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Latest SPAC Deal: Genetic Testing Company 23andMe

The genetic testing company 23andMe is the latest company to join the boom of becoming publicly-traded by merging with special-purpose acquisition companies. Barely a month after it closed an $83 million funding round , 23andMe has announced a deal to merge with VG Acquisition Corp, a SPAC formed by the famed entrepreneur Richard Branson. 23andMe will merge with VG Acquisition Corp in a deal valued at $3.5 billion. As part of the merger, 23andMe will receive $509 million held in trust by VG Acquisition plus a top-up $250 million cash infusion that'll come from investors including Fidelity, Altimeter Capital, and Foresite Capital. Branson and 23andMe's CEO, Anne Wojcicki who's the ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, will reach chip in $25 million into the $250 million round. At close, the combined company of VG Acquisition and 23andMe will have a cash balance exceeding $900 million. After the merger, 23andMe will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the t

Genetic Medicine Startup Tessera Nabs $230M Round

Tessera Therapeutics, a biotech startup working on the development of new genetic medicines and treatments, has raised $230 million in a Series B round co-led by the SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, and Altitude Life Science Ventures, with participation from other investors including the Qatar Investment Authority. Tessera is notably a spin-off of Flagship Pioneering, the same life sciences developer that spun off Moderna, a company that has made its mark by developing a successful Covid-19 vaccine .  Tessera formally spun off from Flagship Pioneering in July 2020 and now a few months later has closed $230 million in Series B funding. The company is pioneering a concept that it terms "Gene Writing", referring to the ability to write therapeutic instructions into the genome to treat diseases at their source. Tessera is aiming to develop treatments and ailments for diseases by targeting them at their very source, the genomes. It's an ambitious vent

Moderna Kicks Off New Vaccine Programs

After successfully producing a Covid-19 vaccine with a high efficacy rate,  Moderna has announced that it's kicked off new vaccine programs for three diseases: seasonal Flu, Nipah Virus, and the HIV virus.  The three new vaccine programs will be based on the relatively newer Messenger RNA (mRNA) system, which Moderna successfully harnessed to develop its Covid-19 vaccine.  In basic terms, mRNA is the molecule that essentially puts DNA instructions into action. Unline traditional vaccines that work by training the body to recognize and respond to the proteins produced by disease-causing organisms, mRNA vaccines work by tricking the body into producing some of the viral proteins itself, the proteins being solitary and not able to assemble to form a virus. The immune system then detects these viral proteins and begin to produce a defensive response to them. With a successful application on the coronavirus disease, Moderna is apparently looking to replicate that success on the season

Bill Gates-Backed British Biotech Kymab Sells For $1.5B

The French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi has reached a definitive agreement to buy Kymab, a British immunotherapy firm, in a $1.45 billion deal split into an upfront payment of $1.1 billion and then $350 million in top-up payments contingent on meeting certain milestones. Kymab is a firm backed by investors including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome Trust, ORI Capital, and Hepalink.  The company has raised roughly $230 million in venture funding. Sanofi's acquisition marks a sweet deal for Kymab, which was looking at a public listing in the US before now getting bought out. With Kymab under its belt, Sanofi will get full global rights to KY1005, a monoclonal antibody developed by Kymab with the potential to treat varieties of immune-mediated diseases and inflammatory disorders. Along with KY1005, Kymab also has another monoclonal antibody treatment in its pipeline; KY1044, which is currently in early Phase 1/2 development. To that, the acquisition benefits Sanofi w

Moderna Ups Vaccine Production Target

The American biotech company Moderna has increased the production target for its Covid-19 vaccine for this year, now seeking to produce 600 million doses this year compared to a previously stated 500 million doses.  Out of the targeted 600 million, 100 million doses are targeted to be available in the US by the end of the first quarter of this year and 200 million by the end of the second quarter. Already, 18 million doses have been supplied to the US government. Moderna received Emergency Use Authorization from the US last year December and began supplying to the government. Shortly after, it received approval from neighboring Canada and has also began supplying vaccines there. Moderna has partnered with a clique of pharmaceutical firms for the mass production and distribution of its Covid vaccines. It's secured big supply deals with a handful of countries, including 200 million doses ordered by the US, 40 million by Canada, and 7 million by the UK. Moderna is a forerunner in the

