05 July 2021 – CMR Surgical Raises $600m in Round Led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2

The Big Ones

SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 co-led a $600m series D round for UK-based surgical robotics technology developer CMR Surgical with healthcare investment group Ally Bridge, while Cambridge Innovation Capital, the patient capital fund formed with the support of University of Cambridge, also participated. GE Healthcare, a subsidiary of power and industrial technology conglomerate General Electric, also took part in the round, which valued the company at $3bn, as did internet group Tencent. RPMI Railpen and Chimera filled out the consortium together with existing backers including LGT and its Lightrock affiliate, Watrium, and PFM Health Sciences.

BMW i Ventures, the US-based venture capital firm formed by Germany’s automotive manufacturer BMW, launched a $300m fund that will focus on sustainability. BMW i Ventures has accumulated a portfolio of some 50 companies including Chargepoint, the vehicle charging network set to list at a $2.4bn valuation, and manufacturing services marketplace Xometry, which floated in a $302m IPO this past week. The latest vehicle will operate alongside the unit’s $500m first fund and will target early and mid-stage companies concentrating on sustainability, transportation, manufacturing and supply chain technologies.

Didi Global, the China-based ride hailing service backed by SoftBank, Alibaba, China Life, Tencent, Apple, Booking Holdings, Ping An, eHi and Sina Weibo, went public in a $4.44bn initial public offering. The company increased the amount of shares in the offering from 288 million American Depositary Shares, with four ADSs equalling one class A share, to approximately 317 million. They were priced at the top of the IPO’s $13 to $14 range and it floated on the New York Stock Exchange.

Duolingo, the US-based language learning app developer spun out of Carnegie Mellon University, has filed for an initial public offering yesterday that would enable Alphabet to exit. The offering is slated to take place on the Nasdaq Global Select Market and the company has set a $100m placeholder target. The company had raised a total of $183m as of November 2020, when it secured $35m from Durable Capital Partners and General Atlantic at $2.4bn valuation, with Union Square Ventures (USV) selling shares through the deal.

Deals

UK-based low earth orbit satellite technology developer OneWeb secured $500m from Bharti Enterprises, which exercised a call option from a shareholder’s agreement to increase its stake to 38.6%. OneWeb is developing a constellation of 650 low earth orbit satellites through which it intends to offer global broadband connectivity. The company had filed for bankruptcy in March 2020 after failing to secure new funding in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic. Bharti and the UK government then bought OneWeb’s assets for $1bn in July that year. The UK government’s investment was reportedly motivated by a desire to build a competitor to the global positioning system Galileo, created by the EU and to which the country has lost access following its decision to abandon the union. OneWeb’s satellites would be in too low an orbit to enable such functionality, however.

SoftBank led a $415m series C round for Kitopi, the United Arab Emirates-headquartered provider of a cloud kitchen software platform, through its Vision Fund 2. Diversified conglomerate Dogus Group also took part in the round, along with B Riley Financial, Chimera Investment, DisruptAD, Next Play Capital and Nordstar. The cash was secured at a valuation above $1bn.

Olive, a US-based healthcare management software producer backed by internet and technology group Alphabet, completed a $400m funding round yesterday valuing it at $4bn. The round was led by Vista Equity Partners and also featured Base10 Partners’ Advancement Initiative. It took the overall funding raised by the company to $902m.

Zipline, a US-based medical consumables logistics service backed by Alphabet, secured $250m from investors including Fidelity, Baillie Gifford, Emerging Capital Partners, Intercorp, Katalyst Ventures, Reinvent Capital and Temasek. The cash was secured at a $2.75bn valuation.

US-based corporate wellbeing services provider Gympass raised $220m from investors including SoftBank today at a $2.2bn valuation. General Atlantic, Kaszek, Moore Strategic Ventures and Valor Capital Group also participated in the round. Founded in Brazil, Gympass operates wellness programmes on behalf of corporate clients, offering access to gyms, personal trainers, meditation classes and therapists, and said it had signed up more than 1,000 new corporate customers during the pandemic.

Goat Group, a US-based streetwear marketplace operator backed by Foot Locker, has secured $195m in a series F round that valued it at $3.7bn. Hedge fund manager Park West Asset Management led the round, which included Ulysses Management, Franklin Templeton and Adage Capital Management, and funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price Associates.

Funds

US-based enterprise software supplier Infragistics has formed a $50m corporate venture capital vehicle dubbed Infragistics Innovation Fund and Lab. The fund will target intrapreneurs from within the organisation who are developing innovation technologies related to Infragistics’ user interface and user experience (UX) design software products.

Exits

SentinelOne, a US-based cybersecurity technology producer backed by Qualcomm and Samsung, has raised more than $1.22bn today in an upsized initial public offering. The IPO consists of 35 million shares issued on the New York Stock Exchange, increased from an initial allocation of 32 million, priced at $35.00 each, above its $31 to $32 range. Existing SentinelOne investors Tiger Global Management, Insight Partners, Third Point Ventures and Sequoia Capital agreed to acquire $50m more shares through a concurrent private placement. The IPO price values it at approximately $8.92bn.

US-based security screening technology producer Clear Secure went public in a $409m initial public offering representing exits for Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Union Square Hospitality Group and Liberty Media. The company issued 13.2 million class A shares on the New York Stock Exchange priced at $31.00 each, above the IPO’s $27 to $30 range. The shares closed at $40 on their first day of trading.

InnoVid, a US-based video marketing technology provider backed by Cisco and Deutsche Telekom, has agreed a reverse takeover at an implied valuation of roughly $1.3bn. The company is joining forces with SPAC Ion Acquisition Corp 2, which floated on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in a $253m initial public offering in January 2021. Phoenix Insurance and Fidelity Management and Research are co-leading a $150m PIPE financing in connection with the deal that includes Baron Capital Group, Vintage and funds affiliated with Ion.

MissFresh, a China-based online grocery retailer backed by Lenovo and Tencent, raised $273m in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. The company priced 21 million American depositary shares, each representing three ordinary shares, at $13 each, at the low end of the $13-$16 range it had set last week. They opened at $10.65 and closed at $9.66 at the end of its first day of trading, giving it a market capitalisation of roughly $2.5bn.

US-based online trading platform developer Robinhood filed for an initial public offering that would score exits for Alphabet and Roc Nation. Founded in 2013, Robinhood runs Robinhood Financial, an online platform where users can buy and sell stocks without a minimum investment level, in addition to Robinhood Crypto, which allows them to do the same with cryptocurrencies. The company has set a $100m placeholder target for the offering, and sources familiar with its plans told the Financial Times it is targeting a $40bn valuation.


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

18 January 2021 – GV Returns for EQRx’s $500m Series B

The Big Ones

EQRx formally launched a year ago with $200m from investors including GV and Nextech, and all its series A investors have now returned for a $500m series B round. The startup is collaborating with stakeholders including pharmaceutical companies to develop more affordable medicines, with late-stage cancer drugs a particular focus. It is also part of an increasingly diverse portfolio of early-stage life sciences companies in GV’s portfolio.

Mobile network operator Orange is the latest corporate to spin off its venture capital unit with a healthy addition to its funding allocation. Orange Ventures will henceforth operate as an independent entity, and has received $426m in capital from its former parent company in addition to the portfolio of its predecessor, Orange Digital Ventures. That portfolio includes Monzo, Raisin and Actility.

Qualcomm Technologies has agreed to buy silicon chip technology developer Nuvia for $1.4bn less than two years after it was founded. Nuvia had raised $293m across two rounds pre-acquisition, both of which included Dell’s corporate venturing subsidiary, Dell Technologies Capital. It could well be an early marker of some of the M&A activity that will spring up as 5G technology begins to get a real foothold in the mainstream.

Dice Molecules, a US-based biopharmaceutical spinout of Stanford University, has closed an $80m series C round featuring spinout-focused investment firm Osage University Partners. RA Capital Management led the round, which also attracted Sanofi Ventures and Alexandria Venture Investments on behalf of pharmaceutical firm Sanofi and real estate investment trust Alexandria Real Estate Equities. Founded in 2014, Dice Molecules has developed a drug discovery platform leveraging technology dubbed DNA-encoded library, which it hopes will make it possible to target a range of conditions with oral treatments rather than requiring injections. Its lead asset is aimed at psoriasis, and the company has been collaborating with Sanofi since 2016.

Deals

WeWork aside, Vision Fund’s biggest failure was perceived as OneWeb, the satellite internet operator that declared bankruptcy early last year after SoftBank had pumped some $2bn into the company. However, Bharti Enterprises joined the UK government to buy it for $1bn in the resulting auction, and now SoftBank is back, putting in $350m of a $400m investment expected to help OneWeb complete its initial satellite constellation. It will come out with a 30% stake, and the other $50m was put up by another pre-bankruptcy investor.

Online fitness was earmarked as one of the big growth sectors in our 2021 preview, and the first company in the space to raise big money this year is Keep, which has bagged $360m in series F funding at a valuation of about $2bn. SoftBank Vision Fund led the livestreamed fitness class provider’s latest round, which also featured existing backers Tencent and Bertelsmann Asia Investments.

Autonomous driving software developer WeRide raised $200m in series B funding from bus manufacturer Yutong Group last month and it has now added $110m to close the round at $310m. The round comes after earlier funding provided by investors including Nvidia GPU Ventures, SenseTime, Johnson Electric and Alliance Ventures.

Digital lending software provider Blend has closed a $300m series G round that doubled its valuation to $3.3bn in just five months, which is very impressive. The round was co-led by Tiger Global and Coatue, though no mention of existing corporate backer Salesforce.

Blend isn’t the only fintech developer to have experienced a huge jump in valuation last week. Cross-border payment platform developer Rapyd has also received $300m, in a series D round also led by Coatue. The series D boosted the valuation of Rapyd, which counts Stripe as an earlier investor, to $2.5bn post-money, more than double that of a year ago.

Tessera Therapeutics is the latest in a series of life sciences startups that have raised nine-figure amounts for their first external rounds, having pulled in $230m for its gene writing technology, which aims to prevent disease by rewriting the genome. The series B round was co-led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2, which may itself be looking to get more involved in the sector.

Elsewhere in China, employee management software provider WorkTrans has announced over $190m in funding, $140m coming in a Tencent-backed series D round. The round was disclosed together with a $50.5m series C round and it increased WorkTrans’ overall funding to approximately $236m. It will support further development of the company’s HR management product, which makes use of deep learning and cloud computing technology.

SoftBank’s $5bn Latin America fund has given it a sizeable foothold on the continent, and it has co-led a $190m round for one of its portfolio companies, furnishing and home decor marketplace MadeiraMadeira. The corporate also led MadeiraMadeira’s last round, in which it secured $110m, and the funding is set to fund the expansion of the company’s brick-and-mortar footprint and a prospective range of own-brand products.

GV was among the participants in a $160m funding round for distributed database technology provider Cockroach Labs that valued it at $2bn. The Alphabet subsidiary has been a Cockroach investor since its $6.3m series A round in 2015 and has been along for every round since, as the company has hiked its total funding to $355m.

Exits

It seems amazing now that just a year ago it looked like the losses suffered by SoftBank’s Vision Fund could have severely impacted its corporate parent as a whole. There have been few bigger winners from the boom in the public markets and VC spaces, and its next exit could be from Auto1. The online car dealership has announced it plans to launch an initial public offering in Frankfurt that could raise some $1.2bn alongside a private placement. Vision Fund invested $565m in Auto1 at a $3.56bn valuation in 2018 and it’s going to be interesting to see how that valuation compares to the company’s market cap when it does float.

Dynamic window producer View announced plans for a reverse merger in November that would be boosted by $300m in PIPE financing. That amount is set to be boosted to $500m after Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC committed a further $200m, adding to some $1.8bn in earlier debt and equity financing. That capital was provided by investors including SoftBank Vision Fund 1, Corning and Seagate.

Cryptocurrency services provider Bakkt was launched by financial exchange operator Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) in 2018 and less than three years on, it has agreed to a reverse merger set to value it at $2.1bn once the deal closes. It will also take an NYSE listing and $325m in PIPE financing from investors including ICE. It had raised more than $480m in venture funding from backers also including Microsoft unit M12, PayU and Boston Consulting Group.

Funds

Germany-listed food delivery service Delivery Hero has committed €50m ($61m) to set up an independently-managed, early-stage corporate venture capital firm called DX Ventures. DX Ventures will invest in sectors including on-demand services, food technology, sustainable innovation, artificial intelligence, financial technology and logistics. It will be led by managing director Duncan McIntyre.


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

13 July 2020 – Rivian Strikes Deal with Amazon for 100,000 Electric Delivery Vans

The Big Ones

Now ride hailing has matured past the stage where it requires multi-billion dollar rounds, one of the biggest fundraisers in recent months has been Rivian, an electric truck and SUV developer that won’t even have a product out until next year. It has however struck a deal to sell 100,000 electric delivery vans to strategic partner Amazon, and Amazon was among the investors that have provided $2.5bn in financing for the company. It has now raised a total of more than $6.1bn from an investor base also including Ford, Cox Automotive, Sumitomo and Abdul Latif Jameel.

UK-based oil and gas company BP revealed it intends to provide $70m for India and UK-focused cleantech investment vehicle Green Growth Equity Fund (GGEF). GGEF was formed to invest in India-based technology developers operating in fields such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, electric mobility and resource conservation. It has a target size of $700m and BP’s investment is set to close later this year. The government of India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) and the UK Department for International Development are anchoring the vehicle, having each made a £120m ($170m) commitment at its April 2018 launch. The fund is managed by Eversource Capital, an India-based joint venture created by BP’s solar power subsidiary, Lightsource BP, and private equity and real estate investment firm Everstone Capital.

Ant Financial was valued at a gargantuan $150bn when it last raised money, through a $14bn series C round in 2018, but Alibaba’s financial services spinoff is reportedly seeking to go public as soon as this year in an initial public offering set to take place at a projected valuation exceeding $200bn. In addition to Alibaba, which owns about a third of the company, Ant’s shareholders include insurance group China Life and postal service China Post.

Vor Biopharma, a US-based cancer treatment developer spun out of Columbia University, has raised $110m in a series B round featuring spinout-focused investment firm Osage University Partners. RA Capital Management led the round, which also included healthcare group Johnson & Johnson, pharmaceutical companies PureTech Health, life science real estate investment trust Alexandria Real Estate Equities and financial services group Fidelity, as well as Pagliuca Family Office, 5AM Ventures and undisclosed backers. Vor Biopharma is working on engineered haematopoietic stem cell (eHSC) therapies that have biologically redundant proteins removed – essentially making the stem cells invisible to complementary treatments that target those proteins. The company’s lead asset, Vor33, is aimed at acute myeloid leukaemia and is expected to avoid toxicity to blood and bone marrow associated with current treatments.

Deals

Epic Games is no slouch, the Fortnite developer having secured $250m from Sony at a reported valuation not far from $18bn. Epic was reported last month to be in talks with institutional investors to raise $750m at a $17bn valuation, but Sony’s interest may well be linked to the forthcoming release of the Playstation 5 this Christmas. It’s worth mentioning Fortnite has been a goldmine not only for Epic but also for Sony, which gets a 30% cut of every sale made through its online store. The Playstation 4 has, by the way, sold more than 100 million units since its late 2017 debut.

Instacart has added $100m from T.Rowe Price to a late-stage round that now stands at $325m and which values it at $13.8bn post-money. The grocery delivery service’s earlier investors include American Express Ventures, Comcast Ventures and Whole Foods but none of them have invested since 2016, during which time its valuation has climbed from $2bn. General Catalyst, DST Global and D1 Capital Partners supplied the first $225m for the round.

There aren’t too many companies at the top end of the sector but developers of vegan dairy and meat substitutes have raised some big rounds in recent years. Perfect Day, which uses microflora in its vegan dairy proteins, has just secured another $160m from investors including Canada Pension Plan Investment Board to take its series C round to $300m. Perfect Day’s earlier backers include Continental Grain, which backed the company’s series A round two years ago.

Intel Capital has invested about $253m in Jio Platform, the mobile network service provider spun off by conglomerate Reliance Industries, getting a 0.4% stake at a valuation of more than $63bn. Jio has picked up a series of large investments in recent weeks including $5.7bn from Facebook and additional capital from the likes of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the Abu Dhabi government, L Catterton, TPG, Silver Lake Partners, General Atlantic, KKR and Vista Equity Partners.

