15 March 2021 – $1.9bn for Cold Chain Services Provider Lineage Logistics

The Big Ones

One element of retail that has emerged unscathed from the covid-19 pandemic is food, and Lineage Logistics is among the biggest cold chain services providers in the world, offering temperature-controlled delivery and storage. It has also raised $1.9bn from investors including property developer Oxford Properties and several real estate investment firms. The equity funding was secured together with a $2.8bn revolving credit facility and term loan.

As the Dow hits record highs the IPO market shows no sign of slowing, and increasing numbers of international tech companies are flowing to US markets. South Korea-headquartered online marketplace Coupang is the latest to take that option and is floating on the New York Stock Exchange in a $4.55bn offering, the year’s biggest so far. SoftBank Vision Fund owned more than 39% of its class A shares pre-IPO, having committed a total of $3bn in funding.

AstraZeneca formed the $1bn Healthcare Industrial Fund in partnership with China International Capital Corporation in late 2019, and now the pharmaceutical firm is teaming up with the investment bank’s CICC Capital unit to establish a $338m vehicle called Wuxi AstraZeneca CICC Investment. AstraZeneca already runs a life science incubator in the Chinese city of Wuxi, and the fund will invest in areas such as innovative therapeutics, medical devices, diagnostics technology and AI healthcare technology.

Crossover

IonQ, a US-based quantum computing technology developer exploiting University of Maryland and Duke University research, has agreed to list through a reverse takeover. The company is merging with a SPAC called dMY Technology Group, which had floated on the New York Stock Exchange in a $275m IPO in November 2020. The combined business will have a pro forma implied valuation of $2bn and the transaction will be supported by $350m in PIPE financing from investors including Hyundai Motor Company, its Kia subsidiary and GV, among others. IonQ has created a 32-qubit quantum computer it claims is the world’s most powerful quantum system. It had disclosed a total of $77m in funding as of a $55m round co-led by consumer electronics producer Samsung’s Catalyst Fund in late 2019, when Osage University Partners also invested (do check out our sister podcast Talking Tech Transfer, which you can find on GlobalUniversityVenturing.com, for an interview with Osage’s Kirsten Leute about more on their investment strategy).

Deals

China-based e-commerce group JD.com has spun off several subsidiaries in recent years covering areas such as finance, healthcare and logistics. Now its infrastructure investment arm, JD Property, has agreed to raise $700m in a series A round co-led by Warburg Pincus and Hillhouse Capital, according to its 2020 end-of-year results. The other investors were not disclosed but it has partnered sovereign wealth funds GIC and Mubadala on infrastructure funds.

Starling Bank is the latest digital bank to pull in a nine-figure amount of funding, taking $377m in a series D round valuing it above $1.5bn pre-money. Starling, which counts JTC Group among its investors, is one of several well-funded neobanks to spring up in the UK in recent years, including Revolut and Monzo, though the sector is still a long way away from proving profitable, and despite the current fintech boom, it’s going to be interesting to see if they can maintain their growth.

Crypto asset manager BlockFi has completed a $350m series D round valuing it at $3bn, with Hudson River Trading and Susquehanna Government Products among the participants. Its existing investors include Akuna Capital, SoFi and corporate venturing vehicles Consensys Ventures, CMT Digital, Recruit Strategic Partners and SCB 10X.

Valo Health is less than two years old but has just closed an upsized series B round at $300m following a $110m investment by Koch Disruptive Technologies. Valo is one of a new wave of startups allocating machine learning to the drug development process, a wave increasingly looking like it could become the dominant force in the early-stage pharmaceutical sector. It is initially targeting cancer and neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.

Snyk has secured $300m in a series E round consisting of primary and secondary investments, with GV, Atlassian Ventures and Salesforce Ventures all contributing. The app cybersecurity technology provider said it has now raised $470m in primary funding altogether, and the round valued it at $4.7bn post-money. That’s a 47-times increase from the valuation at which GV first invested.

Salesforce Ventures also took part in a $170m series C round for Flutterwave, the developer of a cross-border payment platform, valuing it above $1bn. It’s the latest sign of an ongoing surge in fintech, and the company’s earlier backers include Mastercard, Visa and FIS. It will allocate the funding to product development and customer acquisition.

