21 September 2020 – Klarna Raises $650m to Almost Double its Valuation

The Big Ones

Klarna, operator of an app that lets consumers pay for items from some 200 retailers through instalment payments, has raised $650m in a round that almost doubled its valuation to $10.65bn in the space of just over a year. Klarna’s earlier investors include Bestseller Group, Visa, Ant Group and Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and media group Bonnier is one of several investors that acquired shares in the company through a concurrent secondary investment deal.

It’s a year for big tech IPOs (and there’s actually several more multi-billion-dollar news coming up in this episode), but one of the biggest upcoming offerings could reportedly take place in January next year, when short-form video app developer Kuaishou is reportedly planning to float in a $5bn offering at a $50bn valuation. Tencent owns about 20% of the company’s shares having invested $2bn to lead a December 2019 round valuing it at $28.6bn. It’s going to be interesting to see whether its growth outside of China is affected positively or negatively by the ongoing US acquisition saga surrounding its biggest competitor, TikTok (known as Douyin in China).

Panasonic provided $100m for the first fund to be launched by growth equity firm Conductive Ventures in April 2018, and it has ploughed $150m into a second vehicle that will carry on investing in sectors like artificial intelligence, digital health and advanced manufacturing technology. The corporate is the only limited partner for Conductive, the owner of a portfolio that includes Proterra, Sprinklr and Desktop Metal.

It’s been a big week for crossover deals as well. The most notable perhaps was Lava Therapeutics, a Netherlands-based immuno-oncology therapy spinout of Amsterdam University Medical Centers (Amsterdam UMC), which secured $83m in a series C round on Thursday. The round was co-led by Novo Ventures and Sanofi Ventures, and also featured MRL Ventures Fund, a subsidiary of Merck & Co’s Merck Research Laboratories division. Lava is working on treatments for haematological and solid cancers and has allocated the capital to advancing its portfolio into proof-of-concept trials in 2021. The company advances research by Hans van der Vliet at Amsterdam UMC, the university hospital group affiliated with Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and University of Amsterdam.

Deals

One of the biggest tech success stories during the pandemic has been Peloton’s communal home fitness equipment and services, but Zwift operates in a similar sphere, providing a social exercise platform that allows users to race each other on bikes or treadmills in front of a simulated CGI-based environment. It has just pulled in $450m from investors including Amazon Alexa Fund and Zone 5 Ventures, a CVC vehicle for bicycle maker Specialized Bicycle Components. Its earlier backers include Samchuly and Colopl.

Daily fantasy sports were a big magnet for VC cash five years or so ago but the sector went quiet as companies found themselves having to deal with more and more regulatory hurdles. India’s Dream11 has however raised $225m in primary and secondary financing at a valuation reported by TechCrunch to be over $2.5bn. Tencent had invested in the company in 2018, leading a $100m series D round that valued it at $700m.

Indoor farming may not have been the big growth area some people though it might be this year, but there are still some sizeable players in the market and Infarm is one of them. It’s raised $170m in debt and equity financing from investors including Bonnier as part of a series C round in which it is targeting $200m. The first close pushed its overall funding past the $300m mark and will support the growth of its vertical farm network.

Home fitness has of course also been a big winner. Social exercise app developer Zwift secured $450m earlier this week, and now Tonal, developer of a wall-mounted digital weight machine for home use, has pulled in $110m from investors including Amazon Alexa Fund and the CAA-backed Evolution Media. Its overall funding now stands at $200m and it is testing the potential of its technology in physical therapy through a partnership with Mayo Clinic.

Funds

Japan-based real estate developer Mitsui Fudosan has partnered venture capital firm Global Brain to form an ¥8.5bn ($81m) corporate venturing vehicle dubbed 31Ventures Global Innovation Fund II. The second fund, abbreviated as CVC II, will invest in startups developing real estate services or digitisation and smart city technologies. The initiative will also seek out companies with innovative business models that can complement Mitsui Fudosan’s core business.

Tencent Trusted Doctors, the digital healthcare subsidiary of internet group Tencent, has formed a RMB1bn ($148m) healthcare industry fund with state-owned holding company China Resources. China Resources subsidiary CR Capital will manage the CR Tengkang fund, which counts municipal funds Chengdu Hi-tech Investment Group, Chengdu Xincheng Investment Group and Chengdu Industry Investment’s Chengdu Advanced Manufacturing Investment subsidiary as partners.

