06 April 2020 – Lyell Immunopharma Gains $493m Investment from GlaxoSmithKline

The Big Ones

It is the sort of line to awaken the curiosity in an annual report: “Cash payments to acquire equity investments amounted to £258m [$314m] (2018 – £309m), primarily relating to Lyell Immunopharma.”

Thus, the accountants revealed UK-listed drugs maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) had invested a sizeable amount in US-based cancer treatment developer Lyell Immunopharma, which raised $493m earlier this month.

Late last week, US-listed software provider Microsoft fell into the latter camp as it agreed with AnyVision that “it is in the best interest of both enterprises for Microsoft to divest its shareholding in AnyVision”.

AnyVision Interactive Technologies, an Israel-based computer vision technology provider specialising in face, body and object-recognition software, only announced the close of a $74m series A round featuring M12, Microsoft’s corporate venture fund, as a new investor, in mid-June. But the deal came under public attention with media reports alleging its system was being used for a mass surveillance program in the West Bank.

American firms have a long history of running into competition concerns when trying to buy UK-based chipmaker Plessey. The latest is social media company Facebook, which has turned from acquisition plans to an agreement just to buy all the augmented reality displays made by Plessey over the next several years.

Deals

WeWork has had its six months of hell compounded after SoftBank pulled away from a $3bn share tender offer connected to a proposed $1.5bn in debt financing. The corporate cited WeWork’s failure to meet certain conditions set in the tender agreement and said it has now supplied more than $14bn – $14bn! – in debt and equity financing for the company since it first invested just three years ago. With Covid-19 keeping office workers at home, the future looks anything but bright for the startup space’s most visible falling star.

Adapting rather better to the situation is artificial intelligence technology provider 4Paradigm, which has closed $230m in funding from investors including Lenovo and existing backer Cisco at a $2bn valuation. China-based 4Paradigm said it has been developing AI tools to track infection rates and model coronavirus-related scenarios in addition to helping businesses accelerate digital transformation. It had last raised funding in a late 2018 series D round valuing it at $1.2bn.

And despite general concerns around slowing transportation needs, Via Transportation offers a diverse range of transport options that can be integrated into an organisation’s existing activities. Holding company Exor has pumped $200m into Via as part of a series E round of undisclosed size that valued it at $2.25bn. Shell, Mori Building and Hearst Ventures also contributed to the round. Via’s existing backers include Daimler, which led a reported $250m round for the company three years ago.

And Crisitunity! The Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions associated with it are likely to be around for a while, but while it is devastating large swathes of the worldwide economy, some others are benefitting. Zoom and Netflix have been held up as examples of this, but the online education and media sector is also in place to do well.

Yuanfudao has reportedly topped Chinese app downloads in the space since January and has raised $1bn in a series G round co-led by long-term corporate investor Tencent. The cash was secured at a $7.8bn valuation and boosted the company’s overall funding to more than $1.5bn. Expect more to follow in that sector. Businesses are suffering but it looks as if a by-product of the crisis will be to accelerate the move toward mobile activities and socialising touted by the tech space for so long.

Tiger Global waltzes into Bytedance

As are ecommerce and producers. Plenty prepares to raise $100m

Online marketplace Ozon has been a fixture in Russia for more than two decades and is still getting big interest from investors. It’s just added $50m in convertible note financing from Princeville Capital to $100m recently secured from conglomerate Sistema and Baring Vostok. The $150m financing round follows $154m from the latter two last April and a $119m secondary investment by Sistema shortly before.

On healthcare and life sciences, which is another part of the tech space that’s unsurprisingly booming right now. Hillhouse Capital and Chen Yi Investment are putting up $292m for a secondary investment in Hualan Biological Vaccines, the vaccine developer spun off from biopharmaceutical firm Hualan Biological Engineering. It was formed in 2015 and was responsible for a third of its parent company’s revenue last year. It’s now valued at about $1.94bn.

6 Dimensions supports $125m round for iTeos

Collibra collects $112m

Pandion packs in $80m

Aspen Neuroscience ascends with $70m

Affinia affirms $60m series A

AM-Pharma has added $52m in debt and equity financing from Cowen Healthcare Investments and European Investment Bank to a round that now stands at $182m. The company, which is developing a treatment for acute kidney injury, has now disclosed almost $340m in funding altogether, its earlier backers including Pfizer and AbbVie.

Olive collects $51m

University

Zucara sweetens $21m series A deal

MiDiagnostics brings experiment to a $15.4m close

Funds

Yamato delivers Kuroneko Innovation Fund

Exit

OneWeb is the latest of SoftBank Vision Fund’s large-scale investments to go sour, filing for bankruptcy after failing to raise a reported $2bn from investors including Vision Fund. SoftBank has pumped upwards of $1bn into the satellite internet system developer, which has secured a total of $3.4bn prior to the move, from investors also including Qualcomm, Airbus, Coca-Cola Company, Virgin, Bharti Enterprises, Totalplay, Hughes Network Systems and Intelsat.

And distressed exits will increase. Hooq clasps liquidation option

IPOs may have dropped off but we’ve already seen some large M&A deals in recent weeks, the latest being Affirmed Networks, which has agreed to an acquisition by Microsoft that reportedly valued it at $1.35bn. The mobile network technology provider had disclosed $141m in funding and its exiting investors include Qualcomm Ventures, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, the latter having taken over the stake from another Deutsche Telekom subsidiary, T-Venture.

Palo Alto Networks agreeing to buy network technology provider CloudGenix in a $420m deal that will enable Intel Capital to exit. Longtime readers will of course recognise Palo Alto as one of the most frequent providers of CVC M&A exits.


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

30 March 2020 – Lime in Talks to Raise Funding at a Reduced $400m Valuation

The Big Ones

In what may be an ominous sign, electric scooter rental service Lime is reportedly in talks to raise funding at a $400m valuation, a steep fall from its last round just over a year ago, when it secured $310m in a series D round featuring Alphabet that valued it at $2.4bn. The company has secured $777m altogether but the Covid-19 pandemic has led it to suspend operations in every market outside South Korea and it reportedly only has enough cash to last for the next few months on its current burn rate.

A good exit at a challenging time in the global economy for US-based mobile networking service Affirmed Networks had a year ago raised $38m in a funding round that included Qualcomm Ventures, the corporate venturing unit of semiconductor technology manufacturer Qualcomm.

The round was led by investment firm Centerview Capital Technology and included Eastward Capital Partners and unnamed existing shareholders.

Vodafone Ventures and T-Venture, the respective corporate venturing units of mobile phone operators Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom, previously took part in the company’s $51m series C round in 2013.

Bessemer Venture Partners led the series C round, also investing alongside KCK Group, Charles River Ventures (CRV), Lightspeed Venture Partners and Matrix Partners.

Affirmed Networks had emerged from stealth in 2012 with $52m in funding from T-Venture, Vodafone Ventures, Matrix, Charles River and Lightspeed.

Hassan Ahmed created the idea behind Affirmed when he was working out of CRV’s office in Boston in 2009 as an executive in residence. When Hassan joined the firm, he was already the most successful CRV entrepreneur of all time, having run engineering at Cascade Communications, a networking company sold to Ascend for more than $3bn in 1997 and then subsequently running Sonus Networks, a high-flying communications company that had gone public in 2000. Hassan had the magic touch.

Funds

China-based company, mobile game publisher Kunlun Tech, certainly seems to be bullish. It is one of two cornerstone investors for a $424m vehicle called Kunlun (Beijing) Internet Intelligent Industry Investment Fund that will back internet and AI technology developers. Kunlun is putting up about $140m for the fund while subsidiary Xinyu Shijie Wuji Investment Management will act as general partner.