Primary care provider VillageMD has received $250m in equity funding from pharmacy group Walgreens Boots Alliance as part of a three-year $1bn financing commitment that will involve the corporate providing a mixture of equity and convertible debt, giving it a 30% stake. The two have also formed a strategic alliance that will involve VillageMD opening clinics at hundreds of Walgreens Boots Alliance outlets over the next few years.

Newlink provides car refuelling and electric vehicle charging services in China through an online platform, and has received $129m in a series D round that included electronics producer Xiaomi and Nio Capital, the investment arm of smart EV manufacturer Nio. Xiaomi has pursued a long-term strategy of investing in consumer hardware developers to build an ecosystem around its products, but Nio has been an increasingly active investor in the transport tech and AI space, indicating it may well have similar ideas.

Funds

Multiple unnamed university endowments were yesterday revealed to have backed US-based venture capital firm Rethink Impact’s $182m second impact fund. The fund has also pulled in contributions from financial institutions including UBS in addition to Pivotal Ventures, the investment firm founded by Melinda Gates, and philanthropic investment offices Ford Foundation and WK Kellogg Foundation.

University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus yesterday closed a $50m healthcare-oriented fund with commitments from multiple university departments and affiliates. CU Healthcare Innovation Fund has been backed by University of Colorado along with its healthcare system UCHealth, medical school CU Medicine and Children’s Hospital Colorado. All the LPs have a presence at Anschutz Medical Campus.

Exits

The latest decacorn to make the leap looks to be big data technology provider Palantir which said yesterday it has confidentially filed to go public. It’s still unclear whether Palantir, which rised $550m from Sompo Holdings and Fujitsu last month, will pursue an initial public offering or a direct listing but it will likely be among the year’s biggest listings either way. Its other backers include Relx subsidiary REV (née Reed Elsevier Ventures).

Orbital internet service developer OneWeb filed for bankruptcy in March having raised $3.4bn from investors including SoftBank, Qualcomm, Totalplay, Bharti Enterprises, Airbus, Virgin, Coca-Cola, Intelsat and Hughes Network Systems. Now however, one of those corporates – Bharti – has combined with the UK government to acquire the company at auction for just over $1bn. The deal is expected to formally go through by the end of the year once regulatory approval is provided by the US.

Open source software provider Suse has agreed to acquire Rancher Labs in a deal sources told CNBC will be in the $600m to $700m range. Rancher has developed a deployment and management tool for Kubernetes containerised application management software, and has raised $95m from investors including Telstra Ventures. This’ll be a fast exit for the unit too. It led Rancher’s $40m series D round less than four months ago.

Cambricon Technologies has priced its own initial public offering, which will raise $368m for the AI chipmaker. The company chose Shanghai’s Star Market, which is rapidly becoming a big player in world markets, particularly due to increased restrictions on Chinese tech companies looking to float in the US. It followed more than $200m in funding for Cambricon from investors including iFlytek, Alibaba, Lenovo, Tuling Century and Chinese Academy of Sciences.

University of Tübingen spinout Immatics has opted for neither option to get a public listing, instead executing a reverse merger with a Nasdaq-listed special purpose acquisition company. The Germany-based immuno-oncology drug developer had raised about $250m in equity funding from investors including Amgen but its market cap is currently hovering around the $5.6bn mark.

Another cancer drug developer, Nkarta Therapeutics, has set the range for an offering set to raise between $140m and $160m, though going by recent IPOs that figure may well end up rising. Nkarta’s investors include GlaxoSmithKline unit SR One and Novo – which each own a 13.3% stake – as well as Amgen Ventures. It last raised money through a $114m series B round in November.

Ucommune, generally regarded as China’s answer to WeWork, is however set to secure a US listing, through a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company Orisun Acquisition Corp that will value the combined company at $769m. That in itself is significant. Ucommune doesn’t represent the same kind of disaster as WeWork but Covid-19 has hit its takings hard and that valuation is a big decline from the $1.5bn valuation at which it raised money in 2018. Its backers include Beijing Xingpai, Aikang, Dahong Group, Star Group, Junfa Group, Prosperity Holdings and Yintai Land.


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

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