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

09 December 2019 – Kuaishou Lining Up One of 2019’s Largest Rounds

Big Deals

It’s edging towards the end of the year but Kuaishou is lining up one of 2019’s largest rounds, having reportedly secured $2bn from Tencent as part of a series F round it plans to formally close at $3bn in the coming weeks. The round will value the short-form video platform at $28.6bn and is expected to be the last before a planned initial public offering. Tencent’s stake will stand at almost 20%.

Healthcare consortium Kaiser Permanente oversees one of the oldest corporate venturing units in the Bay Area in Kaiser Permanente Ventures, and it has just closed its fifth fund at $141m. Fund V has also brought additional corporates onboard, taking in contributions from Highmark Health’s Highmark Ventures subsidiary, Tufts Health Plan and Henry Ford Health System. It now has some $500m under management.

Indian ride hailing platform Ola is preparing to enter London (though it is already present in other UK markets, such as here in Cardiff), but in the longer term has set early 2021 as the point when it will formally begin IPO preparations. It has already hired consultants and reportedly intends to cut headcount by 5% as part of those plans. SoftBank, Tencent, Didi Chuxing, Hyundai and Kia are all investors in the company.

In GCV/GUV crossover news, wellness services and goods provider CureFit is in talks with Singaporean state-owned investment firm Temasek to raise $100m in a round reportedly set to boost its valuation from $575m to $800m. The former valuation was sealed in a $120m round closed in June that included Unilever Ventures, and the prospective new funding would support the growth of CureFit’s Eat.Fit and Care.Fit divisions. UC-RNT Fund, a joint investment fund formed by University of California with industrial group Tata Sons’ chairman emeritus Ratan Tata, had injected $25m in 2016.

Deals

Reports a week ago stated that blockchain-based online lender Figure Technologies was set to announce a $103m series C round, and so it has proved, the company raising the cash from investors including MUFG Innovation Partners. The round values Figure, which is less than two years old, at $1.2bn.

Business finance provider Konfio has become the latest company to take in a nine-figure investment from SoftBank’s $5bn Innovation Fund, raising $100m from the corporate. Konfio aims to take advantage of increasingly strict business lending practices in Mexico by offering quick loans to small and medium-sized businesses through its data technology-equipped online platform, and will use the capital to add features such as life insurance to its offering.

Alphabet’s CapitalG unit has bought an undisclosed amount of shares in data collaboration platform developer Dataiku from venture firm and existing investor Serena Capital at a reported $1.4bn valuation – apparently 100 times that at which Serena co-led Dataiku’s seed round.

FinAccel, the owner of Indonesian e-commerce credit provider Kredivo, has secured $90m at a $500m valuation, in a series C round co-led by the Naver-backed Asia Growth Fund.

Precision cancer drug developer Black Diamond Therapeutics has emerged from stealth with $194m of funding, $85m of which was just closed in a series C round featuring Roche Venture Fund. Roche’s corporate venturing vehicle participated in the round as an existing backer, and Black Diamond intends to move its lead product candidate into a phase 1/2 clinical trial in early 2020.

Impulse Dynamics has received $80.5m in funding from investors including Minth Group, Zoll Medical and Abiomed as it prepares to commercialise its heart failure treatment device in the US. Amzak Health Investors led the series D round, which increased the company’s funding over the past four years to about $155m.

Highspot has now raised $200m altogether, having secured $75m in a series D1 round that included long-term backer Salesforce Ventures. The company, which has developed a software platform that optimises sales performance, received $60m in funding just six months ago, through a series D round that included all the participants in the latest deal.

AI technology developer Aibee took its total funding to $175m in a $74m series A1 round featuring conglomerate Chow Tai Fook. The Chinese company has now racked up four rounds inside two years and its investor base includes fellow corporate backers Lenovo Capital and Incubator Group, Red Star Macalline and K11.

Online automotive e-commerce platform CarDekho has secured $70m in a round led by Ping An Global Voyager Fund at a $700m valuation. The deal is the first for China-based Ping An’s corporate venturing vehicle in India, and CarDekho’s existing investors include Kreatif Media Karya, CapitalG, Dentsu Bennett Coleman & Co.

Funds

Portag3 Ventures, the fintech-focused venture firm formed by financial holding group Power Corporation, has closed its second fund at $321m.

US-based venture capital firm Harlem Capital has closed its inaugural fund at $40.3m with limited partners including Vanderbilt University, surpassing its $25m target and $40m cap. Harlem Partners Venture Fund I engaged 55 LPs, including student startup-focused VC firm Dorm Room Fund, trade convention operator Consumer Technology Association and private equity group TPG.

Exits

Cybersecurity software producer Tenable has acquired Indegy, a US-based industrial cybersecurity technology developer backed by energy utility Centrica, mass media group Liberty Media and diversified holding company Ofer Global, for $78m. Indegy had received $18m in an August 2018 series B round led by Liberty Media’s corporate venturing arm, Liberty Technology Venture Capital, and which included Centrica Innovations and OG Tech Ventures, respective investment vehicles for Centrica and Ofer Global.


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

11 June 2018 – Ant Financial Raises $14bn not $10bn

The European Commission has today released its draft budget for its next financial period to start after 2020 with its draft plans for about $100bn for innovation funding (nice analysis by Science Business here).

