What’s SoftBank up to now?
Rajeev Misra, the CEO of the SoftBank Vision Fund, said there are plans to double the size of its investment arm from 400 employees to 800 employees over the next 18 to 24 months. It’s unclear what those positions will entail but it’s likely the firm will increase the number of investment professionals in its offices across the world.
He also dropped more news around its plans to start fundraising for a second investment vehicle that will be “the same size” as its $100 billion Vision Fund. “We will hopefully start raising our second fund in the next few months,” Misra said at the Milken Institute conference in California.
Why do they need a second fund? Wasn’t $100 billion enough? Considering that SoftBank’s Vision Fund has already deployed $70 billion of its capital in less than three years, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son is already looking ahead.
Just last month, SoftBank formed the SoftBank Innovation Fund, a $5 billion fund focused on startups in Latin America. Yesterday, the tech behemoth confirmed that it made a $1 billion investment in Rappi, a Colombia-based on-demand delivery startup backed by Sequoia, Andreessen Horowitz, and DST Global. (Note that SoftBank Group and Vision Fund will each invest $500 million in the company, but they plan to transfer SoftBank Group’s stake in the company to the Innovation Fund.) The financing reportedly marks the largest technology investment to date in a Latin America-based company.
A Term Sheet reader recently emailed me and said, “Any story regarding Softbank is of great interest to the public market and venture capital community. I went to a VC breakfast this morning. The discussion focused on everything Softbank. The consensus was that they are on the brink of collapse. Who knows?”
I think “brink of collapse” is a little extreme, but I went to a VC dinner last night at which I had three separate conversations about SoftBank, so there’s definitely intrigue & interest. Nearly every discussion I have with investors seems to be filled with the standard concerns: Bombshell amounts of capital can inflate already-inflated tech valuations, and pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into startups that don’t necessarily need it can be dangerous. Founders offer another perspective — if I don’t take the money, my competitor surely will.
So it all depends on your vantage point. SoftBank investor Lydia Jett explained at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech Conference last year that the mega-fund’s investment strategy isn’t so aggressive — it’s simply helping “proven teams with proven operators” expand products and geographies. “It does lead to a world where we can put more capital to work in ways we don’t think are irresponsible because of the big opportunities ahead of us,” she said.
NO CHEDDAR JOKES HERE: I had to stay away from Twitter for several hours yesterday in effort to avoid all the awful “big cheese” and “tons of cheddar” jokes. Here’s the straightforward version: Cable operator Altice USA agreed to acquire streaming-video network Cheddar for $200 million in an all-cash deal. Cheddar had raised approximately $54 million in funding from investors including Raine Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Ribbit Capital, Goldman Sachs, NYSE, and more.
NEW FUNDS ALERT: Andreessen Horowitz announced this morning that it raised $750 million for an early-stage fund and $2 billion for a late-stage fund.
Andreessen’s Scott Kupor writes, “We’ve expanded into areas we said we’d never go into (bio), and new industries that barely existed when we founded the firm (crypto). We’re also continuing to invest in areas we’ve always invested in, from early-stage enterprise to consumer and fintech.”
MORE NEW FUNDS: Union Square Ventures, the New York-based venture capital firm, raised $200 million for its flagship fund and $250 million for its opportunity fund. It also announced that it hired Gillian Munson as a partner and promoted Nick Grossman to partner. Read more at TechCrunch.
• BlackBuck, an India-based logistics startup, raised $150 million in Series D funding at a valuation of just under $1 billion, according to TechCrunch. Goldman Sachs Investment Partners and Accel co-led the round, and were joined by investors including Wellington, Sequoia Capital, B Capital, LightStreet, Sands Capital and International Finance Corporation. Read more.
• Examity, a Natick, Mass.-based provider of an online proctoring platform, raised $90 million in funding. The investor was Great Hill Partners.
• Technisys, a Miami-based provider of a digital banking software platform, raised $50 million in Series C funding. Riverwood Capital led the round.
• Red Canary, a Denver-based provider of security operations solutions, raised $34 million in funding. Summit Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Access Venture Partners and Noro-Moseley Partners.
• Built Technologies, a Nashville, Tenn.-based construction lender, raised $31 million in Series B funding. Goldman Sachs Investment Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including Index Ventures, Nyca Partners, Regions Bank, Canapi Ventures and Nine Four Ventures.
