Startup Megadeals: The Biggest Raises of 2021 So Far

| Lucy Wilson

So far this year, 98 equity fundraisings have been secured by high-growth UK companies (1-19 January). Thanks to these early funding rounds, 2021 has already seen a massive £1.57b invested into the country’s most ambitious businesses—and it’s not even February yet.

Of these initial deals, 67 were announced, whilst 31 were unannounced fundraisings, simply meaning that recipient companies chose not to disclose them to the public. Unannounced deals typically make up around 70% of all UK fundraisings (which explains why we track them on our platform). Meanwhile, despite concerns surrounding COVID-19’s impact on seed startups, 19% of this year’s early deals were first-time raises. 

Comparing this year’s figures to the same time period in 2020, our data indicates a 28% drop in the number of announced equity deals. On top of this, the proportion of first-time fundraisings has also fallen, from 25% of announced raises in 2020 to just 16% in 2021. Having said that, the value of this year’s earliest deals by far surpasses that of last year…

In 2020, £512m worth of announced equity raises had been secured by this point in the year, with an average deal size of £6.32m. Whereas, £1.55b in announced fundraisings has so far been secured in 2021, averaging at an impressive £27.2m per deal. 

But this figure has been skewed considerably by a handful of very large raises, or ‘megadeals’, worth £50m or more. In fact, we’ve seen nine announced megadeals already this year, making this a record-breaking January (and it’s not over yet!). In comparison, just three fundraisings of that magnitude had been secured by this point in 2020. 

So, 2021 has been strong out of the gate! But who’s raised these massive sums, and what is it they’re doing that’s drawing such a crowd? Several of these companies are fintechs (no surprise there), but innovators in other high-growth sectors, including AI, biotech, and e-commerce, have also entered the ranks.

The First Megadeals of 2021

1.   Checkout.com  £333m ($450m)

2.   Rapyd  £219m ($300m)

3.   Graphcore  £162m ($222m)

4.   PPRO Group  £133m ($180m)

5.   Deliveroo  £132m ($180m)

6.   Immunocore  £129m ($175m)

7.   Bloom & Wild  £75m

8.   Curve  £70.2m ($95m)

9.   Wildanet  £50m

 1. Checkout.com  

£333m ($450m)

Checkout.com Logo

Checkout.com is an end-to-end platform which allows businesses to process payments in over 150 currencies. Founded in 2012, the company has raised £631m to date, through three funding rounds. 

The ambitious fintech has been named on six high-growth lists and attended Future Fifty, Tech Nation’s two-year accelerator programme for late-stage tech companies, between March 2018 and 2020. And last year, it acquired two other payment processing software companies, ProcessOut (in February) and Pin Payments (in May).

The company’s latest £333m funding round was led by US-based Insight Partners, Greenoaks Capital Management and Tiger Global Management, plus Russian firm DST Global. The investment is intended for research and development, to fund new innovation. Whilst both of Checkout.com’s previous equity fundraisings were also megadeals, this most recent raise is by far its largest.

 2. Rapyd  

£219m ($300m)

Rapyd Logo

Rapyd offers ‘fintech-as-a-service’, through its global payment API. It provides businesses with a full stack of integrated payments, commerce, and financial services capabilities that can be embedded into any application. Founded in 2016, Rapyd has so far raised £347m in investment, through four rounds. In September 2020, it was named on The FinTech50 high-growth list, two months after acquiring Icelandic payment processing company Korta.

The company’s latest £219m raise saw involvement from 12 different funds, seven of which were follow-on investors. The new capital will be used for job creation, to double the size of Rapyd’s engineering and product teams, and to enable acquisitions. This was the second of Rapyd’s megadeals, having also secured a £81.4m investment back in October 2019. 

 3. Graphcore 

£162m ($222m)

Graphcore Logo

Graphcore has developed new technology to support machine-learning innovations. The company’s IPU (Intelligence Processing Unit) has been specifically designed for AI researchers, allowing them to work on previously impossible tasks, to drive the next advances in machine intelligence. 

Spun out of deep tech company Xmos in 2016, Bristol-based Graphcore has raised £528m to date, through seven funding rounds. The company was also named on the Tällt Disrupt 100 high-growth list in June 2017. 

Graphcore’s most recent £162m funding round was led by Baillie Gifford, Draper Esprit, Fidelity International, and Schroders, alongside Teachers’ Innovation Platform (managed by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan). This latest investment will be used to fund Graphcore’s global expansion, and to support IPU silicon, systems, and software development. It is the company’s third megadeal to date.

