29 March 2021 – GoPuff Secures $1.15bn in Round Including SoftBank

The Big Ones

On-demand consumer product delivery service GoPuff has experienced some major league growth of late, and has secured $1.15bn from investors including SoftBank Vision Fund 1 in a round lifting its valuation from $3.9bn to $8.9bn. The $3.9bn valuation had been achieved just five months ago, in a $380m round that also featured Vision Fund 1.

We’re still seeing a good amount of reverse merger deals being agreed but one of the biggest in recent times has just been announced by content monetisation software provider IronSource. The Access Industries-backed company has agreed to join forces with special purpose acquisition company Thoma Bravo Advantage at an $11.1bn pro forma equity. IronSource’s valuation was reportedly not much larger than $1bn in its last round, less than 18 months ago.

Japan-based medical supplies vendor Medipal Holdings has partnered SBI Investment, an investment subsidiary of financial services firm SBI Holdings, to form a ¥10bn ($92m) corporate venture capital vehicle. Medipal Innovation Fund is intended to operate for 10 years and will mainly target domestic and international startups developing technologies strategically relevant to Medipal’s business lines.

Crossover Deal

Evidation Health, a US-based health data analysis provider, has picked up $153m in a series E round co-led by healthcare consortium Kaiser Permanente’s Group Trust. The round was co-led by Omers Growth Equity, a fund managed by pension fund Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, and included McKesson Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of medical supplies distributor McKesson, as well as venture capital firm B Capital Group. The round valued it at $1bn, according to Bloomberg. So far, so normal. Evidation’s technology platform, Achievement, records raw behaviour data such as speech and video from patients’ electronic devices and analyses it to provide insights on health and disease. But its origin is where it gets unusual: the company was founded in 2012 through a partnership between Stanford Health Care, the academic health system of Stanford University, and GE Ventures, a corporate venturing subsidiary of General Electric. It’s not a type of story we see often, but with now $259m in capital, the model is clearly working out for Evidation.

Deals

Dataminr has closed a $475m funding round that hiked its valuation to $4.1bn. The company, which counts Credit Suisse Next Investors as an earlier backer, provides software that pools information from a range of public sources to detect events and track trends in real time, and will put the proceeds from the round into international customer acquisition.

China-based CasiCloud provides production automation software for the aerospace industry, and has secured $404m in funding, becoming the latest automation technology provider to raise big money, in the wake of several robotic process automation-focused companies over the past year. Its earlier investors include China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation but the latest round was co-led by China Merchants Capital, ICBC Capital and Shenzhen Capital.

Sports memorabilia retailer Fanatics has pulled in $320m through a round that doubled its valuation to $12.8bn in the space of seven months. SoftBank is also among Fanatics’ investors, as is Alibaba, and the latest round included Major League Baseball, Fidelity Investments, Franklin Templeton, Neuberger Berman, Silver Lake and Thrive Capital. It came as the company undertakes a growth push centred on China.

Crypto wallet and exchange operator Blockchain.com is growing even faster, and has secured $300m in series C funding at a $5.2bn valuation, roughly five weeks after a $120m series B round valuing it at $3bn. GV and Access Industries were among the participants in the latter round, with GV having been an investor in the company since 2017.

Airwallex is the creator of a cloud software platform that helps businesses expand globally by coordinating finance activities across multiple currencies. It has raised $100m from investors including ANZ Bank’s ANZi Ventures vehicle to increase its series D round to $300m. The extension represents the third tranche of the round, with Tencent and Salesforce Ventures among the earlier backers. Airwallex is now valued at $2.6bn.

If grocery delivery services like Instacart have experienced considerable growth during the coronavirus pandemic, Germany-based Gorillas almost makes that growth look lazy. The company was founded less than a year ago but has just secured $290m in a series B round featuring Tencent that valued it above $1bn. That makes Gorillas, by its reckoning, the quickest European startup ever to exceed a $1bn valuation. And its service is currently available in just 13 European cities.

Komodo Health, the developer of a healthcare tracking software platform, has meanwhile raised $220m at a $3.3bn valuation, in its series E round only two months after notching up $44m in series D funding. The series D round included long-term corporate investor McKesson Ventures, and it has now secured a total of $314m in just 14 months.

Funds

Japan-based financial services firm Juroku Bank has formed a venture capital unit dubbed Nobunaga Capital Village and a startup accelerator called Juroku Bank Accelerator 2021. Nobunaga Capital Village will be launched in April 2021 with ¥4.5bn ($41.2m) of capital across two vehicles, and will target developers of financial technology and local economy revitalisation projects, focusing on the Chūbu region where the bank is headquartered.

