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According to the report, released today, VC deals in Europe totalled €10.6bn in Q3 2020. That’s one of the strongest quarters on record, bringing year-to-date funding to €29.5bn and meaning it’s on track to eclipse the €37.2bn raised in 2019.

“Despite economies falling into recessions, unemployment rising drastically across numerous different sectors and multiple stimulus measures being announced by pretty much all of the European nations, venture deal value and activity hasn’t really reflected impacts of Covid-19,” Nalin Patel, the lead author of the report, tells Sifted.

However the UK, which accounts for the largest share of VC investments in Europe, saw a quarter-over-quarter drop, from €3.5bn to €2.6bn, likely tied to a decline in the overall number of deals.

Pharma and biotech startups also accounted for four out of the five largest exits in the third quarter of the year, representing a combined value of €5.3bn. That’s on track to beat the annual exit values from software startups for the second consecutive year, according to the report.

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Founded in 2015, PrimaryBid seamlessly connects everyday investors with public companies. Through a long-term agreement with the London Stock Exchange, it ensures that retail investors transact at the same time and at the same price as institutional investors, creating a more democratised access to public markets. To date it has been involved in 90 issuances on London markets, including Compass Group, Ocado, Taylor Wimpey and William Hill.

So far, PrimaryBid has completed over 41 capital raisings for UK listed companies and investment trusts since April 2020, working alongside global investment banks to broaden investor access as companies recapitalised their balance sheets and raised growth capital. Retail investors directly own 13.5% of the UK market, while additionally holding approximately €296.7 billion (£269 billion) in cash ISAs, making them an important constituency in any capital raising activity (sources: ONS, 2018; HMRC, 2020).

Charlie Walker, Head of Equity and Fixed Income, Primary Markets at London Stock Exchange plc said:“This investment builds on our collaboration with PrimaryBid and is part of London Stock Exchange Group’s commitment to broadening retail investor access to public equity markets. Through PrimaryBid’s innovative offering, retail investors have been able to access capital raisings on the same terms as institutional investors, supporting the U.K.’s public companies by providing additional capital and liquidity. PrimaryBid has become an important part of the U.K.’s capital raising ecosystem and we look forward to working with them to further enhance retail investor access to capital markets within the U.K. and globally.” 

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Esports organiser to grow presence in China and across Asia with new investment. Asia-based esports organiser Versus Programming Network (VSPN) has raised almost US$100 million in a Series B funding round, led by Chinese technology and gaming company Tencent Holdings.

Having been founded in 2016, Shanghai-based VSPN has become one of the continent’s largest esports experience providers which sees it involved with a number of high-profile tournaments, including the Peacekeeper Elite League. The company has also branched out into other businesses such as offline venue operation.

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Ordermark, a Los Angeles, CA-based provider of online ordering management solutions for restaurants and virtual restaurant concepts, closed its $120M Series C funding round.

The round was led by Softbank Vision Fund 2, joined by returning investor Act One Ventures.

The company intends to use the funds to continue to expand its business reach.

Led by Alex Canter, CEO and Co-Founder, Ordermark provides an online order management technology platform used by thousands of independent and chain restaurants nationwide, consolidates mobile orders across online ordering services and sends them to a single printer — enabling omni-channel ordering and delivery. The company also operates Nextbite, which enables qualifying restaurants to offer popular delivery-only brands out of their existing spaces.

Ordermark’s thousands of customers include small, single-location restaurants and many of the world’s top restaurant chains including Papa John’s, Popeyes, Which Wich, and Yogurtland.

Yuanfudao’s platform offers live courses and provides tutoring options for students. The company, which is based in Beijing, was founded in 2012.

The funding comes as edtech–and the need for edtech–draws more attention. With the COVID-19 pandemic driving much of learning online, the space has drawn increased interest from those in the education community and investors. Yuanfudao is a major player in edtech in China, and will be an official sponsor of the Winter 2022 Olympics in Beijing.

About 3.7 million students use Yuanfudao’s regular-priced courses, according to the company, and it has teaching and research centers across China. 

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Today, a startup out of Dublin called LearnUpon, which has been building e-learning solutions not for schools but corporates to use for development and training, has raised $56 million to feed a growth in demand for its tools, particularly in the U.S. market, which currently accounts for 70% of LearnUpon’s sales.

LearnUpon already has some 1,000 customers globally, including Booking.com, Twilio, USA Football and Zendesk. And notably, eight-year-old LearnUpon was profitable and had only raised $1.5 million before now.

Corporate learning has followed similar but not identical trajectory to that of online education for K-12 and higher learning. In common, especially in the last 8 months. has been a growing need to engage and connect with learners at a time when it’s been challenging, or in some cases impossible, to see each other in person.

