22 March 2021 – Stripe Raises $600m with a $95bn Valuation

The Big Ones

Payment processing software provider Stripe has raised $600m from investors including Axa and Allianz X, but the key element to the story is its valuation, which has rocketed from an already huge $36bn less than a year ago to $95bn in the latest round. It’s another symptom of the surging fintech sector, even though Stripe has not mentioned IPO plans. Its earlier corporate investors are Alphabet unit CapitalG, Sumitomo Mitsui Card Company, Visa and American Express.

The drama surrounding Ant Group’s failed IPO late last year combined with Donald Trump’s exit as US president may well have served to pull more China-based tech companies to the latter country for their IPOs. Tencent-backed internet-of-things technology provider Tuya has reportedly priced its IPO above the range and will bag $915m when it floats on the New York Stock Exchange. Tencent itself has expressed interest in buying some $100m of shares in the offering.

South Korea-based conglomerate SK Group has teamed up with Chinese automotive manufacturer Zhejiang Geely Holding Group to establish a mobility technology fund with a $300m target for its final close. The corporates are each putting in $30m and will look to harness European banks and Asian pension funds among other external backers in order to raise the rest of the capital.

Crossover

Vaccitech, the UK-based developer of vaccines for infectious diseases and cancer spun out of University of Oxford famous for co-inventing the covid-19 vaccine with AstraZeneca, closed a $168m series B round backed by Oxford Sciences Innovation, Future Planet Capital, Tencent, Gilead Sciences and Monaco Constitutional Reserve Fund. The round was led by M&G Investment Management. Vaccitech actually started out with the aim of developing a universal flu vaccine, and its clinical pipeline now includes assets aimed at chronic hepatitis B infection, persistent, high-risk human papillomavirus infection and prostate cancer. It will use the series B capital to advance each of these three assets through phase 1/2 trials. Vaccitech’s earlier backers include GV, which did not return for the series B round, however.

Deals

Gene, cell and regenerative therapy developer ElevateBio has raised $525m in a series C round that found space for SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2, Itochu and an unnamed insurance provider. The round was led by investment management firm Matrix Capital Management and it pumped ElevateBio’s overall funding up to $845m since it publicly launched less than two years ago.

Robert Bosch, SAIC Motor and Toyota have co-led a $500m series C round for another Chinese tech company, autonomous driving software developer Momenta. The transaction also featured Tencent and Mercedes-Benz and it’s one of several huge rounds for mobility and transport technology developers so far in 2021, a sign that investors expect the sector to continue to progress in the coming years.

GV and SoftBank Investment Advisers, which manages over $100bn in capital for SoftBank’s Vision Funds, have contributed to a $400m series C round for drug discovery technology provider Insitro. The round boosted Insitro’s funding to more than $640m and it is emblematic of the new breed of tech-enhanced drug developers getting investment right now, with GV among the most fervent backers.

PatSnap, the operator of a cloud platform that collates investment and innovation data, is a company with a business model which has benefitted from the general rise in the market, and has pulled in $300m through a series E round co-led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Tencent. Both are of course among the most active corporate venture capital investors, which implies a strategic element to their participation in the round, which reportedly valued PatSnap at over $1bn.

Airtable has more than doubled its valuation to $5.77bn, raising $270m in series E funding from investors including media holding company WndrCo. The database software producer plans to channel the proceeds into improving its platform and strengthening its sales and marketing activities. Its overall funding is now around the $620m mark.

SecurityScorecard completed its $180m series E round, snatching up funding from investors including Intel Capital, Axa Venture Partners and GV – all existing backers – at a valuation reportedly just short of $1bn. The round boosted the cybersecurity ratings provider’s total funding to $290m, and at a time when data management software providers are raising big money, it shows the importance of securing that high-grade data in the first place.

Unite Us on the other hand has reached the unicorn stage, raising $150m in series C funding from investors including Optum Ventures and Salesforce Ventures at a valuation topping $1.6bn. The company provides a cloud platform that enables healthcare providers to coordinate treatment more effectively, and it has now received more than $195m altogether.

Identity verification software provider Socure has also breached that unicorn barrier, in a $100m series D round backed by Synchrony Financial, Citi Ventures and Wells Fargo Strategic Capital that valued it at $1.3bn. Socure has so far been mainly focused on customers in the financial services sector but will use the proceeds from the round to expand into other fields.

