Impact Investing Deal Report – May 3, 2017


Sustainable feedstock maker Calysta, AltSchool and Bonsai AI were among this past week’s notable investing deals.  Many of the ventures are based in California.

Abundant Robotics  – its apple-picking robot promises to reduce the $200 billion orchard farming industry’s reliance on seasonal labor, labor that hasn’t resulted in productivity improvements in the last 20 years despite yield increases. $10 million in Series A from 7 investors. Based in Hayward, California.

Source: St. Jude Medical 2016

Advanced Cardiac Therapeutics – offers a novel catheter ablation, or electrical inactivation, technology with temperature control and high resolution electrogram to treat atrial fibrillation – a type of heart disease that affects 1-2% of Americans today (up to 18 million by 2050, according to projections, figure below). Electrophysiology global market for devices is growing fast (figure above). $45 million in venture funding to now total $69 million from 4 investors. Based in Santa Clara, California.

Atrial Fibrillation projections – Camm J. Am J Med 2013

AltSchool – Zuckerberg-funded private “network of schools” and experimental educational technology, or “edtech,” platform aims to personalize education for children, raised $40 million in Series C to now total $173 million from 25 investors. Based in San Francisco, California.

Bonsai – platform for “machine-teaching” and automating the management of complex machine learning algorithms, Bonsai promises to help developers take advantage of the latest advances in artificial intelligence or AI. $7.6 million in Series B to now total $13.62 million from 7 investors. Microsoft Ventures and Samsung among them. Based in Berkeley, California.

Calysta – this week’s spotlight, is developing a platform for a new sustainable, non-GMO alternative, biological feedstock protein called Feedkind. Its “methane-eating bacteria” based technology could one day feed pets or even people, enabling an $8 billion “biofeed” market in a decade, according to its founder. $40 million in Series D to now total $88 million in equity funding from 8 investors. Based in Menlo Park, California.

Check out Calysta’s carbon footprint report – resulting in up to “98% less water than alternative ingredients including soy and wheat proteins,” and requiring “almost no agricultural land to produce, freeing that land for other food crops.”

Epic Sciences – a developer of blood-based tests that predict drug response in cancer, using a platform it has developed to identify and characterize rare cells including circulating tumor cells (“CTCs”). $40 million in Series D to now total $85.5 million in funding from 13 investors.  Based in La Jolla, California.

Grove Collaborative – customized sustainable household products such as soap, laundry detergent, paper towels via its online grocery e-commerce platform. Raised $13.5 million in venture funding (SEC filing). Based in San Francisco, California.

Outset Medical – the medical device and technology startup’s novel “Tablo” hemodialysis system allows patients to “self-serve” and monitor their dialysis treatments independently without relying on medical staff.  $76.5 million in Series C to now total $187.5 million from 7 investors including T. Rowe Price Associates.  Based in San Jose, California.

Orbital Insight – offers economic recommendations based on its “macroscope” analysis of data collected by satellites. $50 million in Series C to now total $78.7 million from 13 investors.  Based in Palo Alto, California.

Paytm – is India’s largest e-commerce platform, with over 20 million registered users, offering mobile recharge, utility bill payments and its Paytm mobile wallet to replace cash. $1.8 billion in new funding from SoftBank ($9 billion valuation). Based in Noita Uttar Pradesh, India.

Other Deals of Note

Apple launches $1 billion fund for advanced manufacturing in the U.S. CEO Tim Cook noted that funding came from the company’s onshore assets rather than the billions it has offshore.

Purdue University has agreed to acquire Kaplan University, the for-profit higher education business of Kaplan Inc., in the process creating a public online university under Purdue, potentially rocking the online education market.

Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-hailing giant, raises $5.5 billion, putting it in Uber’s valuation orbit.

Sources: Crunchbase, TechCrunchAtlantic, CNBC, AgFunder