Top VC deals: Walmart spends $16 billion on Flipkart and Richard Branson joins a PE firm

  • Walmart is spending $16 billion to buy a majority stake in Flipkart, India's largest e-commerce company.
  • No-fee trading app Robinhood raised $363 million in new funding and notched a valuation of $5.6 billion.
  • Cisco agreed to buy sales software start-up Accompany for $270 million in cash and stock.

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

Exits

Walmart is paying $16 billion for a 77% stake in India's e-commerce leader Flipkart. Earlier investors in the company have included: Softbank Vision Fund, Tiger Global and Accel, among others. Morgan Stanley projects India's e-commerce market to become a $200 billion market by 2027.

The investment includes $2 billion in growth equity, which may be joined by other investors, including Alphabet.

Cisco senior vice president and general manager Rowan Trollope.
Source: Cisco
Cisco senior vice president and general manager Rowan Trollope.

Cisco is acquiring Accompany in a cash and stock deal valued at $270 million, the companies announced on Tuesday. Accompany's "relationship intelligence platform" helps sales teams find new prospects and strengthening relationships with their clients. Accompany Founder and CEO Amy Chang is joining Cisco as senior vice president in charge of the Collaboration Technology Group. Accompany had raised $40.6 million in venture funding from firms including: Cowboy Ventures, Iconiq, CRV and Ignition Partners.

Start-ups

A man holds an UBtech Alpha humanoid robot at the annual Huawei Global Mobile Broadband Forum in Chiba, Japan, on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016.
Tomohiro Ohsumi | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A man holds an UBtech Alpha humanoid robot at the annual Huawei Global Mobile Broadband Forum in Chiba, Japan, on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016.

Tencent led an $820 million series C investment in Ubtech Robotics, a Shenzhen-based start-up that develops AI software and robots, as well as robot-building kits, for educational and entertainment purposes.

Robinhood, a no-fee trading app for the Bitcoin generation, has raised $363 million in a series D round and attained a $5.6 billion valuation. Yuri Milner's DST Group led the investment joined by Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins, Alphabet's CapitalG, and the company's prior backers including NEA and Thrive Capital. Robinhood says it has more than 4 million brokerage accounts, and has helped its users conduct more than $150 billion in trades. That makes Robinhood larger than E-Trade.

Last week, Tencent, Daimler, Hyundai and other investors poured $100 million into SoundHound a company that develops "voice-recognition, natural language understanding, sound-recognition and search technologies," according to its website. SoundHound, which started out as a music recognition app, competes with Apple's Siri and Shazam, and Amazon Alexa.

SAP's Sapphire Ventures joined Lightspeed, General Catalyst and Khosla in a $145 million series D round for ThoughtSpot. The start-up wants to make it possible to use natural language queries to get deep insights from data that's stored across a company's various cloud-based and on-premise systems. The enterprise search and analytics firm was founded by Ajeet Singh, also a co-founder of Nutanix. Singh said this should be the company's last round of venture capital before it is ready to go public.

Mesosphere, a company with software for managing applications and data processing systems across various data center infrastructure environments, has raised $125 million led by Koch Disruptive Technologies -- a subsidiary of Koch Industries -- and T. Rowe Price.

U.S. actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
Christophe Archambault | AFP | Getty Images
U.S. actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

Rubicon Global, a start-up backed by environmentalist and actor Leonardo Dicaprio, raised $65 million in fresh capital from NZ Super Fund. The Atlanta-based company's mobile apps connect businesses, government offices and other organizations to independent waste haulers, allowing for scheduled trash pickups, among other things.

Yamaha and the venture arm of the robotics giant ABB were among investors in a $20 million round for Soft Robotics. The company, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, makes robots that are soft, and highly dexterous. They are able to pick and pack items like easily bruised bananas or fragile consumer electronics in a warehouse or fulfillment center.

ZeroCater Snacks
ZeroCater Snacks

Office catering start-up ZeroCater raised $12 million in a new round of funding led by Cleveland Avenue, and joined by Romulus Capital, Twitch co-founder Justin Kan and Struck Capital.

GM Ventures led a $10 million series A investment in Algolux. The company, based in Montreal, is developing perception technology that would help autonomous vehicles operate safely in extreme lighting, bad weather and other everyday conditions that aren't well handled by computer vision today.

Funds and firms

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson is joining a private equity fund in London, Metric Capital Partners, as an investing partner. Branson was already and active tech investor who backed Ring, the smart doorbell company that Amazon recently acquired in a deal valued around $1 billion, and the lab-grown meat startup Memphis Meats.

CRV (previously known as Charles River Ventures) has raised $600 million for its 17th fund. The nearly 50-year-old firm will allocate some of this capital for later-stage investments, rather than focusing exclusively on earlier stage start-ups as it has historically. CRV was an investor in Twitter, Zendesk and Dropbox prior to their IPOs. The firm's current portfolio of companies includes Udacity, Pillpack and DoorDash, among others.

Backstage Capital, a venture firm that invests in under-represented founders, has closed a $36 million debut fund. Founder Arlan Hamilton was homeless in 2015 when she first began putting the fund together. Her firm has already invested in 80 different companies, Quartz reports. All of the companies she invests in have at least one co-founder who is a woman, person of color, or person who is LGBTQ.

Female Founders Fund, also known as F3, has raised $27 million for its sophomore fund. Limited partners who put money into the new fund included: Melinda Gates, Rent the Runway co-founder Jenny Fleiss and Hayler Barna, a partner at First Round Capital who also co-founded Birchbox.