30 March 2020 – Lime in Talks to Raise Funding at a Reduced $400m Valuation

The Big Ones

In what may be an ominous sign, electric scooter rental service Lime is reportedly in talks to raise funding at a $400m valuation, a steep fall from its last round just over a year ago, when it secured $310m in a series D round featuring Alphabet that valued it at $2.4bn. The company has secured $777m altogether but the Covid-19 pandemic has led it to suspend operations in every market outside South Korea and it reportedly only has enough cash to last for the next few months on its current burn rate.

A good exit at a challenging time in the global economy for US-based mobile networking service Affirmed Networks had a year ago raised $38m in a funding round that included Qualcomm Ventures, the corporate venturing unit of semiconductor technology manufacturer Qualcomm.

The round was led by investment firm Centerview Capital Technology and included Eastward Capital Partners and unnamed existing shareholders.

Vodafone Ventures and T-Venture, the respective corporate venturing units of mobile phone operators Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom, previously took part in the company’s $51m series C round in 2013.

Bessemer Venture Partners led the series C round, also investing alongside KCK Group, Charles River Ventures (CRV), Lightspeed Venture Partners and Matrix Partners.

Affirmed Networks had emerged from stealth in 2012 with $52m in funding from T-Venture, Vodafone Ventures, Matrix, Charles River and Lightspeed.

Hassan Ahmed created the idea behind Affirmed when he was working out of CRV’s office in Boston in 2009 as an executive in residence. When Hassan joined the firm, he was already the most successful CRV entrepreneur of all time, having run engineering at Cascade Communications, a networking company sold to Ascend for more than $3bn in 1997 and then subsequently running Sonus Networks, a high-flying communications company that had gone public in 2000. Hassan had the magic touch.

Funds

China-based company, mobile game publisher Kunlun Tech, certainly seems to be bullish. It is one of two cornerstone investors for a $424m vehicle called Kunlun (Beijing) Internet Intelligent Industry Investment Fund that will back internet and AI technology developers. Kunlun is putting up about $140m for the fund while subsidiary Xinyu Shijie Wuji Investment Management will act as general partner.

Shortly after news emerged that Kunlun Tech was partnering investment manager Beijing Huayu Tianhong to put together a $424m fund, two more Chinese corporates – Yuexiu Group and People’s Insurance Company of China – have announced they are establishing an industry investment fund the same size that will focus on technology developers in China’s Greater Bay Area. It follows a $1bn Taiping Insurance-backed fund targeting the same region in January.

Dating.com commits $50m to meeting startups

Afterpay unveils AP Ventures fund

Exits

Mobile commerce platforms Letgo and OfferUp are set to merge in a deal accompanied by a $120m round led by classified listings manager OLX Group, part of Naspers’ Prosus subsidiary. The deal will give OLX a 40% stake in the combined business. It first invested in Letgo in 2015, the year the company was founded, and it had disclosed $975m in funding prior to the merger agreement.

FuboTV fuses with FaceBank

Checkmarx ticks acquisition box

OneWeb examines bankruptcy possibilities

North Wearables seeks direction to buyers

Deals

We mentioned in the big news intro that ride hailing services were among those likely to be hit by Covid-19 social isolation measures, and China’s Didi Chuxing looks like it could be first off the mark to raise money. It is reportedly lining up $300m in a round set to be led by SoftBank, at a time when its home country is beginning to ease travel restrictions. Didi was valued at $62bn as of a July investment by Toyota, and it’s going to be interesting to see if any valuation information leaks out once the deal closes.

Data mining software provider MiningLamp has secured $300m in a series E round co-led by Tencent and state-owned investment firm Temasek that included another corporate, Kuaishou. The company, whose business model is similar to Palantir’s, has now raised more than $785m altogether and the capital will be used to support research and development, recruitment and the development of an intelligent marketing software platform.

Vertical take-off and landing vehicle developer Lillium has closed more than $240m in funding, in a round led by Tencent. The round was made up entirely of existing investors and marks a downgrade from the $400m to $500m target it had reportedly set late last year. The deal may be emblematic of what we may increasingly see going forward: existing investors continuing to back portfolio companies while being more conservative when it comes to new bets.

Ping An’s Global Voyager Fund has led a $146m round for iCapital, a provider of alternative investment management software. The round included strategic investors such as UBS Financial Services, BNY Mellon, Goldman Sachs, BlackRock and Blackstone, and the company’s overall funding likely now tops $200m.

