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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 &#3

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

Pokémon Go Creator Niantic Raises $300M, Valued At $9B

Niantic , an augmented reality (AR) company whose products include the famous  Pokémon Go game, has raised a big new round of funding. It's raised $300mn in funding at a valuation of $9bn. All the funding came from just one investor; Coatue , a New York-based hedge fund famous for investing in many blue-chip tech startups. With its new funding, Niantic says it'll invest in current games and new apps and expand its AR developer platform called Lightship . The company says it's set on building the "real-world metaverse," jumping on the bandwagon popularized by Facebook's parent firm, Meta.  The base for Niantic's metaverse vision is the Lightship developer platform which it launched this month. It's a platform for developers to build augmented reality apps and experiences, drawing from Niantic's tools that helped create its hit  Pokémon Go game. To draw creators to Lightship, Niantic has also set up a $20mn venture fund to invest in AR startups

Deal: Workday Buys Ohio Startup Vndly For $510M

Workday (NASDAQ: WDAY), the famous HR/finance software vendor, has made a big new acquisition to support its platform. The company will acquire Vndly , a software platform for companies to manage contract workers. Vndly fits in well in Workday's overall software suite, and the rationale behind the purchase is clear. Vndly is an Ohio-based startup. Workday will pay $510mn to buy it, marking one of Ohio's biggest startup exits this year. Vndly has raised roughly $60mn from VCs, so a $510mn exit is very lucrative and more so for a startup founded just four years ago .  Before now, Vndly and Workday were already close allies. Vndly's platform is integrated with Workday's, with official certification to go. The Mason, Ohio-based startup is part of Workday's global network of endorsed software partners, so Workday didn't even have to look far to snatch its latest acquisition.  Vndly was founded in 2017 by two entrepreneurs,  Shashank Saxena and Narayana Surabhi .

Amazon, Apple Fined $230M For Reseller Collusion In Italy

Tech giants Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) have been handed sizeable fines by the Italian government following an investigation into alleged reseller collusion between both companies. Amazon was fined €135mn ($151mn) and Apple  €69mn ($78mn), totaling $229mn .  The fine was levied by the  Italian Competition Authority . According to the agency, Apple and Amazon had a contractual agreement to allow  select resellers to sell Apple and Beats products on Amazon's Italian marketplace. The agency said that the selection was applied in a "discriminatory" way that violated European Union rules and affected price competition. According to the  Italian Competition Authority, at least 70% of local consumer electronics purchases are made on Amazon, making it a dominant retailer. This dominance, therefore, demands a "level playing field" for retailers that sell on Amazon's marketplace, the agency said. This is the nth time Amazon is getting in the cr

Antitrust: US DOJ Sues To Block Major Sugar Industry Merger

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is freshly on the antitrust circuit, seeking to block a merger it deems detrimental to consumers. The agency has filed a lawsuit to block the sale of  Imperial Sugar , a leading American sugar producer, to rival  U.S. Sugar . The DOJ says the proposed deal will make just two sugar producers account for an "overwhelming majority" of refined sugar sales in the U.S. Southeast, U.S. Sugar being one of the two producers. This concentration of power would make consumers pay more for refined sugar, the DOJ says.  Imperial Sugar is owned by Louis Dreyfus Company, a privately-held agricultural giant based in the Netherlands. The company agreed to sell Imperial to rival U.S. Sugar for the sum of $315mn this March.  U.S. Sugar is another privately-held agricultural giant headquartered in Florida. It can produce up to 850,000 tons of sugar annually at its refinery plant in Florida, and buying Imperial would give it two more sugar plants in Kentuc

Alt-Meat Maker Impossible Foods Raises $500M In Fresh Funding

A leading maker of plant-based meat substitutes, Impossible Foods , has obtained a fresh cash infusion from VCs. It has  raised $500mn in new funding, bringing the total amount of funding it has raised since inception to $2bn.  The latest round was provided entirely by existing investors doubling down on Impossible Foods.  Mirae Asset Global , a Korean investment firm, led the round and was joined by other unnamed existing investors.  It's evident that investors are longing for Impossible Foods, a leading brand in the nascent market for plant-based meat substitutes. There's clearly huge potential for plant-based meat substitutes, driven by an increasing vegan population and the appeal to lower the carbon footprint that spurs from meat consumption. To that end, Impossible Foods is growing rapidly. Its products can now be found in more than 20,000 retail stores, compared to 150 as of March 2020, and 40,000 restaurants globally. Over the past year, Impossible has launched in ne

