runway and now JD Logistics is looking to build on its business growth thanks to a surge in online shopping during the pandemic by filing to go public in Hong Kong. Financial terms have not yet been set, but sources told DealStreetAsia the company is eyeing a $40bn valuation. That’s not a bad multiple on the $12.8bn it was reportedly valued for that 2018 round.

Also benefiting from a surge in online shopping is BigBasket, the India-based grocery delivery company that has now agreed to an acquisition by Tata Group in a deal that values it between $1.8bn and $2bn. Tata is buying a 60% stake in the business and existing shareholders, which include Alibaba with a near-30% stake, are set to exit almost entirely. Tata is not stopping there: the plan for BigBasket is said to be turning it into a public company as early as 2021.

Coupang, the Korean online retailer that ships products to customers nationwide within hours of purchase, is reportedly eyeing a $50bn market cap with a planned $1bn initial public offering that would provide an exit to SoftBank and its Vision Fund. The corporate and the fund have invested $2.5bn between themselves and that market cap would be a more than fivefold increase on the $9bn valuation that Coupang fetched in 2018. Coupang more than halved its net loss over the past two years, though it still stood at nearly $475m for 2020.

Cloopen Group – also known as Ronglian Cloud Communications and as Yuntongxun – has already completed its IPO and brought in $320m through a listing on the New York Stock Exchange that provided exits to New Oriental and Telstra Ventures (though neither owned more than 5% before the offering). It had priced its ADSs at just $16 but as of yesterday’s close they were already worth $29.65 so there is every expectation that underwriters will jump at the chance to buy the additional 3 million ADSs.

Adagene advances to IPO

Hearing loss treatment developer Decibel has already gone public, pricing its shares at $18 to raise more than $127m through a listing on the Nasdaq Global Select Market that provided exits to GV, SR One and Regeneron. It was more than the $75m in proceeds that Decibel had originally targeted but despite a brief climb to $24.39 a share on the first day of trading, they closed back down at only $18.03.

Amgen and Pfizer also celebrated exits as cancer immunotherapy developer NexImmune – a spinout of Johns Hopkins University – raised $110m in an upsized initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Market. NexImmune’s shares closed at $25.33 on the first day of trading on Friday. Neither corporate owned more than 5% in NexImmune ahead of the offering.

Another week, another set of reverse mergers. Today it is AEye’s turn, the lidar system developer having agreed to combine with CF Finance Acquisition Corp III at a $2bn valuation. Existing shareholders Subaru-SBI Innovation Fund, Intel Capital and Hella Ventures joined GM Ventures and others for a $225m Pipe financing. AEye’s backers, which had supplied more than $60m in equity funding, also include Aisin, LG, SK Hynix and Airbus Ventures. The merger is expected to complete in the second quarter of the year.

Owlet grows into public company

Humacyte, a US-based developer of tissue-based medical technology backed by conglomerate Access Industries and healthcare company Fresenius Medical Care, is the latest company to jump on the reverse merger bandwagon. The business is set to merge with Alpha Healthcare Acquisition Corp to list on Nasdaq, and the deal will land it $175m in financing from Fresenius and Alexandria Venture Investments, among others. Alpha Healthcare already raised $100m when it went public, and Humacyte is looking at a $1.1bn market cap once the transaction closes. Fresenius took a 19% stake in 2018, while Access Industries made its investment in 2015 as part of a $150m series B.

Humio is choosing a more traditional exit by agreeing to a $400m acquisition by CrowdStrike that will primarily consist of cash but include some equity. It is a sizeable amount of change dropped by CrowdStrike, not least because Humio had only raised slightly more than $30m in equity financing – most recently completing a $20m series B round led by Dell Technologies Capital in March last year.

University

Talis takes in IPO proceeds

Deals

Xingsheng Youxuan, which allows neighbourhood communities to club together to purchase goods in bulk, has added $2bn to its coffers thanks to commitments from Tencent and China Evergrande Group, among others. The company said it now processes more than 8 million daily orders and is delivering to more than 30,000 towns across China. The latest cash injection comes just a couple of months after JD.com committed $700m and less than a year after Xingsheng secured $800m in its series C-plus from Tencent and others.

SpaceX meanwhile is showing no ambitions to go public just yet and the US-based spacecraft producer and launch services provider backed by Alphabet, has added $850m in fresh funding from unspecified investors at a reported valuation of $74bn. It is not the biggest round raised by SpaceX – for now that remains the $1.9bn transaction last summer – but it is notable for one because the company had allegedly lined up offers totalling $6bn within three days (yes, you read that right) and for another because existing shareholders took the opportunity to sell $750m worth of stock. No word on their identity either, however.

University

Axiom Space lifts off with $130m

Kakao Mobility hails Carlyle for $200m

Locus Robotics is one of two companies to have raised $150m (see Standard Cognition below, too) and the warehouse automation technology producer’s series E round featured returning backer Prologis Ventures (though it is unclear when the corporate first invested). Zebra Ventures did not participate this time, having previously contributed to the $40m series D and $26m series C rounds.

Standard Cognition checks out $150m series C

Mainstay Medical puts away $108m

TigerGraph charts course to $105m

University

LegalForce powers up with series C


“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

21 May 2018 – NewTV Raises $800m in Funding

Deals

Last week’s Big Deal on Global Corporate Venturing looked at a reported $800m in funding raised by NewTV, a stealthy video content producer formed by entertainment mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg that has secured corporates such as 21st Century Fox and Warner Bros as investors.