Funds

Ascension Ventures was set up by health system Ascension two decades ago and now the venture capital firm has closed its fifth fund with $285m in capital supplied by 13 healthcare providers: Ascension itself, as well as AdventHealth, Carle Foundation, CentraCare, Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, Intermountain Healthcare, Novant Health, OhioHealth, OSF HealthCare, Luminis Health, Sentara Healthcare and Texas Health Resources. There is also an unnamed health system among the LPs. Ascension Ventures has invested in nearly 80 companies to date and now has more than $1bn in assets under management.

Exits

Game development platform operator Roblox has executed a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange that gave Tencent and Warner Music Group (WMG) the chance to sell shares. The direct listing model means there wasn’t an official price for the shares, but the NYSE has issued a guidance price of $45 each, the same price at which Roblox secured $520m in a WMG-backed round in January valuing it at $29.5bn, a sevenfold increase in under a year. As we’re recording this on Friday afternoon UK time, shares are trading at $69.51, which is a slight drop on the $73.90 peak they’d briefly reached on Thursday.

Hippo Enterprises, the online home insurance provider backed by Comcast, Lennar, MS&AD, Munich Re and Standard Industries, is the latest company to seek the Spac route, agreeing to a reverse merger with Reinvent Technology Partners Z. Lennar is among the investors to put $550m of PIPE financing into Hippo, which will come out with $1.2bn in capital once the deal closes. It will list on NYSE and is expected to have a valuation of $5bn, and the money should help Hippo reach its goal of being available for 95% of the US population by the end of the year.

Olo has developed software that helps restaurants manage online orders, and has moved into profit in the past year as a string of US chains have used its platform to deal with increased online orders during the Covid-19 pandemic. The PayPal-backed company seems to have chosen the right time to go public, and has set terms for an initial public offering that will net $324m if it floats at the top of its range. It’s worth mentioning too that Olo has disclosed less than $65m of primary funding pre-IPO.

Coursera, the online education provider spun out of Stanford University and backed by Caltech, University of Pennsylvania, Seek Group, Laureate Education and Times Internet, is going for the traditional IPO exit instead. The spinout is yet to set any terms, having put the customary $100m placeholder figure into its draft prospectus, but it has collected some $443m in funding to date. None of the corporates or universities own more than 5% ahead of the offering and instead Coursera’s largest shareholder is NEA with an 18.3% stake.

Axonius, developer of a cybersecurity asset management platform, has only just achieved unicorn status, raising $100m last week at a $1.2bn valuation. That has proven the ticket for YL Ventures, a venture firm that has been an investor since seed stage, to divest a $270m stake to buyers including the Deutsche Telekom-backed DTCP. Axonius had raised nearly $200m in primary funding without taking any corporate investment.


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

08 March 2021 – Klarna Raises $1bn

The Big Ones

E-commerce instalment finance provider Klarna is riding the fintech wave, having raised $1bn in financing from undisclosed new and existing investors in a round that almost tripled its valuation from $10.7bn to $31bn. Visa, Ant Group, Bonnier, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Bestseller Group are among the company’s existing backers, and the funding came just six months after Klarna’s previous round.

Singapore-headquartered mobile game, e-commerce and financial services group Sea went public in an $884m initial public offering four years ago, and has decided to allocate $1bn to a corporate venturing vehicle called Sea Capital to boost its ecosystem. The formation of Sea Capital was fuelled by the company’s acquisition of investment manager Composite Capital Management, whose founder David Ma will run the unit on Sea’s behalf.

Oscar Health has gone public in an upsized $1.44bn initial public offering, with the shares priced comfortably above the range it had set for the IPO. The digital health insurer had raised nearly $1.7bn from investors including Alphabet and Ping An pre-IPO, and if the underwriters take up the chance to buy more shares through the over-allotment option the offering could reach roughly the same size.

Crossover

Century Therapeutics, a US-based immuno-oncology therapy developer based on research at Harvard and Stanford universities, has completed a $160m series C round led by Casdin Capital. Leaps by Bayer, the corporate venturing arm of pharmaceutical and chemical group Bayer, also contributed to the round, as did financial services and investment group Fidelity Management and Research and sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority. Venture capital firm Versant Ventures, which incubated the startup based on Harvard and Stanford work, also took part in the round, as did a host of others. Century is working on drugs using induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology, which is derived from adult human cells, to develop haematologic and solid tumour cancer treatments.

Deals

Virtual events platform Hopin may have had the fastest immediate growth of any startup in recent times, having just closed its fourth round in 13 months, securing $400m from investors including Salesforce Ventures at a $5.65bn valuation. That figure is near triple the $2.15bn valuation at which it last raised money, in a November series B round that also featured Salesforce Ventures. Its earlier backers include fellow corporate venturing units Slack Fund and Amaranthine Fun.

Instacart has had one of the biggest years in memory for a private VC-backed company, and has now received $265m from existing investors at a $39bn post-money valuation. That’s more than double the $17.7bn at which the Comcast, American Express and Amazon-backed grocery delivery service last raised money, five months ago, and nearly three times that at which it closed the previous round, last July.

A lot of retail has moved online in recent months, and fashion resale platform developer Vestiaire Collective is among the beneficiaries. The company has just received $215m from investors including the Advance Publications-owned Condé Nast and luxury goods producer Kering, which acquired a 5% stake through the transaction. The capital will go to enhancing the company’s technology and data activities.

Humana and Echo Health Ventures have contributed to a $200m series D round for home healthcare provider DispatchHealth that valued it at $1.7bn. DispatchHealth operates in a sector that has seen increased growth in recent months as the coronavirus pandemic has led to home care becoming a more urgent option. The round pushed the company’s overall funding to $417m, its earlier investors including Optum Ventures as well as Echo Health Ventures and Humana.

Last-mile delivery service SiCepat Ekspres has bagged $170m in a series B round that included Telkom Indonesia’s MDI Ventures subsidiary. The round’s December first close valued SiCepat at approximately $736m and its existing backers include Barito Pacific’s Barito Teknologi vehicle in addition to Tokopedia.

Funds

Legend Capital was spun off by Legend Holdings as an independent venture firm but is still backed by its ex-parent. It is also one of the largest VC investors in China, and has launched its sixth renminbi-denominated fund with a target exceeding $1.5bn. It had raised $500m for the close of its most recent dollar fund, LC Fund VIII, late last year.

Crypto.com is joining the likes of fellow digital currency-focused companies Coinbase, Binance and Ripple by forming a corporate venturing unit, Crypto.com Capital, with $200m for it to spend. The unit will invest up to $3m to lead seed rounds and up to $10m for series As, and is targeting crypto technology developers. It is helmed by Crypto.com co-founder and head of corporate development Bobby Bao.

US-based insurance firm Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company has established a $50m investment vehicle called MM Catalyst Fund that will fund companies with diverse founders in its home state of Massachusetts. The capital allocation partly consists of a $25m fund dubbed MMCF Growth which will provide equity and debt financing for Massachusetts-based businesses with black founders, owners or managers. The other half of the funding will go to MMCF Tech, a fund which will provide equity funding for technology developers based in Massachusetts but outside of state capital Boston.

Exits

Okta has agreed to acquire Auth0, a developer of application identity management technology, in an all-share deal that will value it at $6.5bn. That’s more than triple the valuation at which Auth0 last raised funding, in a July 2020 series F round led by Salesforce Ventures and backed by fellow corporate venturing vehicles DTCP and Telstra Ventures. Auth0 has secured a total of $333m since it was founded, from an investor base that also includes NTT Docomo Ventures.

Digital real estate brokerage Compass has meanwhile filed for a $500m initial public offering that could allow SoftBank and Advance Publications to exit. SoftBank Vision Fund is the company’s largest investor, with a 34.8% stake, having put up $250m for a $344m round Compass closed early last year at a reported $6.4bn valuation. Its earlier backers include media group Advance Publications and it has secured about $1.5bn in funding in total.

Manbang Group, the trucking services provider also known as Full Truck Alliance, was valued at almost $12bn in November when it raised $1.7bn in a round co-led by SoftBank Vision Fund. Now, the China-based company has confidentially filed to go public in the United States, with Tencent, Alphabet unit CapitalG and Baidu Capital also in line to exit. It’s going to be interesting to see if the election of Joe Biden, a less China-hostile president, will see a rebound from Chinese companies to US markets.

