News > Venture Capital

11 European unicorns hit $1B valuation
<p>The U.S. may be the unicorn kingdom, but Europeans are creating their own tech unicorns too.</p> <p>In the last 12 months, Europe has birthed 11 new startups with valuations of $1 billion or more, reports Business Insider. Most of the list comes from London or Germany, and three are finance related. Here they are:</p> <p> Farfetch-$1 billion- London-based fashion startup. Serves as a storefront for more than 300 global boutiques.<br /> Funding Circle- $1 billion- London-based peer-to-peer lending platform.<br /> TransferWire- $1 billion- London-based, with a background from Estonia, peer-to-peer money transfer service.<br /> Auto1 Group- $1 billion- German-founded car sale startup.<br /> Shazam- $1 billion- Music identification app with ambitions to move beyond just songs.<br /> Home24- $1.03 billion- Online German furniture store.<br /> Ayden- $1.5 billion- Netherlands' payments company.<br /> BlaBlaCar- $1.6 billion- European car sharing service.<br /> HelloFresh- $2.9 billion- German-based food delivery startup.<br /> Delivery Hero- $3.1 billion- German-based platform that allows apps and local websites to partner with local restaurants in other countries.<br /> Global Fashion Group- $3.1 billion- A compilation of fashion startups in emerging markets.</p> <p>Photo: Steven Depolo</p>
Ratan Tata: An archangel of Indian VC
<p>This week Ratan Tata was listed by LiveMint as one of the “archangels of Indian e-commerce”, a title earned by his long list of investments in the space - but his investment activity goes far beyond that.</p> <p>If you don’t know Ratan Tata, you know his surname.  The 77 year old is chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons - the holding company for Indian mega-conglomerate Tata Group - and one of the leading lights of India’s business community.  He is also a prolific and enthusiastic angel investor.</p> <p>In short, Ratan loves India’s VC scene, and startups love to be associated with him, and his name. His  list of investments also shows he has a knack for picking winners:</p> <p> Altaeros Energies - Wind energy<br /> Snapdeal - E-commerce<br /> Bluestone - E-commerce<br /> Urban Ladder - E-commerce<br /> Swasth India - Healthcare<br /> CarDekho - E-commerce<br /> Grameen Capital - Finance<br /> Paytm - Fintech<br /> Ola Cabs - Ride sharing<br /> Ampere - Electric vehicles<br /> Kaaryah - E-commerce<br /> Infinite Analytics - Marketing analytics<br /> Holachef - Food delivery<br /> Xiaomi Mi - Electronics</p> <p>He is also an advisor to three India-focused VC funds: Jungle Ventures, Kalaari Capital, and IDG Ventures India. He only joined IDG this month, and  now the fund is hoping to to use some of that Tata magic to help raise $200 million for its  next fund.</p> <p>Photo: American Center Mumbai</p>
Asian food delivery startups are gobbling each other up
<p>Food delivery start-up Foodpanda has just made its ninth acquisition, picking up Singapore-Dine for an undisclosed sum. This is the latest in a string of mergers in this space</p> <p>According to the Straits Times the purchase adds Singapore eateries Tony Roma's, Subway, 4Fingers and California Pizza Kitchen to its list of about 500 restaurants.</p> <p>Food delivery platforms have been gaining popularity in Asia for some time, offering both convenience for consumers and cost savings for restaurants who want to avoid the painful overheads associated with food delivery.</p> <p>With nine acquisitions under its belt, Rocket Internet-backed Food Panda is certainly becoming an apex predator in the space. In Asia it now covers all of Southeast Asia, South Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.</p> <p>But its not the only one gobbling up competition in the region.</p> <p>Over the past 18-months we have seen Singapore's Food Runner swallow down Philippine start-up City Delivery and Hong Kong's Koziness Concepts - previously iDelivery - buy Dial-a-Dinner and Soho Delivery.</p> <p>Its not just food delivery sites angling for a top spot in the space, either. In India ride sharing app Ola has launched Ola Cafe while Zomato - the fast growing restaurant discovery site that recently bought US rival Urbanspoon - is expanding into food delivery too.</p> <p>Dubbed by TechCrunch as an "Uber for Food", India-based  Zomato has eight acquisitions to its name and it could soon show FoodPanda that its not the only big fish in sea.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
Is this Chinese start-up disrupting the world's oldest profession?
