14 October 2019 – Oyo in $1.5bn Series F Round

The Big Ones

Short-term accommodation platform Oyo is reportedly in the process of raising $1.5bn in series F funding at a $10bn valuation. Existing investor SoftBank is also set to take part in the round but the big news is that Oyo co-founder and CEO Ritesh Agarwal plans to put up a whopping $700m of the cash. Given that the only collateral Agarwal could likely put forward to get that kind of financing is his existing stake in Oyo, that obviously raises all kinds of questions, not least with the increased scrutiny around founder behaviour right now.

The IPO market appears to be slowing down, what with We Company and Postmates both withdrawing their initial public offerings, and immuno-oncology drug developer BioNTech – a spinout of Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz – hasn’t done brilliantly either. It went public in a $150m IPO that involved it floating at the bottom of its range while also cutting the number of shares. Despite that, Pfizer, Eli Lilly and Sanofi – all development partners – will score exits through the offering.

Ginkgo Bioworks – itself an MIT spinout – has already spun out two companies, Joyn Bio and Motif Foodworks, which have raised decent sums of money, but now the custom microbe developer has formed a $350m vehicle specifically to fund other spinouts.

Deals

Chime is one of a string of digital banks that have sprung up in recent years and claims to be the fastest growing, increasing the number of accounts it oversees from 3 million in March to 5 million in September.

Zomato is locked in a battle with Swiggy for domination of India’s food delivery market, and just like Tencent-backed Swiggy, it has a major Chinese corporate providing cash. Ant Financial has invested more than $400m in Zomato and is reportedly in line to participate in a $600m round that would value it at up to $4bn.

Chinese tutoring platform VIPKid has confirmed it has raised money in a Tencent-led series E round, without confirming the size of that round. Recent media reports could give some clues on that front however, with $500m being put forward as an upper target and Tencent’s contribution placed around the $150m mark.

Lilium, a flying car developer spun out of Technical University of Munich, is also fundraising and is in talks with Tencent over a round that will reportedly be sized at $400m to $500m. Tencent contributed to Germany-based Lilium’s last round, a $90m series B, two years ago but the new funding will follow its unveiling of a working prototype of its vehicle in May.

Next Insurance has received $250m from Munich Re in the form of series C funding that will help the workplace insurance platform grow its business in the US. The round valued Next at more than $1bn and the deal increased Munich Re’s stake in the company to 27.5%.

It’s been a while since we last heard from Benlai, but the China-based grocery e-commerce has been busy expanding its service to hundreds of additional cities since its last round – a combined $117m series C and C+ from investors including Joyoung – in 2016.

SparkCognition has meanwhile collected $100m in a series C round backed by returning investor Boeing HorizonX and new investor Hearst Ventures, as well as 14 others (including Malcom Turnbull – yes, the former prime minister of Australia).

Arcellx is working on immune cell therapies to treat cancer, and has captured $85m in a series B round that included LG Technology Ventures and existing backers Novo, SR One and Takeda Ventures.

Funds

Petroleum supplier Petronas hasn’t been a significant venture capital investor yet but it appears to be making plans to change that. The corporate intends to pump up to $350m into a unit called Petronas Corporate Venture Capital that will fund companies developing tech in areas such as advanced materials, specialty chemicals and energy. It had already launched a $250m investment vehicle known as Piva in January.

Exits

GV made a hefty chunk of change by divesting part of its stake in Uber to a SoftBank-led consortium in late 2017 at a $48bn valuation, but CEO David Krane has disclosed that it may sell the rest once the post-IPO lock-up period expires next month.

Praktikertjänst-backed Aprea Therapeutics went public last week, picking up $85m in proceeds after pricing shares in the middle of the range at $15. It looks like the company may have underestimated the market, as shares shot up to $20.50 on the first day of trading and have continued to trade above the IPO price.

Vir Biotechnology is the latest company not to meet its IPO expectations, floating at the bottom of its range, but still raising $143m. SoftBank Vision Fund is the second largest shareholder of immunology therapy developer Vir, having pumped in at least $180m over two rounds.


“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

07 May 2018 – Tencent Leads $820m Series C for UBTech

Deals

Baidu has spun off the likes of Baidu Video and Zuoyebang in recent years, and video streaming platform iQiyi, in which Baidu owned a majority stake, raised $2.25bn in an IPO in March. The latest deal involves the corporate’s financial services subsidiary, Du Xiaoman, which has raised $1.9bn from investors including Taikang, $1bn of which will go straight to Baidu.

Tencent has led an $820m series C round for consumer robotics developer UBTech that valued it at about $5bn.

Online education has been one of the most notable growth areas in China’s VC space and things appear to be heating up. VIPKid, the operator of a tutoring platform that utilises international teachers, is reportedly looking to secure $500m at a $3bn valuation, double that at which it raised money in a Tencent-backed series C round just eight months ago.

Indian insurance comparison portal PolicyBazaar is close to raising $200m in a round that will be led by a $150m investment by SoftBank Vision Fund.

