21 June 2021 – Waymo Drives $2.5bn Investment

The Big Ones

Waymo, the autonomous driving technology developer spun off by Alphabet, has raised $2.5bn in funding from investors including its former parent company. AutoNation and Magna International also took part in the round, as did group Fidelity Management & Research, Mubadala, Temasek, Andreessen Horowitz, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Perry Creek Capital, Silver Lake, Tiger Global Management and funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price. The company reportedly closed its first external funding round at $3.2bn in July 2020, at a $30bn valuation, having pulled in $750m from investors including Fidelity, Perry Creek Capital and funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price two months earlier. Alphabet, Magna, AutoNation, Silver Lake, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Mubadala Investment Company and Andreessen Horowitz had supplied $2.25bn for Waymo in March the same year.

US-based venture capital firm G2 Venture Partners (G2VP) has closed its Fund II at $500m with commitments from Shell, Mitsui, Daimler and ABB Switzerland. The McKnight Foundation and John Doerr, chairman of VC firm Kleiner Perkins, reportedly also committed to the fund. Shell contributed through its corporate venturing arm, Shell Ventures. It was also a limited partner in G2VP’s inaugural fund, which was sized at $350m. G2VP was founded in 2017 as a spinoff from Kleiner Perkins’ Green Growth fund. It focuses on companies developing emerging technologies that could accelerate sustainable transformation in traditional industries.

Marqeta, a US-based card-issuing platform developer backed by CommerzBank, CreditEase, Visa and Mastercard, has closed its initial public offering at approximately $1.41bn. The company raised an initial $1.22bn in the offering last week, issuing 45.5 million class A shares on the Nasdaq Global Select Market priced at $27 each. Its shares are currently (that’s Friday afternoon UK time) for $29.43 each, and the underwriters have taken up the option to buy more than 6.8 million more shares. The IPO followed over $526m in funding for the company.

This isn’t a crossover (although there actually were several worth more than $100m last week – check our websites for more on those), but this one’s too interesting to skip just because there aren’t any CVCs. Celonis, a Germany-based business process analytics software spinout of Technical University of Munich (TUM), has raised $1bn in a series D round co-led by Durable Capital Partners and funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price Associates. What makes this one special isn’t so much the size of the round (as impressive as that is, obviously) but that it valued Celonis at $11bn post-money, making it Germany’s first decacorn. Celonis has now raised nearly $1.37bn in funding altogether. The spinout fetched a $2.5bn valuation when it raised $290m in a series C round led by Arena Holdings, and – almost as notable as being the first decacorn in the country – Celonis also became TUM’s first unicorn when it closed a $50m series B round backed by Accel and 83North in June 2018. How’s that for a European success story?

Deals

China-based semiconductor technology developer Horizon Robotics has raised $1.5bn in series C7 funding from electronic parts manufacturer BOE Technology and chipmaker Will Semiconductor. The round was secured at a $5bn valuation, and it came after a $300m series C6 round at an unspecified time that included Legend Capital, Huangpu River Capital and unnamed others.

Byju’s, an India-based online learning portal backed by Bennett Coleman & Co, Naspers and Tencent, has secured Rs 25bn ($340m) in funding. UBS Group, Blackstone, Abu Dhabi government-backed ADQ and Phoenix Rising–Beacon Holdings as well as Eric Yuan all took part in the round. The cash injection is part of a $1.5bn round Byju’s began raising in April this year, sources privy to the matter told the Economic Times, and it valued the company at $16.5bn post-money.

US-based graph technology provider Neo4J received $325m in a series F round featuring GV. Private equity firm Eurazeo led the round at a valuation exceeding $2bn, and DTCP, the investment firm backed by Deutsche Telekom, also took part, as did One Peak, Creandum, Greenbridge Partners and Lightrock. The company was founded in 2007 as Neo Technology and has now raised $515m.

ApplyBoard, the Canada-based international student facilitation service that counts educational services firm Educational Testing Service (ETS) as an investor, has confirmed a C$375m ($308m) series D round. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board led the round through its Teachers’ Innovation Platform, and it included investment and financial services group Fidelity in addition to BDC, Harmonic Growth Partners, Index Ventures, Garage Capital and Blue Cloud Ventures. The company’s confirmation came in the wake of media reports a week earlier suggesting it had raised $230m in the round, which it said this week valued it at $3.2bn post-money.