UK Approves Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid Vaccine

The UK government has issued emergency use authorization for the Covid-19 vaccine jointly developed by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and researchers from Oxford University, two institutions notably based right there in the UK. The approval was announced by AstraZeneca on Wednesday. The approval for AstraZeneca's vaccine makes it the third pharmaceutical company to gain authorization from the UK government to distribute Covid-19 vaccines, after the American companies Pfizer and Moderna. With AstraZeneca and Oxford University both based in the UK, the country will likely benefit more from their Covid-19 vaccine thanks to proximity, wherein AstraZeneca has committed to supply up to 100 million doses in the country.  AstraZeneca conducted trials for its vaccine and posted an efficacy rate of 70% from its trials last month. The company has now been authorized to distribute vaccines to be administered on individuals 18 years or older, with a recommended two-shot dosage to be a

DNA Testing Startup 23andMe Nabs $83M Round

The DNA testing startup 23andMe has closed $82.5 million in a new fundraise, as indicated by filings to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The company sought out to close an $85 million round and has already check-marked $82.5 million out of that amount, with only $2.5 million remaining. Reports indicate that the new funding was led by the venture capital firms Sequoia Capital and NewView Capital. Sequoia was already a significant investor in 23andMe prior to the new round, having led a $250 million round of funding for the company three years ago. 23andMe offers genetic testing kits to consumers who spit into a tube, send the kits back to the company and then get and get data concerning their ancestry and health background. In recent years, precisely circa 2018, 23andMe enjoyed peak sales from the sale of DNA testing kits to consumers and reportedly generated $475 million in revenue in 2018. Circa 2020, however, the sales of consumer test kits have slowed and led 23an

US Greenlights Moderna's Covid-19 Vaccine

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Moderna, the company has announced . It makes Moderna the second company to get a Covid-19 vaccine approved for use in the US, the other being Pfizer .  Under an Emergency Use Authorization, Moderna will begin distributing its vaccine for use and says 20 million doses will be delivered by the end of this month. The US Government is Moderna's first and main customer, having bestowed it with a $1.5 billion vaccine supply deal this August. Another major customer is the European Commission, which has ordered 160 million vaccine doses from Moderna. Altogether, Moderna has secured orders for over 470 million vaccine doses from countries including the US, EU nations, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, UK, Israel, Qatar, and Singapore. Moderna expects to deliver 20 million vaccine doses to the US government by the end of this year and supply between 85-100 mil

Alphabet's Verily Nabs $700M Round

Verily, the life sciences arm of the tech giant Alphabet, has raised a fresh $700 million round from a group of investors including Alphabet itself, Silver Lake, Temasek, and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Verily says it'll use the new capital to support the expansion of some of its commercial businesses, including the clinical research platform Baseline and its health management platform, Verily Health Platforms.  Verily will also use the new capital to support the progress of several of its life sciences programs across surgery, pathology, and immunology. Notably, Verily has boosted its prowess amid the Covid-19 pandemic, wherein it's supported Covid-19 testing and research efforts with multiple partners with its Baseline clinical research platform. Verily has supported the testing of nearly two million people across 351 locations. Verily was founded in 2015 as a life sciences division under Google X, before it later rolled over into Alphabet. Still led by its founding C

AstraZeneca Buys Alexion In $39B Deal

The British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has announced that it's reached a deal to acquire Alexion Pharmaceuticals, a Boston-based biotech company focused on developing treatments for rare diseases and disorders.  AstraZeneca  will pay $60 in cash and roughly 1.06 common shares of AstraZeneca for each share of Alexion, summing up to a $39 billion deal, one of the biggest from the American biotech sector. The $39 billion price represents a premium of nearly 50% to Alexion's market cap of $26.5 billion as of market close on Friday. It represents the biggest biotech deal of 2020 and AstraZeneca's own biggest-ever acquisition. Alexion is a Boston-based biotech company best known for its development of Soliris , a drug used to treat certain rare disorders. The company had about $4 billion in sales last year and $5.9 billion in the nine months ending September 30, 2020. Upon completion of the acquisition, Alexion's current shareholders will own 15% of the combined company

US Greenlights Pfizer's Covid-19 Vaccine

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that it's approved an Emergency Use Authorization for a Covid-19 vaccine developed by the pharmaceuticals company Pfizer in partnership with the German biotech firm BioNTech, making it the first Covid-19 vaccine to be approved for use in the US. The approval from the FDA comes just a week after UK authorities approved the same Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer, making Pfizer the first company to get its vaccine approved by the two countries. Pfizer posted the results of the initial Phase 3 trial for its Covid-19 vaccine this November, reporting an efficacy rate of 95% . The company conducted trials on over 43,000 participants for the initial stage and plans to conduct more even as its vaccine has been greenlighted for emergency use.  The use of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for emergency use in the US for individuals 16 years of age or older and could be administered to 20 million Americans in the 

