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China’s Mafengwo Secures $250M For Online Travel Platform

Mafengwo, a Chinese travel website, announced today it has raised a $250 million Series E led by Tencent Holdings.

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General Atlantic, Qiming Venture Partners, and others also participated in the round, which brings the Beijing company’s total raised to just over $500 million, according to its Crunchbase profile.

Mafengwo, which said it’s particularly popular “among younger generations in China,” launched in 2010. It now claims to be “the largest travel community in China.” Over time, its platform has evolved to include e-commerce. In 2012, the company integrated travel booking services and then in 2013, Mafengwo began offering its own travel services, according to its Crunchbase profile.

In a press release, the company said that it “achieved a Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) growth of over 100% for four consecutive years,” making it “one of the few successful samples of content commercialization in the internet industry.” (Because its website is in Chinese, I am unable to provide any specific examples of this).

Also in the company’s press release, CEO and co-founder Gang Chen said Mafengwo will use its new capital to build “a new one-stop travel service platform driven by AI and algorithm.”

Haifeng Lin, investment and management partner of Tencent Holdings Limited, in the same release said the company has “become the leader of new tourism e-commerce.”

There’s no doubt that the online travel industry presents huge opportunity for companies worldwide, with the global online travel booking market expected to reach $1.955 billion by 2026, according to a recent report from Zion Market Research, compared to an estimated $765 billion in 2017. The same report noted that: “The Asia Pacific online travel market is likely to be one of the fastest growing in the future, due to the rising disposable income of the population in China and India. Emerging countries, such as China and India, are predicted to drive this regional market in the future, owing to increased internet adoption in the region.”

Last week, we reported on how Berlin-based travel activity platform GetYourGuide had raised $484 million in a round led by SoftBank Vision Fund. At the time, the company in a blog described itself as “the new unicorn on the block” but didn’t elaborate on its valuation.

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias