19 July 2021 – SoftBank serves Yanolja with $1.7bn

Big ones

SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 supplied $1.7bn in funding for South Korea-based travel and accommodation services provider Yanolja. It was valued at $1bn in a $180m series D round in mid-2019 backed by Booking Holdings and GIC. It had received $53.2m from SkyLake Investment two years earlier and $8.5m from Partners Investment in 2015.

Softbank plans to invest an additional $5bn in the Latin American region. The corporate formed a $5bn investment vehicle targeting the region in early 2019, and the prospective funding, which would double the allocation to $10bn, may be used to create a new SoftBank Latin America Fund or expand the size of the first. SoftBank also intends to expand the range of Latin America-based companies it targets to include seed and series A-stage startups as well as publicly-listed companies. Chief operating officer Marcelo Claure, who launched the first fund, will continue to lead its Latin America-based operations.

One97 Communications, the India-based owner of payments platform Paytm backed by corporates Alibaba, Ant Financial, SoftBank and MediaTek, filed to go public on the Securities and Exchange Board of India. The company intends to raise up to Rs 16.6bn ($2.2bn) in an initial public offering which would entail it issuing $1.1bn in new shares while its shareholders will divest the same amount. Selling shareholders in the IPO will include founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Alibaba and Ant Group, Elevation Capital, SAIF Partners India and Berkshire Hathaway.

Crossover

US-based gene-editing technology developer Prime Medicine emerged from stealth with $315m of series A and B funding to commercialise research conducted at the Broad Institute. The company raised $115m in a series A round backed by GV, Arch Venture Partners, Newpath Partners and F-Prime Capital. Prime Medicine concurrently unveiled a $200m series B round featuring all the series A investors in addition to Casdin Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, Moore Strategic Ventures, PSP Investments, Redmile Group, Samsara BioCapital, funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price, and unspecified life science investment funds. The startup is using gene-editing technology to advance a number of drug discovery programmes targeted at areas such as the liver, eye, ex-vivo hematopoietic stem cell and neuro-muscular indications.

Deals

UK-based financial services app developer Revolut secured $800m yesterday in a series E round that included SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2. The corporate was joined by hedge fund manager Tiger Global Management and the funding was raised at a $33bn valuation.

China-based smart car technology manufacturer Banma Technologies has secured up to ¥3bn ($465m) in funding from investors including Alibaba and SAIC Motor. Yunfeng Capital and CMG-SDIC Capital also contributed to the round, which followed a $233m series A round in 2018 led by CMG-SDIC and backed by Yunfeng Capital and Shangqi Capital, a vehicle for SAIC Motor subsidiary SAIC Capital.

Netskope, a US-based networking and security software provider backed by computing technology provider Dell, closed a $300m funding round at a $7.5bn post-money valuation. The round was led by investment firm Iconiq Growth and also featured Sequoia Capital’s Global Equities unit alongside Lightspeed Venture Partners, Accel, Base Partners, Sapphire Ventures, Geodesic Capital and unnamed existing investors.

Ascension Ventures, an investment fund representing 13 healthcare providers in the United States, contributed to a $260m series D round for US-based medical device developer Imperative Care. D1 Capital Partners led the round, which included Bain Capital’s Life Sciences subsidiary as well as HealthCor Investments, Innovatus Capital Partners, Ally Bridge Group, Delos Capital, Rock Springs Capital and Amed Ventures.

Denmark-based challenger bank Lunar secured €210m ($249m) in a series D round co-led by Tencent, Heartland and Kinnevik. Chr Augustinus Fabrikker, Fuel Ventures, Greyhound Capital, IDC Ventures, MW&L Capital Partners, Seed Capital, Socii Capital and private investor Peter Mühlmann filled out the participants in the round.

Funds

Japan-based semiconductor manufacturer Rohm launched a ¥5bn ($45.4m) corporate venture capital fund that will be overseen by its group chief technology officer. The vehicle will identify ideas and technologies with the potential to solve social issues and create growth opportunities for Rohm over the next decade, including semiconductor materials, decarbonisation technology and in-vehicle and industrial equipment-related chip applications. Rohm will also make limited partner commitments to other VC funds through the unit, which is slated to operate over a 10-year period. It had previously collaborated with universities and startups to develop semiconductor technologies.

