20 July 2020 – 5G & IoT Provider Jio Platforms Gains $4.5bn from Google

The Big Ones

Jio Platforms was spun off by Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries late last year to build a mobile network tailored for 5G and the internet of things, and everyone seems to want a slice. The latest is Google, which is paying $4.5bn for a 7.7% stake in Jio, the deal coming in the wake of parent company Alphabet’s recent pledge to invest some $10bn in India over the coming years. Qualcomm Ventures and Intel Capital had supplied a total of $350m for it earlier this month – Qualcomm’s actually came only a few days before Google’s investment. Meanwhile Facebook paid $5.7bn for a 10% stake in April.

Alphabet announced that it intends to channel up to $10bn into India through a newly formed vehicle dubbed Google for India Digitization Fund. That commitment will include equity funding for domestic companies, though as yet it’s unclear whether that will be deployed through the corporate’s investment subsidiaries. One of them, CapitalG, has already invested in several Indian companies but GV is yet to establish a presence in the region.

There’s been more IPO action this past week, beginning with electric vehicle battery producer Farasis Energy, which raised approximately $486m in an offering on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s Star Market. It raised a reported $193m from investors including strategic partner Daimler earlier this month, and the corporate venturing arm of another carmaker, BAIC, is also among its shareholders.

On GUV, Paige, a US-based cancer pathology software spinout of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, extended its series B round to $70m with commitments from Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division and Healthcare Venture Partners. Both were returning investors from previous tranches. The initial series B close last year had also featured Brey Capital, private investor Kenan Turnacioglu and undisclosed funds. Leo Grady, chief executive of Paige, told GUV: “The past year has underscored the need for pathology to adopt a digital workflow. As hospitals and labs look for solutions, they are seeing Paige as uniquely positioned: providing an enterprise solution for digital pathology images across sites and scanners while leveraging advanced cancer detection and characterisation solutions to provide additional information to the pathologist during diagnosis.”

Deals

RobinHood has seen demand for its share trading platform skyrocket during the Covid-19 lockdown, so much so it’s delayed the app’s UK launch. It has added 3 million new accounts and has followed that by adding $320m to a series F round that now stands at $600m. The company, which is backed by Alphabet unit CapitalG and Roc Nation, secured the capital at an $8.3bn valuation and has now raised a total of nearly $1.5bn in venture funding.

UiPath, a developer of robotic process automation technology that facilitates the automation of repetitive tasks like data entry, can also be said to be a company with a lockdown-relevant product. It has pulled in $225m through a series E round featuring Tencent that boosted its valuation from $7bn in May 2019 to $10.2bn post-money. CapitalG is also among UiPath’s investors, having first backed it in a 2018 series B round.

In Japan, ride hailing platform Mobility Technologies (MoT) has agreed up to $211m in corporate funding, with the lion’s share to come from mobile network operator NTT Docomo. The round included Dentsu and Tokyo Century and it shows the benefits of pivoting when the time is right. MoT began life as a taximeter software producer but has raised money from investors also including Toyota and Kakao Mobility since it switched tack.

Another Salesforce-backed company, Auth0, is also valued at $1.9bn, following a $120m series F round led by corporate VC vehicle Salesforce Ventures. Telstra Ventures also took part in the round, as did Deutsche Telekom’s DTCP unit, and the user authentication software provider intends to leverage Deutsche Telekom’s resources as it expands internationally. It has now secured more than $330m altogether.

Qumulo, developer of a cloud-based data management system, has completed a $125m series E round led by BlackRock that took its total funding above $350m. The cash was secured at a valuation of more than $1.2bn and it comes roughly two years after a series D round featuring disk drive manufacturer Western Digital. The cash will support product development and international growth.