Shortly after news emerged that Kunlun Tech was partnering investment manager Beijing Huayu Tianhong to put together a $424m fund, two more Chinese corporates – Yuexiu Group and People’s Insurance Company of China – have announced they are establishing an industry investment fund the same size that will focus on technology developers in China’s Greater Bay Area. It follows a $1bn Taiping Insurance-backed fund targeting the same region in January.

Dating.com commits $50m to meeting startups

Afterpay unveils AP Ventures fund

Exits

Mobile commerce platforms Letgo and OfferUp are set to merge in a deal accompanied by a $120m round led by classified listings manager OLX Group, part of Naspers’ Prosus subsidiary. The deal will give OLX a 40% stake in the combined business. It first invested in Letgo in 2015, the year the company was founded, and it had disclosed $975m in funding prior to the merger agreement.

FuboTV fuses with FaceBank

Checkmarx ticks acquisition box

OneWeb examines bankruptcy possibilities

North Wearables seeks direction to buyers

Deals

We mentioned in the big news intro that ride hailing services were among those likely to be hit by Covid-19 social isolation measures, and China’s Didi Chuxing looks like it could be first off the mark to raise money. It is reportedly lining up $300m in a round set to be led by SoftBank, at a time when its home country is beginning to ease travel restrictions. Didi was valued at $62bn as of a July investment by Toyota, and it’s going to be interesting to see if any valuation information leaks out once the deal closes.

Data mining software provider MiningLamp has secured $300m in a series E round co-led by Tencent and state-owned investment firm Temasek that included another corporate, Kuaishou. The company, whose business model is similar to Palantir’s, has now raised more than $785m altogether and the capital will be used to support research and development, recruitment and the development of an intelligent marketing software platform.

Vertical take-off and landing vehicle developer Lillium has closed more than $240m in funding, in a round led by Tencent. The round was made up entirely of existing investors and marks a downgrade from the $400m to $500m target it had reportedly set late last year. The deal may be emblematic of what we may increasingly see going forward: existing investors continuing to back portfolio companies while being more conservative when it comes to new bets.

Ping An’s Global Voyager Fund has led a $146m round for iCapital, a provider of alternative investment management software. The round included strategic investors such as UBS Financial Services, BNY Mellon, Goldman Sachs, BlackRock and Blackstone, and the company’s overall funding likely now tops $200m.

Online used car marketplace Cazoo has raised $117m in what represents its fourth round in the space of 18 months.  Daily Mail and General Trust’s DMG Ventures led the round, having backed the startup since its 2018 seed round, and was joined by investors including Fidelity’s Eight Roads Ventures fund. Interestingly, Cazoo expects a bump from the coronavirus conditions as more customers opt for online transactions.

Kallyope took its total funding past $240m in a $112m series C round featuring existing investors Illumina Ventures and Alexandria Venture Investments. The company is developing therapeutics concentrated on the body’s gut-brain axis and intends to use the funding to begin clinical trials for its lead asset, an oral treatment targeting satiety circuits for weight loss.

SutroVax sorts out $110m series D

CureFit cuts to $109m round

Dragonfly Therapeutics drags financing to $300m

Nature’s Fynd, the edible protein developer formerly known as Sustainable Bioproducts, has rebranded and raised $80m in a series B round featuring Danone Manifesto Ventures and Archer Daniels Midland’s ADM Ventures unit. The capital is expected to fund the doubling of the company’s headcount to 100 and the round comes as it has begun production of its edible vegan protein products.

University

Nurix nabs $120m

Recode decodes $80m series A


“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

18 December 2017 – OneWeb Follows SpaceX with a $500m Investment

Deals

Days after SpaceX raised $1bn in funding, another satellite technology company, OneWeb, is lining up a $500m investment from SoftBank, which had previously put up $1bn of the $1.2bn OneWeb raised a year ago. .

Office software producer Kingsoft spun cloud storage business Kingsoft Cloud out in 2012 but has retained a majority stake now sized at 52%. It also invested $150m of the $300m in series D funding Kingsoft Cloud just raised at a $1.9bn valuation, bringing its total funding to approximately $500m.