Exits

SES, a Singapore-headquartered lithium-metal battery developer spun out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and backed by GM, Applied Materials, SAIC Motor and SK Group, agreed to a reverse merger with Ivanhoe Capital Acquisition Corp. The merged business will be valued at $3.6bn in the transaction and will take up Ivanhoe Capital Acquisition Corp’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange, acquired through a $276m initial public offering earlier this month. The deal will be supported by a $200m private placement featuring carmakers GM, Hyundai, Kia, Geely, SAIC Motor, Foxconn, Koch Strategic Platforms and LG Technology Ventures.

Zomato, an India-based food delivery service backed by Ant Group, Info Edge and Delivery Hero, listed on the National Stock Exchange of India and the BSE in a dual listing. The offering valued the company at up to $8.6bn. The company intended to raise approximately $1.25bn through the initial public offering, which involves it issuing about $1.2bn in new shares. Classified listings operator Info Edge is selling $50m of shares. The offering was oversubscribed 55-fold as of the time of recording on Friday afternoon UK time.

Bullish, a US-based digital asset services provider backed by blockchain software provider Block.one, has agreed a reverse merger with Far Peak Acquisition Corporation. The deal will give Bullish the listing on New York Stock Exchange taken by Far Peak through a $550m initial public offering in December 2020. EFM Asset Management is anchoring a $300m private investment in public equity deal supporting the transaction that includes funds and accounts managed by BlackRock in addition to Cryptology Asset Group and Galaxy Digital, at a $9bn pro forma equity valuation.

MobiKwik, an India-based online payments service that counts Cisco, GMO, American Express, Bajaj Finance, MediaTek, Net1 and New Delhi Television among its investors, filed for a Rs 19bn ($255m) initial public offering on the Securities and Exchange Board of India. The offering will involve the company issuing approximately $201m of new shares while its existing shareholders will sell up to $54m.

US-based biologics delivery technology developer Rani Therapeutics has filed to raise up to $100m in an initial public offering that would allow Alphabet, GeneScience, AstraZeneca, Shire, Novartis, Ping An, KPC and Stevanato to exit. Rani is developing a capsule called the RaniPill, which would allow for biologics to be delivered orally to patients, instead of through subcutaneous or IV injection.The IPO proceeds have been earmarked for research and development and the advancement of Rani’s product pipeline, as well as growing its manufacturing capabilities and paying back a $1.3m Paycheck Protection Program loan taken out in April 2020.

People

Sacha Mann has been appointed a senior partner at Takeda Ventures. Her LinkedIn profile describes Mann as being in “stealth” at the unit from June 2020 to February 2021. Mann had previously been a venture partner at healthcare-focused VC firm Zoic Capital from 2018 to 2020. Inventages Venture Capital, a VC firm formed with the support of packaged food producer Nestlé, hired her as a principal in 2009 and she was promoted to venture partner in 2016 before leaving the following year.

18 January 2021 – GV Returns for EQRx’s $500m Series B

The Big Ones

EQRx formally launched a year ago with $200m from investors including GV and Nextech, and all its series A investors have now returned for a $500m series B round. The startup is collaborating with stakeholders including pharmaceutical companies to develop more affordable medicines, with late-stage cancer drugs a particular focus. It is also part of an increasingly diverse portfolio of early-stage life sciences companies in GV’s portfolio.

Mobile network operator Orange is the latest corporate to spin off its venture capital unit with a healthy addition to its funding allocation. Orange Ventures will henceforth operate as an independent entity, and has received $426m in capital from its former parent company in addition to the portfolio of its predecessor, Orange Digital Ventures. That portfolio includes Monzo, Raisin and Actility.

Qualcomm Technologies has agreed to buy silicon chip technology developer Nuvia for $1.4bn less than two years after it was founded. Nuvia had raised $293m across two rounds pre-acquisition, both of which included Dell’s corporate venturing subsidiary, Dell Technologies Capital. It could well be an early marker of some of the M&A activity that will spring up as 5G technology begins to get a real foothold in the mainstream.

Dice Molecules, a US-based biopharmaceutical spinout of Stanford University, has closed an $80m series C round featuring spinout-focused investment firm Osage University Partners. RA Capital Management led the round, which also attracted Sanofi Ventures and Alexandria Venture Investments on behalf of pharmaceutical firm Sanofi and real estate investment trust Alexandria Real Estate Equities. Founded in 2014, Dice Molecules has developed a drug discovery platform leveraging technology dubbed DNA-encoded library, which it hopes will make it possible to target a range of conditions with oral treatments rather than requiring injections. Its lead asset is aimed at psoriasis, and the company has been collaborating with Sanofi since 2016.

