15 March 2021 – $1.9bn for Cold Chain Services Provider Lineage Logistics

The Big Ones

One element of retail that has emerged unscathed from the covid-19 pandemic is food, and Lineage Logistics is among the biggest cold chain services providers in the world, offering temperature-controlled delivery and storage. It has also raised $1.9bn from investors including property developer Oxford Properties and several real estate investment firms. The equity funding was secured together with a $2.8bn revolving credit facility and term loan.

As the Dow hits record highs the IPO market shows no sign of slowing, and increasing numbers of international tech companies are flowing to US markets. South Korea-headquartered online marketplace Coupang is the latest to take that option and is floating on the New York Stock Exchange in a $4.55bn offering, the year’s biggest so far. SoftBank Vision Fund owned more than 39% of its class A shares pre-IPO, having committed a total of $3bn in funding.

AstraZeneca formed the $1bn Healthcare Industrial Fund in partnership with China International Capital Corporation in late 2019, and now the pharmaceutical firm is teaming up with the investment bank’s CICC Capital unit to establish a $338m vehicle called Wuxi AstraZeneca CICC Investment. AstraZeneca already runs a life science incubator in the Chinese city of Wuxi, and the fund will invest in areas such as innovative therapeutics, medical devices, diagnostics technology and AI healthcare technology.

Crossover

IonQ, a US-based quantum computing technology developer exploiting University of Maryland and Duke University research, has agreed to list through a reverse takeover. The company is merging with a SPAC called dMY Technology Group, which had floated on the New York Stock Exchange in a $275m IPO in November 2020. The combined business will have a pro forma implied valuation of $2bn and the transaction will be supported by $350m in PIPE financing from investors including Hyundai Motor Company, its Kia subsidiary and GV, among others. IonQ has created a 32-qubit quantum computer it claims is the world’s most powerful quantum system. It had disclosed a total of $77m in funding as of a $55m round co-led by consumer electronics producer Samsung’s Catalyst Fund in late 2019, when Osage University Partners also invested (do check out our sister podcast Talking Tech Transfer, which you can find on GlobalUniversityVenturing.com, for an interview with Osage’s Kirsten Leute about more on their investment strategy).

Deals

China-based e-commerce group JD.com has spun off several subsidiaries in recent years covering areas such as finance, healthcare and logistics. Now its infrastructure investment arm, JD Property, has agreed to raise $700m in a series A round co-led by Warburg Pincus and Hillhouse Capital, according to its 2020 end-of-year results. The other investors were not disclosed but it has partnered sovereign wealth funds GIC and Mubadala on infrastructure funds.

Starling Bank is the latest digital bank to pull in a nine-figure amount of funding, taking $377m in a series D round valuing it above $1.5bn pre-money. Starling, which counts JTC Group among its investors, is one of several well-funded neobanks to spring up in the UK in recent years, including Revolut and Monzo, though the sector is still a long way away from proving profitable, and despite the current fintech boom, it’s going to be interesting to see if they can maintain their growth.

Crypto asset manager BlockFi has completed a $350m series D round valuing it at $3bn, with Hudson River Trading and Susquehanna Government Products among the participants. Its existing investors include Akuna Capital, SoFi and corporate venturing vehicles Consensys Ventures, CMT Digital, Recruit Strategic Partners and SCB 10X.

Valo Health is less than two years old but has just closed an upsized series B round at $300m following a $110m investment by Koch Disruptive Technologies. Valo is one of a new wave of startups allocating machine learning to the drug development process, a wave increasingly looking like it could become the dominant force in the early-stage pharmaceutical sector. It is initially targeting cancer and neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.

Snyk has secured $300m in a series E round consisting of primary and secondary investments, with GV, Atlassian Ventures and Salesforce Ventures all contributing. The app cybersecurity technology provider said it has now raised $470m in primary funding altogether, and the round valued it at $4.7bn post-money. That’s a 47-times increase from the valuation at which GV first invested.

Salesforce Ventures also took part in a $170m series C round for Flutterwave, the developer of a cross-border payment platform, valuing it above $1bn. It’s the latest sign of an ongoing surge in fintech, and the company’s earlier backers include Mastercard, Visa and FIS. It will allocate the funding to product development and customer acquisition.

Funds

Ascension Ventures was set up by health system Ascension two decades ago and now the venture capital firm has closed its fifth fund with $285m in capital supplied by 13 healthcare providers: Ascension itself, as well as AdventHealth, Carle Foundation, CentraCare, Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, Intermountain Healthcare, Novant Health, OhioHealth, OSF HealthCare, Luminis Health, Sentara Healthcare and Texas Health Resources. There is also an unnamed health system among the LPs. Ascension Ventures has invested in nearly 80 companies to date and now has more than $1bn in assets under management.

Exits

Game development platform operator Roblox has executed a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange that gave Tencent and Warner Music Group (WMG) the chance to sell shares. The direct listing model means there wasn’t an official price for the shares, but the NYSE has issued a guidance price of $45 each, the same price at which Roblox secured $520m in a WMG-backed round in January valuing it at $29.5bn, a sevenfold increase in under a year. As we’re recording this on Friday afternoon UK time, shares are trading at $69.51, which is a slight drop on the $73.90 peak they’d briefly reached on Thursday.

Hippo Enterprises, the online home insurance provider backed by Comcast, Lennar, MS&AD, Munich Re and Standard Industries, is the latest company to seek the Spac route, agreeing to a reverse merger with Reinvent Technology Partners Z. Lennar is among the investors to put $550m of PIPE financing into Hippo, which will come out with $1.2bn in capital once the deal closes. It will list on NYSE and is expected to have a valuation of $5bn, and the money should help Hippo reach its goal of being available for 95% of the US population by the end of the year.

Olo has developed software that helps restaurants manage online orders, and has moved into profit in the past year as a string of US chains have used its platform to deal with increased online orders during the Covid-19 pandemic. The PayPal-backed company seems to have chosen the right time to go public, and has set terms for an initial public offering that will net $324m if it floats at the top of its range. It’s worth mentioning too that Olo has disclosed less than $65m of primary funding pre-IPO.

Coursera, the online education provider spun out of Stanford University and backed by Caltech, University of Pennsylvania, Seek Group, Laureate Education and Times Internet, is going for the traditional IPO exit instead. The spinout is yet to set any terms, having put the customary $100m placeholder figure into its draft prospectus, but it has collected some $443m in funding to date. None of the corporates or universities own more than 5% ahead of the offering and instead Coursera’s largest shareholder is NEA with an 18.3% stake.

Axonius, developer of a cybersecurity asset management platform, has only just achieved unicorn status, raising $100m last week at a $1.2bn valuation. That has proven the ticket for YL Ventures, a venture firm that has been an investor since seed stage, to divest a $270m stake to buyers including the Deutsche Telekom-backed DTCP. Axonius had raised nearly $200m in primary funding without taking any corporate investment.


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

08 March 2021 – Klarna Raises $1bn

The Big Ones

E-commerce instalment finance provider Klarna is riding the fintech wave, having raised $1bn in financing from undisclosed new and existing investors in a round that almost tripled its valuation from $10.7bn to $31bn. Visa, Ant Group, Bonnier, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Bestseller Group are among the company’s existing backers, and the funding came just six months after Klarna’s previous round.

Singapore-headquartered mobile game, e-commerce and financial services group Sea went public in an $884m initial public offering four years ago, and has decided to allocate $1bn to a corporate venturing vehicle called Sea Capital to boost its ecosystem. The formation of Sea Capital was fuelled by the company’s acquisition of investment manager Composite Capital Management, whose founder David Ma will run the unit on Sea’s behalf.

