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

22 June 2020 – DoorDash Raises $400m in Late Stage Round

Big Stories

Slowly, then suddenly change happens

This past week’s online roundtable for the Reinhard Mohn Prize 2020*, Fostering Innovation, Unlocking Potential, hosted by the Bertelsmann Stiftung (Foundation), saw luminaries from politics, business, civil society and science under Chatham House rule discuss which innovation policies and frameworks are now needed to facilitate economic prosperity and societal progress in the future and strengthen our crisis resilience.

Underpinning the discussion was new research published by the Bertelsmann Foundation in a report titled “World class patents in cutting-edge technologies: The innovation power of East Asia, North America and Europe”. Out of the 58 technology areas covered, with the top 10% classed as world class in each field, the US and China in particular are setting a much faster pace in key digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, quantum computing and big data, the report said.

Governments need to cure old habits of control

The traditional way to think of supporting entrepreneurs has been to look at their five primary needs: access to capital, finding customers, product and service development, hiring people and, eventually, an exit.

Increasingly, however, a sixth factor is coming into play: navigating big government.

From a reflexive position across much of the Anglo-Saxon world of privatisation and letting markets decide, since the days of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, has come a counterblast from the East suggesting that industrial strategies, state bailouts and national champions are important.

This week, German government-owned development bank KfW agreed to invest €300m ($339m) in CureVac, the local developer of messenger RNA (mRNA)-based drugs whose technology could also influence development of a vaccine for Covid-19.

The transaction will give KfW a stake sized at about 23% and it comes after CureVacagreed a $90m loan from the European Investment Bank in March this year, when it announced it would concentrate efforts on developing a coronavirus vaccine, following press reports that the American government had tried to invest with a view to relocating the company and its products to the US.

Deals

DoorDash has raised $400m in a late-stage round that increased its valuation from $13bn last November to $16bn post-money. The online food delivery service has now secured a total of some $2.5bn in equity funding from investors including SoftBank and is still in line to go public having confidentially filed for an IPO in February. Durable Capital Partners led the round, which included Fidelity and T. Rowe Price.

Volkswagen invested $100m in solid-state battery developer QuantumScape two years ago and is increasing that commitment by up to $200m as the companies seek to strengthen their existing partnership. They are planning to set up a pilot facility to test out the industrial-scale manufacturing of QuantumScape batteries for use in Volkswagen’s electric vehicles, as the carmaker looks forward to upgrading from lithium-ion battery power.

Orca Bio organises $192m series D

C4 Therapeutics has closed a $150m series B round alongside $20m in venture debt, with the cash coming from new investors and largely undisclosed existing backers that could include Novartis, Roche and Kraft Group. The small molecule therapy developer launched in 2016 with $73m in a series A round that included all three corporates, and it plans to have four candidates in clinical trials by the end of 2022.

Corporates chip in as BYD Semiconductor gets $113m

GreenLight filters through $102m

Pagaya has built an AI software platform that utilises machine learning and data analysis to manage assets for institutional investors. It has also received $102m in a series D round featuring Clal Insurance and subsidiaries of Aflac, Bank Hapoalim and Siam Commercial Bank. The company, which has about $1.6bn under management, plans to now move into additional asset classes, particularly those related to fixed income.

University

4DMT materialises $75m series C round

Bit Bio whips up series A funding

Proprio picks up $23m

Exits

There have been a few significantly upsized IPOs of late, especially in the healthcare sector, but Avidity Biosciences has perhaps pulled off the biggest jump of all. Avidity, which is developing drugs for muscle diseases, raised $259m when it went public on Friday, floating above its range after increasing the number of shares by a whopping 44%. The company, whose investors include Eli Lilly, Brace Pharma Capital, ST Pharm and Takeda Ventures, then saw its shares rise 58% on their first day of trading. Despite ongoing uncertainty in the markets, it seems like tech companies are still in a prime position to IPO.

