18 October 2021 – Celsius Network Warms Up with $400m in Funding

Celsius Network transacts $400m in funding

Celsius Network, the US-based cryptocurrency services platform developer backed by stablecoin issuer Tether International, received $400m in funding in a round valuing the company at over $3bn.

Trumid traps $208m in funding

US-based online bond trading platform Trumid closed on $208m in funding featuring trading exchange operator Singapore Exchange (SGX) at a reported valuation of $2.4bn.

Halo grabs series C funding

Allianz Life Ventures, a corporate venturing subsidiary of insurance provider Allianz, was among the investors putting $100m into a series C round for Halo Investing, a US-based developer of an online investment tools platform.

Open opts for $100m series C funding

Internet technology provider Google participated in a $100m series C round for India-based neobank Open Financial Technologies.

BetterUp nets $300m in series E funding

US-based professional coaching services provider BetterUp recevied $300m in a series E round featuring enterprise software provider Salesforce’s corporate venturing unit, Salesforce Ventures, at a valuation of $4.7bn.

Hibob hits $150m in series C round

Hibob, a UK-based human resources software provider backed by online recruitment marketplace Seek and conglomerate Sumitomo, hauled in $150m in a series C round led by growth equity firm General Atlantic, hiking its total funding to $274m to date as a $1.65bn valuation.

Swile Benefits from $200m series D round

France-based developer of employee benefits management technology, Swile, raised $200m series D funding led by telecommunications and internet group SoftBank at a valuation of over $1bn.

Sense Photonics Detects $71m exit

Sense Photonics, a US-based developer of lidar technology that offers an ultra-wide field of view, agreed to a takeover deal lidar system producer Ouster, marking an exit to University of California-aligned Congruent Ventures, in an acquisiton worth nearly $71.3m.

BP lays out Blueprint Power acquisition

Another Congruent Ventures company, US-based energy distribution technology platform Blueprint Power, is being taken over by oil and gas company BP for an undisclosed sum.

Munich Re Ventures introduces $500m Fund II

Munich Re Ventures, the corporate venturing subsidiary of Germany-headquartered reinsurance group Munich Re, closed its second fund at $500m.

Hubspot Ventures hatches $100m fund

US-headquartered provider of customer relationship management (CRM) software, HubSpot, launched a $100m investment vehicle through its corporate venture capital arm, HubSpot Ventures.

Thomson Reuters trumpets $100m fund

Canada-headquartered news and information tools provider Thomson Reuters launched a $100m corporate venturing fund aimed at supporting “future professionals”.

Docusign concocts corporate venturing vehicle

US-headquartered electronic signature technology provider DocuSign announced its own corporate venture capital vehicle called DocuSign Ventures.


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

27 September 2021 – Toast and Freshworks Make Strong Public Market Debuts

The Big Ones

US-based restaurant organisation technology provider Toast is floating on the New York Stock Exchange today in an $870m initial public offering representing an exit for internet and technology group Alphabet. Toast, a US-based restaurant management software provider backed by Alphabet’s subsidiary GV, floated on the New York Stock Exchange in an $870m IPO, pricing its shares at $40 each, with an implied market capitalisation of around $20bn. The shares closed at around $62, equating to a market capitalisation of approximately $31bn, which made Toast’s IPO one of the largest US listings of the year.

Freshworks, a customer relationship management (CRM) software developer, backed by internet and technology group Alphabet, raised $1.03bn in Nasdaq IPO. Its shares closed at almost $48, equating to a market capitalisation of $13.5bn. Freshworks produces a variety of software used by companies for improving customer experience and optimising IT service management processes.

Mexico-based used car marketplace Kavak raised $700m in a series E round featuring telecommunications and internet group SoftBank and consumer internet company Sea, Reuters reported today. The round, which more than doubled the company’s valuation to $8.7bn, included General Catalyst, Founders Fund, Tiger Global Management, D1 Capital Partners, Ribbit Capital and Spruce House.

Telecommunications and internet group SoftBank led a $680m series B round for Sorare, the France-headquartered creator of a fantasy football game focused on non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Atomico, Bessemer Ventures, D1 Capital, Eurazeo, IVP, Liontree, Benchmark, Accel and Partech also participated in the round along with private investors Alexis Ohanian, Gerard Piqué, Rio Ferdinand, Antoine Griezmann and César Azpilicueta.
Canada-based virtual trading card developer Dapper Labs received $250m from investors including GV, a corporate venturing arm of internet and technology conglomerate Alphabet. Investment manager Coatue Management led the round, which included Andreessen Horowitz, Bond, Version One Ventures and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC. The round reportedly valued the company at $7.6bn.

Crossover

US-based lithium mining technology producer Lilac Solutions raised $150m in a series B round featuring commodity trading firm Mercuria Energy Trading. Lowercarbon Capital co-led the round with funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price, while The Engine, Valor Equity Partners and Breakthrough Energy Ventures also participated. Lilac has created an ion exchange technology which makes the extraction of lithium from brine resources – naturally occurring sources of saltwater – more efficient than current methods.

Funds

Thailand-based financial services group Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) and conglomerate Charoen Pokphan Group (CP Group) launched a venture capital fund with an $800m target. The vehicle, dubbed Global Disruptive Technology Venture Capital Fund, will focus on investments in emerging technology areas such as digital assets, the blockchain and general fintech.

France-based, biotech-focused private equity firm Jeito Capital has closed its Jeito I fund, which is backed by pharmaceutical company Sanofi and insurers Axa, Aviva, Pro BTP and CNP Assurances, at $632m. The latest batch of limited partners for the fund include pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS), the Singaporean government owned Temasek and the multilateral European Investment Fund (EIF).

Japan-headquartered consumer electronics producer Sony has formed a $200m corporate venturing fund which will concentrate on India-based investments.

US-based venture capital firm Fifth Wall raised over $140m for its Climate Tech Fund which targets $500m, from investors including housing provider Invitation Homes and property manager Ivanhoé Cambridge.

Illumina Ventures, the venture capital firm sponsored by US-headquartered genomics technology producer Illumina, closed its second fund at $325m.

HSBC Group launched a $100m dollars US-based venture capital vehicle named HSBC Ventures which will back climate and net-zero emission technology developers. Its portfolio companies will have access to the parent firm’s resources, including its global network, commercial and investment banking offering and experience in supporting startups and public companies.


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

20 September 2021 – Investors help Canva paint $200m picture at $40bn valuation

The Big Ones

Canva, an Australia-based graphic design software provider backed by advertising agency VaynerMedia, raised $200m at a $40bn valuation. Investment manager T Rowe Price led the round, which included Franklin Templeton, Sequoia Capital Global Equities, Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP), Greenoaks Capital, Dragoneer Investments, Blackbird, Felicis Ventures and AirTree Ventures. Canva has built a visual visual communications software that helps users without a graphic design background create media assets including illustrations, presentations, posters and videos. The company provides free templates, stock photos, audio and video clips and fonts through its platform. Canva plans to use the fresh capital raised in this latest round to double its headcount, which reached 2,000 people this year, further boost its products’ development and possibly finance strategic acquisitions.