 4. PPRO Group 

£133m ($180m)

PPRO Logo

PPRO has developed a payments platform that enables merchants to offer their customers a range of local payment methods and services wherever they are in the world. It also provides a range of payment services to its partners—namely payment providers, banks, and enterprises with payment platformsincluding PayPal and Stripe. 

Founded in 2011, the fast-growing fintech has so far secured £177m in fundraisings, through four rounds. And in June 2019, it acquired German payment processing software company allpago.

The company’s latest £133m raise involved London-based tech fund Sprints Capital, French investor Eurazeo, and American firm Wellington Management. The first of PPRO’s megadeals, it’s intended to be used for the expansion of the business into new markets.

 5. Deliveroo 

£132m ($180m)

Deliveroo Logo

Food delivery giant Deliveroo uses technology to predict the time taken to prepare meals and the most efficient ways of delivering orders, using the locations of restaurants, customers, and its riders. Founded in 2012, Deliveroo has grown its reach to over 200 cities, in 13 countries. 

The company has raised a massive £1.28b thus far, through 10 funding rounds, it’s been named on 11 high-growth lists, and was a member of the 2015 cohort of Tech Nation’s Future Fifty accelerator programme. On top of that, it acquired US food delivery service Maple in May 2017, as well as Edinburgh-based software development company Cultivate in August 2019.

Deliveroo’s most recent £132m funding round was led by Durable Capital Partners and Fidelity Management & Research—both were follow-on investments. This latest fundraising will be used for research and development, to support Deliveroo’s cloud kitchens service, on-demand grocery delivery service, and ‘Plus’ subscription service. It marks the company’s sixth megadeal since 2015.

 6. Immunocore 

£129m ($175m)

Immunocore Logo

Immunocore is a clinical-stage T cell receptor biotech company. It is working to develop and commercialise new drugs that address unmet needs in cancer, infection, and autoimmune disease. 

Founded in 2007, Immunocore has raised £410m to date, through 12 separate funding rounds. The company’s also been named on seven high-growth lists, and it received a £2.4m grant from Innovate UK’s Biomedical Catalyst – Late Stage fund in October 2013 (for the clinical development of a new targeted therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer).

The company’s latest £129m raise came from BlackRock and Oxford Finance, at a pre-money valuation of 373m. The money will again be used for research and development, to accelerate the development of Immunocore’s tailored clinical reason solutions. This was the company’s second megadeal, having received a £205m fundraising in July 2015. 

 7. Bloom & Wild 

£75m

Bloom & Wild Logo

Bloom & Wild are a direct to consumer flower delivery company, claiming to be “re-inventing the $60B global flower industry”. Orders can be placed on the company’s website or through its mobile app and, unlike traditional florists, Bloom & Wild flowers are sent straight to people’s doors, in boxes small enough to fit through the letterbox. 

Founded in 2013, the e-commerce florist has secured £97.2m in fundraisings to date, through six rounds. It’s also been named on six high-growth lists, and attended two Tech Nation accelerator programmes, Upscale in 2016, and Future Fifty in 2017. 

Bloom & Wild’s £75m funding round this month involved D4 Ventures, General Catalyst Partners, Index Ventures, Latitude Ventures, Novator Partners, and follow-on investor Burda Principal Investments. This latest fundraising will be used to fund Bloom & Wild’s growth and expansion, and was the company’s first megadeal.

 8. Curve 

£70.2m ($95m)

Curve Logo

Curve is a fintech company focused on simplifying personal finances, and has developed technology that allows its users to connect their existing debit and credit cards into a single contactless wallet and mobile app. Founded in 2015, Curve has so far raised £132m in investment, through seven rounds. It’s also been named on three high-growth lists, and attended Seedcamp’s 2015 accelerator programme.

The company’s latest £70.2m raise involved Fuel Ventures, IDC Ventures, Novum Capital, OneMain Financial, and Vulcan Capital. This was Curve’s first megadeal, and is intended to be used for further research and development of the company’s product, and to expand internationally.

 9. Wildanet 

£50m

Wildanet Logo

Wildanet is an independent internet provider, delivering high-speed wireless broadband to homes and businesses across Cornwall, including rural and hard-to-reach areas. Founded in 2017, the venture-stage company has secured £52.1m to date, through five funding rounds. 

The company secured its £50m funding round this month from Gresham House’s British Strategic Investment Infrastructure Fund. It will be used for job creation, to generate 98 new roles and to enable the company to expand across the Cornish region. This is Wildanet’s first megadeal, with its largest raise up until now being secured back in November 2018 and totalling £1.5m.

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