Oscar Health has gone public in an upsized $1.44bn initial public offering, with the shares priced comfortably above the range it had set for the IPO. The digital health insurer had raised nearly $1.7bn from investors including Alphabet and Ping An pre-IPO, and if the underwriters take up the chance to buy more shares through the over-allotment option the offering could reach roughly the same size.

Crossover

Century Therapeutics, a US-based immuno-oncology therapy developer based on research at Harvard and Stanford universities, has completed a $160m series C round led by Casdin Capital. Leaps by Bayer, the corporate venturing arm of pharmaceutical and chemical group Bayer, also contributed to the round, as did financial services and investment group Fidelity Management and Research and sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority. Venture capital firm Versant Ventures, which incubated the startup based on Harvard and Stanford work, also took part in the round, as did a host of others. Century is working on drugs using induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology, which is derived from adult human cells, to develop haematologic and solid tumour cancer treatments.

Deals

Virtual events platform Hopin may have had the fastest immediate growth of any startup in recent times, having just closed its fourth round in 13 months, securing $400m from investors including Salesforce Ventures at a $5.65bn valuation. That figure is near triple the $2.15bn valuation at which it last raised money, in a November series B round that also featured Salesforce Ventures. Its earlier backers include fellow corporate venturing units Slack Fund and Amaranthine Fun.

Instacart has had one of the biggest years in memory for a private VC-backed company, and has now received $265m from existing investors at a $39bn post-money valuation. That’s more than double the $17.7bn at which the Comcast, American Express and Amazon-backed grocery delivery service last raised money, five months ago, and nearly three times that at which it closed the previous round, last July.

A lot of retail has moved online in recent months, and fashion resale platform developer Vestiaire Collective is among the beneficiaries. The company has just received $215m from investors including the Advance Publications-owned Condé Nast and luxury goods producer Kering, which acquired a 5% stake through the transaction. The capital will go to enhancing the company’s technology and data activities.

Humana and Echo Health Ventures have contributed to a $200m series D round for home healthcare provider DispatchHealth that valued it at $1.7bn. DispatchHealth operates in a sector that has seen increased growth in recent months as the coronavirus pandemic has led to home care becoming a more urgent option. The round pushed the company’s overall funding to $417m, its earlier investors including Optum Ventures as well as Echo Health Ventures and Humana.

Last-mile delivery service SiCepat Ekspres has bagged $170m in a series B round that included Telkom Indonesia’s MDI Ventures subsidiary. The round’s December first close valued SiCepat at approximately $736m and its existing backers include Barito Pacific’s Barito Teknologi vehicle in addition to Tokopedia.

Funds

Legend Capital was spun off by Legend Holdings as an independent venture firm but is still backed by its ex-parent. It is also one of the largest VC investors in China, and has launched its sixth renminbi-denominated fund with a target exceeding $1.5bn. It had raised $500m for the close of its most recent dollar fund, LC Fund VIII, late last year.

Crypto.com is joining the likes of fellow digital currency-focused companies Coinbase, Binance and Ripple by forming a corporate venturing unit, Crypto.com Capital, with $200m for it to spend. The unit will invest up to $3m to lead seed rounds and up to $10m for series As, and is targeting crypto technology developers. It is helmed by Crypto.com co-founder and head of corporate development Bobby Bao.

US-based insurance firm Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company has established a $50m investment vehicle called MM Catalyst Fund that will fund companies with diverse founders in its home state of Massachusetts. The capital allocation partly consists of a $25m fund dubbed MMCF Growth which will provide equity and debt financing for Massachusetts-based businesses with black founders, owners or managers. The other half of the funding will go to MMCF Tech, a fund which will provide equity funding for technology developers based in Massachusetts but outside of state capital Boston.

Exits

Okta has agreed to acquire Auth0, a developer of application identity management technology, in an all-share deal that will value it at $6.5bn. That’s more than triple the valuation at which Auth0 last raised funding, in a July 2020 series F round led by Salesforce Ventures and backed by fellow corporate venturing vehicles DTCP and Telstra Ventures. Auth0 has secured a total of $333m since it was founded, from an investor base that also includes NTT Docomo Ventures.

