While tech in the U.S. may have taken a long weekend, China’s startup scene stayed active and moved forward unabated. Here is what you need to know about the dealmaking in the region.
Ant Financial Becoming #1
First off, Alibaba payments affiliate, Ant Financial, has closed $10 billion in funding at a $150 billion valuation, according to Reuters. Singapore’s GIC Pte, Temasek Holdings, and Warburg Pincus have reportedly participated in the company’s latest round. Other participants include Carlyle Group and Sequoia Capital.
If confirmed, this round would make Ant Financial the most valuable unicorn in history. The company has invested in China’s bikesharing underdog, Hellobike, which was later acquired, and India-based food delivery and restaurant search app Zomato.
Ant Financial was previously a subsidiary of Alibaba which reduced its ownership in the company last year to a 33 percent direct equity stake in exchange for intellectual property rights related to the company. This latest round would bring its total known funding to more than 14 billion, according to Crunchbase.
Tencent Avoiding Backlash
Tencent has pulled its $4.7 million investment in online content startup Chaping in response to criticism regarding intellectual property rights, according to Reuters. While the investment seems like chump change in comparison to, well, almost every investment Tencent has made, the implications are much more far reaching.
According to the Reuters report, the state-run media publication the People’s Daily, widely considered to be the voice of the Chinese government, further criticized Chaping for plagiarism. This withdrawal comes as the government has increasingly displayed its ability to halt the operations of even some of China’s most successful startups, like Toutiao, over other concerns regarding content “quality.” Tencent’s latest move legitimizes the understanding that Chinese companies, even those like Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, are aware of their reputations and wary of government scrutiny.
Xiaomi’s Global Eyes Get Bigger
Crunchbase News has recently explored affordable smartphone maker Xiaomi’s rise and potential IPO. Now the company is reportedly looking to expand its operations in Western Europe. According to the Wall Street Journal, the smartphone maker, which ranked sixth in smartphone shipments in Western Europe in Q1 2018, is aiming to raise its influence in the high-end smartphone market. To do so, it has struck deals with local carriers like Orange.
While the company reportedly plans to sell its handsets in the iPhone and Android-dominated U.S. in the future, the experiences of both Huawei and ZTE over the past few months are discouraging. Those increasingly protectionist policies targeting Chinese tech companies wanting to operate in the U.S. are likely major concerns for the company, which has experienced tension with Apple over intellectual property in the past.
There you have it, all the right ingredients to bake a normal day in Chinese tech news: a huge funding round, government scrutiny, and global expansion.
From The Crunchbase Daily:
Ant Financial, the operator of Chinese online payment platform Alipay, has reportedly closed its latest funding round of $10 billion, with backers including Temasek, GIC and Warburg Pincus. The new financing is said to value Alibaba-controlled Ant at a staggering $150 billion.
So far, 2018 is shaping up as a banner year for venture capital fundraising, with established firms seeking ever-larger sums to keep up with the competition. The latest to enter the fray is DCM, a 22-year-old Silicon Valley-based firm that its seeking $750 million for its ninth flagship fund.
Voodoo, a Paris-based developer of mobile games, has raised $200 million in fresh funding from Goldman Sachs.
Venture investors have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into direct-to-consumer products companies, like Warby Parker and Glossier. Crunchbase News takes a look at which companies have taken the most funding so far.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias