02 November 2020 – Ant Gets Ready for Global Expansion

The Big Ones

Ant aims to raise $34.5bn – the biggest initial public offering – by splitting its stock issuance equally across Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges, according to news provider CNBC.

Discussion at the GCV Digital Forum 2.0 last month about Including Both Halves of Society heard Lara Koole, partner at Netherlands-based conglomerate Philips’ corporate venturing unit, describe how it could start using its limited partner commitments to look at the underlying diversity of the venture funds’ general partners.

Scale Venture Partners, the now 20-year-old venture capital firm, is looking to raise $500m for its seventh fund, according to news provider Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The firm closed its most recent fund with $400m in 2018 but there is a nice synergy to its target given Bank of America was the sole limited partner for its first fund with $500m.

Funds

Eli Lilly elevates TVM Capital fund to $478m

Legend Star shines with $118m fund close

Bixin tricks out $100m investment vehicle

Taxmantra stacks up $100m for ProfitBoard

Exits

Elliptic Labs detects public listing

Galecto gathers $85m in initial public offering

Exact Sciences took part in a $110m series A round for cancer screening system developer Thrive Earlier Detection in May last year and obviously liked what it saw, because it’s returned to agree an acquisition deal that could reach $2.15bn once milestone payments are factored in. The brunt of that – roughly $1.1bn in cash and $600m in shares – is up front too, and corporate VC vehicle Blue Venture Fund is also set to exit through the transaction.

Microchip ingests LegUp Computing

Following news late last week that Quibi and Renrenche were set to shutter and be acquired for pennies on the dollar respectively, Yiguo looks to be the latest tech company to hit the skids after raising hundreds of millions of dollars. The Chinese online fresh fruit and vegetable retailer had reportedly secured well over $800m from backers including Alibaba and Suning but several of its subsidiaries are going into bankruptcy while the company has debts totalling more than $340m. Funding hasn’t been suffering much during the coronavirus period but it does look as if we’re entering a period where there will be a few big-name casualties

Deals

Dmall, a China-based online platform that connects consumers to the offline offerings of some 120 brick-and-mortar chains, has completed a $419m series C round backed by Lenovo Capital, Tencent and Hengan International. The round was co-led by China Structural Reform Fund and an equity investment platform for Industrial Bank, and about $150m will go to research and development.

Scopely closed its last round, a $400m series D featuring Advance Media and Chernin Group, at a $1.9bn valuation just seven months ago but has already secured $340m in series E funding. The round values the mobile game publisher, which is also backed by Take-Two Interactive, at $3.3bn and lifted its overall funding to about $900m. The proceeds will support M&A activities, Scopely having agreed four acquisition deals in the past 18 months.

Zhenkunhang, the Chinese operator of an e-commerce marketplace for industrial components, supplies and services, has closed a $315m series E round featuring returning investor Tencent. The corporate had led Zhenkunhang’s $160m series D round last year, and the latest round included Legend Capital as well as GLP-backed joint venture GLP-C&D Equity Fund.

LianBio was launched two months ago with a brief to commercialise existing drug candidates developed by its pharmaceutical partners for the Asian market, and particularly its home country of China. It has also raised $310m in crossover financing from investors including Pfizer to support development of cancer and cardiorenal disease candidates. The round was co-led by RA Capital, CMG-SDIC Capital and Venrock Healthcare Capital Partners.

The success of Megvii and SenseTime has shown the potential in China’s image sensor space, and the latest well-funded entrant is SmartSens, which has raised $225m in a round co-led by Xiaomi Changing Industrial Fund. The round also featured three more corporate investors – Lenovo Capital, Wingtech Technology and Transsion Holdings – Lenovo Capital having already backed the company two years ago. Huawei unit Hubble Ventures added an undisclosed amount in August this year.

Elsewhere in China, ECarx is focusing on in-car systems and in particular what it refers to as internet-of-vehicles technology. It has pulled in a huge $194m through a series A round led by Baidu that also featured SIG Asia. ECarx had formed a strategic partnership with Baidu’s autonomous driving subsidiary, Baidu Apollo, in mid-2019 and the series A funding was captured at a $1.5bn valuation.

Autohome is investing $168m in TTP Car, the Chinese online automotive auction platform also known as Tiantian Paiche, having supplied it with $100m in convertible bond financing two years ago. The deal will also give Autohome the option to acquire up to $200m in additional convertible bonds in the company, which counts Tencent, BitAuto, SIG Asia and SoftBank’s SB China Capital fund among its earlier backers.

