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

12 August 2019 – Didi Chuxing Spins Off Autonomous Driving Division

Big Ones

SoftBank Vision Fund recently announced that it has secured memoranda of understanding for $108bn in capital for its second investment vehicle, and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son has now said it will begin investing as soon as next month.

Didi Chuxing is spinning off its autonomous driving division and will likely seek funding at a multi-billion-dollar valuation. The ride hailing service has raised more than $18bn in debt and equity financing but is keen to gain external investors for a part of the company that may prove invaluable in future, but which is a cash drain right now.

Pharmaceutical and chemical producer Bayer acquired US-based stem cell treatment developer and portfolio company BlueRock Therapeutics in a deal that could value it at up to $1bn. The terms of the transaction involve Bayer paying a total of up to $600m to acquire the shares in BlueRock it did not already own, investing $240m upfront that will be followed by preclinical and clinical milestone payments that could reach $360m.

In this week’s GCV and GUV crossover news, the biggest deal was a $70m series B round for HawkEye 360, a US-based radio-frequency data satellite developer based on Virginia Tech research. The round included commercialisation firm Allied Minds (Hawkeye’s parent company) as well as aerospace manufacturer Airbus and mapping software developer Esri.

Deals

FlixMobility, a Germany-based travel services provider backed by carmaker Daimler, has added a “substantial” amount of funding to its series F round, which attracted $561m last month. The additional funding, seemingly worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was supplied by Baillie Gifford, Luxor Capital, Odyssey 44 and certain funds managed by BlackRock.

Tencent invested $350m in Kuaishou in early 2017 at a reported $2.5bn valuation, and as the short-form video sector has grown as a whole, the company has expanded its presence to the point it now has some 200 million daily active users.

E-commerce payment services provider Klarna has raised $460m from investors including new strategic partner Commonwealth Bank of Australia at a $5.5bn post-money valuation.

Existing backer SoftBank has invested a further $200m in endpoint cybersecurity software provider Cybereason together with several undisclosed affiliates, at a reported $900m valuation.

Online business finance marketplace C2FO has pulled in $200m in a round led by SoftBank Vision Fund that, according to Bloomberg, also featured existing backer Allianz X. The round roughly doubled the company’s overall funding to about $400m and it will put the money toward boosting international growth.

Wickedride Adventure Services, the owner of India-based electric vehicle rental service Bounce backed by mobile chipmaker Qualcomm, is raising $200m in fresh funding. Bounce has already received an initial $120m, people familiar with the matter told TechCircle.

Automotive e-commerce marketplace CarDekho has added $19m from investors including Emtek subsidiary Kreatif Media Karya to a series C round that has reached $129m. CapitalG, Dentsu, Bennett, Coleman & Co and Axis Bank contributed to the round’s earlier tranches, and the funding was reportedly secured at a $500m valuation.

Keyless lock technology provider Latch has also beefed up its latest round, closing a series B at $126m. RxR Realty, Tishman Speyer and the Berman Enterprises-backed Camber Creek all participated in the round, which was pumped up with a $56m second tranche.

Rakuten has increased its stake in cancer therapy developer Rakuten Medical to more than 22% with a $100m investment made in the shape of a series C-1 round. The e-commerce firm had joined SBI Group for the $284m series C the company closed in December, back when it was still known as Rakuten Aspyrian (and a while after it was founded as Aspyrian Therapeutics).

Rakuten Ventures has contributed to a $93.9m round for Japanese digital marketing software provider From Scratch that also featured Link and Motivation and Japan Post Investment. The unit has been an investor in From Scratch since its 2017 series C round, and the company’s other backers include Dentsu Digital Holdings and Itochu Technology Ventures.

Ibotta, the creator of a rewards app that gives consumers money back on selected purchases, has secured an undisclosed amount in a series D round that hiked its valuation to $1bn. Koch Disruptive Technologies led the round, which followed about $95m of earlier funding, and which will support an expansion of Ibotta’s Denver headquarters as it prepares to increase recruitment.

Funds

American Family Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of US-based insurance firm American Family, has raised more than $162m for a venture capital fund, according to a securities filing. The fund, dubbed AmFam VC Fund III LP, has taken in $162.5m from four investors and has set a $200m target for its close.

Exits

Delivery services provider Glovo has raised at least $340m in funding from investors including AmRest, Drake, Delivery Hero and Rakuten, and was reportedly valued at $950m in its last round. It has also begun discussions to raise money from – guess who – SoftBank, and is in talks with Uber and Deliveroo who have approached the company over a possible acquisition.

And here’s an exit… from an exit. Rapt Therapeutics, a US-based small molecule drug developer backed by internet and technology conglomerate Alphabet and pharmaceutical firm Celgene, has postponed its initial public offering without offering a new timeline. The company set its price range at $14 to $16 two weeks ago and hoped to issue 5 million shares on the Nasdaq Global Market to raise between $70m and $80m. Rapt is working on small molecule drugs that it hopes will boost a patient’s immune response to cancer and inflammatory conditions.