Online used car marketplace Cazoo has raised $117m in what represents its fourth round in the space of 18 months.  Daily Mail and General Trust’s DMG Ventures led the round, having backed the startup since its 2018 seed round, and was joined by investors including Fidelity’s Eight Roads Ventures fund. Interestingly, Cazoo expects a bump from the coronavirus conditions as more customers opt for online transactions.

Kallyope took its total funding past $240m in a $112m series C round featuring existing investors Illumina Ventures and Alexandria Venture Investments. The company is developing therapeutics concentrated on the body’s gut-brain axis and intends to use the funding to begin clinical trials for its lead asset, an oral treatment targeting satiety circuits for weight loss.

SutroVax sorts out $110m series D

CureFit cuts to $109m round

Dragonfly Therapeutics drags financing to $300m

Nature’s Fynd, the edible protein developer formerly known as Sustainable Bioproducts, has rebranded and raised $80m in a series B round featuring Danone Manifesto Ventures and Archer Daniels Midland’s ADM Ventures unit. The capital is expected to fund the doubling of the company’s headcount to 100 and the round comes as it has begun production of its edible vegan protein products.

University

Nurix nabs $120m

Recode decodes $80m series A


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

04 November 2019 – Greensill Raises $655m from SoftBank

The Big Ones

Greensill, a UK-based company that taps the capital markets in order to provide working capital for businesses, received one of this year’s biggest investments in May when it secured $800m from SoftBank Vision Fund. Now it’s added a further $655m from the same investor at a valuation reportedly nearing $4bn.

Singapore-based venture capital firm Jungle Ventures has closed its latest fund at $240m, securing the capital from LPs including, according to DealStreetAsia, Cisco Investments and Bualuang Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Bangkok Bank, as well as Temasek, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, development finance institutions DEG and FMO, and Kuok Khoon Hong, chief executive of agribusiness Wilmar International.

Wag raised $300m from SoftBank Vision last year but the petsitting service has been among the vehicle’s less successful bets, after a series of management changes, layoffs and (perhaps we need a trigger warning here) reports that users’ dogs have died while in the custody of its walkers. The company is now pursuing a sale and is in talks with Petco, though things might be complicated by the fact the latter is an investor in Wag rival Rover. Any sale is also likely to be for less than the $650m valuation at which Vision Fund invested.

Finally, in a nice crossover story (and ongoing one, since several of the corporates were returning investors) we have Tmunity Therapeutic, a developer of T-cell immunotherapy treatments for cancer and autoimmune diseases, has boosted its overall funding to $231m with a $75m series B round featuring Gilead Sciences and Be The Match BioTherapies as well as University of Pennsylvania, of which Tmunity is a spinout.

Deals

Trading app developer RobinHood has added $50m to a series E round that now stands at $373m, and which values it at $7.6bn. The extra cash came from existing investor DST Global and it increased the total raised by RobinHood, which also counts Roc Nation’s Arrive unit and Alphabet subsidiaries CapitalG and GV among its past investors, to more than $910m.

Vacasa has notched up its own nine-figure round, raising $319m from investors led by Silver Lake. It operates a peer-to-peer holiday accommodation booking platform that incorporates property management services, allowing owners of properties where they are often not present to garner extra income with minimal effort.

Mobile game publisher Scopely is on the growth trail and plans to follow up its acquisition of collaborator Digit Games earlier this year with additional M&A deals. They will be financed with $200m of series D funding the company just raised at a reported $1.7bn valuation, with NewView Capital leading the round.

Japanese online consumer credit provider Paidy has raised $143m in debt and equity financing that included an $83m extension to its series C round. That extension included PayPal Ventures and followed on from a $55m first tranche featuring corporates Itochu and Visa.

And after-sales automotive services provider CassTime has secured $80m in a series C1 round co-led by Sequoia Capital China and Source Code Capital that boosted its overall funding to some $175m.

Pollinate has officially launched its digital banking technology offering having secured $77.8m in funding from investors including Mastercard and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) as well as Motive Partners and EFM Asset Management.

Funds

Qualcomm Ventures has announced an investment vehicle called the 5G Ecosystem Fund which will fund developers of 5G technologies as parent company Qualcomm looks to move more significantly into the area. The unit will look to invest up to $200m through the vehicle, the launch of which follows the formation of a $100m AI Fund almost a year ago.

