19 July 2021 – SoftBank serves Yanolja with $1.7bn

Big ones

SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 supplied $1.7bn in funding for South Korea-based travel and accommodation services provider Yanolja. It was valued at $1bn in a $180m series D round in mid-2019 backed by Booking Holdings and GIC. It had received $53.2m from SkyLake Investment two years earlier and $8.5m from Partners Investment in 2015.

Softbank plans to invest an additional $5bn in the Latin American region. The corporate formed a $5bn investment vehicle targeting the region in early 2019, and the prospective funding, which would double the allocation to $10bn, may be used to create a new SoftBank Latin America Fund or expand the size of the first. SoftBank also intends to expand the range of Latin America-based companies it targets to include seed and series A-stage startups as well as publicly-listed companies. Chief operating officer Marcelo Claure, who launched the first fund, will continue to lead its Latin America-based operations.

One97 Communications, the India-based owner of payments platform Paytm backed by corporates Alibaba, Ant Financial, SoftBank and MediaTek, filed to go public on the Securities and Exchange Board of India. The company intends to raise up to Rs 16.6bn ($2.2bn) in an initial public offering which would entail it issuing $1.1bn in new shares while its shareholders will divest the same amount. Selling shareholders in the IPO will include founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Alibaba and Ant Group, Elevation Capital, SAIF Partners India and Berkshire Hathaway.

Crossover

US-based gene-editing technology developer Prime Medicine emerged from stealth with $315m of series A and B funding to commercialise research conducted at the Broad Institute. The company raised $115m in a series A round backed by GV, Arch Venture Partners, Newpath Partners and F-Prime Capital. Prime Medicine concurrently unveiled a $200m series B round featuring all the series A investors in addition to Casdin Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, Moore Strategic Ventures, PSP Investments, Redmile Group, Samsara BioCapital, funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price, and unspecified life science investment funds. The startup is using gene-editing technology to advance a number of drug discovery programmes targeted at areas such as the liver, eye, ex-vivo hematopoietic stem cell and neuro-muscular indications.

Deals

UK-based financial services app developer Revolut secured $800m yesterday in a series E round that included SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2. The corporate was joined by hedge fund manager Tiger Global Management and the funding was raised at a $33bn valuation.

China-based smart car technology manufacturer Banma Technologies has secured up to ¥3bn ($465m) in funding from investors including Alibaba and SAIC Motor. Yunfeng Capital and CMG-SDIC Capital also contributed to the round, which followed a $233m series A round in 2018 led by CMG-SDIC and backed by Yunfeng Capital and Shangqi Capital, a vehicle for SAIC Motor subsidiary SAIC Capital.

Netskope, a US-based networking and security software provider backed by computing technology provider Dell, closed a $300m funding round at a $7.5bn post-money valuation. The round was led by investment firm Iconiq Growth and also featured Sequoia Capital’s Global Equities unit alongside Lightspeed Venture Partners, Accel, Base Partners, Sapphire Ventures, Geodesic Capital and unnamed existing investors.

Ascension Ventures, an investment fund representing 13 healthcare providers in the United States, contributed to a $260m series D round for US-based medical device developer Imperative Care. D1 Capital Partners led the round, which included Bain Capital’s Life Sciences subsidiary as well as HealthCor Investments, Innovatus Capital Partners, Ally Bridge Group, Delos Capital, Rock Springs Capital and Amed Ventures.

Denmark-based challenger bank Lunar secured €210m ($249m) in a series D round co-led by Tencent, Heartland and Kinnevik. Chr Augustinus Fabrikker, Fuel Ventures, Greyhound Capital, IDC Ventures, MW&L Capital Partners, Seed Capital, Socii Capital and private investor Peter Mühlmann filled out the participants in the round.

Funds

Japan-based semiconductor manufacturer Rohm launched a ¥5bn ($45.4m) corporate venture capital fund that will be overseen by its group chief technology officer. The vehicle will identify ideas and technologies with the potential to solve social issues and create growth opportunities for Rohm over the next decade, including semiconductor materials, decarbonisation technology and in-vehicle and industrial equipment-related chip applications. Rohm will also make limited partner commitments to other VC funds through the unit, which is slated to operate over a 10-year period. It had previously collaborated with universities and startups to develop semiconductor technologies.

Exits

SES, a Singapore-headquartered lithium-metal battery developer spun out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and backed by GM, Applied Materials, SAIC Motor and SK Group, agreed to a reverse merger with Ivanhoe Capital Acquisition Corp. The merged business will be valued at $3.6bn in the transaction and will take up Ivanhoe Capital Acquisition Corp’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange, acquired through a $276m initial public offering earlier this month. The deal will be supported by a $200m private placement featuring carmakers GM, Hyundai, Kia, Geely, SAIC Motor, Foxconn, Koch Strategic Platforms and LG Technology Ventures.

Zomato, an India-based food delivery service backed by Ant Group, Info Edge and Delivery Hero, listed on the National Stock Exchange of India and the BSE in a dual listing. The offering valued the company at up to $8.6bn. The company intended to raise approximately $1.25bn through the initial public offering, which involves it issuing about $1.2bn in new shares. Classified listings operator Info Edge is selling $50m of shares. The offering was oversubscribed 55-fold as of the time of recording on Friday afternoon UK time.

Bullish, a US-based digital asset services provider backed by blockchain software provider Block.one, has agreed a reverse merger with Far Peak Acquisition Corporation. The deal will give Bullish the listing on New York Stock Exchange taken by Far Peak through a $550m initial public offering in December 2020. EFM Asset Management is anchoring a $300m private investment in public equity deal supporting the transaction that includes funds and accounts managed by BlackRock in addition to Cryptology Asset Group and Galaxy Digital, at a $9bn pro forma equity valuation.