Discord, a US-based online messaging platform developer backed by corporates Tencent and WarnerMedia, has raised $500m in a funding round led by Dragoneer Investment Group. The round also featured investment and financial services group Fidelity, Baillie Gifford, Coatue Management, Franklin Templeton and unnamed existing investors, and it valued the company at approximately $15bn. Discord’s platform was launched for gamers to communicate with each other in real time but experienced an explosion in demand during the pandemic and has expanded its chat products to include events beyond gaming. The funding will be used to grow the company’s workforce and invest in new products. It had previously raised about $600m in funding, according to Bloomberg.

Citi Ventures, the venture capital arm of financial services firm Citi, joined Israel-based identity authentication software developer Transmit Security’s $543m series A round.
Investment bank Goldman Sachs’ Asset Management subsidiary has also come onboard. The round was disclosed in June this year and was co-led by Insight Partners and General Atlantic and backed by Cyberstarts, Geodesic, Syn Ventures, Vintage Investment Partners and Artisanal Ventures. Transmit Security has developed authentication software which eschews passwords in favour of biometrics. The round values it at $2.2bn pre-money and the company said it had previously been bootstrapped after being founded in 2014.

US-based cybersecurity ratings company BitSight received a $250m capital injection from credit rating provider Moody’s yesterday through a strategic partnership agreement, valuing it at $2.4bn. BitSight provides companies with ratings of between 250 and 900 to assess their cybersecurity risk, a service likely to rise in demand amid the backdrop of escalating cyber threats such as ransomware attacks, which have cost both public and private organisations hundred of billions of dollars. Moody’s supplied the funding through an agreement which will support the development of a software platform which will assess cyber risk. BitSight will also form a Risk Solutions Division. Parallel to the investment, BitSight has agreed to buy VisibleRisk, a joint venture between Moody’s and venture group Team8 that rates cyber risk. It had received $25m from the two in May this year.

Funds

Japanese telecommunications group SoftBank has allocated $3bn to a second Latin America-focused fund, which will invest in technology-enabled companies across various industries at every stage of their development. The Latin America-dedicated unit, which is headed by chief operating officer Marcelo Claure, has also appointed two new managing partners Rodrigo Baer and Marco Camhaji. The firm said that the new fund’s initial commitment of $3bn might be increase, and that is exploring options to raise additional capital. Softbank launched its first Latin America-dedicated fund, a $5bn vehicle previously known as the Innovation Fund, in March 2019. The fund has invested around $3.5bn so far, across 48 companies, with an aggregate fair value of around $6.9bn. According to the firm, the fund has generated an 85% net IRR. SoftBank has invested in several unicorns with its first fund, including on-demand delivery service Rappi, online real estate portal QuintoAndar, digital currency exchange Mercado Bitcoin, wellness programmer operator Gympass and online furniture retailer MadeiraMadeira.

Chinese venture capital firm Fibonacci VC has closed its latest fund at $202m, with commitments from state-backed conglomerate Xiamen C&D and property developer China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park Development Group. Other limited partners (LPs) committing to Fund II include funds-of-funds CICC Genesis Fund and Oriza FOFs Investment Management in addition to Guangzhou Finance Holdings and Haining Semiconductor Industry Investment Fund. Fibonacci’s management team also backed the fund with their own capital. Nearly half of the fund’s commitments were supplied by existing LPs, while 85% were institutional investors. It is Fibonacci’s second renminbi-denominated fund. Fibonacci will use the fund to invest in the industrial internet sector, in areas including the industrial internet-of-things, industrial intelligence and smart manufacturing. It typically participates in series A and B rounds.

Netherlands-based venture capital firm Finch Capital is looking to set up a fund in partnership with Indonesia-headquartered financial services firm Bank Central Asia (BCA)’s strategic investment arm, Central Capital Ventura. The vehicle is understood to be targeting $200m and is pursuing investments in financial services providers and financial technology developers, participating in series A rounds and later. Central Capital Ventura and Finch Capital are reportedly in the process of applying for fund management licences in Singapore.

LinkedIn, the US-based professional network operator owned by software producer Microsoft, has unveiled a $25m creator fund and a creator accelerator programme.
The programme, which will last 10 weeks, will welcome up to 100 US-based content creators to participate in a creator network, undergo coaching and receive a $15,000 grant each. It will also provide opportunities to be featured on LinkedIn’s brand, marketing and editorial channels as well as access to LinkedIn tools.

Crossover

AgBiome, a US-based agricultural technology spinout from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill backed by corporates Bayer Crop Science, Novozymes and Syngenta, collected $116m in series D funding. The round was co-led by venture capital firm Novalis LifeSciences and investment firm Blue Horizon, while undisclosed new and existing investors also contributed to the financing. Founded in 2013, AgBiome has developed the Genesis platform, which is able to identify the gene sequences and strains of microbial life that could potentially protect agricultural crops from pests and disease. The spinout has also created a fungicide that can protect against more than 300 combinations of crop disease. It plans to use the series D capital to expand its product portfolio and grow its scientific and commercial activities.


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

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.

05 July 2021 – CMR Surgical Raises $600m in Round Led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2

The Big Ones

SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 co-led a $600m series D round for UK-based surgical robotics technology developer CMR Surgical with healthcare investment group Ally Bridge, while Cambridge Innovation Capital, the patient capital fund formed with the support of University of Cambridge, also participated. GE Healthcare, a subsidiary of power and industrial technology conglomerate General Electric, also took part in the round, which valued the company at $3bn, as did internet group Tencent. RPMI Railpen and Chimera filled out the consortium together with existing backers including LGT and its Lightrock affiliate, Watrium, and PFM Health Sciences.

BMW i Ventures, the US-based venture capital firm formed by Germany’s automotive manufacturer BMW, launched a $300m fund that will focus on sustainability. BMW i Ventures has accumulated a portfolio of some 50 companies including Chargepoint, the vehicle charging network set to list at a $2.4bn valuation, and manufacturing services marketplace Xometry, which floated in a $302m IPO this past week. The latest vehicle will operate alongside the unit’s $500m first fund and will target early and mid-stage companies concentrating on sustainability, transportation, manufacturing and supply chain technologies.

Didi Global, the China-based ride hailing service backed by SoftBank, Alibaba, China Life, Tencent, Apple, Booking Holdings, Ping An, eHi and Sina Weibo, went public in a $4.44bn initial public offering. The company increased the amount of shares in the offering from 288 million American Depositary Shares, with four ADSs equalling one class A share, to approximately 317 million. They were priced at the top of the IPO’s $13 to $14 range and it floated on the New York Stock Exchange.

Duolingo, the US-based language learning app developer spun out of Carnegie Mellon University, has filed for an initial public offering yesterday that would enable Alphabet to exit. The offering is slated to take place on the Nasdaq Global Select Market and the company has set a $100m placeholder target. The company had raised a total of $183m as of November 2020, when it secured $35m from Durable Capital Partners and General Atlantic at $2.4bn valuation, with Union Square Ventures (USV) selling shares through the deal.

Deals

UK-based low earth orbit satellite technology developer OneWeb secured $500m from Bharti Enterprises, which exercised a call option from a shareholder’s agreement to increase its stake to 38.6%. OneWeb is developing a constellation of 650 low earth orbit satellites through which it intends to offer global broadband connectivity. The company had filed for bankruptcy in March 2020 after failing to secure new funding in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic. Bharti and the UK government then bought OneWeb’s assets for $1bn in July that year. The UK government’s investment was reportedly motivated by a desire to build a competitor to the global positioning system Galileo, created by the EU and to which the country has lost access following its decision to abandon the union. OneWeb’s satellites would be in too low an orbit to enable such functionality, however.

SoftBank led a $415m series C round for Kitopi, the United Arab Emirates-headquartered provider of a cloud kitchen software platform, through its Vision Fund 2. Diversified conglomerate Dogus Group also took part in the round, along with B Riley Financial, Chimera Investment, DisruptAD, Next Play Capital and Nordstar. The cash was secured at a valuation above $1bn.

Olive, a US-based healthcare management software producer backed by internet and technology group Alphabet, completed a $400m funding round yesterday valuing it at $4bn. The round was led by Vista Equity Partners and also featured Base10 Partners’ Advancement Initiative. It took the overall funding raised by the company to $902m.

Zipline, a US-based medical consumables logistics service backed by Alphabet, secured $250m from investors including Fidelity, Baillie Gifford, Emerging Capital Partners, Intercorp, Katalyst Ventures, Reinvent Capital and Temasek. The cash was secured at a $2.75bn valuation.

US-based corporate wellbeing services provider Gympass raised $220m from investors including SoftBank today at a $2.2bn valuation. General Atlantic, Kaszek, Moore Strategic Ventures and Valor Capital Group also participated in the round. Founded in Brazil, Gympass operates wellness programmes on behalf of corporate clients, offering access to gyms, personal trainers, meditation classes and therapists, and said it had signed up more than 1,000 new corporate customers during the pandemic.

Goat Group, a US-based streetwear marketplace operator backed by Foot Locker, has secured $195m in a series F round that valued it at $3.7bn. Hedge fund manager Park West Asset Management led the round, which included Ulysses Management, Franklin Templeton and Adage Capital Management, and funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price Associates.

Funds

US-based enterprise software supplier Infragistics has formed a $50m corporate venture capital vehicle dubbed Infragistics Innovation Fund and Lab. The fund will target intrapreneurs from within the organisation who are developing innovation technologies related to Infragistics’ user interface and user experience (UX) design software products.

Exits

SentinelOne, a US-based cybersecurity technology producer backed by Qualcomm and Samsung, has raised more than $1.22bn today in an upsized initial public offering. The IPO consists of 35 million shares issued on the New York Stock Exchange, increased from an initial allocation of 32 million, priced at $35.00 each, above its $31 to $32 range. Existing SentinelOne investors Tiger Global Management, Insight Partners, Third Point Ventures and Sequoia Capital agreed to acquire $50m more shares through a concurrent private placement. The IPO price values it at approximately $8.92bn.

US-based security screening technology producer Clear Secure went public in a $409m initial public offering representing exits for Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Union Square Hospitality Group and Liberty Media. The company issued 13.2 million class A shares on the New York Stock Exchange priced at $31.00 each, above the IPO’s $27 to $30 range. The shares closed at $40 on their first day of trading.

InnoVid, a US-based video marketing technology provider backed by Cisco and Deutsche Telekom, has agreed a reverse takeover at an implied valuation of roughly $1.3bn. The company is joining forces with SPAC Ion Acquisition Corp 2, which floated on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in a $253m initial public offering in January 2021. Phoenix Insurance and Fidelity Management and Research are co-leading a $150m PIPE financing in connection with the deal that includes Baron Capital Group, Vintage and funds affiliated with Ion.

MissFresh, a China-based online grocery retailer backed by Lenovo and Tencent, raised $273m in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. The company priced 21 million American depositary shares, each representing three ordinary shares, at $13 each, at the low end of the $13-$16 range it had set last week. They opened at $10.65 and closed at $9.66 at the end of its first day of trading, giving it a market capitalisation of roughly $2.5bn.

US-based online trading platform developer Robinhood filed for an initial public offering that would score exits for Alphabet and Roc Nation. Founded in 2013, Robinhood runs Robinhood Financial, an online platform where users can buy and sell stocks without a minimum investment level, in addition to Robinhood Crypto, which allows them to do the same with cryptocurrencies. The company has set a $100m placeholder target for the offering, and sources familiar with its plans told the Financial Times it is targeting a $40bn valuation.


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

24 May 2021 – Goldman Sachs Invests $20m in British Anti-money Laundering Company ComplyAdvantage

The Big Ones

1

Delighted the May issue of GCV is now out covering the media sector, a special report on AI, Israel as the innovative region, extracts from Global University Venturing and Global Impact Venturing sister titles and all the monthly data from GCV Analytics.

From the editorial:

The innovation ecosystem we find ourselves in arguably has its roots with Charles Babbage, a University of Cambridge mathematician, perhaps best-known as the inventor of computers.

His work, however, also led to the creation of the Penny Post, where (eventually) a letter could be sent anywhere in the British Empire for one penny.

The Penny Post, therefore, predates Metcalfe’s Law, which postulates the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of users it connects.

Joseph Schumpeter’s ideas of creative destruction had innovation at its core. Ideas rather than accumulation of capital drive long-term growth. Advances in one area lead to more ideas across multiple industries.

Bring both Metcalfe and Schumpeter’s ideas together thanks to a boom in internet connectivity and computing power along with abundant, almost limitless, capital and the potential to tackle almost any challenge beckons.

2

Next month’s issue targets the healthcare sector.

The covid-19 pandemic has been regarded as the long-awaited start of the “biological century”. The rapid response to developing vaccines to the disease and the use of novel methods, such as messenger RNA, to do so has created optimism the same speed and execution is possible for a host of other viruses and more broadly to effectively create the longevity escape velocity – where people’s life expectancy increases by more than a year for each year they live.

But research and startups is just part of the challenge in a geopolitical world with concern about sovereignty of supply and requirements for manufacturing bases as well as requirements to carry our large-scale trials.

The UK plans to build on the recovery trial, which uncovered two treatments for covid-19, by streamlining research and embedding it in the health service and through fast regulation.

UK-based venture capital firm Abingworth this month raised $582m for its second clinical co-development fund.

Abingworth has previously invested through its co-development portfolio companies, Avillion and SFJ Pharmaceuticals, which both finance and facilitate clinical trials, taking on all of the clinical and regulatory risk in return for a pre-agreed return if the drug is approved.

When Abingworth first got into clinical co-development back in 2009, it primarily worked with pharma companies who only paid out if the project was successful, by which time the cost of the deal could be amortized over the sales of the product.

The market has since expanded to cover biotechs, which want to reduce the dilutive impact if they had to go out and raise the money on the public market. And there are plenty more of them.

The Financial Times noted Magdalen College was selling a 40% stake in the Oxford Science Park “after a surge of investor interest in the fast-growing life sciences sector increased the site’s value almost seven-fold in five years”.

As sole owner of the park since 2016, Magdalen has invested in new labs and research space on the site and gained planning consent for a new 165,000 square foot development to support its more than 100 businesses based there, including Vaccitech, which raised $111m from an initial public offering on the Nasdaq stock exchange in April.

