Don’t miss out these headlines for the week: Chinese anime site receives USD 60 million in series A+ financing; Liquor e-commerce platform raises USD 30M Series A financing; and Third party logistics provider completes USD 100M Series C financing.
Chinese anime site won over 500 million fans and lured USD 60 million in financing
Anime Comic Fun (Acfun), a once amateur “bullet-screen” video site with scrolling user comments overlaid over video, now rises thanks to buckets of investment and support by enthusiastic fans.
Acfun announced on Thursday that it has secured USD 60 million in Series A+ funding from SoftBank China Venture Capital.
Tencent Tech reported its new round of funding would be used for brand promotion and product improvements. Without disclosing details, the company claims it will be valued at a few hundred million dollars after the financing round.
Acfun mostly targets Chinese millennials. The estimated 500 million Chinese millennials have fed from a subculture which was first created in Japan and is widely known as Er Ci Yuan, or “two dimensional” in English. The subculture refers to animation, comics, games and novels (ACGN) and has become an important source of entertainment for young Chinese.
Founded in 2007, the website firstly mimicked Japan’s NICONICO video site and had been a dynamic community for Chinese animation enthusiasts. Prior to 2014, the website was voluntarily managed by fans and only became a company with a CEO comparatively recently..
In August 2015, the company received USD 50 million in a Series A funding led by leading Chinese online video provider, Youku Tudou. After Alibaba bought Youku Tudou in November, Acfun became associated with Alibaba. This round of financing boosted daily active users for Acfun more than four times over.
In the latest financing round, primary investor SoftBank, is also the largest shareholder of Alibaba. This round of financing brings Acfun even closer together with Alibaba.
On Thursday Acfun announced a new CEO, Mo Ran. Mo, who previously co-founded a company in America associated with Marvel Comics, led the negotiations in the latest round of funding. Mo will preside over the company’s overall planning and strategy, and former CEO Sun – now serving as company President – will take charge of the business of commercialization.
Mo told Tencent Tech that the main reason he decided to join the company is that as young Chinese are becoming more and more influential on the internet, their beloved animation-focused subculture will emerge as mainstream culture.
Raising two rounds of funding in half a year, Acfun is becoming wealthy and more importantly, is able to access more strategic resources, said Mo. He also said that they have made plans for a Series B financing.
Liu Tianmin, Managing Partner at Softbank China Venture Capital said the culture and entertainment industry targeting young people has been growing fast. Bullet-screen video sharing sites have attracted tons of young people, this is why Softbank invested in Acfun and why SoftBank might make further investments in it.
Before Acfun was reinforced by the latest round of financing, its primary rival Bilibili, also a bullet-screen site with a slightly younger user base, was overtaking the competition. Bilibili was founded in 2009 by a former senior member of Acfun. Rumor has it that in November 2015 Tencent valued Bilibili at RMB 1.5 billion (USD 236 million) and was slated to invest RMB 200 million into it. This has yet to be confirmed.
2015 was the year of animation in China, as tech giants scrambled for market share in the ACGN industry. Other players in the industry include Baidu’s streaming video platform iQiyi, Tencent Comics and Guangzhou-based animation company Alpha involved in domestic animation productions.
Mobile app analytics firm App Annie raises USD 63M in Series E funding
App Annie, a mobile app analytics company, closed a Series E round of USD 63 million in funding on Thursday.
The majority of the investment is from new investor Greenspring Associates, along with existing investors e.Ventures, Greycroft Partners, Institutional Venture Partners (IVP) and Sequoia Capital. The company has raised USD 157 million in financing to date.
The nearly six-year-old startup will use the new capital to improve and and further scale business operations. App Annie currently has 15 offices with 425 employees spread across the globe in places like: Amsterdam, Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Moscow and New York, along with its headquarters in San Francisco.
“It is clear to everyone now that apps are eating the web,” Bertrand Schmitt, Co-founder and CEO of App Annie said at a company press release. “This funding will allow us to further scale our business, accelerate the development of our industry-leading products and continue to build out brilliant teams that deliver vital data and insights to help develop the global app economy.”
More than one million apps use App Annie to track their performance and the mobile app analytics company operates on a freemium business model. The App Annie product, Store Stats, offers free market data on apps across different app marketplaces, and “Intelligence” is a paid product for app makers to track the performance of their competitors.
App Annie has over 500,000 registered members and 94 publishers, including Tencent, Baidu and Cheetah Mobile.