Chehaoduo, the China-based automotive e-commerce marketplace backed by SoftBank, Tencent and Shougang, has closed a $300m funding round valuing it at $10bn. H Capital led the round, which also featured Sequoia Capital China, IDG Capital and Chehaoduo founder and CEO Yang Haoyong. The company’s overall equity funding now stands at about $3.8bn. It was spun off by online classified listings operator Ganji in 2015.

Thumbtack, the US-headquartered operator of a home renovation services marketplace, has raised $275m from investors including CapitalG, the growth equity arm of Alphabet. Sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority led the round, which also featured Blackstone’s Alternative Asset Management subsidiary, G Squared, Baillie Gifford, Founders Circle Capital, Sequoia Capital and Tiger Global Management. The round valued the company at $3.2bn. The latest round boosted the company’s overall funding to $697m.

Yaoshibang, the China-based operator of a supply chain platform for the pharmaceutical industry, has raised $270m in funding from investors including internet group Baidu. Zhejiang Pearl River Investment Management, Green Pine Capital Partners and Guangzhou City Construction Investment’s SF Fund also participated in the round, along with unnamed insurance firms and sovereign wealth funds. It was facilitated by China Renaissance.

Funds

Flagship Pioneering, a US-based biotechnology venture studio that regularly taps into university research to build companies such as Moderna, has raised another $2.23bn for its Fund VII from new and existing limited partners, bringing the vehicle to $3.37bn. It reopened the fund to additional capital in April this year but didn’t identify the LPs. Flagship now has $14.1bn in assets under management and is operating with an aggregate capital pool of $6.7bn. It has launched more than 100 ventures since its founding, with a current portfolio of 41 companies.

Exits

UK-based clean aircraft developer Vertical Aerospace has agreed to a reverse takeover with special purpose acquisition company Broadstone Acquisition Corp that will be backed by American Airlines, Avolon, Honeywell, Rolls-Royce, Standard Industries’ 40 North vehicle and Microsoft’s M12 unit. The merged business will be valued at $2.2bn and will take up the listing on the New York Stock secured by Broadstone through a $300m initial public offering in September 2020.

Kanzhun, a China-based online job portal operator backed by internet group Tencent and insurance firm Sunshine Life, has floated in a $912m initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. The company issued 48 million American depositary shares, each representing two ordinary shares, priced at the top of the IPO’s $17 to $19 range. As we’re recording this on Friday afternoon UK time, shares are going for $38.

Monday.com, the US-based software development platform operator that now counts Salesforce and Zoom as investors, has closed its initial public offering at $631m. The corporates each purchased $75m of shares in a private placement alongside the offering, which involved Monday issuing an initial 3.7 million shares on the Nasdaq Global Select Market a week ago priced at $155 each. The underwriters subsequently took up the option to buy another 370,000 shares to close the offering. As we’re recording this on Friday afternoon UK time, shares are priced at $230.96.

Lyell Immunopharma, a US-based immunotherapy developer which counts GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Celgene as investors, has raised $425m in its initial public offering. The company issued 25 million shares on the Nasdaq Global Market at a price of $17 each, the mid-point of the offering’s $16 to $18 range. Its shares closed at $16.89 at the end of the first day. Lyell had raised $834m across just three rounds since it was founded in 2018. GSK has walked away with a 12.5% stake post-IPO, while Celgene’s retained 4.5%.

Verve Therapeutics, a US-based cardiovascular disease therapy developer advancing Broad Institute and University of Pennsylvania research, has gone public in a $267m initial public offering representing exits Alphabet and Novo. The offering consists of just over 14 million shares issued on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, increased from 11.8 million and priced at $19.00 each, above the $16 to $18 range set for the offering. The IPO price valued the company at approximately $876m.

Wise, the UK-based operator of a cross-border capital transfer service, plans to launch a direct listing that would give conglomerate Mitsui a chance to sell its shares. The company plans to list on the London Stock Exchange. Formerly known as TransferWise, Wise runs an online platform that allows users to send money internationally without paying exorbitant fees typically associated with international bank transfers. Wise last raised primary funding in 2017 but was valued at $5bn in a $319m secondary share sale in July 2020.


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

09 March 2020 – Waymo Secures $2.25bn in Initial Close of First External Round

The Big Ones

Waymo began life in Alphabet’s secretive Google X division but has now fully emerged as a standalone company, securing $2.25bn from investors including AutoNation, Magna International and Alphabet itself – an amount it said only represents the initial close of its first external round. No official word on valuation but Morgan Stanley analysts estimated its value at $105bn as of September. What this means for Alphabet portfolio company Uber, which is testing its own driverless car tech, remains to be seen.

