Luckin Coffee's Amazing Road to Its $4 Billion Valuation

 

Chinese-based coffee chain Luckin Coffee announced yesterday it raised $200 million in Series-B funding, giving the company a valuation of $2.2 billion.

Luckin Coffee's Explosive Growth

Luckin Coffee is currently the fastest growing coffee chain in China. Founded in 2017, Luckin Coffee has already expanded to over 1,700 and 21 cities across the country. This is a truly stunning expansion considering China’s largest coffee chain Starbucks has just 3,300 stores despite having entered the market over 20 years ago. The round of funding is also the second large round closed by the company this year. In July, the company raised another $200 million round of Series-A funding, which at the time gave the company a $1 billion valuation. Luckin Coffee is currently the fastest startup to reach unicorn status in China.

The Appeal of Luckin Coffee

One of the main draws of Luckin Coffee has been its focus on very fast door-to-door coffee delivery. This is a feature which appeals to many in the urban work setting who can’t get away from their desk. Along with in-store sit-down cafes, Luckin has concentrated on creating pickup booths and delivery hubs where dedicated take-out workers quickly pickup orders. In China's largest cities of Beijing and Shanghai, the company claims there is a Luckin Coffee within 500-meters of anywhere in the city and says it will deliver coffee to customers within 30 minutes.

How Luckin Coffee is Challenging Starbucks

Luckin's explosive expansion does not look to be letting up any time soon. According to company CEO Qian Zhiya, “We will continue to increase capital investment in product research and development, technological innovation and business development, and continue to optimize product and user experience.” According to Euromonitor, Starbucks still maintains an 80% share of the $3.4 billion Chinese coffee shop business, but this may soon be changing. In response to Luckin’s aggressive delivery tactics, Starbucks has since partnered with Alibaba-owned food delivery giant Ele.me in order to compete to delivery coffee to people’s door.

Whether or not Luckin will be able to eclipse the behemoth in China that is Starbucks remains to be seen, but what is certain is it is off to a great start.


Lalamove Officially Gains Unicorn Status

Hong Kong-based delivery startup Lalamove has reportedly raised a $300 million round of Series D funding at a +$1 billion valuation.

A Huge Southeast Asian Presence

Founded in 2013, Lalamove is a ride-haling delivery and logistics company like similar to Uber, which focusing on business and corporate clientele. The company - which operates out of mainland China - has over 2 million drivers across more than 130 cities, and boasts more than 28 million active users. Outside of China, Lalamove operates in seven other Asian countries, including Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Thailand. The latest round of funding is anticipated to be used to further expansion into southeast Asia and India.

The Latest Large Round of Funding

The latest $300 million round of Series D funding will reportedly be split in to two halves: Hillhouse Capital will lead the ‘D1' portion, and Sequoia China will lead the ‘D2’ tranche. The exact size of each half has not been disclosed. Previous to this, Lalamove closed a $100 million round of Series C funding in 2017. To date, Lalamove has raised more than $460 million after seven rounds of funding.

Firmly in Unicorn Territory

According to reports, the latest round of funding places Lalamove firmly into unicorn status. However, according to company head of international Blake Larson, Lalamove has been, “past the unicorn mark for quite some time [but] we just don’t talk about it.” The company was reportedly just shy of a $1 billion valuation when it closed its $100 million round of Series C funding.

A 21st Century Founder and CEO

Lalamove was founded in 2013 by Stanford graduate, Shing Chow. According to Sequoia China founder and managing partner Neil Shen, “Shing is a role model for Hong Kong’s new generation of innovative entrepreneurs. Raised in Hong Kong and educated at Stanford University, Shing returned and plunged himself in the entrepreneurial wave of ‘Internet Plus,’ becoming a figure of entrepreneurial success.” By all accounts, the future seems very bright for the young CEO.


Opendoor to Raise $200 Million at $3.7 Billion Valuation

It was announced Friday that real estate startup Opendoor filed paperwork in the state of Delaware indicating its intent to raise $200 million in funding at a $3.7 billion valuation. 

A Huge New Round of Funding

According to the paperwork, the shares are described as ‘Series E-2’, which according to reports, likely means the latest round will be an extension of the company’s latest existing round of funding. That round - which closed in September of last year - initially closed for $400 million and was led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund. The new round will likely be added to that. To date, Opendoor has raised more than $1 billion after six rounds of funding. The announcement comes just months after one of Opendoor's main competitors - Knock - announced it had raised $400 million in its own round of Series B funding.

A New Way of Home-Buying

Opendoor aims to streamline the home-buying process. In order to do this, Opendoor plays the middle-man between buyers and sellers. As the company explains their role, “If you’re selling, sell your home to us to eliminate the hassles of showings and months of uncertainty. If you’re buying, we make it incredibly easy to tour hundreds of Opendoor homes so you can find the perfect one.” This model is similar to Knock, which purchases the house from the seller outright then collects a fee. 

A Company on the Rise

According to reports, more than 800,000 people toured an Opendoor home in 2018. Of those 800,000, Opendoor claims it has served over 30,000 customers. These customers are distributed across 19 metro regions in 20 cities. The company also states it currently has more than 2,000 monthly customers. To date, Opendoor has managed to attract more than 36 investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, SoftBank, GV, and others.


Electric Truck Startup Rivian Raises $700 Million

Electric auto-maker Rivian has announced it closed a $700 million round of equity funding led by Amazon.

The New Company on the Block

Reuters reported last week the company was in talks with GM and Amazon to lead the round of funding. Though GM did not ultimately participate, Amazon led the round. The funding comes just three months after the company announced its first two vehicles: a fully electric pickup, and an electric model SUV. Both vehicles will put the new company in direct competition with Tesla.

Amazon is Impressed

In a statement regarding the recent round of funding, Amazon CEO of Worldwide Consumers Jeff Wilke stated, “We’re inspired by Rivian’s vision for the future of electric transportation. RJ has built an impressive organization, with a product portfolio and technology to match. We’re thrilled to invest in such an innovative company.” Despite the latest equity round of funding led by the internet giant, Rivian insists it will remain an independent company. 

A Proud CEO

In response to the latest round of funding Rivian CEO, RJ Scaringe also remarked, “This investment is an important milestone for Rivian and the shift to sustainable mobility. Beyond simply eliminating compromises that exist around performance, capability and efficiency, we are working to drive innovation across the entire customer experience. Delivering on this vision requires the right partners, and we are excited to have Amazon with us on our journey to create products, technology and experiences that reset expectations of what is possible.”

Amazon's Move Toward Vehicles

Though Amazon led the round, just how much the tech giant invested has not been made public. The move comes mere weeks after Amazon joined Sequoia and Lightspeed Venture Partners in acquiring a stake in the autonomous vehicle startup, Aurora. Whether or not the two companies fit into a larger vision for Amazon remains to be seen. 

Building a Better Pickup

Both of Rivian’s models will feature a 180 kilowatt-hour battery pack. The battery pack - which is nearly twice the size of Tesla’s - boasts a range of more than 400 miles under optimal conditions. Such features may prove Rivian can capture the elusive market of a competitive battery-powered pickup.

Both models are expected to be made available sometime in 2020.  


Reddit Raises $300 Million at $3 Billion Valuation

Reddit, the self-proclaimed ‘front page of the internet’ recently closed at $300 million round of Series D funding at a $3 billion valuation.

The Details of the Deal

The $3 billion post-money valuation comes just after Reddit closed its latest $300 million Series D. As reported, $150 million of the round was raised by Chinese tech giant, Tencent, while the rest came from previous investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Sequoia, and Fidelity. The new round of funding will reportedly be used to transform the platform into more of an advertising vehicle. To date, Reddit has raised over $550 million after four rounds of funding.

