Caris enters the venture record books

The $830m raised by Caris Life Sciences this week is not only the biggest private company financing of the year and the third biggest to date in the medtech industry – it also catapults the liquid biopsy developer up the rankings of the companies that have raised the most in total. Caris’s new funds, which came courtesy of investors including Sixth Street, T Rowe Price, Silver Lake, Fidelity Management & Research and Coatue, mean it has brought in more than $1.2bn since its inception. It remains some way off the leader on this measure, however: the Alphabet subsidiary Verily has obtained around $2.5bn in venture funding. Still, Caris is well into unicorn territory, with its latest financing conferring a post-money valuation of $7.8bn. This might be expected to price it out of takeover territory, but it should be remembered that Grail, the second biggest-ever fundraiser with total venture cash of $2.1bn, was bought last year by Illumina for $8bn. That takeover is under investigation by the US FTC, but it shows that diagnostics groups are willing to spend extraordinary sums on liquid biopsy plays. Caris believes it now has enough money to see its pan-cancer blood test for early detection of tumours through to launch.

Top five medtech VC rounds to date
Date Company Investment ($m) Focus
Jan 3, 2019 Verily Life Sciences 1,000 Diabetic care; ophthalmics; patient monitoring
Mar 1, 2017 Grail 900* In vitro diagnostics – liquid biopsy
May 11, 2021 Caris Life Sciences 830 In vitro diagnostics – liquid biopsy
Jan 26, 2017 Verily Life Sciences 800 Diabetic care; ophthalmics; patient monitoring
Dec 17, 2020 Verily Life Sciences 700 Diabetic care; ophthalmics; patient monitoring
*Series B round; all others undisclosed. Source: Evaluate Medtech.

Note: Auris was acquired by J&J in 2019 for $5.8bn; Liberty Dialysis was acquired by Fresenius Medical Care in 2012 for $1.7bn; and 23andMe has a pending merger with a Spac, VG Acquisition Corp, which values it at just under $1bn. 

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