SF Express, the largest player in China’s logistics sector, has invested $100m in Flexport, the operator of a freight services platform that covers land, air and sea along with adjacent services.

SoundHound raised $75m from a corporate-heavy investor group early last year, and now it’s added $100m from Tencent, Daimler, Orange, Midea Group and Hyundai Motor Company at a reported valuation of more than $1bn.

Masterclass, the online education platform equipped with a host of famous teachers, is reportedly on its way to closing a $70m series D round.

Roivant Sciences raised $1.1bn in a SoftBank Vision Fund-led round last August with a brief to develop and launch a series of offshoot companies.

On GUV, Crescendo Biologics, a UK-based immunotherapy developer spun out from University of Cambridge, closed a $70m series B round that featured commercialisation firm IP Group as well as EMBL Ventures, the investment arm of European Molecular Biology Laboratory.

Funds

Microsoft Ventures has invested in some 50 companies since it relaunched itself as a corporate venturing vehicle two years ago, but has run into identity trouble with people confusing the unit with the similarly-named network of accelerators its parent continues to run around the world. Its solution has been to rebrand to M12, while the corporate’s accelerator initiative will be renamed Microsoft ScaleUp.

The city government of Jerusalem is looking to launch a $130m venture capital fund to support local biotech startups in areas including medical devices and pharmaceutical technology. The government’s contribution to the vehicle would amount to $5.5m at most, with the remainder supplied by private investors.

Exits

Flipkart’s board of directors has approved a deal whereby Walmart will pay approximately $15bn for a 75% stake, according to Bloomberg.

Medtronic spinoff Inspire Medical Systems has gone public in a $108m initial public offering that also represented an exit for Johnson & Johnson.

Consumer electronics and IoT technology provider Xiaomi has officially filed for an initial public offering in Hong Kong that sources told the South China Morning Post will be about $10bn in size, at a valuation of about $100bn.

Laser developer nLight has become the latest tech company to launch a successful IPO, floating above its range to raise $96m.

Mita, a US-based orthopaedic device spinout from University of Colorado, has been acquired by medical technology developer Stryker for an undisclosed sum.


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

28 August 2017 – VIPKid Closes Round with Reported $1.5bn Valuation

Funds

China Life and Baidu combine for $1bn fund

SparkLabs sets up $50m Seah-anchored fund

Kuppam’s Epsilon anticipates $350m close

Government

Monash BDI joins MRCF

Investments

SoftBank ploughs $4.4bn into WeWork

VIPKid is the latest participant to close a substantial round, pulling in $200m from investors including Tencent at a reported valuation of more than $1.5bn.

Deep learning chipset developer Cambricon has secured $100m in a series A round that included subsidiaries of Alibaba and Lenovo as well as robotics technology provider Zhongke Tuling Century Beijing Technology.

JD.com gets $100m to Go-Jek

Druva, a developer of cloud data management and protection software, raised $80m today in a round led by private equity firm Riverwood Capital that increased its overall funding to almost $200m.

Internet-of-things platform developer Cubic Telecom has raised $47m in a round featuring Qualcomm, Audi Electronics Venture and Valid Soluciones Tecnologicas that increased its overall funding to $88m.

Another data-oriented company, in-memory database platform developer Redis Labs, has meanwhile secured $44m in a series D round that included Dell Technologies Capital, representing the latter’s second deal in the space of a few days.

Behavioural health technology provider AbleTo has closed a $36.6m round featuring health insurer and long-term customer Aetna as well as healthcare provider Horizon Healthcare Services.

ZingBox, a developer of security technology for internet-of-things systems, has raised $22m in a series B round led by Dell Technologies Capital.

Saudi Aramco-backed online payment processing platform PayTabs has received $20m in funding from unnamed investors, and the capital will support a growth drive that will enable the Middle East-based company to expand into Africa, Europe and India.

Corporates dive into Immersv series A

University

IndoorAtlas spins another $4.3m in funding

Yahoo Japan has led a series B round for the University of Oulu spinout, which uses geomagnetic activity to detect an object’s location in a room.

Government

Sumdog fetches $1.8m

Exits

Accenture has exited digital testing and brand services provider Applause through an acquisition of undisclosed size by investment firm Vista Equity Partners. Accenture’s corporate venturing unit Accenture Ventures took part in Applause’s last round, a $35m series F last September that took the company’s total funding to about $115m.

Cisco has agreed to pay $320m to acquire hyperconvergence software provider Springpath, one of its portfolio companies since 2015.

According to a securities filing, Krystal Biotech raised just over $11m in its first round of funding last week, at least $7m of which came from pharmaceutical company Sun Pharmaceutical Industries.

Osram to switch on Digital Lumens acquisition

Avnet captures Dragon Innovation

ST Engineering subsidiary Vision Technologies Land Systems has agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to acquire Aethon, which has created an automated robotic delivery system for hospitals that transports items such as medication, meals and linen.

Smarsh captures Cognia in acquisition deal


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