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The Big Ones
Jio Platforms was spun off by Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries late last year to build a mobile network tailored for 5G and the internet of things, and everyone seems to want a slice. The latest is Google, which is paying $4.5bn for a 7.7% stake in Jio, the deal coming in the wake of parent company Alphabet’s recent pledge to invest some $10bn in India over the coming years. Qualcomm Ventures and Intel Capital had supplied a total of $350m for it earlier this month – Qualcomm’s actually came only a few days before Google’s investment. Meanwhile Facebook paid $5.7bn for a 10% stake in April.
Alphabet announced that it intends to channel up to $10bn into India through a newly formed vehicle dubbed Google for India Digitization Fund. That commitment will include equity funding for domestic companies, though as yet it’s unclear whether that will be deployed through the corporate’s investment subsidiaries. One of them, CapitalG, has already invested in several Indian companies but GV is yet to establish a presence in the region.
There’s been more IPO action this past week, beginning with electric vehicle battery producer Farasis Energy, which raised approximately $486m in an offering on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s Star Market. It raised a reported $193m from investors including strategic partner Daimler earlier this month, and the corporate venturing arm of another carmaker, BAIC, is also among its shareholders.
On GUV, Paige, a US-based cancer pathology software spinout of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, extended its series B round to $70m with commitments from Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division and Healthcare Venture Partners. Both were returning investors from previous tranches. The initial series B close last year had also featured Brey Capital, private investor Kenan Turnacioglu and undisclosed funds. Leo Grady, chief executive of Paige, told GUV: “The past year has underscored the need for pathology to adopt a digital workflow. As hospitals and labs look for solutions, they are seeing Paige as uniquely positioned: providing an enterprise solution for digital pathology images across sites and scanners while leveraging advanced cancer detection and characterisation solutions to provide additional information to the pathologist during diagnosis.”
RobinHood has seen demand for its share trading platform skyrocket during the Covid-19 lockdown, so much so it’s delayed the app’s UK launch. It has added 3 million new accounts and has followed that by adding $320m to a series F round that now stands at $600m. The company, which is backed by Alphabet unit CapitalG and Roc Nation, secured the capital at an $8.3bn valuation and has now raised a total of nearly $1.5bn in venture funding.
UiPath, a developer of robotic process automation technology that facilitates the automation of repetitive tasks like data entry, can also be said to be a company with a lockdown-relevant product. It has pulled in $225m through a series E round featuring Tencent that boosted its valuation from $7bn in May 2019 to $10.2bn post-money. CapitalG is also among UiPath’s investors, having first backed it in a 2018 series B round.
In Japan, ride hailing platform Mobility Technologies (MoT) has agreed up to $211m in corporate funding, with the lion’s share to come from mobile network operator NTT Docomo. The round included Dentsu and Tokyo Century and it shows the benefits of pivoting when the time is right. MoT began life as a taximeter software producer but has raised money from investors also including Toyota and Kakao Mobility since it switched tack.
Another Salesforce-backed company, Auth0, is also valued at $1.9bn, following a $120m series F round led by corporate VC vehicle Salesforce Ventures. Telstra Ventures also took part in the round, as did Deutsche Telekom’s DTCP unit, and the user authentication software provider intends to leverage Deutsche Telekom’s resources as it expands internationally. It has now secured more than $330m altogether.
Qumulo, developer of a cloud-based data management system, has completed a $125m series E round led by BlackRock that took its total funding above $350m. The cash was secured at a valuation of more than $1.2bn and it comes roughly two years after a series D round featuring disk drive manufacturer Western Digital. The cash will support product development and international growth.
We already had one huge fund but there was another last week: 23 biopharmaceutical companies have provided a total of almost $1bn in capital for AMR Action Fund, a vehicle tasked with helping to combat antimicrobial resistance by investing in companies developing new antibiotics. Those backers include Pfizer, Merck & Co and Johnson & Johnson, which are each supplying $100m. AMR Action Fund is slated to begin operations in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Small molecule cancer drug developer Relay Therapeutics has bagged $400m from its initial public offering, increasing the number of shares by more than a third and floating above its range. Its shaves have also risen post-IPO, providing a success story that’s badly needed for its largest investor, SoftBank Vision Fund. Although Vision Fund’s consumer-facing investments have been somewhat patchy, its life sciences deals seem to be paying off.
Banking software provider nCino has raised $250m in a flotation that saw it float a full $7 above its range. Its shares then nearly tripled in their first day of trading yesterday to give it a valuation of more than $1.9bn. The IPO is also a success for Salesforce, which owns a 12% stake having invested $72m in nCino between 2016 and late last year.
“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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