Autonomous vehicles make sense in the coronavirus. But they’re hurting
Autonomous vehicles, in theory, make more sense than ever in a socially distanced world.
Forget the anxious all-caps message urging the delivery driver to leave the food on the steps—wouldn’t it feel infinitely better to see an utterly humanless Waymo car glistening in the sunlight on your block, shooting a drone toward the front door with the Chinese takeout?
It’s just that the technology isn’t there yet, despite early predictions. It will likely take years and billions of dollars more to get there, and the coronavirus has only delayed AV tests, which require a not-so-socially-distant two people inside a car.
In the middle of the pandemic, Waymo bulwarked cash by raising an additional $750 million earlier this month.
And Zoox, a driverless, ride-hailing startup that was valued at $3.2 billion in 2018, is now reportedly in talks to be acquired by Amazon, per the Wall Street Journal. Zoox has struggled to raise funding as the industry has consolidated. GM, for example, acquired Cruise in 2016 in a deal valued at over $1 billion. The potential deal between Zoox and Amazon is expected to value the former at a lower point than its last round.
Some Lizzo and Ed Sheeran action: Warner Music Group, the New York-based record label that manages the likes of Ed Sheeran, Lizzo, and Cardi B, is forging ahead with its initial public offering as the pandemic lifts its streaming business.
Planning to list on the Nasdaq, Warner said Tuesday that it expects to raise as much as $1.8 billion by offering 70 million shares priced between $23 to $26 apiece, a deal that could value the company at about $13.3 billion.
The coronavirus swept across the entertainment industry, closing live events and pressuring ad revenues, and Warner was no exception. Revenues across the company fell 10% to $295 million in April compared to a year earlier. But its focus on digital over the years has become a boon in an economy that has moved largely onto the internet: Warner’s largest and fastest growing source of revenue, recorded music streaming, rose 12% to $183 million.
Streaming at large has been a saving grace for the music industry—a sentiment that investors have caught onto if Spotify’s $36 billion valuation is anything to go by. When Warner’s owner, Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, first acquired the company in 2011, the sector as a whole was reaching its bottom as piracy ran rampant. Streaming has since reversed the industry’s fortunes, consistently pushing up revenues across the board since 2014.
But as algorithms run the world and impact consumer tastes in everything from shoes to our preferred presidential candidates, they’re also reshaping the music industry’s focuses. Warner notes that it is emphasizing “genres that over-index on streaming platforms (e.g.., hip-hop and pop)” to help boost its digital revenue growth. Sorry artists in rock and roll—today’s not your day.
- AbCellera, a Vancouver-based maker of an antibody discovery engine, raised $105 million in Series B funding. OrbiMed and current investor DCVC Bio led the round, and were joined by investors including Viking Global Investors, Peter Thiel, Founders Fund, Eli Lilly and Company, University of Minnesota, and Presight Capital.
- Aircall, a Paris-based cloud-based voice platform, raised $65 million in Series C funding. DTCP led, and was joined by new investors Swisscom Ventures and Adams Street, as well as all existing investors including eFounders, Draper Esprit, Balderton Capital, and NextWorld.
- SmartRent, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based provider of a smart home automation for property owners, raised $60 million in Series C funding. Spark Capital led the round, and was joined by investors including Fifth Wall, Energy Impact Partners, the Amazon Alexa Fund, Bain Capital Ventures, and RET Ventures.
- DefinedCrowd, a Seattle-based data provider for artificial intelligence, raised $50.5 million in Series B funding. Investors include Semapa Next and Hermes GPE, and existing investors Evolution Equity Partners, Kibo Ventures, Portugal Ventures, Bynd Venture Capital, EDP Ventures and IronFire Ventures.
- Higi, a Chicago-based consumer health engagement company, raised $30 million in Series B funding. Babylon led the round.
- ViaCyte, Inc., a San Diego, Calif.-based regenerative medicine company, raised $27 million in Series D funding. Investors include Bain Capital Life Sciences, TPG Capital, RA Capital Management, and Sanderling Ventures.
- Kentik, a San Francisco-based provider of a network intelligence platform, raised $23.5 million in growth funding. Vistara Capital Partners led the round, and was joined by investors including August Capital, Third Point Ventures, DCVC, and Tahoma Ventures.
- By Miles, a by the mile insurtech company, raised £15 million in Series B funding. CommerzVentures led the round and was joined by investors including Octopus Ventures, Insurtech Gateway and JamJar Investments.