Insurance providers Aflac, Sumitomo Life and Nürnberger have contributed to the $90m initial close of an insurance technology-focused fund being raised by UK-based venture capital firm Anthemis. Founded in 2010, Anthemis now has more than $500m in assets under management and more than 100 portfolio companies in the financial technology sector, about a third of which are insurance-related. The fund is expected to reach a final close later in 2020, according to Reuters. Aflac invested through its corporate venturing subsidiary, Aflac Global Ventures, and fellow insurer Daido Life Insurance Company is involved with the fund as an associate. Anthemis Insurance Venture Growth Fund I will invest in later-stage insurance tech businesses, beyond the traditional pre-seed to series B remit of earlier Anthemis funds.

Equinix has closed the acquisition of bare-metal automation technology provider Packet initially announced in January. The purchase price is $335m and the deal comes in the wake of just $36m in funding. That’s good news for SoftBank, which led Packet’s series A round, in addition to fellow corporate investors Dell Technologies Capital, JA Mitsui and Samsung Next.

In crossover news. Element Science has raised a sliver over $145m in a series C round that included GV, which was listed as an existing investor. Element is the developer of a wearable defibrillator for cardiac patients transferring from the hospital to their home. The round was co-led by Deerfield Healthcare and Qiming Venture Partners USA and it boosted Element’s overall funding to at least $183m. The company’s founder, president and chief executive is Uday Kumar, adjunct professor in bioengineering at Stanford University. He previously founded iRhythm Technologies, the developer of arrhythmia diagnostics technology that won the GUV Award for Exit of the Year in 2017 – and whose stock has nearly quadrupled since its IPO to give the company a current market cap of $2.6bn.

Deals

Beike Xhaofang was reported in December to be mulling over an initial public offering to raise up to $1bn, but the online property rental platform had apparently already raised more than $2.4bn in a series D-plus round punctuated by a $1bn investment from SoftBank. The round also featured existing investor Tencent and valued the company (also known as Ke.com) in excess of $14bn.

Quibi is gearing up for the launch of its short-form online streaming platform next month and has closed $750m in new financing from undisclosed new and existing investors. The new funding took Quibi’s overall equity financing to $1.75bn, the company having previously revealed Alibaba, Sony, 21st Century Fox, Walt Disney, WarnerBros, Entertainment One and WndrCo among its backers.

Immunocore has completed a $130m series B round that included WuXi AppTec’s corporate VC fund and existing investor Eli Lilly. A media report in September suggested the round was set to value the immuno-oncology molecule developer, a spinoff from MediGene, at about $625m. That sounds good until you factor in the reported $1bn valuation at which it last raised money, through a $320m round in 2015. Immunocore was spun out of biotech firm Medigene in 2008 to commercialise aspects of Avidex technology, the latter having been spun out of University of Oxford in 1999. A sister company, Adaptimmune, was formed concurrently to market other Avidex assets.

Novartis Venture Fund and Partners Innovation Fund have taken part in a $105m series B round for Akouos, which is developing precision genetic medicines to combat hearing loss. Both participated as existing backers, Novartis having been an investor since the company’s $7.5m seed round three years ago.

Immuno-oncology continues to be a strong area of life sciences, with Akrevia Therapeutics having closed a $100.5m series B round announced alongside its rebranding to Xilio Therapeutics. The round was led by Takeda Ventures and included three more corporate venturing subsidiaries of pharmaceutical firms: M Ventures, Ipsen Ventures and MRL Ventures Fund.

Pliant Therapeutics, a US-based fibrosis therapy developer based on research at University of California (UC), San Francisco, has raised $100m in a series C round led by pharmaceutical firm Novartis. Venture capital firm Third Rock Ventures formed Pliant in 2016 to advance research conducted at UC San Francisco by professors Dean Sheppard, Bill DeGrado and Hal Chapman together with associate professor Bradley Backes. The company’s now raised $207m altogether.

Thought Machine has created a cloud banking platform intended to comprehensively replace legacy banking IT systems. Its customers include Lloyds Banking Group, which has also participated in the company’s $83m series B round, making it the latest UK-based fintech developer to raise substantial funding. It is channelling the capital into its ongoing international expansion, which is currently focused on the Asia Pacific region.

Japan-based lithium-ion battery developer APB has raised ¥8bn ($74.4m) in today from investors including Keio Innovation Initiative (KII), a joint venture capital vehicle for Keio University and securities brokerage Nomura Holdings. Industrial, mining and petroleum group JXTG Holdings took part through subsidiary JXTG Innovation Partners while coal chemistry technology provider JFE Chemical, construction firm Obayashi Corporation, textile manufacturer Teijin and industrial technology producers Nagase & Co and Yokogawa Electric invested directly. The company was founded in October 2018 through a partnership between KII and Keio University professor Hideaki Horie.