Last year British firms raised £1.4bn ($2bn) of venture capital, the Economist said, which was more than anywhere else in Europe but less than the American hubs, Massachusetts (£4.7bn) and San Francisco (£4.5bn).

But the parallels between the UK and US are growing.

A few years ago, Seth Harrison, an American venture capitalist at Apple Tree Partners, was looking to open an office in Europe. The choice came down to Britain or Switzerland, he told the Economist. “I got quite acquainted with the whole UK biotech scene.

“The fantastic research ferment that occurs in the Golden Triangle. You know, the London, Cambridge, Oxford area… And I just said: ‘Wow, this reminds me of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 25 years ago.’”

To learn more about the golden triangle, our sister publication will start its review of the three university-led ecosystems, starting with Imperial College, London, in July before discussion and interaction at the GCV Symposium in November.

Medical devices and diagnostics has often been regarded as the underloved part of the healthcare venture market compared with biotech and pharma, with relatively few deals and limited exit options.

This has changed. Last year’s near-doubling in corporate venturing deal values to more than $5bn has continued this year. Most recently, this week Germany-based Smart4Diagnostics

(S4DX) raised €5m ($6m) in its series A round, including local medical technology manufacturer Sarstedt and the EIC Fund, established in 2020 by the European Commission for direct equity investment in breakthrough technologies.

The startup has developed the “digital human blood sample fingerprint”, a data-picture of all quality aspects for human blood samples from collection to arrival in the lab.

As Hans Maria Heyn, CEO and co-founder of S4DX, said: “As many as three in four medical decisions are based on diagnostic results – often blood samples. Currently, this process is being managed manually which can lead to errors and can cause many issues including slow diagnosis, repeated tests on the patient, and wasted resources.”

The covid-19 disease has focused more attention on diagnosis and whether treatment can be done remotely from hospitals. But the take-off in attention to medical devices and dianostics started beforehand with the flotation then purchase of Merck-backed Livongo, a digital diabetes management platform, which had its initial public offering in 2019 and was acquired by Teladoc for $18.5bn last year.

Livongo had been incubated by venture capital firm 7wireVentures, which has just closed its second venture fund at $150m with limited partners including health plans Florida Blue and Cigna, hospitals and health systems Atlantic Health, Wellforce, Rush University Medical Center, Memorial Hermann Health System and Spectrum Health and large employers Boeing, according to Fierce Biotech.

Similarly, E-merge Capital Partners is raising its debut fund focused on early-stage medical device companies and technologies coming out the Evolve MedTech Venture Studio.

The fund, led by managing partners Brad Klos and John Xitco, is focused primarily on class II medical devices in cardiovascular and orthopedics.

Others are also trying to use strategic ties to add value. Private equity firm Revival Healthcare Capital has closed its second fund at $500m. Revival said it would invest where a corporate strategic partner will have a structural option or right to acquire the company in the future.

Rick Anderson, chairman and managing director at Revival, said: “Consolidation has made it increasingly difficult for medtech leaders to move the needle on growth.”

Lauren Forshey, Revival president and another MD, added: “By removing the guess work and gamesmanship that often defines the relationship and instead aligning goals at the outset, target companies benefit from increased focus, speed, and capital efficiency in driving towards milestones they know they will get rewarded for.”

And the goal remains to gain scale. Venture-backed digital health company Ro has agreed to acquire Modern Fertility, a US-based provider of at-home fertility tests for women, for a reported at least $225m according to Fierce Biotech.

Ro started out four years ago selling erectile dysfunction medication and hair loss supplements to men but after raising $876m has been acquiring other startups, including Workpath to move into the home-based healthcare market.

The next Global Healthcare Council quarterly report published next month will cover the transformation of hospitals with remote care and diagnostics – insights and feedback welcome to jmawson@mawsonia.com.

3

Back in the day, money laundering used to be a relatively simple affair. Take a bag of cash to a casino, “lose” 10% to 20% and walk away with the bulk in cleaned money.

Digitalisation and global capital flows has made the scale bigger – now the laundering is more likely to be by swapping a so-called cold wallet of bitcoin or other cyptocurrency on a USB flash drive – but this also creates opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs has just invested $20m in British anti-money laundering (AML) company ComplyAdvantage.

Charlie Delingpole, founder and chief executive of ComplyAdvantage, told the Financial Times he was optimistic that it would be a precursor to a deeper partnership with the Wall Street bank. “It was more about the partnership and the brand and what they can give us as a firm than the money per se, given we are very well capitalised as it stands.”

There is more attention on finance as the sector reaps the unprecedented growth in money supply as treasuries grapple with the economic impact of the covid-19 disease.

But as Vinay Solanki, head of Channel 4 Ventures, referenced in last night’s GCV Analytics webinar on the media sector, effectively all consumer-facing businesses can create opportunities to become financial service providers – even if they are not all going to be as successful as China-based gaming group Tencent, whose first quarter results saw ballooning revenues and  the fair value of its investments in listed companies at Rmb1.4tn at the end of March, up from Rmb410bn at the same time last year.

This transformation can be done through bolting on the right payment apps, such as Stripe, but it also means the need to know your customer for AML and anti-fraud purposes will become more vital.

This could in turn put pressure on the incumbent financial services corporations to take a leaf out of Goldman Sachs and CVC progenitor, Fidelity, and engage more whole-heartedly in backing startups.

We are delighted, therefore, to be setting up the Global Financial Council, to be chaired by Jacqueline LeSage Krause, founder and managing general partner of Munich Re Ventures, a multi-fund corporate venture capital investing platform for Munich Re Group, the world’s largest reinsurance company that effectively can touch all parts of finance and business.

Do reach out to join the wider group and your insights.

4

The merger of corporate venture-backed Gojek and Tokopedia, Indonesia’s two biggest startups, has focused attention on the global success story happening in southeast Asia.

The merged company, to be called GoTo, will create a food delivery, ride-hailing and ecommerce group preparing for a $40bn public listing in Indonesia and potentially in the US this year, sources told the Financial Times.

SoftBank and Tencent are respective investors in Tokopedia and Gojek, which has also raised $300m from Telkomsel earlier this month.

The merger announcement came weeks after Singapore-headquartered Grab, which offers delivery, ride-hailing and financial services, announced a record $40bn merger with a special purpose acquisition company (Spac), while the Tencent-backed Sea Group, the parent company of Shopee and gaming unit Garena, set up a $1bn corporate venturing unit in March.

GoTo counts more than 100m monthly active users on its platforms and a total group gross transaction value of more than $22bn in 2020, according to the FT.

But already the region’s leaders are planning the next series of disruptive startups to emerge.

This month, the Economic Development Board (EDB) of Singapore, a government agency helping investors in the island state, started a pilot program, the Corporate Venture Launchpad, to support large and established companies to venture into new areas of growth beyond their core business. EDB has allocated S$10m ($7.5m) in funding for the one-year program which has partnered with four venture studios:

  • BCG Digital Ventures,
  • FutureLabs,
  • Leap by McKinsey, and
  • Rainmaking.

Singapore already has about 40 venture studios for corporations, such as Procter & Gamble, Bosch and Schneider Electric. Participating corporates through the Launchpad can receive 50% co-funding for qualifying costs, such as for manpower and other fees (capped at $377,000) and potential follow-on co-investment support by EDB New Ventures.

