12 April 2021 – Food Delivery Service Swiggy Raises $800m

The Big Ones

India-based food delivery service Swiggy has raised $800m from Prosus Ventures, Falcon Edge, Goldman Sachs, Amansa Capital, Think Capital, Carmignac and Accel. The round is said to have boosted the company’s post-money valuation to $5bn. Swiggy runs an app where users can order food for delivery from local restaurants, and is one of two large players in the Indian market, along with Zomato, which raised $250m at a $5.4bn valuation in February this year. Swiggy had raised a total of $1.62bn as of a series I round featuring Prosus Ventures, Tencent, Samsung and Meituan Dianping in April 2020. Swiggy’s earlier backers include Naspers,Tencent, Meituan Dianping and Wellington Management as well as DST Global, Coatue Management, Hillhouse Capital, Accel, Harmony Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, RB Investments and SAIF Partners.

Japan-listed spark plug producer NGK has partnered US-based venture capital firm Pegasus Tech Ventures to form a $100m corporate venture capital fund. The vehicle will target developers of smart health, decentralised utility and mobility technologies in the United States, Europe, Israel and Asia. NGK has also entered into a strategic agreement with Pegasus in areas including business creation and mergers and acquisitions. Pegasus already has multiple investment initiatives in place with 35 corporations including Aisin, Sega Sammy, Sojitz, SunnyHealth, CAC Holdings, Teijin, Infocom and Innotech from Japan, as well as Taiwan-headquartered Asus and Acer.

Sarcos Robotics, a US-based industrial robotics technology manufacturer backed by Microsoft, Caterpillar, Delta and Schlumberger, agreed to list through a reverse merger with SPAC Rotor Acquisition Corp in a transaction that will value them at a combined $1.3bn. Sarcos produces robotic exoskeletons that help users lift heavy objects while preventing injuries. The merged business, Sarcos Technology, will take the spot on the New York Stock Exchange secured by Rotor in a $240m initial public offering in January. Caterpillar Venture Capital, Schlumberger and Palantir are backing a $220m PIPE financing for the deal with Millennium Management, Jaws Estates Capital, Michael Price and funds and accounts managed by BlackRock.

Crossover

Icosavax, a US-based vaccine developer exploiting research from University of Washington (UW) completed a $100m series B round led by RA Capital Management. Sanofi’s strategic investment arm, Sanofi Ventures, also took part, as did Janus Henderson Investors, Perceptive Advisors, Viking Global Investors, Cormorant Asset Management, Omega Funds, Open Philanthropy and Surveyor Capital. Qiming Venture Partners USA, Adams Street Partners and ND Capital (formerly known as NanoDimension) filled out the round, having joined Sanofi Ventures in the company’s $51m series A round in 2019. Icosavax will put the series B funds towards advancing vaccines for bivalent respiratory syncytial virus and human metapneumovirus through their first clinical studies. The capital will also support ongoing evaluation of a potential vaccine for covid-19 and the growth of a pipeline of vaccine candidates utilising its computationally designed virus-like particle technology, which stems from research conducted at UW’s Institute for Protein Design.

Deals

Dingdong Maicai, a China-based online grocer backed by Red Star Macalline and Bertelsmann, has raised $700m in series D funding co-led by DST Global and Coatue, while Sequoia Capital China, Tiger Global Management, General Atlantic, CMC Capital, Ocean Link, Capital Today and Hony Capital participated as existing backers. The round was filled out by new investors Aspex Management, 3W Fund Management, APlus Partners, Mass Ave Global and Cygnus Equity. No word on a current valuation, but Dingdong Macai was reportedly worth $2bn following its previous round in May 2020.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 has co-led a $640m series E round for Singapore-headquartered intelligent retail technology provider Trax with BlackRock. The round included Sony Innovation Fund by IGV2, a corporate venture capital vehicle for consumer electronics producer Sony, in addition to pension fund manager Omers, and it valued the company at $2bn, according to Globes. Trax provides computer vision and artificial intelligence-equipped technology that tracks in-store conditions and stock levels to help grocery retailers and consumer packaged goods producers make more effective decisions in real time. It has now raised $975m in total.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 led a $210m second tranche for US-based security and governance software provider OneTrust that took its series C round to $510m. Franklin Templeton also took part in the second close, which followed a $300m tranche featuring TCV and existing investors including Insight Partners and Coatue in December 2020. The final close came at a $5.3bn post-money valuation. The round’s close increased the company’s overall funding to $920m, including $200m raised in a series A round led by Insight Partners at a $1.3bn post-money valuation. Coatue and Insight Partners then co-led a $210m series B round in February 2020 valuing it at $2.7bn.