Funds

Andre Maciel, former managing partner at telecommunications and internet group SoftBank’s $5bn Latin America-focused fund, has extended the first close of his independent venture capital firm’s first fund to $80m. Maciel, along with Gregory Reider and Milena Oliveira, set up Brazil-headquartered Volpe Capital in 2019 with SoftBank’s backing. Its first fund also has investment bank BTG Pactual and digital bank Banco Inter as limited partners, according to TechCrunch. Maciel led an investment by SoftBank in Banco Inter he said delivered about $1bn in profits for the corporate.

Canada-based biotechnology product maker Natural Products Canada (NPC) plans to raise C$50m ($39.5m) for a cleantech corporate venturing fund called NPC Ventures. The company has secured a non-binding term sheet with an undisclosed anchor investor for the vehicle, which will invest in producers of natural alternatives to synthetic products such as plastics and preservatives. NPC Ventures aims to complete its first close in autumn 2021.

Exits

Robinhood may have had much of the publicity in recent months but it’s far from the only big player in the online share trading world. Competitor eToro has more than 20 million registered users and has agreed to list on the Nasdaq Capital Market through a reverse takeover with special purpose acquisition company FinTech Acquisition Corp V in a deal that will value it at about $9.5bn pre-transaction, and the combined company at approximately $10.4bn. It last disclosed primary funding three years ago when it raised $100m at an $800m valuation, following a $39m round featuring corporate VC units CommerzVentures, Ping An Ventures and SBT Venture Capital in 2015. That’s some exit.

Megvii has filed to go public, and the computer vision and deep learning software producer could reportedly raise up to $923m in the offering, slated to take place on Shanghai Stock Exchange’s Star Market, after fees. Its investors include Alibaba, Foxconn, Legend Star and SK Group, and its largest rival, SenseTime, closed a round described as pre-IPO funding two months ago.

Olo, the developer of a software platform that helps restaurants accept online orders, is going public in a $450m initial public offering that follows roughly $65m in equity funding. Some of that cash came from PayPal, a participant in a $5m round in 2013, and the now profitable company was boosted by a big 2020 that saw it almost double revenue. The offering was priced above a range that had been increased earlier this week.

Digital banking software provider Alkami has also filed for an initial public offering, setting a placeholder figure of $100m. The move comes six months after the company raised $140m from backers including investment and financial services group Fidelity, and a Reuters report earlier this year suggested it would seek a $3bn valuation when it looked to go public.


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

11 January 2021 – Online Tutoring Platform Zuoyebang Raises $1.6bn Series E

The Big Ones

One of the big shifts in 2020 was the surge in educational technology providers, with China leading the way. That was before a flurry of large rounds in the space right before the end of the year, the biggest being a $1.6bn series E round for online tutoring platform developer Zuoyebang that included Alibaba and SoftBank Vision Fund 1. Zuoyebang’s overall funding now stands at roughly $2.9bn, some 80% of which has come in the past seven months.

Andre Maciel, former managing partner at Japan-headquartered telecommunications and internet group SoftBank’s $5bn Latin America-focused fund, has raised $50m for the first close of an independent venture capital firm. Maciel set up Volpe Capital in 2019 with SoftBank’s backing, and its first fund also has investment bank BTG Pactual as a cornerstone limited partner. Marcelo Claure, head of SoftBank LatAm, and the $5bn fund’s managing partners, Paulo Passoni and Shu Nyattta, have also invested in the fund. Volpe Capital plans to invest in up to 20 early stage companies at series A stage, with a primary focus on the Brazilian market, according to regional trade body Lavca.

SoFi has come a long way since it started as a student loan refinancing specialist, having expanded into a multi-pronged financial services platform that offers lending, investment and insurance products. The company, which has raised some $2.4bn from investors including SoftBank and Renren, has also agreed a reverse merger with a SPAC called Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp V and will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The deal will be boosted by $1.2bn in PIPE financing and the merged company will be valued at $8.65bn once the deal closes, double the valuation at which SoFi last raised money.

On GUV, the biggest deal was Hinge Health, a US-based digital therapeutics company backed by commercialisation firm IP Group, which closed a $300m series D round co-led by Coatue Management and Tiger Global. The round valued Hinge at $3bn. Founded in 2014, Hinge Health has built a digital healthcare platform for people living with chronic musculoskeletal conditions, such as back and joint pain. The offering consists of an app, wearable sensors and access to remote health coaching to deliver physical and behavioural health therapy. Hinge Health was co-founded by chief executive Daniel Perez, who gained a PhD in medical sciences from University of Oxford in 2013, and president Gabriel Mecklenburg, who obtained an MPhil in bioengineering from Imperial College London in 2014. But the company was only founded after both had graduated and worked together at Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable, an organisation looking to connect academia with industry since 2011.

