Travel site backed by Kai-fu Lee lands USD 85 M in financing, a Guangzhou-based online short-haul travel platform, announced it has received RMB 550 million (USD 85 million) in Series D financing and that the former president of Google China, Kai-fu Lee, has become the spokesman for the platform, Sina’s tech channel reported on Monday.

This round of funding is led by UTour, a Beijing-based company engaged in providing tourism and tourism-related services, Kingding Investment, an investment institution based in the Southeastern Chinese city of Quanzhou, and China Securities, a Beijing-based securities company.

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Before this latest round of financing, the platform went through three rounds of funding including the angel and A rounds led by Innovation Works in 2011, the Series B round led by Vertex Ventures in 2013, and the C round totalling USD 35 million led by Sequoia China in 2014.

“Online travel in China is dominated by giants such as Qunar and Ctrip at present, but they don’t have extra energy to extend to travel segments like weekend travel. You can occupy all market segments if you have the best travel offerings,” said Kai-fu lee.

Founded in August 2011, the platform mainly focuses on the weekend travel market and provides short-haul online travel products for customers. The platform has more than 70,000 travel offerings including food, housing, ticketing services, entertainment and shopping, its business has expanded to 160 cities in China, with nearly 10 million users.  

With the growth of the middle class in China, weekend travel entered an explosive stage of development in China. Online travel giants Ctrip and Tongcheng are setting up their own local travel business units, while Tripzm fully acquired leisure travel site Meizhouliu last year. Additionally, Yikuaiqu is going to be listed on China’s New Third Board, an over-the-counter market for growing enterprises.

According to a 2015 China online travel research report released by research institute Analysys, the market size of weekend travel amounted to RMB 6.65 billion in China in 2014, accounting for 20% of the online travel market.

(Top photo from WeChat)

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