24 August 2020 – SpaceX Raises $1.9bn

The Big Ones

SpaceX has been one of the most fervent fundraisers among private companies in recent years and it shows no signs of stopping. A securities filing indicates the spacecraft manufacturer and launch services provider has secured $1.9bn from undisclosed investors, with recent media reports putting the valuation of the round at $46bn. Its earlier backers include Google, which invested $900m at a $12bn valuation five years ago, and that valuation looks set to keep on rising for now.

Consumer electronics manufacturer Konka Group has teamed up with the Chinese city of Yancheng to put together an industry fund that will begin investing from a base of about $435m. The fund will be sized at up to $1.45bn and Konka is providing 40% of the capital. Its areas of interest include AI, semiconductors, the internet-of-things, new machinery and advanced materials.

Airbnb has announced it has confidentially filed for its long-awaited initial public offering. People were talking about an Airbnb flotation before the last downturn in the IPO markets in 2018. The rebound last year wasn’t enough to tempt it, but now, while they’re rallying for tech stocks, seems to be the right time despite a coronavirus-related hit to Airbnb’s business that saw it lay off 25% of its staff in May. The CapitalG-backed company had been valued at $26bn, down from $31bn, when it raised $1bn in debt and equity the previous month.

We have finally hit that summer lull on GUV, but there were still a few big stories. Most notably, Mission Bio, a US-based DNA analysis technology spinout of University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), has raised $70m in a series C round led by pharmaceutical firm Novo’s Novo Growth unit. Agilent Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of laboratory equipment and diagnostics services provider Agilent Technologies, also took part in the round, as did Cota Capital, Mayfield Fund and Soleus Capital. The round took the company’s total funding to more than $120m, it said, and Robert Ghenchev, head of Novo Growth, has joined its board of directors. Founded in 2014, Mission Bio has created a system called Tapestri which enables researchers and medical professionals to analyse single-cell RNA sequencing data to help develop precision medicines. The spinout leverages genomics technology from UCSF’s Abate Lab.

Deals

E-commerce group JD.com”s pharmaceutical product and medical services spinoff JD Health raised $1bn at a $6.9bn valuation last year, and now it’s agreed to add series B funding from investment manager Hillhouse Capital. The deal is set to be finalised next month and JD Health expects to get upwards of $830m from Hillhouse, an investor in its parent company since its 2012 series C round.

Last week we talked about reports that Chinese online medical insurance and crowdfunding service Waterdrop had raised $200m at a $2bn valuation, but a subsequent announcement places the size of the round at $230m. Tencent and Swiss Re co-led the round, which sources told Reuters valued Waterdrop just short of $2bn. Swiss Re has been relatively quiet in the corporate venturing space in recent years but reportedly put up $100m of the capital in this round.

Online share trading has made a big jump as the stock markets rally, and RobinHood is getting a lot of business in the US market. It has accordingly increased its valuation from $8.3bn to $11.2bn in the space of just four weeks, its latest move being to raise $200m in series G financing from investment firm D1 Capital Partners. It has now secured a total of $1.7bn and its earlier investors include Roc Nation’s Arrive subsidiary as well as Alphabet units GV and CapitalG.

Palfish is one of several Chinese online education providers to have experienced growth during Covid-19 lockdowns, and it has raised $120m in a series C round that included quantitative trading firm Susquehanna International Group. The company specialises in English tutoring and claims to have some 40 million users. It will put the funding towards improving its big data technology.

BlockFi has been one of the more frequent fundraisers in the startup space having closed five rounds in just over two years as it expands its range of digital currency services. The latest is a $50m series C round that included subsidiaries of CM Group and Siam Commercial Bank. The company has now secured more than $160m and its earlier backers include Consensys, SIG, Recruit and SoFi.

There are several VC-backed companies operating under the moniker of Element but the latest to raise money is the Germany-based bespoke insurance software provider, which has added funding from investors including Sony Financial Ventures and SBI Investment to a series A round that now stands at $46.5m. The earlier tranches featured Signal Iduna and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance.

Funds

MDI Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of Indonesian state-owned telecommunications firm Telkom, has closed a $500m fund entirely financed by the company. It will invest between $5m and $30m in domestic digital technology developers that will get access to a range of government-owned corporations, which in turn will be able to leverage the technology required to form a digital ecosystem in the country.

Russian conglomerate Sistema may not be the most active participant in the corporate venturing space but it does have one of the largest ranges of investment, having closed a series of funds focusing on different regions and sectors. Its Sistema Asia Capital subsidiary closed a $120m India fund in 2015 and is in the midst of raising the same amount for a vehicle concentrating on Southeast Asia. Areas of interest include cybersecurity, computer vision, smart cities, urban mobility and the internet-of-things.