An Agreement with Tencent

The new investment doesn't come without controversy however. Reddit users fear the new investment by the Chinese tech company may lead to more censorship. These fears have only exacerbated in light of the fact Reddit itself is currently banned in China due to censorship concerns. As the company behind WeChat and League of Legends, as well as being the largest shareholder in Snapchat’s parent company, and a large stakeholder in the company behind the smash hit, Fortnite, Tencent is no stranger to building tech powerhouses. But, with the Trump administration's anticipated plans to limit Chinese tech investment in American corporations, the future for how the marriage will play out is anyone’s guess. 

Moving into New Territory

Founded in 2006, Reddit currently boasts over 330 million monthly active users, and more than 14 billion monthly screen-views. It was only in the past few years however that the private company began to push to monetize the site. The new effort in transforming the company into an advertising driven-platform now will put Reddit on a collision course with Google and Facebook for advertising dollars. Nonetheless, with a user-base as dedicated as Reddit's, it seems there will be no shortage of opportunities for the company to flourish.


Collibra Raises $100 Million at $1 Billion Valuation

Collibra, a leader in enterprise data governance, recently announced it has closed a round of $100 million in Series E funding. The new round of funding gives the catalogue software company a post-money valuation of more than $1 billion.

Big Investors are Bullish

The latest round of funding was led by Alphabet’s growth equity investment fund, CapitalG, and also saw participation from existing investors ICONIQ Capital, Index Ventures, Dawn Capital, and Battery Ventures. The new round of funding brings the total raised by Collibra to more than $233 million after six rounds of funding.

Collibra: A Darling of Big Tech

Collibra is a company which makes sure the data that companies like Facebook and Google collect is stored in a way that complies with legal regulations. In the wake of a $57 million fine levied by the French government against Google, companies like Collibra will become more-and-more valuable to big tech. The fact that Google’s parent company Alphabet led the round which also saw participation from the Zuckerberg/Dorsey/Sanderberg-backed ICONIQ, bares testament to this fact.

A Proud Founder

According to Collibra co-founder and CEO Felix Van de Maele, “Now more than ever, we live in an economy where the most innovative companies are fueled by data. It has become our most valuable asset. This investment is a testament to Collibra’s leadership and our ability to help customers transform their market proposition through data-driven insight. With this latest round, we are well-positioned to leverage our heritage in understanding data to help our customers utilize the most cutting-edge innovation to power their digital transformation journeys.”

New Funding as a Victory Lap

According to the company statement, ‘The funding comes on the heels of a record revenue year, with an 80 percent increase in annualized recurring revenue and rapid expansion across the globe.’ The latest round of funding is expected to be used to expand the company’s product offerings and to extend its reach into machine learning and AI, as well as to fund its own growing in-house data scientist teams.

Currently, Collibra boasts more than 300 global clients across industries as varied as fintech, healthcare, retail, and tech.


Bowery: The Incredible Indoor Farming Startup

Recently, NYC-based indoor farming startup Bowery raised an additional $90 million in Series B funding. The funds will be used to continue Bowery's revolutionary approach to solving the world most pressing agricultural needs.

The Need for Better Farming

According to a recent study conducted by the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization, by the year 2050 global food production will need to increase by more than 60% to feed with world’s growing population. Couple with this the fact that the world has lost more than one third of its arable land in the past 40 years, and it’s easy to see why indoor sustainable farming startup Bowery is so popular.

A Modern Solution for a Modern Problem

Bowery is a NYC-based indoor farming startup that uses lights, technology, robotics, and carefully controlled environments to grow produce that may be an even healthier option and better tasting option than organic. According to company CEO Irving Fain, "We grow with no pesticides, herbicides or insecticides, no agrochemicals at all. And we're able to grow 365 days a year, independent of weather."

A Better Choice

Bowery also offers opportunity to grow produce in an urban setting where no other such farmland is available. In a statement outlining the benefits of Bowery, the company remarked, “traditional agriculture uses 700 million pounds of pesticides annually, and fresh food takes weeks” and sometimes longer to land on the table. During this long trip from the field to the table, lots of bad things can happen to the food, including contamination. By contrast, if food is grown in a Bowery facility just over the river in New Jersey it’s a much shorter trip in to New York City.