Digital real estate brokerage Compass has meanwhile filed for a $500m initial public offering that could allow SoftBank and Advance Publications to exit. SoftBank Vision Fund is the company’s largest investor, with a 34.8% stake, having put up $250m for a $344m round Compass closed early last year at a reported $6.4bn valuation. Its earlier backers include media group Advance Publications and it has secured about $1.5bn in funding in total.

Manbang Group, the trucking services provider also known as Full Truck Alliance, was valued at almost $12bn in November when it raised $1.7bn in a round co-led by SoftBank Vision Fund. Now, the China-based company has confidentially filed to go public in the United States, with Tencent, Alphabet unit CapitalG and Baidu Capital also in line to exit. It’s going to be interesting to see if the election of Joe Biden, a less China-hostile president, will see a rebound from Chinese companies to US markets.

Doma, the real estate transaction software provider formerly known as States Title, has agreed to list through a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company Capitol Investment Corp V at a $3bn enterprise value. The deal is supported by a $300m PIPE financing featuring SoftBank and property developer Lennar, the latter an existing investor in Doma. Its other backers include Assurant, Scor and HSCM Bermuda, all of which took part in its $120m series C round in May 2020.

Harvard University spinout Moderna has been one of the biggest success stories not just for spinouts but for corporate venture capital too in the last year, its share price rising sixfold on the strength of it being one of the first pharmaceutical companies to get a covid-19 vaccine approved. One of its pre-IPO investors was AstraZeneca, which provided $140m in equity funding and which has sold its stake for a price likely to have topped $1bn. That’s quite a return, and one that will support plans announced by the corporate in late 2019 to launch a $1bn fund.


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

15 February 2021 – Nationwide Increases Nationwide Ventures Allocation to $350m

The Big Ones

1

I was catching up with a former corporate venturing leader this month as she described a healthy portfolio of activities covering public and private board roles and “forming a SPAC – isn’t everyone?”

Yes, is probably the answer to working on a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), if you are part of the financial in-crowd at least.

The latest report is that LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and tech entrepreneur Mark Pincus are nearing a deal to merge their blank cheque company with Joby Aviation, valuing the flying taxi developer at about $5.7bn, according to the Financial Times.

Joby, which has raised more than $800m from investors including corporate backers Toyota, Uber, JetBlue and Intel among others, is hoping to start operations from 2024, similar to peers Lilium and Archer.

Archer recently secured a $3.8bn public listing through a SPAC and a $1bn order from United Airlines that will come into play when its flying taxis are approved by the US regulators.

You can see what is attractive to the promoters of the SPAC, as they might receive up to 20% of the offer as shares. In a $5.7bn deal that is a lot of money, and even if the aftermarket underperforms for some reason, Hoffman and Pincus will have earned a fortune.

For Joby, it provides new capital to cover development costs. As to why public market investors want access at this stage of risk, that is baffling, but the promise of growth in a potential market seems to be enough for now.

You can see why SoftBank Group, which is heavily committed through its $100bn-plus Vision Funds, has urged some of its high-profile portfolio companies to accelerate plans for stock market listings.

“They are being fairly transparent in their agenda that they would like everybody to list,” an executive at a company backed by Vision Fund told Nikkei Asia, the owner of the FT, earlier this week. The person described the argument as very logical: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and you should take it.”

But for corporate venturers trying to do deals, SPACs are throwing out the calculations for new potential deals. As one new CVC head said: “Everything is different. We used to focus on potential revenues and let the equity return equation sort itself out over five years. SPACs are impacting on valuation.”

But when capital is this abundant everyone is looking at allocating cash to the potential winners.

2

But, if innovation is speeding up, capital is abundant and invention is the root of success in driving equity, why did a record number of corporations stop investing last year?

