14 September 2020 – Online Education Company Byju Raising $500m

The Big Ones

Online education has firmly established itself as the key sector in India’s startup space, and Byju’s has effectively confirmed that, raising an amount reported by TechCrunch to be $500m. Byju’s, which is backed by Tencent, Naspers and Times Internet, was valued at $10.8bn post-money in the round, which came in the wake of it adding an extraordinary 20 million users since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown. That means the company has almost trebled its valuation inside two years.

Saudi Aramco has a market cap of some $1.8 trillion but is looking to explore diversification into other areas besides oil and gas (perhaps not surprisingly given the direction of oil prices this year). To that end, it has formed a $1bn fund called Prosperity 7 Ventures that is tasked with investing in innovative technologies like AI, 5G, robotics, blockchain and the internet of things. It will join the company’s Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures unit as well as its Wa’ed Ventures vehicle.

Illumina spinoff Grail has filed for what may be one of this year’s biggest healthtech IPOs. The cancer diagnostics technology developer has set a $100m placeholder target for the offering but has raised $1.9bn in venture funding from investors including Johnson & Johnson, WuXi AppTec, Tencent, Amazon, Varian, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Bristol-Myers Squibb, McKesson, Celgene, Alphabet and Merck & Co. It was valued at a reported $3.2bn back in 2018, prior to its last round.

X-over: Recursion, a University of Utah spinout, is using digital technologies such as automation and machine learning to develop drugs for various diseases and has built up a 30-strong drug pipeline, four of which have reached the clinical trials stage. It has also secured $239m in a series D round led by a $50m investment from Leaps by Bayer. The unit’s parent company, Bayer, has also formed a strategic partnership with Recursion, which was valued at about $1.2bn post-money.

Deals

Industrial technology has not been among the winners during the coronavirus lockdown, but advanced materials producer Zymergen has nevertheless snagged $300m in a series D round led by investment manager Bailie Gifford. The company, which has developed a bio-based polyimide film called Hyaline, has now raised a total of $874m in funding, its earlier backers including SoftBank Vision Fund and Hanwha Asset Management.

A sector that hasn’t done brilliantly – for understandable reasons – is ride hailing, but that impact has been somewhat mitigated by the fact several companies in that space have seen their food delivery businesses pick up. Southeast Asia’s Grab will hypothetically see an uptick in its digital financial services arm, Grab Financial Group, and the subsidiary is reportedly in advanced talks with investors including insurers AIA and Prudential to raise $300m to $500m at a valuation of roughly $2bn. That funding would support an expansion into wealth management and the possible securing of an online banking licence.

Melio, developer of an online payment management platform for businesses, revealed today it has collected a total of $144m in funding since 2018, most recently netting $80m in a series C round last month. It hasn’t provided precise details but did say its backers include American Express Ventures. Amex’s corporate venturing unit has quietly been racking up some big exits over the last two or three years, most notably from Plaid, iZettle and Bill.com, showing that CVC investing can bag some nice returns alongside strategic interests.

AnyVision, an image and facial recognition software provider that counts Qualcomm Ventures and Robert Bosch among its backers, has pulled in $43m in funding from unnamed investors. The deal comes just over a year after its $74m series A round and roughly four months after Microsoft subsidiary M12, a participant in that round, announced it was divesting its stake due to doubts about the ethics of the use of facial recognition technology by governments.

Funds

Thursday/Friday were a heady 24 hours for corporate fund announcements (which included the Saudi Aramco vehicle we talked about earlier). And Toyota Research Institute – Advanced Development has launched an $800m growth-stage fund called Woven Capital that will back Toyota AI Ventures portfolio companies as they grow, in addition to backing external venture funds. Companies backed by the early-stage vehicle that have raised big rounds of late include personal aircraft developer Joby Aviation, driver safety technology provider Nauto and electric bus producer Proterra.

Santander has had a good degree of success since launching its Santander Innoventures unit with $100m in 2014, snagging big exits from iZettle and Kabbage while accessing technology from several portfolio companies. It has now spun off the unit into an autonomously managed fund dubbed Mouro Capital and doubled its capital allocation again from $200m to $400m. It will make initial investments of about $15m at early and growth stage.

Exits

KAR Auction Services has agreed to acquire BacklotCars, the owner of an online dealer-to-dealer automotive marketplace, for $425m, enabling Renren to exit. BacklotCars had raised roughly $50m pre-acquisition. Renren has pulled back from corporate venturing almost completely since 2017, but it’s going to be interesting to see if it can pull some more big exits out of its existing portfolio.

Fabless semiconductor maker 3Peak is set to bag $339m in its IPO, on the red-hot Shanghai Star Exchange. The Huawei-backed company is simply the latest to choose the Star Exchange to go public, the market having benefited from regulations introduced by US exchanges to combat what was perceived as unsatisfactory accounting practices by Chinese companies. It will also jointly host what may be the biggest IPO ever, when Ant Financial floats later this year.