Reports for most of this year have been touting a $200m corporate investment in Indian online grocer BigBasket, and the latest news is that Alibaba will pay $200m for a 25% stake in the company as part of a $280m round.

Koch Disruptive Technologies, a newly formed vehicle for conglomerate Koch Industries, has made its first investment, leading a $150m series E round for InSightec, the developer of a magnetic resonance-equipped ultrasound surgical device.

There have been some big deals in the space sector recently, and the latest is iSpace, a lunar exploration company that’s just closed $90.2m in series A funding, the largest series A round in Japan’s history.

NextDoor, the social media platform focused on local communities, has raised $75m from undisclosed investors at a valuation indicated by a regulatory filing to be about $1.5bn.

AI chip developer ThinkForce has secured $68m in a series A round featuring machine vision technology developer Yitu Technology as well as Sequoia Capital China, Yunfeng Capital and Yitu backer Hillhouse Capital.

Online razor seller Harry’s has raised $63.7m in funding, according to a regulatory filing, cash that will reportedly be put towards a complementary acquisition.

GV has participated in a $63m series B round closed by oncology therapy developer Relay Therapeutics that took the company’s overall funding to $120m.

Insikt, the Rakuten-backed operator of an online lending platform for the un(der)banked, has raised $50m in a series D round led by Grupo Coppel that took its total funding past the $100m mark.

Swedish mobile payment and small business revenue technology provider iZettle has secured about $47m in a Dawn Capital-led round that included the Fourth Swedish National Pension Fund, at a reported valuation of about $950m.

We’ve had several GGV deals already, and on GUV, the biggest deal was US-based immuno-oncology developer Pionyr Immunotherapeutics, which raised $62m in series B funding from a consortium that featured spinout-focused investment firm Osage University Partners.

Funds

Auto parts supplier Valeo has provided 25% of the money for a $226m car technology fund formed by private equity firm Cathay Capital, joining government-owned Yangtze River Industry Fund as a cornerstone investor.

On GGV, the EU-owned European Investment Fund contributed funding to investment firm LSP’s second medtech vehicle, LSP Health Economics Fund 2 (LSP HEF 2), which reached an oversubscribed close of €280m ($330m).

And on GUV, UM Ventures, the tech transfer office for the University of Maryland System (UMS), has unveiled plans for a venture fund of undisclosed size aimed at retaining university-linked startups in the city of Baltimore.

Here’s an interesting one from GUV as well: Imperial College London and Tsinghua University have joined forces to seed a $300,000 fund called the Tsinghua-Imperial Research and Innovation Fund to back early-stage scientific research.

Exits

Gilead Sciences has agreed to acquire T cell receptor therapy developer Cell Design Labs in a deal that could value it at up to $567m, six years after Kite Pharma, now a Gilead subsidiary, took a 12.2% stake by backing a $34.4m round that remained Cell Design’s only funding.

Apple has reportedly lined up a $400m acquisition of music identification app developer Shazam. The deal would provide exits for América Móvil, Sony, Universal and Access Industries, but none look likely to make a profitable return on their investments, Shazam’s valuation having peaked at about $1bn in 2015.

On GUV we’ve had two IPO-related news this past week. First up, Mirriad, a UK-based video technology spinout from University of Surrey, is targeting £26.2m ($35m) in gross proceeds in its initial public offering on Aim. Mirriad, which will enter the public markets under the ticker symbol Miri tomorrow (that’s Tuesday, December 19 for those of you listening later).

Then we also have Fusion Antibodies, a UK-based genomics modelling platform spun out of Queen’s University Belfast, which will raise £5.5m ($7.4m) in its initial public offering on Aim.


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

06 March 2017 – British Business Bank’s $500m fund and Much More

Funds

Foxconn, the contract manufacturer that’s already backed the $100bn SoftBank Vision Fund, has now also dropped $600m on a majority stake in the telecoms group’s Asia-based tech-focused investment arm SoftBank Asia Capital.