MobiKwik, an India-based online payments service that counts Cisco, GMO, American Express, Bajaj Finance, MediaTek, Net1 and New Delhi Television among its investors, filed for a Rs 19bn ($255m) initial public offering on the Securities and Exchange Board of India. The offering will involve the company issuing approximately $201m of new shares while its existing shareholders will sell up to $54m.

US-based biologics delivery technology developer Rani Therapeutics has filed to raise up to $100m in an initial public offering that would allow Alphabet, GeneScience, AstraZeneca, Shire, Novartis, Ping An, KPC and Stevanato to exit. Rani is developing a capsule called the RaniPill, which would allow for biologics to be delivered orally to patients, instead of through subcutaneous or IV injection.The IPO proceeds have been earmarked for research and development and the advancement of Rani’s product pipeline, as well as growing its manufacturing capabilities and paying back a $1.3m Paycheck Protection Program loan taken out in April 2020.

People

Sacha Mann has been appointed a senior partner at Takeda Ventures. Her LinkedIn profile describes Mann as being in “stealth” at the unit from June 2020 to February 2021. Mann had previously been a venture partner at healthcare-focused VC firm Zoic Capital from 2018 to 2020. Inventages Venture Capital, a VC firm formed with the support of packaged food producer Nestlé, hired her as a principal in 2009 and she was promoted to venture partner in 2016 before leaving the following year.

07 December 2020 – Salesforce Announces $27.7bn Purchase of Slack

The Big Ones

Electronics and appliance retailer Suning has spun off its online retail platform and e-commerce services activities into a newly formed business called Yunwang Wandian with approximately $913m in funding. The capital was provided by Shenzhen Capital Group, SenseRobot Management, Ningbo Xianshi Enterprise Management and Central China Asset Management at a reported $3.8bn valuation.

Carmaker Dongfeng Motor has pumped $91m into a $243m investment fund that will target developers of automotive technology in addition to products in adjacent sectors such as big data, cloud computing and artificial intelligence. Dongfeng Bocom Yuanjing Motor Investment Fund has received the same amount from Bank of Communications’ Bocom International Holdings unit, and the two will each own 37.3% stakes in the vehicle.

We don’t generally cover acquisitions of publicly-listed companies, but Salesforce’s forthcoming and just announced $27.7bn cash and stock purchase of enterprise messaging tool developer Slack is notable enough to make an exception. Slack hit the public markets in a direct listing 18 months ago with a guidance price valuing it at $13.1bn – and many had labelled its growth in the past few months as underwhelming, indicating the fever for enterprise software right now. Its backers include SoftBank Vision Fund, owner of a 7.3% stake pre-listing; GV, which first invested at a $1.12bn valuation; and Comcast Ventures, which initially invested at a $3.8bn valuation. The acquisition is a somewhat unceremonious – if lucrative ending – for Slack as a standalone business, which in 2016 welcomed Microsoft’s entrance into the market with a ballsy full-page ad in the NY Times. Now, of course, Microsoft Teams has several times the amount of daily active users that Slack has – but with Salesforce’s considerable clout behind it, this could turn into the moment where Slack really becomes big business and justify that hefty price tag despite a very volatile share price.

Monzo, a UK-based digital bank, secured £60m to increase a series G round featuring Vanderbilt University to £125m ($167m). The new funding came from conference operator Ted Global, Novator, Kaiser and Goodwater Capital, according to TechCrunch. Monzo confirmed it as an extension to its existing series G funding. Payment services provider Stripe, telecoms firm Orange, Y Combinator, General Catalyst, Accel, Goodwater Capital, Thrive Capital, Passion Capital and Reference Capital and provided the first £60m in June this year, and the company had since quietly raised another £5m. Monzo runs a digital bank with more than 4.8 million customers, offering current accounts as well as business accounts, which are used by some 60,000 of its customers. It has now raised in excess of $550m since it was founded in 2015. The series G funding was secured at a $1.57bn valuation, a notable downturn to the $2.5bn valuation achieved when Monzo raised $144m in June 2019 from investors including Orange subsidiary Orange Digital Ventures and Stripe.

Deals

Lastly, Indian e-commerce marketplace Flipkart is spinning off PhonePe, a digital financial services business with more than 250 million users. Flipkart’s parent company, Walmart, is leading a $700m round that will provide the basis of PhonePe’s emergence as a partially separate company, and the remainder of the funds will be sourced from as yet undisclosed Flipkart backers, valuing PhonePe at $5.5bn post-money.

Space and satellite technology isn’t one of the busiest parts of the startup space but its companies are among the better founded inhabitants. China-based Chang Guang is developing a satellite constellation that will provide high-definition images and video, and has raised $375m from investors including iFlytek, reportedly as it prepares to go public. Other companies in China’s space tech space that have raised notable amounts include iSpace and LandSpace.

The United States’ VC space may have had its annual Thanksgiving lull, but China looks to have picked up the funding baton. Virtual classroom software provider Empower Education Online (EEO) leads the pack, having picked up $265m in a series C round featuring Tencent and Susquehanna International Group. Its earlier strategic investors include New Oriental Education and Technology, TAL Education Group and ATA, none of which were named as participants in the latest round.

Healthcare organisation software provider Olive has had a busy 2020, closing its third round this year by welcoming GV to a $225m round valuing it at $1.5bn. The Tiger Global Management-led round also served to double the company’s overall funding to about $450m, its earlier backers including multi-corporate backed venture firm Ascension Ventures.

Community buying platform developer Nice Tuan has meanwhile closed its fourth round of 2020, raising $196m in a C3 round co-led by existing investor Alibaba. Nice Tuan’s previous three rounds totalled about $250m and while there’s no official word on its valuation, the considerable growth of many of its peers in China’s online education sector this year indicates it’s likely in the multiples of what it was valued at in January.

Everlywell is one of the companies that has experienced major growth this year, adding a covid-19 product to its range of home testing kits and now raising $175m in a series D round featuring over-the-top media company The Chernin Group. The round valued Everlywell at $1.3bn according to Forbes, and it has now secured over $250m in funding since being founded.

