20 January 2020 – Joby Aviation Raises $590m in Series C to Create Flying Taxis

The Big Ones

Joby Aviation is developing an electric-powered aerial taxi for urban use, a product that would appear to be a big jump into the future even without taking into account sustainability issues concerning its stated aim to serve ‘a billion’ people a day. But corporate investors are taking it seriously and none more than Toyota which invested $394m to lead its $590m series C round.

UPMC Enterprises functions as the investment and innovation arm of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (which sounds like it’s just the one but actually it’s a system comprised of 40 hospitals) and has built up an 18-strong portfolio alongside investments in internal projects. It looks to be upgrading its activity as well, announcing plans to allocate $1bn in capital through 2024, $800m of which is newly disclosed and $200m has already been dedicated to an immuno-therapy research partnership with the university.

Visa invested in financial data technology provider Plaid just four months ago and must have liked what it saw because it has agreed to acquire financial data technology provider Plaid in a $5.3bn transaction that what will surely be one of the year’s biggest acquisitions of a VC-backed company.

Deals

Xiaohongshu, the social commerce platform also known as Little Red Book, is resuming fundraising activities and is reportedly seeking $400m to $500m at a $6bn valuation. The company secured $300m in a 2018 series D round featuring Tencent and Alibaba at a $3bn valuation and was exploring new funding last year, only to suspend efforts after its app was temporarily pulled from Chinese app stores.

Tradeshift, a provider of supply chain-management and payment processing software, has raised $240m in debt and equity financing from undisclosed new and existing investors. No word on the former but its existing backers include American Express Ventures, Wipro Ventures, PayPal, Intuit, CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund and HSBC.

EQRx has launched with $200m in series A funding from GV and Nextech and a mission to develop more affordable copies of drugs already on the market. In contrast to licensed biosimilars, the startup will use advanced technology to create its own patent-protected versions, in theory providing more accessible medicines while generating more profit.

Electric vehicle technology developer Arrival has been relatively stealthy since it was founded in 2015 but has disclosed a $112m investment by carmaker Hyundai and subsidiary Kia. The funding came as part of a strategic collaboration through which Arrival will provide technology for Hyundai’s own mobility and EV initiatives.

Emendo Biotherapeutics is developing genetic medicines using a proprietary platform that utilises Crispr gene editing and protein engineering. It has also raised $61m in a series B round led by biopharmaceutical company AnGes, which is developing its own genetic therapies and which plans to work with Emendo on certain indications.

Funds

China-based insurer Taiping, has formed a $1bn investment vehicle called TP-CICC GBA Investment Master Fund in partnership with China International Capital Corporation’s CICC Capital division. The fund will target companies based in China’s Bay Area that are developing technology for the financial, healthcare, consumer and insurance sectors among others.

Saudi Aramco has pumped its IPO up to $29.4bn, making it the largest in history, and the petrochemical producer is also looking to expand its corporate venturing activity. The corporate is reportedly lining up a $500m second fund for its Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures unit that will likely be launched later this year.

IT services firm Wipro launched its Wipro Ventures subsidiary in 2015 with a $100m fund that has so far invested in 16 companies and exited two – one of which was Palo Alto Networks’ $560m acquisition of Demisto. The unit has now announced a second fund with an upgraded size of $150m.

Exits

Teladoc has agreed to buy telehealth technology producer InTouch Health for $150m in cash and $450m in shares. The company had raised less than $100m in funding, $6m of which was supplied by iRobot through a 2012 expansion to a partnership agreement.

Suzhou Zelgen Biopharmaceuticals has priced a $294m initial public offering on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s Star Market that is impressively sized despite not meeting its initial target of $346m. The cancer therapy developer had raised money across five rounds including a $62m series B two years ago that included insurance firm Minsheng Life.

NGP Capital has exited on-device AI technology developer Xnor.ai in an acquisition by Apple reportedly sized around the $200m mark. NGP Capital was spun off from Nokia but the corporate is still a prominent backer, and the deal will be pulling in some decent returns considering Xnor had disclosed less than $15m in funding pre-acquisition.

