VC Deals: Cruise Drives Off With $1.15B

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Includes: F, GM, GOOG, GOOGL, HMC, LYFT, QCOM, RKUNF, RKUNY, SFTBF, SFTBY, UBER
by: VCDeals

Welcome to Seeking Alpha’s Venture Capital Deals of the Week. Follow this account and turn on the e-mail alert to receive VCDeals in your inbox on Saturday mornings.

1. GM’s self-driving unit gets $1.15B

GM’s (NYSE:GM) self-driving spin-off Cruise got $1.15B in new investments at a $19B valuation. Investors included GM, SoftBank Vision Fund, and Honda. Cruise has secured $7.25B in capital commitments in the past year. The Vision Fund chipped in $2.25B last May then GM pledged $750M over 12 years as part of its autonomous vehicle design pact with Honda.

GM purchased Cruise for $1B in 2016. The company plans to deploy fully driverless cars (sans steering wheel and peddles) for ride-hailing as early as this year. Ford (NYSE:F) has a similar vehicle goal with a 2021 timeline and Alphabet’s Waymo already has a limited, scaled down self-driving ride-hail test program in Phoenix. Uber is also a player in the space with SoftBank backing and a Toyota partnership.

2. Uber competitor lands $200M

Uber (NYSE:UBER) competitor Gett raised $200M in debt and equity financing at a $1.5B valuation ahead of its planned IPO early next year. Investors in the round included VW, Access and its founder Len Blavatnik, Kreos, MCI and more.

The B2B ride-hail startup operates in Israel, the UK, Russia, and New York. The company forecasts it will be profitable by the end of this year. The company hasn’t decided on an IPO venue yet with New York and London in consideration. Considering the rocky public debuts of Lyft (NASDAQ:LYFT) and Uber, Gett’s differentiation as a profitable business could offset the difference in scale.

3. Qualcomm backs vRAN developer

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Ventures participated in a $114M Series C for open virtualized radio area networks developer Altiostar. Other backers included Rakuten and Tech Mahindra with the latter chipping in $15M in cash for a 17.5% stake. The startup was last valued at $82M in 2018.

The investments came with solidified agreements including deploying Altiostar’s solutions on Rakuten’s network and a collab with Qualcomm. Altiostar will use the funding to expand its network to 4G and 5G products, which will help telecoms build end-to-end web-scale cloud-native networks. Altiostar has a presence in the UK, Germany, India, Mexico, Argentia, and Israel with a total of 220 employees.

4. SoftBank makes Mexican payments push

News broke that SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBF,OTCPK:SFTBY) invested about $20M in Mexican payment startup Clip as part of a roughly $100M round. The infusion brought Clip’s valuation up to $350M to $400M and total funding to $160M. General Atlantic also participated.

Clip offers a mobile credit card reader that fits onto smartphones, which makes it cheaper and easier for small retailers in the region to accept card payments. Mexico still has a large segment of the population that doesn’t have a bank account, but the number with access to cards is growing. Clip lets retailers bridge the gap without ramping up processing costs.

5. Google invests in CRISPR for heart disease

GV (GOOG,GOOGL) led a $58.5M seed funding in Verve Therapeutics, which came out of stealth with plans to develop one-and-done CRISPR gene therapies for heart disease. ARCH Venture Partners, F-Prime Capital, and Biomatics Capital also participated.

Verve was co-founded by cardiologist Dr. Sekar Kathiresan, who cataloged genes related to coronary heart disease and found nearly 60. Now the company wants to alter risk-raising to neutral genes to help combat the threats of heart disease including high cholesterol. Verve already has partnerships with some key CRISPR players including Alphabet’s Verily, a team-up developing lipid nanoparticles to deliver CRISPR into cells.

Competitors: Traditional, effective, and low-cost heart disease treatments like statins.

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