Venture capital deals of the week

Jan. 13, 2018 9:46 AM ETRenault SA (RNSDF)GE, TTM, GOOG, MSFT, CRM, ABB, HON, MMTOF, RNSDF, SSNLF, NSANY, NSANF, SSNNF, GOOGL, RNLSY, UBERBy: Brandy Betz, SA News Editor8 Comments
  • New fund: Automakers Renault (OTC:RNSDF, OTCPK:RNLSY), Nissan (OTCPK:NSANY, OTCPK:NSANF), and Mitsubishi (OTCPK:MMTOF) announced plans to establish Alliance Ventures. The venture capital fund will invest up to $1B over five years in vehicle electrification, AI, and autonomous systems. Renault SA and Nissan will both pitch in 40% of the financing and Mitsubishi will finance the remaining 20%.
  • Alliance Ventures expects to invest up to $200M in its first year with a strategic investment into Ionic Materials serving as the first deal. Ionic Materials develops solid-state cobalt-free battery materials.
  • Translation platform: Microsoft Ventures (NASDAQ:MSFT), Salesforce Ventures (NYSE:CRM), and Samsung Next (OTC:SSNNF, OTC:SSNLF) participated in a $23 Series B round in Unbabel, a Lisbon-based developer of an “AI-powered, human-refined” translation platform for enterprise users. Scale Venture Partners led the round and Notion Capital, Caixa Capital, and Funders Club also participated.
  • Unbabel uses machine learning and a network of about 55K human translations to power the translations across any type of online communication via an API and integrations with Salesforce, WordPress, and other enterprise software.
  • The round brings Unbabel’s total funding up to $31M, according to Crunchbase.
  • Data analytics: GE Ventures (NYSE:GE), Honeywell Ventures (NYSE:HON), and ABB Technology Ventures (NYSE:ABB) participated in a $19.5M Series A round in Element Analytics, a San Francisco-based data analytics management and integration software provider. Other participants included Mitsui & Co., Aster, Blue Bear Capital, and Kleiner Perkins. The round brings total equity funding in Element Analytics up to $22M.
  • The startup’s Element Platform can process, manage, and integrate large amounts of data from a wide variety of sources including sensors, engineering systems, and operational systems. The Platform creates “dynamic digital representations of physical equipment and assets” for easy and accurate analysis.
  • Robo-taxi: Jaguar’s (NYSE:TTM) venture capital arm InMotion Ventures chipped in $3M of a $15M funding round in Voyage, a robo-taxi service. Other investors included Khosla Ventures, SV Angel, Initialized Capital, Amino Capital, and Charles River Ventures. The round brings total funding up to $20M to date.
  • Voyage has a license to start testing self-driving cars in California this year. The startup competes with several other autonomous vehicle projects including Uber (UBER) and Alphabet’s Waymo.
  • Bug finder: GV (GOOG, GOOGL) participated in a $9M Series B round in Bugsnag, a cloud-based service that helps developers find software bugs. Other investors included Matrix Partners and Benchmark Capital. The round brings Bugsnag up to over $17M in funding.
  • Bugsnag monitors the performance of apps across environments from browser to backend and reports errors in a diagnostic report that focuses on the nature of the bug rather than the number of issues.
  • 2017 revisited: The U.S. venture capital industry invested $84B in 2017, the highest since the dot-com boom, thanks in part to unicorns. The money went to 8,035 companies across 8,076 deals, according to the PitchBook-NVCA Venture Monitor annual report. Unicorns (companies valued at over $1B) accounted for $19.2B of the total.
  • PitchBook CEO John Gabbert: “While the figures are comparable to the dot-com era, the VC ecosystem appears healthy and driven by different dynamics. Later-stage companies with strong consumer traction are commanding large rounds of financing.” 
  • Previously: Venture capital deals of the week (Jan. 6)

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