Deals That Matter

Top VC deals: SAP snaps up Qualtrics; an Amazon Go competitor raises a round; Bain closes a $1 billion fund

Key Points
  • German software company SAP agrees to buy Qualtrics for $8 billion, weeks before the data analytics start-up was set to IPO.
  • Bain Capital Ventures announces a new fund with $1 billion in committed capital.
  • Start-ups in rocket technology, autonomous driving and farming diagnostics close rounds.  


Bill McDermott, CEO of German software giant SAP, addresses the media during the company's annual financial statement at it's headquarters in Walldorf near Heidelberg, southern Germany, on January 24, 2017.
Daniel Roland | AFP | Getty Images

German software company SAP agreed to buy Qualtrics for $8 billion, weeks before the data analytics start-up was set to IPO. Qualtrics was founded in 2002 by brothers Ryan and Jared Smith and their dad, Scott, along with Stuart Orgill, who resigned from the board last year.

The company had 1,915 employees as of Sept. 30, and is based in Provo, Utah. The company didn't raise venture funding for its first decade in business, but more recently raised capital from firms including Accel, Insight Venture Partners and Sequoia.

BlackBerry said it will acquire Cylance, an artificial intelligence and cybersecurity company, for $1.4 billion in cash. California-based Cylance develops AI-based products to prevent cyberattacks on companies and recently considered filing for an IPO, according to a report in Business Insider. The company had previously raised roughly $300 million in funding from investors including Blackstone Tactical Opportunities, Khosla Ventures and Dell Technologies Capital, according to Crunchbase.


Rocket Lab announced a $140 million round, led by Australia's sovereign wealth fund. Earlier backers including Bessemer Venture Partners and Khosla Ventures also participated in the round, which brings Rocket Lab's total funding to $288 million. Rocket Lab builds small rockets, priced at about $5.7 million a launch. The company's Electron rocket is designed to launch spacecraft up to the size of a refrigerator, especially for the premium small satellite part of the rocket market.

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Small rockets: The FedEx of space?

Cloud company Airtable raised $100 million in Series C financing at a valuation north of $1 billion. Thrive Capital, Benchmark and Coatue Management led the round, which brings total funding for the start-up to $170 million. The company's platform makes it easier and cheaper to build complex software applications. It claims users with no coding background can build their own apps and workflows.

Online marketing financing Clearbanc closed $70 million in new funding from investors including Emergence Capital, Social Capital and Founders Fund. The company helps fund entrepreneurs and marketing campaigns, using existing platforms like Stripe and Facebook to assess financial health and loan eligibility.

Ridecell, a San Francisco-based autonomous ride-hailing start-up, expanded a previously announced Series B round to include $60 million in total financing. The now-closed round is led by Activate Capital.

GM Ventures, Salesforce Ventures and Greycroft are among the backers of a $42.5 million Series C round for Map Anything. Map Anything deals in Location of Things software, combining location intelligence, integrated asset tracking and route optimization for productivity and customer experience.

Employees stand outside the new Amazon Go grocery store in Seattle, Washington.
David Ryder | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Standard Cognition, a company that makes cashier-less technology like the kind used in Amazon Go "Just Walk Out" convenience stores, raised $40 million in Series A funding, led by Initialized Capital. Standard builds technology that allows shoppers to leave and pay without scanning or checking out. It's available to any retailer, the company said. The financing round, with participation from CRV and Y Combinator, brings total funding for the start-up to $51 million.

Cybersecurity firm Dragos announced $37 million in Series B funding, led by Canaan Partners. The company is based in Washington, D.C., and offers threat detection and incident response services.

Belgian medical tech company Nyxoah raised 15 million euros ($17.1 million) in a new round of financing. The start-up is developing a nerve stimulation treatment for sleep apnea. The new round was led by Cochlear Limited, an Australian medical device company., an autonomous vehicle software start-up founded in 2017 in Palo Alto, announced $15.5 million in Series A funding. The round was led by Canaan Partners with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners. "We believe that our customers should be able to pick and choose software building blocks from an ecosystem to compose a software stack that is right for their application — and not take a full-stack that has been developed by a single 3rd party," co-founders Jan Beck and Dejan Pangercic said in a blog post.

Farming diagnostics company, Trace Genomics, raised $13 million in Series A financing. The company developed a microbiome test using DNA sequencing and artificial intelligence that measures soil health and crop quality. Stage 1 Ventures led the round with participation from Viking Global Investors, among others. Trace Genomics has raised more than $19 million in total funding.

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A look at the first farm run entirely by robots

A new ad-free video sharing platform closed $4.2 million in seed funding. Brooklyn-based Portal aims to provide a digital space for authentic communication, free from advertisers and algorithms. It's backed by Mark Cuban and Day One Ventures, among others. Portal users can monetize their videos through subscriptions or digital tips.

Funds and firms

Bain Capital Ventures announced a new fund with $1 billion in committed capital. Bain counts successful early bets on start-ups including LinkedIn, DocuSign and Rent the Runway. The firm now has $4.9 billion under management and is putting a particular focus on early- and growth-stage startups in SaaS, security, commerce, fintech and healthcare.

Real Estate Technology Ventures, a Park City, Utah-based venture firm, announced a $108 million fund. The fund is backed by North American real estate investment trusts and will be investing in start-ups that seek to disrupt the multifamily and rental unit real estate markets.

— Reuters and CNBC's Alex Sherman, Michael Sheetz, Ari Levy and Jordan Novet contributed to this report.