Australia-based software development technology provider Atlassian has launched a corporate venture capital fund, Atlassian Ventures, with $50m in capital. Areas of interest for Atlassian Ventures include early-stage developers of enterprise collaboration applications that could be added to Atlassian’s app marketplace, innovative cloud software providers and established companies with products that could interact with its existing offering.

Exits

Online real estate transaction portal OpenDoor has opted for a reverse merger instead and is merging with a special purpose acquisition company in a deal that will value it at $4.8bn and net it $1bn in financing from backers including existing corporate investors Lennar and Access Industries. It had previously raised a total of almost $1.35bn from investors also including GV and SoftBank Vision Fund, and its last round valued it at $3.8bn in March 2019.

Snowflake has floated in one of the year’s biggest initial public offerings and raised $3.36bn after pricing its shares at $120 each, above a range that had already been increased from $75 to $85 per share. The data management software provider will also receive $500m in a private placement, with half of that coming from existing investor Salesforce Ventures. Its exiting backers also include Capital One Growth Ventures, which first invested at a valuation less than 5% of what the company’s market cap will be.

Mobile insurance platform Singapore Life has agreed to merge with Aviva’s Singapore business to form a $2.3bn company that will be called Aviva-Singlife. Sumitomo paid $90m for a 25% stake in Singlife in July 2019 and will retain a 20% stake in the merged business, suggesting it may have contributed to the $1.46bn cash and marketable securities Singlife is paying Aviva as part of the deal. Insurance firm Aflac will also keep a stake, having supplied $20m for Singlife six months earlier.

Amwell has floated in an upsized initial public offering that netted it $742m in addition to $100m supplied by Google through a private placement. Telehealth software has been a big growth area over the past six months but the success of Amwell, which counts Allianz, Philips, Teva and Takeda as investors, could perhaps be more closely related to a week where Snowflake, JFrog, Unity Software and Sumo Logic all floated above their range to raise big money in their IPOs. It’s a heady time for exits right now.

The growth of Snowflake, which floated at a market cap more than 15 times its valuation just two years ago, has been immense. The progress of another enterprise software provider JFrog, which went public the same day in a $509m IPO, has perhaps been understated as a result, but it has almost quadrupled its valuation in less than a year, boasting a $5.75bn market cap after its first day of trading. JFrog, developer of a software-release platform, had raised $227m from investors including Dell Technologies Capital.

Speaking of successful offerings, Outset Medical’s shares have shot off like a rocket and sat at more than double their IPO price within two days. The kidney dialysis system provider has unsurprisingly closed the offering already, at $278m, up from an initial $242m. Baxter Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of medical device maker Baxter International, is among the lucky investors.

C4 Therapeutics is developing small molecule drugs to treat cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, and has filed for a $100m initial public offering under three months after it received $170m in debt and series B equity financing. Its earlier backers include Novartis, Roche and Kraft Group, all of which contributed to a $73m series A round in 2016.


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

03 February 2020 – Corporate Venturing and Innovation Summit Roundup

The Big News

The US government’s effort to change the regulatory landscape for venture capital is coming to a head with this week’s sold-out Global Corporate Venturing and Innovation Summit in California.

Investment banks could face more relaxed restrictions concerning investments in venture capital funds from the Federal Reserve and other watchdogs under proposals expected to be announced by the end of the month.

But as the US tightens its inward investment rules, its largest companies are expanding their venturing units internationally with Microsoft – the second largest by market capitalisation – setting up a new UK office in London under Matthew Goldstein, a GCV Rising Stars 2018 winner. For this year’s winners check outwww.globalcorporateventuring.com at 8pm PST today.

The top 100 Global Corporate Venturing Rising Stars and Emerging Leaders celebrated their awards at a gala ceremony at the Monterey Aquarium in California the night before the GCVI Summit started.

The winners were selected from almost 20,000 industry professionals tracked by Global Corporate Venturing and nominated by the heads of units and their peers.