Deals

Beta lines up $368m

Back Market sells investors on $335m series D

Pine Labs picks investors for $285m

Extend grows its funding by $260m

Investors pump $250m into Pipe

Figure fits $200m into series D

Factory14 opens with $200m

Good Meat dishes up $170m round

Formlabs fashions $150m series E

Sunbit shines in $130m series D

Loom looks to investors for $130m

Hummingbird takes off with $125m series C

Asapp picks up $120m series C

Numab nabs Novo in $110m series C

Goldbelly fills up on funding

DST drives to $100m series C

University

Vedere Bio II sees light in $77m series A

ThinkCyte contemplates $26m in funding

Axelspace accelerates to series C

Funds

UTEC hits first close for fifth fund

One Capital 1 hits $147m close

Ulu ushers in $138m for Fund III

White Star closes $50m fund

7wireVentures sources corporate for fund close

Pi Labs lands Embassy Group commitment


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

17 May 2021 – Grocery Delivery App Dingdong Maicai Orders Up $330m Series D

The Big Ones

China-based grocery delivery app operator Dingdong Maicai closed a $330m series D-plus round led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund. Founded in 2017, Dingdong Maicai has built a grocery e-commerce platform it claims delivers fresh produce and seafood ingredients door-to-door in under 30 minutes. It has served more than 5 million households across 27 markets in its home country. The company’s overall funding now stands at more than $1bn. It had secured $700m in a series D round last month co-led by DST Global and Coatue.

SoftBank has increased the size of its Vision Fund 2 from $10bn to $30bn. Its original Vision Fund closed at $98.6bn in 2017 with contributions from corporate LPs and sovereign wealth funds, but it has so far been unable to secure backing for its successor, instead committing the capital itself. The first Vision Fund booked a $16.8bn net loss for 2019 due to bankruptcies for portfolio companies OneWeb and Brandless, the failure of WeWork to successfully float and lacklustre share performance for others such as Uber. However, the coronavirus pandemic has caused tech stocks in several industries to skyrocket while also driving the pre-IPO funding market, leading to a considerable turnaround in SoftBank’s fortunes – the Vision Funds have now made a $37bn paper profit. The overall fair value of Vision Fund 1 and 2 stood at $154bn as of the end of March this year and SoftBank has returned $22.3bn to its LPs.

Better, the US-based digital mortgage services provider backed by SoftBank, American Express, Ping An, Citi and Ally Financial, agreed a reverse merger at a $7.7bn post-deal valuation. The company will join forces with SPAC Aurora Acquisition Corp, taking the position on the Nasdaq Capital Market that Aurora acquired in a $220m initial public offering in March this year. The deal will be supported by $1.5bn in PIPE financing from SoftBank’s SB Management subsidiary, Activant Capital and Novator Capital, Aurora Acquisition Corp’s sponsor.

University

Ginkgo Bioworks, a US-based microbe engineering services spinout of MIT, agreed to a reverse merger with SPAC Soaring Eagle Acquisition Corp. The deal values Ginkgo at $15bn and includes a $775m PIPE financing co-led by Baillie Gifford, Putnam Investments and Morgan Stanley Investment Management’s Counterpoint Global. Soaring Eagle had raised $1.73bn through its own initial public offering three months ago, putting the reverse merger deal’s total value at a jaw-dropping $17.5bn. Ginkgo had raised more than $789m in equity financing since being founded in 2009.

Deals

Vinted, the Lithuania-based operator of a second-hand fashion marketplace, picked up €250m ($303m) today in a series F round featuring Burda Principal Investments, a subsidiary of media group Hubert Burda. The round was led by EQT Growth, a fund operated by investment firm EQT, at a $4.2bn valuation, and it included Insight Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sprints Capital.

Telkomsel, the mobile network subsidiary of Telkom Indonesia, has invested $300m in Indonesia-based ride hailing service Gojek, having supplied $150m for the company in November 2020. Gojek runs an app-based on-demand ride service which has expanded into food, package and grocery delivery in addition to mobile financial services. The funding comes as the company prepares to merge with e-commerce marketplace Tokopedia in a deal that will create a company called GoTo which would be valued at about $18bn. The deal is reportedly expected to be formally agreed by the end of June.

US-based diagnostic testing technology developer Cue Health completed a $235m financing round backed by Koch Industries and Johnson & Johnson, which took part through subsidiaries Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC and Koch Strategic Platforms respectively, joining Perceptive Advisors, MSD Capital, Decheng Capital, Cavu Ventures, Acme Capital and undisclosed other investors.

Masterclass, the US-based online education provider backed by Bloomberg, Endeavor and Novel Group, secured $225m in a series F round led by investment and financial services group Fidelity. Baillie Gifford, Balyasny Asset Management, Eldridge, IVP, New Enterprise Associates, Javelin Venture Partners and Owl Ventures also took part in the round. It valued the company at $2.75bn, sources told CNBC.

US-based life insurance platform developer Ethos Technologies received $200m in series D funding from investors including Roc Nation and GV. General Catalyst led the round, which valued the company at $2bn. It included Sequoia Capital and Accel as well as Will Smith’s Dreamers VC fund and a vehicle representing fellow actor Robert Downey Jr that may have been Downey Ventures.

WeRide, a China-based autonomous driving technology provider that counts several corporates among its investors, has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in series C funding. IDG Capital, Homeric Capital, CoStone Capital, Cypress Star, Sky9 Capital, K3 Ventures, CMC Capital Partners, Qiming Venture Partners and Alpview Capital supplied the capital at a valuation of $3.3bn. The series C proceeds will be channelled into research and development and commercialisation activities. The deal comes four months after WeRide closed a series B round led by $200m from bus manufacturer Yutong Group at $310m.

Funds

China-based cryptocurrency trading platform developer Huobi has established a $100m strategic investment fund. Founded in 2013, Huobi operates a blockchain-equipped online platform where users can buy and sell digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and XRP. Huobi Ventures will make early-stage investments in blockchain-focused companies which can integrate their operations with its parent company’s businesses, in addition to decentralised finance projects and merger and acquisition deals. The unit has reserved $10m of the capital for investments in NFTs and NFT marketplaces, and it brings together existing Huobi subsidiaries including Huobi Eco Fund, Huobi Capital and Huobi DeFi Labs.

Exits

Plus, a US-based automated driving technology developer backed by Full Truck Alliance, Quanta Computer, Wanxiang and SAIC, announced a reverse merger. The deal involves the company merging with SPAC Hennessy Capital Investment Corp V at a $3.3bn valuation, with the combined business taking the Nasdaq Capital Market listing secured by the latter in a $300m initial public offering in February this year. Funds and accounts managed by BlackRock and DE Shaw Group are among the participants in a $150m PIPE financing.

Bird, the US-based mobility services provider backed by Simon Property, is merging with SPAC Switchback II Corporation. The company will acquire the position on the New York Stock Exchange taken by Switchback II in a $275m initial public offering in January this year. The deal grants Bird a $2.3bn pro forma enterprise valuation. The transaction will be boosted by $160m a PIPE financing from investors including Fidelity Management & Research.

