30 November 2020 – Stripe Opens Discussions for Funding at Potential $100bn Valuation

The Big Ones

Digital payment technology and services provider Stripe last raised money in October 2019, closing $850m from investors including Alphabet unit GV at a whopping $36bn valuation. But its next round could double that valuation, sources told Bloomberg, adding that it has opened discussions with prospective investors and that a $100bn valuation could be possible for the transaction. That hike would mirror the huge share price rises for competitors Square and PayPal in recent months.

Canada-listed phone operator Telus has paid heed in setting up a C$100m ($76.5m) social impact corporate venturing fund to complement its existing Telus Ventures unit under Rich Osborn. Darren Entwistle, president and CEO of Telus, said: “This C$100m investment will accelerate potent, scalable and socially responsible services coming to market, helping to answer some of the most pressing challenges facing our world, including socioeconomic inclusiveness.” The Telus Pollinator Fund for Good will target healthcare entrepreneurs, social and economic inclusion and ensuring sustainable food production under Blair Miller, managing partner and Telus’ former vice-president of consumer products and content.

Mobile commerce platform developer Wish has become the third US-based tech company to file for a $1bn initial public offering in the space of a week, after Airbnb and Roblox. JD.com reportedly invested up to $55m in Wish as part of a 2015 series D that valued it at $3.5bn, but that valuation had soared to over $11bn as of its last round, an August 2019 series H. It has also seen substantial revenue growth this year, though its net losses increased at the same time.

Catamaran Bio, a US-based cancer treatment developer founded out of University of Minnesota and George Washington University (GWU), launched last week with $42m of series A funding co-led by Sofinnova Partners and Lightstone Ventures. Takeda Ventures, a strategic investment arm of Takeda, also took part in the round, as did SV Health Investors and Astellas Venture Management. Incorporated in September 2019, Catamaran Bio is developing cell therapies for a broad range of cancers, including solid tumours. The spinout hopes to deliver off-the-shelf drugs, as opposed to some cell therapy treatments that require samples extracted from the patient. The cash will allow it to progress two lead programmes into the clinic and to upgrade its underlying cell engineering technology.

Deals

Manbang Group, the Chinese trucking services platform also known as Full Truck Alliance, has pulled in $1.7bn through a round co-led by SoftBank Vision Fund and backed by another returning corporate investor, Tencent. The cash was reportedly secured at a valuation just short of $12bn and shows the value of consolidation, the company being formed by the merger of rivals Huochebang and Yunmanman three years ago.

On the other end of the experience stakes, Resilience has emerged from stealth with $800m in funding, $750m of which was raised in a series B round featuring Alphabet unit GV. The startup can be seen as one of what may well be a series of large-scale companies formed during the covid-19 pandemic specifically to deal with its effects. It is working on an advanced manufacturing set up for gene and cell therapies as well as vaccines, proteins and viral vectors, and should do brisk business considering the number of drug developers raising big money or going public right now.

Digital property and casualty insurance provider Hippo has raised $350m from Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance at a reported $2bn valuation, as part of a deal that will involve the latter taking on some of the risk for the company. The companies also revealed that MS&AD Ventures – like Mitsui Sumitomo, part of the MS&AD insurance group – was among the investors in its last round, a $150m series E in July that valued it at $1.5bn post-money.

Indian automotive e-commerce marketplace Cars24 has secured $200m in a series E round led by investment firm DST Global at a valuation topping $1bn. The company, which counts KCK Global as an earlier investor, also revealed its business has reached and surpassed pre-coronavirus levels, which could be a testament to the recovery of India’s used car market or perhaps a sign it is simply migrating online.

For all the headlines being grabbed by the pharmaceutical sector, the technology area that has really taken big steps forward this year is arguably online education. Duolingo and Udemy both also raised more money this past week at unicorn valuations while coding education platform developer Codemao has bagged $198m in series D funding. The company’s existing investors include Southern Publishing and Media and Cheetah Mobile, and the latest round was led by an affiliate of Baring Private Equity Asia.

Elsewhere in fintech, digital bank Current has raised $131m in a series C round led by Tiger Global Management that valued it at $750m. The deal came just over a year after the company secured $20m in a round featuring Cuna Mutual’s CMFG Ventures unit. That leap is another sign of the significant growth in the sector, though the neobank space is at the same time beginning to get somewhat crowded.

SomaLogic, a developer of proteomics technology for use in drug treatments and healthcare data, has closed $121m in a round led by life sciences investment firm Casdin Capital. The company, interestingly, termed the round as a series A despite it being 20 years old and now the recipient of more than $485m in funding in that time. Its earlier investors include Nan Fung Life Sciences, iCarbonX, Novartis, Otsuka Pharmaceutical and Quest Diagnostics.

Funds

Cleantech isn’t the force it once was in the startup space but it’s a long way from being dead. Vestas, the biggest pure-play wind turbine maker in the world, was reportedly considering the formation of a strategic investment arm back in 2017 but it’s waited until now to launch the vehicle, dubbed Vestas Ventures. It will invest roughly $1m to $7m per deal in renewables and sustainable technology developers.

Financial services provider Orix has invested $60m in Israel-based equity crowdfunding platform operator OurCrowd as part of a strategic collaboration deal. OurCrowd runs a venture capital investment platform that allows businesses and individuals to invest in a curated selection of startups across a range of sectors from seed to pre-IPO stage.

Mobile network operator Orange has committed an undisclosed amount of capital to France-headquartered private equity firm LBO France’s Digital Health 2 (DH2) fund through its Orange Digital Investment vehicle. DH2 has a €200m ($238m) target for its close and is tasked with investing in small-to-medium sized businesses in the digital health sector. Its target areas are France and the rest of Western Europe.

Exits

Metromile is the latest company to take the SPAC route to a public markets listing, agreeing a reverse merger with Insu Acquisition Corp. II in a deal set to value the merged business at about $1.3bn. Like Hippo, Metromile is part of a new breed of digital insurers, though its selling point is as an automotive insurance provider that charges by the mile. Its investors include China Pacific, AmTrust, Tokio Marine, Mitsui and Intact Financial.

Amazon has been one of the companies in the tech space that’s benefited most financially from the coronavirus lockdowns, but other online marketplaces are also seeing their business models vindicated. Russia-based Ozon has floated above its range in an upsized initial public offering in the US that netted it $990m, in addition to $135m in a private placement from existing backers Sistema and Baring Vostok. Sistema remains its largest shareholder, with a 37% stake post-IPO.

Covid-19 may have taken the headlines but cancer has been the main driver of corporate venturing activity in the healthcare sector of late. China-based Antengene is the latest oncology-focused company to move to the exit stage, and has gone public in Hong Kong in a $360m IPO in which it floated at the top of its range. It had raised $238m across three rounds from investors including WuXi AppTec’s Corporate Venture Fund, Celgene, Taikang and Tigermed Investment.

Mass spectrometry device producer 908 Devices has filed to go public, setting a $75m target for an initial public offering slated to take place on the Nasdaq Global Market. The company has raised $70m in venture funding from investors including Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV) and Schlumberger and has doubled revenue this year while significantly cutting losses. Just a reminder: Airbnb, Roblox and Wish are among the companies that could theoretically float in what’s sure to be a busy December.


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

09 November 2020 – Ant Group’s IPO Suspended by Regulators

The Big Ones

Law firm Orrick Herrington and Sutcliffe’s recent investments in Priori Legal and term sheet data analysis provider Aumni, coinciding with Latham & Watkins and Clifford Chance’s joint investment in legal tech platform Reynen Court’s recent $4.5m round, reflect the strategic interest in so-called legaltech startups.

The $30m Hypertherm Ventures fund is targeting early-stage deals in advanced manufacturing, which is a difficult place to back with limited capital and an awareness of the lengthy time horizons required.

As Car and Driver magazine noted, the electric vehicle market is challenged as few consumers are interested, they are expensive compared to petrol or diesel cars, and traditional car companies have struggled to develop appealing brands, leaving the way for Tesla and other startups out of China such as Nio to try and take advantage. But the future seems to lie in that direction given a predicted 21.1% compound annual growth rate over the next decade. As a result, Polestar, a Sino-Swedish electric car brand jointly owned by Volvo Car Group and its parent company Geely, is in talks to raise $500m from investors at a $6bn valuation, according to Bloomberg.