Bill Gates-Backed AbCellera Goes Public

AbCellera Biologics, a biotech company working on antibody treatments for ailments including Covid-19 and is backed by investors including Bill Gates, has raised $483 million from an IPO on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange and saw its shares surge from $20 at debut to $58.90 at market close, giving it a market value of $15.7 billion. AbCellera marked one of the biggest biotech IPOs this year, with positive investor sentiment propelled by its work on a potential treatment for the Covid-19 disease. The Canadian company has developed a monoclonal antibody treatment for mild-to-moderate Covid-19 symptoms  that was authorized for use last month by US regulators. AbCellera is developing its Covid-19 treatment in partnership with the pharmaceutical company  Eli Lilly and has secured an order for 300,000 doses from the US government. Lilly will handle manufacturing and distribution while AbCellera focuses on the development and will make royalties from every dose sold. Before the Covid-19 pandemic st

Most Read Posts

Okta Buys Cloud Security Startup Auth0 For $6.5B

A very big new acquisition has happened in the tech industry, with Okta (NASDAQ: OKTA), the publicly-traded cloud identity and access management software provider, announcing an agreement to buy Auth0, a fellow cloud identity software provider, for a price of $6.5 billion to be paid all with shares. A $6.5 billion exit for Auth0 marks a major win for the startup scene in Seattle, the tech hub where Auth0 is based and also a major win for the company's backers and investors. Auth0 last raised venture funding last year in July with a $120 million Series F round that valued the company at $1.9 billion. Now, it's about to sell for more than triple that amount. Auth0 has raised more than $330 million in total venture funding, with investors including the likes of Salesforce Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Telstra Ventures, Sapphire Ventures, and DTCP. Salesforce Ventures led Auth0's most recent $120 million Series F round. With its acquisition of a fellow cloud identity a

John McAfee Indicted For $13M Crypto "Pump And Dump" Scheme

In October last year, John McAfee who's a controversial entrepreneur best known for founding the cybersecurity powerhouse bearing his last name McAfee was indicted for tax evasion by US authorities  with accusations of earning millions of dollars from cryptocurrency schemes and failing to report income and pay taxes as required to the US government. Now, it appears that McAfee is facing even more charges from US authorities, with the District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) having just announced  further indictments of him for fraud and money laundering coming from alleged crypto "pump and dump" schemes. McAfee along with an associate, Jimmy Watson, are accused of hyping and promoting certain cryptocurrencies on social media in order to artificially inflate their prices without disclosing that McAfee owned large quantities of the promoted crypto and intended to profit from his promotion. McAfee, Watson, and other unnamed associates are alleged to have p

Peter Thiel Cashes Out Big From Palantir

After taking his data analytics and mining company, Palantir, public last year, it seems that Peter Thiel is keen on cashing out significantly from his stake in the company after getting an opportunity to do so on the public markets.  Thiel founded and helped build Palantir from the ground up into a data analytics powerhouse with annual sales of over $1 billion.   Palantir stayed as a private company for 17 years before hitting the public markets. According to regulatory filings and records , Peter Thiel has sold over $780 million of Palantir shares since the company began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in September 2020.  Thiel's largest single sale transaction was an offloading of 20 million shares for $504.8 million on the 19th of February, 2020. His second-largest was the sale of 23 million shares in a transaction netting around $236 million on the 30th of September, 2020, which was the very day Palantir began trading on the NYSE. Altogether, Thiel has netted mor

New SPAC Deal: Bitcoin Mining Startup Cipher

The latest technology company to join the flurry of SPAC mergers is Cipher Mining, a newly-formed US-based bitcoin mining startup that's an offshoot of Bitfury, a leading maker of bitcoin mining hardware that's based in the Netherlands. Cipher Mining Inc will merge with Good Works Acquisition Corp (Nasdaq: GWAC) in a deal valuing the bitcoin mining startup at $2 billion. The SPAC will be anchored by a $425 million PIPE round committed by investors including Fidelity, Morgan Stanley (via its subsidiary Counterpoint Global), and Cipher's parent Bitfury. Bitfury will contribute a $50 million investment to the PIPE round that's structured as purchase credits for equipment and services from it for Cipher Mining. The SPAC merger will hand over $595 million in gross proceeds to Cipher Mining, consisting of the $425 million PIPE round and $170 million of cash held in trust by Good Works Acquisition Corp. Upon completion of the SPAC merger, the investors in Cipher's PIPE rou

Deal: Twilio Bets $750M On Mobile Comms Provider Syniverse

Twilio, the publicly-traded cloud communications company, has sought to strategically team up with an old-guard provider of mobile and wireless communications technology named Syniverse, with a formal business partnership just  announced between both parties that'll see Twilio invest up to $750 million for a minority stake in Syniverse under its terms. Twilio has agreed to invest up to $750 million in cash for a minority stake in Syniverse, buying the stake from the company's current owner which is the private equity firm Carlyle Group. The partnership between Twilio and Syniverse will see both companies enter into a major business partnership that entails a wholesale agreement whereby Syniverse will process, route and deliver application-to-person (A2P) messages originating and/or terminating between Twilio’s customers and mobile network operators. On Syniverse's end of the deal, the company is getting a business boost by providing services for Twilio which is one of the

