Tech financing in China this week- Innovation Works’ biggest investment project MeWe is now valued at USD 300M, & more

Don’t miss out our headlines this week: Airbnb-like platform to connect overseas hosts with Chinese travelers; Razer lands USD75M from Chinese VR investor to develop OSVR; Why Lenovo’s parent company is pouring money into O2O liquor business.

Photo from Baidu Images
Photo from Baidu Images

Not just about gaming,  Razer lands USD75M from Chinese VR investor to develop OSVR

Eric Sun
Chinese IT company Hangzhou Liaison Interactive invested USD 75 million in San Diego-based Razer to further develop its Open-Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) platform.

Founded in 1998, Razer is known as the world’s leading brand in high-end precision gaming products. The company is also the founder of the world’s largest virtual reality platform, Open-Source Virtual Reality (OSVR).

OSVR is an “ecosystem” designed to set an open standard for virtual reality input devices, games and output with the sole goal of providing the best possible game experience in the virtual reality space. OSVR has more than 300 partners globally, including Intel, NVIDIA, Unity 3D, Ubisoft, Gearbox, 360 as well as academic institutions.

“Razer‘s advantages in hardware will make us stronger in the VR industry, and eventually help us to establish an industry chain using Liaison Interactive VR OS as the center to connect hardware, content and services,” He Zhitao, Chairman of Liaison Interactive said on Wednesday.

“China’s demand for virtual reality is growing very rapidly. OSVR’s goal is to help accelerate the development of VR in China by helping developers to support an ever-growing variety of VR hardware on a local and global scale and collaborate with the best in the industry,” said Min-Liang Tan, CEO of Razer.

Liaison Interactive invested in several smart devices and VR companies before investing in Razer, such as USD 15 million in US VR leader Avegant in 2015, who launched the first virtual reality retinal glasses, Glyph.

Virtual reality is hot for smart device manufacturers and investors in China. According to Goldman Sachs, VR has become another hit after the smartphone. There are several major Chinese players in the VR sector. Tencent revealed a VR project, and released the development kit for Tencent VR last December. Chinese online video giant LeEco, previously known as LeTV, announced its entry into the VR sector last December, and Xiaomi launched the Xiaomi Exploration Lab to develop VR technology in January.

Besides these tech giants, several VR startup companies are worth watching. Chinese VR startup ANTVR received USD 46 million in Series B financing last December; DeePoon raised USD 30 million in Series B funding from two Xiaomi-backed companies; and 3Glasses is working with offline 3D theaters and experience stores to promote its products, and has over 1,000 experience stores in China.

 

oneday
Photo from Onehome.me.

Airbnb-like platform onehome.me aims to connect overseas Chinese hosts with Chinese travelers

Jack Niu
China’s Airbnb-like platform, onehome.me, recently secured tens of millions of USD in Pre-A financing led by investors backed by Alibaba.

Riverhill Fund, backed by Alibaba, and Morningside Ventures, which invested in Sohu portal and China’s version of Apple, Xiaomi, led the round of funding, which closed last month, Tencent reported on Thursday.

The C2C platform targets the overseas travel market for Chinese travelers. According to the China National Tourism Administration, Chinese overseas tourism reached 120 million in 2015.

Borrowing the concept from Airbnb’s “sharing economy”, the platform allows landlords who are overseas Chinese to provide direct service including accommodation, food and travel information for Chinese travelers. It offers the vetted landlords information for travelers to pick. Once they find the landlords, travelers can pay through Alipay and WeChat in advance.

onehome.me wants to differentiate itself from other players by connecting travelers and landlords based on common cultural background and the Chinese language, bringing new experience for Chinese travelers traveling abroad.

“Language and culture differences exist all the time when people travel abroad. What we do is try to connect Chinese travelers with overseas Chinese and provide convenience while traveling,” said Yang Lianghai, founder of onehome.me.

Founded last January, the platform claims to have covered over 50 countries with more than 100,000 Chinese users in half a year after its online service launched. It said that its monthly revenue has doubled on a monthly basis.

Many travel website giants are splitting up the market. China’s “Expedia”, Ctrip, merged with its rival Qunar and Alibaba’s travel business arm, Alitrip, is dominating hotel and air ticket booking. A group of new players entered this market in 2015, thanks to the Airbnb’s inspiration. According to Chinese mobile data analysis agency TalkingData, the most-downloaded travel apps are Airbnb’s Chinese rival, Tujia.com, “China’s Craigslist” Ganji.com’s subsidiary, Mayi.com, and Zhubaijia.com, a platform for Chinese people to book accommodations outside of China.

 

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Poster of the debate talk show Qipashuo.

