05 October 2020 – Sophia Genetics Raises $110m Series F

The Big Ones

It was a privilege to hear the insights at the GCV Digital Forum 2.0 yesterday. Combining our regional and sector events, GCV Asia Congress, Synergize and Energy, was always a recipe for some of the world’s leaders to gather and share as well as network. The insights started with Gen Tsuchikawa, CEO of Sony Innovation Fund, as chairman of the Asia stream explain how it had made 10 deals since April through the covid-19 crisis and launched a new fund with an impact focus on the environment. Impact and sustainability was a running theme through the whole agenda, with Sir Ronald Cohen, chairman of the Global Steering Group working on impact investing, giving a keynote and answering questions from attendees about his new book, Impact: Reshaping capitalism to drive real change.

Sir Ronald Cohen’s insights from his second book, Impact: Reshaping Capitalism to Drive Real Change, lay out a methodology for adding impact to the usual risk and return decision-making for investing. Here’s a case study example from his keynote to be delivered at the www.GCVDigitalForum.com tomorrow, with a live Q&A with Sir Ronald starting at 12.30pm UK time.

Change is coming. The only question remains how to maximise the impact at a corporation through sophisticated use of open innovation tools, such as corporate venturing, and align them to traditional research and development and mergers and acquisitions. Switzerland-based healthcare insurer CSS Insurance has set up the CHF50m SwissHealth Ventures fund managed by Redstone’s venture capital-as-a-service. Jonathan Fraser, head of venturing at CSS, said it would on focus digital health startups contributing to a high quality and cost-efficient health system.

Sophia Genetics, a Switzerland-based clinical insights platform, has raised $110m in its series F round from a consortium including Hitachi Ventures. It is an interesting deal for Stefan Gabriel, CEO of Hitachi Ventures and GCV Powerlist 100 winner last month. Typically, the $150m Hitachi Ventures programme has targeted early-stage deals in Europe and the US.

Exits

Palantir is arguably Peter Thiel’s most infamous endeavour: the company has been shrouded in secrecy ever since it was founded in 2003 and was often thought to have almost peerless capabilities when it came to big data analytics (capabilities that have landed it some big US government contracts). But its direct listing on the NYSE (which came after six – yes, six – revisions to its SEC filing) was, as Reuters called it, “choppy”. Shares dropped from the $10 opening price to $9.50 and the company ended up with a valuation of $20.6bn – which might seem a good amount, but it was worth $20.3bn five years ago and has raised hundreds of millions of dollars since then. Adding insult to injury was the fact that Morgan Stanley couldn’t get its software to work for Palantir employees to sell shares.

McAfee has had a more eventful history than most. Once upon a time (the olden days of 2011), the company was listed on NYSE before Intel decided to snap up the cybersecurity giant for $7.7bn. To say the shoe didn’t fit might be an understatement: officially rebranding the company to Intel Security in 2014, the operation actually retained its McAfee name and by 2016 had been spun off again through a private equity deal that saw Intel selling a majority stake to TPG Capital, with Thoma Bravo also taking a small shareholding. And now it seems McAfee is ready to yet again trade publicly and has filed for an IPO on Nasdaq – putting that infamous $100m placeholder figure in its draft prospectus and not yet giving away any details on terms. Fun fact: the IPO has gathered a baker’s dozen worth of underwriters – this might be one to watch closely as it unfolds.

JD.com’s healthcare spinoff has filed for an initial public offering after raising more than $1.9bn in equity funding from investors including Hillhouse Capital and Citic Capital.

Tencent is also in line for an exit as Beijing Logicreation Information & Technology, an education services provider, has filed for a RMB1.04bn ($152m) initial public offering on Shenzhen Stock Exchange’s ChiNext board. The company plans on issuing 10 million shares and is targeting a valuation of $586m. Details about Logicreation’s funding are hazy, but DealStreetAsia surfaced a series D round of undisclosed size backed by Tencent Investment in 2017 and a $14m funding round in 2015 backed by Heyi Group. Neither corporate owns more than 5% pre-IPO, however.

Deals

Electric vehicles and grid-scale energy storage are going to be fundamentally necessary parts of a clean energy future, but despite the fact that they generate no emissions once they reach the user they come with a big catch: mining lithium is incredibly destructive to the environment and its effects have been known to pollute rivers and kill wildlife. So, recycling lithium-ion batteries is key if we want to avoid solving one problem (climate change) by creating another (pollution). The recycling process is a relatively new development, but Northvolt is one of the most important players in the space and the company has added $600m to its coffers from Volkswagen, Scania and others to not only reach 150GWh of manufacturing output in Europe by 2030, but also to build a recycling facility that will mean at least 50% of raw materials in its batteries will be from recycled products. VW had already backed a $1bn round last year.

Cazoo, a UK-based online marketplace for used vehicles, has been raising equity at an incredible pace: founded two years ago, it’s amassed $558m in capital and a valuation of $2.5bn thanks to commitments from, among others, repeat investor DMG Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of media group Daily Mail and General Trust. The corporate also participated in Cazoo’s latest deal, a $308m funding round that was co-led by General Catalyst and D1 Capital Partners (which you will have noticed investing a lot of money over the past few weeks – cf. Robinhood, Alkami and Goat).

SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and PICC Group’s PICC Capital joined forces with Morningside to co-lead a $319m series C round for XtalPi that also featured existing backers SIG China, Tencent and China Life. XtalPi, which has built a platform to predict the physicochemical and pharmaceutical properties of small-molecule drug candidates, will use the money to further develop its technology. Its shareholders also include Google and Renren.

Rappi has grown from a delivery service initially focused on drinks to a courier service that delivers pretty much any consumer product you can think of. It even allows users to get cashback. The company has also expanded across nine countries in South America and has raised more than $300m from T. Rowe Price and undisclosed investors. That both is and isn’t a lot of money: SoftBank injected $1bn in May last year, and Rappi’s earlier backers also include Delivery Hero.

SoftBank has contributed to a $225m series D round for VTex, a Brazil-based provider of end-to-end e-commerce services, after the corporate had already led a $140m round last November. VTex is now valued at $1.7bn and its platform is used by international giants such as Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Walmart to power their online stores – not a bad list of clients for a Brazilian company that hardly any consumer will have ever heard of.

Airwallex has added $40m in a series D extension that brought the round to a $200m close. No word on who the “new and existing” backers of the second tranche are, but ANZi Ventures, Salesforce Ventures and Tencent were all among the investors for the $160m initial tranche five months ago. The money will allow Airwallex to chase big plans: add another 100 staff (for a 240-strong headcount) and an expansion into the US, all while doubling down on its existing markets. Airwallex has now obtained some $400m altogether.

Taimei’s software helps life sciences companies manage their clinical trials, including assessing and monitoring adverse effects. It’s added $176m to its coffers in a round co-led by Tencent, GL Ventures and YF Capital, while SoftBank China Venture Capital also got a slice of the pie. Tencent previously led a $132m series E-plus round just under a year ago, while SBCVC had contributed to an $80m series E round in early 2019.

BioCatch has added four big banks – Barclays, Citi, HSBC and National Australia Bank – to a series C round that now stands at $168m. American Express Ventures and CreditEase had backed a $145m first tranche six months ago and the Israel-based behavioural biometrics technology provider has now raised $215m in funding altogether. It’s also launched a so-called client innovation board, where Barclays, Citi, HSBC, NAB and AmEx will be able to exchange ideas on how best to prevent online fraud.

Caloga-backed Sendinblue has added $160m to its coffers thanks to investors including Bpifrance and BlackRock.

Lilly Asia Ventures has returned for a $147m series D round that will allow InventisBio to advance its treatments for breast cancer and gout into phase 2 clinical trials.

Cloud-based banking platform developer Alkami Technology’s total financing meanwhile stands at $365m after attracting $140m in a funding round featuring Fidelity. D1 Capital Partners led the round, while Franklin Templeton and Stockbridge Investors also took part. Details about Alkami’s earlier funding rounds are sparse, though it did announce its series E and D rounds, and its shareholders also include General Atlantic, MissionOG, S3 Ventures and Argonaut Private Equity.

Joyson Electronics has farmed out a stake in its smart driving subsidiary Joy Next to investors including Baofeng Energy and Ningbo Gaofa Automotive Control System.

Tencent has led a round worth “hundreds of millions of dollars” for veterinary care services provider New Ruipeng Pet Healthcare Group. Boehringer Ingelheim and Country Garden Venture Capital, the investment arm for Country Garden, also took part in the round which will allow Ruipeng, which operates more than 1,400 animal clinics and hospitals, to bolster its offering.

University

Monte Rosa climbs $96m series B: University of London-linked Monte Rosa Therapeutics is working on biotechnology to degrade disease-driving proteins.

XY spells out $59m series B: Zhejiang University-backed optical chip maker XY Technology will put the series B cash to strengthening its capacity and product.

Wise conceives $17.6m: University of Milan spinout Wise is a developer of low-invasive neuromodulation implants for treating pain and neurological disorders.

Funds

China’s courier service operator SF Holdings has joined forces with Citic Capital to launch a $308m fund that will focus on the domestic logistics sector. Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC provided the largest chunk of cash – a total of $216m – though the size is (at least so far) below an original target of $400m envisaged earlier this year. Fundraising was put on hold at the time and, although the report doesn’t explicitly say this, it’s likely the pandemic was a big factor here.

Long-time readers will be aware of Kickstart Ventures, the investment arm of Philippines-based Globe Telecom, but there has never been a lot of corporate venture capital available in the archipelagic state. This is changing – and in dramatic fashion, too: local conglomerate Ayala has closed a $180m fund (managed by Kickstart Ventures and also backed by Globe Telecom), seemingly making it the country’s biggest venture fund to date. Because that is a lot of money, the Active Fund will actually invest internationally and target series A through D rounds.

BA Capital lures corporates to $147m fund: BA Capital has raised a total of $247m this month across its yuan and dollar-denominated vehicles targeting the consumer and media sectors.

Nippon Life makes an impact with $100m: The insurance provider has committed $100m to the Life Science Impact Program, which is managed by Grove Street Advisors and will focus on healthcare businesses.

Inspiration Capital sparks $73m fund: Hexing Electrical, CSD Environment, Hailang Group and SIG are among the limited partners in a $73m fund raised by Qiming spinoff Inspiration Capital.


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

28 September 2020 – Roche Pays $448m to Buy Inflazome

The Big Ones

Congratulations to Mike Cavanagh at Comcast for taking up the reins of its ventures unit after Amy Banse’s decision to retire next year. Thanks goes to Banse for her support to the community over the past decade and glad she’s staying engaged through Comcast to deliver on sustainability, gender equality and mentorship.
My thanks to Ken Gatz, CEO at deal management software platform Proseeder, for running the past two days’ pitch events covering sustainability and mobility on September 22 and financial and deep technology yesterday. The GCV Connect powered by Proseeder platform reviewed the applications thanks to the expert corporate venturing judges and then showcased the finallists with the recordings edited and showreeled at the GCV Digital Forum next week, 29th.