Kangua canters to $149m IPO

One of the larger tech companies still to make that leap is data miner Palantir, which has raised $1.9bn in funding from investors including Relx and which is reportedly readying a confidential IPO filing with a view to floating in September. Big data analysis provider Palantir has followed a $50m investment by Fujitsu with $500m from its partner in a Japanese joint venture.

Forma Therapeutics looks to be the next life sciences company to step up to the public markets, having set the range for an IPO that would net $212m if it floats at the top of that range. And some of its investors have been waiting longer than most for an exit. Novartis first invested in the cancer and haematologic disease therapy developer in 2009, with Eli Lilly following soon after. Both received a dividend early last year, and if Forma replicates the recent success of other drug developers they could be in for a bumper return.

Repare reaches public markets with $220m

Blued bids for $50m in US IPO

Proteus Digital produces bankruptcy filing


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

02 July 2018 – AT&T Agrees Acquisition of AppNexus

Exits

AT&T has agreed an acquisition of AppNexus reported to be priced around the $1.6bn mark, enabling WPP, Microsoft, News Corp and Deutsche Telekom to exit.

PayPal sinks $120m into Simility acquisition

University

TTTech sells stake to B&C

Xiaomi’s IPO has been a long, hard slog for the company. It had originally aimed to raise $10bn in a dual Hong Kong and Shanghai listing that would have valued it at about $100bn, but the Qualcomm-backed electronics producer has had to settle for a $4.7bn offering, solely in Hong Kong, which valued it at $54bn.

Chinese automotive e-commerce marketplace Cango has filed to raise up to $300m in a US-based initial public offering that will allow Tencent, Didi Chuxing and Taikang Life Insurance to exit.

A more recently thriving space involves livestreaming, and China-based Inke has set the terms for an initial public offering in Hong Kong that will net $167m if it floats at the top of the range.

Babytree, a China-based online platform that combines baby and child products, development advice and social networking for parents, has filed for an IPO in its home country.

Outside of China, life sciences companies are driving the US IPO surge, much as they did three three or four years ago. Some half dozen healthcare companies floated the previous week including Magenta Therapeutics, which secured $100m when it floated.

Cancer drug developer Constellation Pharmaceuticals has filed to raise up to $86.3m in an offering that will follow almost $230m in equity funding.

Translate Bio, a developer of messenger RNA drugs for diseases caused by gene or protein dysfunction, has raised over $121m in its own IPO, in the US.

Neon shows way to $100m IPO

Kezar kicks into public markets

Xeris reformulates path to IPO

ElectroCore enters public markets with $78m offering

Allakos aligns itself with $75m IPO

Deals

Transport services provider Go-Jek closed a $1.5bn round earlier this year at a $4.8bn valuation, and is now in talks to raise the same amount in a new round, according to The Information.

Evergrande Health Industry, part of property developer China Evergrande, has taken a 45% stake in smart electric vehicle developer Faraday Future, paying $860m for Season Smart, the investment entity that held a 45% stake in the company.

Showing once again that ride hailing continues to be a vibrant destination for venture funding, Lyft has raised $600m in a Fidelity-led round that valued it at more than $15bn post-money.

PolicyBazaar signs up SoftBank for $238m round

Helix has closed a series B round backed by Illumina and Mayo Clinic at $200m, and will use the funding to expand its personal genomics product marketplace.

Precision BioSciences has closed a $110m series B round backed by Amgen Ventures, Brace Pharma Capital and Alexandria Venture Investments, and will use the proceeds to expand the portfolio of products centred on its genome editing platform.

Advanced battery developer QuantumScape has largely operated in stealth since it was founded in 2010 but has received $100m from Volkswagen as part of a deal that will involve the companies forming a joint venture to bring solid-state batteries to the industrial-scale manufacturing stage by 2025.

AISpeech aces latest round

Cibus harvests $70m in series C funding

B-Stock beats its way to $65m

TouchBistro completes $54m series D order

Carisma charms investors in $53m series A

AIpark finds space for Nio in series B

University

Pennsylvania lines up $50m

Irish spinout generation slides in 2017

Funds

Dementia Discovery Fund delivers $350m close

Charles University spawns TTO


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