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

24 June 2019 – Slack Goes Public with $19.5bn Valuation

The Big Ones

Wealth management platform Paytm Money’s only funding so far has been a $10m investment by parent company One97 Communications, but it is said to be preparing a round that could be up to $1.2bn in size that will include SoftBank and Ant Financial.

Slack finally went public on Thursday in a direct listing that so far qualifies as one of the year’s notable successes. Its shares had been allocated a $26 guidance price by the New York Stock Exchange but they finished at $38.62 on its first day of trading giving the messaging platform a valuation of about $19.5bn.

Cathay Capital’s Cathay Innovation fund has raised $358m for the first close of its second fund, whose LPs include Valeo, SEB, Michelin, ADP, Accor, BioMérieux, Dassault, JCDecaux, Kering and Pernod Ricard.

On GUV, Imcyse, a Belgium-based immunotherapy developer spun out of KU Leuven, raised €28m ($31.4m) in funding from investors including the university. Life Sciences Partners led the round, which also included Belgian state-owned investment firm SFPI-FPIM, Wallonia government investment firm SRIW, growth capital firm Epimède, family office Biogenosis and private equity firm Noshaq.

Deals

Autonomous driving technology developer Aurora Innovation has boosted its series B round to more than $600m, pulling in funding from investors including Hyundai and subsidiary Kia Motors.

SoftBank Vision Fund has led a $205m round for Collective Health, the developer of a software platform that helps businesses manage their employee health plans more efficiently.

Vision Fund is reportedly also in talks with Indian fitness and wellness services provider CureFit over an investment of $200m to $350m that would value it at more than $1bn.

Zhenkunhang, the operator of an online marketplace for industrial equipment and procurement services, has captured $160m in a series D round led by Tencent.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board is set to pay $150m for an 8% stake in logistics services provider Delhivery through a secondary transaction. The company has raised nearly $670m in funding from investors including SoftBank Vision Fund, Fosun and Times Internet.

NTT-backed data management software producer Druva has already reached that $1bn valuation, in a $130m round led by Viking Global Investors.

Rapt Therapeutics has taken its series C round from $60m to $97m, raising the additional capital from the participants in the first tranche, which include GV.

Digital payment technology provider RazorPay is now valued at $450m, after securing $75.4m in its series C round. The India-based company has reportedly now received a total of $107m in funding and its earlier backers include Mastercard and GMO Venture Partner.

Viela Bio, an autoimmune and inflammatory disease drug developer founded by AstraZeneca, has closed a $75m series B round led by investment firm HBM Healthcare Investments that boosted its overall funding to more than $300m.

Funds

Northern Accelerator, a UK-based commercialisation grouping of four universities in northeast England, is seeking to raise £100m ($125m) for a venture fund to back spinouts and startups. Northern Accelerator will select a management partner for the new fund, dubbed North East University Investment Fund, in November 2019 following a formal tender process and Q&A presentations in London and Newcastle.

PreSeed Ventures, a venture firm owned by Technical University of Denmark (DTU), is targeting DKr350m ($52.5m) for a new fund focused on early-stage tech businesses.

Exits

Stoke Therapeutics is developing treatments for genetic diseases, and has gone public having priced its initial public offering above its range while also increasing the number of shares it is issuing.

Gene therapy developer Prevail Therapeutics has secured $125m in an IPO priced in the middle of its range. The AbbVie Ventures-backed startup had raised $129m since it was founded in 2017, and it will use the proceeds to advance treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, neuronopathic Gaucher disease and frontotemporal dementia.

Naspers subsidiary PayU has agreed to buy Iyzico, a Turkish digital payment platform that counts Beenos as an investor, for $165m.


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

10 June 2019 – Google Agrees $2.6bn Acquisition of Looker

The Big Ones

JD.com has agreed to lead a round for electronics recycler Aihuishou that will be more than $500m in size. The deal will also involve JD.com, an investor in the company since at least 2015, merging its second-hand e-commerce subsidiary, Paipai, with Aihuishou.

Google has agreed to purchase data analytics software provider Looker in a $2.6bn acquisition that will surely be one of the year’s largest.

SoftBank Vision Fund is still seeking out new forms of financing, and is reportedly in talks with banks such as Goldman Sachs over a $4bn debt financing package that will effectively use its stakes in Uber, Guardant Health and the soon-to-list Slack as its basis.

Healthcare-focused investment firm Deerfield Management added a partnership with Columbia University to its roster of academic biomedical alliances yesterday with the launch of an up to $130m investment vehicle, Hudson Heights Innovations.

Deals

Swiggy is battling Zomato for dominance in India’s online food delivery sector, and may be about to recruit a powerful ally in SoftBank.

Bordrin Motor is the latest Chinese smart electric vehicle developer to pull in big funding, securing $362m in a round led by a Sinochem vehicle called Silver Saddle Equity Investment Management.

Speaking of SoftBank, the telecommunications and internet group has also invested $200m in online consumer loan provider Creditas.

Hupu is still preparing to float in its home country of China, but before that, digital media company Bytedance has invested $182m in the sport-focused online media provider in return for a 30% stake.

