Deals That Matter

Top VC deals this week: Electric scooters, Slack, and a Chinese self-driving car firm

Key Points
  • Electric scooter company Gogoro raised $300 million led by Temasek Holdings.
  • Softbank pumped $250 million into collaboration software provider Slack.
  • Crowdfunding platform Patreon raised $60 million.
Jack Conte, founder of Patreon

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

Start-ups funded

Gogoro raised $300 million in a series C round led by Temasek Holdings and joined by Al Gore's Generation Investment Management group, Sumitomo and others. Gogoro makes electric scooters and battery-swapping kiosks where users can charge or swap them out.

SoftBank poured $250 million into Slack, the workplace collaboration platform that competes with Microsoft-owned Yammer and Facebook's Workplace. The deal valued Slack at $5.1 billion.

Patreon, a crowdfunding platform, raised $60 million, TechCrunch reported. Other crowdfunding sites, including Kickstarter or GoFundMe, let users raise money for a project or a cause. Instead, Patreon helps creatives raise money from subscribers for products that are ongoing, such as la podcast or a webcomic.

Chinese Autonomous driving firm JingChi raised $30 million in angel funding, China Money Network reported, and has targeted a Series A round of $100 million. The company's founder, Wang Jin, was formerly the general manager of Baidu's autonomous driving unit.

Food-tech start-up MealPal raised $20 million in a series B round of funding led by Menlo Ventures. The company's customers can order and carry out meals from restaurants for just $6.

C2Sense raised $3.2 million for its "digital nose" that detects gas compounds. Among other things, its technology can alert food makers when ingredients are about to go bad, or construction workers when toxic gases are in the air.

New funds

On Thursday, Chinese search engine Baidu announced a $1.5 billion fund to invest in autonomous vehicle-related projects, including tech start-ups. Baidu's Apollo platform aims to become the "Android of the auto industry," it said in a press statement.

The Hong Kong government created a USD $256 million fund (the Innovation and Technology Venture Fund) to co-invest alongside other venture firms that agree to back local tech start-ups there.

S2G Ventures closed a $180 million fund, its second, to invest in food and agriculture start-ups. The Chicago firm was co-founded by OpenTable founder Chuck Templeton in 2015.

The Engine, a venture firm founded at MIT, announced that its debut fund has expanded to a total of $200 million. The firm also disclosed a batch of start-ups that it has invested in, all working on "tough tech," or advanced tech and science.

ProductHunt founder Ryan Hoover on Thursday officially launched a $3 million fund, dubbed the Weekend Fund, to back very-early-stage tech companies. ProductHunt, now owned by AngelList, helps start-ups stir up a buzz about their newest products, and has attracted some famous users.