Don’t miss out these headlines for the week: Beijing-based fresh food e-commerce platform completes USD 100M Series C financing; Baidu’s food delivery subsidiary initiates up to USD 500M Series-B funding, and Beijing-based P2P lending platform completes million dollar financing.
Beijing-based fresh food e-commerce platform completes USD 100M Series C financing
Joyang Gufen, a kitchen appliances manufacturer, announced on Thursday it has invested USD 30 million in fresh food e-commerce venture Benlai Holdings, Tencent Tech reports.
Joyang Gufen said its investment is part of a strategic partnership with Benlai Holdings, an online retailer of fresh food, to develop online and offline operations fostering a modern cooking culture.
Joyang Hong Kong took 3.82% of preferred shares in Benlai Holdings – a company now valued at USD 785 million – in a Series C round. Benlai.com belongs to Benlai Holdings.
It is reported that besides Joyang Gufen investing in Benlai Holdings, several other shareholders are also investing, which will bring the total amount of investment to over USD 100 million.
Before the Series C fundraising, Benlai.com’s largest shareholder was Dadi Co. Ltd., which holds about 41.08% of the company. The second largest shareholder in Benlai is ‘ESOP and Founder Discretionary Shares’, which hold 17.07% shares, followed by J&Z Co. Ltd. with 10.92%.
Benlai Holdings is a B2C company founded in July 2012 which sells both imported and domestic fruit, seafood and meat.
Benlai.com has established storage bases in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, along with logistics setups for frozen food in 22 medium to large cities.
Many fresh food e-commerce companies are engaged in neck-to-neck competition in China. Fresh food e-commerce website fruitday.com raised USD 70 million in a Series C funding from JD.com in May. O2O community e-commerce company Bee Quick also raised USD 70 million in funding in a Series C financing. A company operating in a similar category in the U.S. is Instacart which provides an online grocery delivery service.
Beijing-based AI startup raises USD 5M in Series A funding
Zhichi Keji, an artificial intelligence and robot technology startup based in Beijing, has raised USD five million in Series A funding from lead investor IDG Capital, followed by Zhen Fund, China Capital Growth and Fang Fund on Wednesday, NetEase reports.
Xu Yi, CEO of Zhichi Keji, also announced the release of version 4.0 of its Zhichi Kefu service and its associated intelligent system. The release will optimize its intelligent robot “Sobot”, one-stop management and big data analysis. It will also combine the functions of robots, artificial service, work orders, and call centers. He claims their service robots have a 97% accurate response rate.
Niu Kuiguang, a partner at IDG Capital, said their reasons for investing in the artificial intelligence startup are its appropriate corporate service strategy and the company’s strong growth.
It was reported that since the release of Zhichi Kefu 3.0, the startup has garnered 10,000 corporate users in 200 days. In terms of product use, Zhichi Kefu’s flow rate has increased 15% every week, on average. Compared to six months ago, product flow has increased 40%.
China’s VR device maker ANTVR announces USD 46 million in a Series B financing
Chinese Virtual Reality device manufacturer ANTVR announced it has received RMB 300 million (USD 46 million) in Series B financing from Chinese second board-listed surveillance solution provider Gosuncn, which is alleged to boost ANTVR’s valuation to RMB 830 million (USD 128 million).
It’s estimated that after this round of financing, GOSUNCN will hold a 36% stake in ANTVR. Prior to this, ANTVR received USD ten million in funding from Sequoia Capital at the end of 2014.
ANTVR was founded in 2013 with a seed investment from the Beijing-based incubator Makerspace. The virtual reality firm launched a crowdfunding project for its all-in-one universal kit on Kickstarter in 2014 raising USD 260,834 from 681 backers.
Its latest all-in-one headset was sold for RMB 1499 (USD 231) with its VR glasses product ‘TAW’ selling at the lower price of RMB 149 (USD 23). The ANTVR headset features compatibility with all VR simulations, 3D movies and games. ANTVR has also developed a VR Camera which can shoot 169 degree views.