Deal: KKR Makes $37B Buyout Offer For Telecom Italia

Private equity giant KKR (NYSE: KKR) has ventured into Italy for its latest buyout deal. The firm has offered to buy Telecom Italia (BIT: TIT), the largest telecom provider in Italy, in a deal worth  €33bn ($37bn), including debt. KKR offered 0.505 Euros in cash for each outstanding  Telecom Italia share, a 46% premium to the last closing share price before the offer. That sums up to  €10.7bn ($12bn) in cash to be paid for Telecom Italia, and including the telecom firm's large net debt of €22.5bn ($25bn) sums up to $37bn in total.  KKR's offer is non-binding and must be approved by Telecom Italia's board members and majority shareholders before the deal goes through. Approval must also come from the Italian government, which was veto power over the takeover of the formerly state-owned telecoms firm.  Telecom Italia gave no indication that it'll approve the deal. If approval is given, it'll mark one of the biggest buyout deals of a European company by an America

Earnings: Nvidia Is On A Tear

Chipmaking giant Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA) has unveiled the financial results for its latest fiscal quarter ended October 31, 2021. The company reported a sharp rise in sales that can only be described as being on a tear. Nvidia posted $7.1bn in revenue in the quarter, up 50% year-over-year . The large growth was driven mostly by the company's data center sales, which increased 55% year-over-year to $2.9bn. Similarly, Nvidia's gaming revenue rose 42% year-over-year to $3.2bn. Net income for the quarter was $2.5bn , up 4% from the same period last year. It was an outstanding quarter all-around for Nvidia, a beneficiary of the recent massive growth of the gaming industry and data center boom. Nvidia's GeForce graphics cards are very popular with gamers, and data center operators patronize Nvidia's high-performance graphics processors for artificial intelligence applications.  Save for data centers and gaming, Nvidia has other minor product lines, including automotive chip

Cyber: Apple Sues NSO Group Over Spyware Hacks

Tech giant Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has filed a lawsuit against NSO Group , a controversial Israeli company that sells smartphone hacking tools and has been  implicated in the hacks and surveillance of many notable persons, including journalists, activists, and business executives, by state-sponsored actors. Apple has sued NSO Group for infecting iPhones with spyware to track users of interest. As part of the suit, the tech giant seeks a permanent injunction to ban NSO Group from using any Apple products. NSO Group is best known for its Pegasus spyware that can be covertly installed on mobile phones running most versions of iOS and Android. The company exploits vulnerabilities in both operating systems to introduce spyware into a phone without the user's knowledge. Pegasus was the center of a Washington Post investigation called "The Pegasus Project," revealing that the spyware was used to surveil over 1,000 identified notable individuals across countries with shoddy hu

Markets: Retail Giant Authentic Brands Scraps IPO Plans

Authentic Brands Group , a New York-based retail conglomerate, has suspended its plans for an initial public offering (IPO) after already filing an S-1 document with the US SEC. The company has instead opted to raise private funding to fund expansion in the main time. Authentic Brands Group's portfolio retail brands include apparel retailer Forever21 , men's suit maker Brooks Brothers , and department store chain Barneys New York . The company is akin to an old people's home where once-vibrant retail brands go to stay after they've gone past their peak. Authentic buys these befallen retail companies and makes money from what's left of them through licensing deals.  Over the years, Authentic has relied on hefty venture funding to assemble its constellation of old-guard brands. An IPO was supposed to raise even more money for expansion but has been set aside in favor of private funding.  Authentic is  rather selling  equity stakes to private equity firm CVC Capital

Markets: IoT Startup Samsara Files For IPO

The latest tech startup to board the IPO train is Samsara , a VC-backed startup that makes internet-of-things (IoT)-based fleet monitoring hardware and software for logistical operators. It has unveiled an S-1 filing with the US SEC, showing its intention to list on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Samsara has raised nearly $1bn from VCs including Andreessen Horowitz, Tiger Global, and General Catalyst, with a valuation of $5.4bn from its last funding round. The company's co-founders sold a previous startup named Meraki to Cisco for $1.2bn . As expected, Samsara's S-1 filing gives a deep glimpse into the company's business with information not publicly disclosed before. The company has been rather secretive over the years, making this long-awaited information. We've extracted some important information so you don't have to, mostly the financial stuff. Samsara brought in $303mn in revenue in the nine months ended October 2021, compared to $174mn in the same