Ant Financial Funds Bike-Sharing App Ofo, China Online Lending Service Goes Public In NY
Alibaba’s Ant Financial has made a strategic investment in Chinese bike-sharing unicorn Ofo in a move to expand its credit-rating business, Sesame Credit.
Ofo founder Dai Wei spoke recently at the Harvard China Forum and described how his startup has grown dramatically in just a few short years to 10 million daily rides in China, and has attracted four rounds of venture investment. Ofo competes with MoBike, which has raised funds from Tencent.
Wei also told how Ofo has changed course several times – from a bike touring company to bike sharing on campus to finally, bike sharing city-wide. His passion for bikes developed as a young student when he had to bike many miles to and from school. He explained that the name Ofo comes from what its letters actually look like – cleverly, a bicycle rider.
Shanghai-based online consumer lending marketplace China Rapid Finance rang the opening bell at NYSE on China national holiday May 1 after an IPO on Friday that raised $60 million. XRF opened for trading at $6.65 after pricing its IPO offering of 10,000,000 American depositary shares at $6.00.
China Rapid Finance had raised Series A financing 12 years ago from Hewlett-Packard and later drew financing from Broadline Capital two times, the last in a Series C financing in 2015.
In an interview with Silicon Dragon, CEO Zang Wang described the market opportunity in China, where the company will stay focused. He pointed that there are some 500 million in the emerging middle class who do not have access to bank credit. CRF connects borrowers with lenders, taking a fee from each. The company has served 2 million borrowers and provided 15 million lenders, said Wang, who returned to China 12 years ago to set up CRF after earning a PhD in statistical analysis from the University of Illinois and working at Sears as a credit analyst manager.
China tech giant Tencent has funded fintech startup Airwallex in Melbourne. The $17 million financing included Sequoia Capital China and MasterCard. Tencent has reached into Melbourne before, putting $5 million in healthtech startup CliniCloud.
Yik Yak, an online social network funded that had raised $73 million in venture funding including some $10 million by DCM in 2014, has shut down. Its IP has been sold to Square for $1 million.
Cyberport has made its first investment since launching a $26 million fund to invest in early stage startups. Lynk, a startup formed by Peggy Choi that connects experts for knowledge sharing online, got the financing nod after being incubated at Cyberport. The micro-fund has gotten off to a strong start, with more than 100 applications for funding by startup entrepreneurs.
Additionally, Cyberport has unveiled a three-year plan to help jumpstart Hong Kong entrepreneurs by increasing funds, building out the ecosystem with international talent and quicker adoption of digital technologies, and focusing on key sectors such as fintech as well as IoT wearables and big data.
An investment arm of the Times Group in India has invested $6 million in a Series A for Hong Kong-based startup Oddup, which provides data and analysis of startup financings. Other investors include Click Ventures and 500 Startups.
Online media startup The News Lens has raised $2 million Series B round that was lead invested by Wiskey Capital along with prior investor North Base Media as well as VC investors Walden International, Trinity Investment and Angelvest.
Netflix content has entered China through a licensing deal with the video portal service IQiyi, run by Baidu, a stepping stone to expansion of its brand in the country.
In other news from Alibaba, Ant Financial has raised its bid for MoneyGram to $1.2 billion.
My Beijing, The Sacred City: Ian Johnson, author: The Souls of China