Science 37, a US-based clinical trials technology provider backed by Sanofi, Amgen, Alphabet, Novartis and PPD, agreed to a reverse merger with LifeSci Acquisition II Corp. The transaction will involve the Science 37 taking the position on the Nasdaq Capital Market taken by LifeSci in a $75m initial public offering in November 2020. It will give Science 37 an initial enterprise value of about $1.05bn. Science 37’s technology helps run clinical trials for developmental stage therapeutics and medical devices, helping bridge the gap between laboratory research and patient care.

UK-based encryption technology developer Arqit agreed to a reverse merger with Centricus Acquisition Corp that will be backed by corporates Sumitomo and Virgin Orbit. The deal will create a new company called Arqit Quantum, which will be valued at $1.4bn and which will take on the listing Nasdaq Capital Market Centricus Acquisition got in a $300m initial public offering in February 2021. The merged business will receive approximately $70m from a PIPE deal featuring Virgin Orbit, Sumitomo Corporation and Heritage Group.

Waterdrop, a China-based digital health insurance marketplace which counts corporates Meituan Dianping, Tencent and Swiss Re as investors, raised $360m in an initial public offering. The company issued 30 million American depositary shares (ADSs) on the New York Stock Exchange, each ADS representing 10 ordinary class A shares. Waterdrop priced the ADSs at $12 each, at the upper end of the $10 to $12 range it had set for the offering, valuing the company at over $4.7bn. The shares closed on $9.70 on the first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange, but dropped over the course of the week to open at $7 on Friday morning.

Ane Logistics, a China-based small freight services provider backed by insurer Ping An and dairy product manufacturer Yili, has filed for an initial public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The size of the offering has not been disclosed but the company was looking to raise $500m, according to a Bloomberg report in February. CICC Capital and JPMorgan Chase are lead underwriters for the flotation.


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

19 April 2021 – Coinbase Lists on Nasdaq

The Big Ones

1

Spend enough time in venture and you can see the transformation in startups and the economy almost as if time has speeded up.

GCV’s first article on Coinbase, eight years ago to the day, described it as “a digital wallet for Bitcoin transactions”, which “had raised $600,000 from accelerator Y Combinator and publisher International Data Group’s corporate venturing unit IDG Ventures.

“Bitcoin was set up without central bank backing but with a predetermined limit of 21 million available to be issued from its software and has seen fluctuations in its value from $9 in January to $200 on 9 April 2013 and back down to $150 a day later.”

Now, Bitcoin’s price is $63,063.90 and investors have valued Coinbase at $75.9bn after its debut on Nasdaq stock exchange on Wednesday.

The Financial Times described it as “the first listing of a major cryptocurrency exchange and a moment of validation for the digital asset class some 12 years after the creation of bitcoin”. After a direct listing of Coinbase shares – rather than the more traditional initial public offering which raises new capital – the price fell to $328 from an opening price of $381 to give a market capitalisation of $85.8bn, including options and other kinds of stock-based awards.

However, after early support from CVCs, such as IDG and USAA’s Victor Pascucci and Jon Cholak, Coinbase cashed in with a $75m series C round in 2015 including from BBVA, NYSE and NTT and not looked back. Coinbase’s big investors include venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz, Ribbit Capital and Union Square Ventures.

Coinbase’s financial fortunes have surged with the cryptocurrency markets, producing a nine-fold jump in revenues to an estimated $1.8bn in the first quarter, translating to about $1.1bn in adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, the FT said.

But while still primarily a business-to-consumer exchange for people to buy and sell bitcoin and ethereum based on the blockchain, financial services firms are more interested in the underlying technology than its value as a monetary store or gold equivalent.

Jay Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve, said: “No one is using them for payments, for example, like the dollar. It’s a little bit like gold . . . Human beings have given gold this special value that it doesn’t have from an industrial standpoint, but nonetheless for thousands of years they’ve done that. Bitcoin is much more like that.”

Behind the scenes, however, and the big asset managers and financial groups are working on pragmatic implementations of blockchain and crypto as platform or infrastructure to trade, price, settle and be the custodians. From there, products to deploy and engage on alternative assets and how even venture capital is affected can flow.

Similar riches are now being reaped from early investments in other emerging fields created in the past two decades.

2

Tuesday’s daily leader looked at the $25bn of cash returned from Naspers/Prosus selling four percentage points of its holding in Tencent over the past few years.

Netherlands-listed technology investor Prosus, formed out of the corporate venturing assets collected by South Africa-listed media group Naspers, has sold 2% of China-based gaming and social media group Tencent for $14.7bn.

This is the world’s largest-ever block trade – 191.89 million shares for HK$114.1bn – but leaves Prosus still holding 28.9% of Tencent, according to newswire Reuters.

The block trade – or the usually private, single trade of a large amount of securities – surpassed the previous record set in 2018 when Naspers also sold 2% of Tencent for $9.8bn, Refinitiv data showed. Its remaining stake is worth about $200bn, from an original $31m corporate venturing deal struck 20 years ago.

Bob van Dijk, CEO at Prosus, said: “The proceeds of the sale will increase our financial flexibility, enabling us to invest in the significant growth potential we see across the group, as well as in our own stock.”

Prosus, which also invests in online food delivery platforms, classified marketplaces and digital payments businesses, has built up its warchest for new and existing investments given the rapid scaling up of the innovation capital ecosystem at the later stage.

Global venture capital investments hit $125bn in the first quarter, the first time the figure has surpassed $100bn in a quarter, according to data published by Crunchbase, even though deal volumes held relatively stable.

The opportunity for social network or “platform economy” companies to dominate across sectors or verticals remains, especially as Tencent peer Alibaba’s share price rose on Monday after it was able to have the term written into law.

This is particularly the case as finance becomes embedded into media. As James Thorne, a venture capital reporter at PitchBook, noted at the weekend, Angela Strange, general partner at VC firm Andreessen Horowitz (A16Z), made the case in 2019 that most people would be working in financial services soon, even if we don’t change jobs, as finance becomes embedded into software.

At that point, media and content becomes the differentiator, which is why A16Z calls itself a media company that monetizes through venture capital.

In his annual letter last week, Jamie Dimon, CEO at bank JPMorgan Chase, said: “Fintech’s ability to merge social media, use data smartly and integrate with other platforms rapidly (often without the disadvantages of being an actual bank) will help these companies win significant market share.”
And this helps explain why even in a world where media advertising is dominated by Facebook and Google that there remains so much attention and focus on social media and networks.

3

Things are heating up in Italy’s media landscape as a microcosm of wider changes in the sports and gaming ecosystem. The country’s main phone operator, TIM, has returned as a “long-term investor in venture capital” through the anchor commitment to a €100m UV T-Growth fund managed independently by United Ventures, while Nerio Alessandri, founder and executive chairman of Italy-listed fitness equipment supplier Technogym, has launched Wellness Ventures.

UV T-Growth, managed by Fabio Pirovano and Damiano Coletti, targets a wide swathe of digital innovation, including gaming. Similarly, Wellness is targeting digital projects in general but in particular in sports and fitness.
There are plenty of opportunities in sports and gaming in the digital age. Online gambling and advertising, electronic as well as physical sports and gaming and unbundling of viewers from cable or television packages are coalescing to create plenty of disruption.

