23 November 2020 – PingCap Stores £270m in Series D Funding

The Big Ones

Distributed database software provider PingCap has secured $270m in series D funding from backers including Bertelsmann Asia Investments that will support research and development as well as international expansion. Another corporate investor, Fosun, led PingCap’s last round, a $50m series C round two years ago. PingCap is the creator of an open-source distributed database platform called TiDB as well as a version called TiDB that has been tailored for use on cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud. The platform’s apparently been adopted by some 1,500 clients internationally, including well-known ones such as Square and Dailymotion.

Airbnb has filed for an initial public offering with an initial target of $1bn and will be relying on the markets to ignore its 30% drop in revenue and considerable losses in 2020 in favour of a projected recovery in the tourism industry next year when coronavirus vaccines hopefully begin to be distributed. Its investors include CapitalG, the growth equity subsidiary of Alphabet formerly known as Google Capital, and its valuation stood at $26bn prior to a $1bn debt and equity round in April. But there are a few notable things about Airbnb’s filing and the fact it acknowledges that it’s been unable “to grow new offerings and tiers, such as Airbnb Experiences” could yet prove to be the canary in the coal mine – particularly as Google steps up its own travel ads and hinders Airbnb’s organic growth. There’s also a question as to whether hosts will be able to stick out ongoing and returning lockdowns: they still have to pay mortgages on the properties and without guests to cover bills, that’s somewhat of a ticking time bomb. But the biggest threat to Airbnb is the fact that its growth was slowing long before covid-related shutdowns and travel restrictions: in fact, 2019 was the third consecutive year of slowing growth. The filing warns this slowing down is expected to continue, making it a difficult sell to potential investors on the public markets.

Form Energy, a US-based grid battery spinout of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has obtained more than $70m of series C funding from undisclosed investors, Reuters said citing CEO Mateo Jaramillio. Details are expected over the coming weeks. Founded in 2017, Form Energy is developing sulfur-based battery storage for renewable electricity sources such as wind and solar which fluctuate more than conventional power plants owing to changes in wind strength and solar radiation. Form Energy’s batteries are rumoured to discharge at slow speeds relative to their capacity but offer 150 hours of storage compared to four hours for lithium-ion grid storage products. The idea is to help replace oil and gas-based power plants that run during times of sparse customer demand to provide a minimum level of electricity, known in industry parlance as the baseload. The spinout last closed a $40m series B round in August 2019 led by Eni Next, the corporate venturing arm of energy supplier Eni, and backed by The Engine, the MIT-affiliated incubator and venture fund, in addition to Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Capricorn Investment Group, Prelude Ventures and Macquarie Capital.

Deals

DataRobot, a provider of enterprise artificial intelligence software, has more than doubled its valuation to $2.7bn in a $270m pre-IPO round featuring new and existing investors. The company has now raised a total of about $500m from an investor base that includes Intel Capital, New York Life, Recruit Strategic Partners, Cisco and Citi Ventures, though none were specifically named in the company’s latest round.

Precision medicine developer D3 Bio has emerged from stealth with $200m from a series A round featuring WuXi AppTec’s Corporate Venture Fund. The corporate was joined by Boyu Capital, Temasek, Matrix Partners China and Sequoia Capital China, and the cash will support development of the startup’s oncology and immunology product pipeline.

Online restaurant directory and food ordering service Zomato has raised $195m at a $3.6bn post-money valuation. Much of the company’s earlier funding came from online classifieds operator Info Edge, which still owns a stake above 20%. Its larger shareholders include Ant Group and Uber, while Delivery Hero is also an investor.

XAG, an agriculture-focused drone developer that is expanding into wider reaching farm management technology, has completed a $182m funding round co-led by Baidu Capital and SoftBank Vision Fund. The cash will support the bolstering of the company’s research and development, manufacturing and supply chain capabilities as its home country of China moves closer to an unmanned farm model of agriculture.

Cato Networks has entered the unicorn sphere, raising $130m from investors including Singtel Innov8 at a $1bn pre-money valuation. The networking security technology provider has now received more than $330m since 2015 and its last round – which also featured the Singtel subsidiary – was only seven months ago.

Forter, a developer of e-commerce fraud prevention software, has joined the ranks of the unicorns, having bagged $125m at a valuation topping $1.3bn. The series E round didn’t include corporate backer Salesforce Ventures but it took the company’s total funding to $225m and was co-led by venture capital firms Bessemer Venture Partners and Felix Capital.

CreditEase-backed wealth management platform developer Addepar has raised almost as much, having closed its series E round at $117m. The public markets boom for tech companies in recent months, coupled with the ongoing issues for other businesses, has meant increased demand for wealth management services. It also highlights Addepar’s selling point: enhanced data capabilities that give investors greater insights into portfolio performance.

SoftBank Vision Fund 2 has also led a $100m round for MindTickle, a US-based provider of sales readiness technology that helps sales staff upgrade their skills and benefit from updated information. Qualcomm Ventures was among the other participants in the round, having backed MindTickle since its 2015 series A round. The latest funding was closed at a reported $500m valuation.

Funds

SR One is the latest corporate venturing unit to be spun off into an independent venture firm by its parent, in this case pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline. With some 35 years on the clock it’s one of the oldest corporate VC arms, but GSK isn’t cutting the cord fully – it’s the largest contributor to an oversubscribed $500m fund for the rebranded SR One Capital Management, which will continue to be run by CEO Simeon George.