Less Environmental Impact

Along with the potential health benefits, Bowery also comes a plethora of environmental benefits as well. According to Mr. Fain, one square foot of growing space within a Bowery indoor facility is more than one hundred times more productive than one square foot of arable land. Bowery farms also use 95% less water than traditional farms, and cut down on transportation costs, while simultaneously eliminating chemical pesticide use. All of this adds up to a more efficient and environmentally beneficial farming process.

Higher Quality Produce

Along with all these benefits, the food Bowery produces also seems to taste better as well. It’s kale leafs are reportedly softer and its arugula has a more peppery flavor. According to celebrity chef and investor Carla Hall, "I visited the farm and tasted the food. It moved from a concept and an idea that is sustainable to deliciousness." Currently the company grows baby kale, butterhead lettuce, arugula, mixed kales and basil and is available at NYC area Whole Foods, as well as several high-end restaurants including Craft and Temple.

Investors are Interested

For all this investors have taken note. Just last month in December of 2018, Bowery closed a $90 million round of Series B funding led by GGV Capital and GV (Formerly Google Ventures). Previously GGV also led Bowery’s $40 million Series A funding in 2017, that time in collaboration with General Catalyst. This latest round of funding may be in response to SoftBank’s recent $200 million investment in Silicon Valley competitor, Plenty. To date however, Bowery has raised more than $141 million after five rounds of funding.

Whether or not indoor farming will become the standard going forward remains to be seen, but with companies like Bowery that possibility looks all the more promising.


N26 Raises $300 Million at $2.7 Billion Valuation

European banking startup N26 has reportedly raised $300 million in new Series D funding. After this newest round of funding, the fintech startup reportedly has a valuation of $2.7 billion.

Planning a U.S. Expansion

The Germany-based N26 is a mobile banking app boasting more than 2.3 million users across 24 European markets. The latest round of funding will reportedly be used to expand into the United States. The most recent round was led be Insight Venture Partners, with participation from several existing investors as well. To date, N26 has raised more than $512 million after six rounds of funding.

Doubling the Valuation in Under a Year

The $2.7 billion valuation reflects the booming value in the young company. Less than ten months earlier, N26 closed a $160 million round of Series C funding which the time gave the company a valuation of less than $1 billion. However, now after having raised another $300 million, having expanded to 24 European markets, having gained 2.3 million users, and furthered plans to expand into the United States, that valuation has more than doubled.

An Easier Way of Banking

Part of the N26 appeal is the way the company streamlines the banking process. In a matter of minutes, users can setup an online bank account and register for debit cards. From there, the rest of the process can be handled online or through the company's mobile app.

The Challenge of the U.S. Market

Whether or not the venture will work in the United States however, is a different story altogether. As a result of strict U.S. regulations, a radically different banking environment, and a different customer base, few European fintech companies have been able to successfully crack the U.S. market. That said, with the recent $300 million round of funding representing the largest round of private equity financing for a European fintech company, it seems N26 has investor confidence few other fintechs have ever shared.


5 of the Largest Rounds of Funding for NYC-based Startups in 2018

 

2018 was a banner year for NYC-based startup funding. Below are five of the largest rounds of funding closed by NYC-based startups throughout 2018.

 

UiPath – $265M
Date: 11/15/18
Round: Series C
Industry: Automation, Enterprise Software, Information Technology, Robotics
Investors: 6 – Sequoia Capital, Meritech Capital Partners, Madrona Venture Group, IVP (Institutional Venture Partners), CapitalG, Accel
Company: Founded in 2005, UiPath is a software and automation robotics company. UiPath aims to streamline tedious tasks such as document management and data extraction and is currently used by thousands of companies. To date, UiPath has raised more than $448 million after four rounds of funding. This round was an additional $40 million to a Series C previously announced.