It is always fun as the end of year creeps up to think about the technologies that will disrupt or transform the world over the next few decades, and Adrien Book’s selectionbelow covers a number of general and specific purpose technologies. The meatless meat one is definitely catching people’s attention currently, given the post-flotation performance of Beyond Meat among others, as identified in March’s special report on agtech. The wider focus, however, is “how to replace the grocery store,” according to venture capitalists such as Andrew Ive, founder at Big Idea Ventures with Tom Mastrobuoni, former partner at meat supplier Tyson’s corporate venturing unit.

The European Union has more than halved its planned investment in the continent’s best entrepreneurs after budget cuts wiped at least €6bn ($6.8bn) off its European Innovation Council (EIC).Stéphane Ouaki, head of unit for the directorate general of research and innovation at the European Commission, in a panel at the Not Optional – Making Europe the Most Entrepreneurial Continent event on Friday, said the funding for the EIC would come in at €3.5-4bn for the seven-year Horizon Europe budgetary period from 2021 to 2027.

Funds

Fleury and Sabin combine to set up venture firm

CCCU establishes Emerging Ventures

Kuzmenkov sets up Perspective Ventures

Holtzbrinck helps HV Capital to $625m fund

Fountain Healthcare Partners finishes third fund

E14 Fund sparks bid for $80m successor

Exits

Ant Group, the Alibaba financial services spinoff that was set to go public on Thursday in a dual offering that would have been the largest flotation ever. I say was, because regulators have sensationally stepped in to suspend the offering due to concerns about Ant’s listing qualifications or disclosure requirements. For that to take place two days before an IPO is almost unheard of but for it to do so with a $34.3bn dual offering at a projected $313bn valuation seems momentous. It could be related to recent critical comments by chairman Jack Ma, but it’s also a big red flag to Chinese tech companies looking at Hong Kong or Shanghai’s Star Exchange as viable alternatives to the US markets.

China-based wealth management and peer-to-peer lending platform Lufax has floated on the New York Stock Exchange in one of the year’s largest initial public offerings, raising $2.36bn at a valuation just short of $33bn. Insurance group Ping An spun off Lufax and still owns a 39% stake, and the company’s other investors include Bank of China, Cofco, SBI, JP Morgan, UBS, Goldman Sachs, Macquarie Group and UOB. It had previously secured about $3bn across three rounds pre-IPO.

Speaking of on-demand services that have blossomed in recent months during the coronavirus pandemic, beverage delivery service Flaschenpost has seen its monthly sales zoom past $30m, across just 23 German cities, and has thus warranted a $1.16bn acquisition by packaged food producer Dr Oetker. The transaction will allow Vorwerk’s corporate venture capital arm, Vorwerk Ventures, to exit the company less than three years after taking part in a $24m round.

Freshly, the healthy meal kit service, has been acquired by Nestlé in a $950m deal that could stretch to $1.5bn once earnout payments have been taken into account. Nestlé led the company’s last round three years ago, when it raised $77m to take its total funding to $107m. Meal subscription services have come good during the coronavirus pandemic, and Freshly said it is now shipping a million meals a week in the US.

Ocado to pick up Kindred in $262m deal – Robotic picker provider Kindred Systems is set to be bought in a $262m cash transaction that will hand exits to Tencent and GV.

Intel integrates Stanford-backed SigOpt – Intel is set to buy Stanford University-backed machine learning optimisation business SigOpt, which had raised at least $8.6m in funding.

Merck & Co has agreed to pay $2.75bn in cash to acquire cancer drug developer VelosBio, handing exits to corporate venturing units Takeda Ventures and Chiesi Ventures. VelosBio had raised a touch over $200m prior to the acquisition, the brunt of which came in a Takeda-backed series B round in July. It also took part in Johnson & Johnson’s JLabs accelerator in early 2018.

Elsewhere in oncology, JW Therapeutics has scored a big exit for WuXi AppTec and Juno Therapeutics, the pharmaceutical companies that co-founded it four years ago, by floating in a $300m initial public offering in Hong Kong. They owned a combined stake sized at over 40% in JW pre-IPO having also participated in its $90m series A round in early 2018 and a $100m series B just three months ago.

