The Daily Startup: Moderna Therapeutics Launches Cancer Vaccines Startup Caperna

dailystartup_D_20090806101628.jpgArt by Mike Lucas

Moderna Therapeutics Inc., which closed a $500 million financing in January on the strength of its new, messenger-RNA therapeutics, has launched its fourth company, a startup formed to develop personalized vaccines to treat cancer, Brian Gormely reports for Dow Jones VentureWire. Its newest creation is cancer-vaccines startup Caperna LLC, which Moderna is funding through the $840 million in cash it has on hand. Moderna previously launched Onkaido Therapeutics, which develops other types of cancer therapies, infectious-disease company Valera LLC, and Elpidera, which targets rare disease. Caperna creates vaccines for individual patients.

ALSO IN TODAY’S VENTUREWIRE (subscription required):

Poynt Co., a payment terminal company, has secured $28 million to accelerate adoption of its merchant device. Oak HC/FT led the Series B round, with participation from Stanford-StartX Fund. Existing investors Matrix Partners, Webb Investment Network and Nyca Ventures also contributed to round.

Off Grid Electric, a company operating a solar-leasing business in Africa, has raised $25 million in a round led by DBL Partners, an early backer of SolarCity Corp. Arusha, Tanzania-based Off Grid installs solar panels, combined with lighting systems, at business and residential properties and charges customers over time, using a leasing model.

Cohera Medical Inc. has closed the first tranche of a $50 million financing it has raised to sell its surgical adhesive used in “tummy tuck” procedures. KKR & Co. is leading the financing, which also included private investors.

Simility Inc., a startup that combines machine learning with human intelligence to detect fraud in online marketplaces, added $2.25 million to its seed round, closing the round at $5.7 million. The new money comes from Trinity Ventures and angel investors and adds to a $3.45 million round led by Accel Partners that Simility announced in August.

Dimension Therapeutics Inc., a gene-therapy company, went public at $13 Thursday and saw its shares fall nearly 17% in its first day of trading on the Nasdaq. Dimension originally planned to sell shares in the $14 to $16 range. It instead sold 5.5 million shares at $13, raising $71.5 million.The company’s stock closed at $10.80, down 16.92%.

(VentureWire is a daily newsletter with comprehensive analysis of all the investments, deals and personnel moves involving startups and their venture backers. For a two-week trial, visit http://on.wsj.com/DJPEVCNews, scroll to the bottom and click “try for free.”)

ELSEWHERE AROUND THE WEB:

Palantir Technologies Adds Funding, Independent Director. The secretive big-data startup Palantir Technologies Inc., has raised $105 million for a funding round than was previously disclosed, The Wall Street Journal’s Elizabeth Dwoskin reports. The additional funding came to light via a regulatory filing. The company also added Adam Ross, chairman and chief executive officer of Dallas-based Goldcrest Investments, as its fifth board member.

Xiaomi Loses Its Top Spot in China to Huawei. Smartphone maker Xiaomi  Corp., one of the most valuable privately held companies in the world, lost the the top spot for smartphone sales in China to Huawei Technologies Co. in the third quarter, the WSJ’s Juro Osawa and Eva Dou report. The change comes as smartphone sales in China slow down and as other startups challenge Xiaomi with low-priced phones.

Indian Startups Vie to Win E-Commerce Battle. The battle for e-commerce in India has everything to do with logistical obstacles—including bad roads, shoddy trucks, monsoon floods, corrupt state border officials, overcrowded airports and complicated tax rules, the WSJ’s Sean McLain and Newley Purnell report. Two of the big players working to overcome the challenges are weighing on investor funding as they incur loses on deliveries to many parts of the country. Flipkart Internet Pvt., the country’s biggest e-commerce player, is the world’s most valuable shopping startup. Jasper Infotech Pvt.’s Snapdeal has raised $1.5 billion and is valued at $5 billion, according to Dow Jones VentureSource.

Write to Mike Billings at mike.billings@wsj.com. Follow him on Twitter at @mbillings