21 October 2019 – SoftBank Prepares We Company Restructuring Deal

The Big Ones

The latest twist in the We Company/WeWork saga is that SoftBank, the largest shareholder in the workspace operator and also the investor that provided most of its late-stage funding, is preparing a restructuring deal that will involve it acquiring a majority stake while ensuring it has enough money to make it through the next 12 months.

Vice Media is dealing with a valuation cut of its own, having raised money from Lupa Systems, the investment holding vehicle for ex-21st Century Fox exec James Murdoch, at a $4bn valuation.

Fund-wise, Lakala Payment may have found itself forced to operate in the shadow of Ant Financial and Tencent’s WePay app, but the payment services firm floated in April, and is now looking to establish its own fintech investment fund.

And talking of new funds, we need to give a shoutout to Wendell Brooks of Intel Capital, who’s donated personal money to seed an up-to $20m philanthropic venture fund being raised by U-M Tech Transfer, the tech transfer office of University of Michigan, for its early-stage spinouts.

On GUV, Neil Woodford has had the worst week of his career yet as he was forced to admit the end is nigh for his fund management firm Woodford Investment Management. He also intends to leave the spinout-focused Woodford Patient Capital Trust (WPCT) and the recently-suspended Woodford Income Focus Fund – having been sacked from the flagship Equity Income Fund by its administrator Link Fund Solutions earlier last week.

Deals

Paytm is looking to cement its position near the top of Asia’s highest valued VC-backed companies and is close to raising $2bn in equity and debt financing at a reported $16bn valuation.

We’re likely to see edge computing turn up increasingly often on this site, and the latest startup to break out in the sector is Pensando Systems, which has emerged from stealth having raised a total of $278m. Pensando has just nabbed $145m in a series C round led by HPE at a reported $645m post-money valuation.

Digital invoicing technology developer and services provider Hainan Golden Technology has closed a $141m series B round led by Tencent that will fund research and development work, in areas such as big data, blockchain and cloud computing technology.

Algolia, a developer of online search software, has raised $110m in series C funding from investors including Salesforce Ventures to boost its total funding to approximately $184m.

Ant Financial has co-led a $100m series C round for Tsign, whose offering can probably be most easily described as ‘the Chinese DocuSign’. Gobi Capital and Eminence Ventures also participated in the round, which reportedly took the total raised by Tsign to at least $131m since it was founded in 2002.

Midu, a spinoff from Chinese news aggregation app developer Qutoutiao, has secured $100m in a CMC Capital-led series B round that included its parent company. Midu oversees online literature platforms Midu Novels and Midu Novels Lite, and is aiming to hit 10 million daily active users before the end of the year.

Pendo has raised its own nine-figure sum, securing $100m in a series E round that valued it at $1bn. The company’s technology helps developers build customer-friendly software, and the round boosted its overall funding to $206m in under five years.

Provivi is working on pesticides designed to prevent certain kinds of pests from mating without affecting the surrounding ecosystem, and has received $85m in series C funding from investors including BASF Venture Capital.

Small molecule cancer drug developer Cyteir Therapeutics, spun out of Jackson Laboratory, has added $40.2m to a series B round led by Novo that now totals $75.2m. Celgene also contributed to the extension, though neither corporate had been named as an investor when Cyteir closed the $29m first tranche early last year.

Level Home has emerged from stealth, making its invisible smart lock available for order and revealing $71m in funding from investors including Walmart, with which it also has a delivery partnership in place, and Lennar. Although the Level Lock is the company’s flagship product, it bills itself as a home automation technology provider, so expect to see its product range extended in future.

There hasn’t been a great deal going on in the electric vehicle sector of late, but electric chassis producer Motiv Power Systems has raised some money, in a $60m series B round co-led by RV producer Winnebago Industries.

Funds

China-based clinical development services provider Hangzhou Tigermed Consulting has committed up to $12m for a $62m biotech-focused fund dubbed TG Sino-Dragon Fund. The dollar-denominated vehicle will be co-sponsored by Singaporean government-owned investment firm Temasek and will target early to growth-stage opportunities in the biotech and contract research spaces.

Japan-based payment services firm Credit Saison is putting together a $55m corporate venturing fund called Saison Capital. The vehicle will invest at seed and series A stage and will concentrate on India and Southeast Asia-based developers of platforms or economic ecosystems that could potentially provide financial services for underbanked citizens, though it is officially sector-agnostic.

Cogna Educação, the Brazil-based educational services provider formerly known as Kroton Educacional, will launch a corporate venture capital arm in 2020 called Cogna Ventures.

Exits

Phathom Pharmaceuticals has licensed a gastrointestinal disease drug from Takeda and is advancing it towards regulatory approval in the US market. It also plans to float, and has set the terms for an initial public offering set to raise $158m if it floats at the top of its range.


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

03 June 2019 – Possible PhonePe Spinout from Flipkart in $1bn Deal

Big Ones

Right now it feels like we’re gearing up for another period of significant funding, if the rumour mill is anything to go by. Mobile payment platform PhonePe was acquired by Flipkart in 2016, the year after it was founded, but could now be spun back out in a round that could reportedly reach $1bn.

Life insurance firm Northwestern Mutual launched its $50m Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures unit in early 2017 and has since built up one of the more notable CVC portfolios for an insurer, adding the likes of Chime, Ojo Labs and Ladder to existing investments such as Betterment.

Investment firm Insight Partners was already an investor in threat intelligence provider Recorded Future but has taken a step further, acquiring a controlling stake at a valuation of $780m.