Exits

Pharmaceutical companies Juno Therapeutics (itself a spinout of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre, Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre) and WuXi AppTec founded cancer immunotherapy developer JW Therapeutics in 2016 and now it has filed for an initial public offering in Hong Kong. Recent reports suggested JW would target $250m to $300m in the IPO having already raised more than $200m in venture funding. Juno retains a 26% stake in the company while WuXi AppTec owns about 14% of its shares.

Biologic drug developer Inhibrx has gone public, raising $119m having floated at the midpoint of its range. Inhibrx had received some $135m in equity and debt financing from investors including Eli Lilly and WuXi Biologics, and its share price followed recent trends by rising post-IPO. It’s been a bumper time for newly public companies of late, the question is how much of a bubble this represents and whether latecomers to the party could end up missing out.

Nano-X Imaging is working on a medical imaging system intended to function as a more affordable alternative to X-ray machines, and the Israeli company has set terms for an initial public offering in the US that will raise almost $106m if it floats at the top of its range. A big impetus is that existing investors including corporates Foxconn, SK Telecom and iA Financial have expressed interest in buying up to $80m of shares in the offering, which is a more than decent vote of confidence.


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

06 April 2020 – Lyell Immunopharma Gains $493m Investment from GlaxoSmithKline

The Big Ones

It is the sort of line to awaken the curiosity in an annual report: “Cash payments to acquire equity investments amounted to £258m [$314m] (2018 – £309m), primarily relating to Lyell Immunopharma.”

Thus, the accountants revealed UK-listed drugs maker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) had invested a sizeable amount in US-based cancer treatment developer Lyell Immunopharma, which raised $493m earlier this month.

Late last week, US-listed software provider Microsoft fell into the latter camp as it agreed with AnyVision that “it is in the best interest of both enterprises for Microsoft to divest its shareholding in AnyVision”.

AnyVision Interactive Technologies, an Israel-based computer vision technology provider specialising in face, body and object-recognition software, only announced the close of a $74m series A round featuring M12, Microsoft’s corporate venture fund, as a new investor, in mid-June. But the deal came under public attention with media reports alleging its system was being used for a mass surveillance program in the West Bank.

American firms have a long history of running into competition concerns when trying to buy UK-based chipmaker Plessey. The latest is social media company Facebook, which has turned from acquisition plans to an agreement just to buy all the augmented reality displays made by Plessey over the next several years.

Deals

WeWork has had its six months of hell compounded after SoftBank pulled away from a $3bn share tender offer connected to a proposed $1.5bn in debt financing. The corporate cited WeWork’s failure to meet certain conditions set in the tender agreement and said it has now supplied more than $14bn – $14bn! – in debt and equity financing for the company since it first invested just three years ago. With Covid-19 keeping office workers at home, the future looks anything but bright for the startup space’s most visible falling star.

Adapting rather better to the situation is artificial intelligence technology provider 4Paradigm, which has closed $230m in funding from investors including Lenovo and existing backer Cisco at a $2bn valuation. China-based 4Paradigm said it has been developing AI tools to track infection rates and model coronavirus-related scenarios in addition to helping businesses accelerate digital transformation. It had last raised funding in a late 2018 series D round valuing it at $1.2bn.

And despite general concerns around slowing transportation needs, Via Transportation offers a diverse range of transport options that can be integrated into an organisation’s existing activities. Holding company Exor has pumped $200m into Via as part of a series E round of undisclosed size that valued it at $2.25bn. Shell, Mori Building and Hearst Ventures also contributed to the round. Via’s existing backers include Daimler, which led a reported $250m round for the company three years ago.

And Crisitunity! The Covid-19 pandemic and the related restrictions associated with it are likely to be around for a while, but while it is devastating large swathes of the worldwide economy, some others are benefitting. Zoom and Netflix have been held up as examples of this, but the online education and media sector is also in place to do well.

Yuanfudao has reportedly topped Chinese app downloads in the space since January and has raised $1bn in a series G round co-led by long-term corporate investor Tencent. The cash was secured at a $7.8bn valuation and boosted the company’s overall funding to more than $1.5bn. Expect more to follow in that sector. Businesses are suffering but it looks as if a by-product of the crisis will be to accelerate the move toward mobile activities and socialising touted by the tech space for so long.

Tiger Global waltzes into Bytedance

As are ecommerce and producers. Plenty prepares to raise $100m

Online marketplace Ozon has been a fixture in Russia for more than two decades and is still getting big interest from investors. It’s just added $50m in convertible note financing from Princeville Capital to $100m recently secured from conglomerate Sistema and Baring Vostok. The $150m financing round follows $154m from the latter two last April and a $119m secondary investment by Sistema shortly before.

On healthcare and life sciences, which is another part of the tech space that’s unsurprisingly booming right now. Hillhouse Capital and Chen Yi Investment are putting up $292m for a secondary investment in Hualan Biological Vaccines, the vaccine developer spun off from biopharmaceutical firm Hualan Biological Engineering. It was formed in 2015 and was responsible for a third of its parent company’s revenue last year. It’s now valued at about $1.94bn.