TikTok owner ByteDance is among the most valuable VC-backed private companies in the world but its biggest rival in China, Kuaishou, isn’t far behind, and it looks like it’s going to be first to go public. Kuaishou has filed for an initial public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and recent reports suggested it would look to net up to $5bn at a valuation of about $50bn. The company’s backers include Tencent, which invested $2bn to lead its last round in late 2019, and Baidu.

Russian e-commerce platform Ozon has confirmed it has filed for an initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Select Market that financial market sources told Reuters could generate up to $500m in proceeds. Sources told the Wall Street Journal last month the company would seek a $3bn to $5bn valuation in the IPO, and conglomerate Sistema, its largest shareholder, owns a stake sized above 45% once unconverted debt is taken into account.

Russian online streaming service Ivi has reportedly hired banks to organise an initial public offering slated to take place in the United States next year. The company’s investors include media company Prof-Media, which participated in a $40m round in 2012, as well as Baring Vostok, Tiger Global Management, Frontier Venture, RTP Global, Russian-Direct Investment Fund, Mubadala Investment Company, Flashpoint VC and Winter Capital.

Aeva is only three years old but the lidar-on-chip technology developer is set to list on the New York Stock Exchange through a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company InterPrivate Acquisition Corp. The transaction will value the merged business at $2.1bn and it will benefit from $120m in PIPE financing from investors including carmaker Porsche, which had already invested a ‘significant’ amount in Aeva last December.

Upstart undertakes $100m filing – Rakuten, Alphabet and Progressive are in line for exits after the automated lending service filed to go public yesterday.

SQZ Bio squeezes on to NYSE – The AIG, Illumina, Alphabet and Orient Life-backed cell therapy developer priced its shares at the bottom of their range to raise $70.6m.

Deals

Reef Technology, 18 months ago it was ParkJockey, the owner of an app that allowed drivers to book parking spaces, but now, having rebranded to Reef Technology, it is focusing on converting underused space to hubs for on-demand services. It has also raised $700m from investors including SoftBank Vision Fund along with a $300m real estate fund. Given its target areas of cloud kitchens, on-demand healthcare, vertical farming and e-commerce logistics have all seen huge growth this year, you can see why.

CAR T-cell therapies are one of the fastest growing segments of the pharmaceutical space, and the latest cancer immunotherapy developer to close a sizeable round is Carsgen Therapeutics, which has bagged $186m in series C funding from investors including Lilly Asia Ventures. The round was led by private equity firm Loyal Valley Capital and the proceeds will support clinical trials for its oncology drug candidates in Asia, the US and Europe.

VIPThink pipes in $180m – New Oriental returned for the educational product developer’s series C round, which was led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2.

Digital signature technology provider eSign can perhaps be seen as China’s DocuSign, but it’s in an area where social distancing has necessarily led to increased use, and the company has raised $150m in series D funding. Its last round had been led by Ant Group, though the corporate (which let’s face it, has other things to deal with right now) was not listed as a participant in the latest round.

Conductor orchestrates $150m in funding – Viking Global led a $150m round for the Visa-backed banking software provider that will go to product development and international growth.

GetYourGuide discovers $133m – SoftBank Vision Fund returned in a convertible note round that pushed the total raised by the tourism experience booking service to some $788m.

Ronglian rings up $125m – New Oriental Industrial Fund helped Ronglian (aka Yuntongxun) close a series F round it claimed was the largest yet for a Chinese cloud communication technology producer.

Indonesian online marketplace Bukalapak has pulled in $100m from investors including Microsoft and Emtek at a valuation between $2.5bn and $3bn, according to Bloomberg. The company is reportedly targeting a total of $200m in the round, which comes after it closed an Emtek-backed series F round at a $2.5bn valuation in October.

University

ColdQuanta unpacks $32m series A – CU Boulder-founded quantum technology developer ColdQuanta has attracted series A funding to follow a $16.8m seed round closed two years ago.

Shoulder Innovations hoists up $21.6m – The series C funding will help Western Michigan portfolio company Shoulder Innovations build on the launch of its flagship shoulder replacement product.

Sense Bio pinpoints CIC for $50m round – Cambridge Innovation Capital has backed a round sized at up to $50m for disease testing kit producer Sense Biodetection, which has now raised more than $64m altogether.


“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