The latest being Amazon, which acquired Twitch for in-game streaming and chats, paying $11bn for exclusive rights to stream Thursday night National Football League games on its Prime service.
There are now dozens of VC funds targeting games, which is a far bigger market than films. Most recently, the Games Fund has raised $50m for a game-focused venture capital fund to invest in early-stage games in both Europe and the US, according to VentureBeat.

Maria Kochmola and Ilya Eremeev started the fund having both previously worked at Russia-listed internet group Mail.ru’s My.Games division, which started a game fund called MGVC, VentureBeat said. Kochmola was the investment director at MGVC since its inception in 2017, and she led more than 35 investments (with six exits).

Deals

Cruise increases latest round to $2.75bn

Epic picks out investors for $1bn round

SambaNova rams through $676m series D

Polestar attracts $550m

SoftBank finds Better option for $500m investment

Groq locks up $300m series C

Fiture fits in $300m series B

Astranis ascends with $250m series C

Bukalapak escalates funding with $234m

Tempo works out $220m series C

Signifyd secures $205m in series E round

Clearcover coasts to $200m series D

Repertoire Immune Medicines gets $189m result

Degreed delivers $153m series D

ZJS Express zooms to $153m series B

Jaguar Gene Therapy roars to $139m

Tend drills into $125m series C

Arcellx amasses $115m in series C round

CeQur secures $115m in series C5

StoneWise stocks up with $100m

Gaussian Robotics sweeps up $100m

Hack the Box cracks $10.6m round

Funds

Axa accelerates to $295m close for second growth vehicle

Amazon shows Indian ambitions with $250m fund

TDK to deploy $150m through second fund

Exits

Grab takes reverse merger option

Tango Therapeutics arranges reverse merger

TuSimple delivers $1.35bn initial public offering

Alkami appears on public markets

MissFresh looks to deliver $1bn IPO

Brii brightens up with IPO plans

Darktrace discloses IPO plans

Vaccitech shoots for US IPO

Artiva activates $100m IPO plans

Anjuke advances to IPO stage

Hologic hoists in Mobidiag

Keyfactor turns to PrimeKey for merger

University

Schroders shifts Carrick stake at discount


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

08 February 2021 – Robinhood Raises $3.4bn

The Big Ones

Few VC-backed companies have had as busy a week in the mainstream media as Robinhood. The share trading platform developer has been ground zero for the GameStop rush as well as increased activity for other “meme” stocks like AMC, Nokia and BlackBerry. But those increased trading levels means more cash required to meet SEC requirements, and the Alphabet and Roc Nation-backed company first raised $1bn from existing investors along with some $500m to $600m in debt financing a week ago Friday and then another $2.4bn over the weekend to come out with $3.4bn last Monday.

Kuaishou went public in Hong Kong this Friday morning in a hugely oversubscribed initial public offering in which it raised $5.4bn, only to see its shares open at a price nearly three times that of its IPO. The short-form video app developer had secured $4.35bn in funding from investors including Tencent and Baidu prior to the offering and now has a market cap that stands around the $160bn mark.

US-based printing technology producer Xerox plans to launch innovation and corporate development divisions through a reorganisation involving the formation of a $250m corporate venturing arm. Xerox’s Corporate Development group will engage in investments and merger and acquisition deals as well as deploying the recently announced $250m fund. The unit is yet to be launched but will invest in mid-sized, growth-stage companies aligned with Xerox’s strategic interests. It will be led by executive vice-president Louie Pastor, who has also been appointed chief corporate development officer and chief legal officer.

Crossover is an exit this week. Stem cell immunotherapy developer Sana Biotechnology –based on research at Harvard, UCSF and University of Washington, and co-founded by former executives of Juno that was acquired by Celgene for $9bn a couple of years ago – has floated in an offering that netted it nearly $588m (more than four times as much as its $150m original target), reputedly representing the largest IPO yet for a preclinical biotech company. Shares surged 40% on the first day (from $25 to $35.10) so that greenshoe option seems likely, which could push proceeds to nearly $676m. It comes about eight months after Sana Bio disclosed $700m in early-stage funding from investors including GV, the Alphabet subsidiary formerly known as Google Ventures. Its current share price gives it a market cap of about $7bn.

Deals

It’s interesting that after the Ubers and Airbnbs of the world have gone public, a wave of new companies in more coronavirus-resistant sectors have stepped up to fill that void at the top of the VC-backed valuation heap, and quickly too. Data engineering software producer DataBricks has received $1bn from investors including Microsoft, AWS, CapitalG and Salesforce Ventures in a series G round valuing it at $28bn. That’s a more than fourfold increase from its series F, just over a year ago.

UiPath’s valuation is even higher, the automation software provider having pulled in $750m in series F funding at a $35bn post-money valuation. Corporate investors Tencent and CapitalG weren’t identified as participants in the round, which more than tripled UiPath’s valuation from its July series E, and it’s going to be interesting to see how much higher that valuation can go when it executes the IPO for which it confidentially filed in December.

Online food delivery has been heavily boosted in the past year and Good Eggs combines several different areas – prepared food and meal kits, farm-to-table produce, alcohol and flower delivery – in a single offering. It’s also managed to raise $100m from investors including GV and Rich’s despite operating mainly in the San Francisco Bay Area. The capital will support its expansion into Southern California, with wider movement surely on the horizon.

Tealium, developer of a management software tool for customer data, has secured $96m in series G financing at a $1.2bn valuation, increasing its overall funding to $160m. Its earlier funding came from investors including Sumitomo’s Presidio Ventures unit, ABN Amro Digital Impact Fund, Citi Ventures and Parkwood, though none were named in the latest round, which was co-led by Georgian and Silver Lake Waterman.

Mobile Premier League, the developer of an online gaming platform focused on the South and Southeast Asian markets, was founded about three years ago and has already notched up its fourth funding round, raising $95m from investors including Susquehanna International Group, Go-Ventures and Telstra Ventures. The series D round valued it at $945m post-money and the proceeds will go to bolstering its esports offering.

Funds

Telecoms and internet group SoftBank is launching a $100m fund to invest in companies based around the Miami, Florida area of the United States. The vehicle has already chosen its first portfolio companies, including cybersecurity software developer Lumu Technologies. It will invest in locally-founded startups as well as those willing to move to the area.

Exits

Genetic testing service 23andme has chosen to go the reverse merger route for a public listing, joining with VG Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company sponsored by conglomerate Virgin Group in a deal that will value the merged business at about $3.5bn. It had received more than $870m in funding pre-IPO from an investor base that includes GV (which is scoring some huge exits right now), WuXi AppTec, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche and Illumina.

Astra is set to become the first private space launch services provider to hit the public markets, having agreed a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company Holicity at an implied valuation of $2.1bn. The deal was agreed a year after Astra emerged from stealth having secured over $100m from investors including Airbus Ventures, which is slowly growing a significant presence in the spacetech sector, and two months after it launched its first rocket into space.

Drizly’s investors, which include Vayner/RSE, are heading for an exit of a different kind after the alcohol delivery service agreed to be acquired by Uber for $1.1bn. The company had disclosed approximately $85m in funding and will join an expanding range of Uber delivery services spearheaded by its Uber Eats subsidiary. It also stands as a sign of growth in the on-demand service sector, and perhaps forthcoming consolidation.