<p>A Beijing-based start-up called Zubowa - meaning "rent me" -  has raised a $1.5 million angel round for a platform that allows users to sell themselves for a day... or a night.</p> <p>Of course, many uses for this service are purely innocent: perhaps you need someone to teach you piano, another player on your soccer team, or just someone to play bridge with your grandma. But there are other - potentially murkier - services also being offered: dating.</p> <p>According to Tech in Asia, the app is not shy about it either. The description attached to the app even boasts: "there are a ton  of beautiful girls and handsome guys waiting for you."</p> <p>It doesn't take a massive leap of the imagination to see how a platform such as this opens itself for exploitation. It will also be interesting to see how this startup navigates clear regulatory and cultural pitfalls.</p> <p>In any case, online-to-offline services is a fast-growing sector in China right now. Given that China's unemployment rate is the rise - the National Bureau of Economic Research recently put it at 10.9% -  a platform like this could still gain traction.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
Raising money? There's a new entry fund-raising step -- 'pre-seeding'
<p>After family and friends, hopeful entrepreneurs would go to seed funds to raise money. There's a new step now in the fundraising process. It's called "pre-seed."  Sarah Lacy writes in Pando.com (paywall):<br /> Welcome to the messy, inevitable collision of four trends: The series A crunch, bigger rounds later in a company’s life demanding higher pro-ratas, the rise and success of institutional seed rounds over the last 5+ years, and the increasing prices of building a company in San Francisco.</p> <p>Simply put: “Seed” is no longer seed. Pre-seed is seed. And even that’s not the earliest round: There’s friends and family before that. “Series A is actually the fourth round of funding,” says Manu Kumar, of K9 ventures, the best known pre-seed fund. “Before that there is seed, then before that there is pre-seed and then before that there is friends and family. We are the first institution in, but typically we are the second money.”<br /> Photo: Hartwig HKD</p>
HK billionaire Li Ka-shing's tech fund is Israel’s biggest foreign investor for upstarts
<p>Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures Ltd, which invests in technology companies such as Facebook, Slack and Spotify, is the biggest source of foreign investment for a number of tech startups in Israel.</p> <p>Citing data from market tracker IVC Research Center, the WSJ says Horizons has invested in at least 28 tech startups in Israel including Corephonotics, designer of dual-lens system for mobile-phone cameras, and Kaiima, a seed-technology company. In fact, startups from Israel now accounts for more than a third of the tech venture-capital fund’s more than 60 portfolio of startups, it says.</p> <p>The latest information comes as no surprise as Li, ranked the second richest man in Asia according to Bloomberg, has been aggressively expanding his empire all over the world. Just this week, Li’s Hutchison Whampoa sealed a deal with Spain’s Telefonica to acquire its British mobile phone unit O2 for 10.25 billion pounds (US$15.3 billion).</p> <p>Hutchison has been active in Israel way ahead of Horizon. Hutchison has established its presence in the country for more than a decade while Horizon, the first major Asian investor to put up money in Israeli tech companies, only did so in 2011, the WSJ says.</p> <p>Hutchison owns stakes in Partner Communications, Israel’s No.2 mobile-phone company, and in SDL Desalination, a water company, the report says.<br /> Photo: Ron Shoshani</p>
Video: The rise of the private IPO
<p>Frederic Kerrest, COO and Co-Founder, of Okta, a unicorn and red-hot identity management company, sat down with Fortune journalist Dan Primack and Anand Sanwal, CEO and Co-Founder of CB Insights, the venture capital research company. First question: Would you invest in an index comprised of unicorns? How would you answer?</p>
VC exit activity remains strong despite rising valuations
<p>U.S. VC exit activity has slowed this year. 2014 exits harkened back to the dot-com days, though last year’s total was partially skewed by the massive $22 billion sale of WhatsApp. Absent that deal, 2014 was still a post-2000 record by both count and value, so a slowdown isn’t surprising. What has changed over the past five years is the sheer number of exits happening, topping out at 986 last year. Through 1H, 2015 totals aren’t too far behind at 427, and capital exited levels should compare favorably to prior years, as well.</p> <p>IPO activity, on the other hand, is well off last year’s pace. 121 VC-backed companies went public in 2014 versus only 42 companies through June of this year. Market volatility will likely dictate IPO activity through the rest of the year, though the number of still-private unicorns hints at stronger IPO numbers—at some point. Until then, acquisitions remain the exit of choice for VC, with another 385 sales finalized in 1H totaling $23 billion in value. M&amp;A made up 90% and 85% of VC exit counts and value, respectively, through the first half.</p> <p>Large exits ($500M+) accounted for the lion’s share (58%) of total capital exited in 1H, down slightly from 63% in 2014. Most years going back to 2006 saw $500M+ exits account for 40% or less of total exit value, and sometimes as little as 21% (in 2009).</p> <p>This article is an excerpt originally posted on ValueWalk. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
How to break into the VC world
<p>Venture capitalists are the cool kids of the finance high school world. But it's not easy to get to the top.</p> <p>As one VC said, people have this "wry notion that it [venture] means automatic fun, wealth and thrills, sorry...it's just not that way," writes Inc. If you're willing to put in the hours, the effort, and have a traditional finance background, here's what else VCs recommend you have to join their ranks:</p> <p> Be an entrepreneur. Success or failure, having experience building and selling companies can make you a VC's dream entrepreneur-in-residence. If you're not a business starter, work for a startup. Startup experience can give valuable insight for investing in new companies later.<br /> Invest. Make a track record by investing in an angel deal or two with your own money. Added bonus? Sit on a startup's advisory board.<br /> Network, network, network. It's vital to know and be known in the startup community. Attend events, blog, and utilize your current job's connections. Make your contact list irreplaceable.<br /> Be smart and analytical. Be able to critically look at companies, analyze their potential, and know their finances. Good old fashioned finance skills are essential here.<br /> Think about alternative career paths. Few people jump into their dream careers. It's unlikely you'll intern at a VC firm and work your way up the ladder. Consider gaining operating experience. Work in business development at a tech company. Join an angel group or family office in an investor role.</p> <p>Photo: Michael</p>
Uh Oh! Looks like Tesla might have a Chinese rival
<p>Well it was bound to happen wasn't it? Just as taxi app Uber must now contend with Didi Kuaidi, or the way Xiaomi has shaken up the smartphone space, a lean new Chinese electric car start-up - NextEV - is trying to muscle in on Tesla's turf.</p> <p>Not only that, it just raised a round led by Silicon Valley venture capital giant Sequoia Capital, according to Fortune. Other investors include Uber-backers Hillhouse Capital. Ok, but it's in China, right? It's not like the start-up is moving into Tesla's backyard or anything? Well, actually, it just opened a new 85,000-square-foot R&amp;D center in north San Jose, California.</p> <p>Its not the first rival Tesla has had to deal with. The US incumbent, which was backed early on by Draper Fisher Jurvetson, DBL Investors, and Technology Partners - among others,  has already inspired a slew of copycats. That said, it looks like the electric car space has just got a little bit more crowded.<br /> Photo: Thomas Hawk</p>