Innovation Works’ biggest investment project MeWe is now valued at USD 300 million

Wanbin Zhang
After the completion of its Series A financing, MeWe media, a Beijing-based online video producer, is valued at RMB two billion (USD 300 million), Tencent Tech reported on Wednesday.

Cornerstone Venture Capital, one of China’s oldest VC funds, invested in this round of funding. But MeWe has yet to disclose the funding amount. Innovation Works, a venture capital fund founded by Kai-Fu Lee, the former head of Google China and founder of Microsoft Research Asia, led a round of Pre-A financing just days after MeWe was founded.

“MeWe is our biggest investment project and their content-making capability in TV and online video attracts us the most. They’re focusing on improving content delivery,” said Kai-Fu Lee in a speech last September.

MeWe was founded in September by Ma Dong, the former chief content officer of leading Chinese video provider iQiyi. In October 2014, Ma launched “Qipashuo” or Let’s Talk, a popular online talkshow that aims to turn the most talented grassroots artists into talkshow stars. He said that sheer entertainment value is the reason for its popularity in an interview with Chinese media site The Paper in September.

Ma wanted to found his own video empire to provide audiences with quality online video programs and their own means of video production. Ma will release the third episode of Let’s Talk in March. So far, the show has gained a large number of fans born in the 1980s and 1990s, who have contributed over 100 million pageviews since the release of the first and second episodes.

The different Chinese online video providers have their own unique strategies, but they are all increasing self-produced content. The top three online video giants including Youku Tudou, Tencent Video and iQiyi are integrated content providers offering a wide range of videos on economics, technology, sports and entertainment, while sites like Sohu Video dominates in featured content and columns.

 

liquor

Why Lenovo’s parent company is pouring money into O2O liquor business

Dora Zhang
The parent company of Lenovo, China’s PC market leader, laid out their latest strategy to further explore the liquor O2O sector by confirming their latest investment.

Legend Holdings, Lenovo’s parent company, in January injected RMB 230 million (USD 35 million) into Jiubianli, or “Instant Liquor”, an O2O liquor provider in central China’s Zhengzhou city.

Zhu Yonghua, the director of Legend Holdings’ modern agriculture and food investment department, revealed the reasons for the investment, the 21st Century Business Herald reported on Wednesday.

He said the liquor industry saw a total of RMB 800 billion in revenue in 2014, and the O2O liquor website that Legend Holdings just invested in has a valuation of RMB 300 billion. Jiubianli has dominated liquor supply channels in the catering sector and traditional tobacco and liquor shops. The website also features a 20-minute delivery service which has proven attractive to customers.

Investment in the liquor industry is one of Legend’s development strategies. Liu Chuanzhi, Legend’s honorary president and former CEO, said in a summit in December 2015, as the mobile Internet rises, the company needs to explore more businesses to maintain their revenue growth.

Legend Holdings has so far made more than one large investment in the liquor industry since 2011.

The company’s subsidiary, Funglian Holdings, purchased four liquor companies from 2011 to 2012. The subsidiary’s revenue in the first half of 2015 reached RMB 620 million with a 5% YOY growth. In 2013, the company’s subsidiary Joyvio Group entered the wine industry. Wine sales of the group increased by 50% in 2015 from a year earlier.

The Chinese liquor e-commerce market is still growing and has a lot of room to expand. Offline sales still dominate the liquor industry while online sales make up only 1% of total sales, Chinese market research agency Analysys reported in July 2015.

 

Photo from Didi Kuaidi
Photo from Didi Kuaidi

Didi Kuaidi raises another USD 1 billion to take on Uber China?

Catherine Lai
Didi Kuaidi has received at least USD one billion in commitments for a new financing round, says Bloomberg, citing an anonymous source.

AllChinaTech reached out to Didi Kuaidi, but a spokesperson declined to comment.

Bloomberg’s source says Didi will be valued at over USD 20 billion, once the round closes. The round is oversubscribed, and the company is still negotiating terms with investors, according to the source.

Didi’s current valuation is USD 16.5 billion. It received USD three billion last September in its last financing round.

Didi Kuaidi is Uber’s main competitor in China. It has been spending on adding new drivers and reducing fares to compete against Uber in a subsidy war. Didi denied claims made by Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick last week that Didi is burning even more cash than they are, despite Uber’s USD one billion per year loss in China.

Didi has invested in GrabTaxi, Ola and Lyft, forming a global ridesharing alliance to counter Uber’s advances in Asia.

 

online fitness

Online fitness platform tackles China’s USD 10B weight loss industry with new financing

Eric Sun
Weight Loss Era, an online fitness platform, has received RMB 20 million (approximately USD three million) in pre-A series financing, Li Yuxin, CEO of the company announced on Monday.