Deals

Last month, Ant Financial was reported to have closed a jaw-dropping $10bn funding round at a $150bn that would have been the largest ever round at the largest ever valuation for a private company. It turns out, those reports were wrong – in fact, Ant Financial has raised a mind-blowing $14bn from investors including two Singapore government-owned entities, GIC and Temasek.

Geo-Jade Petroleum has led a series D round for Caogen Touzi, which also featured a range of unnamed, existing investors.

Bigo, a livestreaming platform based in Singapore, has now raised $272m in series D funding to further drive its growth. The round was led by another video platform, YY.

Lime (previously known as LimeBike) will hope that a $250m it is reportedly trying to raise from investors including GV will help it stay ahead of competitors. The company was previously rumoured to be seeking a total of $500m in equity and debt, but it appears the latter financing has been put on hold for unknown reasons.

Hyperchain Technologies, which has raised $234m in a round led by real estate developer Xinhu Zhongbao.

Dataminr, which has developed technology to detect, classify and determine the significance of public information on social media in real time, has now raised more than $380m after attracting $221m from as-yet unnamed backers. Fidelity and Credit Suisse previously backed a $130m series D in 2015.

Honest Company, the ethical household, beauty and baby products business launched by actress Jessica Alba, appears to be on an upwards trajectory again after receiving $200m from L Catterton, the private equity firm co-founded by LVMH.

Alibaba has purchased a 10% stake in Babytree that valued the e-commerce platform at $2.2bn.

Sina has co-led a $103m funding round for Pintec, which focuses on retail financial services.

Autohome has made a strategic investment in used car auction platfom Tiantianpaiche, whose backers already include SoftBank, SIG, Tencent and Bitauto.

Western Digital has joined a consortium of investors led by BlackRock for a $93m series D round in Qumulo.

Pivotal BioVenture Partners and Roche have both returned to back a series C round for SutroVax, which has also added TPG, Medicxi and Foresite Capital to its shareholders.

Volkswagen and Access Industries have supported Gett’s latest funding round that valued the ride hailing business at $1.4bn.

Kunlun-backed Nashwork has attracted $78m in a series B+ round backed by Sino-Ocean Group.

Bertelsmann Asia Investments was among the returning investors in a $70m series B+ round, which followed an initial $100m series B in February this year.

Lilly Asia Ventures and existing investor Alexandria Venture Investments have taken part in a $65m series C round for metabolic disease treatment developer Metacrine.

BlueVine, backed by Rakuten and Citi, will use the money to expand its product offering and accelerate recruitment of its research and development team.

Avi Networks has received $60m in an oversubscribed series B round that featured long-time partner Cisco’s corporate venturing arm as a new investor.

Exits

Kuaishou has acquired AcFun, which was reported earlier this year to have wound down but had in fact experienced a major server crash.

Neon Therapeutics is among the latest to file for an initial public offering, hoping to raise $115m to support several clinical trials. The listing would provide exits to shareholders including Pharmstandard International and Access Industries, though only Access is among the larger shareholders.

Domo, a business optimisation software provider backed by enterprise software developer Salesforce and marketing firm WPP, that is targeting $100m in proceeds. The company is using the offering as a way of avoiding reduced operations – despite emerging from stealth with $200m in series D funding in 2015, it has been making heavy losses and money is running out fast.

Neuronetics has filed for an $86.3m initial public offering on Nasdaq that will offer exits to corporates Pfizer, General Electric and Ascension.

Xiaomi’s eagerly awaited initial public offering, which is already noteworthy for its $10bn target, became even more interesting this week when it emerged that the company will undertake a dual listing, issuing the majority of shares in Hong Kong as expected and offering up to 30% in mainland China through Chinese Depositary Receipts (CDRs).

Marley Spoon, a Germany-based on-demand food delivery service backed by e-commerce group Rocket Internet, is gearing up for a $53m initial public offering… in Australia. The country is one of Marley Spoon’s largest markets and the one where it has actually broken even.

Funds

Pfizer isn’t exactly a new player in the corporate venturing space, having launched its Pfizer Venture Investments unit in 2004, but the pharmaceutical giant is clearly embracing the current boom by putting another $600m towards its CVC efforts – with approximately $150m of that dedicated to neuroscience startups.

Lockheed Martin follows closely behind today by doubling the size of its CVC arm, Lockheed Martin Ventures, to $200m. A key interest for the unit will be early-stage startups in the areas of sensor technologies, autonomy, artificial intelligence and cybertechnology. It’s already revealed a first investment from the new cash, too: NTopology, a US-based developer of computer-aided design software.

Real estate is ripe for disruption by technology startups and that’s led property manager JLL to enter the corporate venturing space with a $100m commitment to its new unit JLL Spark – which was revealed this week but actually founded last year.

The ride hailing firm has launched Grab Ventures, which is set to make eight to 10 investments over the next two years, and established an accelerator called Velocity.

Huobi and Kiwoom Securities have joined forces with NewMargin Capital to launch a blockchain-focused investment fund.

Veolia, La Capitale, Groupe ADP, Ubisoft and Unisys are among the limited partners in White Star’s second fund, which has achieved a $180m close.

GUV

Ripple will pour $50m into R&D at 17 academic institutions, including institutions in the US, UK, India and Brazil.

UC Riverside has partnered the Know Hub Chile partnership to help Chile conduct better research and tech transfer.


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