07 September 2020 – QuantumScape in Reverse Merger with Kensington Capital Acquisition Corp

The Big Ones

Online education has been one of the big growth sectors during the coronavirus pandemic. That’s particularly true in China, and as one of the biggest players Yuanfudao has likely seen a decent chunk of that growth. The company raised $1bn at a $7.8bn valuation less than six months ago but is now reportedly lining up $1.2bn in additional funding from investors including Tencent at a whopping $13bn valuation. Tencent first invested in Yuanfudao in 2016 and it’s one of several online education-focused companies in the corporate’s portfolio.

US-based venture capital firm Bitkraft Ventures has closed its second fund at $165m with backers including apparel producer Adidas, media group Advance Publications, computer peripherals manufacturer Logitech and advertising group WPP. Family office Carolwood and investment firms Declaration Partners and JS Capital are also among the limited partners for the fund, which had an initial target size of $125m for its close. Bitkraft Ventures Fund I will target early-stage deals in the gaming, esports and interactive media sectors. It has already begun investing and, together with Bitkraft’s Pre-Seed Fund, has built a portfolio of more than 50 companies across North America, Europe and Asia.

Exits is also a crossover: The reverse merger trend is really beginning to pick up steam. The latest company to take the plunge is solid-state battery developer QuantumScape, a Stanford spinout, which has agreed to merge with publicly-listed special purpose acquisition company Kensington Capital Acquisition Corp in a deal that will value the combined business at $3.3bn. QuantumScape’s largest investor is Volkswagen, which has provided some $300m since 2018 and which plans to use the batteries in its vehicles. Other shareholders include Continental, SAIC Motor and Bill Gates.

Deals

Neon Pagamentos has agreed $300m in funding through a two-tranche series C round featuring PayPal Ventures and the BBVA-backed Propel Venture Partners. The digital bank, one of a new wave of Latin American tech companies raising big rounds, has earmarked the funding for hiring, technology development and the expansion of a user base that currently takes in some 9 million consumer and business accounts.

Zomato remains locked in an online food delivery war with Indian peer Swiggy but has raised new funding to help it expand, taking $262m in late-stage funding from Temasek, Tiger Global Management and Kora Capital at a reported $3bn valuation. Its existing backers include Ant Financial, Delivery Hero and Info Edge as well as Uber, which acquired a 10% stake in January by merging the Indian operations of its Uber Eats subsidiary into the company.

Online real estate marketplace PropertyGuru Group is another company that has extended a popular e-commerce model into an emerging market, in this case Southeast Asia, and it has raised $220m from existing investors TPG and KKR to take its overall funding to more than $550m. PropertyGuru’s existing backers include Emtek, which has been forced to wait for an exit after the company postponed an initial public offering supposed to take place late last year.

Peer-to-peer lending platform Auxmoney has secured $178m in a round led by private equity firm Centerbridge that will also involve Centerbridge buying secondary shares in order to become its majority investor. Auxmoney’s existing backers will each retain shares in the company, though the selling shareholders will likely include Aegon and its corporate venturing unit Transamerica Ventures. Another corporate backer, broadcasting group ProSiebenSat.1, had already exited in 2017.

India-based edtech player Unacademy has raised a $150m series F round backed by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Facebook. The round valued Uncademy at $1.45bn, a huge jump from the $510m valuation at which it last raised money, just over six months ago. Facebook also took part in that round, the company’s $110m series E.

One of India’s biggest players in the edtech sector is Byju’s, which has raised $122m from DST Global to take its series F funding to $145m. The round values Tencent-backed Byju’s at $10.5bn – up from $8bn when it raised money at the start of this year – and the company is targeting $400m for the close of the round.

Rounding off the education funding frenzy is Eruditus, which partners universities to create adult learning courses and which has just secured $113m in a series D round co-led by Naspers-backed vehicle Prosus Ventures. The funding was raised at a post-money valuation in excess of $700m, and the company’s earlier backers include Bertelsmann India Investments.

Patreon on the other hand operates a financial subscription service that supports creatives – it’s a business model replicated by another corporate-backed company, Steady.fm, that is popular in German-speaking countries. Patreon, whose earlier investors include talent management agencies CAA and UTA, has now hit a $1.2bn valuation in a $90m series E round co-led by venture firms New Enterprise Associates and Wellington Management. It said this week it expects to oversee $1bn of payments a year to members going forward. It will also double-down on its international expansion, by adding more currencies, so it will interesting to see how Steady.fm will fare when the much bigger Patreon moves in.