Exits

Phathom Pharmaceuticals has gone public, securing nearly $182m in an initial public offering in which the gastrointestinal disease therapy developer floated in the middle of its range. Phathom has licensed its core product from pharmaceutical firm Takeda, which has already successfully marketed the drug in its home country of Japan, and which has seen its stake rise from 9.1% to 24.7% in connection with the IPO as part of the licensing agreement.

Fertility benefits management platform Progyny has also floated, in a $130m offering in which Merck Group sold almost $4.9m of shares. That divestment was made as part of nearly $43m of sales from existing shareholders, while Progyny reaped more than $87m. Its other investors include GlaxoSmithKline’s corporate venturing unit, SR One.

Xiaomi-backed podcasting platform Lizhi has filed for an initial public offering in the US and is targeting $100m. Lizhi is yet to finalise its choice of a market for its listing (it’s a choice between NYSE and Nasdaq Global Market) and it’s going to be interesting to see the timeline of the proposed offering, considering the IPO market is slowing down and relations between its home country and the US continue to be, well, let’s just say uneven.

Chinese apartment rental platform Danke Apartment has also filed for an initial public offering in the US, having raised $875m from investors including Ant Financial, UCommune and Bertelsmann Asia Investments. The company was valued at more than $2bn as of a $500m round led by Ant Financial in March, and has set a placeholder amount of $100m for the IPO. Expect that to rise substantially.

And another one: I-Mab Biopharma has also opted for the US, having filed for a $100m initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Market. The company is developing several drug candidates to treat cancer or autoimmune diseases and its largest investors include Tasly and Genexine.


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

30 September 2019 – Peloton Interactive Raises $1.16bn in IPO

Big Ones

Who can remember anything like the We Company (that’s WeWork) saga that’s unfolded over the past fortnight? It had been targeting $3bn to $4bn in an IPO that at one time was expected to exceed the $47bn valuation at which it last raised money. Then people started flagging up bits of the IPO filing that looked strange, reports revealed it could float at a valuation of as little as $15bn and all hell broke loose.

Peloton Interactive has had one of the year’s larger tech IPOs, raising $1.16bn after floating at the top of its range. The exercise equipment and class provider had received just shy of $1bn in venture funding but its initial market cap nearly doubles the $4.15bn valuation of its most recent funding round just over a year ago.

KB Investment, a subsidiary of South Korea-based financial services group KB Holding, has formed an investment fund with MDI Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of telecommunications firm Telkom Indonesia.

Crossover: Kandou Bus, a Switzerland-based fabless semiconductor spinout of Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), collected $56m in a series C round featuring telecoms firm Swisscom’s corporate VC arm Swisscom Ventures and its Digital Transformation Fund.

Deals

With all the fuss surrounding the really big VC-backed companies in recent months, Palantir seems to have slipped off the radar to some extent, it being four years since they raised money. Well that’s apparently about to change, with reports that the controversial data processor is looking to raise $1bn to $3bn at a valuation somewhere between $26bn and $30bn. That would mark a huge increase for the Relx-backed company, valued at just over $20bn in 2015 and substantially lower as recently as this year, according to media reports.

Fundbox has reportedly boosted its own valuation to somewhere in the $500m-to-$1bn range, pulling in $326m in financing that included a $176m equity round.

Chinese cybersecurity software provider Qi An Xin is lining up its own IPO, having already began hiring underwriters, but has in the meantime raised $210m from investors including furniture retailer Red Star Macalline. Qi An Xin, which was spun off from Qihoo 360 in 2014, is set to be one of the first companies to float on the newly launched Sci-Tech Innovation Board.

Checkr uses big data to run the numbers on job applications in a bid to cut down on systemic biases and fraudulent CVs, and it’s just secured $160m in funding at a reported $2.2bn valuation.

An unconfirmed report has stated that ETechAces, the Indian owner of financial product comparison platforms PolicyBazaar and PaisaBazaar, has raised $130m to $150m from Tencent at a valuation of roughly $1.5bn.

In China, cloud computing and big data services provider DT Dream has secured $84m in series B funding at a reported $1.5bn valuation. The company did not name Alibaba, which took part in a $70m round in 2015 as well as a $110m series A two years later, as a participant in the latest round, which will fund hiring and product development in addition to other growth initiatives.

Translation technology and services provider Unbabel has nabbed $60m in a series C round featuring M12 and Samsung Next that increased its total funding to $91m.

Kandou Bus has bagged $56m in a series C round that included Swisscom Ventures as well as the $199m Digital Transformation Fund formed by Swisscom last year. The chipmaker, a spinout from Swiss research university EPFL, had previously received about $40m in funding, and will spend the latest funding on product development and business growth.