 

Oscar Health – $375M
Date: 8/14/18
Round: Corporate Round
Industry: Healthcare, Information Technology
Investors: 1 – Alphabet
Company: Founded in 2013, Oscar Health is a medical insurance company aimed at easing the process for its patients. The company offers individual, couple, and family plans, and is currently available in New York, New Jersey, California, and Texas. To date, Oscar Health has raised over $1.3 billion after eight rounds of funding.

 

Compass – $400M
Date: 9/27/18
Round: Series F
Industry: Real Estate
Investors: 4 – Softbank Vision Fund, Qatar Investment Authority, IVP (Institutional Venture Partners), Fidelity Investments
Company: Founded in 2012, Compass is a mobile app that pairs prospective real-estate buyers and sellers. With 30 offices in 19 regions, Compass caters to the luxury high end market.  To date, Compass has raised more than $1.2 billion after fourteen rounds of funding.

 

Letgo – $500M
Date: 8/8/18
Round: Series E
Industry: E-commerce, Online Shopping, Internet Marketplace
Investors: 1 – Naspers
Company: Founded in 2015, letgo is a free app that allows users to buy and sell products online. Using advanced AI technology, letgo allows users to take pictures of their products, then automatically identifies, categorizes, and lists them. According to the website, in their first two years in business, letgo’s app has been downloaded over 75 million times, and over 200 million items have been listed on the site. According to letgo, this makes them, ‘the largest and fastest growing app to buy and sell locally.’ To date, letgo has raised over $975 million after five rounds of funding.

 

Peloton – $550M
Date: 8/2/18
Round: Series F
Industry: Fitness, Cycling, Video Content
Investors: 10 – Winslow Capital, Wellington Management, True Ventures, Tiger Global Management, TCV, NBCUniversal, Kleiner Perkins, Fidelity Management and Research Company, Felix Capital, Balyasny Asset Mgt
Company: Founded in 2012, Peloton is a new high tech fitness concept that allows users live streaming access to elite fitness classes and instructors based in the NYC area. One of the standout stars of fitness from Silicon Alley, Peloton uses a specifically designed cycling hardware that merges with their software and content to revolutionize the at-home fitness space. To date, Peloton has raised over $994.7 million after eight rounds of funding.

 

Here's to hoping 2019 is even better!


SoftBank to Invest $1 Billion in Grab

 

SoftBank is reportedly set to invest $1 billion from its Vision Fund into southeast Asian ride-hailing startup, Grab.

Grab: The Southeast Asian 'Super-app'

Currently, Grab's $11 billion valuation makes it the most valuable tech startup in southeast Asia. The company has been download over 130 million times and operates in 8 countries including Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Now with its plans to move into deliveries, healthcare, and mobile payments the company looks well-positioned to only grow stronger. Such ubiquitousness of use in the region in such varied fields has caused some to refer to the company as a, ‘super-app’.

The Company Has Investor's Attention

To date, the company has already raised over $6.5 billion after a remarkable 19 rounds of funding. In 2018 alone, the tech startup has already raised over $2.7 billion. This remarkable figure does not even include the pending $1 billion investment by SoftBank which will only increase the company’s $11 billion valuation.

SoftBank Doubles Down on Grab

This is not the first time SoftBank has invested in the company. In 2014, SoftBank was one of the early investors when it became the company's largest investor with a $250 million round. If SoftBank follows the same pattern it has when it invested in three other southeast asian tech unicorns, it will transfer the stake to its Vision Fund, then double down by investing in the company again from its Vision Fund.

How Grab Beat Uber in the Region

Grab garnered worldwide attention earlier this year when it out-maneuvered ride-share giant Uber for control of the region. After a long battle between the two companies, Grab emerged victorious when in March it successfully bought-out Uber’s southeast asian operations. This does not mean the company is without competition in the region however as Indonesian ride-share company Go-Jek raised a reported $1.2 billion earlier this year at a $9 billion valuation.

As to which ride-share company will ultimately control the booming southeast asian market remains unclear, but with the latest round of funding in place, Grab will remain positioned to do just that.