Doma, the real estate transaction software provider formerly known as States Title, has agreed to list through a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company Capitol Investment Corp V at a $3bn enterprise value. The deal is supported by a $300m PIPE financing featuring SoftBank and property developer Lennar, the latter an existing investor in Doma. Its other backers include Assurant, Scor and HSCM Bermuda, all of which took part in its $120m series C round in May 2020.

Harvard University spinout Moderna has been one of the biggest success stories not just for spinouts but for corporate venture capital too in the last year, its share price rising sixfold on the strength of it being one of the first pharmaceutical companies to get a covid-19 vaccine approved. One of its pre-IPO investors was AstraZeneca, which provided $140m in equity funding and which has sold its stake for a price likely to have topped $1bn. That’s quite a return, and one that will support plans announced by the corporate in late 2019 to launch a $1bn fund.


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

30 November 2020 – Stripe Opens Discussions for Funding at Potential $100bn Valuation

The Big Ones

Digital payment technology and services provider Stripe last raised money in October 2019, closing $850m from investors including Alphabet unit GV at a whopping $36bn valuation. But its next round could double that valuation, sources told Bloomberg, adding that it has opened discussions with prospective investors and that a $100bn valuation could be possible for the transaction. That hike would mirror the huge share price rises for competitors Square and PayPal in recent months.

Canada-listed phone operator Telus has paid heed in setting up a C$100m ($76.5m) social impact corporate venturing fund to complement its existing Telus Ventures unit under Rich Osborn. Darren Entwistle, president and CEO of Telus, said: “This C$100m investment will accelerate potent, scalable and socially responsible services coming to market, helping to answer some of the most pressing challenges facing our world, including socioeconomic inclusiveness.” The Telus Pollinator Fund for Good will target healthcare entrepreneurs, social and economic inclusion and ensuring sustainable food production under Blair Miller, managing partner and Telus’ former vice-president of consumer products and content.

Mobile commerce platform developer Wish has become the third US-based tech company to file for a $1bn initial public offering in the space of a week, after Airbnb and Roblox. JD.com reportedly invested up to $55m in Wish as part of a 2015 series D that valued it at $3.5bn, but that valuation had soared to over $11bn as of its last round, an August 2019 series H. It has also seen substantial revenue growth this year, though its net losses increased at the same time.

Catamaran Bio, a US-based cancer treatment developer founded out of University of Minnesota and George Washington University (GWU), launched last week with $42m of series A funding co-led by Sofinnova Partners and Lightstone Ventures. Takeda Ventures, a strategic investment arm of Takeda, also took part in the round, as did SV Health Investors and Astellas Venture Management. Incorporated in September 2019, Catamaran Bio is developing cell therapies for a broad range of cancers, including solid tumours. The spinout hopes to deliver off-the-shelf drugs, as opposed to some cell therapy treatments that require samples extracted from the patient. The cash will allow it to progress two lead programmes into the clinic and to upgrade its underlying cell engineering technology.

Deals

Manbang Group, the Chinese trucking services platform also known as Full Truck Alliance, has pulled in $1.7bn through a round co-led by SoftBank Vision Fund and backed by another returning corporate investor, Tencent. The cash was reportedly secured at a valuation just short of $12bn and shows the value of consolidation, the company being formed by the merger of rivals Huochebang and Yunmanman three years ago.

On the other end of the experience stakes, Resilience has emerged from stealth with $800m in funding, $750m of which was raised in a series B round featuring Alphabet unit GV. The startup can be seen as one of what may well be a series of large-scale companies formed during the covid-19 pandemic specifically to deal with its effects. It is working on an advanced manufacturing set up for gene and cell therapies as well as vaccines, proteins and viral vectors, and should do brisk business considering the number of drug developers raising big money or going public right now.

Digital property and casualty insurance provider Hippo has raised $350m from Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance at a reported $2bn valuation, as part of a deal that will involve the latter taking on some of the risk for the company. The companies also revealed that MS&AD Ventures – like Mitsui Sumitomo, part of the MS&AD insurance group – was among the investors in its last round, a $150m series E in July that valued it at $1.5bn post-money.