Funds

UK-headquartered venture capital firm Firstminute Capital has launched a $111m second fund with backing from limited partners including internet group Tencent and consumer goods and chemicals producer Henkel. The vehicle is anchored by investment trust RIT Capital Partners and its LP list also features VC fund Atomico, four undisclosed California-based investment firms and some 70 founders of businesses valued at $1bn or higher.

Exits

It’s been a heady week for spinoffs, those companies flipped out of established businesses with external funding and their parents retaining a stake. First up is JD Health, the healthcare and medical retailer and services provider spun off by e-commerce group JD.com. JD Health has floated in Hong Kong’s largest initial public offering this year, raising $3.48bn after pricing the IPO at the top of its range, at a valuation nearing $29bn. JD.com isn’t finished either: its JD Logistics spinoff is recruiting bankers for an offering expected to raise up to $3bn.

Dynamic glass developer View is one of the most prominent holdouts from the golden age of cleantech funding, having raised a total of $1.8bn in debt and equity financing, $1.1bn coming from SoftBank Vision Fund two years ago. It has now become the latest company to take the reverse IPO route, joining forces with special purpose acquisition company CF Finance Acquisition Corp II to form a publicly-listed business with a valuation of about $1.6bn. View’s earlier backers include Corning and GE Ventures, though the latter may well have divested its stake by now.

Cloudwalk Technology has filed for a $574m initial public offering on Shanghai’s Star Exchange that would allow corporate investors Haier Financial Holdings, Bohai Capital and PCI-Suntek to exit. The company is one of China’s four largest image recognition software providers, along with Megvii, SenseTime and Yitu, none of which have managed to yet complete an IPO.

Cancer and viral infection treatment developer Silverback Therapeutics has just executed a successful IPO of its own, raising almost $242m in an upsized offering priced above its range. Celgene and Bristol-Myers Squibb are among the investors that had provided some $211m in funding for Silverback over three rounds. The IPO price valued the company at approximately $695m.

Cisco Investments seems to be having a good week so far. It’s exiting Kustomer in a reported $1bn acquisition – take a look on GCV for more –, and another portfolio company, customer data software provider GainSight, has agreed to let investment firm Vista Equity Partners buy a controlling stake at a $1.1bn valuation. The transaction will come after $157m in funding for GainSight, from a pool of investors also including Salesforce Ventures.


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

16 November 2020 – SentinelOne Bags $267m in Series F

The Big Ones

“The door is always open for a second and third [Vision] fund, but we’re not very popular,” according to Masayoshi Son, founder of SoftBank, who was quoted in the Financial Times. SoftBank raised almost $100bn for its first Vision Fund back in 2016 and invested three-quarters of it, showing a slight paper profit in its latest results to the end of September. SoftBank’s Vision Funds are very much back in the game, and Vision Fund I has participated in a $500m series C round for autonomous delivery vehicle producer Nuro. This round valued Nuro at $5bn, nearly double the $2.7bn valuation at which Vision Fund provided $940m in series B funding for the company early last year, and it was led by funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price.

As we head to the end of a turbulent year, the IPO option continues to be taken up by some of the more highly valued venture-backed companies. DoorDash has filed to go public on the New York Stock Exchange, six months after it raised $400m at a $16bn valuation. The food delivery service is one of the tech companies that has thrived as the coronavirus has caused more people to stay home, and it more than tripled revenue in the first nine months of 2020 while more than halving losses. SoftBank Vision Fund is its biggest shareholder, with a 24.9% stake.

Let’s take a quick look at another interesting story from the past week – a crossover between the corporate VC and university spinout worlds. Menlo Security, a spinout of UC Berkeley, has raised a nine-figure amount, the cybersecurity software provider having received $100m in a series E round valuing it at $800m. American Express Ventures, HSBC and Ericsson Ventures are among the company’s earlier investors, and it has now raised a total of about $260m. The cash will go to upgrading its engineering and go-to-market activities.

Deals

Cybersecurity software provider SentinelOne has bagged $267m in a series F round led by Tiger Global Management that roughly tripled its valuation to $3.3bn in the space of nine months. Qualcomm Ventures was among the investors in the February series E round, while another corporate VC unit, Samsung Ventures, backed SentinelOne’s series D in June last year.

Autonomous driving technology producer Pony.ai has completed a $267m series C round that included automotive manufacturer FAW Group, increasing its valuation from $4bn to $5.3bn in the process. Toyota previously led a $462m series B round in February.

Everyone welcomed news this past week that a coronavirus vaccine might be on the horizon – based, notably, on the technology of a spinout as BioNTech emerged out of Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. Electric scooter rental service Tier is one company to benefit, and it secured $250m in a series C round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The cash will support expansion into additional European markets and comes after Tier raised more than $100m in an Axa Germany-backed round in February.

Rec-Biotechnology is another startup working on a covid vaccine. The China-based company has raised $227m in series B funding from investors including Legend Capital and the proceeds will fund work on the prospective covid-19 vaccine as well as those for HPV, shingles and tuberculosis.

Online mortgage lending platform Better.com has secured $200m in a series D round backed by Ping An, Ally Financial and American Express Ventures while pushing its valuation up to $4bn. Better’s overall funding has now gone past the $450m mark and its earlier backers include Citi.

Aixuexi Education Group is the latest member of China’s online education community to pull in significant funding, securing $200m in a series D2 round led by GIC. Tencent invested an undisclosed amount just under a year ago following some $290m in earlier funding.

Funds

Bentley Systems, a provider of infrastructure engineering software, has joined the likes of Kellogg, Scotts Miracle-Gro and T-Mobile by harnessing Touchdown Ventures to launch a corporate venturing fund. Bentley iTwin Ventures is equipped with $100m and will make strategic investments on behalf of its parent, supplying up to $5m per deal. Its first portfolio company is subsea installation software developer FutureOn.