Funds

We already had one huge fund but there was another last week: 23 biopharmaceutical companies have provided a total of almost $1bn in capital for AMR Action Fund, a vehicle tasked with helping to combat antimicrobial resistance by investing in companies developing new antibiotics. Those backers include Pfizer, Merck & Co and Johnson & Johnson, which are each supplying $100m. AMR Action Fund is slated to begin operations in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Exits

Small molecule cancer drug developer Relay Therapeutics has bagged $400m from its initial public offering, increasing the number of shares by more than a third and floating above its range. Its shaves have also risen post-IPO, providing a success story that’s badly needed for its largest investor, SoftBank Vision Fund. Although Vision Fund’s consumer-facing investments have been somewhat patchy, its life sciences deals seem to be paying off.

Banking software provider nCino has raised $250m in a flotation that saw it float a full $7 above its range. Its shares then nearly tripled in their first day of trading yesterday to give it a valuation of more than $1.9bn. The IPO is also a success for Salesforce, which owns a 12% stake having invested $72m in nCino between 2016 and late last year.


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

27 April 2020 – AvidXchange Raises $128m Bringing Total Round to $388m Plus Audio from our Second COVID19 Webinar

The Big ones

AvidXchange, a developer of accounts payable automation software, has raised $128m to hike its latest round to $388m. Mastercard was among the investors, having contributed to the company’s last round, when it secured $300m in 2017 at a $1.4bn valuation. Reports in December stated AvidXchange was chasing a $2bn valuation for this round but the company is yet to confirm those details.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect startups, the UK government has pledged up to $1.25bn in financing, a quarter of which will be channelled into the Future Fund, a vehicle that will provide convertible debt financing to match private investment. The rest will support loans and grants made through the state-owned Innovate UK vehicle. Everyone seems to have an opinion on how useful the measures will be, but the way things are going it feels impossible to make any kind of definitive judgement on that, especially seeing as the Future Fund isn’t set to launch for another month or so.

Several corporate-backed companies in China’s travel and consumer startup space have shut down due to the lockdown related to the coronavirus. Founded in 2019, Wujiang Hotels operated five hotel brands that spanned eight Chinese cities. It had $30m in registered capital after raising money from online travel agency Trip.com, but chairman Ma Xiaodong said in an internal announcement that it is unable to continue operating. Online travel booking platform Baicheng had been founded in 2000 and had received $20m in a 2014 series B round featuring e-commerce group Alibaba according to KrAsia, which cited information from deals database Tianyancha. The company floated two years later but declared bankruptcy in late February this year after its income completely dried up. Meili Jinrong, the automotive-focused spinoff of consumer loans provider Meiliche also shut down operations last month and has laid off all its employees. The Covid-19 restrictions all but eliminated sales which, combined with an immediate cash shortage, meant it had no choice but to close. The move came after the company had raised more than $200m as of 2018, from investors including conglomerate New Hope Group, personal finance app developer Wacai, e-commerce firm JD.com’s JD Finance affiliate and Bertelsmann Asia Investments, representing media group Bertelsmann.

SwanBio Therapeutics, a US-based neurological gene therapy developer based on Harvard University research, is set to increase its series A funding to $77m with a $52m extension led by founding investor and life sciences investment trust Syncona. Syncona has provided an initial $19.6m tranche, a spokesperson revealed to GUV, while Partners Innovation Fund – a vehicle for health system Partners Healthcare that includes Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) – also contributed to bring the extension to $20m so far. The remainder of Syncona’s commitment – amounting to a total of $51m – is dependent on milestones. Syncona had invested $23m to lead SwanBio’s initial $25m series A tranche in June 2018 with participation from Partners Innovation Fund. SwanBio Therapeutics is working on drugs for treating serious neurological diseases. Its lead candidate targets adrenomyeloneuropathy, a rare inheritable neurological disorder that can cause impaired mobility, eyesight and hearing. No approved treatments currently exist for the disease.

Deals

Epic Games is best known for massively successful online shooting game Fortnite but its acquisition of social gaming and video platform Houseparty last year now looks like a stroke of genius, with some 50 million new users signing up in a month amidst the Covid-19 lockdown. And Epic is striking while the iron is hot, reportedly holding talks with potential investors to raise $500m to $1bn at a valuation ‘significantly’ higher than the $15bn valuation at which it last received funding, in 2018. That round included Axiomatic, and the company’s other corporate investors include Tencent, Endeavor Group and Walt Disney.