Divvy Homes operates a business model where it buys properties in partnership with tenants who reserve part of the rent for a down payment that would allow them to buy the place in question. It has just secured $43m in a series B round co-led by Lennar Ventures – property developer Lennar’s corporate VC unit – to increase its overall funding to $83m.

Qualcomm Ventures, Itochu and Mitsui have all contributed to a $40m series D round for Spire Global, a producer of nanosatellites that are utilised for weather and aviation tracking. Spire, whose existing investors include Qihoo 360, has now raised at least $175m altogether, and the series D comes in the wake of it launching a maritime-focused division in February.

Funds

Canada-based venture capital firm ArcTern Ventures has reached a C$165m ($124m) second close for its Fund II having raised capital from limited partners including crude oil producer Suncor. Financial services firm TD Bank also contributed to the second close, along with the Canadian government-owned BDC Capital, family offices including The Ivey Foundation and an undisclosed pension fund.

Exits

Neural interface technology developer Ctrl-Labs has been acquired by Facebook for a price somewhere between $500m and $1bn, enabling investors including GV and Alexa Fund to exit having contributed to $67m in equity funding. Facebook has made a few of the largest VC-backed acquisitions in recent years, though many of them – notably WhatsApp, Instagram and Oculus VR – were not corporate-backed pre-acquisition.

Investment firm Vista Equity Partners is set to pay an undisclosed amount for a majority stake in digital content management platform Aqcuia in a deal that reportedly values it at $1bn including debt.

Frequency Therapeutics has set terms for an initial public offering that will net $107m for the regenerative medicine developer if it floats at the top of its range. The IPO comes after $147m in venture funding from investors including Alexandria Venture Investments and the proceeds have been earmarked for a phase 2a clinical trial for its lead candidate, a sensorineural hearing loss treatment.


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

06 August 2018 – $585m Series B+ Round for Xiaopeng Motors

Deals

Grab has been on a tear in the last year, raising $2.5bn from SoftBank, Didi Chuxing, Toyota and Hyundai a year ago, before Toyota invested a further $1bn in June this year. That Toyota funding has now been doubled to make a $2bn round, the new cash coming from backers including corporate funds Ping An Capital and Mirae Asset – Naver Asia Growth Fund.

Elsewhere in the Asian transport sector, smart electric vehicle developer Xiaopeng Motors has pulled in $585m in a series B+ round co-led by Primavera Capital, Morningside Venture Capital and company chairman He Xiaopeng.

Peloton, the operator of a home fitness offering that consists of a custom-made exercise bike and streamed fitness classes, is taking a big step forward.

China Diagnostics Medical Corporation, a medical diagnostics service provider that’s been around almost 20 years, has raised approximately $294m in a round featuring Ping An Ventures. Legend Capital co-led the round with China Renaissance, putting in $100m in the process.

Brandless emerged from stealth a year ago having raised a total of $50m from investors including GV, and now SoftBank’s Vision Fund has led a $240m series C round that reportedly values the affordable consumer goods provider at just over $500m.

Zhaoyouwang, the Chinese operator of a fuel trading platform for businesses, has received $150m in a series C round co-led by GLP and backed by returning investor SIG Asia.

China-based immuno-oncology therapy developer Curon Biopharmaceutical has closed a $150m series A round that included 6 Dimensions Capital, the venture capital firm co-founded by pharmaceutical research firm WuXi AppTec. Singaporean government-owned investment firm Temasek and private equity firm Boyu Capital also contributed to the round.

Medlinker, the creator of a social network for medical professionals, has secured $146m in a series D round led by China Capital Zhongcai Fund.

Judo Capital has closed what is reportedly the second largest ever for an Australian startup, securing $104m from investors including Credit Suisse Asset Management.

On Global University Venturing we have Apeel Sciences, a US-based food technology developer that emerged out of UC Santa Barbara, which has raised $70m in a series C round led by hedge fund Viking Global Investors.

Exits

Cisco has agreed to pay $2.35bn to acquire user authentication software provider Duo Security, 10 months after it raised money at a $1.7bn valuation.

Chinese media reports first suggested Didi Chuxing was in talks to buy portfolio company Ofo for $1.5bn early last week but then a source told Reuters the terms of a prospective deal have shifted, with Didi set to partner another of Ofo’s corporate investors, Ant Financial, on a joint deal that could value the bicycle rental platform at $2bn.