• The Professional Fighters League, a mixed martial arts league, raised $30 million in Series C funding. Investors include Mark Burnett, Elysian Park Ventures, SWaN Ventures and Ted Leonsis.
• Ablacon Inc, a Wheat Ridge, Colo.-based developer of an advanced mapping system to guide the treatment of atrial fibrillation, raised $21.5 million in Series A funding. Ajax Health led the round.
• Masabi, a London-based provider of software-as-a-service ticketing and payments to public transportation, raised $20 million in funding. Smedvig Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including MMC Ventures.
• Troy Medicare, a Charlotte, N.C.-based licensed health insurance startup, raised $5 million in Series A funding. The investors were not named.
• Vault Platform, a platform for misconduct reporting for employees, raised $4.2 million in seed funding. Kindred Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Angular Ventures, System.One, Jane VC, and Mike Chalfen.
• Allganize, a Pleasanton, Calif.-based provider of deep-learning based natural-language understanding and conversational AI for enterprise, raised $3.4 million in Series A funding. SparkLabs Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Global Brain, Bass Investment Corp, Laguna Investment and Fast Investment.
• Nivo, a U.K.-based instant messaging and identity verification platform, raised £2 million ($2.6 million) in funding. Investors include GP Bullhound and the Angel CoFund.
• SpeQtral, a Singapore-based builder of space-based quantum communication systems, raised $1.9 million in seed funding. Space Capital led the round.
• Cliently, a provider of automated sales engagement and lead generation solutions, raised $1 million in seed funding. Active Capital led the round.
• Phoenix Energy Technologies, an Irvine, Calif.-based IOT business intelligence analytics company, raised funding of an undisclosed amount. Spring Lake Equity Partners and Energy Innovation Capital co-led the round.
HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES DEALS
• Vividion Therapeutics, a San Diego, Calif.-based biotechnology company that is developing discover small molecule therapeutics against biologically compelling but previously intractable targets, raised $82 million in Series B funding. Nextech Invest led the round, and was joined by investors including BVF Partners, Casdin Capital, Mubadala Ventures, Trinitas Capital, Mirae Asset Capital, Altitude Life Science Ventures, Alexandria Venture Investments, ARCH Venture Partners, Versant Ventures, Cardinal Partners and Celgene Corp.
PRIVATE EQUITY DEALS
• Gallant Capital Partners made an investment in Quality Built, a San Diego-based provider of third-party quality assurance services in the residential and commercial construction industry. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• HighTower, which is backed by Thomas H. Lee Partners, made an investment in LourdMurray, a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based wealth management firm. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
• Curaleaf Holdings, Inc. (CSE: CURA) (OTCQX: CURLF) agreed to acquire the state-regulated cannabis business of Cura Partners, Inc, owners of cannabis wholesale brand Select, in an all-stock transaction valued at C$1.27 billion($948.8 million).
• OYO acquired Leisure Group, a vacation rental company, from Axel Springer for approximately $415 million (€369.5 million).
• Beyond Meat, a Californian plant-based meat product maker, now says it plans to raise up to $241 million in an offering 9.6 million shares priced between $23 to $25. The firm posted revenues of $87.9 million in 2018 and loss of $29.9 million. Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Credit Suisse are underwriters. Kleiner Perkins (15.9% pre-offering), Obvious Ventures (9.2%), and DNS Venture Partners (9%) back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “BYND.” Read more.
• Health Catalyst, a digital records health firm, is seeking $150 million to $200 million in an IPO, the Wall Street Journal reports citing sources. Read more.
• Axcella Health, a Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech firm focused in dysregulated metabolism, plans to raise $75 million in an IPO of 3.6 million shares priced between $20 to $22. The firm has yet to post revenue, and reported a loss of $36 million in 2018. Flagship General Partners, Fidelity, and Nestlé Health Sciences back the firm. Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and SVB Leerink are underwriters. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “AXLA.” Read more.
• Firmenich agreed to acquire a majority stake in VKL Seasoning Pvt Ltd, an India-based spice company. The seller was True North. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
FIRMS + FUNDS
• Jungle Ventures, a Singapore-based venture capital firm, raised $175 million for its third fund.
• Karl Alomar joined M13 as a managing partner.