Management changes, internal politics, not-invented-here antibodies, financial pressures on corporate cashflows and balance sheets, tensions between long-time horizon investing and business unit and C-suite strategy, and a host of other issues still bedevil the community.

Corporate venturing leaders with scars on their backs know how to manage these concerns, and spend at least half their time managing internal fires and stakeholders, even if this means leaving less time for building a team and investing in startups that will be relevant in the future for both financial and strategic reasons.

The most powerful tool, however, remains the use of mimetic desire. Being able to point to a peer senior managers respect who is doing corporate venturing successfully is a powerful argument, just as it was when Claudia Fan Munce at IBM was able to do so in referencing Dan’l Lewin at Microsoft in the wake of the dotcom crash after 2001.

But referencing is just a start. The community has been collaborative and supportive to new personnel within experienced units as well as the 800 or so newer units executing their first deal last year.

The sharing at the Global Corporate Venturing events and Connect powered by Proseeder digital tool drives the dealmaking and community, and the mentoring and learning now happens throughout the year through the GCV Institute, our new professional development program launched last month.

The webinar today will update the community on the planned courses for how corporate leaders can understand why and how best to use the corporate venturing tools, as well as train up the CVCs and help land the value back into the parent. My thanks to Liz Arrington, Patty Burke and James Gunnell for leading the webinar, and to all the Institute’s advisers and mentors for showing where the proverbial puck is heading and helping us all skate there beforehand.

3

It would have made for interesting few months for Tina Nova, a director at Nasdaq-listed genomic diagnostics company Veracyte.

Nova is also president and CEO of Decipher Biosciences, a peer specialising in urologic oncology that markets genomic tests for prostate and bladder cancers.

Veracyte has agreed to acquire Decipher, formerly known as GenomeDx Biosciences, for $600m. Nova has now left Veracyte’s board and will become general manager of its urologic cancer business unit.

Nova ran a dual track process at Decipher. Investment bank Evercore had advised on the trade sale as well as an initial public offering.

Decipher had filed last month for a $100m IPO as a price discovery mechanism and to keep Veracyte fair in its valuation given Nova had been on its board.

It is also another exit for US-listed pharmaceutical firm Merck & Co in the diagnostics and tools space. Merck owned 8.8% of Decipher having sold Preventice to Boston Scientific for up to $1.025bn last month.

UnitedHealth Group Ventures, the investment arm of UnitedHealth Group, holds an 11.4% stake in Decipher.

But with both the M&A and IPO markets heating up there will be plenty of chances for the other corporate-backed startups in the space to capitalise.

Funds

Nationwide began forming a corporate venturing team back in 2015, and in 2017, after forming investment vehicle Nationwide Ventures the previous year, it put aside roughly $100m for corporate venture capital deals. It has since invested in 25 financial and insurance technology developers and must like what it has seen, because it has upped its VC allocation to $350m. The company’s portfolio already includes Next Insurance, BlueVine and Hover.

Astia marshals Mastercard for $100m fund

Exits

Oscar Health is the latest highly valued tech company to file for an initial public offering, having raised almost $1.7bn in venture funding from investors including Alphabet and Ping An since it was founded in 2012. The digital health insurer was valued at $3.75bn in 2018 and has subsequently secured $365m in funding at a valuation that was surely higher. Interestingly, one of its largest rivals, Hippo, is reported to be in talks to list through a reverse merger.

The IPO market is still at a fever pitch of course. Immunotherapy developer Immunocore has gone public in a $258m offering in which it increased the number of shares while floating above its range. The Eli Lilly and WuXi AppTec-backed company has since seen its shares shoot up by 66%, taking its market capitalisation near to the $1.8bn mark.

Bolt Biotherapeutics has had a similarly successful IPO, increasing the number of shares by 30% and pricing them above the range to raise $230m. All its main shareholders, including Novo and Nan Fung’s Pivotal BioVenture Partners, bought shares in the offering, and the oncology drug developer’s shares also rose considerably on their first day of trading to increase its market cap to more than $1bn.

