What’s Up: Week of December 14th

Mental health tech startups gain record investments  

According to the latest PitchBook report, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the spotlight on mental health tech startups, globally marking a record year for venture capital investment in the sector, reports Reuters. PitchBook data showed 146 deals raked in nearly $1.6 billion in venture capital investments as of first half of December. Last year the total was $893 million from 111 deals. While a decade ago, there were only 3 deals, worth $6.6 million.

The investments come as employers are increasingly seen as customers for these startups. Consulting firm McKinsey reported last month that 52% of companies offer mental-health and bereavement counseling.

Sleep and mediation app Calm, which recently raised $75 million, said one primary driver for its business was from employer partnerships. It was valued at $2 billion, making it the top valued mental health startup, according to PitchBook. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s report earlier this year, two in five adults surveyed said they had at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition.

Canoo reveals electric delivery van 

Electric vehicle startup Canoo revealed its second scheduled vehicle, a delivery van, and laid out plans to add a pickup truck and build microfactories, reports Reuters. 

Canoo said it will offer two size variants on the delivery vehicle, which will carry a starting price of about $33,000. It will launch the vehicle in limited numbers in late 2022 with wider distribution in 2023.

Canoo has developed a “skateboard” – a low-rise platform that bundles batteries and electric motors with such chassis components as steering, brakes and wheels – on which a variety of vehicle body types can be built. While Canoo, which will go public later this month under the trading symbol “GOEV” through its deal with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp IV, is pushing to close a contract manufacturing deal with supplier Magna International, it also intends to build vehicles itself in microfactories. Los Angeles-based Canoo said the delivery vehicle will have almost 30% more parcel volume than rivals.

German software maker Spryker raises over $130 million

Germany-based business software maker Spryker has raised more than $130 million in a financing round led by U.S. investment firm TCV, reports Reuters. The funding will be used to expand in international markets. Existing investors One Peak and Project A Ventures also participated in the round, which has pushed Spryker’s valuation above $500 million.

UK fintech GoCardless raises $95 million  

British digital payments firm GoCardless has raised $95 million in an investment round led by Bain Capital Ventures, reports Reuters. The startup will use the cash injection to invest in its open banking strategy, enabling more businesses to accept bank-to-bank payments and replacing more costly card transactions.

London-based GoCardless processes direct debit payments, which are recurring transactions withdrawn directly from a consumers’ bank account. Clients include businesses such as those charging monthly subscriptions or offering installment payments. The deal brings the total funding raised by the company to $240 million.

Estonian ride-sharing startup Bolt raises 150 million euros 

Estonian transportation startup Bolt said on Wednesday it had raised 150 million euros. Bolt, previously known as Taxify, competes with Uber in ride-hailing. It also operates electric scooters, launched food delivery last year, and is expanding to cover 200 cities in 40 countries across Europe and Africa.

As governments imposed lockdowns to control the spread of the coronavirus, ride-hailing and transportation startups have benefited as city dwellers switch away from public transport and those stuck at home order in more meals. Bolt was able to compete as a price leader thanks to synergies from its technology platform, which supports a common app for ride-hailing and scooters. The firm’s revenue run rate is now more than 2 billion euros.