Bike-Sharing Startups In China Draw Mega-Funds, Quora-like Zhihu Reaches Unicorn Status, Nexus Leads Online Ed Deal In India

Ma_Evans_on way to Trump meetingAlibaba chief Jack Ma was on his way to meet President-elect Donald Trump in NYC at Trump Tower when this photo was snapped. Jack seized a good PR opportunity with a pledge to Trump that he will create 1 million US jobs by helping small businesses sell to China and Asia – via Alibaba’s platform of course!

Mind Fund, a Hong Kong-based startup incubator and investor, is set to boost the next wave of global companies from Asia, thanks to backing from early Internet player Digital Garage Inc. in Tokyo.  With the investment, Mind Fund and DGI plan to together help startups expand from Tokyo, San Francisco, Hong Kong and Asia-wide. Mind Fund, led by Adam Lindemann, also aims to collaborate with Digital Garage to debut new blockchain and AI/Bot technologies in fintech and payment businesses to scale up in Asia. The new partnership has the goal of helping startups go global or think global at an earlier stage in their development.

Chinese venture capital firm Qiming Venture Partners is raising a new fund focused on U.S. healthcare startups, led by Qiming’s co-founder Gary Rieschel, who moved back to the states (Seattle) after several years leading this leading firm in Shanghai.

China’s bike-sharing segment remains a magnet for investors. GGV Capital has led a first round investment in bike-sharing startup Hellobike, with participation from RMB fund Grains Valley Venture Capital. Based in Suzhou and founded in September 2016, Hellobike also covers Ningbo and Xiamen, and plans to expand to 10 Chinese cities. Other bike-sharing startups that have raised capital in recent weeks include Ubike and Mobike. Investors include some major backers: Tencent, Hillhouse Capital and Sequoia Capital China.
Car-sharing service provider Didi Chuxing also has funded a biking counterpart, ofo, to the tune of $130 million.

Quora-like Zhihu becomes the next unicorn from China after raising $100 million in fresh funding through a Series D deal that was led by Capital Today. The deal for the Q&A platform looped in several prior investors, Tencent and Sohu as well as a group of quality venture investors that included Qiming, SAIF and Sinovation Ventures.  With the new funding, Zhihu has reached unicorn status.

Ellen Pao is back in the world of venture capital. The former Kleiner Perkins tech investor and Reddit CEO has joined Kapor Capital as an investing partner. Based in Oakland, CA, Kapor Capital focuses on supporting entrepreneurs who want to make a social impact or who come from underrepresented groups. Kapor lists Uber and Dropcam among its investments.

WeChat, China’s dominant messaging app, has debuted out a system that allows individuals on its social network to access apps that don’t need to be downloaded or installed. These instant apps bypass Apple‘s App Store, putting WeChat on a collision course with Apple. Read WeChat-Apple.

Despite growing scrutiny, US tech firms still want to play China’s game. Yet locally, the competition for dominance in the digital market is intensifying.For some, sticking it out in China has proven to be too difficult. Just after a year of trying, Netflix has said it’s given up its plans to stream in China due to regulatory concerns. Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft are going to brave it out, however.  Here are the ups and downs of trying to expand in China. Read Forbes post, Toughing It Out.

VR headsets on planesTo hide the dismal reality of flying, airlines are trying virtual reality on passengers. United Airlines offered Glyph headsets (made by a Californian company called Avegant) on a few flights earlier this month between San Francisco and the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The headsets look like headphones flipped on their side and retail for $549. Users have a 360-degree view and can watch content in 3D. The content streams from a smartphone or tablet. Other airlines are getting in on the action. French airline XL Airways has begun renting VR headsets made by French startup SkyLights to passengers for $16.

China vows to ban abuse of children at Internet detox camps. Read NYTunreal.

Rich Chinese, inspired by the television drama Downton Abby, about British aristocrats, are hiring well-trained butlers in China. Read NYT, Butler Demand.


Nexus Venture Partners has led a $5 million, Series A investment in Bangalore-based accommodation booking platform Zolo. With the new capital, the two-year-old startup is expanding regionally and seeking to upgrade the industry, which lacks standardization and poor service.

A leading online education startup Unacademy in Bangalore has raised $4.5 million in first round funding from Nexus Venture Partners. Other investors in the round were Freshdesk CEO Girish Mathrubootham and Myntra CEO Ananth Narayanan along with Stanford Angels. Started one year ago, Unacademy has grown to 200,000 active users who access its educational coursework over apps. Plans are to ramp up to 1 million users in 2017.