Good day. In its recent corporate venture report, Silicon Valley Bank sought to dispel what it called several myths about corporate venture, including that companies "don't lead deals and don't have board influence."

The report notes that half of corporate venture firms surveyed lead 30% of the deals they do, and a similar proportion take board seats. "This suggests CVCs have far greater influence on boards than typically expected," the report says.

That influence comes as companies continue to increase the amount of capital they're collectively investing into startups. In the first half of 2021, businesses committed $79 billion in venture deals, surpassing the full-year record set last year of $74 billion, according to the SVB report.

CVCs' board influence could likely increase. The report estimates that companies will participate in a record 26% of all U.S. venture deals by the end of the year. Last year, companies participated in 25% of deals.

And now on to the news...

Top News

Rewards for renters. Watson Living Inc. is joining a bevy of startups that are helping landlords give people rewards for essentially being good tenants. The startup's founders see Watson -- which recently raised a $2.5 million seed round led by Ulu Ventures, with participation by Trail Mix Ventures, FJ Labs and Gaingels -- as part of a wave of integrating financial technology into real estate and other industries, WSJ Pro's Yuliya Chernova reports.

The company has built a digital banking app with an associated debit card that landlords fund each time a renter pays rent on time, signs a renewal lease early, or refers others to rent in the same building.

Other startups in this sector include Bilt Technologies Inc., launched in June, which offers credit-card points for rent payments. Piñata Global Inc., meanwhile, launched a rent-rewards app last year and raised more than $5 million since last year from investors including Moderne Ventures, according to Lily Liu, the startup's co-founder and chief executive.

These startups are gaining traction partly because the rental market is large and rents are rising, stressing tenants. But building a big business around a transaction that's made only a dozen times a year will be challenging, according to Dave Eisenberg, managing partner at Zigg Capital, a real-estate-tech venture firm. Mr. Eisenberg said he has passed on some deals in the sector so far.

991

Number of global active corporate venture firms this year, according to a Silicon Valley Bank report.

SEC Panel Backs Letting Ordinary Investors Into Private Equity

An advisory group for the Securities and Exchange Commission voted Monday to recommend making it easier for less-wealthy people to invest in private funds, a change long sought by asset managers, WSJ Pro's Chris Cumming reports. The SEC's Asset Management Advisory Committee unanimously approved a report recommending that the regulator increase ordinary investors' access to private-equity, private-debt and real-estate vehicles. The report, prepared by a subcommittee on private investments, said investors could benefit from the performance of these funds, which it said has generally been in line with or better than comparable public-markets offerings. However, the report also said regulators should balance greater access with investor protections.

Education-Technology Startup Multiverse Raises $130 Million

Multiverse, an educational technology firm founded by the oldest son of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has raised $130 million in a push to build an alternative entry to well-paying jobs through professional apprenticeships, focusing on "durable skills" and diversity, equity and inclusion. The latest round -- led by D1 Capital Partners and Bond -- brings the company's valuation to about $875 million, about four times the company's estimated value in January, Maria Armental reports for WSJ Pro. "Education should not just be delivered in an esoteric, classroom-led academic environment," said Euan Blair, the co-founder and chief executive of Multiverse, which operates in the U.K. and U.S.

Industry News

Funds

Emurgo, the commercial arm of the Cardano blockchain, launched a $100 million Cardano ecosystem investment vehicle to back early- and growth-stage companies focused on building socially impactful solutions powered by Cardano. This new initiative will consist of two separate entities: Emurgo Africa and Emurgo Ventures.

SeventySix Capital has held the initial closing of its second fund to invest in sports betting, esports and sports tech companies. So far this year, the Conshohocken, Pa.-based firm has exited portfolio companies VSiN, Vigtory and Team Whistle to buyers DraftKings, FuboTV and Eleven Sports, respectively.

People

Northzone said Kilian Pender is joining the firm's London office as a partner. He was previously at Blackstone and Centerbridge Partners.

Jedox Inc., a Germany-based enterprise performance-management software provider, named Kevin Alansky as chief marketing officer, Jonathan Wood as chief revenue officer and Vladislav Maličević as chief technology officer. Jedox said it raised $100 million in January from Insight Partners, Iris Capital, eCapital and Wecken & Cie.

