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Top VC deals: Jaguar backs robo-taxis, Google buys Redux, Celgene buys new cancer drugs

Lora Kolodny

Here's a roundup of the most important deals in venture capital from the past week.


Celgene acquired a developer of cancer drugs, Impact Biomedicines, in a deal valued at up to $7 billion the companies announced on Sunday. The deal entails a $1.1 billion initial payment to the start-up, and more in phases if Impact's clinical trials bear out and the company attains regulatory approvals to move forward with treatments for a blood cancer called myelofibrosis. The deal represents a blockbuster of an exit for Impact's earlier investors. The company had raised $112 million, including $22 million in venture funding from Medicxi Ventures in London, and $90 million in debt financing from Oberland Capital.

Google has acquired a U.K.-based company called Redux Laboratories, which had 178 granted patents and 50 pending, as well as venture funding from Prosper Capital. Redux's flagship technology turns the surface of devices, including smartphones, into speakers. A regulatory filing from December 2017 showed that Google's Ireland subsidiary bought all the shares of NVF Tech, the parent company of Redux. The deal was completed around September last year, and terms weren't disclosed.

After 12 years and $157 million in venture funding, Practice Fusion was acquired by Allscripts, for $100 million. Practice Fusion created a free online platform that doctors could use to issue prescriptions, communicate with other healthcare providers, order labs and keep records of their patients' visits. The deal was a disappointing end for Practice Fusion's backers, who had at one time given the company a $1.5 billion valuation. Practice Fusion was backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Morgenthaler Ventures, Felicis Ventures, an investment arm of OrbiMed and othaers.


Sydney-based Canva raised $40 million in new venture funding and scored a post-money valuation of $1 billion, CEO and co-founder Melanie Perkins told CNBC. The deal makes Canva one of the few "unicorns" to hail from Australia, and one of the few led by a woman. Canva makes Web-based software that helps non-experts make pretty presentations, graphics or even light animations. Canva wants to topple PowerPoint. But the start-up also faces competition from Apple Keynote, Adobe Connect, and Prezi, another venture-funded company. Sequoia China was part of the new funding round.

Perkins told CNBC that people have created billboards, invitations, missing person posters and more with Canva, in addition to school reports, pitch decks and infographics. The new funding will help Canva expand to international audiences and develop new features and functionality.

"Our mission has been the same for years -- to empower everyone to design anything and publish anywhere," she said. "We're getting closer to that goal, but haven't even done 1 percent of what's possible."

Hyundai invested in Grab , the Singapore-based ride-hailing company whose app is widely used to hail taxis or private vehicles, throughout Southeast Asia. The companies did not say how much Hyundai has invested. The deal marks Hyundai's first jump into a ride-hailing platform.

Jaguar's venture arm, InMotion Ventures, and Khosla Ventures invested in a $15 million round of funding for Voyage, as The Information first reported. The start-up has developed "robo-taxis," a fleet of driverless cars that can be booked for a ride through an app. Voyage is testing out its autonomous transportation in San Jose, California, and will soon expand it to retirement communities in Florida. The company spun out of Udacity, an online school created by driverless car pioneer Sebastian Thrun.

InMotion Ventures also invested $1 million in a Boston-based start-up called Sheprd the companies announced on Wednesday. Sheprd bills itself as an "on-demand school bus." Its drivers use Jaguar Land Rover SUVs to pick up groups of students and drop them off at school, soccer practice or other related activities. Parents pre-schedule the rides on an Uber-like app. Kids get picked up and dropped off directly at home or where they're expected and don't need to wait at public bus stops.

Funds and Firms

Renault Nissan and Mitsubishi announced plans to invest $1 billion over 5 years in driverless car and related autonomous and transportation technologies as Alliance Ventures. According to a press statement from the alliance, "The first deal will be a strategic investment in Ionic Materials, a US-based company developing solid-state cobalt-free battery materials."