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Top VC deals: SenseTime, Meetup and a cure for age-related diseases

  • WeWork acquired Meetup, a social network used to organize offline events, in a deal valued at $200 million.
  • Alibaba Group is in talks to invest $227 million into AI start-up SenseTime, which is based in Beijing but targeting an IPO in the U.S.
  • Restorbio in Boston raised $40 million for therapeutics to fight age-related diseases.

Here's a round-up of the most important deals in venture capital from this past week.

Exits

Adam Neumann, co-founder and chief executive officer of WeWork.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Adam Neumann, co-founder and chief executive officer of WeWork.

After raising a $4.4 billion round of funding from Softbank earlier this year, co-working giant WeWork is now on a shopping spree. In its latest deal, WeWork acquired Meetup, a social network used to organize community meetings and business events offline, in a deal reportedly valued at $200 million. WeWork previously acquired The Flatiron School, a coding trade school in New York.

Samsung acquired Fluenty, a South Korean start-up making chat apps like Facebook Messenger, Line or KakaoTalk easier to use. Fluenty's software generates contextually relevant text replies within a given conversation. If a user gets a message with an invitation to dinner, for example, Fluenty generates possible replies like "Yes, what do you want to eat?" or "Yes, I'll add it to my schedule." Terms weren't disclosed.

Start-ups

Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang.
Source: Alibaba Group
Alibaba Group CEO Daniel Zhang.

Alibaba Group is in talks to invest $227 million in SenseTime, China Money Network reports. The Chinese AI start-up is targeting an IPO in the U.S. SenseTime has worked with big corporations like Qualcomm, Nvidia, Sina Weibo and Xiaomi. It raised $410 million in a prior round of funding, and its earlier backers include Qualcomm and IDG Capital Partners. SenseTime's AI software and services enable cars, robots, appliances, mobile devices and apps to recognize faces, voices, objects or vehicles, as well as different languages.

T. Rowe Price and Temasek led a $110 million investment in Farmers Business Network, a marketplace that helps farmers lock in a fair price on seeds and fertilizers. The company's site also gives farmers a way to anonymously share data about what works and doesn't work in the field.

Nvidia and Wells Fargo led a $40 million investment in H2O.ai. The start-up builds tools that help companies employ machine learning, deep learning and AI in their own applications, even if they can't afford a cadre of data scientists and programmers.

OrbiMed led a $40 million investment in Restorbio, a Boston biotech firm developing therapeutics to treat age-related diseases. Among other things, Restorbio is testing a treatment that can help elderly people with weakening immune systems fight off respiratory infections. The company plans to expand its therapeutics pipeline.

Funds and firms

NFX Guild has closed its debut fund at $150 million. Co-founded by Trulia founder Pete Flint, Tickle and Medpedia founder James Currier and Bertelsmann supervisor Gigi Levy-Weiss, NFX Guild will invest in early-stage start-ups, primarily in Silicon Valley and Israel. The firm said it's seeking deals in AI, blockchain, biotech, financial services and technologies, augmented or virtual reality, robotics, enterprise and subscription software.

The Amazon Alexa Fund, which primarily backs voice technology start-ups, expanded by $100 million. Its latest investment was in Mojio, a company that makes hardware and software that connects cars to the internet. One of the Alexa skills the start-up developed lets drivers get information from their vehicles about mileage, location and maintenance needs by asking for it out loud. In a blog post, Alexa Fund lead Paul Bernard said the new capital will go to investments in international start-ups.