01 June 2020 – UBS Groups Prepares for Fintech Investments

The Big Ones

1

Switzerland-based bank UBS Group is setting aside hundreds of millions of dollars of its money to invest in financial technology companies, according to Bloomberg.

UBS hired Erasmus Elsner for its venture capital and growth equity unit last month but is reportedly still recruiting staff for a dedicated corporate venture capital (CVC) team. It is planning a corporate VC fund to make investments between $10m and $20m in dozens of companies targeting bank/client engagement, investing and financing platforms and the improvement of the bank’s underlying operations, a source told Bloomberg.

Mike Dargan, UBS’s Global Head Group Technology, said: “UBS wants to further engage with and support fintech firms. The new venture investment portfolio is a next step to accelerate our innovation and digitisation efforts.”

2

It’s a scary-enough headline, ‘Huawei Banned, So Let’s Invade Taiwan to Take TSMC?’, in reaction to the strict set of rules announced by the US government on May 15 in a bid to cut the China-based 5G and telecoms equipment maker off from the global semiconductor ecosystem.

In its subsequent report, “US strategic approach to the People’s Republic of China,” published on the 20th, the US said: “The administration is implementing the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act to update and strengthen the capacity of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to address growing national security concerns over foreign exploitation of investment structures, which previously fell outside CFIUS jurisdiction.

“This includes preventing Chinese companies from exploiting access to US innovation through minority investments in order to modernise the Chinese military. The US has updated its export control regulations, particularly in light of Beijing’s whole-of-society strategy and its efforts to acquire advanced technologies related to hypersonics, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and other emerging and foundational technologies. We are also engaging allies and partners to develop their own foreign investment screening mechanisms, and to update and implement export controls collaboratively through multilateral regimes and other forums….

“Domestically, the Administration is taking steps to strengthen the US economy and promote economic sectors of the future, such as 5G technology, through tax reforms and a robust deregulatory agenda. The President’s ‘Executive Order on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence’ is an example of a US government initiative to promote investment and collaboration to ensure the US continues to lead in innovation and setting standards for a growing industry.”

But the horse might have bolted. The ChinaTalk article at the top suggests Huawei has done enough over the past few years to survive, stating: “The main issue is supporting Huawei in maintaining its dominant position in 5G and helping it continue to be able to supply the needs of 5G bases.

3

The US healthcare system has many virtues, but it is simply too expensive and hard for consumers to access care, according to insiders. Coastal Americans’ faith in their system has been shaken by the coronavirus and this has created opportunities for some. Jeff Bennett, CEO of startup Higi, is trying to tackle the issue and has received a fillip with a new round of funding.

UK-based personal healthcare provider Babylon has joined the ranks of new corporate venturers by leading the latest round for US-based health engagement technology developer Higi.

The round was reportedly $30m in size and Higi’s previous investors, 7Wire Ventures, Flare Capital Partners, Jumpstart Capital, Rush University Medical Center for Health and William Wrigley Jr, also took part. Higi raised $25.8m in 2018, according to a regulatory filing, from investors including Blue Cross Blue Shield-affiliated venture firm Sandbox Industries, though Sandbox has said it is now no longer an investor.

4

Similarly, money is flowing in other parts of healthcare and life sciences. The power of science fiction films retains its hold in inspiring inventors but the secret to corporate venturing and open innovation lies in retaining optionality.

Drawing on inspiration from Star Trek, Vaxxas, a Queensland University, Australia, spin-out, has developed technology which could mean vaccine delivery via needles and syringes could soon be a thing of the past.

The World Economic Forum named the company a Technology Pioneer in late 2014 and over the past decade the company has been working on a nanopatch, based on research at the university’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, that delivers vaccines painlessly and more efficiently than syringes.

5

Cisco intends to purchase the network analytics software producer, which had raised more than $110m from investors including GV and Salesforce Ventures, for a reported $1bn.

Networking equipment manufacturer Cisco agreed yesterday to acquire ThousandEyes, a US-based network management software provider backed by internet and technology conglomerate Alphabet and enterprise software producer Salesforce.

The price was reported by Bloomberg as being approximately $1bn, a figure confirmed to CNBC by a person familiar with the matter. Cisco expects the transaction to close by the end of next month.

Founded in 2010, ThousandEyes provides cloud analytics software that collects data from a range of access points, such as data centres and consumer devices, to identify potential sources of disruption and ensure websites, applications and services are delivered optimally.

Deals

Genome sequencing technology developer MGI Tech has closed a $1bn series B round, four years after being formed as a subsidiary of genome research organisation BGI. The round, which follows a $200m series A a year ago, shows the potential value in spinning off valuable subsidiaries, and it follows a $265m round for another China-based spinoff, smart sensor and power semiconductor provider BYD Semiconductor (see yesterday).