In a keynote at the Summit, delivered as he became the new chairman of the GCV Leadership Society and in front of a sold-out audience of 800, Young Sohn, chief strategy officer at conglomerate Samsung, laid out the challenges he had faced changing the 50-year strategy that had helped the company become market leader in multiple industries as a fast follower, but which was having to evolve to maintain that position, while allowing it to remain agile enough to capture mega trends and new opportunities through multiple venturing and innovation strategies.

The second day of the Summit began with Kaloyan Andonov from GCV Analytics sharing insights gleaned from the World of Corporate Venturing annual data review and survey covering how the blurring of public and private capital markets is creating the investment trends for the new decade.

For the first time in 60 years the start of a western decade is coinciding with the start of the Chinese lunar cycle and the Year of the Rat: Happy new year to all the venture and innovation leaders in greater China and their work to support the entrepreneurs, and in making the world a better place.

Crossover Deals

Downturn? What downturn? – GUV’s annual review shows the ecosystem is in outstanding shape despite all the doom and gloom in many financial papers.

EPFL spinouts raise $292m – The university formed 23 new spinouts in 2019, while a total of 33 companies secured a combined $292m: an amount only beaten by 2016’s record $408m.

Deals

Although ride hailing and bicycle rental services are a long way from profit, that hasn’t dissuaded investors from backing the electric scooter and bike rental sector. Bird has boosted its series D round to $350m, adding $75m in a second tranche co-led by Sequoia Capital and CDPQ.

SoftBank Vision Fund is putting up $250m to lead a series D round for online pharmacy Alto that will reportedly value it at more than $1bn. The funding is set to be formally disclosed next week, and although no precise size has been revealed for the round, it will include existing backers Greenoaks Capital and Jackson Square Ventures, sources told Reuters. Alto had previously raised at least $107m in funding.

AlphaCredit is another of SoftBank’s investments last week, having agreed to raise $125m in a series B round led by the corporate’s $5bn Latin America fund. The company runs an online lending platform that has issued $1bn in loans to customers in Mexico and Colombia, and it joins a stable that includes LatAm unicorns QuintoAndar and Rappi.

Commonwealth Bank comes back to Klarna with $200m – The payment and shopping app developer has launched in Australia with the help of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which raised its stake to 5.5%.

Policygenius pops with $100m series D – Corporate units Axa Venture Partners, MassMutual Ventures and Transamerica Ventures all returned for a round that nearly trebled the insurance marketplace’s overall funding.

ActiveCampaign has raised $100m in a series B round led by Susquehanna Growth Equity that is only the second to be announced by the company in 17 years. By coincidence, the deal was announced on the same day as another customer experience automation platform, Directly, but in this case it seems ActiveCampaign’s own greater experience was likely a deciding point in that size differential.

Funds

Innovation Growth Ventures, the joint investment venture between Sony and brokerage Daiwa Securities, has raised $145m for its second close, on the way to a targeted final close of $185m. The vehicle was launched six months ago and has so far disclosed two deals.

Conglomerate JSW Group is targeting $49m for the final close of the second fund to be raised by its corporate venture capital arm, JSW Ventures. The unit is sponsored by JSW but is taking in capital from family offices and individual investors, and is preparing to reach a second close next month that is expected to be around the $21m mark.

OCBC NISP gets authorisation for $29m fund – The bank has received regulatory approval for a venture capital fund that can be sized at more than $29m but which will reportedly begin with $15m.

Info Edge ventures into $14m fund – The classified listings operator, whose earlier investments include Zomato and ETechAces, has formed its first dedicated corporate venture capital fund.


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

12 August 2019 – Didi Chuxing Spins Off Autonomous Driving Division

Big Ones

SoftBank Vision Fund recently announced that it has secured memoranda of understanding for $108bn in capital for its second investment vehicle, and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son has now said it will begin investing as soon as next month.

Didi Chuxing is spinning off its autonomous driving division and will likely seek funding at a multi-billion-dollar valuation. The ride hailing service has raised more than $18bn in debt and equity financing but is keen to gain external investors for a part of the company that may prove invaluable in future, but which is a cash drain right now.

Pharmaceutical and chemical producer Bayer acquired US-based stem cell treatment developer and portfolio company BlueRock Therapeutics in a deal that could value it at up to $1bn. The terms of the transaction involve Bayer paying a total of up to $600m to acquire the shares in BlueRock it did not already own, investing $240m upfront that will be followed by preclinical and clinical milestone payments that could reach $360m.