Exits

Roblox, the creator of a social 3D game development platform, has filed for a $1bn IPO on the New York Stock Exchange that will notch up an exit for Tencent. The corporate was among the investors in a $150m series G round in February that valued Roblox at $4bn. Press reports have suggested the company would seek a valuation of $8bn in the offering, meaning Tencent could be looking at a rapid profit on paper.

Arrival is the latest highly valued company to take the reverse merger option, agreeing a deal with Nasdaq-listed CIIG Merger Corp that will value the combined business at $5.4bn. The electric commercial vehicle developer’s existing investors, which include Hyundai, Kia and UPS, will keep their stakes while the deal will be boosted by $400m in PIPE financing.

Supcon is part of the fast-growing field of robotic process automation technology and has priced an initial public offering in its home country of China that will net it $268m in proceeds. Corporate investors Chint, Sinopec Capital, Intel, China National Nuclear’s CNNC Industry Fund Management Corporation and Lenovo are all among its investors and will jointly own about 20% of its shares post-IPO.


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

07 September 2020 – QuantumScape in Reverse Merger with Kensington Capital Acquisition Corp

The Big Ones

Online education has been one of the big growth sectors during the coronavirus pandemic. That’s particularly true in China, and as one of the biggest players Yuanfudao has likely seen a decent chunk of that growth. The company raised $1bn at a $7.8bn valuation less than six months ago but is now reportedly lining up $1.2bn in additional funding from investors including Tencent at a whopping $13bn valuation. Tencent first invested in Yuanfudao in 2016 and it’s one of several online education-focused companies in the corporate’s portfolio.

US-based venture capital firm Bitkraft Ventures has closed its second fund at $165m with backers including apparel producer Adidas, media group Advance Publications, computer peripherals manufacturer Logitech and advertising group WPP. Family office Carolwood and investment firms Declaration Partners and JS Capital are also among the limited partners for the fund, which had an initial target size of $125m for its close. Bitkraft Ventures Fund I will target early-stage deals in the gaming, esports and interactive media sectors. It has already begun investing and, together with Bitkraft’s Pre-Seed Fund, has built a portfolio of more than 50 companies across North America, Europe and Asia.

Exits is also a crossover: The reverse merger trend is really beginning to pick up steam. The latest company to take the plunge is solid-state battery developer QuantumScape, a Stanford spinout, which has agreed to merge with publicly-listed special purpose acquisition company Kensington Capital Acquisition Corp in a deal that will value the combined business at $3.3bn. QuantumScape’s largest investor is Volkswagen, which has provided some $300m since 2018 and which plans to use the batteries in its vehicles. Other shareholders include Continental, SAIC Motor and Bill Gates.

Deals

Neon Pagamentos has agreed $300m in funding through a two-tranche series C round featuring PayPal Ventures and the BBVA-backed Propel Venture Partners. The digital bank, one of a new wave of Latin American tech companies raising big rounds, has earmarked the funding for hiring, technology development and the expansion of a user base that currently takes in some 9 million consumer and business accounts.

Zomato remains locked in an online food delivery war with Indian peer Swiggy but has raised new funding to help it expand, taking $262m in late-stage funding from Temasek, Tiger Global Management and Kora Capital at a reported $3bn valuation. Its existing backers include Ant Financial, Delivery Hero and Info Edge as well as Uber, which acquired a 10% stake in January by merging the Indian operations of its Uber Eats subsidiary into the company.

Online real estate marketplace PropertyGuru Group is another company that has extended a popular e-commerce model into an emerging market, in this case Southeast Asia, and it has raised $220m from existing investors TPG and KKR to take its overall funding to more than $550m. PropertyGuru’s existing backers include Emtek, which has been forced to wait for an exit after the company postponed an initial public offering supposed to take place late last year.

Peer-to-peer lending platform Auxmoney has secured $178m in a round led by private equity firm Centerbridge that will also involve Centerbridge buying secondary shares in order to become its majority investor. Auxmoney’s existing backers will each retain shares in the company, though the selling shareholders will likely include Aegon and its corporate venturing unit Transamerica Ventures. Another corporate backer, broadcasting group ProSiebenSat.1, had already exited in 2017.

India-based edtech player Unacademy has raised a $150m series F round backed by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Facebook. The round valued Uncademy at $1.45bn, a huge jump from the $510m valuation at which it last raised money, just over six months ago. Facebook also took part in that round, the company’s $110m series E.

One of India’s biggest players in the edtech sector is Byju’s, which has raised $122m from DST Global to take its series F funding to $145m. The round values Tencent-backed Byju’s at $10.5bn – up from $8bn when it raised money at the start of this year – and the company is targeting $400m for the close of the round.

Rounding off the education funding frenzy is Eruditus, which partners universities to create adult learning courses and which has just secured $113m in a series D round co-led by Naspers-backed vehicle Prosus Ventures. The funding was raised at a post-money valuation in excess of $700m, and the company’s earlier backers include Bertelsmann India Investments.

Patreon on the other hand operates a financial subscription service that supports creatives – it’s a business model replicated by another corporate-backed company, Steady.fm, that is popular in German-speaking countries. Patreon, whose earlier investors include talent management agencies CAA and UTA, has now hit a $1.2bn valuation in a $90m series E round co-led by venture firms New Enterprise Associates and Wellington Management. It said this week it expects to oversee $1bn of payments a year to members going forward. It will also double-down on its international expansion, by adding more currencies, so it will interesting to see how Steady.fm will fare when the much bigger Patreon moves in.

