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Top VC deals: Google and Amazon both backed CTRL Labs, and Chinese AI firm SenseTime raised $620 million

Key Points
  • SenseTime, the Chinese A.I. start-up, raised $620 million not even two months after closing a $600 million round.
  • Daimler led a $175 funding round for Taxify, a rival to Uber and Lyft that is operating a ride-hailing service in Europe and Africa.
  • CTRL-labs raised $28 million for wearable tech that would allow people to mentally control computers or other devices.

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

Start-ups

Xiaoou Tang, founder of SenseTime, speaks at the Jumpstarter start-up pitch event in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017.
Vivek Prakash | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Chinese artificial intelligence company SenseTime said Thursday that it raised $620 million in fresh funds from prominent investors including Fidelity International, Hopu Capital, Silver Lake and Tiger Global. Chipmaker Qualcomm's venture capital arm also participated in the round. SenseTime just raised a $600 million in a round in April. The new funds will be used by the rapidly growing image recognition company for research and development and to hire more talent, according to the company. SenseTime said it is now valued at over $4.5 billion.

Alibaba and Tencent, China's biggest tech companies, have both invested in a $300 million, series D round of funding in a shopping app called Xiaohongshu, which means "Little Red Book" in English. The company is valued around $3 billion. Alibaba led the investment joined by Tencent, GSR Ventures, GGV Capital, Zhen Fund and several others. It is rare for Alibaba and Tencent to invest into the same venture, notes China Money Network.

Taxify founder and chief executive Markus Villig stands in front of Taxify branded car
Taxify

A ride-hailing company called Taxify raised $175 million and notched a $1 billion valuation, the company revealed on Wednesday. Daimler led the investment joined by Didi Chuxing, French venture investors Korelya Capital and others. Taxify operates throughout Europe and Africa, and boasts 10 million customers across in 25 countries. The company entered London, a key battleground for Uber, last year.

Alphabet venture arm GV led a $95 million investment in PACT Pharma, joined by Canaan Partners. The start-up is developing cancer treatments that work by reprogramming a patient's immune system cells to combat the disease.

A mobile banking app called Chime raised $70 million in a series C round led by Menlo Ventures and joined by Forerunner Ventures, Omidyar Network and other earlier investors. Chime offers accounts with none of the typical fees charged by retail banks such as monthly usage, minimum balance, overdraft, ATM and international transaction fees. TechCrunch reports that the series C deal brings Chime's valuation to around $500 million.

Virtru, which provides e-mail and file data security to businesses and government offices, raised a $37.5 million in a series B round led by ICONIQ Capital. Earlier backers Bessemer Venture Partners, New Enterprise Associates, Samsung, Blue Delta Capital, and Soros Capital also participated.

Ecobee smart thermostat
Richard Lautens | Toronto Star | Getty Images

Smart thermostat maker Ecobee raised $36 million from Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, AGL Energy and BDC. The Ecobee 4, its latest smart thermostat, has built-in Alexa, which allows users to just tell the device how to adjust the temperature in their homes, without searching for a remote or tweaking controls.

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Ava, a Swiss start-up that makes an ovulation tracking bracelet, raised $30 million in a series B round from European venture firms btov and SVC, and other investors. Ava is conducting clinical trials with the University Hospital of Zurich.

CTRL-labs, a start-up developing "neural interface technology" raised $28 million in an investment led by Lux Capital and Alphabet's GV (formerly Google Ventures), and joined by a who's who of tech firms: Paul Allen's Vulcan Capital, Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, the Amazon Alexa Fund and others. Founded by Microsoft Internet Explorer Thomas Reardon, CTRL-labs is developing a wearable that may one day empower users to control computers, prosthetics and other devices with their minds.

Funds and firms

Source: Sesame Street

Collaborative Fund, a New York-based venture firm, has closed its fourth fund at $100 million. The firm was an early backer of Kickstarter, Lyft, Blue Bottle Coffee and apparel makers Outdoor Voices. Collaborative Fund is also an investment partner to Sesame Workshop, and they co-invest in start-ups that focus on "helping kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder," via Collab+Sesame.

-- CNBC's Ryan Browne and Saheli Roy Choudhury contributed to this report.