India-based multilingual social networking service ShareChat secured $502m in series E funding from investors including social media operator Snap and microblogging platform Twitter. Tiger Global Management led the round, which included venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners and undisclosed additional backers. It valued the company at $2.1bn and increased its funding to $765m since it was founded in 2015.

Kavak, a Mexico-based used car marketplace platform backed by SoftBank, has raised $485m of series D funding at a $4bn valuation. D1 Capital Partners led the round, which also featured Founders Fund, Ribbit Capital and Bond. Kavak has built an online platform that lets users buy and sell used cars in Mexico, Argentina and Brazil. It also offers financing through subsidiary Kavak Capital and carries out reconditioning and vehicle delivery. The round increased the company’s total funding to $900m and followed a round of undisclosed size co-led by SoftBank, DST Global and Greenoaks Capital in September 2020 at a $1.15bn valuation.

Prosus Ventures, the investment arm of Prosus, is co-leading a $350m funding round for India-based online pharmacy PharmEasy. The round consists of primary and secondary funding and is being co-led by TPG Growth. It included Eight Roads Ventures – part of investment and financial services group Fidelity – as well as Temasek, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, LGT Lightrock and Think Investments. The latest round reportedly valued API Holdings, the holding company for PharmEasy, at $1.5bn post-money. It said it has closed $323m of the capital, with the remaining $27m set to be closed soon.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 has led a $300m funding round for India-based online reselling platform developer Meesho at a $2.1bn valuation. Facebook and Prosus Ventures also took part, as did Shunwei Capital, Venture Highway and Knollwood Investment. Meesho operates an online platform through which users can connect and sell to customers on social media. Its core group of sellers are female small business owners, and it manages payment, order management and logistics on their behalf. The round took Meesho’s total funding to $490m.

CloudMinds, a China-based robotic technology developer backed by SoftBank and Foxconn, has raised over $153m in series B-plus funding co-led by Shanghai Chengtou Group and Guosheng Group, investment vehicles for the city of Shanghai’s municipal government. CloudMinds filed for a $500m initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in July 2019, but the SEC ruled in February this year that it be declared abandoned after the company failed to respond to requests for clarification on its status.

Funds

Egypt-headquartered venture capital firm Algebra Ventures launched its $90m second fund on Tuesday with backing from limited partners including Cisco. The European Commission, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund and International Finance Corporation are also among the LPs, as are undisclosed private family offices. Algebra Ventures has not disclosed how much it has so far raised for the fund but it expects to reach a first close in the third quarter of 2021. It closed its first fund at $54m.

Exits

Compass, the US-based real estate software provider backed by SoftBank and Advance Publications, has gone public in a $450m initial public offering on the NYSE. The offering consisted of 25 million shares priced at $18 each, at the foot of an $18 to $19 range cut from $23 to $26 at the same time the size of the offering was reduced from 36 million shares. As of the time of recording, on Friday afternoon UK time, shares are down by more than 17.5% and trading at $16.60. Compass has built an online platform that provides extensive listings of homes for sales. It made a $270m net loss in 2020 from $3.72bn in revenue. It had raised about $1.5bn in funding and was reportedly valued at $6.4bn as of a series G in January 2020.

Krafton, a South Korea-based video game publisher backed by Tencent, has filed for an IPO. The company was valued at $18bn in off-exchange trading yesterday, while the IPO is set to be one of the largest in the country this year, unnamed local sources told Reuters. Founded by computer game studio Bluehole as a holding group in 2018, Krafton owns multiple brands including Bluehole Studio, PUBG Studio and Striking Distance Studios. Its lead product, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, has about 55 million daily users in countries outside China and has sold 70 million copies. Tencent invested $61.5m in Bluehole in 2017 and later returned to make a $468m secondary investment the following year to increase its stake in the company to a reported 11.5%.