Thrive Earlier Detection, a US-based developer of a blood test for cancer, was spun out of Johns Hopkins University on Thursday with $110m in series A funding from investors led by venture capital firm Third Rock Ventures. BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, the corporate venturing subsidiary of health insurer Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, participated in the round, as did molecular diagnostics company Exact Sciences.

UK-based investment firm Woodford Investment Management has sold its entire shareholding in Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI), the university venture fund of University of Oxford. The stake, worth £55m ($69.6m), has seemingly been sold to family offices and international investors.

Morningstar downgraded the Equity Income fund from bronze to neutral last week after its value shrunk from £10.2bn in 2017 to just £4.4bn, while St James’ Place, the largest wealth manager in the UK, put the firm on its watchlist after a prolonged poor performance.

Deals

SpaceX has added $1.02bn in new funding according to two separate securities filings, though it hasn’t disclosed details of the investors.

Toyota already has Uber and Grab in its portfolio but it is said to be mulling over an investment of about $550m in fellow ride hailing service Didi Chuxing.

SoFi has expanded from its core business of online lending and student loan refinancing to take in services such as online investments and digital banking, and it has also raised a further $500m in funding, this time in a round led by Qatar Investment Authority.

Lenskart has been one of Asia’s most successful proponents of the consumer goods business model involving an expansion from e-commerce to the offline world, and the eyewear retailer is reportedly in discussions to raise $350m from SoftBank Vision Fund at a $1.3bn valuation.

Oncology data platform developer Tempus has raised $200m in series F funding from investors including Novo at a $3.1bn valuation.

RobinHood was valued at $5.6bn back when it last raised money, early last year, but the Alphabet and Roc Nation-backed trading app developer is seeking $200m from existing investors at a reported valuation of up to $8bn.

Funds

Growth equity vehicle EV Growth was formed by East Ventures and corporate VC units SMDV and YJ Capital early last year with a $150m target for its first fund. It’s ended up overshooting that by a food amount, closing the fund at $200m having received commitments from limited partners including SoftBank. The fund has invested in 12 portfolio companies to date.

Exits

Palo Alto Networks has agreed to pay $410m to acquire container security software developer Twistlock, which had raised $63m from investors including Dell Technologies Capital.

BridgeBio Pharma is developing drugs to treat genetic diseases including forms of cancer linked to genetic causes. It has filed for a $225m initial public offering that will follow more than $480m in venture funding from investors including AIG, though only KKR and Viking Global Investors hold stakes of 5% or more.


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

12 September 2016 – Automotive Deals, UK Funds and more funding for Didi Chuxing plus more

Deals

Best Logistics has closed a massive $760m funding round that shows how big China’s logistics sector is growing in the wake of the country’s e-commerce success.

SoFi received $1bn from backers including Renren and SoftBank at a $4bn valuation in October, followed that up with another $150m from Renren the following month, and is now reportedly lining up a $500m round, though the prospective investors are yet to be revealed.

Moderna Therapeutics closed a huge $450m round at the start of last year that valued it at $3bn, and now the RNA therapeutics developer has revealed $474m in new equity financing which, a regulatory filing indicates, includes the $140m invested by AstraZeneca last month.

Online car marketplace Cheyipai has raised $185m in funding from investors including Renren and Tencent, but is now changing tack by switching from a business-to-consumer model to one that serves other businesses. That pivot may be part funded by car manufacturer BAIC, which is reportedly in talks to lead a $45m round.

Chinese automotive marketplace RenRenChe is less than three years old, but has secured $150m in a round backed by new and existing VC investors.

Didi Chuxing has had quite a year and it continues to go from strength to strength, closing $120m in funding from manufacturing services provider Foxconn at a $33.7bn valuation.

Novartis Venture Fund has co-led a $40m series E round for Rox Medical, the developer of a device that will treat hypertension in older patients.

Rigontec, a biopharmaceutical spinout of Bonn University, today achieved a third and final close of its series A round at $32.3m with public-private partnership High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) making another commitment.

Red Dot Capital Partners, a $150m vehicle wholly funded by Singaporean government-owned investment firm Temasek, led a $38m investment yesterday in Israel-based wireless technology developer Celeno Communications.

Funds

Russian conglomerate Sistema has already launched two VC vehicles this year – the $50m India-focused Sistema Asia Fund and a $100m fund with Tsinghua University – and it’s followed those up with a private equity fund partnership with Russian state-owned tech commercialisation company Rusnano.

Neil Woodford, a UK-based fund manager and founding partner of Woodford Investment Management, is reportedly in talks with the UK government to set up a £250m ($330m) VC fund, Portfolio Adviser reported.

Imperial College London has become a limited partner in a £40m ($53.7m) fund launched by incubator Entrepreneur First yesterday, according to TechCrunch.

Exits

Intel has acquired vision processing chip producer Movidius in a transaction that provided exits to corporates Robert Bosch and Sunny Optical.

IDG Ventures India can also celebrate an exit, or at least a partial exit from eyewear supplier Lenskart, selling $20m in shares to investment firm PremjiInvest in a deal that also involved PremjiInvest investing a further $10m in Lenskart directly.

Allergan has acquired the Wayne State University spinout, backed by Santen Pharmaceutical and Nerveda, for an upfront payment of $60m.

People

Oxford University’s commercialisation arm has appointed Matt Perkins as its new chief executive, replacing Tom Hockaday who stepped down earlier this year.

Ozan Sönmez has been appointed managing director of T-Jump Startup Hub, the US-based incubator of Middle East Technical University’s tech transfer office ODTÜ Teknokent.


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