February Startup Funding: Big Cash Keeps Rolling In

A month with a trio of billion-dollar rounds.

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Sixteen startups received private funding rounds of $100 million and up during February, including three that took in 10-figure rounds. Those 16 companies raised more than $8 billion in total.

The SoftBank Vision Fund invested $1.5 billion in China’s Chehaoduo, an online car trading group that includes Guazi.com, a used-car trading platform, and Maodou.com, which retails new sedans through direct sales and leasing.

Two companies that disclosed funding rounds of $1 billion in February are Flexport and Go-Jek.

San Francisco-based Flexport, a freight forwarder and logistics specialist in air and ocean transport, received $1 billion in a venture round led by the SoftBank Vision Fund. Existing investors, such as Founders Fund, DST Global, Cherubic Ventures, Susa Ventures, and SF Express, participated in the round, which gives the startup a post-money valuation of $3.2 billion. Flexport had 2018 revenue of $471 million, compared with $224.8 million in 2017. Established nearly six years ago, Flexport has raised a total of $1.3 billion in six rounds.

The other billion-dollar baby of the month is Go-Jek, the ride-hailing startup in Indonesia. The company announced the first closing of its Series F funding, which ultimately may bring in a total of $2 billion, at a valuation of $9 billion. Google, JD.com, and Tencent reinvested in the company, which operates in five Southeast Asian countries with more than 2 million driver-partners and 400,000 merchant partners, offering business partner services, digital payments, food delivery services, logistics and transportation.

SoftBank Vision Fund invested $940 million in Mountain View, Calif.-based Nuro, a developer of robotic delivery vehicles. The company was established in 2016 and now is valued by private investors at $2.7 billion.

Also getting big investments in electric vehicles and EVs/autonomous vehicles were Rivian Automotive and Aurora Innovation, respectively.

Amazon led a corporate round of $700 million for Rivian, located in Michigan. Existing investors participated in the new round, which brings the startup’s total private funding to $901.3 million, according to Crunchbase. Founded in 2009, the company showed its electric pickup truck and electric SUV at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The electric pickup is expected to be available in late 2020.

There was a Reuters report that General Motors would participate in the corporate round, but the GM name was missing in the official announcement. Bloomberg reports that Rivian is in talks with GM about an investment or a technology collaboration. Full-size pickups are among the most popular vehicles at present, and an all-electric pickup could please both environmentally-oriented consumers and pickup owners. Rivian touts its RT1 and RS1 models as “electric adventure vehicles.”

Amazon participated in Aurora Innovation’s Series B funding of $530 million, bringing its total private funding to $620 million. The startup was founded in late 2016 and now is valued at more than $2.5 billion. Sequoia Capital led the new round, and was joined by T. Rowe Price, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Geodesic, Shell Ventures, Reinvent Capital, and by existing investors Greylock Partners and Index Ventures.

Rochester, Mich.-based OneStream Software sold a majority stake in the supplier of corporate performance management software to KKR, the private equity firm. The Wall Street Journal said KKR invested more than $500 million in OneStream, valuing the company at more than $1 billion.

Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, a large Canadian pension fund, is buying an equity stake in Allied Universal of Santa Ana, Calif., for $400 million. Wendel SE of France is selling about 40% of its equity stake in the provider of security and facility services, valuing the company at more than $7 billion. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of this year. Allied Universal  operates the Monitoring and Response Center, an outsourced global security operations center, offering critical incident management, situational intelligence, and threat awareness in combination with access control, intrusion detection, and video surveillance.

DoorDash, the delivery startup, raised $400 million in Series F funding led by Temasek and Dragoneer Investment Group. Also participating in the latest round, which values the company at $7.1 billion, are SoftBank Vision Fund, DST Global, Coatue Management, GIC, Sequoia Capital, and Y Combinator, all existing investors. DoorDash has had eight rounds of funding, including two rounds last year, bringing in a total of $1.4 billion in private funding.

Lime, the purveyor of electric bicycles and scooters, received $310 million in Series D funding led by Bain Capital Ventures, Andreesen Horowitz, Fidelity Ventures, GV, and Insight Venture Partners, valuing the micro-mobility startup at $2.4 billion. Lime, officially known as Neutron Holdings, Inc. and also as LimeBike, has had six funding rounds, totaling $765 million. Other participants in the Series D round are existing investors Alphabet, Coatue Management, DCM, Fifth Wall Ventures, GGV Capital, and GIC, along with new investors GSV Capital, FJ Labs, Bling Capital, GR Capital Partners, and St. Augustine Partners.

Getting $300 million in Series D funding was Lalamove, co-led by Hillhouse Capital Group and Sequoia Capital. Hillhouse led the D1 tranche, while Sequoia Capital China led the D2 tranche. The Hong Kong-based on-demand logistics startup also took investments from Eastern Bell Venture Capital, PV Capital, ShunWei Capital, Xiang He Capital, and MindWorks Ventures. Lalamove has raised more than $460 million to date. Established in late 2013, Lalamove aspires to have an initial public offering on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.