Exits

Instacart has hired Goldman Sachs to oversee an offering early next year it expects will value it at about $30bn. That’s a huge increase from the $17.7bn valuation the grocery delivery service registered when it last raised money, a few weeks ago. Instacart counts Comcast Ventures, Amazon and American Express Ventures as backers, with the last of those having invested at a $400m valuation.

Adobe has agreed a $1.5bn acquisition of marketing collaboration platform developer Workfront, 18 months after investors including Susquehanna International Group made a $280m secondary investment in the company. Workfront had previously raised about $95m in equity financing and will operate as a subsidiary of Adobe’s Experience Cloud division.

Vista Equity Partners has agreed to purchase a majority stake in customer management software provider PipeDrive at a $1.5bn valuation, with DTCP among the existing investors that will retain shares. DTCP, spun off and backed by Deutsche Telekom, invested $10m in PipeDrive through a 2018 series C round that valued it at about $300m, which means it’s looking at a very nice paper profit on that deal.


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

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

17 August 2020 – Impossible Foods Closes $200m Series G

The Big Ones

A lot of brick-and-mortar retailers have suffered during coronavirus lockdowns in recent months but certain parts of the e-commerce sector have done very well. That includes online sports apparel retailer Fanatics, whose business is reportedly 30% up year on year and which has raised $350m in a series E round that hiked its valuation from $4.5bn to $6.2bn. SoftBank Vision Fund led its last round in 2017, and the company’s earlier backers also include Alibaba.

Israel-based medical technology fund Alive HealthTech Fund has raised $150m, including $50m from four anchor investors including healthcare provider Carillon Clinics and health maintenance organisation (HMO) Maccabi Healthcare Service. The other two were Leumi Partners, the investment banking subsidiary of financial services firm Bank Leumi, which put up $10m, and Consensus Business Group, the investment vehicle for entrepreneur Vincent Tchenguiz. Maccabi Healthcare contributed through its Maccabi Fund. Alive HealthTech is concentrating on growth-stage investments in medical technology developers and intends to lead 10 to 15 rounds by 2024 sized between $10m and $30m, providing $5m to $10m for each company. The vehicle was formed by Maccabi Healthcare, care provider Assuta and Tchenguiz’s CBG Asset Management firm in partnership with chairman Ascher Shmulewitz and Michel Habib, Tchenguiz’s Israeli representative. The founding partners jointly provided $50m for the fund.

Online lending and wealth management platform Lufax may be dialling back its peer-to-peer lending services but its user base still tops 40 million, and the Ping An spinoff has reportedly confidentially filed to raise up to $3bn in a US initial public offering. Several large Chinese companies have filed for offerings in the country which has to be a testament to the heated activity in those markets given they aren’t being put off by anti-Chinese rhetoric from the government or the prospect of regulations that will make them subject to US auditing rules.

Crossover news: Vegan burger and sausage producer Impossible Foods – founded in 2011 by Patrick Brown, then a professor of biochemistry at Stanford University – has closed a $200m series G round led by Coatue Management at a reported $4bn valuation. Alphabet’s GV subsidiary invested in Impossible back in 2014, and since then it has expanded into thousands of shops and restaurants courtesy of partnerships with chains like Burger King and The Hard Rock Cafe. It also sells direct to consumers online and it will use the latest round for R&D, manufacturing, increase its retail presence and international operations. It raised $500m in a series F round in March to be able to cope with an expected impact of the pandemic, but it’s actually achieved 60-fold growth since then as consumers avoided meat (probably in no small part due to well publicised Covid outbreaks in abattoirs and meat processing plants).

Deals

HMD Global secured the licence to manufacture smartphones and feature phones under the Nokia brand in 2016 and, after raising $100m in a Foxconn-backed series A round two years later, has added $230m in funding from Google, Qualcomm and Nokia itself. HMD is expanding from hardware into mobile carrier services, and the fact Google and Qualcomm have also recently pumped significant amounts into telecommunications operator and digital services provider Jio Platform suggests 5G is going to be the fuel for some big deals.

Gong has raised $200m in a series D round featuring Salesforce Ventures at a $2.2bn valuation, increasing its overall funding to more than $330m. The company has developed an analytics software platform for customer service interactions and is one of several in that area to have raised money of late, as more and more interactions become remote. Salesforce participated as a new investor but Cisco Investments had backed Gong since its series B round – one of three it’s notched up in the past 18 months.

Funds

Myanmar conglomerate UMG formed incubator and accelerator UMG Idealab in 2015 and it generally invests $50,000 to $1m at pre-seed to series A stage. Now however, its portfolio companies are moving to later stages and it is preparing to raise $100m for a fund that will support follow-on investments. It is looking to tap external backers and is seeking a close in 2022. That would also likely be the largest fund to be raised by a Mynamar-based corporate venturer.

Exits

KE Holdings, the Chinese company that combines real estate services providers Beike and Lianjia, floated in the United States on Thursday in a $2.12bn initial public offering that values it above $26bn. Some $330m of that amount consists of existing investors buying shares, with Tencent providing $160m of the total. SoftBank Vision Fund is also a notable shareholder while Baidu and several real estate developers are among its earlier investors.

A lot of tech companies have seen their business models validated by lockdown conditions but others are more vulnerable. Kabbage uses AI technology to process loans for small businesses, but with the wider economy in trouble it may see more and more customers default. That environment makes it ripe for an acquisition and American Express is reportedly in talks to buy it for up to $850m. That’s a lower valuation than its last two rounds but not dramatically so, and it would hand exits to SoftBank, UPS, Recruit, Santander, ING and Scotiabank

One of the most recent examples of that heat is primary care network Oak Street Health, which floated late last week and which has closed its IPO at $377m after its share price more than doubled. Health system Humana, which invested $50m in the company in September 2018, now owns a stake valued in excess of $550m.