Benson Hill is using machine learning and biology technology to optimise breeding patterns with a view to creating new forms of plant-based foods and ingredients. It secured $150m yesterday in a series D round co-led by GV that also featured Louis Dreyfus Company and Emart. GV (formerly known as Google Ventures) also led Benson Hill’s last round two years ago, when it raised $60m.

Honor takes care of $140m series D

Eightfold brings in $125m

Applied Intuition, a developer of testing software for autonomous driving systems, said its revenues have increased, and it has accordingly secured $125m in a series C round completely funded by existing backers. The company received $40m just over a year ago in a series B round backed by Microsoft’s M12 unit, and the latest round was co-led by venture firms Lux Capital, Andreessen Horowitz and General Catalyst at a $1.25bn valuation.

FreshToHome delivers $121m series C

Kodit homes in on $117m

Although it’s been quiet for a while, the signs are that SoftBank Vision Fund is starting to stir again. It led OrderMark, the developer of a system that coordinates restaurant orders from a range of online platforms in a single place. Ordermark received $120m in its series C round, a round that came less than three years after a $3.1m seed round, and the growth of online ordering and virtual kitchens points to further growth.

Whoop straps on $100m

Digital consumer data provider SimilarWeb has also raised $120m, in a late-stage round co-led by Viola Growth and Ion Crossover Partners. The round doubled SimilarWeb’s total funding to $240m, its earlier investors including Naspers, and it is also experiencing rapid growth at present. So much so that it intends to grow its 600-person team by 20% by the end of January.

Scorpion escapes stealth with $108m

Sirnaomics syncs with Walvax in $105m round

VSPN broadcasts Tencent-led series B round

Gracell keeps pace with $100m series C


“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

01 August 2016 – Asian Funds, MyTaxi hails Hailo, University Record Breaking and more

People

Intel Capital has chosen Christine Herron and Trina Van Pelt to manage its $125m Intel Capital Diversity Fund.

A former startup CEO, Herron joined Intel Capital in 2010 after a combined five years as a venture investor at First Round Capital and Omidyar Network.

Funds

Rozenfeld’s new firm targets $30m fund

Alibaba Pictures is set to go into corporate venturing, providing $75m for a $300m fund that will target strategic investments in companies in partnership with asset manager Gopher Asset.

Another Chinese media player, outdoor advertising company Focus Media, is initiating its own strategic investment activities, raising four $75m funds, each of which will be a collaboration with a different investment firm.

Pharmaceutical company Astellas has formed a joint venture called DigiTx Partners with life sciences venture firm MPM Capital in order to invest in digital health technology.

My Home looks to construct $75m fund

Siam Commercial Bank forwards corporate venturing plans

Corporates okay second KK Fund

University

NYU computes AI accelerator

SNÉ attracts $2.5m

New Zealand researches $150m Australian fund

Government

Taiwan upgrades economy with $3.1bn

Big deal: German startups to benefit from $1.1bn

Flanders helps expand IoT fund

Exits

India-based online fashion retailer Jabong was said to be in talks for a $1.2bn acquisition by Amazon less than two years ago, but how times have changed for the e-commerce sector since then. The company, part of Rocket Internet’s Global Fashion Group stable, is set to be acquired by Flipkart for only $70m in a bid to stem GFG’s losses.

Chinese internet, media and electronics group LeEco has grown at an astounding rate over the past two years through some large-sized investments, and now it is looking to expand into the US through the $2bn acquisition of consumer electronics producer Vizio.

Unilever is set to exit social marketing platform Olapic in a $130m acquisition by Monotype.

Platfora gets up for Workday acquisition

MyTaxi gets a friendly Hailo in merger deal

Government

Talend recruits $94.5m for IPO

Investments

Mitsui already holds stakes in numerous Asian healthcare companies, and now it has invested $101m in Columbia Asia, the Asian branch of US-based care provider Columbia Pacific Management.

UBtech interacts with investors for $100m

Hero Sports, the eSports company spun out by Chinese game publisher Hero Entertainment in May, has raised $96m in a round led by outdoor advertising group Focus Media, which invested $45m.

Upthere launched its personal cloud storage service yesterday, at the same time revealing it has raised $77m in a round led by strategic investor Western Digital and venture firm KPCB.

Mobile gaming company Scopely has taken its total funding to just short of $100m in a $55m series B round that included game developer and publisher Take-Two Interactive.

EverFi, the operator of a critical skills and compliance learning platform with more than 14 million users certified, has raised $40m in capital from investors including Advanced Publications.

Wonder Workshop, an Alphabet-backed developer of educational robots that can help teach kids about coding and fundamental computer skills, has secured $20m in a series B round that will enable it to enter Asia.

Government

Byju’s to educate itself with $50m

University

Big deal: Universities keep breaking records


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