ANTVR was regarded as the Chinese Oculus after its successful Kickstarter campaign despite its founder Qing Zheng insisting that ANTVR is on a different technical track.
“Only when you achieve a naturally projected image, broad view and high clarity can you simulate genuine virtual reality. ANTVR aren’t adopting the same technologies as Oculus, we’re using a brand-new idea,” Qing wrote in a technical analysis piece. “ANTVR has had its own idea of differentiation from the very beginning.”
The differentiation ANTVR offers may explain why ANTVR has attracted a different type of investor compared with other VR companies. DeePoon, another VR manufacturer from China, introduced two investors: the video streaming site, Thunder, and game developer, KingNet, last week, both of which are in related fields for VR content development.
In contrast ANTVR’s new investor, the Guangzhou-based company, Gosuncn focuses on public security. The company was founded in 1997 with expertise in high-resolution surveillance and a city security system named Safe City.
ANTVR’s financing announcement is part of a string of significant news in the Chinese VR sector announced at the end of 2015. Earlier this month, Chinese social network leader, Tencent, and video streaming site and smart device manufacturer, LeTV, both announced the launch of businesses in the VR sector.
Additionally, VR startup DeePoon announced it raised USD 30 million in funding from two Xiaomi-backed companies, while leading VR platform builder, FiresVR, introduced its developer kit, Fires VR Dawn SDK V0.9 in the middle of December.
Baidu’s food delivery subsidiary initiates USD 300 to 500M Series-B funding
Baidu’s food delivery subsidiary Baidu Waimai will complete its Series-B financing in Q1 2016 with an estimated total amount of USD 300 to 500 million, Chinese financial news outlet Caixin reported on Tuesday.
A proposal for Baidu Waimai’s B-series funding is circulating among multiple media sources. According to the leak, Baidu initiated this round of funding in November with no exact valuation disclosed yet. The food delivery branch is currently estimated at USD 800 million after its USD 250 million A-series funding in July 2015.
Baidu estimated that the food delivery platform would have achieved a total revenue of over RMB eight billion (USD 1.25 billion) in 2015. It’s aiming for a total revenue of RMB 25 billion (USD 3.9 billion) in 2016 with one million daily orders on average.
By October 2015, Baidu Waimai has covered 109 cities with 16 million users and 11 million monthly active mobile users. On the business end, it works with over 187,000 merchants while about 6% of its key accounts contribute 18% of the total revenue.
According to the document, 40% of the new investment will be spent on platform construction, 20% on product development, 20% on category expansion, and 20% on marketing. The platform is planning to expand its categories to include fresh groceries, alcohol, daily necessities, and baby essentials.
Baidu Waimai also claimed in the fundraising document that their target consumers will be 75 million urban white collar workers, who contribute to 67% of China’s current online food delivery market as of November 2015, according to Chinese market research agency Analysys International.
Prior to Baidu Waimai’s fundraising leaks, its primary competitors Ele.me and Meituan-Dianping are both reported to be close to wrapping up a new round of financing. Ele.me is reported to have signed a framework agreement with China’s biggest e-commerce magnate Alibaba for an investment of USD 1.25 billion, boosting its valuation to USD 4.5 billion.
The new Meituan-Dianping company is estimated to have raised USD 2.8 billion, including an investment of USD one billion from Chinese social network giant Tencent. After the completion of this round of funding, the new group’s valuation may soar to USD 18 billion, according to Tencent News.
According to market research agency Analysys International, as of November 2015, Ele.me leads the market with a 33.6% share of the online food delivery market, with Meituan coming in closely at 33.5%. Baidu Waimai ranks third, taking up 18.8% of the market.
The Chinese online food delivery sector has generated RMB 6.43 billion (USD one billion) in revenue in November 2015 alone, Analysys International said.