Another Chinese company, silicon and semiconductor production services provider VeriSilicon Microelectronics, is meanwhile set to float on Shanghai’s Star Exchange in a $268m offering. Xiaomi will own 5.6% of VeriSilicon’s shares when the IPO closes while Intel Capital will own a 2.1% stake. Its investors also include Samsung Ventures.

Online retail software provider BigCommerce has shown the potential in the market, having closed its initial public offering at $249m on Friday just two days after it floated. The company, which counts Softbank Capital, Telstra Ventures and American Express Ventures among its investors, saw its shares skyrocket on their first day of trading, more than tripling in price by the day’s closed. Its share price is still around that mark today, giving it a market cap of roughly $4.9bn.

Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen spinout CureVac has had an eventful few months, pulling in $640m from investors including GlaxoSmithKline last month due to the prospect its messenger RNA technology could form the basis of a Covid-19 vaccine. The Germany-based company has now gone public in the US, in an initial public offering that topped $213m. GSK’s stake is now sized at 8.4%, and CureVac’s investors also include strategic partners Eli Lilly and Genmab.

Another China-based company, Shanghai SK Automation Technology, has gone public but unlike KE Holdings it is doing so in its home country, having raised $105m in an offering on Shanghai’s Star Market. SK Automation provides intelligent manufacturing technology and its backers include SAIC Capital, a subsidiary of carmaker and SK customer SAIC, which retains a 3.4% stake post-IPO.

As the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc throughout the world the IPO rush seems to be carrying on unabated. Xpeng, the smart electric carmaker also known as Xiaopeng Motors, has filed for an initial public offering in the US, having raised some $2.5bn in venture funding from investors including Alibaba, UCar, Foxconn, Xiaomi and Fosun. It has set $100m for a placeholder target but expect that to rise sharply when it comes to setting terms for the offering.

Checkmate Pharmaceuticals has gone public in a $75m initial public offering, floating in the middle of its range. The immuno-oncology therapy developer had previously raised $175m in funding from investors including Novo, and at a time when companies are floating above their range in upsized offerings that’s probably a disappointing result, especially with its shares having dropped from the IPO price.


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

10 February 2020 – Netskope Gains $340m in Round Led By Sequoia Capital Global Equities

The Big Ones

Sequoia Capital Global Equities has led a $340m round for cloud security platform developer Netskope at a valuation of near $3bn. Netskope has now raised $740m altogether from investors including Dell Technologies Capital. Given the propensity of cybersecurity companies to be acquired, the unit – which has already scored exits from Packet and Big Switch Technologies this year – must feel good about that increased valuation.

Lots of Japanese financial services firms are active in the country’s venture capital space but SBI Group is one of the most strategic, having also backed international fintech developers such as Ripple and CurrencyCloud. It also raised a mid-nine figure amount for an AI and blockchain fund last year, and is now targeting $920m for a new vehicle called the 4+5 Fund.

Cybersecurity continues to be one of the most reliable areas for M&A exits and the latest case is Emailage, an email security software provider that has agreed to an acquisition by LexisNexis Risk Solutions, reportedly for around $480m.

And in crossover news, another exit… Harvard University-founded genomic medicine developer Beam Therapeutics looks set for one of the most successful of recent months, floating at the top of its range in an upsized IPO that will net it $180m.

Deals

SoftBank Vision Fund has provided another $150m for Indian childcare product retailer FirstCry, following on from a similarly sized investment a year ago and doubling its series E round to $300m.

GV’s latest investment involved it leading a $100m round for Verana Health, the operator of a software platform that pools clinical and life sciences information from a range of databases. The Alphabet-owned unit had already led Verana’s last round, a $30m series C 18 months ago, and it forms part of what’s becoming an increasingly lucrative healthcare technology stable.

Moda Operandi, the operator of an e-commerce marketplace for luxury goods, has secured $100m in debt and equity financing, increasing its equity funding to $345m in the process. The company, whose earlier investors include Advance Publications and LVMH, is one of several e-commerce entities to target the high-end market.

JenaValve Technology is moving its transcatheter aortic valve replacement prosthesis towards full regulatory approval in the US and has raised $50m from investors including Legend Capital to fund that journey. Legend Capital also took part in the company’s last publicly disclosed round, a series C that closed at $99m nearly five years ago.

Sendoso, the operator of a platform that combines software and warehousing services to help businesses with their postal marketing, has received $40m in funding from investors including logistics real estate manager Prologis. The round was led by Oak HC/FT and it boosted the company’s overall funding to more than $54m.

Exits

Qorvo has agreed to acquire Decawave, an indoor positioning technology developer that had raised about $60m from investors including ST Electronics and LG, for a reported $400m in cash. The deal was announced alongside semiconductor technology producer Qorvo’s purchase of another company, for a total of $500m.

Schrödinger, which provides chemical simulation software enabling drug developers to more precisely analyse molecules, floated above its range to raise $202m. The GV and WuXi AppTec-backed company then saw its shares shoot up 68% on their first day of trading.

Cancer therapy developer Revolution Medicines has set the terms for its initial public offering and will raise $150m if it floats at the mid-point of its range, $160m if it floats at the top.

Passage Bio, a University of Pennsylvania-linked drug developer that – by a bizarre coincidence – has also raised $226m, has filed for its own IPO, setting a $125m target.

Casper Sleep on the other hand has had some of the worst pre-IPO publicity since, well, WeWork, with onlookers pointing to steady losses and what’s perceived as an (ahem) relatively sleepy corner of the consumer products sector. The Target-backed mattress and bedding brand raised a sliver over $100m, floating at the bottom of an already slashed price range at less than half the $1.1bn valuation at which it last raised funding. Ouch.


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

03 February 2020 – Corporate Venturing and Innovation Summit Roundup

The Big News

The US government’s effort to change the regulatory landscape for venture capital is coming to a head with this week’s sold-out Global Corporate Venturing and Innovation Summit in California.

Investment banks could face more relaxed restrictions concerning investments in venture capital funds from the Federal Reserve and other watchdogs under proposals expected to be announced by the end of the month.