Funds

Xfund, a US-based venture capital firm aligned to Harvard University, debuted a third investment fund with $120m in contributions from undisclosed limited partners. Xfund aims to leverage innovation from top-tier universities globally in a partnership helmed by Harvard together with New Enterprise Associates, Breyer Capital, Accel Partners and Polaris Partners. The fund was set up to combine investment rigour with business models based on free-thinking and intellectual awareness from academic founders with unconventional backgrounds such as liberal arts graduates.

Exits

The latest promising tech company to agree a reverse merger is esports competition platform developer Skillz, which will go public through a merger with Flying Eagle Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company that floated in a $600m initial public offering in March. The transaction values Skillz at $3.5bn and it comes less than a year after 32 Equity, which represents all 32 NFL teams, invested in the company. It had raised a total of $53m from backers including Telstra, Liberty Global and Kraft Group as of 2017.

Shenzhen Hymson Laser Intelligent Equipments produces equipment such as laser cutters and welders for use in manufacturing, and has raised $107m in an initial public offering on Shanghai’s Star Exchange. Its shareholders include Legend Capital, the venture firm spun off by conglomerate Legend Holdings, which took part in a 2018 seed round and which owns a 2.7% stake post-IPO.


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

20 April 2020 – Stripe Raises $600m in Series G Plus Audio from our Industrial Sector Webinar

The Big Ones

Digital payment processor Stripe is one of the companies that has seen demand for its product skyrocket in recent weeks as more and more commerce moves online. It has also raised another $600m from investors including GV to meet that demand, taking a series G round valuing it at $35bn pre-money to $850m. The company’s earlier backers include Visa and American Express- both of which invested at a $5bn valuation – and Sumitomo Mitsui Card Company.

There’s been no respite for SoftBank over Easter, as the telecoms giant revealed in its annual report that it expected to book a $16.8bn loss on investments from its Vision Fund in the fiscal year that just closed. That figure, which encompasses a huge loss in value for WeWork along with the disintegration of investments in the likes of OneWeb and Brandless, is staggering, and SoftBank has reportedly frozen its second Vision Fund, which was in the fundraising stage. But with most of its consumer-facing portfolio facing trouble right now, what will happen to that portfolio if those companies find their largest investor has suddenly closed their wallet?

Zomato acquired Uber Eats in a $350m all-share deal in January and now the restaurant listings and food delivery platform is reportedly in talks to buy online grocery delivery service Grofers in a similar deal that will value the latter at $750m. The transaction could hypothetically be sweetened by an investment of $100m to $200m from Grofers’ largest shareholder, SoftBank Vision Fund, though it’s unclear whether that will still stand in light of news SoftBank is freezing its second Vision Fund.

Identity verification seems to be a hot sector all of a sudden (we’ll have more in a minute for you). Onfido, which emerged out of the software incubator of University of Oxford’s tech transfer office Oxford University Innovation eight years ago, has raised $100m. The round featured M12 and Salesforce Ventures, as well as unnamed backers, and was led by TPG Growth. Onfido allows companies to biometrically verify a user’s identity by algorithmically comparing a picture of an ID document, such as a passport, with a selfie. It’s used by more than 1,500 organisations, such as digital bank Revolut. Its early backers include the Seed Fund of Oxford’s Saïd Business School Entrepreneurship Centre.

Deals

Despite suffering several outages in early March, share trading app developer Robinhood has emerged as one of the tech-based companies that have seen demand for their product intensify during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, the company, whose backers include Alphabet units CapitalG and GV as well as Roc Nation’s Arrive vehicle, is reportedly closing in on $250m in funding. The round looks set to be led by existing backer Sequoia Capital, and to lift Robinhood’s valuation from $7.6bn to $8bn pre-money.

Elsewhere in the fintech world, cross-border remittance service Airwallex has closed a $160m series D round that included Tencent and corporate venturing units Salesforce Ventures and Anzi Ventures at a reported $1.8bn valuation. Airwallex is one of that rare breed of successful Australian startups that have elected to remain in their home country instead of moving to Silicon Valley, and it’s a useful example that you don’t necessarily have to move where the most action is in order to reach those high valuations.

China-based drug developer MabWorks has collected $160m in a two-tranche series C round featuring an investment vehicle for industrial park operator Beijing E-Town Biomedical Park. MabWorks has some 15 assets in clinical trials in China or the US, many of which are targeted at cancer, and is focusing on a monoclonal antibody approach.

As promised, more identity verification for you with BioBatch, which has netted $145m in a series C featuring CreditEase and American Express Ventures. Both corporates took part in BioBatch’s last round – a $30m series B two years ago – and that jump suggests demand for its behavioral biometrics technology has grown sharply during that time.

Consumer finance platform Paidy has raised another $48m from trading group and existing backer Itochu that it added on to the $143m in series D funding it closed in November, bringing the round to $191m. Itochu had contributed to that close, as did fellow corporate investors Visa and PayPal Ventures, and it has now committed a total of $91m to Paidy, which has received $281m in debt and equity financing to date.