Liquor e-commerce platform raises USD 30M Series A financing
Liquor e-commerce website Wangjiu.com, owned by Chinese internet video behemoth LeTV, now known as LeEco, has completed a Series A funding of RMB 200 million (USD 30.4 million) from private equity firms backed by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and China Construction Bank (CCB) on Wednesday, iFeng Tech reports.
LeEco is known for building an ecosystem for its supply chain in all divisions. In the case of Wangjiu.com, CEO Li Rui said the funding will be used towards improving the ecosystem of the business in the following four areas: content, platform, products and services. Wangjiu.com was founded in October 2011 and claims to be China’s first vertically integrated wine ecosystem.
It’s reported that the e-commerce platform will add more staff to support LeEco’s offline store, Leshi Shenghuo Guan or Lifestyle store, going nationwide in China.
The funding will also be used to position Mi Jiu – a glutinous rice wine which is a product derived from a popular Chinese TV drama – a more competitive commercial brand. The website also wants to position wine suppliers from Australia’s Penfolds and Chile’s Concha y Toro to the platform’s competitive advantage.
As for content, the platform will try to produce more stories related to its products. The details of such are not available immediately.
In the service realm, the website plans to utilize LeTV’s abundant resources including engaging its business partners and incorporating Yidao Yongche, China’s third-largest ride hailing company – of which the CEO of LeEco owns 70% – to Wangjiu.com’s ecosystem.
Leading O2O home services platform 1Jiajie to go public in China
Chinese on demand home services platform ‘1Jiajie’ announced on Monday that it will list on the Chinese stock market New Third Board, and will launch a new cleaning service for companies, reports NetEase Tech on Tuesday.
On Monday, the General Manager of the Business Innovation Division of TF Securities said TF would continue to lead the next round of financing for 1Jiajie.
Yun Tao, CEO of 1Jiajie said the new round of financing would be used for marketing, expanding new services, recruitment and penetrating into more cities. Last December, the platform completed its Series C financing led by TF Securities, with participation from CDH Fund and DT Capital Partners.
Founded in April 2012, 1Jiajie, means ‘a clean home’ in English. Its services for individuals and families cover hourly home cleaning, furnishing, Japanese style room-organizing and appliance maintenance.
The platform claims it received an average of 30,000 orders every day till December 2015, and had over 10,000 employees serving in 25 Chinese cities.
1Jiajie has operated at a net loss since founding, during which the net loss of the first seven months of 2015 amounted to RMB 29.97 million(USD 4.6 million). In order to grow and maintain its market share, 1Jiajie didn’t charge cleaners or clients.
To generate a new source of income, 1Jiajie announced a cleaning service for company clients which has been in trial operation since October 2015 in five Chinese cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou.
During the trial operation, the platform served more than 10,000 companies and estimates it will sign 100,000 company clients by the end of 2016, according to interior operational estimates.
Yun explains that the new service will mainly target companies which occupy 200 to 500 square meters of office space. The new service will become an important source of income for the platform, as it will take a 10% commision from cleaners.
1Jiajie’s biggest rival 58 Daojia, backed by classifieds giant, 58 Ganji, has also launched a service for company clients, covering property management, food distribution, security and facilities management services.
Third party logistics provider completes USD 100M Series C financing
Chinese third party logistics provider Yunniao Delivery has announced the completion of USD 100 million in Series C financing lead by Warburg Pincus, followed by Sequoia Capital China, Matrix Partners China and GSR Ventures, Tencent Tech reported on Monday.
According to Tencent Tech, this round of financing will be spent on R&D, improving the company’s security system and service quality, standardization, and expanding to new cities.
Yunniao means “cloud bird”. The delivery platform was founded in November 2014. It provides regional and intercity delivery services for retailers, distributors, big brands and manufacturers. Clients post their transportation requirements on the platform and drivers bid for the highest paying jobs.
The platform now covers 16 first-tier Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. It has over 2000 clients, and daily income has surpassed RMB four million (USD 60.5 million). The platform has 100,000 registered drivers, and the number is expected to exceed one million at the end of this year.
In January, 2015, the platform received USD 10 million in Series A financing from Matrix Partners China, GSR Ventures, and Shanda Capital. In July, it received tens of millions of USD in Series B financing from Sequoia Capital China, Matrix Partners China, GSR Ventures, and Shanda Capital.