Happy Wednesday, everyone! Interesting news today — Roivant Sciences, whose founder and CEO spoke at our first StrictlyVC event of this year, just raised $1.1 billion from Softbank’s Vision Fund (which seems determined not to let that $93 billion burn a whole in its pocket!).
We obviously think the company is worth watching. More on its giant new round below.
Top News in the A.M.
Essential Products, the smartphone maker founded by Andy Rubin, just confirmed it has a new $300 million war chest as it prepares to take on Apple and Samsung. The WSJ has more here.
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Roivant, Which Saves Drugs Abandoned by Big Pharma, Just Raised $1.1B from Softbank
Roivant Sciences, a three-year-old, Basel, Switzerland-based company aiming to one day be a giant holding company for dozens of independent biopharmaceutical companies, has raised $1.1 billion in equity led by the Softbank Vision Fund — making it the latest in a string of enormous bets by Softbank, and putting the young outfit more squarely on the radar of the tech world.
Roivant focuses on developing and commercializing therapies by creating subsidiaries, all of which involve the word “vant.” To date, these include Axovant Sciences, which is focused on neurology; Myovant Sciences, which is focused on women’s health and endocrine diseases; Dermavant Sciences, which is focused on dermatology; Enzyvant Sciences, which is focused on rare diseases; and Urovant Sciences, focused on urology.
Roivant is also creating a new tech-focused subsidiary for the first time called Datavant, an AI-driven initiative that’s aiming to unlock insights in health care datasets by improving the design of clinical trials, creating virtual trials between similar drugs using pooled placebo groups, and developing new molecular targets to pursue for any given drug.
Softbank’s investment is in Roivant only — not its subsidiaries.
Roivant was founded by Vivek Ramaswamy, a biology major at Harvard who went on to nab his law degree from Yale before going to work as a hedge fund analyst, where he says he noticed pharmaceutical firms abandoning promising drugs for various reasons having nothing to do with their efficacy.
Seeing an opportunity to complete the development of some of these abandoned drug candidates and get them to market quickly, Ramaswamy struck out on his own in 2014.
(Other) New Fundings
Appboy, a six-year-old, New York-based marketing tech startup that’s challenging Salesforce and other business software giants, has raised $50 million in new Series D money led by Iconiq Capital. The company has now raised $93.6 million altogether. Fortune has more here.
BAMTech, a 17-year-old, Arlington, Va.-based video streaming company that grew out of the interactive media company of Major League Baseball, has raised a fresh $1.58 billion in funding from majority owner Disney, in a deal that values the company at $3.75 billion. TechCrunch has more here.
Buoy, a three-year-old, Boston-based startup that uses advanced artificial intelligence to resemble a chat with a favorite doctor to assess what’s wrong with someone, has raised $6.7 million in Series A funding. Backers include F-Prime Capital Partners, FundRx, and various angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.
Fanatics, a 17-year-old, Jacksonville, Fla.-based licensed merchandising marketplace, is reportedly about to seal up $1 billion in fresh funding led by Softbank‘s Vision Fund. The WSJ has more here.
Funraise, a two-year-old, Long Beach, Ca-based fundraising platform for nonprofits, has raised over $3 million in seed funding led by Toba Capital led the round. More here.
Pistol Lake. a five-year-old, L.A.-based company that makes men’s clothing fabric that can be worn at the gym or out and about, has raised $600,000 in new funding led by Slow Ventures, with participation from angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.
Railsbank, a year-old, London-based startup offering an open banking and compliance platform aimed at helping companies that have global banking requirements and need to accessed programatically via an API, has raised $1.2 million. The seed round was led by Firestartr and included participation from Kima Ventures and numerous angel investors. TechCrunch has more here.
Socure, a five-year-old, New York-based company that uses digital identity verification (think email, phone IP, etc.) to authenticate people, has raised $13.9 million in Series B funding. Commerce Ventures led the round, and was joined by iSynchrony Financial, Flint Capital, Workbench, Santander InnoVentures and Two Sigma Ventures. Built In NYC has more here.
Super Evil Megacorp, a four-year-old, San Mateo, Ca.-based maker of competitive video games, including the online battle arena video game “Vainglory,” has raised $19 million in funding from undisclosed investors. Exactly two years ago, the company raised $26 million in funding led by Index Ventures, with Yuri Milner, Jim Breyer, and Korea Investment Partners, also participating. More here.
Carvana, a Phoenix, Az.-based online marketplace for used cars that went public in April, has acquired Carlypso, a San Carlos, Ca.-based platform for buying and selling used cars. Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Fortune has more here.
Enterprise software startup Huddle is selling to San Francisco-based private equity firm Turn/River, after months of financial struggles left it in dire straights. One Business Insider source estimated the deal at $89 million. The company was once reportedly valued between $250 to $300 million in a previous fundraising round.
Tableau, the 14-year-old, Seattle-based, publicly traded, business intelligence and analytics firm, has acquired ClearGraph, a Palo Alto, Ca.-based semantic search company, for undisclosed terms. According to Crunchbase, ClearGraph had raised $1.53 million from investors, including Accel Partners and Great Oaks Venture Capital. TechCrunch has more here.
James Damore, the 28-year-old former Google engineer who was fired over a memo he wrote about gender differences, said yesterday he’s exploring all his legal options and has already filed a labor complaint over his treatment.
Cack Wilhelm has joined Boston-based venture firm Accomplice as a partner based in San Francisco. She was previously a principal with Scale Venture Partners.
Johnson & Johnson Innovation is looking to hire a director of new ventures. The job is in Menlo Park, Ca.
According to new research just published by the data science team at jobs marketplace Hired, President Trump’s efforts to push an America-first philosophy is having a measurable impact on how comfortable tech companies feel in seeking out foreign-born workers. More here.
The culture wars have come to Silicon Valley. (Interesting anecdote in here about Facebook board members Reed Hastings and Peter Thiel.)
Twelve secrets to keep in mind the next time you check into a five-star hotel.
Classic car go karts. (Amazing! Also, not cheap.)