What’s different is that corporate learning was already a very established market, with organizations widely investing in online tools to manage training and personal development for years before any pandemic necessitated it.

Areas like employee onboarding, personnel development, customer training, training on new products, partner training, sales development, compliance, and building training services that you then sell to third parties are all areas that count as corporate learning. One researcher estimated that the corporate learning market was valued at an eye-watering $64 billion in 2019, with LMS investments alone at over $9 billion that year, and both are growing.

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98point6, an on-demand digital primary care service that delivers personalized consultation, diagnosis and treatment to patients across the country, today announced a $118 million Series E fundraising round to further support its growth and success. The text-based primary care platform now has more than 240 commercial partnerships-accounting for three million members-with prominent brands including Banner|Aetna, Boeing, Circle K, Red Bull North America, Sam's Club, and Teamsters Western Region and New Jersey Health Care Fund.

The round was led by the Growth Fund of L Catterton, the largest and most global consumer-focused private equity firm, and Activant Capital, the global growth equity investment firm highly focused on technologies disrupting legacy industries. Additional funding came from new and returning investors, including Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division. This latest round allows 98point6 to further invest in research and development and expand its robust medical practice as employers, health plans and retail partners increasingly view exceptional remote care as an essential component of their offerings.

Founded in 2015, 98point6 is pioneering a new approach to primary care. By pairing AI and machine learning with board-certified physicians, our vision is to make primary care more accessible and affordable, leading to better health. We meet consumers where they are by offering private, text-based diagnosis and treatment via a mobile app. For employers, health plans and retail partners, 98point6 increases primary care utilization among those not actively or appropriately engaged in their health-enabling earlier medical intervention and reducing overall cost of care. For more information about 98point6, visit www.98point6.com

GoPuff, a delivery startup with apps and a desktop site focused on convenience store goods, raised $380 million to support its expansion and product selection, and to expand its executive team. The funding round led by Accel and D1 Capital Partners, with the participation of Luxor Capital and SoftBank Vision Fund, values the company at $3.9 billion, per an announcement.

GoPuff's latest fundraising round and expansion of its executive team are a sign that the delivery service has big goals as a distribution channel for marketers of products typically found in convenience stores, such as snacks, beverages and over-the-counter medication that people sometimes buy impulsively or want quickly. GoPuff, which started in Philadelphia in 2013 as an on-demand hookah delivery service before expanding its product selection, has tended to focus on providing late-night delivery service in college towns where students keep irregular hours. With many colleges and other communities enforcing strict social distancing guidelines during the pandemic, GoPuff's delivery services are well-suited for customers who are avoiding stores or are limiting in-person contact with others.

The fundraising round bodes well for GoPuff as the startup seeks to expand into more markets, build out its selection and hire more seasoned management. By naming Wong as chief customer officer, GoPuff is gaining an experienced marketing executive from Lowe's, which has developed a variety of marketing programs to connect with customers among sales channels that include mobile.

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Spendesk, the spend management platform for SMBs has today announced it has raised $18 million in addition to its Series B round last year ($38 million).

The new investment comes from global VC fund Eight Roads Ventures and brings the total raised to $68.5 million. This funding will support the strong growth Spendesk has realised despite the current pandemic, which has accelerated digitisation of finance departments and increased the demand for spend management solutions.

Spendesk offers an all-in-one spend management solution that delivers more visibility and automation to today’s finance teams. The platform combines spend approvals, virtual and physical cards for employees, expense reimbursements and invoice management into one source of truth.

The startup has maintained strong growth throughout the disruption caused by COVID-19 with subscription revenue doubling year-on-year, demonstrating the mission critical nature of the tool, and resilience of the business model.

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The pandemic has accelerated ecommerce growth in the US with online sales reaching a level not previously expected until 2022.

US ecommerce sales will reach $794.50 billion this year, up 32.4% year-over-year. That’s a much higher growth rate than the 18.0% predicted in our Q2 forecast, as consumers continue to avoid stores and opt for online shopping amid the pandemic.

“We’ve seen ecommerce accelerate in ways that didn’t seem possible last spring, given the extent of the economic crisis,” said Andrew Lipsman, eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence. “While much of the shift has been led by essential categories like grocery, there has been surprising strength in discretionary categories like consumer electronics and home furnishings that benefited from pandemic-driven lifestyle needs.”

Ecommerce sales will reach 14.4% of all US retail spending this year and 19.2% by 2024. When excluding gas and auto sales (categories sold almost exclusively offline), ecommerce penetration jumps to 20.6%.

“There will be some lasting impacts from the pandemic that will fundamentally change how people shop,” said Cindy Liu, eMarketer senior forecasting analyst at Insider Intelligence.

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