Fitness tracker firm Whoop valued at $3.6 bln after SoftBank-led funding

Fitness tracker startup Whoop said on Monday it had raised $200 million in a Series F funding led by SoftBank's (9984.T) Vision Fund 2, valuing the company at $3.6 billion.

The company said it would primarily use the new capital to invest in research and product development, international expansion and membership offerings.

The funding round also included venture capital firms IVP, Cavu Ventures, Thursday Ventures and tech investment bank GP Bullhound.

Founded in 2012 by Will Ahmed, Whoop offers a monthly subscription for round-the-clock health monitoring through a free fitness band it provides with the membership.

Ahmed last year said customers were increasingly using its tracker technology to measure their respiratory rate, a key statistic for understanding COVID-19.

The company's tracker is the fitness band of choice for athletes including golfer Justin Thomas, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Boston-based Whoop said it has raised nearly $400 million till date.

/Source: Reuters/

Sept. 3, 2021

Catalent to buy gummy vitamins maker Bettera for $1 bln

Catalent Inc (CTLT.N), the contract drug maker known for manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines, said on Monday it would buy gummy vitamins maker Bettera Holdings LLC for $1 billion in cash to expand in the nutritional supplements market.

Texas-based Bettera makes vitamins, supplements and minerals delivered in the form of gummies, lozenges and chewables. It is backed by private investment firm Highlander Partners LP.

Chewable forms of vitamins, such as gummies, are gaining popularity, especially among people who find swallowing pills difficult, and the market is expected to reach $9.3 billion by 2026, according to a report by Allied Market Research.

Catalent, which has been involved in the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines, including those from Moderna (MRNA.O), AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N), makes softgel capsules which are easy to consume and come in a variety of flavors and sweeteners.

Centerview Partners LLC was the financial adviser to Catalent on the deal, which is expected to ...

Aug. 30, 2021

Chevron Makes Strategic Investment in Waste-to-green Hydrogen Fuels Company

Chevron, Japan-based ITOCHU, hydrogen mobility leader Hyzon Motors Inc., and Ascent Hydrogen Fund have closed a $ 20 million strategic investment in Raven SR Inc., a renewable fuels company that produces hydrogen fuel and high-quality synthetic fuels such as sustainable aviation fuel. Raven SR plans to build modular waste-to-green hydrogen production units and renewable synthetic fuel facilities initially in California and then worldwide, the company announced Aug. 17.

Raven SR's technology makes it one of the only combustion-free, waste-to-hydrogen producers in the world. Unlike alternative approaches to waste disposal, such as incineration or gasification, Raven SR's Steam/CO2 Reformation process involves no combustion. Raven SR's process is designed to reduce emissions and produce more green hydrogen per ton of waste than competing processes.

Raven SR's process can also produce other renewable energy products such as synthetic liquid fuels, additives and solvents (such as acetone, butanol, and naphtha) and electricity via microturbines. Also, Raven ...

Aug. 25, 2021

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit to Go Public at $3.2 Billion Valuation

Richard Branson ushered in the SPAC boom when he took his space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, public using this unconventional method in 2019. Now he's doubling down with Virgin Orbit, which yesterday said it would go public via SPAC at a $3.2 billion valuation later this year. 

Not to be confused with its sister company Virgin Galactic, Virgin Orbit sends small satellites, not people, to low-earth orbit using modified Boeing 747 jets.

Big picture: For most rocket companies of a certain size, SPACs are destiny. Rocket builder Astra hit the market on July 1 via SPAC, and small rocket launcher Rocket Lab will start trading tomorrow. 

If these young companies can grab market share, untold riches await. The space industry could be worth more than $1 trillion by 2040, with the satellite internet sector making up at least 50% of the entire pie, according to Morgan Stanley.  

Virgin Orbit will use its capital infusion ...

Aug. 20, 2021

Hyatt acquires Delco-based Apple Leisure Group in $2.7 billion deal

Apple Leisure Group, a Newtown Square-based luxury vacation and resort management firm, has been acquired by Hyatt Hotels Corporation in a $2.7 billion cash deal, doubling Hyatt's global resorts footprint.

The acquisition gives Hyatt more than 33,000 new hotel rooms in 10 countries and accelerates the brand's shift to more luxury properties and travel packages. Hyatt has been selling off some of its real estate assets in order to increase the percentage of revenue it derives from fees.

Apple Leisure Group extends back to the 1960s and has specialized in selling package holidays, but also manages luxury resorts in locations around the world, including in the Caribbean, Mexico and Europe.

Apple Leisure Group has expanded rapidly over the last 15 years, growing from nine resorts in 2007 to approximately 100 properties. It also has a pipeline of 24 executed deals with a large number of additional hotels in the development process.