Exits

Supply chain finance provider Linklogis has filed for an initial public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and set terms that will see it raise $1.06bn if it floats at the top of its range. Bertelsmann Asia Investments, Tencent, GLP, Skyworth and Standard Chartered are all among the company’s investors, and the offering will be anchored by $365m from institutional investors including BlackRock and Fidelity.

Another Chinese company, online Q+A platform developer Zhihu, is going public in the US today in a $523m initial public offering that scores exits for Kuaishou, Tencent, Baidu, Sogou and Sunshine Insurance. The company priced the shares at the foot of the IPO’s range, but it will be buoyed by a $250m private placement being provided by Tencent and fellow corporates Alibaba, JD.com and Lilith Games.

Olo has closed its initial public offering at approximately $518m after the underwriters took up the option to buy an additional $67.5m shares. The PayPal-backed restaurant ordering software provider floated above its range on the New York Stock Exchange last week and its share price subsequently increased by upwards of 20%.

Online automotive marketplace ACV Auctions raised $5m for a series A round five years ago, and now it’s gone public in an initial public offering sized at about $416m. The SoftBank-backed company priced its shares above an already increased range, and the price rose again yesterday, giving ACV a market cap around the $4.8bn mark at close of trading.

Rockley Photonics, a silicon photonic chipmaker that counts Applied Materials and Hengtong Optic-Electric among its investors, is set to list through a reverse takeover with special purpose acquisition company SC Health Corp at a $1.2bn post-merger valuation. Medtronic is among the investors supplying $150m in PIPE financing to support the deal, announced as Rockley prepares to commercially launch its unique sensing platform.

Autonomous truck developer TuSimple is still pre-revenue but has filed for an initial public offering in the United States. The China-based company has raised roughly $650m in funding and its investors include corporates Sina, Navistar, Traton, Nvidia, Mando, UPS, Goodyear, Union Pacific, CN, Kroger and US Xpress. Media reports in August 2020 suggested it could target a valuation of up to $7bn in the IPO.


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

19 August 2019 – Zhihu Raises $434m at $3.5bn Valuation

Big Ones

Zhihu is often referred to as China’s answer to Quora, but its services extend beyond an online community Q+A service to areas like online publishing and livestreamed sessions with experts. It’s just raised $434m at a reported $3.5bn valuation. Livestreaming service Kuaishou led the series F round, which included fellow strategic partner Baidu and another corporate investor, Tencent.

Insurance group MS&AD has tripled the size of its MS&AD Ventures unit to about $128m, just 10 months after its launch. The company said it made more than 20 investments in that time, and seeing as its subsidiaries include Mitsui Sumitomo and Aioi Nissay Dowa – both of which maintain their own corporate venturing units – it’s going to be interesting to see if it has plans to formally unify the vehicles under the MS&AD Ventures banner.

We Company, the workspace provider formerly known as WeWork, has filed for one of the year’s most eagerly awaited initial public offerings. It has set a $1bn target as a placeholder figure but reports suggest it will go for $3bn to $4bn through the flotation. The filing also confirms SoftBank, its Vision Fund and related affiliates have provided a whopping $12.4bn in financing.

On GUV, Landos Biopharma, a US-based autoimmune disease therapeutics developer exploiting Virginia Tech research, has closed a $60m series B round backed by spinout-focused investment firm Osage University Partners. Biopharmaceuticals-focused investment firm RTW Investments and hedge fund manager Perceptive Advisors co-led the round, with the latter investing from its Xontogeny Venture and Life Sciences funds.

Deals

JD.com and iFlytek have contributed to a $283m series C1 round for another Chinese company, Terminus Technologies. Connected AI technology developer Terminus received $173m in a SenseTime-backed round less than a year ago, and has raised about $530m altogether.

Meesho has raised $125m in a Naspers-led series D round that included a $25m investment that had been made by Facebook in June. The round was reportedly set to value the social commerce marketplace at $600m to $650m and the cash will support it extending its reach further into India’s rural areas.

The renewables technology sector is a long way from its peak but the brunt of the funding that is coming in for startups in that space is going to energy storage. Energy Vault, a Swiss company developing a hydro power-inspired grid-scale storage system, has received $110m in series B funding in what is SoftBank Vision Fund’s first renewable energy investment.

ShareChat, the Indian operator of a multilingual social network with some 60 million users, has secured $100m in a Twitter-led series D round that valued it at $650m. The deal took its total funding past the $220m mark, but there was no sign of its other corporate backer, Xiaomi.