Funds

Xfund, a US-based venture capital firm aligned to Harvard University, debuted a third investment fund with $120m in contributions from undisclosed limited partners. Xfund aims to leverage innovation from top-tier universities globally in a partnership helmed by Harvard together with New Enterprise Associates, Breyer Capital, Accel Partners and Polaris Partners. The fund was set up to combine investment rigour with business models based on free-thinking and intellectual awareness from academic founders with unconventional backgrounds such as liberal arts graduates.

Exits

The latest promising tech company to agree a reverse merger is esports competition platform developer Skillz, which will go public through a merger with Flying Eagle Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company that floated in a $600m initial public offering in March. The transaction values Skillz at $3.5bn and it comes less than a year after 32 Equity, which represents all 32 NFL teams, invested in the company. It had raised a total of $53m from backers including Telstra, Liberty Global and Kraft Group as of 2017.

Shenzhen Hymson Laser Intelligent Equipments produces equipment such as laser cutters and welders for use in manufacturing, and has raised $107m in an initial public offering on Shanghai’s Star Exchange. Its shareholders include Legend Capital, the venture firm spun off by conglomerate Legend Holdings, which took part in a 2018 seed round and which owns a 2.7% stake post-IPO.


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

25 September 2017 – Gogoro Raises $300m for Electric Scooter with Swappable Batteries

Deals

Gogoro has developed an electric scooter that it sells alongside access to a network of stations where riders can swap batteries, and it’s raised $300m in a series C round featuring Sumitomo, Engie and Panasonic at a reported valuation of more than $800m.

Slack has officially closed a $250m funding round led by SoftBank Vision Fund that valued it at $5.1bn post-money, a $1.3bn jump from the valuation at which it last raised cash in April 2016, CEO Stewart Butterfield told Bloomberg and the Financial Times.

One of the at the GCV Asia congress was Jeffrey Li, a managing partner at Tencent Investments which last week also took part in a $230m series C+ round for Chinese fresh produce e-commerce platform MissFresh.

Interior design and construction group Shenzhen Grandland was among the investors in a $182m round for YH Global, a 20-year old logistics service provider that operates centres in 50 Chinese cities.

Bayer and Ginkgo Bioworks have launched an as yet unnamed plant microbiome startup, which will be equipped with $100m from a series A round that also includes Viking Global Investors.

Patreon has received $60m in series C funding, taking its total equity financing past the $100m mark. The creator-based payment platform, backed by talent agencies CAA and UTA at series A stage, however told Recode that the $450m valuation mooted in the press last week was incorrect, though Recode believes the actual valuation was only about 10% lower.

LifeMine Therapeutics, a startup developing fungi-based therapies for chronic and currently untreatable diseases, has closed a $55m series A round led by WuXi Healthcare Ventures and backed by fellow corporate venturing units GV, Merck Ventures and Alexandria Venture Investments.

Funds

Baidu has launched a massive $1.5bn vehicle, called Apollo Fund, to invest in 100 startups related to the autonomous driving sector over the next three years.

The government of Hong Kong launched its HK$2bn ($256m) Innovation and Technology Venture Fund (ITVF), inviting venture capital firms to become co-investors.

Let’s look at GlobalUniversityVenturing.com. The Engine, a US-based program initiated by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) aimed at complex technologies, has raised $200m for its first fund.

Exits

ZhongAn has finally priced its IPO and is set to raise $1.5bn when it floats at the top of its range with a $500m investment by SoftBank.

Another China-based company, online lender Qudian, is lining up its own IPO, and has filed to raise up to $750m in a US offering.

Alibaba meanwhile celebrated an exit with the flotation of logistics service Best, which has raised $450m in an initial public offering.

Despegar, the Argentina-based travel and accommodation booking marketplace backed by tourism services provider Expedia, has also entered public markets, raising $332m in an initial public offering in the US.

Mobile event ticketing platform Weiying has raised more than $1bn from investors including Tencent, Dalian Wanda and iDreamSky in under three years, and now it has agreed to merge assets including its film and theatre ticketing divisions with those of rival Maoyan, creating an entity with a 43% share of the market in China.

When it came to the university venturing world, the big news was that UK-based commercialisation firm IP Group has obtained the support of shareholders holding a total of 96.5% of shares in Touchstone Innovations, its peer spun out from Imperial College London.

Canada-based commercialisation firm Mars Innovation partnered drug discovery company Evotec to launch Lab150, a collaboration that will drive research translation for projects emerging from Mars’ member institutions.


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