Indian automotive e-commerce marketplace Cars24 has secured $200m in a series E round led by investment firm DST Global at a valuation topping $1bn. The company, which counts KCK Global as an earlier investor, also revealed its business has reached and surpassed pre-coronavirus levels, which could be a testament to the recovery of India’s used car market or perhaps a sign it is simply migrating online.

For all the headlines being grabbed by the pharmaceutical sector, the technology area that has really taken big steps forward this year is arguably online education. Duolingo and Udemy both also raised more money this past week at unicorn valuations while coding education platform developer Codemao has bagged $198m in series D funding. The company’s existing investors include Southern Publishing and Media and Cheetah Mobile, and the latest round was led by an affiliate of Baring Private Equity Asia.

Elsewhere in fintech, digital bank Current has raised $131m in a series C round led by Tiger Global Management that valued it at $750m. The deal came just over a year after the company secured $20m in a round featuring Cuna Mutual’s CMFG Ventures unit. That leap is another sign of the significant growth in the sector, though the neobank space is at the same time beginning to get somewhat crowded.

SomaLogic, a developer of proteomics technology for use in drug treatments and healthcare data, has closed $121m in a round led by life sciences investment firm Casdin Capital. The company, interestingly, termed the round as a series A despite it being 20 years old and now the recipient of more than $485m in funding in that time. Its earlier investors include Nan Fung Life Sciences, iCarbonX, Novartis, Otsuka Pharmaceutical and Quest Diagnostics.

Funds

Cleantech isn’t the force it once was in the startup space but it’s a long way from being dead. Vestas, the biggest pure-play wind turbine maker in the world, was reportedly considering the formation of a strategic investment arm back in 2017 but it’s waited until now to launch the vehicle, dubbed Vestas Ventures. It will invest roughly $1m to $7m per deal in renewables and sustainable technology developers.

Financial services provider Orix has invested $60m in Israel-based equity crowdfunding platform operator OurCrowd as part of a strategic collaboration deal. OurCrowd runs a venture capital investment platform that allows businesses and individuals to invest in a curated selection of startups across a range of sectors from seed to pre-IPO stage.

Mobile network operator Orange has committed an undisclosed amount of capital to France-headquartered private equity firm LBO France’s Digital Health 2 (DH2) fund through its Orange Digital Investment vehicle. DH2 has a €200m ($238m) target for its close and is tasked with investing in small-to-medium sized businesses in the digital health sector. Its target areas are France and the rest of Western Europe.

Exits

Metromile is the latest company to take the SPAC route to a public markets listing, agreeing a reverse merger with Insu Acquisition Corp. II in a deal set to value the merged business at about $1.3bn. Like Hippo, Metromile is part of a new breed of digital insurers, though its selling point is as an automotive insurance provider that charges by the mile. Its investors include China Pacific, AmTrust, Tokio Marine, Mitsui and Intact Financial.

Amazon has been one of the companies in the tech space that’s benefited most financially from the coronavirus lockdowns, but other online marketplaces are also seeing their business models vindicated. Russia-based Ozon has floated above its range in an upsized initial public offering in the US that netted it $990m, in addition to $135m in a private placement from existing backers Sistema and Baring Vostok. Sistema remains its largest shareholder, with a 37% stake post-IPO.

Covid-19 may have taken the headlines but cancer has been the main driver of corporate venturing activity in the healthcare sector of late. China-based Antengene is the latest oncology-focused company to move to the exit stage, and has gone public in Hong Kong in a $360m IPO in which it floated at the top of its range. It had raised $238m across three rounds from investors including WuXi AppTec’s Corporate Venture Fund, Celgene, Taikang and Tigermed Investment.

Mass spectrometry device producer 908 Devices has filed to go public, setting a $75m target for an initial public offering slated to take place on the Nasdaq Global Market. The company has raised $70m in venture funding from investors including Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV) and Schlumberger and has doubled revenue this year while significantly cutting losses. Just a reminder: Airbnb, Roblox and Wish are among the companies that could theoretically float in what’s sure to be a busy December.


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