6 Dimensions supports $125m round for iTeos

Collibra collects $112m

Pandion packs in $80m

Aspen Neuroscience ascends with $70m

Affinia affirms $60m series A

AM-Pharma has added $52m in debt and equity financing from Cowen Healthcare Investments and European Investment Bank to a round that now stands at $182m. The company, which is developing a treatment for acute kidney injury, has now disclosed almost $340m in funding altogether, its earlier backers including Pfizer and AbbVie.

Olive collects $51m

University

Zucara sweetens $21m series A deal

MiDiagnostics brings experiment to a $15.4m close

Funds

Yamato delivers Kuroneko Innovation Fund

Exit

OneWeb is the latest of SoftBank Vision Fund’s large-scale investments to go sour, filing for bankruptcy after failing to raise a reported $2bn from investors including Vision Fund. SoftBank has pumped upwards of $1bn into the satellite internet system developer, which has secured a total of $3.4bn prior to the move, from investors also including Qualcomm, Airbus, Coca-Cola Company, Virgin, Bharti Enterprises, Totalplay, Hughes Network Systems and Intelsat.

And distressed exits will increase. Hooq clasps liquidation option

IPOs may have dropped off but we’ve already seen some large M&A deals in recent weeks, the latest being Affirmed Networks, which has agreed to an acquisition by Microsoft that reportedly valued it at $1.35bn. The mobile network technology provider had disclosed $141m in funding and its exiting investors include Qualcomm Ventures, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners, the latter having taken over the stake from another Deutsche Telekom subsidiary, T-Venture.

Palo Alto Networks agreeing to buy network technology provider CloudGenix in a $420m deal that will enable Intel Capital to exit. Longtime readers will of course recognise Palo Alto as one of the most frequent providers of CVC M&A exits.


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

12 September 2016 – Automotive Deals, UK Funds and more funding for Didi Chuxing plus more

Deals

Best Logistics has closed a massive $760m funding round that shows how big China’s logistics sector is growing in the wake of the country’s e-commerce success.

SoFi received $1bn from backers including Renren and SoftBank at a $4bn valuation in October, followed that up with another $150m from Renren the following month, and is now reportedly lining up a $500m round, though the prospective investors are yet to be revealed.

Moderna Therapeutics closed a huge $450m round at the start of last year that valued it at $3bn, and now the RNA therapeutics developer has revealed $474m in new equity financing which, a regulatory filing indicates, includes the $140m invested by AstraZeneca last month.

Online car marketplace Cheyipai has raised $185m in funding from investors including Renren and Tencent, but is now changing tack by switching from a business-to-consumer model to one that serves other businesses. That pivot may be part funded by car manufacturer BAIC, which is reportedly in talks to lead a $45m round.

Chinese automotive marketplace RenRenChe is less than three years old, but has secured $150m in a round backed by new and existing VC investors.

Didi Chuxing has had quite a year and it continues to go from strength to strength, closing $120m in funding from manufacturing services provider Foxconn at a $33.7bn valuation.

Novartis Venture Fund has co-led a $40m series E round for Rox Medical, the developer of a device that will treat hypertension in older patients.

Rigontec, a biopharmaceutical spinout of Bonn University, today achieved a third and final close of its series A round at $32.3m with public-private partnership High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) making another commitment.

Red Dot Capital Partners, a $150m vehicle wholly funded by Singaporean government-owned investment firm Temasek, led a $38m investment yesterday in Israel-based wireless technology developer Celeno Communications.

Funds

Russian conglomerate Sistema has already launched two VC vehicles this year – the $50m India-focused Sistema Asia Fund and a $100m fund with Tsinghua University – and it’s followed those up with a private equity fund partnership with Russian state-owned tech commercialisation company Rusnano.

Neil Woodford, a UK-based fund manager and founding partner of Woodford Investment Management, is reportedly in talks with the UK government to set up a £250m ($330m) VC fund, Portfolio Adviser reported.

Imperial College London has become a limited partner in a £40m ($53.7m) fund launched by incubator Entrepreneur First yesterday, according to TechCrunch.

Exits

Intel has acquired vision processing chip producer Movidius in a transaction that provided exits to corporates Robert Bosch and Sunny Optical.

IDG Ventures India can also celebrate an exit, or at least a partial exit from eyewear supplier Lenskart, selling $20m in shares to investment firm PremjiInvest in a deal that also involved PremjiInvest investing a further $10m in Lenskart directly.

Allergan has acquired the Wayne State University spinout, backed by Santen Pharmaceutical and Nerveda, for an upfront payment of $60m.

People

Oxford University’s commercialisation arm has appointed Matt Perkins as its new chief executive, replacing Tom Hockaday who stepped down earlier this year.

Ozan Sönmez has been appointed managing director of T-Jump Startup Hub, the US-based incubator of Middle East Technical University’s tech transfer office ODTÜ Teknokent.


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