ScaleFactor has closed a $60m series C round featuring existing investor Citi Ventures that increased its overall funding to approximately $103m.

Carpooling platform Scoop Technologies has raised $60m from investors including corporate VC units Total Ventures and Workday Ventures to take its overall funding to more than $106m.

Uniphore, the developer of a range of speech recognition tools, has raised $51m in series C funding from investors including Sistema Asia Fund, and will channel the proceeds into R&D and a geographic expansion that will focus on the North American market.

Funds

Female founder-focused fund BBG Ventures was formed by AOL and then, when the company was acquired by Verizon, absorbed into the Oath digital media group. It formally spun off late last year and is seeking external investors for a third fund that, according to a recent regulatory filing, has a $50m target for its close.

Exits

WeWork owner The We Company was responsible for the most eagerly awaited IPO filing of the week but hosting services provider CloudFlare has also filed, some five months after raising cash at a $3.2bn valuation.

Enterprise communication platform developer Chatwork has secured approval for its own IPO, which will take place in its home country of Japan. The company has raised at least $15m in venture funding from investors including GMO Venture Partners, and the GMO unit that owns a 6% stake.

Novartis and Eli Lilly have secured exits, after Jazz Pharmaceuticals acquired Cavion, a developer of therapies for neurological diseases, and merged the company with one of its subsidiaries.

Things have been less rosy for microsatellite launcher Vector, which has shut down operations indefinitely due to a change in financing just days after sealing a contract with the US Air Force.


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

13 August 2018 – Alibaba Plans to Merge Koubei and Ele.me

Deals

Alibaba spun off its local services platform, Koubei, with a $1.1bn round at the start of last year, and acquired food delivery service Ele.me in April 2018 at a $4.5bn valuation. Now the e-commerce firm plans to merge the two in a deal that could be supported with a $3bn to $5bn round that could be led by SoftBank Vision Fund.

Bytedance, the owner of news aggregation app Toutiao and short-form video platform TikTok, is reportedly seeking $3bn in funding in a monster round that would value it at $70bn to $75bn.

WndrCo has formally confirmed that NewTV, the short-form video content platform it founded, has raised $1bn in funding.

WeWork has been among the biggest fundraisers in the VC space in recent years and has added to that by securing $1bn in convertible note financing from SoftBank.

Manbang, the market leader in China’s trucking services market, raised $1.9bn in an April round featuring SoftBank Vision Fund, Tencent and CapitalG, but is reportedly already seeking more funding.

Naspers has been an investor in mobile second-hand e-commerce platform Letgo since 2015 when it supplied $100m in series A funding, and it’s just committed a total of $500m to the company, $150m of which it provided earlier this summer.

Walmart has invested $320m in Chinese grocery delivery platform Dada-JD Daojia as part of a $500m funding round, with another existing investor, JD.com, providing the rest.

Slack had raised more than $840m from investors including SoftBank, Comcast and Alphabet, as of its last round, a $250m series G last September that valued it at $5.1bn post-money.

Zhihu, the Chinese owner of an online platform where some 160 million registered users can crowdsource answers to queries, has confirmed a $270m series E round, though it did not name the participants.

Moviebook runs an online advertising platform that used AI technology to insert product placement into online content. It’s just secured $199m in a series D round co-led by SenseTime and SoftBank’s SBCVC, and will put the proceeds into R&D as it looks to enhance its image optimisation technology with algorithms supplied by SenseTime.

Tot Biopharm has raised $102m in a series C round featuring Center Laboratories Group that will fund the advancement of a pipeline of antibody-drug conjugates intended to treat cancer.

Things were very busy by the end of the week on GUV, with the biggest deal of the day – and week – being an $84m oversubscribed series B round for UK-based cancer-focused biotechnology company Artios Pharma that featured commercialisation firm IP Group.

On GGV, Singaporean state-owned investment firm Temasek has paid $225m for a stake in India-based, corporate-backed ride hailing platform Ola through a secondary share purchase.

Funds

SoftBank is nearing the final $100bn close for its Vision Fund and is already eyeing a second iteration, but in the meantime it’s reportedly looking to put together a $5bn fund for Asian investments, with some 50% earmarked for India-based companies.

Parkwalk Advisors, a fund management subsidiary of commercialisation firm IP Group, has launched University of Cambridge Enterprise Fund VI in partnership with the university’s tech transfer unit, Cambridge Enterprise.