Reports earlier this year suggested Chinese smart car developer Byton was looking to raise $300m to $400m for its series B round at a $1.2bn valuation.

JD Logistics, the logistics provider spun off by Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com, has invested $306m in ESR Cayman as part of a strategic partnership agreement.

Tanium, an enterprise cybersecurity software provider backed by Citi Ventures, has received $175m from TPG Growth at a valuation of about $5bn, up from the $3.75bn at which it last raised funding a year ago.

Cryptofinance company Circle has secured $110m in a series E round led by new strategic investor Bitmain, at a reported valuation near to $3bn. Bitmain invested as part of an agreement that will involve it supporting USDC, a stablecoin currency Circle is releasing.

Unisound, a Chinese company developing AI technology for use in internet-of-things products, has raised $100m in a round led by China Electronics Health Fund, a corporate venturing subsidiary of telecoms equipment maker China Electronics Corporation Data.

Carousell, the Asia Pacific-focused owner of an e-commerce app for second-hand items, has received $85m in a series C round co-led by Rakuten Ventures and EDBI, the investment arm of state-owned Singapore Economic Development Board. Rakuten has been an investor in Carousell since its 2013 seed round, and also led its $35m series B.

Ansun Biopharma has also secured $85m, in a series A round co-led by corporate venturing units Sinopharm Healthcare Fund and Lilly Asia Ventures, both of which are also taking board seats.

FogPharma, which is developing miniprotein treatments for diseases including cancer, has closed a $66m series B round that included Nan Fung Group, GV and WuXi AppTec Corporate Ventures.

Funds

SoftBank still hasn’t officially closed its first Vision Fund, but is reportedly already in discussions with potential investors for a second Vision Fund that would also be sized at about $100bn, and which would source capital from a wider range of investors.

Southeast Asia has been a notable growth area in terms of VC funding over the past year or two, but it isn’t just foreign investors taking part. Siam Commercial Bank has doubled the size of Digital Ventures, the corporate venturing fund it set up in 2016, to $100m, making it the largest VC fund in Thailand according to the bank. It will also move away from its core fund-of-funds strategy toward more direct investments in startups.

Exits

Japanese e-commerce app Mercari has had a circuitous route to the public markets, but it’s finally succeeded in filing for a $1.1bn IPO in its home country, at a projected valuation of $3.3bn.

M17 Entertainment, formed by the merger or Paktor and 17 Media almost 18 months ago, has filed for its own IPO in the US.

Home furnishings e-commerce platform Home24 has filed for an offering in Frankfurt that is set to raise up to $235m.

Enough about IPOs though – despite the recent boom, the public markets aren’t the only exit route for investors. Case in point: PayPal has agreed to acquire mobile payment technology provider iZettle for $2.2bn in cash, days after Glassdoor was also bought for a billion-dollar sum.


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

19 February 2018 – Wells Fargo-backed Venture Firm NVP Closes $1.5bn Fund

Funds

NVP, the Wells Fargo-backed venture firm has closed its largest ever fund, having secured $1.5bn to invest from seed to late stage.

The mobile advertising platform Calldorado App Growth Fund will provide marketing funds for app developers using its software.

Exits

Pharmaceutical firm Roche agreed yesterday to acquire cancer research technology provider and portfolio company Flatiron Health, paying $1.9bn for the remainder of the company’s shares.

OpenText has paid an undisclosed sum for file sharing service provider Hightail, which had raised $83m from investors including Western Digital Capital.

Luxury fashion e-commerce platform Farfetch is seeking banks for an initial public offeringthat could take place before the end of this year at a valuation of up to $5bn. Strategic investors in line for an exit in the IPO include media group Condé Nast, a shareholder since 2013, and e-commerce firm JD.com, which invested $397m in the company eight months ago.

China-based Huami produces smart wearable devices such as watches and activity tracking bands for its strategic partner, consumer electronics maker Xiaomi, and has just raised $110m in a US initial public offering. Xiaomi, which invested in the company at series A stage, held a 19.3% stake pre-IPO, and the proceeds will be put toward R&D, sales and marketing.

Video sharing platform AcFun, which had raised at least $110m from backers including Youku Tudou and SoftBank, has shut down its operations.

University

MIT spinout Twine Health has agreed to an acquisition by Fitbit and will join the wearable device manufacturer’s Health Solutions group.

Deals

Lightmatter and Lightelligence both emerged out of MIT earlier this month and are exploiting research into photonic computer chips initially conducted jointly by the respective co-founders.

One company feeling the love is JD Logistics. China-based e-commerce firm JD.com had been running its own logistics for 10 years when it officially formed JD Logistics in April 2017, and the latter is now raising $2.5bn in funding that will help it grow on its own.

Celularity, the placenta-based regenerative therapy developer’s investors include Celgene, United Therapeutics, Sorrento Therapeutics, Human Longevity and Genting.

Kakao Games, a multi-platform game developer spun out of Kakao last year, has raised $130m in a round that included strategic backers Tencent, Netmarble Games, Actozsoft and Bluehole Studio. Tencent provided almost $47m of the funding according to Nikkei, and the proceeds will support international expansion as Kakao Games gears up for its own IPO.

Mastercard has participated in a $71m series C round for Yapstone, a provider of payment processing software for online and mobile marketplaces, which took its total financing to about $180m. Mastercard has been unafraid to invest in big rounds, but this is the largest in which it has featured since June last year, when it contributed to a $300m round for another payment processor, AvidXchange.

Rani Therapeutics has now raised $142m in total, its latest investors including GV, Ping An Ventures, GeneScience, AstraZeneca, Shire and Novartis.


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