Sweden-listed investment holding company Kinnevik’s history is one of pivots. From its initial switch from pulp and paper into telecoms and media in Sweden in the 1990s and then into online companies such as Avito, Rocket Internet and Zalando in the 2010s now comes the push into privately-held startups as it sells its $2bn stake in telecoms asset Tele2.

Exits

Roche has paid $448m to buy Inflazome, the Novartis-backed developer of treatments for chronic inflammatory conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, hepatitis B, Crohn’s disease and many others. Inflazome was spun out of University of Queensland just four years ago and also commercialises research from Trinity College Dublin. Novartis had contributed to its two only rounds that brought in a total of just over $62m.

TriNetX had raised $102m in funding from investors including Merck & Co, Mitsui and Itochu before agreeing to a purchase by Carlyle.

You may have all but forgotten about WeWork, the beleaguered co-working space provider, and in a world struggling to keep a pandemic at bay, sharing an office with strangers is hardly appealing. Yet, Trustbridge seems confident there is money to be made still and has acquired a majority stake in WeWork China for… $200m. Not only had WeWork China raised $1bn from investors including SoftBank and its Vision Fund, but was also once valued at $5bn. A source told TechCrunch layoffs had already started and “many things” remained uncertain, so we’ll see how this one pans out. In any case, it’s hardly an exit to celebrate for the investors, but they were likely prepared for that already anyway.

Even if you don’t drive an electric car, you have likely come across the term range anxiety – the fear that the battery’s charge will not last all the way to the driver’s destination. It is often considered a significant barrier to large-scale adoption of EVs, so seeing ChargePoint – which operates an international charging network – agreeing to a reverse merger with SPAC Switchback Energy Acquisition can only be good news. The deal values ChargePoint at $2.4bn and will, once it closes in Q4, net the business $683m in fresh funding. That’s a smidgeon more than the $667m it had raised in equity financing from backers such as AEP, BMW, Chevron, Constellation Energy, Daimler, Siemens, The Hartford and Toyota.

Speaking of the transportation sector: Ninebot – best known for the Segway brand – is looking to go public in China through a $295m IPO on Shanghai’s Star Market. The Xiaomi and Intel-backed company’s move is intriguing not so much for the IPO’s target size (though that is notable, too) but because it’s the first company with a variable interest entities (VIE) structure that’s been approved to list using Chinese Depository Receipts. VIE is a framework that enables foreign investment in companies that are restricted from accepting overseas capital due to their sensitive nature. Typically, the structure is employed by China-based companies undertaking a listing elsewhere and up until now Beijing made companies unwind this structure if they sought to list at home – but rising tensions with the US have seemingly provoked some flexibility from the central government.

Tencent-backed low-cost retailer has put a $100m placeholder figure in its filing for an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, more than a year after its plans first emerged.

Compass Pathways, a UK-based depression medicine developer backed by pharmaceutical group Otsuka Pharmaceuticals’ McQuade Center for Strategic Research and Development, achieved a different kind of exit as it went public in an upsized IPO worth more than $127m on Friday. The company is working on something rather unusual: a synthetic version of psilocybin, the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms, to treat mental health disorders that have proven resistant to other therapies. McQuade had backed an $80m series B round in April 2020 and its bet paid off, as shares in Compass shot up to $29 on the first day of trading.

If you were looking forward to whatever blockbuster terms Grail was going to set for its IPO when it first filed with a $100m placeholder amount earlier this month, you’ll be sorely disappointed with today’s news. However, the $8bn put down by Illumina (though when accounting for its existing stake it’s closer to $7bn) to acquire its cancer diagnostics spinoff is impressive in its own right – particularly considering that Grail raised just under $2bn, so Illumina could have saved a decent chunk of cash if it had kept the development internal – but that’s the nature of these things. WuXi AppTec, Tencent, Amazon, Alphabet, Varian Medical Systems, BMS, Celgene, Merck & Co, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Johnson & Johnson and McKesson are all among the corporates celebrating an exit.

Speaking of China: Zhonggu Logistics, a container logistics services provider backed by liner operator Zhonggu Shipping and telecommunications group SoftBank, is targeting a $218m initial public offering after pricing its shares at $3.28 a pop. It will list on the main board of the Shanghai Stock Exchange, and Zhonggu Shipping will remain a majority shareholder at 63.1%, with a tiny slice (2.2%) also left for SoftBank. CICC is the lead underwriter.

The Washington State University neurological drug developer has gone public after issuing 12 million shares priced at $17 each.

Deals

News continues coming in at a rapid pace, proving that the summer lull – however much there was one, considering the flurry of IPO filings as discussed earlier – is well and truly over. If you live in the west, you’d be forgiven for thinking Tesla is the only real contender in the EV space but there are other noteworthy companies in the east. One of these is WM Motor, which has picked up $1.47bn in a series D round backed by SAIC Motor – adding to some $1.8bn in funding previously raised from investors such as Baidu, Tencent and China Minmetals. The money has been allocated to R&D, marketing, sales and branding activities.

There really is no stopping Robinhood, the US-based share trading app developer backed by Alphabet and Roc Nation: the company has now pushed its series G round to $660m thanks to a $460m extension supplied by D1 Capital Partners (which had provided the $200m initial tranche last month), a16z, Sequoia, DST, Ribbit and 9Yards. The extension has moved Robinhood’s valuation up to $11.7bn from $11.2bn a few weeks ago – that seems like a marginal increase hardly worth mentioning but in July the company was actually worth “only” $8.2bn when it closed its $600m series F. It’s now collected some $2.36bn in funding altogether.

Challenger bank Chime has become the most valuable American fintech aimed at retail consumers after raising $485m in a series F round that pushed its valuation to $14.5bn – a good chunk of change more than previous leader Robinhood, which attained an $11.2bn valuation last month. If $14.5bn seems a lot – and it is – consider this: Chime claims it has been adding hundreds of thousands of customers per month as the pandemic has made people less inclined to go into a physical bank branch. Consider this, too: the company was worth a mere $1.5bn just 18 months ago. Access Industries returned for the latest round but Chime’s early investors, which include Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, will also all be in for a phenomenal exit at this rate.

Munich Re has returned for a $250m series D round raised by online insurance platform Next Insurance, while CapitalG led the round. Next Insurance has grown to more than 100,000 customers across all 50 US states and will use the money to improve its existing offering, add more products and hire an additional 200 employees. Next has now raised $631m in total – Munich Re previously injected $250m in series C financing a year ago – and its investors also include Nationwide (the US insurer, not the UK financial institution), Markel and American Express Ventures.

Apple’s silicon in iPhones and iPads is notably because the chips manage to squeeze an astounding amount of processing power out of small real estate at low power usage. The team that led the development of these chips left last year to found Nuvia in an effort to bring their expertise to semiconductors in data centres. While its technology is still very much in development, it clearly has done enough to entice investors for a $240m series B round that featured returning backer Dell Technologies Capital.

Children’s debit card provider Greenlight is valued at $1.2bn after raising $215m in a funding from a host of investors, though none of its corporate backers participated this time.

Xingyun has picked up $200m in a series C round co-led by Taikang Insurance, Shanghai United Media Group and Highlight Capital, while GLP and C&D Group also invested.

There was a $133m series C round secured by Beyond Limits, an AI technology developer based on research at Caltech’s Nasa-aligned Jet Propulsion Lab that is notable not only because it’s repeatedly convinced BP Ventures to invest but also because it actually managed to attract BP Ventures’ Meghan Sharp as COO about a year ago (as long-time subscribers will remember). Another corporate, Group 42, joined BP for the series C round.

SoftBank’s Latin America Fund and General Atlantic have co-led a $107m series B round for Accesso Digital, a facial recognition technology developer that will use the money to scale.

Digital Garage has helped launch mobile gaming platform Playco with a $100m series A round and a valuation of more than $1bn.

Recycling electronics is big business – rare earth minerals needed to build devices such as laptops or smartphones are expensive to mine, but old gadgets too often just end up in that junk drawer we all have in our houses. This is where Wanwu Xinsheng – né Aihuishou – comes in: it runs an online and brick-and-mortar recycling service for consumers to sell their second-hand devices. The company’s now raised $100m in series E-plus financing from JD.com, its JD Logistics unit and others, to accelerate growth and seek additional partnerships internationally. The round brings the company’s overall funding to more than $1bn, and JD.com is a repeat investor.

Another nine-figure sum was revealed by Nucarf, a China-based logistics fleet refuelling management platform that has collected $100m in combined series A and A-plus capitalfrom investors including Xiamen C&D. The cash has been allocated to accelerating the development of its digital infrastructure, and it comes after multiple rounds of undisclosed size in 2017 and 2018.

Foot Locker-backed sneaker marketplace Goat Group has completed a $100m round from D1 Capital Partners, bringing its overall financing to almost $300m in five years.

University

UW mental health spinout Owl Insights secured funding to advance its product development and distribution.

Funds

The website development tool provider’s Wix Capital subsidiary will invest in early-stage startups that are developing AI, e-commerce, web design and automation technologies.

Pureos Bioventures has backed five spinouts so far from its inaugural biotech-focused fund, which has reached its final close.

Unnamed corporates have provided capital for Panlin’s $148m fund that will focus on healthcare, digital transformation and smart hardware.

Legal & General is among the limited partners for Kindred Capital’s second fund, which also attracted University of Chicago and will invest in early-stage European startups.

Alsa Ventures is targeting a $150m final close for its inaugural biotherapeutics fund, which has already backed university-linked companies.


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

14 September 2020 – Online Education Company Byju Raising $500m

The Big Ones

Online education has firmly established itself as the key sector in India’s startup space, and Byju’s has effectively confirmed that, raising an amount reported by TechCrunch to be $500m. Byju’s, which is backed by Tencent, Naspers and Times Internet, was valued at $10.8bn post-money in the round, which came in the wake of it adding an extraordinary 20 million users since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown. That means the company has almost trebled its valuation inside two years.

Saudi Aramco has a market cap of some $1.8 trillion but is looking to explore diversification into other areas besides oil and gas (perhaps not surprisingly given the direction of oil prices this year). To that end, it has formed a $1bn fund called Prosperity 7 Ventures that is tasked with investing in innovative technologies like AI, 5G, robotics, blockchain and the internet of things. It will join the company’s Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures unit as well as its Wa’ed Ventures vehicle.

Illumina spinoff Grail has filed for what may be one of this year’s biggest healthtech IPOs. The cancer diagnostics technology developer has set a $100m placeholder target for the offering but has raised $1.9bn in venture funding from investors including Johnson & Johnson, WuXi AppTec, Tencent, Amazon, Varian, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Bristol-Myers Squibb, McKesson, Celgene, Alphabet and Merck & Co. It was valued at a reported $3.2bn back in 2018, prior to its last round.

X-over: Recursion, a University of Utah spinout, is using digital technologies such as automation and machine learning to develop drugs for various diseases and has built up a 30-strong drug pipeline, four of which have reached the clinical trials stage. It has also secured $239m in a series D round led by a $50m investment from Leaps by Bayer. The unit’s parent company, Bayer, has also formed a strategic partnership with Recursion, which was valued at about $1.2bn post-money.

Deals

Industrial technology has not been among the winners during the coronavirus lockdown, but advanced materials producer Zymergen has nevertheless snagged $300m in a series D round led by investment manager Bailie Gifford. The company, which has developed a bio-based polyimide film called Hyaline, has now raised a total of $874m in funding, its earlier backers including SoftBank Vision Fund and Hanwha Asset Management.

A sector that hasn’t done brilliantly – for understandable reasons – is ride hailing, but that impact has been somewhat mitigated by the fact several companies in that space have seen their food delivery businesses pick up. Southeast Asia’s Grab will hypothetically see an uptick in its digital financial services arm, Grab Financial Group, and the subsidiary is reportedly in advanced talks with investors including insurers AIA and Prudential to raise $300m to $500m at a valuation of roughly $2bn. That funding would support an expansion into wealth management and the possible securing of an online banking licence.

Melio, developer of an online payment management platform for businesses, revealed today it has collected a total of $144m in funding since 2018, most recently netting $80m in a series C round last month. It hasn’t provided precise details but did say its backers include American Express Ventures. Amex’s corporate venturing unit has quietly been racking up some big exits over the last two or three years, most notably from Plaid, iZettle and Bill.com, showing that CVC investing can bag some nice returns alongside strategic interests.

AnyVision, an image and facial recognition software provider that counts Qualcomm Ventures and Robert Bosch among its backers, has pulled in $43m in funding from unnamed investors. The deal comes just over a year after its $74m series A round and roughly four months after Microsoft subsidiary M12, a participant in that round, announced it was divesting its stake due to doubts about the ethics of the use of facial recognition technology by governments.

Funds

Thursday/Friday were a heady 24 hours for corporate fund announcements (which included the Saudi Aramco vehicle we talked about earlier). And Toyota Research Institute – Advanced Development has launched an $800m growth-stage fund called Woven Capital that will back Toyota AI Ventures portfolio companies as they grow, in addition to backing external venture funds. Companies backed by the early-stage vehicle that have raised big rounds of late include personal aircraft developer Joby Aviation, driver safety technology provider Nauto and electric bus producer Proterra.

Santander has had a good degree of success since launching its Santander Innoventures unit with $100m in 2014, snagging big exits from iZettle and Kabbage while accessing technology from several portfolio companies. It has now spun off the unit into an autonomously managed fund dubbed Mouro Capital and doubled its capital allocation again from $200m to $400m. It will make initial investments of about $15m at early and growth stage.

Exits

KAR Auction Services has agreed to acquire BacklotCars, the owner of an online dealer-to-dealer automotive marketplace, for $425m, enabling Renren to exit. BacklotCars had raised roughly $50m pre-acquisition. Renren has pulled back from corporate venturing almost completely since 2017, but it’s going to be interesting to see if it can pull some more big exits out of its existing portfolio.

Fabless semiconductor maker 3Peak is set to bag $339m in its IPO, on the red-hot Shanghai Star Exchange. The Huawei-backed company is simply the latest to choose the Star Exchange to go public, the market having benefited from regulations introduced by US exchanges to combat what was perceived as unsatisfactory accounting practices by Chinese companies. It will also jointly host what may be the biggest IPO ever, when Ant Financial floats later this year.

Progress has bought software deployment automation platform Chef in another nine-figure acquisition deal, paying $220m in cash for the company. Chef had received a total of $105m in funding, most recently securing $40m in a 2015 series E round that included Citi Ventures and Hewlett Packard Ventures, which passed its stake in the company on to Hewlett Packard Pathfinder.

Emphysema treatment device developer Pulmonx has filed for an $86.3m offering that would provide exits to Boston Scientific and Posco Bioventures. The former is Pulmonx’s largest investor, the owner of a stake that tops 30%.

Episerver has signed an agreement to purchase Optimizely, a web optimisation software producer that has raised roughly $200m from backers including Accenture Ventures, GV, Citi Ventures and Salesforce Ventures. The size of the deal has not been disclosed but it will consist of a mixture of cash and shares. It comes less than two months after Optimizely revealed it had cut staff numbers by about 15% in the wake of impact from Covid-19.


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

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

The Big Ones

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

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

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

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

Deals

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

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

Funds

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

Exits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

09 December 2019 – Kuaishou Lining Up One of 2019’s Largest Rounds

Big Deals

It’s edging towards the end of the year but Kuaishou is lining up one of 2019’s largest rounds, having reportedly secured $2bn from Tencent as part of a series F round it plans to formally close at $3bn in the coming weeks. The round will value the short-form video platform at $28.6bn and is expected to be the last before a planned initial public offering. Tencent’s stake will stand at almost 20%.

Healthcare consortium Kaiser Permanente oversees one of the oldest corporate venturing units in the Bay Area in Kaiser Permanente Ventures, and it has just closed its fifth fund at $141m. Fund V has also brought additional corporates onboard, taking in contributions from Highmark Health’s Highmark Ventures subsidiary, Tufts Health Plan and Henry Ford Health System. It now has some $500m under management.

Indian ride hailing platform Ola is preparing to enter London (though it is already present in other UK markets, such as here in Cardiff), but in the longer term has set early 2021 as the point when it will formally begin IPO preparations. It has already hired consultants and reportedly intends to cut headcount by 5% as part of those plans. SoftBank, Tencent, Didi Chuxing, Hyundai and Kia are all investors in the company.

In GCV/GUV crossover news, wellness services and goods provider CureFit is in talks with Singaporean state-owned investment firm Temasek to raise $100m in a round reportedly set to boost its valuation from $575m to $800m. The former valuation was sealed in a $120m round closed in June that included Unilever Ventures, and the prospective new funding would support the growth of CureFit’s Eat.Fit and Care.Fit divisions. UC-RNT Fund, a joint investment fund formed by University of California with industrial group Tata Sons’ chairman emeritus Ratan Tata, had injected $25m in 2016.

Deals

Reports a week ago stated that blockchain-based online lender Figure Technologies was set to announce a $103m series C round, and so it has proved, the company raising the cash from investors including MUFG Innovation Partners. The round values Figure, which is less than two years old, at $1.2bn.

Business finance provider Konfio has become the latest company to take in a nine-figure investment from SoftBank’s $5bn Innovation Fund, raising $100m from the corporate. Konfio aims to take advantage of increasingly strict business lending practices in Mexico by offering quick loans to small and medium-sized businesses through its data technology-equipped online platform, and will use the capital to add features such as life insurance to its offering.

Alphabet’s CapitalG unit has bought an undisclosed amount of shares in data collaboration platform developer Dataiku from venture firm and existing investor Serena Capital at a reported $1.4bn valuation – apparently 100 times that at which Serena co-led Dataiku’s seed round.

FinAccel, the owner of Indonesian e-commerce credit provider Kredivo, has secured $90m at a $500m valuation, in a series C round co-led by the Naver-backed Asia Growth Fund.

Precision cancer drug developer Black Diamond Therapeutics has emerged from stealth with $194m of funding, $85m of which was just closed in a series C round featuring Roche Venture Fund. Roche’s corporate venturing vehicle participated in the round as an existing backer, and Black Diamond intends to move its lead product candidate into a phase 1/2 clinical trial in early 2020.

Impulse Dynamics has received $80.5m in funding from investors including Minth Group, Zoll Medical and Abiomed as it prepares to commercialise its heart failure treatment device in the US. Amzak Health Investors led the series D round, which increased the company’s funding over the past four years to about $155m.

Highspot has now raised $200m altogether, having secured $75m in a series D1 round that included long-term backer Salesforce Ventures. The company, which has developed a software platform that optimises sales performance, received $60m in funding just six months ago, through a series D round that included all the participants in the latest deal.

AI technology developer Aibee took its total funding to $175m in a $74m series A1 round featuring conglomerate Chow Tai Fook. The Chinese company has now racked up four rounds inside two years and its investor base includes fellow corporate backers Lenovo Capital and Incubator Group, Red Star Macalline and K11.

Online automotive e-commerce platform CarDekho has secured $70m in a round led by Ping An Global Voyager Fund at a $700m valuation. The deal is the first for China-based Ping An’s corporate venturing vehicle in India, and CarDekho’s existing investors include Kreatif Media Karya, CapitalG, Dentsu Bennett Coleman & Co.

Funds

Portag3 Ventures, the fintech-focused venture firm formed by financial holding group Power Corporation, has closed its second fund at $321m.

US-based venture capital firm Harlem Capital has closed its inaugural fund at $40.3m with limited partners including Vanderbilt University, surpassing its $25m target and $40m cap. Harlem Partners Venture Fund I engaged 55 LPs, including student startup-focused VC firm Dorm Room Fund, trade convention operator Consumer Technology Association and private equity group TPG.

Exits

Cybersecurity software producer Tenable has acquired Indegy, a US-based industrial cybersecurity technology developer backed by energy utility Centrica, mass media group Liberty Media and diversified holding company Ofer Global, for $78m. Indegy had received $18m in an August 2018 series B round led by Liberty Media’s corporate venturing arm, Liberty Technology Venture Capital, and which included Centrica Innovations and OG Tech Ventures, respective investment vehicles for Centrica and Ofer Global.


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

09 September 2019 – Nikola Corporation Raises $250m

Deals

Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma is acquiring a stake in medical company builder Roivant that will be at least 10%, as part of a $3bn deal that will involve it also taking Roivant’s stake in five subsidiaries.

Despite being responsible for unicorns DraftKings and FanDuel, daily fantasy sports has run into a string of regulatory issues in the US. India-based Dream11 seems to be faring better, suprassing $1bn of transactions in its last year of operations, and it is reportedly in talks with investors including SoftBank Vision Fund and Naspers Ventures to raise up to $500m in new funding.

E-cigarette brand Juul disclosed $325m of convertible debt financing last month, and a subsequent securities filing has indicated the size of the round is now $785m. It’s currently unclear who the 14 investors are that supplied the capital but they may well include Altria, the tobacco provider that invested a whopping $12.8bn late last year in order to buy more than a third of the company.

Hydrogen electric truck developer Nikola Corporation has raised $250m in cash and services from industrial equipment producer and strategic investor CNH Industrial for a series D round it aims to close at $1bn or more. The round values Nikola at $3bn pre-money, and while there’s no word of additional investors yet, its existing backers include fellow corporates Nel Hydrogen and Wabco.

With all the fuss surrounding Uber and its peers, it can be easy to forget that before ride hailing was ‘a thing’, car sharing was viewed as the future of transport. Getaround is still ploughing that furrow and is pulling in funding, aiming to add $200m in capital to the $300m it raised last year.

Tencent has provided $120m in series E funding for customer relationship management (CRM) software provider Xiaoshouyi. The company, which is also known as IngageApp, had already secured more than $40m in a Tencent-led series D round in 2017 before reportedly adding nearly $16m from the same investor the following year. It has also worked in tandem with Tencent on a specialist CRM product.

Nkarta Therapeutics has emerged from stealth with $114m raised in a series B round featuring Amgen Ventures and existing investors Novo and SR One. The company, which has received $129m in total, is developing treatments for cancer that rely on sparking the body’s natural killer cells to kill cancerous cells.

Passage Bio packs in another $110m

Yongcheng Life has secured $100m in a series B round led by Legend Capital that included Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI).

University

Ginger jumps to $35m series C

Achilles Therapeutics accesses $120m

Exits

Vertex Pharmaceuticals has agreed to buy diabetes treatment developer Semma Therapeutics in a $950m all-cash deal that will enable Medtronic, Novartis and SinoPharm to exit.

Data management software provider Commvaultis set to pay $225m to acquire Hedvig, a software-defined storage technology producer backed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Kabbage pinpoints Radius for acquisition

Viela Bio has filed for a $150m initial public offering less than two years after being spun off by AstraZeneca. The corporate is still the largest shareholder in autoimmune disease drug developer Viela, having invested $142m last year, and it holds a stake sized above 38%.

Vir veers toward public markets

Investors in cloud security software provider Druva may be heading toward a different kind of exit, as news emerges that the company plans to begin prepping an initial public offering over the course of this year.

Uhuru to pursue $50m in London IPO

Funds

Taiwan Life ties $50m to BVP Century Fund

DG Daiwa Ventures, the joint investment venture set up by internet company Digital Garage and brokerage Daiwa Securities, has formed a new fund called DG Lab Fund II that is seeking a close of about $188m.


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

02 September 2019 – ThoughtSpot Closes $248m Round

The Big Ones

Enterprise analytics platform developer ThoughtSpot has closed a $248m round that valued it at $1.95bn, though existing corporate investors HPE and Capital One do not seem to have participated.

Megvii is one of the two key players in China’s ever increasing – and ominous – facial recognition technology sector (the other being SenseTime), and it’s filed for a Hong Kong IPO that sources tell Reuters is set to raise at least $500m and possibly up to $1bn.

VIPkid has been one of the main players in China’s burgeoning online tutoring sector, but the company, which employs North American English language teachers who work with students through video, may have been indirectly impacted by recent regulations tightening up on credentialling.

US-based, blockchain-focused financial services provider Algo Capital has closed its venture capital fund at $200m – twice as much as its initial target! – having raised capital from limited partners including data marketplace Wibson and consulting firm Rokk3r.

The biggest deal on GUV was the up-to $400m acquisition of Modis Therapeutics, a US-based rare genetic disease therapy developer partly based on Columbia University research, by its peer Zogenix.

Deals

Kuaikan Manhua runs a mobile platform where users can upload original art – much of which is comic based – so it can be bought and read. It has some 40 million monthly active users, half of which are teenagers or younger, and that has attracted Tencent, which has invested $125m.

Tencent has also contributed to a $100m series C round for Whale Network, the owner of e-commerce offerings including Haoyiku. The round was led by venture capital firm Sky9 and it will fund the company’s growth in smaller Chinese cities in addition to the strengthening of its social commerce and livestreaming activities. T

On-demand car leasing service Fair has received $100m in equity and debt financing from Ally Financial, eight months after SoftBank led its $385m series B round.

Agribusiness Cargill has invested $75m in Puris, a producer of pea protein-based food ingredients, money that will be used to expand production at its main facility.

HiFiBio Therapeutics has completed a $67m series C round featuring Kite Pharma and Legend Star, and will put the proceeds toward expanding a pipeline of antibody-based drug candidates targeting cancer and autoimmune diseases.

Online life insurance portal Ethos has secured $60m in a GV-led round, at a valuation of somewhere between $400m and $500m according to Forbes. GV had previously contributed to the company’s $35m series B round just under a year ago, and the latest funding has been earmarked for product development and the strengthening of the Ethos engineering team.

Even with the recent uptick in Latin American investment, we don’t talk about too many Mexico-based companies on this podcast, but Credijusto has bucked the trend, securing $42m in a series B round co-led by Goldman Sachs Principal Strategic Investments.

Exits

Temenos has agreed to acquire digital banking software provider Kony in a deal that will involve it paying $559m upfront and up to $21m in earn-outs.

Peloton Interactive has filed to raise up to $500m in an initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, roughly a year after raising $550m in a Comcast NBCUniversal-backed series F round valuing it at $4.15bn.

Funds

Indonesia-based venture capital firm East Ventures has closed its sixth fund at $75m with contributions from conglomerate Sinar Mas, media group Emtek and investment holding company Triputra Group.

Cybersecurity software producer CrowdStrike launched a $20m US-based investment fund on Monday in partnership with venture capital firm Accel in a bid to build an ecosystem around its products.


“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

08 July 2019 – India-based ReNew Power Exploring IPO

The Big Ones

Chinese social commerce platform Xiaohongshu was valued at more than $3bn when it last raised money a year ago, and has reportedly now entered talks with prospective investors including SoftBank’s Vision Fund for a series E round with a $500m target.

E.ventures has been one of Germany’s most successful venture capital investors of late, celebrating a series of high-profile exits in the past year. It has also received backing from a slate of corporates for two new funds: a $225m US fund and a $175m entity that will focus on Europe.

The We Company’s funding may have reached stratospheric heights but that doesn’t mean it’s having things all its way internationally. Ucommune is probably its biggest competitor in the shared workplace sector in China, and it is reportedly preparing for an initial public offering in the US in which it would look to raise $200m.

Deals

Indian renewable power producer ReNew Power was said last year to be exploring an initial public offering, and though it is yet to float it has no trouble raising money.

Indian ride hailing platform Ola established a spinoff called Ola Electric Mobility around Easter this year, with $56m of series A funding from external investors. Ola Electric, which was launched to promote electric vehicle infrastructure, isn’t sitting on its laurels either.