This round of funding was led by Shenzhen Oriental Fortune Capital, an investment management company based in south China, followed by Hongxi Fund, a public assets management company.

According to tech news site 36Kr, the funding will be mainly used for three business channels including product development, sales-team building and brand building. The two targets of the company in 2016 include attracting more than 10 million users and integrating the online community, their video teaching segment and diet foods on the entire platform.

Founded in 2014, Beijing-based Weight Loss Era has more than 30 employees and aims to provide health-conscious solutions such as weight loss classes, nutritional meal plans and social media motivation for customers. Its app, called “Jianyue”, was launched last February. “Jianyue” means “reduction” in English. The app aims to build an online community to attract people to exercise in groups, track their diet, manage their weight and take quizzes on diet knowledge.

In addition, Weight Loss Era has a series of derivatives such as diet food, intelligent hardware products, classes for weight loss and offline products. Among them, diet food will be an important business for the company. Liu said that they plan to launch the product in approximately two months.

China’s weight loss industry has exceeded RMB 80 billion (USD 12 billion) and is still increasing at an annual rate of 15%-20%, according to Science and Technology Daily. Weight loss and fitness are becoming an increasingly popular topic in the country. Corresponding “Internet Plus” products are constantly emerging, including Jiaolian, a sports course and coach booking platform, FitTime, a video teaching platform, and Keep, an online community for fitness.

 

Photo from Baidu Images
Photo from Baidu Images

China’s version of TaskRabbit differentiates itself from local players with shared-economy model

Ke Jin
Renwutu, a Chinese person-to-person (P2P) job sharing platform founded in 2014, has landed tens of millions of RMB in Series A funding, reported Chinese tech news site Ctsbw.com on Saturday.

The investment was made by LangmafengVC, a venture capital firm investing mainly in energy, finance, digital media and collaborated services. After receiving angel investment in 2014 and pre-A funding in 2015, Renwutu aims to focus on improving its products and technical performance with the investment from this round.

Renwutu, whose English name is Mission Rabbit, is similar to the US company TaskRabbit. It enables skilled workers, or Mission Rabbits, to easily set up their own business at no cost, while making it possible for task posters to find people nearby to accomplish a task at 30% lower than the average market price, according to the company.

Since attracting more users may help accumulate customer reviews and further improve Renwutu’s task quality, the platform has guaranteed compensation up to RMB 10 million to safeguard users’ rights, and it also uses videos to engage people’s interests, said Wang Zibin, CEO of the company.

The company rivals are some of the largest on-demand service providers in China. Unlike the classified sites 58 and Ganji, TaskRabbit posts less repeated and false information. In comparison with Meituan and Dianping, TaskRabbit not only offers local services, but works to meet individual demands.

“Uber shares cars, Airbnb shares accommodations, and what Renwutu shares are skills and free time,” said Wang.

Offering over 700 types of services, the company has covered 19 cities with 800-900 orders fulfilled every day.

 

kika emoji

KiKa Tech’s keyboard app available to more language speakers with USD 30M in financing

Danielle Li

Chinese mobile developer KiKa Tech told AllChinaTech on Tuesday that it secured RMB 200 million (USD 30.6 million) in Series B funding from Honghe Capital, Bole Zongheng and Zhu Ye, CEO of the game company Zeus Interactive.

The large new round of funding will amp up KiKa Tech’s plans to consolidate their strength in markets they’ve already grabbed a share of, including the U.S., Europe, Brazil and Mexico. According to Bill Hu, Founder and CEO of KiKa Tech, KiKa has taken as much as a 60% share of the third-party input method market in America.

The funding will also support its strategic plan to roll out to a wider overseas market, including languages spoken by smaller groups of people that haven’t been covered.

“At the era of mobile internet, smart devices are platforms of communication, and the keyboard is the entrance to those platforms,” Hu said.

This is the reason why he chose to stick with this input method product out of more than 70 products they developed at the beginning of the business.

KiKa Keyboard, an app providing a slew of choices including more than 1600 emojis and emoticons, trendy GIFs, stickers and customizable layouts, fonts and themes, has become the company’s star product, scoring them the honor of top developer by Google Play and 130 million users around the world in just one year after its launch.

Hu also announced KiKa Keyboard as the first keyboard to support the BEPO layout, which provides a better French-language user experience than the existing Azerty keyboard.

According to data released by KiKa, its app now supports more than 70 languages globally, and it’s now the first and only app that provides a keyboard layout for Bashkir, a language spoken by only 1.5 million, and Romansh, the rarest Romance language.

