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

The Big Ones

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

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

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

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

Deals

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

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

Funds

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

Exits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

09 September 2019 – Nikola Corporation Raises $250m

Deals

Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma is acquiring a stake in medical company builder Roivant that will be at least 10%, as part of a $3bn deal that will involve it also taking Roivant’s stake in five subsidiaries.

Despite being responsible for unicorns DraftKings and FanDuel, daily fantasy sports has run into a string of regulatory issues in the US. India-based Dream11 seems to be faring better, suprassing $1bn of transactions in its last year of operations, and it is reportedly in talks with investors including SoftBank Vision Fund and Naspers Ventures to raise up to $500m in new funding.

E-cigarette brand Juul disclosed $325m of convertible debt financing last month, and a subsequent securities filing has indicated the size of the round is now $785m. It’s currently unclear who the 14 investors are that supplied the capital but they may well include Altria, the tobacco provider that invested a whopping $12.8bn late last year in order to buy more than a third of the company.

Hydrogen electric truck developer Nikola Corporation has raised $250m in cash and services from industrial equipment producer and strategic investor CNH Industrial for a series D round it aims to close at $1bn or more. The round values Nikola at $3bn pre-money, and while there’s no word of additional investors yet, its existing backers include fellow corporates Nel Hydrogen and Wabco.

With all the fuss surrounding Uber and its peers, it can be easy to forget that before ride hailing was ‘a thing’, car sharing was viewed as the future of transport. Getaround is still ploughing that furrow and is pulling in funding, aiming to add $200m in capital to the $300m it raised last year.

Tencent has provided $120m in series E funding for customer relationship management (CRM) software provider Xiaoshouyi. The company, which is also known as IngageApp, had already secured more than $40m in a Tencent-led series D round in 2017 before reportedly adding nearly $16m from the same investor the following year. It has also worked in tandem with Tencent on a specialist CRM product.

Nkarta Therapeutics has emerged from stealth with $114m raised in a series B round featuring Amgen Ventures and existing investors Novo and SR One. The company, which has received $129m in total, is developing treatments for cancer that rely on sparking the body’s natural killer cells to kill cancerous cells.

Passage Bio packs in another $110m

Yongcheng Life has secured $100m in a series B round led by Legend Capital that included Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI).

University

Ginger jumps to $35m series C

Achilles Therapeutics accesses $120m

Exits

Vertex Pharmaceuticals has agreed to buy diabetes treatment developer Semma Therapeutics in a $950m all-cash deal that will enable Medtronic, Novartis and SinoPharm to exit.

Data management software provider Commvaultis set to pay $225m to acquire Hedvig, a software-defined storage technology producer backed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Kabbage pinpoints Radius for acquisition

Viela Bio has filed for a $150m initial public offering less than two years after being spun off by AstraZeneca. The corporate is still the largest shareholder in autoimmune disease drug developer Viela, having invested $142m last year, and it holds a stake sized above 38%.

Vir veers toward public markets

Investors in cloud security software provider Druva may be heading toward a different kind of exit, as news emerges that the company plans to begin prepping an initial public offering over the course of this year.

Uhuru to pursue $50m in London IPO

Funds

Taiwan Life ties $50m to BVP Century Fund

DG Daiwa Ventures, the joint investment venture set up by internet company Digital Garage and brokerage Daiwa Securities, has formed a new fund called DG Lab Fund II that is seeking a close of about $188m.


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

07 August 2017 – Possible UK National Investment Fund

Funds

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

27 March 2017 – MuleSoft’s Shares Soar Following $221m IPO and Much More

MuleSoft raised $221m in its IPO on Friday, only to see its share price soar to almost twice the mid-point of its range. The offering is good news for the IPO market generally but also for enterprise software providers looking to go public.

Deals

Flipkart has raised $1bn in funding from investors including Tencent, Microsoft and eBay and is reportedly seeking up to $1bn more in the next few months.

Tencent has led a $350m round for Kuaishou, which is also backed by Baidu, and both the corporates will help the company enhance user experience of its app, which boasts 50 million daily active users.

SoftBank has invested $300m in working space provider WeWork at a $17bn valuation and reportedly expects to add another $2.7bn through Vision Fund.

Sutro Biopharma spinout SutroVax has raised $64m, $60m of that coming from a series B round backed by Roche Venture Fund, and will use the funds to advance its development of a conjugate vaccine for pneumococcal disease.

Haoeyou has raised $40m for its medical tourism platform, which allows Chinese patients to access consultancies from US-based doctors through video conferencing, and to travel between countries for treatment.

Legend Capital is among the investors that have provided $39m in series B funding for Suzhou Ribo Life Science, a Chinese company developing RNA therapeutics to treat diseases such as hepatitis B, hyperlipidaemia and liver cancer.

Genome editing technology startup eGenesis has raised $38m in a series A round backed by healthcare services firm Heritage Provider Network and biotech property developer Alexandria Real Estate Equities.

Autonomous car tech continues to roll on, with Autotalks, a developer of chipsets that will be used in vehicle-to-vehicle communication, raising $30m in series D funding.

GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson have contributed to a $30m series B round for Pulmocide, a developer of therapies to combat diseases caused by respiratory syncytial virus.

Funds

Aflac has joined the numerous insurance providers that have established strategic investment arms over the past two years, forming a subsidiary called Aflac Corporate Ventures, in which it plans to invest $100m over the next three years.

Kabbage, the operator of an online lending platform for small businesses, is said to be in talks with investment firms to raise “a few hundred million dollars” that will be put toward acquisitions.

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (Efsi), also known as the Juncker Plan, is now set to trigger more than €177bn ($190bn) in total investments, figures released following a meeting of the European Investment Bank’s board of directors show.

Exits

Amazon has beefed up its international e-commerce holdings, entering the Middle East through a $650m acquisition of local market leader Souq.com that provided Naspers and Jabbar Internet Group with exits.

Alibaba paid an undisclosed sum for a 32% stake in Damai.cn in 2014 and has now finished the job, acquiring the rest of the online ticketing platform.

Netshoes, a Brazil-based sports e-commerce company backed by Singapore government-owned GIC and Temasek as well as the International Finance Corporation, has filed for an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange that could bring in $100m in proceeds.


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