Beijing-based P2P lending platform completes million dollar financing
Junrongdai.com, a Beijing-based peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform, has completed its first round of funding of about a dozen million USD from Chun Xiao Capital on Tuesday, Sina Tech reported.
Wu Weiding, COO of Junrongdai.com, said the funding will focus on the construction of a wind-control system, expanding market size and supply chain development.
Wei also indicated that the future plans of the platform include maintaining its leading position in the P2P market, opening up the industry ecosystem in order to further develop the market and lowering operating costs and financing costs for borrowers.
The news came in the midst of Chinese authorities tightening regulations on P2P lending. Xinhua reported that the authorities released a draft of new rules on Monday.
Founded in 2014, Junrongdai.com is an internet financing platform which focuses on supply chain finance systems. Its projects include Eventown.com.cn, kezhanwang.cn, JD.com, Lenovo, Youngor, and Pingan Danbao.
Chun Xiao Capital is an investment fund management institution which invests in B2B trading platforms, corporate services SaaS, offline store SaaS, vehicles, internet finance and SNS e-commerce. The company has participated in angel investing, pre-A, series A and series B financing.
O2O child education platform raises USD 18.5M in a Series B financing
Fancyedu.com, an O2O platform for child education, has raised RMB 120 million (USD 18.5 million) in a Series-B financing led by Zhongjingxin Capital, with participation from Shangya Fund and Amoeba Capital. After this round of financing, the platform will be valued at over RMB one billion, Sina Tech reported on Monday.
Fancyedu.com was established in Shanghai in 2014 by two fathers, and is dedicated to providing quality reading materials for Chinese children.
The platform now has three divisions. An Early Childhood Education Division set up for three to six-year-old, providing picture books and English education; an E-commerce Division working closely with libraries in kindergartens, primary schools, and training schools to provide educational services for children below 12 years old; and an English Education Division cooperating with large publishing houses to provide quality English reading material.
At last count, the company claims to have donated books to more than 1000 children’s libraries in a dozen Chinese provinces and districts. It also has an online library of around 10,000 books with more than 3000 kindergartens registered.
Fancyedu.com completed its USD 10 million Series-A financing led by Amoeba Capital this June.
Chinese cyber security startup receives USD 9.3 M in Series A funding
Qingteng, a Chinese internet security startup, announced on Monday it completed an A-series funding of RMB 60 million (USD 9.3 million) lead by venture capital funds China Broadband Capital and Redpoint Ventures.
Qingteng is the company behind the Adaptive Security Platform product, a security product for businesses in cloud computing. The product has an automated adaptive function that fits in various business scenario for clients. It also claims to be able to detect malicious behaviour found in data through machine learning algorithms.
The startup was founded in August 2014 with seed funding of RMB 6.5 million (USD one million) from the venture capital funds ZhenFund, Fenghou Capital and Cloud Angel Fund. Cloud Angel Fund is backed by China Broadband Capital, one of the primary investors in Qingteng in its most recent round of funding.
Founded in 2006, China Broadband Capital is a venture capital fund specializing in the field of telecommunication and media. Its previous investments cover the companies AirBnB, Evernote and LinkedIn.
The other investor, Redpoint Ventures, is a California-based venture capital firm focused on seed, early and growth-stage companies. The firm currently manages USD 3.8 billion with investments in 434 companies including Netflix and Zendesk.
According to investment advisory institute Cybersecurity Ventures, the global cyber security market will reach an estimated USD 77 billion and hit USD 170 billion in 2020.
In China, over 45% of companies have suffered from security issues of different levels in the past three years, while only 25% of companies surveyed, have comprehensive cyber security protection, according to the first CTO Enterprise Information Security Survey released in November of this year.
With the new Chinese Industrial Security Alliance having been established in November, the industry may see more investment in related fields in the coming year.
(With contributions from Wendy Tang and Rhea Liu.)