Deals

WeWork aside, Vision Fund’s biggest failure was perceived as OneWeb, the satellite internet operator that declared bankruptcy early last year after SoftBank had pumped some $2bn into the company. However, Bharti Enterprises joined the UK government to buy it for $1bn in the resulting auction, and now SoftBank is back, putting in $350m of a $400m investment expected to help OneWeb complete its initial satellite constellation. It will come out with a 30% stake, and the other $50m was put up by another pre-bankruptcy investor.

Online fitness was earmarked as one of the big growth sectors in our 2021 preview, and the first company in the space to raise big money this year is Keep, which has bagged $360m in series F funding at a valuation of about $2bn. SoftBank Vision Fund led the livestreamed fitness class provider’s latest round, which also featured existing backers Tencent and Bertelsmann Asia Investments.

Autonomous driving software developer WeRide raised $200m in series B funding from bus manufacturer Yutong Group last month and it has now added $110m to close the round at $310m. The round comes after earlier funding provided by investors including Nvidia GPU Ventures, SenseTime, Johnson Electric and Alliance Ventures.

Digital lending software provider Blend has closed a $300m series G round that doubled its valuation to $3.3bn in just five months, which is very impressive. The round was co-led by Tiger Global and Coatue, though no mention of existing corporate backer Salesforce.

Blend isn’t the only fintech developer to have experienced a huge jump in valuation last week. Cross-border payment platform developer Rapyd has also received $300m, in a series D round also led by Coatue. The series D boosted the valuation of Rapyd, which counts Stripe as an earlier investor, to $2.5bn post-money, more than double that of a year ago.

Tessera Therapeutics is the latest in a series of life sciences startups that have raised nine-figure amounts for their first external rounds, having pulled in $230m for its gene writing technology, which aims to prevent disease by rewriting the genome. The series B round was co-led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, which may itself be looking to get more involved in the sector.

Elsewhere in China, employee management software provider WorkTrans has announced over $190m in funding, $140m coming in a Tencent-backed series D round. The round was disclosed together with a $50.5m series C round and it increased WorkTrans’ overall funding to approximately $236m. It will support further development of the company’s HR management product, which makes use of deep learning and cloud computing technology.

SoftBank’s $5bn Latin America fund has given it a sizeable foothold on the continent, and it has co-led a $190m round for one of its portfolio companies, furnishing and home decor marketplace MadeiraMadeira. The corporate also led MadeiraMadeira’s last round, in which it secured $110m, and the funding is set to fund the expansion of the company’s brick-and-mortar footprint and a prospective range of own-brand products.

GV was among the participants in a $160m funding round for distributed database technology provider Cockroach Labs that valued it at $2bn. The Alphabet subsidiary has been a Cockroach investor since its $6.3m series A round in 2015 and has been along for every round since, as the company has hiked its total funding to $355m.

Exits

It seems amazing now that just a year ago it looked like the losses suffered by SoftBank’s Vision Fund could have severely impacted its corporate parent as a whole. There have been few bigger winners from the boom in the public markets and VC spaces, and its next exit could be from Auto1. The online car dealership has announced it plans to launch an initial public offering in Frankfurt that could raise some $1.2bn alongside a private placement. Vision Fund invested $565m in Auto1 at a $3.56bn valuation in 2018 and it’s going to be interesting to see how that valuation compares to the company’s market cap when it does float.

Dynamic window producer View announced plans for a reverse merger in November that would be boosted by $300m in PIPE financing. That amount is set to be boosted to $500m after Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC committed a further $200m, adding to some $1.8bn in earlier debt and equity financing. That capital was provided by investors including SoftBank Vision Fund 1, Corning and Seagate.

Cryptocurrency services provider Bakkt was launched by financial exchange operator Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) in 2018 and less than three years on, it has agreed to a reverse merger set to value it at $2.1bn once the deal closes. It will also take an NYSE listing and $325m in PIPE financing from investors including ICE. It had raised more than $480m in venture funding from backers also including Microsoft unit M12, PayU and Boston Consulting Group.

Funds

Germany-listed food delivery service Delivery Hero has committed €50m ($61m) to set up an independently-managed, early-stage corporate venture capital firm called DX Ventures. DX Ventures will invest in sectors including on-demand services, food technology, sustainable innovation, artificial intelligence, financial technology and logistics. It will be led by managing director Duncan McIntyre.


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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