VC Deals: SoftBank Backs Renewable Energy Storage

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 Friday afternoons.

  • Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) and Tencent (OTCPK:TCEHY,OTCPK:TCTZF) participated in a $434M Series E for Chinese Q&A platform Zhihu. Beijing Kuaishou led the round. As part of the deal, Baidu will add 100M Zhihu posts to its main app. The startup will use the money for technology and product development.
  • Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) joined a $125M, Naspers-led Series D for Indian social commerce startup Meesho. The Meesho marketplace connects sellers with potential buyers on platforms including WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram. Meesho says it has a network of more than 2M resellers from 700 towns. The startup hopes to use the funds to add 18M new sellers by next year.
  • SoftBank (OTCPK:SFTBF,OTCPK:SFTBY) Vision Fund invested $110M in a Series B for renewable energy storage solutions company Energy Vault. The startup says its tech enables renewable energy to be stored in 35-ton bricks and delivered for baseload power on-demand for cheaper than fossil fuels. Energy Vault launched last year and already has partnerships with Mexico’s CEMEX and India’s The Tata Power Company. SoftBank invested earlier than normal, thinking Energy Vault could scale so quickly it won’t need later funding rounds.
  • Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) led a $100M round for Indian social media platform ShareChat at a valuation of about $650M. The startup serves 60M users a month in 15 regional languages. The average user spends 22 minutes on the app each day and about 15% of the user base actively produces content. The new funds will help strengthen the tech infrastructure, hire talent, and work towards the goal of doubling the number of users in the next year.
  • Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) participated and Activate Capital led a $60M funding for corporate carpooling startup Scoop, bringing total funding up to $106M. Scoop has over 50 corporate clients including LinkedIn, Workday, and T-Mobile plus a partnership with Lyft. Riders select one or more times of day they’d be willing to travel before a deadline, then Scoop’s algorithms create the most efficient carpools based on routes, company preferences, and other factors. The company operates in 2,000 cities and has facilitated more than 7M trips.
  • Samsung (OTC:SSNNF,OTC:SSNLF), Verizon Ventures (NYSE:VZ), and Comcast Ventures (NASDAQ:CMCSA) were among the numerous backers in a $28M Series A for holographic display developer Light Field Lab. The money will help scale its display tech from prototype to product, which uses six-inch by four-inch core “building blocks” to create a larger image.

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