Casper Sleep, one of a wave of high-end mattress developers to launch in recent years, has filed to go public having raised $340m in venture funding from investors including Target. It is set to beat corporate-backed competitors like Helix and Eve Sleep to the public markets, though it’s as yet unclear whether the $67m loss it suffered in the first nine months of 2019 will affect its valuation, which stood at $1.1bn as of last March.


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

17 December 2018 – Grab Reaches $2.85bn in Latest Round

Deals

Grab has boosted its latest round to $2.85bn, taking in $150m from Yamaha Motor through a strategic partnership agreement.

Indonesian online marketplace Tokopedia has confirmed it has secured $1.1bn in a round led by Alibaba and SoftBank Vision Fund, with contributions from SoftBank Ventures Korea and unnamed existing backers.

Facial recognition technology provider Megvii is set to raise $500m in a round that could be led by $200m from Bank of China Group Investment with a possible investment by existing backer Alibaba.

Zymergen raised $130m in a SoftBank-led round two years ago, and now SoftBank’s Vision Fund has returned to lead a $400m series C round for the molecular manufacturing technology provider that included Goldman Sachs, Hanwha Asset Management and several existing investors.

Naspers Ventures is leading a funding round for online education provider Byju’s that has reached $322m on its way to a $400m close.

Financial software provider Plaid has secured $250m in a series C round led by Kleiner Perkins and backed by Goldman Sachs, Andreessen Horowitz, NEA, Spark Capital and Index Ventures that valued it at $2.65bn.

Niantic, the augmented reality game developer best known for Pokémon Go, is close to raising $200m in funding from investors including Samsung and Axiomatic, the eSports company that’s becoming increasingly involved in corporate venturing.

Parking services and technology platform ParkJockey was reported the week before last to be closing in on a SoftBank-led round that could be sized between $800m and $1bn.

Automotive e-commerce platform Vroom has raised $146m in a series G round that was led by a $50m investment from brick-and-mortar car retail chain AutoNation.

Meiri Yitao was incubated as a social commerce-focused fresh produce offshoot of online grocer MissFresh, but has sped out of the blocks, following a $30m series A round in July with $100m in series B funding from investors including SIG Asia Investments.

Things have started to quieten down a bit on Global University Venturing ahead of the Christmas holidays but Genomics, a UK-based drug discovery engine developer spun out of University of Oxford, still managed to extend its series B round to $42m with the close of an oversubscribed second $10.2m tranche.

Funds

Bytedance closed its last round at a valuation of $75bn – enough to make it the world’s most valuable VC-backed private company – and it’s now looking to get into the corporate venturing game itself.

Alcoholic beverage provider Constellation Brands formed its corporate venturing unit three years ago and has now launched a $100m initiative called Focus on Female Founders that will invest in female-led portfolio companies.

On Global University Venturing, we had news that the UCL Technology Fund – co-managed by tech transfer office UCL Business and Albion Capital, is in the process of raising between $95m and $126m for a second vehicle (in the original currency of British pounds, the upper number is actually double that of the first fund – £100m compared with £50m).

Exits

Moderna has raised $604m in what’s reportedly the largest biotech IPO ever, increasing the number of shares in the offering by more than 4.5 million, and it has earmarked the proceeds for the further development of a pipeline that now has more than 20 mRNA therapy and vaccine candidates.

2018’s been quite a year for IPOs but it increasingly looks like next year could dwarf it as unicorn after unicorn moves their chips in place. The latest two to have made a step forward are Uber, which has confidentially filed for an offering some onlookers have suggested could value it at a staggering $120bn, and Slack, which has hired Goldman Sachs as lead underwriter for an IPO that could value it at $10bn.

Basis had big plans to create a stablecoin tied to the US dollar that would potentially be usable as a steady alternative in volatile countries, and raised $133m from investors including GV in April. But those plans have screeched to a halt and Basis announced yesterday it will instead wind down due to regulatory difficulties.


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