Ninja Van has racked up $124m in series D funding over the past year, according to data sourced from DealStreetAsia. Corporates GeoPost, Grab, Carmenta and Intouch Holdings provided a total of $50m while GeoPost has supplied a further $79m in convertible note financing since September 2018. The series D reportedly valued the Southeast Asian last-mile delivery service at about $590m.

Cloud kitchen operator Rebel Foods also operates in India’s food delivery sector and has raised $50m from hedge fund manager Coatue Management. Rebel counts Gojek, Sistema and Northwest Industrial Logistics as early investors but while the Coatue deal may seem an endorsement, it’s worth noting that reports in February suggested it was going to come as part of a round sized at up to $150m, at a $1bn valuation. This is a space that could definitely see some more consolidation in the coming months.

Cerevance, a spinout of Rockefeller University, has created technology that helps it assess post-mortem brain tissue in order to develop treatments for brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. It has also secured $45m in a series B round that included corporate VC units GV and Takeda Ventures. The latter had already taken part in Cerevance’s 2016 series A round but its contribution to this one came in the wake of a December 2019 research agreement between Cerevance and its parent company, pharmaceutical firm Takeda.

Funds

China-based, Southeast Asia-focused venture capital firm ATM Capital has closed a fund backed by corporates Alibaba and 58.com at about $100m, DealStreetAsia reported citing sources privy to the development. Founded in 2017, ATM Capital aims to bring Chinese expertise to bare helping Southeast Asia-based startups grow. The fund is its first and it had set a $200m target for its final close, but sources told DealStreetAsia the Covid-19 crisis had impacted fundraising activities.

Corigin Ventures, the venture capital firm sponsored by US-based real estate developer Corigin, has closed its second fund at approximately $36m. The firm targets consumer and property technology developers in the US and Canada. It invests $100,000 at pre-seed stage and provides between $500,000 and $1.25m for seed-stage deals, with additional capital reserved for follow-on investments. Corigin Ventures began raising the capital in mid-2018 and the fund had a $50m target according to securities filings. It is the first to include contributions from external limited partners, according to TechCrunch.

China-based early-stage venture firm Qiming Venture Partners has closed its seventh fund at $1.1bn with investors including Princeton University Investment Company, the manager of the institution’s $26bn endowment. The fund’s other limited partners include unnamed endowments, foundations, family offices and private pensions. Princeton’s been an investor in Qiming funds since its very first US dollar-denominated vehicle.

Exits

Verizon has agreed to acquire video conferencing software provider BlueJeans for a price reported to be below (but reportedly not that far below) $500m, in a deal that will allow Deutsche Telekom’s DTCP subsidiary to exit. BlueJeans had raised about $175m, its most recent funding coming in a 2015 series E round.


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

24 February 2020 – Imara to Raise Up To $86.3m in its IPO

The Big Ones

Grab had raised $4.8bn for its series H round as of mid-2019 but did not confirm a close for the round. Now however, the on-demand ride provider is set to raise approximately $714m from Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group as part of a venture where the two will collaborate on a lending and insurance app, according to Nikkei. Amazon has been held up as a prime example of tech companies growing through diversification but it’s far from the only one.

SoftBank may be having difficulty luring external backers to its second Vision Fund but in the meantime it’s putting in its own money, $2.5bn since October according to Reuters sources, one of which said it is considering another $2.5bn while the fund carries on investing. Vision Fund is also reportedly lining up backers for a sub-$2bn hedge fund-like vehicle that will make public market investments.

Imara, a US-based developer of therapies for blood disorders, has filed to raise up to $86.3m in an initial public offering that would enable pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and Lundbeck to exit. Founded in 2016, Imara is working on drug treatments for haemoglobinopathies: disorders that affect the haemoglobin, the part of red blood cells that carry oxygen. It filed confidentially for the IPO in September 2019. It’s raised some $77m in series A and B funding, according to the filing – which is actually nearly $20m less than it had previously claimed, a discrepancy that’s rare for US companies (if a somewhat more common sight in China).

And the biggest deal on GUV was OMass Therapeutics, a UK-based drug design and development spinout of University of Oxford, which added £27.5m ($35.7m) of series A funding from investors including the university and its Oxford Sciences Innovation. Syncona led the extension with a $21.6m commitment – having also led the initial $17.9m close in 2018 with participation from OSI – to bring round’s total to $53.9m. OMass Therapeutics is working on therapies for immunological and genetic disorders.

Deals

Payment technology provider Toast has secured $400m in a series F round that bumped its valuation up from $2.7bn in April last year to $4.9bn. The round was co-led by TPG, Greenoaks Capital and existing investors Bessemer Venture Partners and Tiger Global, and it increased the company’s overall funding to more than $900m.

Endpoint protection platform developer SentinelOne has reportedly secured $200m at a $1.1bn valuation, with Insight Partners leading the round. Growth equity firm Insight also led SentinelOne’s last round, a $120m series E in June 2019 that included Samsung Venture Investment.

Yimi Dida is one of several trucking service providers contributing to China’s thriving logistics sector, and it has pulled in $143m in series D-plus funding from undisclosed investors, just over a year after it raised $266m in a Prologis-backed series D round.

Swiggy is continuing to battle Zomato for pole position in India’s online food delivery sector, and has received $113m in a series I round led by a reported $100m investment from Prosus Ventures, the unit formerly known as Naspers Ventures. You don’t see too many series I rounds, do you?