In this week’s GCV and GUV crossover news, the biggest deal was a $70m series B round for HawkEye 360, a US-based radio-frequency data satellite developer based on Virginia Tech research. The round included commercialisation firm Allied Minds (Hawkeye’s parent company) as well as aerospace manufacturer Airbus and mapping software developer Esri.

Deals

FlixMobility, a Germany-based travel services provider backed by carmaker Daimler, has added a “substantial” amount of funding to its series F round, which attracted $561m last month. The additional funding, seemingly worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was supplied by Baillie Gifford, Luxor Capital, Odyssey 44 and certain funds managed by BlackRock.

Tencent invested $350m in Kuaishou in early 2017 at a reported $2.5bn valuation, and as the short-form video sector has grown as a whole, the company has expanded its presence to the point it now has some 200 million daily active users.

E-commerce payment services provider Klarna has raised $460m from investors including new strategic partner Commonwealth Bank of Australia at a $5.5bn post-money valuation.

Existing backer SoftBank has invested a further $200m in endpoint cybersecurity software provider Cybereason together with several undisclosed affiliates, at a reported $900m valuation.

Online business finance marketplace C2FO has pulled in $200m in a round led by SoftBank Vision Fund that, according to Bloomberg, also featured existing backer Allianz X. The round roughly doubled the company’s overall funding to about $400m and it will put the money toward boosting international growth.

Wickedride Adventure Services, the owner of India-based electric vehicle rental service Bounce backed by mobile chipmaker Qualcomm, is raising $200m in fresh funding. Bounce has already received an initial $120m, people familiar with the matter told TechCircle.

Automotive e-commerce marketplace CarDekho has added $19m from investors including Emtek subsidiary Kreatif Media Karya to a series C round that has reached $129m. CapitalG, Dentsu, Bennett, Coleman & Co and Axis Bank contributed to the round’s earlier tranches, and the funding was reportedly secured at a $500m valuation.

Keyless lock technology provider Latch has also beefed up its latest round, closing a series B at $126m. RxR Realty, Tishman Speyer and the Berman Enterprises-backed Camber Creek all participated in the round, which was pumped up with a $56m second tranche.

Rakuten has increased its stake in cancer therapy developer Rakuten Medical to more than 22% with a $100m investment made in the shape of a series C-1 round. The e-commerce firm had joined SBI Group for the $284m series C the company closed in December, back when it was still known as Rakuten Aspyrian (and a while after it was founded as Aspyrian Therapeutics).

Rakuten Ventures has contributed to a $93.9m round for Japanese digital marketing software provider From Scratch that also featured Link and Motivation and Japan Post Investment. The unit has been an investor in From Scratch since its 2017 series C round, and the company’s other backers include Dentsu Digital Holdings and Itochu Technology Ventures.

Ibotta, the creator of a rewards app that gives consumers money back on selected purchases, has secured an undisclosed amount in a series D round that hiked its valuation to $1bn. Koch Disruptive Technologies led the round, which followed about $95m of earlier funding, and which will support an expansion of Ibotta’s Denver headquarters as it prepares to increase recruitment.

Funds

American Family Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of US-based insurance firm American Family, has raised more than $162m for a venture capital fund, according to a securities filing. The fund, dubbed AmFam VC Fund III LP, has taken in $162.5m from four investors and has set a $200m target for its close.

Exits

Delivery services provider Glovo has raised at least $340m in funding from investors including AmRest, Drake, Delivery Hero and Rakuten, and was reportedly valued at $950m in its last round. It has also begun discussions to raise money from – guess who – SoftBank, and is in talks with Uber and Deliveroo who have approached the company over a possible acquisition.

And here’s an exit… from an exit. Rapt Therapeutics, a US-based small molecule drug developer backed by internet and technology conglomerate Alphabet and pharmaceutical firm Celgene, has postponed its initial public offering without offering a new timeline. The company set its price range at $14 to $16 two weeks ago and hoped to issue 5 million shares on the Nasdaq Global Market to raise between $70m and $80m. Rapt is working on small molecule drugs that it hopes will boost a patient’s immune response to cancer and inflammatory conditions.


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