Arm has agreed to acquire Treasure Data in a deal reported by Bloomberg to be about $600m in size.

On GUV, Dattus, a US-based industrial connectivity technology developer assisted by the Purdue Foundry accelerator, was acquired by manufacturing automation software provider Plex Systems for an undisclosed sum.

Funds

Singapore-based VC firm Golden Gate Ventures has achieved a $65m first close for a $100m fund, with LPs including conglomerate Hanwha and internet company Naver as well as Temasek.

Patrick Eggen has left Qualcomm Ventures, where he was managing director for North America, to launch a new fund. Counterpart Ventures was co-founded by Eggen and Joe Saijo, who was formerly president and managing director of Recruit Strategic Partners, with both taking partner positions.


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

7 March 2016 – Google Capital, Alphabet, Magic Leap, Snapchat, Mercari, AXA, Slack, Souqcom, Vertex, Purdue University, Oregon State University and more

Deals

We tracked 132 deals in the month. While this would be the lowest month for deal activity since September 2014, it is not much below activity in many of the months during the last year and a half, while it is significantly above most months in 2014 as well as prior years. We also typically track some deals after a month ends.

The most active corporate during the month was holding company Alphabet, which invests through its two venturing units Google Capital and GV, which matches trends in recent years, where it has regularly been one of the most active investors.

The most active corporate partner among venture firms was Arch Venture Partners, which invested alongside US-based healthcare company Johnson and Johnson, US-based asset manager Fidelity, China-based healthcare company Wuxi Pharmatech, real estate company Alexandria, and healthcare company Pfizer.

The largest deal in February was the $793.5m series C round raised by US-based augmented reality technology developer Magic Leap, in a deal led by e-commerce firm Alibaba.

The biggest exit of the month was the sale of Ravello Systems, the US-based virtualisation software developer, which was sold to Oracle for $500m. Ravello had raised $54m in venture funding, including $28m in a January 2015 series C round co-led by Qualcomm and SanDisk’s corporate venturing units: Qualcomm Ventures and SanDisk Ventures.

Snapchat, backed by Tencent, Alibaba and Yahoo, boosted its series F round to more than $710m and its overall funding to more than $1.3bn with $175m from Fidelity.

Mercari rises with $75m round.

AXA invested €75m in e-commerce holding vehicle Africa Internet Group last month and the round has now been boosted to €300m ($326m) with commitments from MTN, Rocket Internet and Goldmn Sachs.

Messaging platform Slack has so far raised $340m from investors including GV but is now seeking an additional $150m in the wake of it ramping up staff numbers and launching a TV advertising campaign.

Influitive, the creator of an advocacy marketing platform, raised about $30m in July and has now attracted new funding to take its NTT Docomo-backed series B round to almost $39m. The capital helped to support the acqui-hire of scheduling app developer Ironark Software.

Souq.com has shown that e-commerce growth in Asia isn’t restricted to the usual suspects of China, India and Southeast Asia, raising more than $270m at a reported $1bn+ valuation.

Electronic component manufacturer Murata Manufacturing Company led a $19m series B round for US-based power conversion semiconductor developer Arctic Sand Technologies, a spinout of MIT. more

People moves

Ben Brabyn, former COO of UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) Innovation Gateway, has been appointed head of UK-based technology accelerator Level39.

Michael Fernandes has left Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional to become a partner and co-head of South and Southeast Asian operations at Leapfrog Investments. At Khazanah Nasional, he was manager of the healthcare portfolio, valued at $7bn on the Singapore stock exchange.

Monika Gierszewska has been appointed as director of incubator SetSquared’s Bristol branch. SetSquared is a collaboration between the universities of Bristol, Bath, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey. (more)

Funds

Vertex Venture Holdings, the wholly-owned investment arm of Singapore government’s state fund Temasek, has held the final close of its Vertex Ventures Israel fund at $150m. The fund had a target of $100m.

InnovFin, a joint initiative of EIF and EIB, has signed a deal to provide $100m to LeumiTech to support Israel-based businesses.

Purdue University has set up a $10m seed-stage fund to build on its successes from last year, when Purdue created a total of 40 new businesses, incl. 25 spinouts. The fund will be jointly managed by the university’s startup accelerator, Purdue Foundry, and the University Development Office.

Oregon State University launches fund with Rogue Venture Partners that is expected to raise between $10m and $20m and will invest in companies within the state. OSU will provide a fifth of the capital.


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