But as the US tightens its inward investment rules, its largest companies are expanding their venturing units internationally with Microsoft – the second largest by market capitalisation – setting up a new UK office in London under Matthew Goldstein, a GCV Rising Stars 2018 winner. For this year’s winners check outwww.globalcorporateventuring.com at 8pm PST today.

The top 100 Global Corporate Venturing Rising Stars and Emerging Leaders celebrated their awards at a gala ceremony at the Monterey Aquarium in California the night before the GCVI Summit started.

The winners were selected from almost 20,000 industry professionals tracked by Global Corporate Venturing and nominated by the heads of units and their peers.

In a keynote at the Summit, delivered as he became the new chairman of the GCV Leadership Society and in front of a sold-out audience of 800, Young Sohn, chief strategy officer at conglomerate Samsung, laid out the challenges he had faced changing the 50-year strategy that had helped the company become market leader in multiple industries as a fast follower, but which was having to evolve to maintain that position, while allowing it to remain agile enough to capture mega trends and new opportunities through multiple venturing and innovation strategies.

The second day of the Summit began with Kaloyan Andonov from GCV Analytics sharing insights gleaned from the World of Corporate Venturing annual data review and survey covering how the blurring of public and private capital markets is creating the investment trends for the new decade.

For the first time in 60 years the start of a western decade is coinciding with the start of the Chinese lunar cycle and the Year of the Rat: Happy new year to all the venture and innovation leaders in greater China and their work to support the entrepreneurs, and in making the world a better place.

Crossover Deals

Downturn? What downturn? – GUV’s annual review shows the ecosystem is in outstanding shape despite all the doom and gloom in many financial papers.

EPFL spinouts raise $292m – The university formed 23 new spinouts in 2019, while a total of 33 companies secured a combined $292m: an amount only beaten by 2016’s record $408m.

Deals

Although ride hailing and bicycle rental services are a long way from profit, that hasn’t dissuaded investors from backing the electric scooter and bike rental sector. Bird has boosted its series D round to $350m, adding $75m in a second tranche co-led by Sequoia Capital and CDPQ.

SoftBank Vision Fund is putting up $250m to lead a series D round for online pharmacy Alto that will reportedly value it at more than $1bn. The funding is set to be formally disclosed next week, and although no precise size has been revealed for the round, it will include existing backers Greenoaks Capital and Jackson Square Ventures, sources told Reuters. Alto had previously raised at least $107m in funding.

AlphaCredit is another of SoftBank’s investments last week, having agreed to raise $125m in a series B round led by the corporate’s $5bn Latin America fund. The company runs an online lending platform that has issued $1bn in loans to customers in Mexico and Colombia, and it joins a stable that includes LatAm unicorns QuintoAndar and Rappi.

Commonwealth Bank comes back to Klarna with $200m – The payment and shopping app developer has launched in Australia with the help of Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which raised its stake to 5.5%.

Policygenius pops with $100m series D – Corporate units Axa Venture Partners, MassMutual Ventures and Transamerica Ventures all returned for a round that nearly trebled the insurance marketplace’s overall funding.

ActiveCampaign has raised $100m in a series B round led by Susquehanna Growth Equity that is only the second to be announced by the company in 17 years. By coincidence, the deal was announced on the same day as another customer experience automation platform, Directly, but in this case it seems ActiveCampaign’s own greater experience was likely a deciding point in that size differential.

Funds

Innovation Growth Ventures, the joint investment venture between Sony and brokerage Daiwa Securities, has raised $145m for its second close, on the way to a targeted final close of $185m. The vehicle was launched six months ago and has so far disclosed two deals.

Conglomerate JSW Group is targeting $49m for the final close of the second fund to be raised by its corporate venture capital arm, JSW Ventures. The unit is sponsored by JSW but is taking in capital from family offices and individual investors, and is preparing to reach a second close next month that is expected to be around the $21m mark.

OCBC NISP gets authorisation for $29m fund – The bank has received regulatory approval for a venture capital fund that can be sized at more than $29m but which will reportedly begin with $15m.

Info Edge ventures into $14m fund – The classified listings operator, whose earlier investments include Zomato and ETechAces, has formed its first dedicated corporate venture capital fund.


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

13 January 2020 – Ant Financial Backs Zomato with $150m at a $3bn Valuation

The Big Ones

Zomato has kicked off its next funding round, expected to reach $500m, by raising $150m from existing investor Ant Financial at a $3bn valuation. The cash will help it in its ongoing battle against domestic rival Swiggy for supremacy in India’s online food ordering sector.

SoftBank Vision Fund has reportedly pulled out of a series of large-scale investments, in companies including Honor, Seismic and Creator, in recent months despite signing term sheets. The decisions appear to have taken place in the wake of WeWork’s failure to float in the autumn but could just as easily be due to a general slowdown in investments due to the second Vision Fund still not being close to its initial $100bn target.

Internet-of-things security provider Armis has agreed to a $1.1bn acquisition by Insight Partners in which Alphabet’s CapitalG unit is set to provide $100m. The France-based company had disclosed $112m in funding as of a $65m series C round last year, though none of its VC investors were corporates.

In university – and crossover – news, Soul Machines, a New Zealand-based artificial intelligence-powered avatar platform spun out of University of Auckland, has received $40m in a series B round featuring the institution’s Inventors Fund. Singaporean state-owned investment firm Temasek led the round, which also included Salesforce Ventures, the corporate venturing subsidiary of enterprise software producer Salesforce. Daimler Financial Services, the financial and mobility services subsidiary of carmaker Daimler, was previously revealed as a backer when Soul Machines raised a first series B tranche in 2018.

Deals

Quibi has to be one of the most eagerly-awaited pre-launch startups in history, and its leaders revealed this week it will launch its 10-minutes-or-less streaming platform in April with contributors including Guillermo Del Toro, Jennifer Lopez and Liam Hemsworth.