Chinese online grocer MissFresh has seen business pick up sharply during the coronavirus lockdown and has accordingly raised funding at a reported $3bn pre-money valuation. The company’s existing backers include Tencent and Lenovo but the only new investor revealed in media reports is CICC Fund. Bloomberg reported in the last few days that it was set to raise roughly $500m.

SpaceX meanwhile goes from strength to strength, the spacecraft producer and launch services provider expanding its latest funding round to $346m and surpassing its original target of a $250m close. Elon Musk has got a lot of flack over the past few years, but it’s worth noting that Tesla’s shares are continuing to rise while Alphabet-backed SpaceX is still growing – to a $36bn+ valuation, if reports from earlier this year are accurate.

Electric carmaker BYD is preparing for a Hong Kong Stock Exchange listing and as part of a restructuring effort it is spinning off semiconductor and sensor subsidiary BYD Semiconductor with $265m in external funding. Sequoia Capital China, CICC Capital and SDIC Venture Capital are co-leading the round, which will value the subsidiary at more than $1.3bn. Originally known as BYD Microelectronic, it was formed in 2004.

Marqeta makes off with $150m

Insitro has created a machine learning-equipped drug discovery platform and has secured $143m in a series B round featuring WuXi AppTec’s Corporate Venture Fund, GV and Alexandria Venture Investments. GV had already contributed to the $100m in series A funding with which Insitro emerged from stealth in mid-2018, at a $1.05bn valuation.

Arvelle arcs to series A close

Pie Insurance picks out $127m

Bolt flashes on fresh funding

AbCellera has built an antibody drug discovery system and has secured $105m in a series B round featuring Eli Lilly, having signed a collaboration agreement with the pharmaceutical firm last week. In fact it’s been a great few weeks for Canada-based AbCellera, which got a commitment for up to $125m in financing from government agency Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada at the start of this month.

Elsewhere in China, Xiaomi has invested almost $103m in power bank producer Zimi through a cash-and-stock deal that increased its stake in the company from 22.5% to 49.9%. Zimi was already part of the Xiaomi ecosystem, a strategic investment initiative intended to construct a network of companies producing Xiaomi-compatible products. That network reportedly now encompasses some 300 portfolio companies.

Mindstrong mines Optum for $100m series C

Oxford Nanopore expands latest round

CFS sees out $84m series A2 round

Exits

Sendo and Tiki test the waters for merger

Roche reaches for portfolio company Stratos

UA’s FreeFall Aerospace completes merger

Kintor Pharmaceutical has however successfully floated in Hong Kong, pricing its initial public offering at the top of the range to raise $240m. The IPO featured a $115m cornerstone investment by appliance maker Gree, which provided $89m, Highlight Capital and Foresight Fund. It was 500-times oversubscribed according to Kintor, which is developing prostate and breast cancer drugs, and which plans to now expand into hair loss treatment.

VeriSilicon vies for $111m in IPO

Avidity to invade public markets

Burning Rock files for $100m IPO

Pliant places IPO terms

Nanoform to shape $76.7m IPO

Funds

U-M taps Deerfield for Great Lakes Discoveries


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

27 May 2019 – Age of Turbulence

Thanks to everyone who came to the Global Corporate Venturing Symposium this past week.

We are entering an “age of turbulence” – the theme for this month’s GCV Symposium at London’s County Hall. Whether caused by eventual economic downturn, protectionism or regulatory concerns over the impact of technology-led disruption, the headwinds for those providing innovation capital to entrepreneurs are only likely to increase.

Deals

Parvus Therapeutics lands $800m in Genentech deal

DoorDash has had one of the fastest growth spurts in memory and has just raised $600mfrom investors including SoftBank Vision Fund, in a round that boosted its valuation from $7.1bn to $12.6bn in just three months.

Baidu and Citic Bank have jointly invested some $576m in AIBank, but the online financial services provider is now seeking up to $1bn in external funding that it expects to raise in the coming months.

Back in the outside world, payment card processing service Marqeta has secured $260m in series E funding at a valuation of almost $2bn, a huge jump from the reported $545m valuation it achieved when last raising funds nearly a year ago.

Mafengwo’s core product is an online travel reviews and information platform, but it has added a range of travel services to its offering including hotel room and tour booking.

Gilead Sciences was among the participants in a $120m series B round for cell therapy developer AlloVir that was led by Fidelity Management and Research.

Drug development software producer Schrödinger has raised another $25m to take its latest round to $110m.

Digital identity verification and management platform developer Auth0 has meanwhile secured $103m at a valuation of more than $1bn.

Unit DX marks $25.5m in portfolio funding

Funds

Salesforce Ventures launched its fifth Trailblazer fund earlier and the fourth with an international focus. Europe Trailblazer Fund is equipped with $125m of capital and it comes after the unit committed a total of $250m to Trailblazer vehicles in Canada, Australia and Japan over the past year.

UnityPoint Health, the owner of 32 hospitals and home care services, has formed a strategic investment arm called UnityPoint Health Ventures Innovation Fund, and has provided it with $100m in capital.