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

19 August 2019 – Zhihu Raises $434m at $3.5bn Valuation

Big Ones

Zhihu is often referred to as China’s answer to Quora, but its services extend beyond an online community Q+A service to areas like online publishing and livestreamed sessions with experts. It’s just raised $434m at a reported $3.5bn valuation. Livestreaming service Kuaishou led the series F round, which included fellow strategic partner Baidu and another corporate investor, Tencent.

Insurance group MS&AD has tripled the size of its MS&AD Ventures unit to about $128m, just 10 months after its launch. The company said it made more than 20 investments in that time, and seeing as its subsidiaries include Mitsui Sumitomo and Aioi Nissay Dowa – both of which maintain their own corporate venturing units – it’s going to be interesting to see if it has plans to formally unify the vehicles under the MS&AD Ventures banner.

We Company, the workspace provider formerly known as WeWork, has filed for one of the year’s most eagerly awaited initial public offerings. It has set a $1bn target as a placeholder figure but reports suggest it will go for $3bn to $4bn through the flotation. The filing also confirms SoftBank, its Vision Fund and related affiliates have provided a whopping $12.4bn in financing.

On GUV, Landos Biopharma, a US-based autoimmune disease therapeutics developer exploiting Virginia Tech research, has closed a $60m series B round backed by spinout-focused investment firm Osage University Partners. Biopharmaceuticals-focused investment firm RTW Investments and hedge fund manager Perceptive Advisors co-led the round, with the latter investing from its Xontogeny Venture and Life Sciences funds.

Deals

JD.com and iFlytek have contributed to a $283m series C1 round for another Chinese company, Terminus Technologies. Connected AI technology developer Terminus received $173m in a SenseTime-backed round less than a year ago, and has raised about $530m altogether.

Meesho has raised $125m in a Naspers-led series D round that included a $25m investment that had been made by Facebook in June. The round was reportedly set to value the social commerce marketplace at $600m to $650m and the cash will support it extending its reach further into India’s rural areas.

The renewables technology sector is a long way from its peak but the brunt of the funding that is coming in for startups in that space is going to energy storage. Energy Vault, a Swiss company developing a hydro power-inspired grid-scale storage system, has received $110m in series B funding in what is SoftBank Vision Fund’s first renewable energy investment.

ShareChat, the Indian operator of a multilingual social network with some 60 million users, has secured $100m in a Twitter-led series D round that valued it at $650m. The deal took its total funding past the $220m mark, but there was no sign of its other corporate backer, Xiaomi.

ScaleFactor has closed a $60m series C round featuring existing investor Citi Ventures that increased its overall funding to approximately $103m.

Carpooling platform Scoop Technologies has raised $60m from investors including corporate VC units Total Ventures and Workday Ventures to take its overall funding to more than $106m.

Uniphore, the developer of a range of speech recognition tools, has raised $51m in series C funding from investors including Sistema Asia Fund, and will channel the proceeds into R&D and a geographic expansion that will focus on the North American market.

Funds

Female founder-focused fund BBG Ventures was formed by AOL and then, when the company was acquired by Verizon, absorbed into the Oath digital media group. It formally spun off late last year and is seeking external investors for a third fund that, according to a recent regulatory filing, has a $50m target for its close.

Exits

WeWork owner The We Company was responsible for the most eagerly awaited IPO filing of the week but hosting services provider CloudFlare has also filed, some five months after raising cash at a $3.2bn valuation.

Enterprise communication platform developer Chatwork has secured approval for its own IPO, which will take place in its home country of Japan. The company has raised at least $15m in venture funding from investors including GMO Venture Partners, and the GMO unit that owns a 6% stake.

Novartis and Eli Lilly have secured exits, after Jazz Pharmaceuticals acquired Cavion, a developer of therapies for neurological diseases, and merged the company with one of its subsidiaries.

Things have been less rosy for microsatellite launcher Vector, which has shut down operations indefinitely due to a change in financing just days after sealing a contract with the US Air Force.


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