VC Deals: SoftBank's Vision Fund Spends Half Its Capital

Feb. 09, 2019 11:27 AM ETSFTBF, SFTBY, AMZN, UBER, GOOG, GOOGL, MSFT, PYPL, FL, INTC2 Comments4 Likes
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SoftBank's (OTCPK:SFTBF, OTCPK:SFTBY) Vision Fund announced it has spent $50B of its $99B in working capital. The total remaining drops to $30B after removing committed investments and money earmarked for employees. But $30B is still a large fund, and SoftBank could always step in with some of the $6.4B mobile unit profit set aside for investments.

1. Amazon backs self-driving startup

Amazon (AMZN) participated in the $530M Series B for self-driving car startup Aurora at a $2.5B valuation. Sequoia Capital led and T. Rowe Price was among the other backers. Total funds raised now sits at over $620M.

Aurora wants to develop a "full-stack solution" for autonomous vehicles with a focus on Level 4, or vehicles that can fully operate without human intervention in most driving situations. The startup was founded by vets of Google, Tesla, and Uber and the board includes the likes of Reid Hoffman and Index Ventures' Mike Volpi. Aurora already has partnerships with Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Chinese EV startup Byton.

Competitors: Plentiful and including Uber (UBER) and Waymo (GOOG,GOOGL).

2. Microsoft invests in "boring AI" partner

Microsoft (MSFT) joined the $250M round for "boring AI" startup Databricks at a $2.75B valuation, bringing total funding to nearly $500M. Andreessen Horowitz led the round with participation from Coatue Management and New Enterprise Associates.

Databricks' tools collect all of a company's databases then uses AI to make it simpler to look for important information. Databricks says its annual recurring revenue totaled $100M last year while subscription sales tripled from the prior year. Current customers total around 2,000 and include Overstock, Nielsen, and HP. Microsoft offers a version of Databricks software to its Azure cloud customers.

3. Paypal joins EU fintech marketplace

PayPal (PYPL) participated in the $114M round for fintech savings and investment marketplace Raisin, bringing total funding up to $200M. Index Ventures, Ribbit Capital, and Thrive Capital also participated.

Raisin has partnerships with banks and lets customers shop for the best rates on savings and investment products and takes care of everything from account opening to anti-money laundering checks. Partnerships with banks simplifies the process for consumers. Raisin says it has brokered more than $11B in deposits from 160K customers. Raisin initially launched broadly in the EU then had dedicated launches in the Netherlands and the U.K. last year. The Berlin-based startup says it will use the funds for "strategic acquisitions" and further global expansions with plans to add at least two more international markets this year.

4. Foot Locker gets strategic with sneaker reseller

Foot Locker (FL) invested $100M in secondary speaker platform GOAT Group, which operates the GOAT and Flight Club marketplaces. The round pushed valuation up to around $550M.

Shoes for sale ship to one of GOAT's 12 facilities around the world for authentication before listing, setting the sites apart from platforms like eBay where fakes are plentiful. GOAT takes a 10% to 30% cut of each transaction. Sneaker listings have tripled in the past year to include 750K listings and 35K unique styles. Under the new investment, GOAT products could appear in Foot Locker's physical stores.

Competitors: StockX (GV among backers) and Stadium Goods (purchased by Farfetch in December for $250M) are the most direct competitors.

5. Intel bets on SaaS intelligence platform

Intel (INTC) led a $30M Series B round in SaaS intelligence platform Catalytic, bringing total funding up to $42M. Redline Capital, NEA, Boldstart, and Hyde Park Angels also participated.

Catalytic's SaaS automation platform can reduce manual processing tasks by 50%, according to the company. More than 200 actions are available to help enterprises with processing and coordination. Catalytic will use the new funds to expand its sales and engineering operations.

Competitors: Blue Prism, Automation Anywhere and UIPath.

Editor's Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major U.S. exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

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