Unacademy is one of several companies operating in India’s thriving online education sector, and has grabbed $110m in a series E round that includes a relatively rare corporate venturing investment by Facebook.

Tier Mobility has extended its series B round to more than $100m, adding about $40m in debt and equity financing to the $60m it raised from investors including Axa Germany last October.

Elsewhere in Germany another transport-focused company has expanded its latest round, airborne taxi developer Volocopter increasing its series C to $94m with funding from investors including Deutsche Bahn’s logistics subsidiary, DB Schenke, as well as Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance and MS&AD Ventures.

Spruce Biosciences has nabbed $88m in a series B round that included Novo, one of two named investors in its $20m series A three years ago. The company is currently enrolling patients for a phase 2 trial for a treatment intended to reduce heavy steroid doses necessary to combat a genetic hormonal disorder known as congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

Intel Capital has led a $74m round for cybersecurity software provider ZeroFox, boosting its total funding to $162m. ZeroFox has also formed a collaboration agreement with an Intel ecosystem of software vendors known as Intel AI Builders covering artificial intelligence development.

Solar energy services provider Sunseap has raised $72m from energy utility Banpy as part of a series D round that is reportedly now sized at $146m. The round’s other participants include Temasek and ABC World Asia while Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and Shell Technology Ventures are among its existing backers.

Funds

China International Capital Corporation’s CICC Capital unit has accumulated more than $229m for a biomedicine fund that follows a $1bn healthcare investment vehicle formed with AstraZeneca late last year. Corporate backers Hebei Port, Pharscin Pharma, Xiamen Fig, Fujian Sunner and Sichuan Daily Press subsidiary Xinwen Venture Capital are all among the LPs in the latest fund.

Biopharmaceutical company Walvax Technology is deploying roughly $21m for a biomedicine fund with a targeted close of about $87m that will be managed by Jinsheng Capital. Walvax is relatively new to corporate venturing but there seems to be a fair bit of activity in China right now concerning healthcare investment funds.

Exits

Mobile content discovery platform Digital Turbine has agreed to purchase US-based peer Mobile Posse in a deal reported by DC Inno to be about $66m in size, allowing telecommunications group SoftBank to exit.


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

13 January 2020 – Ant Financial Backs Zomato with $150m at a $3bn Valuation

The Big Ones

Zomato has kicked off its next funding round, expected to reach $500m, by raising $150m from existing investor Ant Financial at a $3bn valuation. The cash will help it in its ongoing battle against domestic rival Swiggy for supremacy in India’s online food ordering sector.

SoftBank Vision Fund has reportedly pulled out of a series of large-scale investments, in companies including Honor, Seismic and Creator, in recent months despite signing term sheets. The decisions appear to have taken place in the wake of WeWork’s failure to float in the autumn but could just as easily be due to a general slowdown in investments due to the second Vision Fund still not being close to its initial $100bn target.

Internet-of-things security provider Armis has agreed to a $1.1bn acquisition by Insight Partners in which Alphabet’s CapitalG unit is set to provide $100m. The France-based company had disclosed $112m in funding as of a $65m series C round last year, though none of its VC investors were corporates.

In university – and crossover – news, Soul Machines, a New Zealand-based artificial intelligence-powered avatar platform spun out of University of Auckland, has received $40m in a series B round featuring the institution’s Inventors Fund. Singaporean state-owned investment firm Temasek led the round, which also included Salesforce Ventures, the corporate venturing subsidiary of enterprise software producer Salesforce. Daimler Financial Services, the financial and mobility services subsidiary of carmaker Daimler, was previously revealed as a backer when Soul Machines raised a first series B tranche in 2018.

Deals

Quibi has to be one of the most eagerly-awaited pre-launch startups in history, and its leaders revealed this week it will launch its 10-minutes-or-less streaming platform in April with contributors including Guillermo Del Toro, Jennifer Lopez and Liam Hemsworth.

Fitness and wellness subscription service ClassPass has meanwhile raised $285m in a series E round that lifted its valuation to the billion-dollar mark. Alphabet’s GV unit is among its investors but the latest funding came in a round co-led by L Catterton and Apax Digital with additional participation by Temasek.

Further along the line is Byju’s, reportedly now the world’s most valuable VC-backed edtech company, which has just received $200m in funding from Tiger Global Management at a valuation of about $8bn. That’s an increase in valuation of nearly 40% in just six months and has to be good news for existing backers and corporates Naspers, Tencent and Bennett Coleman & Co.

Hesai has raised $173m in series C funding, in a round it claims is the largest ever for a lidar system developer. Robert Bosch co-led the round, two years after Hesai took part in its automotive AI accelerator in China, while ON Semiconductor also contributed capital.

Zhiyun Health, developer of a chronic disease management platform, has secured a total of $144m across series C-plus and series D rounds, the investors including Samsung, SIG Asia and China Electronics Corporation affiliate OP Financial.

Business accounting software provider High Radius is now valued at more than $1bn, having raised $125m in a series B round featuring Citi Ventures and Susquehanna Growth Equity. Both took part as existing backers and the round was led by Iconiq Capital.

Sisense, the creator of a data simplification tool for app developers and business analysts, has increased its valuation to more than $1bn, securing $100m from investors including Access Industries subsidiary Claltech.