Fitness and wellness subscription service ClassPass has meanwhile raised $285m in a series E round that lifted its valuation to the billion-dollar mark. Alphabet’s GV unit is among its investors but the latest funding came in a round co-led by L Catterton and Apax Digital with additional participation by Temasek.

Further along the line is Byju’s, reportedly now the world’s most valuable VC-backed edtech company, which has just received $200m in funding from Tiger Global Management at a valuation of about $8bn. That’s an increase in valuation of nearly 40% in just six months and has to be good news for existing backers and corporates Naspers, Tencent and Bennett Coleman & Co.

Hesai has raised $173m in series C funding, in a round it claims is the largest ever for a lidar system developer. Robert Bosch co-led the round, two years after Hesai took part in its automotive AI accelerator in China, while ON Semiconductor also contributed capital.

Zhiyun Health, developer of a chronic disease management platform, has secured a total of $144m across series C-plus and series D rounds, the investors including Samsung, SIG Asia and China Electronics Corporation affiliate OP Financial.

Business accounting software provider High Radius is now valued at more than $1bn, having raised $125m in a series B round featuring Citi Ventures and Susquehanna Growth Equity. Both took part as existing backers and the round was led by Iconiq Capital.

Sisense, the creator of a data simplification tool for app developers and business analysts, has increased its valuation to more than $1bn, securing $100m from investors including Access Industries subsidiary Claltech.

Transcenta Holdings, the biopharmaceutical company formed through the merger of HJB and MabSpace Biosciences – both backed by Lilly Asia Ventures – has also raised $100m, in a series B-plus round that included the Eli Lilly-affiliated venture firm.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has chipped into a $73m series C round for digital accounting software provider Receipt Bank. The round was led by Insight Partners, the venture firm that had invested $50m in Receipt Bank in 2017, and the cash will fund growth across Europe, North America and Australia.

ClearCover has become the latest online insurance portal to raise substantial funding, pulling in $50m through a series C round featuring Cox Enterprises and American Family Ventures, both participating as existing investors.

Funds

US-based tire manufacturer Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company has launched a $100m corporate venture capital vehicle known as Goodyear Ventures at CES. Goodyear produces a range of vehicle tires in addition to running service centres and providing synthetic rubber and chemical products.

India-based poultry product supplier IB Group has formed a $28m strategic investment fund. IB’s central business focuses on its chicken and egg supply, though it has diversified into areas such as livestock feed, pet food, solvents and hospitality.

Exits

Megvii has received regulatory approval to float in Hong Kong and reportedly expects to raise about $500m in the initial public offering. Alibaba and its Ant Financial affiliate own upwards of 29% of the image recognition software provider, which was valued at $4bn as of its last funding round in May.

One Medical has filed to go public having raised a total of $400m in primary funding from investors including Alphabet’s GV unit. The primary care provider has set a placeholder target of $100m that will almost certainly increase by the time it sets terms for the IPO.


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

16 December 2019 – Petronas Launches Piva with $250m in Capital

Funds

Petronas has officially launched Piva, a growth-stage vehicle that will target developers of energy, industrial and materials applications in North America and Europe. The fund is equipped with $250m of capital and will be overseen by Petronas Corporate Venture Capital, the larger, more generalised unit that was launched by the corporate in October.

Telkom Indonesia and KB kick off $150m fund

Plexo flexes corporate connections to close first fund

Vertex closes Master Fund at $730m

UChicago helps shape $160m Pear fund

Epidarex dials up drug discovery scheme

Fundraising for SoftBank Vision Fund’s second vehicle is ongoing, but insiders have told The Telegraph it could end up closing at a size up to 30% lower than its first fund. Vision Fund is in talks with Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which contributed a joint $60bn to its first vehicle, but some public missteps, particularly in the case of WeWork, may end up giving them pause.

Exits

SoftBank Vision Fund elected to pump $9.5bn into WeWork in order to rescue the company but it’s shifting another problematic asset out completely. The fund invested $300m in petsitting platform Wag at a $650m valuation but has now agreed to sell its stake back to the company, reportedly at a loss. Wag has had some high-profile issues in the past year and the move comes after a recent resignation from its CEO and before a series of job cuts.

Rock Content draws up Scribble acquisition

Business finance automation platform Bill.com went public in a $216m initial public offering that allowed Fleetcor, Mastercard, American Express, Bank of America, Fifth Third Bank, JP Morgan Chase and the Citi-owned Financial Partners Fund to exit. It’s been a successful offering too, Bill having lifted the range at the start of the week and then floating at a higher price. It had raised more than $275m in VC funding and the IPO values it at about $1.55bn.

UCommune has proven itself to be WeWork’s largest competitor in East Asia but it’s selected the US for its initial public offering. The co-working space operator, whose investors include Ant Financial, Aikang Group, Star Group and several property developers, has set a placeholder target of $100m but the final fate of the IPO may be anyone’s guess, with reports that Citigroup and Credit Suisse walked away from underwriter positions due to disagreements over valuation.

Molbase assays $70m IPO

Deals

Digital bank operator Chime has closed a $500m series E round led by tech investment firm DST Global, upping its valuation from $1.5bn to $5.8bn in just nine months. The company has raised more than $800m to date, from investors that include Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures. It will put the latest funding toward product development and staff expansion as it prepares to open an office in Chicago.

Online automotive e-commerce platform Vroom took its overall funding to $721m in a $254m series H round led by investment adviser Durable Capital Partners. The round valued Vroom, whose existing backers include car dealership owner AutoNation, at $1.5bn and the funding will support recruitment, product development and the establishment of a newly opened engineering hub.

Elsewhere in fintech, online lending platform WeLab has raised its first funding in over two years, securing $156m in a series C round featuring Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund and China Construction Bank, two of five existing investors that joined undisclosed new participants in the round. WeLab filed for an IPO itself in mid-2018 but pulled it before the end of the year. It’s now preparing to launch a digital bank and is eyeing Southeast Asia for expansion.