Deals

B2B e-commerce marketplace Udaan has pulled in $280m from investors including Tencent for the second tranche of a series D round now standing at $865m. Tencent also took part in the round’s 2019 first close, as did Citi Ventures, and the extra funding came at a $3.1bn post-money valuation. Its overall funding has been increased to $1.15bn.

Online food delivery and restaurant listings platform developer Zomato has pulled in $660m through a series J round valuing it at $3.9bn post-money. Info Edge and Ant Financial, the two corporates that have historically been its two key investors, do not however appear to have participated in the round, the funding coming from Fidelity, Tiger Global Management, Luxor Capital, Kora Management, D1 Capital Partners, Baillie Gifford, Mirae Asset and Steadview Capital.

Cloud cybersecurity platform developer Lacework has closed $525m in funding from investors including Snowflake Ventures, which provided $20m, and existing backer Liberty Global Ventures. The company had previously raised less than $75m but said it increased revenue 300% in 2020, and that big jump in funding is indicative of how the ongoing public markets tech boom is having an impact further down the pyramid.

As 2020 drew to a close, game creation platform developer Roblox had put its initial public offering on hold, citing erratic post-IPO share movement of other tech companies. Now we can see what the results are. Roblox has secured $520m in a series H round featuring Warner Music Group valuing it at $29.5bn – a more than sevenfold increase on the $4bn valuation in its series G round under a year ago. The company has also revealed it’s eschewing an IPO in favour of a direct listing, which suggests it really wasn’t happy with its underwriters for the offering.

DXY, the Chinese operator of an online medical community, has completed a $500m round featuring Tencent Investment, at the end of a year when it established a real-time information service covering covid-19 that aimed to combat harmful rumours. Tencent had originally invested $70m in DXTY through a 2014 round that preceded a $100m series D round four years later.

Chinese AI chipmaker Horizon Robotics secured $150m in series C funding just last month but has already added $400m in a series C2 round co-led by lithium-ion battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology. Recent reports suggested the company was targeting a total of $700m across multiple tranches, its earlier backers including Intel Capital and SK Global subsidiaries SK China and SK Hynix.

Grab is one of two big players in Southeast Asia’s on-demand ride market, and it has also been arguably the quickest in the sector worldwide to expand into other areas. It has reportedly raised $300m for Grab Financial Group, a spinoff that encompasses a range of financial services including digital payment technology, lending, insurance and investment management. Conglomerate Hanwha is leading the round through its Hanwha Asset Management subsidiary.

Chinese AI chipmaker Enflame Technology has raised $279m in the biggest round announced so far this year. Enflame produces artificial intelligence chips for data centres and has now secured a total of over $470m since it was founded in 2018. Tencent, which participated in the $279m series C round, has backed it in all four rounds it has disclosed.

Aeva develops lidar sensor technology for use in autonomous driving systems, and two months ago it agreed a reverse merger with a SPAC called InterPrivate Acquisition Corp set to value it at about $2.1bn once the deal closed. Now the company, which is backed by Porsche and Lockheed Martin, has agreed a $200m investment by one of InterPrivate’s shareholders, technology investment firm Sylebra Capital, that will close when the other deal does. It’s an interesting symptom of the ongoing public markets boom.

Divvy is the developer of an offering that combines business expense management software with smart credit cards, helping companies track and manage their expenses and spending. It has secured $165m in a series D round featuring Hanaco and PayPal Ventures at a $1.6bn valuation. The round increased Divvy’s overall funding to $410m, $200m of which came in a 2019 series C round.

Dremio, developer of a data management platform for data lake storage, has received $135m in series D funding from backers including Cisco Investments at a $1bn valuation. The corporate also took part in Dremio’s $70m series C round 10 months ago, and the latest round boosted its total funding to $250m. We’ve had a host of big enterprise software IPOs over the past year or two, but it looks as if the next wave of unicorns in the space is emerging.

Antibody therapy developer Boan Biotech has raised $106m from investors including Bank of China’s BOCG investment vehicle at a pre-money valuation a touch over $750m. The company was founded in 2013 and acquired by Luye Pharma Group six years later, the latest round representing the first it has closed since then.

Funds

US-based sports franchises the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers have backed an impact investment fund for minority-run startups. The franchises committed to Equity League as “a new impact investment division of venture capital fund TitletownTech,” alongside software producer Microsoft.

Exits

Arvelle Therapeutics was spun off in 2019 by drug developer Axovant to commercialise an epilepsy drug licensed from pharmaceutical company SK Biopharmaceuticals. The company bagged $208m in series A and project funding last year but its investors will exit after Angelini Pharma agreed to acquire it in a deal that could hit $960m. SK Bio will also get a nice return from its 12% stake in Arvelle.


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