Transcenta Holdings, the biopharmaceutical company formed through the merger of HJB and MabSpace Biosciences – both backed by Lilly Asia Ventures – has also raised $100m, in a series B-plus round that included the Eli Lilly-affiliated venture firm.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has chipped into a $73m series C round for digital accounting software provider Receipt Bank. The round was led by Insight Partners, the venture firm that had invested $50m in Receipt Bank in 2017, and the cash will fund growth across Europe, North America and Australia.

ClearCover has become the latest online insurance portal to raise substantial funding, pulling in $50m through a series C round featuring Cox Enterprises and American Family Ventures, both participating as existing investors.

Funds

US-based tire manufacturer Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company has launched a $100m corporate venture capital vehicle known as Goodyear Ventures at CES. Goodyear produces a range of vehicle tires in addition to running service centres and providing synthetic rubber and chemical products.

India-based poultry product supplier IB Group has formed a $28m strategic investment fund. IB’s central business focuses on its chicken and egg supply, though it has diversified into areas such as livestock feed, pet food, solvents and hospitality.

Exits

Megvii has received regulatory approval to float in Hong Kong and reportedly expects to raise about $500m in the initial public offering. Alibaba and its Ant Financial affiliate own upwards of 29% of the image recognition software provider, which was valued at $4bn as of its last funding round in May.

One Medical has filed to go public having raised a total of $400m in primary funding from investors including Alphabet’s GV unit. The primary care provider has set a placeholder target of $100m that will almost certainly increase by the time it sets terms for the IPO.


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

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

11 February 2019 – Tencent and the Gaming Industry

Big Three

General Electric’s corporate venturing unit is launching a content portal called Flux to help companies overcome barriers to diversity and inclusiveness.

In game-industry deal-making, there’s Tencent, then there’s everyone else. As a sign of both financial muscle and the need to expand beyond core markets given the effective closing of the Chinese market to new games in 2018, Tencent was either a major shareholder in or investor in four of the top five deals last year that saw record $5.7bn invested in startups, according to Digi-Capital’s Q1 report by Tim Merrell.

SoftBank chief executive Masayoshi Son has said he wants the corporate to eventually raise several iterations of its Vision Fund, and it may have to, considering the vehicle, which is yet to reach its initial $100bn target, has reportedly passed the halfway point in terms of capital allocated.

Deals

Chinese automotive e-commerce platform Guazi could well be the next investment target for SoftBank Vision Fund, which is reportedly in talks to invest up to $1.5bn at an $8.5bn pre-money valuation.

Autonomous driving technology developer Aurora Interactive was formed by alumni of Google, Uber and Tesla’s driverless software units, and has made a big move by raising $530m from investors including Amazon.

OakNorth, a digital bank that caters to both consumers and business customers, has meanwhile become SoftBank Vision Fund’s latest portfolio company.

Electric scooter and e-bike rental service Lime has completed a $310m series D round co-led by GV, whose parent company Alphabet also participated.

Microsoft has invested in Databricks as part of a $250m series E round that valued the big data analytics technology producer at $2.75bn, more than two years after forming a partnership to create a version of its software specifically for Microsoft’s Azure platform.

Zomato has meanwhile received $39.7m from Glade Brook Capital and added it to the $210m invested by Ant Financial in October for a funding round that now stands at about $250m, and which reports last month suggested could potentially reach $1bn.

Raisin puts $114m in its account

Emerging Markets Property Group, the online real estate listings operator whose key brand is Bayut, has raised $100m in series D funding from investors including Exor Seeds, the $100m fund formed by reinsurance company PartnerRe and its parent, Exor.

Healthcare data software provider Health Catalyst on the other hand is valued at about $1bn following a $100m series F round backed by corporate venturing vehicles UPMC Enterprises and Kaiser Permanente Ventures.

Foot Locker kicks $100m into Goat Group

Corporates help scale Himalaya with $100m

University

Spin Memory banks Abies for series B

Blue Water seeks $15m injection

Funds

Sojitz sorts out $33m joint venture fund

Partech packs $143m into African fund

Berkeley encrypts Blockchain Xcelerator

Exits

Palo Alto Networks picks Demisto for acquisition

Alector is developing immuno-neurology drugs that will target the immune system in order to fight neurodegenerative disorders, and it raised $176m when it floated today after pricing its IPO in the middle of its range.

Marinomed hits Vienna Stock Exchange

Long touted as one of the world’s most valuable VC-backed startups, Palantir reached a $20bn valuation in 2015 and reports from 2018 suggested it would seek a valuation roughly double that in a flotation expected to take place this year.

After months of speculation Slack has finally filed, albeit confidentially, to go public. The enterprise messaging platform plans to opt for a direct listing, as Spotify did last year, meaning existing investors including GV, Comcast Ventures and SoftBank Vision Fund will get the chance to divest shares despite Slack not looking to raise additional capital through a flotation. Slack was valued at just over $7.1bn as of its last funding round, in August.

TCR² Therapeutics has set the terms for an initial public offering that will net it $80m if it floats at the top of its range.


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

22 October 2018 – Alibaba Confirms Ele.me and Koubei Merger

Deals

Alibaba has confirmed the merger of Ele.me, the food delivery service it acquired in April, with Koubei, the local services platform it launched in 2015 and spun off two years later. The deal will be bolstered by $3bn of funding from Alibaba and SoftBank, and the newly formed entity will be going head to head with Meituan Dianping, the local services platform heavily backed by Alibaba’s key rival, Tencent.