"Combining Hyatt's deep ...

Aug. 16, 2021

Phystech Ventures identifies top 10 most promising areas for deeptech investments

Phystech Ventures, a VC firm that has been investing in deeptech since 2013, has prepared a comprehensive analysis on the performance, main trends, and key players in the industry, titled the "Deeptech Outlook 2021". 

The large-scale study covers 10 sectors that investors have identified as the most promising areas in deeptech, offering breakthrough technologies, exciting growth numbers, and notable investment opportunities in AI/ML, quantum computing, cybersecurity, genetics, bioinformatics, neuroscience, food/agro tech, energy, mobility, and space. 

Reputable industry sources show a four-fold rise of investments in deeptech between 2016 and 2020, while USD60 billion was invested in this sector in the last year alone. Growth in the number of scientific papers in selected deeptech niches signals increased R&D activity. This is mirrored in the fact that there was a 5 per cent increase in protected IP filings in 2020, despite the pandemic. Europe has so far published the largest number of scientific papers ...

Aug. 11, 2021

Exxon Considers Pledging Net-Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050

Exxon Mobil Corp. is considering a pledge to reduce its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, the Wall Street Journal reported on Aug. 5, citing people familiar with the matter.

The report comes more than two months after the oil major's shareholders cast out three Exxon directors for the nominees of a hedge fund that promised to boost returns and better prepare the company for a low-carbon world.

Exxon has not made a final decision on the net-zero pledge, the report said. It added that the company planned to unveil a series of strategic moves on environmental and other issues before the end of 2021.

Exxon did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Its CEO Darren Woods said last week that Exxon had started working with the new directors in June for in-depth reviews of its businesses, including its approach to the energy transition.

Exxon currently plans to reduce greenhouse gas ...

Aug. 6, 2021

Investments in Farm Tech grew by 40% growth leaders - biotechnology and agriculture

As devastating as the pandemic has been, some good has emerged from the global health and economic crisis: investment to shore up global food systems has soared. Back in February we confirmed the extent of the boost investors gave entrepreneurs across the foodtech and agtech industry — 34.5% year-over-year to be precise.

And while we noticed a surge in investor interest in “upstream” technologies, those operating closer to the farm and in food production — alternative proteins, for instance — we now have numbers that show particular investor interest in technologies for farmers.

“Farm Tech” investing soared to $7.9 billion in 2020, topping 2019 investments by $2.3 trillion, or 41%, according to AgFunder’s 2021 Farm Tech Investment Report, in collaboration with Upstream Ag Insights.

To put this in perspective, Farm Tech’s acceleration was about six percentage points greater than agrifoodtech overall — that's foodtech and farm tech combined — and 37 percentage points ...

Aug. 2, 2021

ArcelorMittal Wants to Build First Big Zero-Carbon Steel Plant

ArcelorMittal SA has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Spanish government for a 1 billion euro ($1.2 billion) investment to build the world’s first large-scale zero-carbon steel plant.

The company would build a unit that processes iron ore using green hydrogen at its plant in Gijon, a spokesperson for the firm said in a statement today. That metal would then supply a mill in Sestao that would use renewable electricity to produce 1.6 million tonnes of carbon-free steel a year.

It would be the biggest green steel plant coming online by 2025 globally, and represents a significant step for an industry facing a titanic decarbonizing task.

Steelmaking relies on burning billions of tons of coal, emitting more carbon dioxide each year than cars, buses and motorbikes combined. Upgrading to zero-carbon production will require massive investment, something the usually low margin business may struggle to afford.

It’s not certain how much cash Spain will ...

July 28, 2021

Dan Pickering’s Energy Firm Merges with Heikkinen Energy Advisors

Pickering Energy Partners merged with Heikkinen Energy Advisors, the Houston-based firms, forming Pickering Energy Partners Insights—billed as the “most comprehensive” investment adviser in the energy industry.

Headquartered in Houston, Pickering Energy Partners is an asset management and consulting firm specializing in energy investments. The merger with Heikkinen Energy Advisors is the latest evolution of the firm’s offerings focused on the energy landscape and solidifies its role in energy transition as the partnership allows the firm to offer even greater value to clients across all energy subsectors, “from traditional to renewables,” according to Dan Pickering, chief investment officer of Pickering Energy Partners.

Also headquartered in Houston with an additional office in New Orleans, Heikkinen Energy Advisors is an investment adviser providing insights across all sectors of the energy industry including E&P, oilfield services, midstream, energy transition, mobility and technology.

“The merger will provide greater opportunities to exploit growth opportunities in oil and gas, the ...

July 23, 2021