Quantum computing technology developer Rigetti Computing is well on the way to its next round, having accumulated $71m for a targeted close of $83.9m, according to a securities filing. The company has now disclosed a total of $190m in funding and its earlier backers include Bloomberg Beta, which invested in its $24m series A round.

Funds

Mandatum Life, the insurance subsidiary of financial services group Sampo, has contributed to the €30m ($32.6m) first close for an insurance technology-focused fund formed by Finland-based venture capital firm Innovestor. B2B Industrial Technology Fund has an expected ceiling of €100m and its other limited partners include unnamed institutional investors, family offices and individual backers. It expects to begin investing as early as the second quarter of 2020.

Exits

Accolade, the developer of a digital concierge designed to help users navigate the healthcare benefits system, has filed for a $100m initial public offering that will give corporate backers Comcast, Humana, McKesson Ventures and Independence Health Group the opportunity to exit. The company has raised more than $194m in financing since being founded in 2007.

Oric Pharmaceuticals is the latest oncology therapeutics developer to file for an initial public offering and is targeting $86.3m in the IPO. Taiho, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Hartford HealthCare are in line for exits, having all contributed to a $55.7m series D round last August that pushed Oric’s total funding past $175m.

Artificial intelligence chip producer Cambricon Technologies has applied to list on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s Star Market, in an initial public offering that will give corporate backers Alibaba, Lenovo, Zhongke Tuling Century Beijing Technology and iFlytek a chance to exit. The company has raised at least $200m in funding and was valued at $2.5bn in its last round, a 2018 series B.


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

18 March 2019 – Uber Lines Up $1bn in External Capital

The Big Ones

Uber is lining up at least $1bn in external capital for its autonomous car division. SoftBank Vision Fund and Toyota, both of which are already investors in Uber itself, are among the consortium that is in advanced talks to supply the cash. Uber is reportedly seeking a $5bn to $10bn valuation in the round.

Waymo has been operating as part of Alphabet predecessor Google since 2009 and was established as a dedicated subsidiary in 2016. Now, the autonomous driving technology developer is seeking external funding for the first time, and while we don’t know a figure quie yet, it will reportedly be at a valuation far higher than the $15bn it was said to be valued at in the past.

SoftBank revealed in January that it was relaunching its SoftBank Ventures Korea unit as SoftBank Ventures Asia with an expanded remit to invest in the US and Europe as well as all over Asia, and now its CEO JP Lee has revealed that it will also make use of a $500m capital injection.

Deals

Film and TV studio STX Entertainment launched in 2014, raising an undisclosed amount in a Tencent and PCCW-backed round two years later at a $1.5bn valuation. Now, it’s added $700m in debt and equity financing from private equity investors that will fund the expansion of its film production rate as well as strategic acquisitions.

SIG subsidiary Susquehanna Growth Equity is part of a group of investors that have spent $280m to buy shares in work management software provider WorkFront through a secondary share purchase. The company had previously raised $95m in equity financing, and SGE director Martin Anger will take a board seat in conjunction with its investment.

Content delivery network operator Cloudflare has meanwhile raised $150m in a Franklin Templeton-led series E round that took its overall funding to $332m.

Indian freight shipping marketplace BlackBuck has been raising money for its latest round since October and has reportedly set a $100m to $150m target for its close.

Kaplan-backed educational content provider Newsela has meanwhile received $50m from TCV in the form of a series C investment.

Funds

Harvard University has announced a partnership with investment firm Deerfield Management to launch a $100m research and development initiative that will focus on the development and translation of biomedical and life science research.

Exits

Cannabis producer and services provider Verano has agreed to an $850m all-share acquisition by competitor Harvest Health and Recreation, in a deal that will qualify as an exit for cannabinoid therapy developer Scythian Biosciences.

Application delivery technology provider Nginx has raised a little over $100m in funding but has agreed to a $670m acquisition by F5 that will enable Telstra Ventures to exit.

Salesforce Ventures and M12 are set to exit machine learning software developer Figure Eight in an acquisition by AI dataset provider Appen that may total $300m.

Africa-focused online marketplace Jumia has filed for a $100m initial public offering in the US that would follow flotations by other Rocket Internet-founded e-commerce platforms.

Abiomed and Trudell Medical-backed Shockwave Medical, the developer of a calcification treatment system, has raised $97m in its initial public offering.


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