Indian online food ordering platform Swiggy is preparing to raise $900m in a Naspers-led round that will reportedly include Tencent, and which will consist of $600m in equity funding and $300m in secondary share sales.

Instacart is growing like a weed and has announced a $600m round led by hedge fund D1 Capital Partners that valued it at $7.6bn. That would be some achievement in itself, but the grocery delivery service closed a $350m round at a $4.35bn valuation just six months ago.

Alibaba has invested approximately $288m in alcoholic beverages retailer 1919 Wines, taking a 29% stake in the process. 1919 sells its drinks through the combination of an e-commerce platform, for which Alibaba could surely help, and brick-and-mortar stores, and the investment comes at a time when China is learning to love wine.

LinkLogis, which uses AI to power a supply chain finance platform for small and micro-sized businesses, has received $220m in a series C round led by Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC with participation from corporates GLP, Skyworth, Tencent and Bertelsmann Asia Investments.

Ant Financial, Alibaba’s financial services affiliate, has invested $210m in Zomato, the India-based restaurant listings platform that is moving into food delivery.

Oxford Nanopore Technologies, a UK-based sequencing technology spinout of University of Oxford, has raised $66m from pharmaceutical firm Amgen that brought its latest round to $206m.

Careem has received $200m from existing investors that include Rakuten, Al Tayyar and the Saudi Telecom-anchored STV according to Reuters, capital that will likely form the first part of a $500m round that values it at $2bn pre-money.

Automotive e-commerce platform Chehaoduo has meanwhile secured $162m in a series C+ round, seven months after Tencent led its $818m series C. It has reportedly now raised a total of more than $1.85bn in total, and the city of Kunshan has provided $430m as part of a deal that will involve it being the location for Chehaoduo’s Maodou subsidiary.

Funds

SoftBank is still yet to officially close its $100bn Vision Fund, but it is reportedly arranging $9bn in debt financing for the unit, from the banks that are acting as underwriters for the IPO of its wireless division, an offering expected to raise some $27bn.

US-based growth equity firm Edison Partners closed its ninth fund at $365m yesterday having raised capital from limited partners including Rutgers University and American Family.

Taiho Pharmaceutical launched corporate venturing arm Taiho Ventures in 2016 with $50m of capital. The unit has since backed several companies, many of which are cancer therapy developers, and achieved an exit when Arcus Biosciences went public in March.

The Chinese city of Xuzhou has partnered with venture capital firm SummitView capital to launch a $433m fund focusing on sensors and technology related to the internet of things.

36Kr has long been cited as a news source for Chinese deals, but the technology news platform has been busy in recent years, adding a slate of data provision, event promotion and fundraising services to its bow.

Exits

It’s been quite a while but slowly, inch by inch, ride hailing services Uber and Lyft are moving toward the public markets.

Meanwhile, prospective underwriters for a Palantir IPO have told the company it could double its last disclosed valuation to $41bn in its own 2019 IPO.

Innovent Biologics filed for its Hong Kong IPO in June but has now revealed it is seeking $400m to $500m in the offering and has lined up cornerstone investors.

Anaplan has raised almost $264m in an IPO that involved it floating at the top of its range before seeing its share price jump some 40% immediately.


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

17 September 2018 – Smart Car Producer Banma Completes $2.3bn Funding Round

Deals

Banma, the smart car producer formed by carmaker SAIC and e-commerce group Alibaba, has completed a $2.3bn funding round that included SAIC investment vehicle Shangqi Capital.

Restaurant listings platform Zomato is in the process of expanding into food delivery and is raising some $400m to do so. Online travel agency Ctrip is reportedly in talks to put up $100m of that funding and will invest alongside Ant Financial at an expected valuation of $1.8bn to $2bn.

Lithia Motors has led a $140m series D round for automotive sales service provider Shift Technologies that consisted of debt and equity financing, as part of a strategic partnership deal.

Atreca is developing therapeutics based on immune response, and has just raised $125m in a series C round that increased its overall funding to more than $225m. An undisclosed healthcare-focused fund led the round, but Atreca’s earlier investors include GlaxoSmithKline, which took part in its $56m series A three years ago.

Benson Hill Biosciences, developer of a crop design platform, has raised $60m in a series C round led by GV that boosted its total funding to more than $94m since it was founded in 2012.

Advanced heart monitor developer InfoBionic has received $50m from investors including health insurers Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the latter through its Zaffre Investments vehicle. Zaffre also took part in the company’s last funding, an $8m series B1 round that closed in 2015.

Fosun has co-led a $50m series C round for distributed database software provider PingCap, with the proceeds set to go to product development and international growth.

Alexandria Venture Investments, the VC arm of life sciences real estate investment trust Alexandria Real Estate Equities, has also backed a $40m series B round for immuno-oncology therapy developer OncoResponse that included Helsinn Investment Fund, a corporate venturing vehicle for Helsinn Group.

Atreca, a US-based immune-focused medicine developer based on research at Stanford University, completed an oversubscribed $125m series C round today led by an undisclosed existing investor described as a healthcare-focused fund.

Funds

US-based healthcare provider Cigna has launched a corporate venturing vehicle called Cigna Ventures with $250m of capital. Cigna provides both healthcare and health insurance but formed Cigna Ventures in order to access innovative technology that can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its services.

US-based insurance firm State Farm has formally launched a $100m corporate venture capital fund known as State Farm Ventures.