Roblox has had an extremely busy couple of months, filing for and then postponing its initial public offering, changing over to a direct listing, raising $520m from investors including Warner Music Group at a hugely increased $29.5bn valuation and now reportedly putting its plans to go public on hold. The game creation platform developer, which also counts Tencent among its investors, is postponing the listing due to regulatory scrutiny on how it classifies revenue from sales of its Robux currency on the platform.

Shared workspace provider Knotel was valued above $1bn just 18 months ago but has now filed for bankruptcy, a reminder that while some business models have thrived during the coronavirus pandemic, others have been far unluckier. Knotel had raised roughly $560m from investors including Mori Trust, Rocket Internet, Itochu, Bloomberg Beta, The Sapir Organization, Raiffeisen, Wolfson Group, Moinian Group and Wainbridge Capital.


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

23 November 2020 – PingCap Stores £270m in Series D Funding

The Big Ones

Distributed database software provider PingCap has secured $270m in series D funding from backers including Bertelsmann Asia Investments that will support research and development as well as international expansion. Another corporate investor, Fosun, led PingCap’s last round, a $50m series C round two years ago. PingCap is the creator of an open-source distributed database platform called TiDB as well as a version called TiDB that has been tailored for use on cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud. The platform’s apparently been adopted by some 1,500 clients internationally, including well-known ones such as Square and Dailymotion.

Airbnb has filed for an initial public offering with an initial target of $1bn and will be relying on the markets to ignore its 30% drop in revenue and considerable losses in 2020 in favour of a projected recovery in the tourism industry next year when coronavirus vaccines hopefully begin to be distributed. Its investors include CapitalG, the growth equity subsidiary of Alphabet formerly known as Google Capital, and its valuation stood at $26bn prior to a $1bn debt and equity round in April. But there are a few notable things about Airbnb’s filing and the fact it acknowledges that it’s been unable “to grow new offerings and tiers, such as Airbnb Experiences” could yet prove to be the canary in the coal mine – particularly as Google steps up its own travel ads and hinders Airbnb’s organic growth. There’s also a question as to whether hosts will be able to stick out ongoing and returning lockdowns: they still have to pay mortgages on the properties and without guests to cover bills, that’s somewhat of a ticking time bomb. But the biggest threat to Airbnb is the fact that its growth was slowing long before covid-related shutdowns and travel restrictions: in fact, 2019 was the third consecutive year of slowing growth. The filing warns this slowing down is expected to continue, making it a difficult sell to potential investors on the public markets.

Form Energy, a US-based grid battery spinout of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has obtained more than $70m of series C funding from undisclosed investors, Reuters said citing CEO Mateo Jaramillio. Details are expected over the coming weeks. Founded in 2017, Form Energy is developing sulfur-based battery storage for renewable electricity sources such as wind and solar which fluctuate more than conventional power plants owing to changes in wind strength and solar radiation. Form Energy’s batteries are rumoured to discharge at slow speeds relative to their capacity but offer 150 hours of storage compared to four hours for lithium-ion grid storage products. The idea is to help replace oil and gas-based power plants that run during times of sparse customer demand to provide a minimum level of electricity, known in industry parlance as the baseload. The spinout last closed a $40m series B round in August 2019 led by Eni Next, the corporate venturing arm of energy supplier Eni, and backed by The Engine, the MIT-affiliated incubator and venture fund, in addition to Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Capricorn Investment Group, Prelude Ventures and Macquarie Capital.

Deals

DataRobot, a provider of enterprise artificial intelligence software, has more than doubled its valuation to $2.7bn in a $270m pre-IPO round featuring new and existing investors. The company has now raised a total of about $500m from an investor base that includes Intel Capital, New York Life, Recruit Strategic Partners, Cisco and Citi Ventures, though none were specifically named in the company’s latest round.

Precision medicine developer D3 Bio has emerged from stealth with $200m from a series A round featuring WuXi AppTec’s Corporate Venture Fund. The corporate was joined by Boyu Capital, Temasek, Matrix Partners China and Sequoia Capital China, and the cash will support development of the startup’s oncology and immunology product pipeline.

Online restaurant directory and food ordering service Zomato has raised $195m at a $3.6bn post-money valuation. Much of the company’s earlier funding came from online classifieds operator Info Edge, which still owns a stake above 20%. Its larger shareholders include Ant Group and Uber, while Delivery Hero is also an investor.

XAG, an agriculture-focused drone developer that is expanding into wider reaching farm management technology, has completed a $182m funding round co-led by Baidu Capital and SoftBank Vision Fund. The cash will support the bolstering of the company’s research and development, manufacturing and supply chain capabilities as its home country of China moves closer to an unmanned farm model of agriculture.

Cato Networks has entered the unicorn sphere, raising $130m from investors including Singtel Innov8 at a $1bn pre-money valuation. The networking security technology provider has now received more than $330m since 2015 and its last round – which also featured the Singtel subsidiary – was only seven months ago.

Forter, a developer of e-commerce fraud prevention software, has joined the ranks of the unicorns, having bagged $125m at a valuation topping $1.3bn. The series E round didn’t include corporate backer Salesforce Ventures but it took the company’s total funding to $225m and was co-led by venture capital firms Bessemer Venture Partners and Felix Capital.

CreditEase-backed wealth management platform developer Addepar has raised almost as much, having closed its series E round at $117m. The public markets boom for tech companies in recent months, coupled with the ongoing issues for other businesses, has meant increased demand for wealth management services. It also highlights Addepar’s selling point: enhanced data capabilities that give investors greater insights into portfolio performance.

SoftBank Vision Fund 2 has also led a $100m round for MindTickle, a US-based provider of sales readiness technology that helps sales staff upgrade their skills and benefit from updated information. Qualcomm Ventures was among the other participants in the round, having backed MindTickle since its 2015 series A round. The latest funding was closed at a reported $500m valuation.

Funds

SR One is the latest corporate venturing unit to be spun off into an independent venture firm by its parent, in this case pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline. With some 35 years on the clock it’s one of the oldest corporate VC arms, but GSK isn’t cutting the cord fully – it’s the largest contributor to an oversubscribed $500m fund for the rebranded SR One Capital Management, which will continue to be run by CEO Simeon George.

Exits

Roblox, the creator of a social 3D game development platform, has filed for a $1bn IPO on the New York Stock Exchange that will notch up an exit for Tencent. The corporate was among the investors in a $150m series G round in February that valued Roblox at $4bn. Press reports have suggested the company would seek a valuation of $8bn in the offering, meaning Tencent could be looking at a rapid profit on paper.

Arrival is the latest highly valued company to take the reverse merger option, agreeing a deal with Nasdaq-listed CIIG Merger Corp that will value the combined business at $5.4bn. The electric commercial vehicle developer’s existing investors, which include Hyundai, Kia and UPS, will keep their stakes while the deal will be boosted by $400m in PIPE financing.

Supcon is part of the fast-growing field of robotic process automation technology and has priced an initial public offering in its home country of China that will net it $268m in proceeds. Corporate investors Chint, Sinopec Capital, Intel, China National Nuclear’s CNNC Industry Fund Management Corporation and Lenovo are all among its investors and will jointly own about 20% of its shares post-IPO.


“Funky Chunk” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
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