Century Therapeutics has also raised $250m, in a series A round announced as it emerged from stealth yesterday. Bayer’s open innovation arm, Leaps by Bayer, invested $215m to lead the round, which also featured FujiFilm subsidiary and Century strategic partner Fujifilm Cellular Dynamics, and founding investor Versant Ventures.

Vision Fund also led a $200m series C round for data centre technology provider Fungible that included Norwest Venture Partners. The round took Fungible’s overall funding to $300m, its earlier investors including Juniper Networks and Samsung Catalyst Fund, and the proceeds will go to product development, sales and marketing.

Times Internet paid $140m for a majority stake in mobile video player MX Player before converting it into an online media streaming platform. It now looks like other corporate investors are primed to come on board, with news that Tencent and Paytm are in talks to provide between $100m and $125m for the company, which has more than 30 million registered users.

Japan-based Tier IV, a developer of open-source autonomous driving software, has raised one of the year’s biggest series A rounds, taking $105m in a round led by Sompo Japan Nipponkoa.

The solar energy technology sector may be a fair distance off its heights near the turn of the decade, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead. Oxford PV, which is developing perovskite-equipped solar cells based on research at University of Oxford, has closed its series D round at $81.8m, adding a second tranche that included the investment made by Meyer Burger in March that gave it an 18% stake.

Tencent has led a $36.3m series C round for Synyi, a Chinese company that utilises technologies like natural language processing, machine learning and data mining to extract raw data from medical texts.

Electric scooter rental platform Dott has sealed a $33.9m series A round that was co-led by Naspers Ventures, and which included Axel Springer Digital Ventures.

Funds

Ahren Innovation Capital, a UK-based investment firm co-founded by eight scientists from the Cambridge, UK ecosystem, has closed its inaugural vehicle at more than £200m ($250m) with LPs including Unilever, Sky, Aviva as well as the eight co-founders.

UK-based charity Cancer Research UK has announced a $250m commercialisation fund in partnership with venture capital firm SV Health Investors to accelerate the translation of cancer research.

Sony has joined a subsidiary of brokerage Daiwa Securities to launch an investment fund with a $185m target for its final close. Innovation Growth Ventures, which will function as an extension of Sony’s existing Innovation Fund, has already reached the first close of the fund, and its LPs include Mitsubishi UFJ Lease & Finance Company, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Osaka Shoko Shinkin Bank.

Exits

Health Catalyst has filed to raise up to $100m in an initial public offering that would provide exits for UPMC Enterprises, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, MultiCare Health System, OSF Healthcare, Partners HealthCare and CHV Capital.

US-based integrin drug developer Morphic Holding, which emerged out of research at Harvard University’s Medical School, has closed its initial public offering at approximately $104m.

Codiak Biosciences, a US-based exosome therapeutics developer backed by life science real estate investment trust Alexandria Real Estate Equities, meanwhile withdrew its plans for an $86.3m initial public offering.


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

01 April 2019 – Uber to Acquire Careem for $1.4bn

The Big Three

Uber has confirmed it will acquire Careem, its biggest rival in the Middle Eastern market, for $1.4bn in cash and $1.7bn in convertible notes. The price will mark a significant uptick on the reported $2bn valuation at which Careem last raised money, and a lot more than that for Saudi Telecom, which supplied the company’s $1.7m seed funding back in 2013 through its STC fund managed by Iris Capital, which fortuitously hosted its corporate day at the Eiffel Tower on the day it was announced (and which helped make the after-party go with a swing).

But it’s notable to see five large deals involving Tencent in the week after its financial results: Ke.com, Yipinshengxian, MiningLamp, Airwallex and Shuidi.

JD.com for its annual results for last year noted an “increase in investment in equity investees and investment securities of RMB22bn [$3.3bn]”.

Exits

McDonald’s is also making a sizeable acquisition, having agreed to pay more than $300m to buy Dynamic Yield, a developer of machine learning technology that will make its drive-thru kiosks more intelligent.

Kyriba to score $160m in acquisition deal

Lyft has raised a huge $2.34bn in its initial public offering, floating at the top of its range having extended that range upwards on Wednesday. The IPO valued the company at more than $24bn and should prove somewhat of a vindication for those who invested big money in the ride hailing space when some onlookers suggested it was overvalued.

The year’s biggest IPO will almost certainly be Lyft peer Uber’s, but Pinterest has finally filed for an initial public offering expected to value it at some $12bn. T

Zoom comes face to face with $100m IPO

Hookipa looks to public markets

Turning Point to face IPO moment of truth

Deals

Reports earlier this week revealed mattress producer Casper is getting ready to begin prepping its IPO, but in the meantime it’s raised $100m at a reported $1.1bn valuation.

Paytm owner One97 Communications is reportedly in discussions to raise as much as $2bn in funding from a consortium that will include existing backers SoftBank Vision Fund and Ant Financial, at a valuation of $16bn to $18bn.

Elsewhere in the transport sector, Leap Motor, one of several China-based electric car developers to emerge in the past five years in the wake of Tesla’s success, is reportedly looking to raise approximately $372m in what would be its series B round.

Connected robot developer CloudMinds is in the process of raising $300m in funding and has so far secured SoftBank Vision Fund as an investor in the round.

Delhivery picks up another $413m

Lidar technology developer Innoviz Technologies is a bit further along in the fundraising process, having nailed down $132m in a series C round that includes Phoenix Insurance and Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services.

Mobvoi looks to mobilise $100m

SoftBank feels out PharmEasy for $100m round

University

Hyalex extricates $33m in series A

Inivata invites investors to series B

Volta charges up $180m fund with corporate help


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