Miach Orthopaedics Inc. appointed Christopher Joyce to the post of vice president and chief financial officer, and named Kevin Sidow to the board. For the past two years, Mr. Joyce served as a consulting CFO for several biotech and medical device startups, and prior to that, was with FRX Polymers, Elemé Medical and Percardia. Mr. Sidow previously held positions at Moximed Inc., St. Francis Medical Technologies Inc. and DePuy Inc. Westborough, Mass.-based Miach Orthopaedics is backed by investors including Amzak Health, DSM Venturing and The NFL Players Association.

New Money

Octopus Energy Group, a London-based renewable energy company, said Generation Investment Management will invest $300 million now in the company and $300 million more by June 2022 via a strategic partnership, valuing the company at up to $4.6 billion post-deal.

Aspire, a financial operating system for Southeast Asian businesses, landed $158 million in Series B funding from investors including DST Global, Fasanara Capital, Hummingbird Ventures, MassMutual Ventures and Picus Capital.

DICE, a London-based music discovery and events ticketing platform, raised up to $122 million in Series C financing. SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led the round, which included contributions from Future Shape, Blisce, Mirabaud Private Equity and others. Tony Fadell will join the company's board.

Gem, a San Francisco-based recruiting platform, nabbed $100 million in Series C funding led by Iconiq Capital at a $1.2 billion valuation. New investors Sapphire Ventures and Meritech Capital also contributed to the round, alongside existing backers Greylock and Accel.

ZOLA Electric, a renewable energy technology provider to emerging markets, completed a $90 million funding round, half in equity and half in debt. The equity portion was led by investors including TotalEnergies Ventures, DBL Partners, Helios Investment Partners and Vulcan Capital. Debt was provided by lenders including FMO and Sunfunder.

Optimove Inc., a Tel Aviv-based CRM marketing startup, secured a $75 million investment. Summit Partners led the round, with Han Sikkens and Steffan Peyer joining the company's board.

Delix Therapeutics, a Boston-based preclinical neuroscience startup, closed a $70 million Series A round led by Artis Ventures, RA Capital Management and OMX Ventures.

CAKE, a Stockholm-based manufacturer of lightweight electric performance motorcycles, scooters and mopeds, closed a $60 million funding round, including $14 million in convertible notes, from investors including Swedish pension fund AMF, Creandum and Headline.

Astera Labs Inc., a Santa Clara, Calif.-based fabless semiconductor company, grabbed a $50 million Series C investment. Fidelity Management & Research Co. led the funding, which saw participation from Atreides Management, Valor Equity Partners, GlobalLink1 Capital, Intel Capital, Sutter Hill Ventures and VentureTech Alliance.

Frontify, a brand management platform with offices in Switzerland and New York, snagged $50 million in Series C financing. Revaia led the round, which included support from HighSage Ventures and others.

Isotropic Systems, a U.K.-based provider of satellite antenna technology for mobile and high-throughput satellite applications, added more than $37 million in Series B funding. Seraphim Space Investment Trust led the round, with James Bruegger joining the board. Promus Ventures also participated in the new funding.

Civis Analytics, whose technology powers data-driven audience campaigns, fetched a $30.7 million Series B round from investors including Alumni Ventures, Drive Capital, Verizon Ventures and Silicon Valley Bank.

New Age Meats, a Berkeley, Calif.-based cultivated meat startup, secured $25 million in Series A financing. Led by Hanwha Solutions, the round included support from SOSV, TechU Ventures, ff Venture Capital and Siddhi Capital.

Tech News

Facebook to halt Instagram kids project amid pressure from lawmakers, parents groups

TikTok tops 1 billion monthly users

Google pushes to overturn EU's $5 billion antitrust decision on Android

After early investors flee SPAC deals, day traders rush in

Cryptocurrency exchanges curb trading from China after Beijing's warning

U.N. members seek new cyber discussions amid rising ransomware attacks

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 28, 2021 10:48 ET (14:48 GMT)

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