On GGV, Temasek has become a limited partner in the $140m second growth fund run by US-based Ten Eleven Ventures. Ten Eleven focuses on investment in cybersecurity businesses and the new fund – known as TEG II – is expected to enable expansion into new geographic regions including Southeast Asia.

Exits

Social media marketing technology platform Weimob, is heading to the public markets having filed for an initial public offering in Hong Kong.

Linio, the Mexico-based operator of an online marketplace spanning eight Latin American countries, had raised $230m from investors including Tengelmann, Access Industries and Rocket Internet, but some of its backers are bound to have made a loss after it was bought by big-box retailer Falabella for $137m.

GraphicsFuzz, a UK-based graphics driver testing technology spun out of Imperial College London, has been acquired by Google, the internet subsidiary of diversified conglomerate Alphabet.


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

16 January 2017 – Funding Circle Raises $100m, Starship Technologies Raises $17.2m Seed Funding and Much More

Deals

Insurance and reinsurance firm Arch Capital Group has contributed to a $510m round that has launched Premia Holdings, a Bermuda-based company that will offer property & casualty runoff insurance to businesses.

Chinese real estate service Lianjia raised more than $920m at a $6.2bn post-money valuation last April, in a series B round backed by Tencent and Baidu.

Hive Box, the logistics station network established by corporates GLP, SF Express, STO Express, ZTO Express and Yunda Express in 2015, has received approximately $360m in series A funding.

Mobile payment platform iZettle has raised $63m in financing to almost double the size of its series D round to $130m.

Much of the activity in the peer-to-peer lending sector has been concentrated in the US and China, but UK-based Funding Circle is proving it’s no slouch, raising $100m from investors including Rocket Internet and Temasek, the investment arm of Singapore’s government.

Zhihu, China’s answer to Quora, has secured $100m in a series D round backed by Tencent, which had previously invested in the company’s $55m series C just over a year ago, and search engine provider Sogou.

Alibaba’s local services subsidiary, Koubei, has co-led a funding round for restaurant table booking platform Meiweibuyongdeng that valued the company at just over $430m. T

Flash storage technology producer Kaminario has secured $75m in a series F round led by private equity firm Waterwood that it will use to expand in regions such as Eastern and Western Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East.

Ascentage Pharma spun out of oncology drug developer Ascenta Therapeutics in 2009 and has now closed a $72m series B round led by the Chinese government’s Future Industry Investment Fund that will be used to advance its pipeline of small-molecule drug treatments for cancer, hepatitis B and age-related diseases.

Immuno-oncology company Neon Therapeutics has raised $70m in a series B round backed by Access Industries, the conglomerate that took part in its $55m series A round just over a year ago.

Here’s a smaller one by amount but an enormous one for its stage: drone technology and logistics have both been hot areas of late so it’s no surprise that a company that combines the two, Starship Technologies, has raised a huge $17.2m in its seed round.

Another one that doesn’t exactly count as one of the week’s biggest, but is noteworthy nonetheless happened on GlobalUniversityVenturing.com, where Alta Innovations, the tech transfer office of Birmingham University, made a first investment from its £5m Spinout Investment Fund.

Funds

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Development Co has been cited as an investor in SoftBank’s $100bn Vision Fund since November, and people familiar with the matter have told Bloomberg it is set to provide between $10bn and $15bn.

Tekes Venture Capital, the investment arm of Tekes, the state-owned Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation, has backed Butterfly Venture Fund III, a €24m ($25m) seed fund aimed at startups in Nordic countries.

The nanotechnology-focused commercialisation firm is set to establish two investment funds in the first half the year and is seeking co-investors from China and the Middle East as well as Japan.

The week’s largest fund on GlobalUniversityVenturing.com meanwhile was healthcare-focused VC firm Versant Ventures closing its sixth investment fund at a hard cap of $400m, with a third of that sum allocated towards the commercialisation of university research.

Exits

Fog Creek Software launched cloud collaboration tool Trello in 2011, spinning it out three years later when it raised $10.3m from VC investors.

SoftBank has had some notable successes through its CVC activity in Asia but it’s fair to say realty listings platform Housing.com is not among them. SoftBank had reportedly invested up to $95m in Housing.com, which has now been acquired by rival PropTiger in an all-share deal that valued it at no more than $75m. The corporate hasn’t given up however, and is investing $5m in the merged company together with a $50m contribution from PropTiger investor News Corp.

People

Akshay Naheta, chief investment officer of Knight Assets, has joined SoftBank to help manage the company’s $100bn fund that is backed by a range of sovereign wealth funds.


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