Databricks of San Francisco raised $250 million in Series E funding led by Andreesen Horowitz. Coatue Management, Green Bay Ventures, Microsoft, and New Enterprise Associates also participated in the latest round, which values the provider of the Apache Spark big data analytics engine at $2.75 billion. The startup has raised a total of $498.5 million in five funding rounds since it was formed in 2013.

Relex Solutions and Grab each received $200 million during February.

Relex got the money from TCV, a private equity firm in Menlo Park, Calif. The startup specializes in forecasting demand for retailers, automating stock replenishment, and other services. The company got started in 2005. It has raised a total of $223.9 million in four venture rounds.

Grab, the provider of ride-hailing and financial services, got its $200 million from Central Group of Thailand. Central operates hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls in Thailand, a market where Grab wants to expand its business operations. Rival Go-Jek got into the Thailand market at the end of last year. Grab is separately proceeding with its $3 billion Series H funding round. The company has raised a total of $6.8 billion from private investors, valuing the company at $11 billion.

Also making the $100 million club were DriveNets ($110 million; Series A; cloud-based network management software), Kinestral Technologies (more than $100 million; Series D; smart glass), and Health Catalyst ($100 million; Series F; health data analytics).

Self-driving truck startups were in on the bounty for autonomous vehicles in February.

TuSimple raised $92 million in Series D funding led by Sina Corp. The company, established in 2015, achieved “unicorn” status with a post-money valuation of $1.095 billion. Composite Capital also participated in the latest round. TuSimple has received a total of $178 million from private investors including Nvidia and ZP Capital.

The other autonomous truck startup was Ike, which received $52 million in Series A funding led by Bain Capital Ventures. The company’s three founders came from autonomous vehicle projects at Apple, Google, and Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, the last of which gave up on self-driving trucks last year. The startup is named after President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, creating the U.S. interstate system.

Rivigo Services, which operates a network of more than 2,100 trucks across India, raised $35.6 million in Series E funding led by Warburg Pincus and SAIF Partners. Warburg contributed nearly $21 million, while SAIF invested $14.65 million. Both firms are existing investors.

May Mobility of Ann Arbor, Mich., received $22 million in Series A funding led by Millennium New Horizons and Cyrus Capital Partners, with participation by new investors LG Technology Ventures and Thayer Ventures, and return backers BMW i Ventures, Maven Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures, and Y Combinator. May Mobility is developing self-driving shuttles for public transportation, emphasizing mobility-as-a-service technology. Founded two years ago, the company has a total of $33.6 million in private funding over two seed rounds and the Series A round.

Cybersecurity
Some 25 cybersecurity startups were funded in the second month of the year.

Illumio raised $65 million in Series E funding, bringing its total private funding to $332.5 million. It provides cloud and data center security. Clients advised by J.P Morgan Asset Management led the company’s fifth round of private capital.

Another cybersecurity startup, Cato Networks, received $55 million in Series C funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. The company, which offers a cloud-based platform to protect networks, had existing investors participate in the new round: Aspect Ventures, Greylock Partners, Singtel Innov8, U.S. Venture Partners, and co-founders Shlomo Kramer and Gur Shatz. Cato has raised a total of $125 million in venture capital.

Among other funded startups: vArmor of Mountain View, Calif., $44 million in Series E funding; San Francisco-based PerimeterX, $43 million in Series C funding; Signal Science of Los Angeles, $35 million in Series C funding; Belgium’s Guardsquare, $29 million from Battery Ventures; ShiftLeft of Santa Clara, Calif., $20 million in Series B funding; Aporeto of San Jose, Calif., $20 million in Series B funding; Armorblox of Sunnyvale, Calif., $16.5 million in Series A funding; CipherTrace of Menlo Park, Calif., $15 million in venture funding; and New York-based Axonius, $13 million in Series A funding.

AI
Nearly 20 companies using artificial intelligence technology were funded in February.

Sight Diagnostics of Tel Aviv, Israel, raised $27.8 million in Series C funding to apply AI to blood testing. San Francisco-based Affinity received $26.5 million in Series B funding to replace manual data entry with an AI-driven, automated approach. Seattle-based KenSci raised $22 million in Series B funding to reduce health-care costs with AI; Singapore-based ViSenze received $20 million in Series C funding for AI-power visual commerce. Peltarion of Sweden raised $20 million in Series A funding for its operational AI platform. Kite of San Francisco received $17 million in Series A funding for a Python developer environment powered by AI. Splice Machine of San Francisco raised $16 million in Series B funding for an operational AI data platform.

Conclusion
February was a good month for startups in a variety of areas, such as data analytics and data management, time-series databases, in-memory database platforms, delivery and ride-hailing services, online car insurance, robotic process automation, supply chain visibility, and cloud-based data storage. Investors are eager to support startups.

Related Stories
January’19 Startup Funding: $100M+ Rounds Abound
Billion-dollar funding rounds become more common.
December’18 Startup Funding: Big Rounds As 2018 Ends
Mobility pulls in half of the $100M-plus funding rounds.
November’18 Startup Funding: Big Deals Dominate
Nine-figure funding rounds were common in November.
October’18 Startup Funding: IoT, Security, Auto
Funding flows to a variety of startups; M&A in security.



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