Corporates coax third MD Start to close

PSL Innovation Fund reaches $72.3m

Exits

Bicycle Therapeutics rides into public markets

Just Bio to jump to Evotec

Vidyo enters Enghouse in $40m acquisition

Cross-border financial transfer platform TransferWise has also overseen a jump in valuation, to $3.5bn, through a $292m secondary transaction.


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

25 March 2019 – Lyft Set to Raise $1.9 – $2.1bn in IPO

The Big Ones

The week kicked off with a long-awaited big one: on-demand ride provider Lyft set the terms for its IPO on Monday and is set to raise between $1.9bn and $2.1bn in an offering that will potentially value it at almost $23bn.

A consortium including Suning, Tencent, Alibaba Chongqing Changan Automobile, Dongfeng Motor and FAW have that will focus on mobility technology and in particular ride hailing.

OneWeb recently launched the first six satellites that will make up part of a constellation which will provide high-speed internet to remote areas. It has also raised a further $1.25bn in a round that included existing investors SoftBank, Qualcomm and Grupo Salinas.

On GUV, we’ve had a new spinout – Sherlock Biosciences – that isn’t so much noteworthy for the size of its series A – which currently stands at $17.5m, plus another $17.5m in grant funding – but for who its nine scientific founders are, a group of nine academic researchers the caliber of which we’ve seldom seen in a single spinout. They include, to name but two, none other than MIT’s Feng Zhang, the professor who patented the Crispr technology in 2014 (though there’s a legal battle with UC Berkeley which had filed a few months earlier but didn’t pay for fast tracking), and David Walt, who also co-founded the biotech giant Illumina, whose market cap stands at nearly $47bn.

Deals

Flexible electronics display developer Royole Group is said to be prepping its IPO, but will reportedly first look to raise about $1bn in funding at a valuation of near $8bn.

UiPath, the creator of a robotics processing automation platform, has so far raised $550m in funding from investors including CapitalG, the Alphabet subsidiary that used to be known as Google Capital, but it’s reportedly now chasing a further $400m.

Carmakers Hyundai and Kia combined to invest $250m in Grab late last year, and have now combined again to provide $300m of funding for another Asian ride hailing platform, India-based Ola.

Property trading services platform OneDoor has closed a $300m round backed by Lennar, SoftBank Vision Fund, GV and Access Technology Ventures at a $3.8bn valuation.

Legend Capital-backed mobile commerce platform Wish may be a long way from profitability, but it looks like it can still raise money. Wish, reportedly valued at $8.5bn in late 2017, is in negotiations with prospective investors including General Atlantic to raise $300m at a reported $11bn pre-money valuation.

Marqeta is also seeking funding at a unicorn valuation, having filed to raise $250m at a valuation of nearly $1.9bn. Visa, CreditEase and Commerzbank are all among the existing investors in Marqeta, the developer of a service that allows businesses to issue their own payment cards and process payments.

Elsewhere in Asia, India-based online video streaming platform HotStar has secured $153m from 21st Century Fox subsidiaries Star India and Star US.

Airbnb is in talks to invest $100m to $200m in another short-term accommodation platform, Oyo, which was valued at $5bn as of a $1bn round it closed last month.

Cosmetics brand Glossier is the e-commerce sectors’ newest unicorn, raising $100m in a Sequoia Capital-led series D round that valued it at $1.2bn.

Funds

Hanwha Asset Management, an investment subsidiary of diversified South Korea-based conglomerate Hanwha, has joined venture capital firm Golden Gate Ventures to raise $200m for an investment partnership.

NewMargin Ventures, a China-based investment firm backed by food producer Kerry Group and telecommunications equipment provider Motorola Solutions, has reached the first close of a RMB10bn ($1.48bn) fund.

Coffeehouse chain Starbucks provided $100m for US-based investment firm Valor Equity Partners’ Valor Siren Ventures I fund yesterday as the vehicle’s cornerstone investor. The fund has a target size of $400m and will seek the remaining $300m from additional strategic partners and institutional investors over the coming months.

Exits

SenseTime has long been rumoured to be joining the IPO queue, and now its chief rival in China’s facial recognition space, Megvii, is reportedly looking to raise $800m in an offering that could take place in the US or Hong Kong.

Alcon, the eyecare subsidiary of pharmaceutical company Novartis, has agreed to acquire portfolio company PowerVision in a $285m deal that will also enable Johnson & Johnson and Medtronic to exit.

Fastly, the content delivery platform developer that counts OATV, Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners and Swisscom Ventures as investors, has begun hiring underwriters for an IPO that could reportedly value it in excess of $1bn.

On GUV, NervGen Pharma, a Canada-based developer of nerve damage therapies based on Case Western Reserve University research, has completed an initial public offering (IPO) which raised gross proceeds of C$10m ($7.5m).


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