Baloise has committed $50m to an investment vehicle operated by Anthemis to identify opportunities in insurance technology startups based in Europe and the US.

Symantec, which previously backed Appthority via its subsidiary Blue Coat Systems, has decided to join the corporate venturing world and launched Symantec Ventures.

MFEC sets aside $20m to invest in startups and will move some of its human resources staff to manage the new corporate venturing subsidiary.

Kore, which provides business management software for entertainment companies and sports franchises, has formed a strategic investment arm and closed its first deal.

The Mobile World Congress might be making headlines because Nokia’s iconic 3310 handset is being resurrected, but Facebook is certain to also draw attention with the launch of a $170m investment collaboration through its Telecoms Infrastructure Project that will target startups operating in that very telecoms sector.

University Corner

University venturing: the view from Cornell – an interview with Alice Li

Virginia Tech and Carilion launch $15m fund

Government Department

Big deal: British Business Bank launches $500m fund

Mercia is allocated Northern Powerhouse money

Vanedge points at $122m fund

Hatteras to manage $60m NC fund

Exits

Snap’s long-awaited initial public offering is upon us today, as the company priced 200 million shares at $17 a piece last night, resulting in a $3.4bn windfall.

As the news flow shows no intention of slowing down, today’s lead story is an initial public offering by Alteryx, a data analytics provider that counts Thomson Reuters and Sapphire Ventures among its shareholders. The company, which last raised $85m in a series C round in 2015, is targeting $75m in proceeds with a flotation on the New York Stock Exchange but is yet to decide on a price range for its shares.

In Finland, Next Games stands to be the country’s first games developer to complete an initial public offering if it goes ahead with plans to list on the Nasdaq First North Finland.

Another IPO: the week stays busy with Ecovacs Robotics, a China-based vacuum and household robotics producer, filing for a flotation on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

Mozilla acquires Pocket and provides an exit to shareholders including Axel Springer, Digital Garage and Alphabet.

Yelp has acquired its portfolio company Nowait, a restaurant booking app that it backed last August.

Deals

Our lead story last Monday is a Big Deal piece by reporter Kaloyan Andonov, in which he looks at what Ant Financial’s decision to provide $200m to Kakao Pay the previous week means.

Satellite operator OneWeb is making headlines with a $13bn all-stock merger with its peer Intelsat to produce a new entity that is set to attract $1.7bn in funding from SoftBank, the same investor that previously led a $1.2bn round with a $1bn cash injection in late December.

Oyo Rooms books up to $500m

Ola moves forward with $330m

Back in January, Grail, the oncology diagnostics company spun out of Illumina, was reported to be seeking $1bn for its series B round. Fast-forward to today and the startup has revealed that it has secured $900m – which may seem like it’s missed its target, but in fact that’s a first tranche and Grail is seeking up to an additional $900m to take the round all the way to $1.8bn.

Ride sharing might be in the news for all the wrong reasons these days as Uber is faced with scandal after scandal, but Didi Chuxing, the China-based ride hailing service that swallowed up Uber China, remains in good spirits: the company just backed a $450m series D round for Ofo, a bike sharing app provider.

A month ago, we reported on Paytm E-Commerce reportedly seeking a round of $180m to $200m and it appears the company has now secured the upper amount, getting $177m from Alibaba and another $23m from Saif Partners.

CloudMinds, an AI technology developer that previously obtained a stunning $31m in angel and seed capital from investors such as SoftBank, has received a similarly impressive $100m series A round from unnamed backers.

Delhivery coordinates $100m round

ChargePoint, which operates a network of independently managed charging stations for electric vehicles, has added $82m to its coffers thanks to a funding round led by Daimler.

University Corner

PMV diagnoses $74m series B

Urjanet raises $20m series C

Government Department:

Omeicos is treated to $8.7m


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