Australia-based fund manager Main Sequence Ventures has raised an additional A$132m ($94.8m) for its Csiro Innovation Fund 1 from investors including University of Melbourne, aerospace and defence company

Nanoelectronics research institute Imec announced the close of its early-stage and growth fund Imec.xpand at €117m ($135m) today, above the initial target of €100m set in June 2017. Apart from Imec itself, LPs also include several unnamed universities as well as the Flemish government and its investment company PMV, state-owned regional development agency BOM and Belgian government-owned investment firm SFPI-FPIM.

Luxembourg not only launched a space agency last week but is also seeking to launch a €100m ($117m) venture capital vehicle, called Luxembourg Space Fund, to invest in space technology developers. The money will come from the state and from private investors.

Exits

Local services platform Meituan Dianping has gone public in Hong Kong, floating toward the upper end of its range at a reported $52bn valuation and raising $4.2bn in the process.

China-based smart electric carmaker Nio has gone public in the US, raising a sliver over $1bn. As with Meituan Dianping, Tencent is the largest investor in Nio, but its other backers include Baidu, Lenovo, JD.com and Temasek as well as Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC, and in contrast to the larger company, Nio floated almost at the foot of its range, having initially targeted $1.8bn in the offering.

Augmenix, a radiation oncology technology producer backed by corporates Varian Medical Systems and Ascension Health, has been acquired by medical devices maker Boston Scientific. Boston Scientific will pay $500m in upfront cash and up to an additional $100m if Augmenix reaches sales-based milestones.

Westwing, an online home furnishings retailer backed by Rocket Internet, Tengelmann Ventures and Access Industries, plans to raise up to $139m in an initial public offering slated for Frankfurt. The company has raised some $262m in funding so far.

Eventbrite, the event ticketing platform backed by payment services provider Square, has set the price range for its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange at $19 to $21.

ViraTherapeutics, an Austria-based immuno-oncology spinout of Medical University of Innsbruck, was acquired by its existing shareholder, pharmaceutical firm Boehringer Ingelheim for $245m, also allowing European Molecular Biology Laboratory to exit.


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

12 March 2018 – Magic Leap Increases Series D to $963m

Deals

In last week’s Big Deal on GCV, news editor Robert Lavine looked at DoorDash, which just got its first corporate investment in a $535m series D round led by SoftBank, almost doubling its valuation in roughly two years.

Augmented reality technology developer Magic Leap has to be one of the most well-funded companies to have never released a product. It has increased its series D round to $963m with $461m from investors including Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which put up $400m, and Axel Springer Digital Ventures.

Elsewhere in online entertainment, game livestreaming has been one of the biggest growth areas in the past year or two, as more companies look to follow Twitch’s lead. China-based Douyu, which has some 30 million daily active users, has secured $630m from Tencent, which has backed it since a $100m series B round two years ago.

Internet company Tencent has agreed to provide approximately $462m in series B funding for Huya, a China-based live game streaming spinout from social media platform Huya.

BBVA has led a $207m round for Atom Bank, the UK-based creator of a mobile-only bank with no physical branches.

Zomato has confirmed reports last month stating that Alibaba’s financial services affiliate Ant Financial had invested $200m.

Credit assessment technology provider Wecash has closed a $160m series D round that was co-led by e-commerce firm Sea and a subsidiary of financial services firm Orix.

UiPath, a developer of software bots that automate mundane enterprise tasks, has raised $135m from investors including CapitalG in a series B round that valued it at $1.1bn.

yKujiale, a China-based virtual reality platform for interior design, has raised $100m in a series D round that included Hearst Ventures, the corporate venturing arm of media group Hearst.

On GUV, TauRx Pharmaceuticals, a Singapore-based Alzheimer’s disease treatment developer spun out from University of Aberdeen, has revealed it secured $71m through a rights issue in October 2017.

Funds

Cisco Investments, the corporate venturing arm of networking equipment manufacturer Cisco, has committed an undisclosed amount to venture capital firm IDG Ventures India’s third fund.

Japan-headquartered automotive component maker Aisin Group launched a $50m US-based investment fund on Tuesday in partnership with venture capital firm Fenox Venture Capital. Fenox will manage the fund, with CEO Anis Uzzaman taking a general partner position.

On GUV, University of Montana has become the sole institutional limited partner (LP) in VC firm Next Frontier Capital’s second fund, a $38m vehicle that aims to support high-value Montana industries.

Exits

Kensho, an AI data platform based on research at Harvard University and MIT, has meanwhile agreed to an acquisition by one of its investors, S&P Global, for approximately $550m in cash and stock.

Blibli began life as a comics, anime and gaming-themed online community in China, but has grown rapidly off the back of an anime streaming platform that has licensed more titles than any other in the country.

Hua Medicine, a diabetes treatment developer backed by pharmaceutical company WuXi PharmaTech, also intends to raise upwards of $400m in an initial public offering.

Genetic disease therapy developer Homology Medicines has filed to raise up to $100m in an initial public offering that will support the progress of two drug candidates through preclinical trials.

Immuno-oncology drug developer Unum Therapeutics last raised funding in a $65m series B round in 2015, but it’s filed to raise up to $86.3m in an initial public offering.

Go-Jek is still in the process of raising funds for a round it expects to close at $1.5bn, at a $5bn valuation, but company president Andre Soelistyo has met with the Indonesia Stock Exchange to discuss a possible IPO.


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