KiKa Tech, founded in 2014, is headquartered in California in order to tap the overseas market with their main KiKa Keyboard product. Unlike most Chinese companies that target the overseas market by debuting in India or Southeast Asia, KiKa initiated its business in America and Europe, where it is harder for a Chinese company to cultivate a big amount of users.

“With a team of 50% engineers graduated from renowned universities, 25% designers and 10% foreign staff, we are confident enough we can pry open the ‘mainstream’ markets,” said Hu, “and then mainstream culture would naturally crawl into smaller countries.”

KiKa is also launching a new function “Hashtag”, the Global Business Development Director of KiKa, Robert Tanner said in an interview with AllChinaTech.

With this feature introduced, users can have access to and share much value-added content, including short videos and news articles across a variety of mediums including Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Spotify, Robert said.

 

Duoxi
From Baidu Images

Chinese O2O laundry service provider secures USD 6.9 million in Series A financing

Jack Niu
Beijing-based Duoxi, an O2O laundry service provider, received RMB 45 million (USD 6.9 million) in Series A financing just two months after it merged with Yunxiyi, another O2O laundry service provider, Chinese tech news site iyiou.com reported on Monday.

This round of funding was led by Qifu Capital, which focuses on TMT, modern services and new materials, and followed by Newsion Venture Capital, Duoxi’s angel investor.

Last December, Duoxi announced that it landed about RMB 10 million in Pre-A series financing from Shengjing FOF, which has also invested in many American venture capital companies including Menlo Ventures, Institutional Venture Partners (IVP) and 500 Startups.  Yuan Ze, founder of Duoxi, disclosed that some new investors would inject Series B fundraising.

This round of funding will be used to develop and further scale business operations in more markets. “We will further improve our supply chains, marketing and brand promotion so as to bring customers a new laundry service experience,” Yuan said.

Duoxi provides standardized door-to-door laundry service after they receive orders online. Duoxi claims that they charge less than traditional lanudry services. It aims to realize automatic machine operation using less manual labor in the near future.

Duoxi’s online business launched last December and covers three first-tier cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjing. It has reached about 100 million orders per day, providing cleaning services for clothes, shoes, furniture and homes. Duoxi will expand its business to more fields, including the cleaning and maintenance of leather products in 2016. Its users will reach over 700,000.

The O2O laundry service business is mushrooming in China. According to Beijing Business Today, the laundry service business reached RMB 8,000 million last year and will reach over RMB 10,000 million this year. Some notable players in the Chinese O2O laundry service business including Duoxi, eDaixi and Tidy are thriving, but no one has become a unicorn yet.

Beijing-based eDaixi’s O2O laundry service rose in the O2O laundry business in 2015. It fundraised USD 100 million in a round of Series B financing led by Baidu in August and USD 20 million in angel financing from Tencent last year.

Ding Xiang Yuan interface
Ding Xiang Yuan interface

Chinese online medical giant invests millions of dollars in dental SaaS provider

Eric Sun
Ding Xiang Yuan (DXY), a medical online social networking service for China’s physicians and medical professionals, confirmed it has invested tens of millions of RMB (millions of USD) in LinkedCare, a dental Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider, in order to restructure its data flow and provide digitized service to its customers, Tencent’s Tech News channel reported on Monday.

Founded in July 2000, DXY is China’s largest online medical portal used by five million Chinese physicians and life science professionals, with an average of 1.8 million daily page views. There are more than four million registered members.

“LinkedCare has strong research capabilities and wide market coverage in oral health care. It will also contribute to forming a collaborative management platform for our general practice and pediatric clinic,” said Zhang Jin, CEO of the company.

SaaS systems provide digitized solutions for customers. Li Tiantian, founder of DXY, said that they aim to achieve third-party remote diagnosis, electronic prescription transfer, remote consultation, WeChat reservation and payment, etc., in order to provide patients with smoother and more intelligent services.

Online medical service platforms in China are growing at an unprecedented rate. According to a report by Boston Consulting Group, more than USD 700 million in venture capital funding has poured into the digital healthcare market, and the sector is widely expected to change the landscape of traditional healthcare in China. DXY’s major rivals include Guahao.com, a mobile medical service and health consultation platform backed by Tencent and Chunyu Doctor, an online physician-patient communication provider.

(Top photo from Nipic.com)

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AllTechAsia Staff

AllTechAsia is a startup media platform dedicated to providing the hottest news, data service and analysis on the tech and startup scene of Asian markets in English. Write to us: info[at]alltechasia.com.

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AllTechAsia is a startup media platform dedicated to providing the hottest news, data service and analysis on the tech and startup scene of Asian markets in English.
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