Perfect Day is one of a number of companies exploring the plant-based food substitute space, having created a protein it claims is as tasty and nutritional as cow’s milk. It has also received $140m in series C funding at a $440m valuation, with Sinagpore’s Temasek leading the round. The company has now raised more than $200m since being founded five years ago, its earlier investors including agribusiness Continental Grain.

Genome engineering platform Inscripta has received $125m in a Paladin Capital-backed series D round that took its total funding up to about $260m. Mérieux Développement contributed to Inscripta’s last round, a $106m series C that closed in April, and the series D proceeds will go to commercialising and enhancing its Onyx Digital Genome Engineering system.

Online insurance platform Wefox Group has added $110m from investors including Samsung Catalyst Fund to a series B round that now stands at $235m. The round already included CreditEase and the latest influx of capital was secured at a $1.65bn valuation according to TechCrunch, a substantial jump from the reported $1.1bn valuation for the first tranche in March.

HomeTap is only about two years old but operates a model where users can access finance using equity in their homes. It has also just raised $100m from investors including American Family Ventures. The series B funding will support its expansion in the US, in addition to increasing headcount and work on further development of the platform.

Small molecule cancer drug developer Zentalis Pharmaceuticals has come out of stealth with $147m in funding, $85m of which was just secured in a series C round. No corporate investors were mentioned in that transaction but its investors do include Pharmaron and Alexandria Venture Investments, while Pfizer, which is collaborating with it on a phase 1/2 clinical trial that combines two drug treatments, may have gained a stake through the partnership deal.

Jasper springs to life with $35m

Paragraf amplifies series A to reach $21.3m


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

02 December 2019 – SoftBank Leads Oyo’s $1.5bn Funding Round

The Big Ones

SoftBank Vision Fund is putting up $807m to lead a $1.5bn funding round for one of its most notable portfolio companies, India-based short term accommodation platform Oyo. The round values Oyo at $10bn and the extra cash will fund expansion in the US, a prime market in the company’s ongoing international expansion. Its other investors include Didi Chuxing, Hero Enterprise and Huazhu Hotels Group.

Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial is putting together a $1bn fund that will focus on emerging markets such as India or Southeast Asia. Its name can be translated as Ant Unicorn Fund and it will concentrate on strategic investments in areas such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, security, the internet of things and computing as well as digital financial services platforms.

Aporeto’s investors, which include Comcast Ventures, National Grid Partners, Symantec and Telia Ventures, are in line for exits, through a $150m acquisition by Palo Alto Networks. The machine identity-based cybersecurity software provider had raised almost $35m, and its pending acquisition marks the third corporate-backed company to be bought by Palo Alto in the past six months, following Zingbox and Twistlock.

In crossover news with Global University Venturing, Heartseed, a Japan-based developer of treatments for heart failure based on research at Keio University, has secured ¥2.8bn ($25.8m) in series B funding from investors including medical data technology provider JMDC.

Deals

Another of Vision Fund’s key Indian investments is mobile financial services provider Paytm, and it has contributed to a $1bn series G round for the company that also featured fellow corporate investor Ant Financial.

Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia-based Tokopedia is seeking what will likely be its last VC funding before its own flotation, and is reportedly in talks to raise $1bn to $1.5bn in a round that will probably include existing backers and unnamed US internet companies.

Impossible Foods is looking to raise $300m to $400m in a round expected to value it in the $3bn to $5bn range. The plant-based burger provider was most recently valued at $2bn and is reportedly eyeing 2020 for its initial public offering.

Online supermarket Picnic has raised $275m in funding, chiefly from the same investors that backed its last round, when it secured $108m in early 2017.

Online pharmacy operator PharmEasy has raised $220m at a $700m valuation, in a round led by the Singaporean government-owned Temasek. India-based PharmEasy has now secured more than $320m altogether, its earlier investors including corporates Ascent Health and Wellness, Medi Assist and Manipal Education and Medical Group.

Ferring Pharmaceuticals has spun off a new company to manage the late-stage development and eventual commercialisation of a gene therapy intended to treat bladder cancer.

Lithuania-headquartered fashion e-commerce marketplace Vinted has meanwhile received $141m from investors including Burda Principal Investments at a valuation of about $1.1bn.

We’ve been through the ride hailing gold rush and the bicycle rental frenzy but neither sector has even approached profitability yet. Despite that, electric scooter rental platforms are continuing to raise big money, the latest being India-based Bounce, which has bumped its series D round up to $150m.

Online job listings and recruitment portal Boss Zhipin has received a seven-figure dollar amount in a series E round featuring Tencent, which reportedly led one tranche of the round while participating in another.

Enterprise AI software provider Appier has bagged $80m in series D funding from investors including UMC Capital and Hopu-Arm Innovation Fund, nearly doubling its overall funding to $162m in the process.

Real estate developer Daito Trust Construction has provided $50m in equity funding for co-working space operator JustCo, and is pumping a further $24m into a joint venture that will enable the Sinagporean company to expand into Daito’s home market of Japan.

Despite its name, Jybd is not a recruitment platform but an aftermarket services platform for truckers. The China-based company has received $50m in a series B round led by Sino-Ocean Capital, a subsidiary of Sino-Ocean Group, the transaction coming after trucking services marketplace Manbang Group supplied $46m in series A funding for it last year.

Funds

Now this isn’t really a new fund but it is an interesting development: Thailand-based financial services firm Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) is looking to spin off some of its financial technology entities, potentially including venture capital subsidiary SCB Digital Ventures. Digital Ventures was launched in 2016 with $50m in capital and its early investments focused on limited partner commitments, including funds being raised by Nyca Partners and Dymon Asia Ventures.

Exits

There weren’t too many exits last week, but another notable one was insurance provider Maif’s exit from France-based voice technology developer Snips in a $37.5m acquisition by speaker system producer Sonos. Snips is the creator of a full-stack software platform that can be used to develop custom voice-based digital assistants.


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