Vor Biopharma forces through $177m IPO

Terns directs itself on to public markets

Sensei graduates to $133m IPO

Matterport has almost as many corporate backers, all of whom are set to score an exit after the 3D modelling technology provider agreed to a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company Gores Holdings V. The deal will involve Matterport listing on the Nasdaq Capital Market and will value the merged company at $2.9bn. Its investors include Qualcomm Ventures, CBRE, Ericsson Ventures, AMD Ventures, News Corp and PTC.

Hyzon Robotics will also get a Nasdaq Capital Market listing through its own reverse merger transaction, with this one set to value it at $2.1bn. The company was only spun off by Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies a little over a year ago, subsequently raising an undisclosed amount from investors including Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures in October. It is preparing to ship its first hydrogen fuel cell-powered trucks to customers later this year.

Pet care services provider Rover has had its issues over the years but nevertheless looks set to make it on to the public markets after agreeing a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company Nebula Caravel Acquisition Corp. The transaction looks set to value the merged company, Rover Group, at about $1.6bn. It comes after some $280m in venture funding from investors including pet product retailer Petco.

Hyperconnect meets Match in $1.73bn deal

Deals

Digital health remains a big growth point in the venture capital space, and Yuanxin Technology has just completed a $466m series E round co-led by Tencent. Yuanxin offers telemedicine consultations, prescription medication payment tools and a health insurance offering, and this is its fourth round in just over two years. Tencent has been an investor since at least 2015.

Horizon Robotics has pulled in $350m through a series C3 round backed by Sunny Optical and automotive manufacturers BYD Auto, Great Wall Motors, Changjiang Automobile Electronic, Changzhou Xingyu Car Light and Dongfeng Motor’s Dongfeng Asset unit. The round boosted the AI chipmaker’s overall series C funding to $900m, all of which was raised in the past two months. Its existing investors include Contemporary Amperex Technology, Intel Capital, SK China and SK Hynix.

Advertising dollars continue to be tricky in digital media unless you occupy a specific niche, and if Google dominates the search engine space and Facebook social media, Reddit is effectively the leader in what was once known as online forums. It’s boosted advertising revenue 90% in the last year on the back of some increasingly prevalent mainstream press coverage. It has also bagged $250m in a round led by Vy Capital at a $6bn valuation. That’s double the valuation at which it last raised money, in a Tencent-led round two years ago.

Transport technology has been the big mover in the first few weeks of 2021, and the latest company in the sector to close a nine-figure round is Plus, developer of an automated trucking system it plans to begin shipping later this year. The company has raised $200m in a round co-led by Wanxiang International Investment and backed by existing investor Full Truck Alliance (AKA Manbang Group). The presence of automotive parts producer Wanxiang and trucking services marketplace Full Truck also hints at the kind of strategic partners with which it is working.

Nexthink, a developer of workplace experience management software, has secured $180m in series D funding at a $1.1bn valuation. The company, whose earlier investors include Mannai Corporation, has now raised at least $325m altogether, with the series D round led by investment firm Permira’s Growth Opportunities Fund.

Day One Biopharmaceuticals emerged from stealth nine months ago with $60m in series A funding from investors including Access Biotechnology, which has returned for the oncology drug developer’s $130m series B round. The proceeds will support the progress of Day One’s lead paediatric cancer treatment candidate, which has just entered phase 2 studies.

Cybersecurity technology producer Armis also had a productive 2020, being acquired by Insight Partners in January in a $1.1bn deal that included a $100m investment by Alphabet’s CapitalG subsidiary. It’s still raising money however, and has received a reported $125m from investors including CapitalG at a $2bn valuation. The round was led by Brookfield Technology Partners, and Armis said it has now raised $300m in funding altogether.

Stash stores $125m in series G round

PGDx picks up $103m in series C

Pony.ai pins down $100m

Clear queues up $100m round

Dailyhunt chases down $100m in series H

Powin powers up with $100m


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