Home » What’s Up: Week of March 15th

What’s Up: Week of March 15th

Stripe becomes Silicon Valley’s most valuable private company

Stripe has become the most valuable private company Silicon Valley has produced, reports the Financial Times. The peak valuation comes after investors struck a deal valuing the online payments processor at $95 billion. Founded in 2010 by Irish brothers Patrick and John Collison, Stripe’s valuation has almost tripled in less than a year, surpassing those achieved by Facebook and Uber before they went public. The company’s rising valuation reflects a boom in ecommerce and digital payments activity that has boosted the values of listed rivals such as Adyen and Square, as well as Checkout.com, a London-based payments start-up.

Stripe has ridden the wave of ecommerce growth, with more than 200,000 new companies in Europe signing up to the platform since the start of the pandemic.  

Stripe’s latest funding will fuel its expansion in Europe, including a plan to hire 1,000 more people in its Dublin office over the next five years, and support forthcoming launches in Brazil, India and Indonesia later this year. Today, Stripe’s valuation is higher than the $80 billion mark Facebook received from private secondary trades before its initial public offering in 2012. Uber’s valuation rose as high as $72 billion before its IPO in 2019.

Insitro raises $400 million for machine learning drug discovery push

Insitro, a machine learning start-up that is aiming to speed up drug discovery and shake up the pharmaceutical industry, has raised $400 million from investors including SoftBank and Temasek, reports the Financial Times. 

The pandemic has given investors hope that the long and costly timelines for discovering drugs can be cut using new technology. The funding round, which is led by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, also includes further investment from existing investors such as Andreessen Horowitz, T Rowe Price and BlackRock. 

Insitro uses machine learning to analyse human genetics and work out where to target drugs. It can use these insights to identify under-appreciated drugs left on the shelf at other companies and buy them, which would likely be its first assets to market.  The start-up is also investing in proprietary human biology databases, such as analysis of biopsy samples, and it recently bought Haystack Sciences, for its ability to predict how drugs interact with the body.   

Autonomous driving startup Momenta raises $500 million  

Chinese autonomous driving startup Momenta has received $500 million from SAIC Motor, Toyota Motor and auto parts supplier Bosch, reports Reuters. 

The four-year-old firm, led by Cao Xudong, a former Microsoft executive, is testing autonomous cars in Beijing and China’s eastern city of Suzhou, and has a research centre in Germany’s Stuttgart. Momenta is working with automakers to develop mass-production vehicles with self-driving functions to gather real-time data for the fully autonomous driving technologies for future products. Data is a key part of the self-driving industry which enables companies to improve their technologies in different environments.

Momenta will use the funds to expand its workforce and gather more data to improve future technologies. 

Swedish EV charging company Charge Amps raises $15 million

Swedish maker of electric vehicle charging solutions, Charge Amps, had raised 130 million crowns ($15.3 million) in a funding round led by Swedbank Robur, reports Reuters. The company also plans its IPO next year.

Charge Amps develops smart charging stations, cables, and cloud software. The company will use the funding to expand in key European markets including the Nordic countries and the United Kingdom, for R&D, and to prepare for an IPO. Founded in 2012, Charge Amps said it was expecting sales of 250 million crowns this year and has more than doubled growth year-on-year since 2018.

SecurityScorecard has nearly $1 billion valuation

Cybersecurity ratings firm SecurityScorecard has raised $180 million of fresh capital as part of a late-stage funding round led by investors such as Silver Lake Waterman, reports Reuters. The latest round values the company at close to $1 billion. It brings SecurityScorecard’s total funding to date to more than $290 million.

Demand for cybersecurity services has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, as companies spend more to protect the information technology systems of employees working from home. Worldwide IT spending is expected to rise more than 6% to $3.9 trillion in 2021, according to technology research firm Gartner, with a big chunk of spending going towards security. Gartner did not provide an exact break-up of spending on security.

SecurityScorecard, which monitors and assesses the cybersecurity strengths and weaknesses of nearly two million organizations, said it is on track to rate more than 20 million firms by the end of the year. The company plans to use the fresh capital to fund its global expansion.