- Fernish, a Los Angeles-based furniture rental firm, raised $15 million in Series A funding. Khosla Ventures led the round, and was joined by investors including Techstars Investments.
- Baton, a New York-based company focused on automating and managing software implementation, raised $10 million in funding. Investors include Activant Capital, and Global Founders Capital, and Hybris founder Carsten Thoma.
- Greeneye Technology, a Tel Aviv-based crop protection company, raised $7 million in seed funding. Jerusalem Venture Partners led the round and was joined by investors including Syngenta Ventures, 2B Angels, One Way venture, Panache Ventures Techstars, and Hyperplane Venture Capital.
- Cariloop, a Dallas-based provider of care coaching services, raised $6 million in Series A funding. Patterson Thoma Family Office led the round and was joined by investors including Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, ACAP Health, KCRise Fund, MPK Equity Partners and Patrick McGee.
- Datch, a Los Angeles-based voice assistant for industrial markets including power and EV manufacturing, raised $3.2 million in seed funding. Blue Bear Capital led the round, and was joined by Stage Venture Partners, Tuhua Ventures, Lorimer Ventures, Predictive Venture Partners, and Plug and Play Ventures.
- KKR has acquired a majority stake in Etche France, a private real estate company.
- Apax Partners led a $550 million investment in Kar Global, a Carmel, In.-based vehicle remarketing and technology solution services provider. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- NordStar Capital will acquire TorStar Corp. (TSX: TS.B), a news publisher. NordStar will pay $0.63 in cash per share, representing a 66.67% premium to the 20-day volume-weighted average trading price or about $52 million.
- Merck & Co (NYSE: MRK) plans to acquire Themis Bioscience, an Austrian vaccine maker working on Covid-19.
- Carlsberg, a Danish brewer, and Marston’s, a British pubs and cask ale firm, announced a joint venture valued at £780 million ($956 million).
- Volkswagen AG is in final talks to invest in two Chinese electric vehicle (EV) firms, per Reuters. It is in talks to acquire 50% of Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group Holding for at least 3.5 billion yuan ($491 million) and plans to invest in Guoxuan High-tech Co Ltd. Read more.
BANKRUPTCIES AND BREAKUPS
- German property groups LEG Immobilien and TAG Immobilien terminated their merger discussions. Read more.
- Texas Capital Bancshares and Independent Bank Group, two Texas-based lenders, called off their $5.5 billion merger. Read more.
- Vaxcyte, a Foster City, Calif.-based biotech developing pneumococcal vaccines, filed to raise up to $100 million. Abingworth Bioventures, Longitude Venture Partners, and Roche Finance are among the investors. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “PCVX.” Read more.
- Avidity Biosciences, a La Jolla, Calif.-based biotech developing antibody therapies for muscle disorders, filed for an $100 million IPO. RTW Investments (14.5% pre-offering), Cormorant Asset Management, and Eli Lilly and Company (10.4%) back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “RNA.” Read more.
- Generation Bio, a Cambridge, Mass.-based biotech developing gene therapies for rare diseases, filed for an $125 million IPO. Atlas Venture Fund (37% pre-offering), Fidelity Investment (15%) and T. Rowe Price (8.9%) back the firm. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “GBIO.” Read more.
- Pliant Therapeutics, a San Francisco-based Phase 2 biotech developing therapies for the treatment of fibrosis, plans to raise $90 million in an offering 6 million shares priced at between $14 to $16. It posted revenue of $57.1 million in 2019 and loss of $631 million in 2019. Third Rock Ventures (32.3% pre-offering), Eventide Asset Management (9.3%), and Redmile Biopharma (7.8%) back the firm.. It plans to list on the Nasdaq as “PLRX.” Read more.
- Nordic Capital agreed to acquire Max Matthiessen, a Stockholm-based financial advisor, from Willis Towers Watson. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- iA Financial Group (TSX:IAG) acquired Innovative Aftermarket Systems (IAS), an Austin-based underwriter of vehicle protection products, From Genstar Capital. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- AddSecure agreed to acquire Connexas Group, a vehicle fleet management solution, from Horizon Capital. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
- Aquiline Capital Partners closed its fourth private equity fund with over $2 billion in commitments.
- TPG Capital appointed Karthic Jayaraman as a Partner in London. Jayaraman will co-lead the healthcare practice.
- Four Carlyle dealmakers responsible for the Sub-Saharan African fund are leaving to start their own fund. Genevieve Sangudi, Eric Kump, Idris Mohammed and Bruce Steen are creating a new fund called Alterra Capital.