The 10 Biggest Rounds Of March: Stripe Raises Huge $6.5B Round, HR-tech Startup Rippling Lands $500M
Last month saw some big deals roll in, including the second-biggest of the year to date. However, the month significantly slowed — especially in terms of monster deals — as it wore on. That could well be due to Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse having at least some short-term effects on fundraising. That will be an interesting story to watch as the second quarter dawns.
1. Stripe, $6.5B, fintech: The biggest round of the month went to payments giant Stripe, but it is not the typical huge, late-stage growth round. The South San Francisco-based company raised a $6.5 billion Series I at a $50 billion valuation. The valuation is a significant drop, as the company was valued at $95 billion in March 2021, and earlier this year it was reported this round would be at a $60 billion valuation. The company will use the new cash to provide liquidity to current and former employees, and help offset a tax bill that will come due when it modifies employees’ stock grants that are set to expire (which we’ve talked about before). No lead investor was announced, but firms including Andreessen Horowitz, Founders Fund and General Catalyst participated.
2. Rippling, $500M, human resources: San Francisco-based HR management company Rippling was caught up in the collapse of SVB, its primary banking partner. It faced 50,000 employees across its customer base at risk of not getting paid as the bank fell into receivership. The company stepped in with $130 million of its own capital to support those customers. To meet payroll the following week, Parker Conrad, Rippling’s CEO, reached out to existing investor Neil Mehta at Greenoaks, to lead and close a $500 million Series E funding that valued the company at $11.25 billion, the same valuation as its May 2022 Series D funding.
3. Adept AI, $350M, artificial intelligence: Adept AI announced its $350 million raise, even in the midst of the Silicon Valley Bank news. It was reported the new financing — led by General Catalyst and Spark Capital — gives the startup a post-money valuation of at least $1 billion. Spark Capital also reportedly led Anthropic’s round the week before. Adept is developing AI models that don’t just respond to text commands — like a chatbot — but actually turn that command into action. In theory, the company’s generative AI could help users do tasks from browsing the internet to navigating enterprise software tools. The company had previously raised a $65 million Series A. Nothing seems to be able to stop generative AI startups from raising large amounts of cash.
4. Anthropic, $300M, artificial intelligence: Few companies have been busier this year than San Francisco-based AI startup and rival to ChatGPT, Anthropic. Just weeks after raising hundreds of millions of dollars from Google, it was reported the company is raising another $300 million round at a pre-investment valuation of $4.1 billion. Spark Capital is reportedly leading the round. In February, it was reported Google had invested between $300 million and $400 million in the startup. The deal came just two weeks after news broke of Microsoft’s massive $10 billion investment into OpenAI. Anthropic’s AI chatbot, Claude, is in closed beta mode, but in a paper detailing its goals, it is expected to combat harmful prompts by explaining why they are dangerous or misguided. Before the massive fundraising this year, Anthropic — which has reportedly made limited revenue — had raised $704 million across Series A and B funding rounds in 2022, according to Crunchbase data. The Series B was led by disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried.
5. Cargo Therapeutics, $200M, biotech: Biotech startups saw some big deals last month, including Cargo Therapeutics, which closed a $200 million Series A co-led by Third Rock Ventures, RTW Investments and Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Fund. The San Mateo, California-based company is developing CAR T-cell therapies for cancer. The startup is in phase 2 clinical trials for its treatment of large B-cell lymphoma. Founded in 2021, this is the biotech firm’s first outside funding, per Crunchbase.
6. Element8, $200M, telecommunications: About a quarter of the U.S. does not have home broadband internet connections — with rural and minority communities seeing even lower rates of adoption, according to the latest Pew Research Center data. Dallas-based Element8, an internet service provider, is looking to change that and raised a $200 million strategic investment from Digital Alpha to help with that effort. E8 also announced it has acquired Oklahoma City-based high-speed internet provider AtLink Services for an undisclosed sum to make it a pretty busy month. Founded in 2015, this is the company’s first outside funding, per Crunchbase.
7. Gravie, $179M, insurance: Offering good health care benefits can be tough, even for large companies, as medical and health costs continue to spiral out of control. For small and medium-sized businesses, it can be even harder since they have more limited buying power. Employer health benefits startup Gravie is looking to help that market and raised a $179 million equity investment led by General Atlantic to do just that. The Minneapolis-based company plans to use the cash infusion to grow its flagship health plan for SMBs — called Comfort — among other expansion plans. Gravie currently works with more than 1,200 companies nationwide. Founded in 2013, Gravie has raised more than $340 million, according to Crunchbase data.
8. Character.ai, $150M, artificial intelligence: Again, AI is really, really big right now. Palo Alto, California-based Character.ai is the newest unicorn in the space after closing a $150 million Series A at a $1 billion valuation led by Andreessen Horowitz. The round had been reported earlier last month. The startup allows people to create their own personalized AI chatbot using language models and deep-learning algorithms. The AI-created companions can help users draft emails, serve as a study buddy, brainstorm ideas or a variety of other activities. Character.ai joins the likes of OpenAI, Anthropic and Adept AI as startups in the AI space that have raised large rounds this year.
9. Palmetto, $150M, cleantech: Cleantech and climate tech remain big among investors. Charleston, South Carolina-based Palmetto raised $150 million from TPG Rise Climate as it looks to take advantage of the growing consumer demand for solar energy. The company’s platform helps to manage the entire residential solar process for providers — handling sales, design, engineering, permitting and fulfillment. According to the Energy Information Administration, solar capacity is expected to grow 84% through the next two years — meaning a lot more houses will be looking toward solar to help combat rising electricity bills. Founded in 2009, the company has now raised nearly $630 million, according to Crunchbase data.
10. Amogy, $139M, cleantech: Another cleantech firm ends the list for last month. Emission-free ammonia power startup Amogy closed a $139 million Series B-1 fundraising led by SK Innovation. The new money will allow the Brooklyn-based startup to begin manufacturing its ammonia-to-power tech and bring its first product to market. In January, the company presented an ammonia-powered semitruck and later this year plans to show off a new ammonia-powered, zero-emission tugboat. If all goes right with that sail, the company expects its first commercial offering next year. Founded in 2020, the company has raised more than $200 million, per Crunchbase.
Big global deals
One round outside the U.S. cracked the global top five in March, and there was another big raise in China last month.
Lenskart, an online shopping portal that sells eyewear, landed a $500 million venture round.
China-based JD Industry, an industrial maintenance, repair and operations firm, raised a $300 million Series B.
We tracked the largest rounds in the Crunchbase database that were raised by U.S.-based companies in March. Although most announced rounds are represented in the database, there could be a small time lag as some rounds are reported late.