The Big Ones
Ant Group may not have been able to successfully go public but China’s other hugely valuable VC-backed private company, ByteDance, is reportedly in the process of raising $2bn at a $180bn valuation. KKR and Sequoia Capital are co-leading the round, but no word yet on whether it’s set to include SoftBank, a participant in its last round, in 2018, which valued it at $78bn.
Luxembourg-headquartered venture capital fund European Circular Bioeconomy Fund (ECBF) reached a €175m ($213m) second close on Tuesday with €93m from limited partners including corporates Volkswohl Bund Versicherungen, Nestlé and Neste. Insurance provider Volkswohl Bund Versicherungen, packaged food and beverage producer Nestlé and oil processor Neste were joined in the second close by promotional bank NRW Bank and an unnamed family office. ECBF was launched by the European Commission and European Investment Bank in November 2019. The European Investment Bank has provided a total of €100m for the vehicle as a cornerstone investor. The fund is focused on late-stage investments in bioeconomy technology developers located in Europe. It is two thirds of the way towards a targeted close of €250m.
Roblox and Affirm may be putting their initial public offerings back to 2021, but that hasn’t stopped mobile commerce platform developer Wish pricing an IPO that will net it just over $1.1bn. The JD.com-backed company is floating at the top of its range after pumping its revenue up 32% in the first nine months of 2020, at a valuation about 50% higher than in its last round, in August 2019, so the outcome of this one is going to be very interesting. Were the others priced badly or is the market just supercharged right now?
University of British Columbia-linked AbCellera was one of the recent IPO candidates that saw a huge first-day pop, pricing an upsized $483m IPO at $20 per share early in the week only for its shares to open at more than three times that price. The Eli Lilly-backed antibody therapy developer eventually closed that offering at $556m after the underwriters unsurprisingly took up the over-allotment option. It won’t be the last time that happens this year.
Google X may not have been the goldmine some at its parent company hoped for, but an unqualified success at this point has to be Verily, the company applying big data technology to healthcare and life sciences. Verily has just raised $700m from existing investors including Google owner Alphabet, representing its third mega round in total. Alphabet was joined by Temasek, which invested $800m in Verily in 2017, as well as Silver Lake and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which had added $1bn two years later.
Xingsheng Preference Electronic Business, the group buying platform mainly known as Xingsheng Youxuan, has agreed to raise $700m from e-commerce group JD.com through a strategic collaboration agreement. The news was revealed in a regulatory filing without a valuation attached, but Xingsheng Youxuan was reportedly in the process of securing $800m in a Tencent-backed round in July at a $4bn post-money valuation.
Apex Microelectronics, a chipmaker spinoff of printing and imaging technology producer Ninestar, has raised $489m from investors including Gree Electric Appliance’s Zhuhai Gree Financial Investment Management vehicle. The round was led by the $31bn China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund II, and Gree Financial Investment Managementsupplied $53.5m in return for a 1.8% stake.
StockX runs an e-commerce marketplace that specialises in collectible and high-grade goods such as sneakers, handbags and electronics, and has raised $275m in series E funding at a $2.8bn post-money valuation. Tiger Global Management led the round, and StockX’s earlier investors include GV, the Alphabet subsidiary formerly known as Google Ventures, which has had some year it’s fair to say.
With vaccines beginning to be rolled out, it feels like the tech space is finally looking forward to a 2021 where some dormant sectors will be making big returns (potentially in both senses of the word). That could be part of the impetus behind the $182m in funding just raised by ride hailing service Bolt. Daimler and Didi Chuxing-backed Bolt has diversified its business model by leaning more heavily on logistics in recent months, and the round looks to have more than doubled its valuation to roughly $4.3bn.
Tencent has co-led a $153m funding round for Yonghui Fresh Food, a business-to-business fresh produce distribution subsidiary of supermarket chain Yonghui Superstore, with China International Capital Corporation’s CICC Qizhi fund. The round also featured Yonghui Superstore itself, which retains a 32% stake in the company having also backed its $145m series A round two years ago.
China-based venture capital firm BeFor Capital has amassed RMB700m ($107m) of capital across two funds, one backed by solar cell manufacturer Canadian Solar. The firm pulled in approximately $76.4m for the first close of its Fund III and $30.5m for the close of Fund IV. It now has over $306m of capital under management across four funds and a number of special purpose vehicles. Canadian Solar contributed to Befor Capital’s Fund III alongside funds backed by the government of China’s Inner Mongolia and Hohhot regions.
Boehringer Ingelheim has agreed to acquire one of its portfolio companies, oncology therapy developer NBE-Therapeutics, in a transaction that could reach $1.43bn once milestone payments are factored in. NBE is working on antibody-drug conjugates to treat cancer, and has raised approximately $68m from investors including Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and pharmaceutical firm Novo.
Lidar sensor and software provider Innoviz has chosen the reverse merger route, one boosted by $200m in PIPE financing from investors including corporate backers Magna International and Phoenix Insurance. The combined company will be valued at about $1.4bn once the deal closes, and Innoviz’s existing investors also include Samsung Catalyst, SoftBank Ventures Asia, Naver, Delek Motors, Delphi Automotive and Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services.
Upstart, the owner of an online lending platform that utilises artificial intelligence in its activities, is also valued above $2bn, following a $240m initial public offering. Its shares rocketed up 47% in their first day of trading yesterday and its pre-IPO backers include Rakuten, Progressive and GV, which sold $1.6m of shares having backed Upstart’s $1.75m seed round eight years ago. Its remaining stake is worth about $28m at the current share price.
The second half of 2020 has been a bonanza period for IPOs, and things don’t show any sign of slowing down either, not with the sky-high valuations companies are seeing as soon as they hit the market. UiPath, a provider of robotic process automation software, has filed confidentially to go public, five months after a Tencent-backed series E round valuing it at $10.2bn. It has so far raised some $1.3bn in funding, with Alphabet’s CapitalG also among its investors.
Coinbase is the other unicorn to have confidentially filed to go public in the last day or so, the crypto trading platform having been valued at $8bn in its last round two years ago. Now that figure looks sure to rise, given the increasing activity in blockchain technology and the recent shooting up of Bitcoin prices. It has raised approximately $517m from investors that include New York Stock Exchange, NTT Docomo, BBVA and USAA.