Network event streaming platform Confluent has also had a good year, and the company has capped it with $250m in series E funding. The round was led by Coatue Management and valued Confluent, whose early backers include LinkedIn, at $4.5bn. LinkedIn was not much of a corporate venturer prior to its 2016 acquisition by Microsoft, but its 2014 investment in Confluent’s series A round now looks inspired.

China-based Didi Chuxing may have had difficulties with its core ride hailing business in the face of Covid-19, but it has an ambitious growth plan to increase its customer base to 800 million monthly active users by 2022. That will involve beefing up adjacent services such as that of its bicycle rental service Qingju, which just received $150m from SoftBank and Legend Capital. The round is the first external funding to be raised by Qingju and will be added to an $850m cash injection by parent company Didi.

Medical device manufacturer MicroPort Scientific formed subsidiary MicroPort CardioFlow Medtech in 2015 to focus on valvular heart disease, and the offshoot has disclosed $130m in funding secured at a $1.1bn pre-money valuation. The round did not include any additional corporates but the capital will be used for research and development, marketing and market expansion.

STX Entertainment has been responsible for 34 feature films since being founded in 2014 in addition to TV shows and burgeoning digital content, but the US-based studio has bigger plans and has agreed to merge with Bollywood counterpart Eros International in a deal that will be sweetened by $125m from investors including STX backer Liberty Global. Other investors in STX include Tencent, PCCW and Madison Wells, and they’re going to get an exit of sorts when the merged company, Eros STX Global Corporation, inherits Eros’s NYSE spot.

Healthcare services platform developer Aledade has closed a $64m series C round featuring both GV and Echo Health Ventures to take its overall funding to about $175m. Both corporate VC units participated in the round as existing investors, and the funding will support the growth of both Aledade and its care provider members. Aledade’s earlier investors reportedly also include Utimco, the investment management arm of University of Texas.

Accent Therapeutics has completed a $63m series B round that saw it welcome aboard corporate venturing units GV and AbbVie Ventures as new investors. The company launched two years ago with $40m in series A cash and will put the series B proceeds toward advance development of drug candidates that target RNA-modifying proteins to treat cancer.

Immunomic Therapeutics has created a vaccine development platform focused on diseases including – surprise, surprise – Covid-19, and has closed $61.3m in financing led by oncology-focused pharmaceutical company and partner HLB. The company is also partnering HLB on the launch of a research hub called the Asian Brain Cancer Research Center in the latter’s home country of South Korea.

Paige, a US-based cancer pathology software provider based on Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center research, increased its series B round to $50m today following a $5m extension supplied by investment bank Goldman Sachs’s merchant banking division. Paige did not reveal the size of the extension in its release, but a spokesperson confirmed the amount to GUV. The company raised an initial $45m in December 2019 from a consortium led by Healthcare Venture Partners that included Brey Capital, private investor Kenan Turnacioglu and undisclosed funds.

Guru is the developer of a software product that helps employees share knowledge with each other, and which utilises AI technology to bring crucial insights to the surface. It just completed a $30m series C round that included Slack Fund, to increase its overall funding to $68m. Slack Fund had already participated in Guru’s late 2018 series B round, and its early backers include Salesforce Ventures, which invested at seed stage.

Adverity is located in a similar spot, having created a software platform enabling marketing staff to generate usable information from siloed data, and it has raised $30m in its own series C round. SAP subsidiary SAP.io was among the investors in the transaction, which was led by Sapphire Ventures nine years after it was spun off by the enterprise software provider under the moniker of SAP Ventures. It’s good to see the two working together.

Exits

Enterprise software producer Kingsoft formed cloud services provider Kingsoft Cloud in 2012 and has since grown it into China’s third largest player in the sector. Kingsoft Cloud has raised about $700m from investors including its parent company and electronics provider Xiaomi, and has now filed to go public in the US. It’s curious timing considering the ongoing coronavirus disruption, but perhaps Kingsoft sees the sector as relatively immune.


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