Progress has bought software deployment automation platform Chef in another nine-figure acquisition deal, paying $220m in cash for the company. Chef had received a total of $105m in funding, most recently securing $40m in a 2015 series E round that included Citi Ventures and Hewlett Packard Ventures, which passed its stake in the company on to Hewlett Packard Pathfinder.

Emphysema treatment device developer Pulmonx has filed for an $86.3m offering that would provide exits to Boston Scientific and Posco Bioventures. The former is Pulmonx’s largest investor, the owner of a stake that tops 30%.

Episerver has signed an agreement to purchase Optimizely, a web optimisation software producer that has raised roughly $200m from backers including Accenture Ventures, GV, Citi Ventures and Salesforce Ventures. The size of the deal has not been disclosed but it will consist of a mixture of cash and shares. It comes less than two months after Optimizely revealed it had cut staff numbers by about 15% in the wake of impact from Covid-19.


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

17 June 2019 – GE Ventures to Sell its Portfolio

A fascinating feature for you courtesy of Tony Askew, co-founder and partner of REV Venture Partners, who spoke with Global Corporate Venturing about how the media industry has evolved since the corporate venturing unit was launched in 2000. Insights provided by Askew included how its co-investments with In-Q-Tel have helped the unit, while he also explained the group’s aim was to stay three to seven years ahead of everyone else.

Funds

WTW to broker corporate venturing deals

Third Rock counts $770m for fifth fund

Invengo invigorates $145m IoT fund

Crane crowns $90m close for first fund

Wavemaker drifts to $60m close for third fund

Exits

Salesforce processes $15.7bn Tableau acquisition

CrowdStrike is going public today after pricing a $612m IPO that represents a huge jump up from less than two weeks ago, when it was slated to float in an offering that would have raised $378m at its mid-point.

Merck & Co has agreed to acquire Tilos Therapeutics, which is developing antibodies to treat cancer, fibrosis and autoimmune diseases, in a deal that could potentially reach $773m once milestone payments are factored in.

That isn’t the only heavy-duty M&A exit to be agreed in the last day or so. H&R Block isbuying accounting software producer Wave Financial for $405m in cash.

Avi networks its way to VMWare acquisition

Barefoot takes next step with Intel purchase

Cvent goes DoubleDutch in acquisition deal

Deals

Short-term accommodation booking platform Oyo has reportedly begun talks with new and existing investors over a $1bn round that would value it at $10bn.

SoftBank’s recently launched $5bn Innovation Fund that focuses on Latin America has entered discussions with Brazil-based digital bank Nubank to lead a funding round that could reach up to $1bn and value the company at $8bn to $10bn – up from a previous reported valuation of $4bn, achieved when the fintech developer collected $180m from Tencent in October 2018.

SoftBank works out $300m Gympass investment

ADC Therapeutics adjusts series E to $276m

South Korea-based Yanolja also operates a short-term hotel business, refitting venues such as love hotels for a millennial user base seeking good quality accommodation on a budget. It has raised $180m in a series D round at a valuation of more than $1bn, with travel booking platform Booking Holdings joining Singapore’s GIC to supply the cash.

Innoviz has boosted a series C round that includes Harel Insurance and Phoenix Insurance from $132m to $170m, the extra funding coming from undisclosed investors.

Symphony plays on with $165m

Shuidi ships in $145m

Thumbtack, the US-based local services listing platform, has collected $120m in series H funding from unnamed investors – reportedly at a flat valuation of $1.3bn.

ShareChat in talks for $100m funding round

Dishangtie parks $100m in series B round

Vectra collects $100m in series E round

Infarm harvests $100m series B round


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

8 February 2016 – Munce retires, Jasper exit, Sesame Street, Pierre Fabre and more…

Big news – people moves

Claudia Fan Munce’s retirement as managing director of IBM’s Venture Capital Group, following other high-profile departures such as Nagraj Kashyap and Arvind Sodhani over the past year.

Tom Hockaday leaving Isis.

Exits

Jasper (Singtel and Temasek) after Gilt last month.

Rocket Internet has sold its food ordering sites in Europe, Mexia and Brazil to Just Eat, a London-based competitor, for $140 million.

IPOs

China-based, Merck & Co-backed immuno-oncology drug developer BeiGene floated on Nasdaq yesterday in a $158m IPO, the same day as genome editing company Editas Medicine.

Editas is also trading up, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see several more IPOs before the end of February.

But doubt it’ll be UBER, despite Fred Wilson’s demands as a non-shareholder.

Fundraising

Sesame Street’s new fund

Pierre Fabre, the 2nd largest French independent pharmaceutical group, have launched Pierre Fabre Fund for Innovation.

Two weeks ago, GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson were among the founders of the UK-based Apollo Therapeutics Fund, and they’ve teamed up again as limited partners in the $230m first fund closed by Medicxis Ventures, a life sciences-focused firm spun out of venture firm Index Ventures. GSK and Johnson & Johnson were previously LPs in Medicxis’ predecessor, the first life sciences fund raised by Index, in 2012.
Plus debuts slow, although Luma has two intel capital veterans.

Kuwait potentially throwing $100bn at its sovereign wealth fund.