Foursquare seems to have been around forever and has had some hiccups, but it’s raising more money than ever. Merchant bank Raine Group has invested $150m in the location-based app developer, whose existing backers include Naver and corporate venturing units OATV and Simon Ventures, and is using some of it to acquire location data-tracking software provider Placed from Snap, which bought the company for $135m two years ago.

SoftBank Vision Fund invested $100m in Brazilian logistics platform Loggi towards the end of last year and has now returned to lead another $100m round.

Endpoint security software provider SentinelOne has secured $120m in a series D round that included Samsung Venture Investment to boost its total funding to $230m.

Yellowbrick Data has raised $81m in series C funding from investors including BMW i Ventures, Siemens’ Next47 unit and Alphabet subsidiary GV to boost its overall funding to $173m.

Exits

Global Fashion Group, a consortium made up of investors including Rocket Internet, Access Industries and Tengelmann Ventures that oversees four fashion e-commerce marketplaces is looking to go public as early as next month.

Japanese digital business card platform Sansan has priced its initial public offering at the top of its range and is set to raise about $360m, including the over-allotment option, when it floats in Tokyo.

Adaptive Biotechnologies has filed to raise up to $230m in an initial public offering, following the inking of a collaboration deal with Genetech in December that could potentially be worth $2bn.

Another unicorn, fitness subscription service Peloton, has confidentially filed for an initial public offering. Its investors include Comcast NBCUniversal and Grace Beauty, and it was valued at more than $4.1bn when it last raised money, in August.


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

20 May 2019 – JD Health Agrees Series A Funding Suspected to Total More Than $1bn

The Big Ones

JD.com has agreed to take in series A funding from CICC Capital, Baring Private Equity Asia and CPEChina Fund that is expected to total more than $1bn, for healthcare services subsidiary JD Health.

Not the week’s biggest fund in terms of numbers, but an intriguing one nonetheless: Telkomsel, the mobile network subsidiary of Indonesia-headquartered telecommunications company Telkom Indonesia, has launched a $40m VC fund in collaboration with telecoms firm Singapore Telecommunications.

When it came to exits, we had a nice crossover between corporate and university with NextCure, a US-based immuno-oncology drug developer based on research at Yale University, that secured $75m in its initial public offering.

Deals

Quibi raised $1bn for its short-form streaming platform back when was known as New TV, and it’s now seeking an additional $1bn to fund content production.

SoftBank Vision Fund’s latest investment involves it supplying $800m in funding for supply chain finance provider GreenSill at a $3.5bn valuation.

Amazon isn’t a huge participant in the corporate venturing space despite its establishment of the early stage-focused Alexa Fund. But it’s led a $575m series G round for UK-based online food delivery service Deliveroo that took the latter’s funding past the $1.5bn mark.

Telecommunications technology provider China Electronics Corporation is investing approximately $548m in Beijing Qianxin Technology, a network security product supplier spun off from Qihoo 360.

Reports last month stated SoftBank was set to invest more than $550m in Germany-based tour booking service GetYourGuide but the end result is slightly more modest, if still impressive.

Vegan burger producer Impossible Foods recently launched in Asia and is set to ramp up its partnership with Burger King. It plans to fund that expansion with a $300m funding round closed at a reported $2bn valuation.

SoftBank Vision Fund’s latest Indian investment has involved it leading a $200m series F round for online grocery delivery service Grofers that valued it at more than $1bn.

Speaking of innovative business models, tube-based transport developer Virgin Hyperloop One has already raised new funding, netting $172m according to a regulatory filing, with at least $90m of that sum coming from port operator DP World and the rest from around 80 additional investors.

ETechAces, the owner of financial product comparison platforms PolicyBazaar and PaisaBazaar, has raised $152m in a round led by SoftBank Vision Fund.

Working space provider Kr Space is one of China-based 36 Kr’s network of companies, but the spinoff has fared better than most, having just secured $145m that will support an expansion into the Asia Pacific region.

Nextdoor’s geographically-arranged social network now spans more than 230,000 neighbourhoods across multiple countries, and it’s secured $123m in series D funding to support an international growth drive that has most recently seen it enter Scandinavia.

Funds

Gree Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of Japan-based digital media company Gree, has reached the first close of a fund called Strive III which it intends to close at ¥15bn ($137m).

Diversified Philippines-based conglomerate JG Summit Holdings has launched a $50m corporate venturing fund dubbed JG Digital Equity Ventures (JG DEV).

Nabventures, the investment arm of the India-based National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard), is aiming to raise up to Rs 7bn ($99.4m) for a venture capital fund.

Universal Display Corporation, the US-based developer of organic light emitting diode (OLED) technologies and materials, has established a corporate venturing arm called UDC Ventures.

Exits

CrowdStrike was valued at more than $3bn when it last raised funding, in 2018, and now it’s filed for an initial public offering.

Family tracking and communication app developer Life360 may be headquartered in the US but it’s taken the unusual step of floating on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Sansan has been one of Japan’s more well-funded VC-stage companies, raising some $120m from investors that include Salesforce as well as home-grown corporates Japan Post, CyberAgent, Recruit, GMO, Nippon Life and Nikkei.


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