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

The Big Ones

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

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

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

Deals

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funds

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

Exits

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

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

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


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

Leadership Series: Darek DeFreece (UC Berkeley)

Our Leadership Series interview where Thierry Heles talks to Darek DeFreece from UC Berkeley.


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

19 September 2016 – Clear Vision Investment, A Fund for Baidu and Russian State Exits plus much more

Deals

AcuFocus, developer of a medical device that improves near vision, has raised $66m in a KKR-led round.

Microprocessor and system-on-chip technology developer Soft Machines came out of stealth mode in late 2014 with $125m from investors including AMD and Samsung, and has raised almost $175m from backers also including GlobalFoundries.

3D printing technology developer Carbon has added $81m to the $100m in series C capital it raised in August 2015, taking its overall funding to $222m.

Protein motion drug developer Relay Therapeutics has launched with $57m of funding partly supplied by biochemistry researcher DE Shaw.

A nice crossover between corporate, government and university came from France, where Eyevensys achieved a final close of its series A at $10m.

Funds

Baidu is looking to launch of a CVC unit called Baidu Venture that will target AI, virtual and augmented reality technology, and Baidu is initially looking to raise $200m to invest.

Sapphire Ventures broke off from its old parent company SAP in 2011 and officially changed its name from SAP Ventures three years later, but that doesn’t mean the two are strangers. SAP has just provided $1bn of capital for Sapphire.

Speaking of big funds, GV co-founder Bill Maris is reportedly in talks with investors for a new venture firm and is said to be targeting between $350m and $500m for its first fund.

Canada’s government has awarded $5m to the Capital expansion région Thetford fund for a venture capital vehicle that will support entrepreneurs in Quebec county Les Appalaches.

Canada-based VC firm Information Venture Partners, which achieved a $96m second close of its latest fund.

Bpifrance backed the first $52m close of incubator iBionext’s $112m growth fund that should help the Parisian startup foundry set up quite a few more businesses.

UC Berkeley meanwhile put some cash into the House Fund, a $6m fund set up by its alumnus Jeremy Fiance, and Warwick University is hoping to open a Centre for Innovation at its upcoming California campus, modelled on its original, England-based tech transfer office Warwick Ventures.

Exits

Crispr has filed for an IPO.

LED sensor technology provider Sensity Systems has agreed to an acquisition by Verizon that will give exits to Cisco Investments, Acuity Brands, GE Ventures and Simon Property.

Naspers subsidiary PayU is set to acquire Indian mobile payment services provider Citrus Pay in a $130m all-cash deal that will give exits to eContext and Beenos.

Concur has agreed to buy travel price comparison platform Hipmunk, allowing Nokia Growth Partners, which invested an undisclosed sum in the company two years ago, to exit.

Intel has reportedly agreed to buy semiconductor technology developer Soft Machines in a $250m deal that will provide exits to two Russian state-owned entities.

ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company, an insurance provider backed by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek, is hoping to raise Rs60bn ($900m) in an initial public offering today, that is Monday, September 19.

One sadder exit we have to talk about unfortunately is online lifestyle media company Mode Media. While the unicorn carnage predicted by some at the end of 2015 has yet to manifest, that doesn’t mean there won’t still be casualties. Mode Media, valued at $1bn in a 2013 round when it was still known as Glam, shut down on Thursday after failing to find a buyer or investors willing to provide financing. Its investors included Hubert Burda Media, which invested $30m in 2015, shortly after forming a strategic partnership with Mode.

People

Imperial Create Lab, the innovation community of Imperial College London and its Imperial Innovations investment arm, revealed a host of changes: Mark Hammond and Dominic Falcão have left to focus on their incubator Deep Science Ventures. Falcão had been manager of Imperial Create Lab from September 2013. Hammond had been director since January 2012.

Also at Create Lab, Jack Owen, ecosystem builder since January 2016, left to become a postgraduate talent associate at incubator Entrepreneur First, which, as you might remember, closed a $53.7m fund backed by Imperial College London two weeks ago. The new Create Lab team will be made up of Liz Choonara, who has also Imperial College’s enterprise development manager since 2014, and Lauren Dennis, communications and activities intern.

Hearst Ventures president George Kliavkoff has departed to take the chief executive position at virtual reality content developer Jaunt.

And Rich Flynn, who stepped down from his position as president of Apollo Education Ventures in April, has joined Tyton Partners as managing director.

Law and policy

After German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble blocked a startup boosting bill several months ago, the government has now agreed to provide tax breaks to VC investors, making it possible for them to reclaim potential losses.


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

9 May 2016 – Ford invests in Pivotal Software, Chehejai gets charged up, Adobe buys RayVio, Lenovo establishes a fund and many people moves

Investments

Ford led a $253m round for Pivotal Software, a spinout of EMC and VMWare. These two corporates also joined the most recent round, alongside Microsoft and existing backer GE.

Chehejia is now $120m better off after investors including water pump producer Leo Group injected capital.

A deal that was simultaneously the biggest for Global Government Venturing and one of the largest on Global Corporate Venturing is Farfetch’s $100m series F round.

On Global University Venturing, the week’s most significant deal was Boston spinout RayVio, which closed a $26m series C round featuring semiconductor manufacturing equipment producer Applied Materials through its corporate venturing arm Applied Ventures.

Exits

Adobe originally backed content curator Livefyre as part of a $32m series D early last year and has obviously been so impressed it’s now acquired the company outright – a decision that allows Salesforce to exit.

Over on GGV, 3D printing designs marketplace Pinshape has been purchased by 3D printers manufacturer Formlabs, giving an exit to investors such as BDC Capital, the investment arm of government-owned Business Development Bank of Canada, who had contributed to Pinshape’s $850,000 seed funding.

Ecomachines Ventures has decided to sell its stake in Warwick spinout Recycling Technologies to an unnamed private investor.

Funds

Lenovo established a $500m corporate venturing fund dubbed Lenovo Capital that will seek out up to 20 investees per year. That’s in addition to plans to spin out up to 10 startups this year.

Heritage Group has received $220m for its latest Healthcare Innovation Fund, which has the rare privilege of being entirely backed by 15 strategic investors in the form of regional US care systems.

Over on GGV then, we have news that sovereign wealth funds now hold $6.51 trillion in total assets.

On the university side, the largest fund this week is a $6m vehicle set up by a graduate of UC Berkeley.

People

On GCV, news emerged that 7-Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of retailer 7-Eleven, is in limbo following the departure of its two co-founders Rob Chumley and Raja Doddala.

Derek Norman has stepped up to take over from Alex Steel as head of agricultural company Syngenta’s investment unit. Norman has been selected for the GCV Rising Stars 2016 list, and we recommend heading on over to globalcorporateventuring.com to read more about his impressive career.

Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, the corporate venturing subsidiary of Merck & Co, has hired Francesca Domenech Wuttke as a managing director.

And then we have Paul Ark, who’s been appointed head of venture capital for SCB Ventures, the $50m strategic investment fund formed by Thailand-based financial services firm Siam Commercial Bank.

Daniel Balmisse moves on from his executive director role at BPIfrance to join Cathay Capital Private Equity as its chief operating officer.

Temasek has reshuffled its firm significantly following internal restructuring and the establishment of new units. The appointments include Chia Song Hwee and Dilhan Pillay as presidents and Fidah Alsagoff, Michael Buchanan, Png Chin Yee and Juliet Teo as senior managing directors.

Duke University has appointed Robin Rasor as new director of its Office of Licensing and Ventures from July 1st. Rasor comes from Michigan University where she was managing director of licensing within the university’s Office of Technology Transfer.


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