VC Deals Of The Week: Strong Start For Uber Competitors

by: VCDeals

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VC spending hit a new high in 2018 with nearly $131B deployed across almost 9,000 deals, according to PitchBook data. The investment total was above the $100M record in 2000 during the dotcom boom, but the total deal number was down 5% Y/Y. Deals totaling $50M and larger accounted for over 61% of investments.

Self-driving software: Waymo (NASDAQ:GOOGL) and Uber (UBER) competitor Aurora is raising at least $500M in equity funding at an over $2B valuation. Sequoia Capital is expected to lead the round, which would bring total funding up to $596M and quadruple its most recent valuation.
Aurora's full-stack self-driving software system has the backing of LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and the company's C-suite includes vets of Waymo, Uber, and Tesla. Aurora partners with automakers to integrate its software into vehicles. Current partners include Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Byton.
E-scooters: Uber and Lyft's (LYFT) electric scooter competitor Bird is raising $300M in new funding led by Fidelity, according to Axios sources. The money would be an extension of the prior round, which means Bird will keep its $2B valuation.
E-scooter companies are working to build out geographic and product bases while fighting local governments for permitting. Uber entered the space last year with its acquisition of Jump Bikes and Lyft followed with its Motivate purchase.
Competitor: Lime, another e-scooter player, was recently looking for a $400M investment at a $3B valuation.
Digital chassis: Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), and Bridgestone (OTCPK:BRDCY) contributed and Franklin Templeton led the $115M Series D round for digital chassis company ClearMotion.
The nearly decade-old company wants to replace the standard shock-absorbance tech on vehicles with a combination of software and dedicated hardware. The resulting system predicts road conditions, enabling faster vehicle responses. In late 2017, ClearMotion purchased Bose Ride and over 300 patents related to mobility motion control. The startup says it has first production facility lined up, expecting to ship products this year, and plans to expand its data science and machine learning teams.
Delivery giant: Postmates (POSTM) raised $100M in a Series F round at a $1.85B valuation, three months after a $300M round at a $1.2B valuation. Investors included BlackRock and Tiger Global.
Postmates hired JPMorgan Chase to underwrite its IPO, which is expected to happen in the first half of 2019 if the government shutdown doesn't delay the process. The new funding means Postmates can afford to raise less in the IPO.
Competitors: Uber, which is also heading for an early 2019 IPO (potentially worth $90B to $120B, depending on the source), Grubhub (NYSE:GRUB), and DoorDash (DOORD), which had a $4B valuation as of last August.
Learning and management software: Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) participated in a $50M round for Talentsoft, a provider of learning and human capital management software. Francisco Partners led and Bpifrance joined. Talentsoft's total funding stands at about $103M.
Talentsoft's cloud-based software has 2,000 clients (including Toyota Europe and STMicroelectronics) and 9M users around the world. The new funds will accelerate international development, invest in innovations, and shift the platform towards integrating with third-party applications.
Competitors: SAP (NYSE:SAP), Cornerstone OnDemand (NASDAQ:CSOD), Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), and Workday (NYSE:WDAY).

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