American Drone Maker Skydio Raises $170M, Valued At $1B+

Skydio, an American startup that makes autonomous drones, has closed a new funding round of $170 million that values it above $1 billion. The round was led by the famous venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from existing backers Next47, IVP, and Linse Capital, plus a new investor UP.Partners. Andreessen Horowitz led the new Series D round for Skydio from its Growth Fund, and with it, Skydio has now raised a total of over $340 million in external funding and then with a $1 billion+ valuation that makes it the highest-valued drone startup in the US. It seems that Skydio has drawn wide investor attraction after the US government placed China's DJI on a blacklist last year. DJI made its mark as the biggest drone maker globally and the largest in the US market but got placed on a government Entity List last year that barred American companies from supplying it with components. The blacklist was instituted by the former Trump administration due to alleged ties to

Carmaker Volvo To Go Fully Electric By 2030

The latest global automaker to commit to transitioning to a fully-electric production output in the future is Swedish carmaker Volvo, which has announced plans to become a fully electric car company by 2030. By then, the company says it intends to have phased out any car in its portfolio with an internal combustion engine, including hybrids, and transition to producing fully electric cars. The announcement of Volvo's grand plan comes a year after the company launched its first fully electric car, the XC40 Recharge , around the globe, and with just one fully electric car in its product portfolio now, it's apparent that the automaker would need to put in hard work to achieve a fully-electric portfolio in nine years time. To work towards its goal, Volvo has announced that it'll roll out 'several' additional electric car models in the coming years, the word several making the number indistinct. The Swedish automaker is aiming for fully electric cars to make up half of

Jay-Z's Tidal Sells To Payments Company Square In $300M Deal

It seems that this is the season of deals for rapper-cum-businessman Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter as just barely two weeks after he reached a deal to sell half of his premium champagne brand to luxury goods giant LVMH, he's reached yet another deal to sell one of his main business ventures, the music streaming app Tidal. Tidal has agreed to be taken over by Square, the payments company led by Jack Dorsey who's more popular for his role as the CEO of Twitter. In a statement , Square said it'll pay the sum of $297 million in a mix of cash and stock to acquire a "significant majority ownership" stake in Tidal leaving the remaining minority stake will be held by Tidal's artist shareholders. The exact percentage that Square is buying in Tidal isn't disclosed but it's definitely over 50% given it's a majority stake. With Square's statement of acquiring a "significant majority ownership", one can guess somewhere between 50%-80% of the com

Smart TV Maker Vizio Files To Go Public

Vizio, a well-known maker of smart TVs and other complementary equipment such as soundbars, has filed an S-1 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for a public listing, seeking to do so for the second time after having previously filed to go public in 2015 but later withdrew its plan in lieu of a $2 billion sale agreement to a Chinese company that unfortunately didn't pan out. The market for technology IPOs has been very hot as of late and it seems that Vizio is coming in at the right time to capitalize on that hotness. A popular maker of smart TVs, Vizio has sold over 80 million TVs and 11 million soundbars since the company's inception, as indicated in its S-1 filing. The company sold 7.1 million TVs in 2020 alone. Vizio has strong revenues and is profitable, reporting $102 million in net income on over $2 billion in revenue in 2020. In the previous year, 2019, Vizio reported a net income of $23 million on $1.8 billion in revenue. Most of Vizio's revenue c

New SPAC Deal: Home Insurance Startup Hippo

Amid a flurry of SPAC mergers as of late, the latest technology company to tap into the boom and reach a deal to merge with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) is Hippo, a home insurance startup that makes use of satellite imagery and smart home sensors to gauge and offer better home insurance policies. Hippo will merge with Reinvent Technology Partners Z (NYSE:RPTZ), a SPAC formed by the respective founders of LinkedIn and gaming company Zynga, Reid Hoffman and Mark Pincus. Hippo will merge with  Reinvent Technology Partners Z in a deal that'll hand it over $230 million of cash held in trust by the SPAC, plus a $550 million PIPE round to be led by existing investors  Dragoneer, Lennar, and Ribbit Capital. The PIPE round will value Hippo at $5 billion. Following the merger's completion, Hippo expects to have $1.2 billion of cash at hand, fueled by the funds from its SPAC deal plus venture funding that it's already raised. A hot insurance startup, Hippo has raised o