Trump-like Rooster In China Welcomes New Year, Chinese Selfie App Scores HKG IPO, Uber Floors It In India

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Trump roosterTo help ring in the Chinese New Year — and with 2017 being the Year of the Rooster — China’s Shanxi province has turned Trump into a giant rooster. The giant “Trump Rooster” statue features a rooster that looks startlingly like the president-elect.
It has Trump’s infamous hair, angry scowl, and even the same hand gestures.

More than one-quarter (26%) of US-based unicorns have an investor from Taiwan, China and Hong Kong. These investors range from Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent to institutional investors and VCs including Hillhouse Capital and Horizons Ventures. In total, 32 Greater China investors have backed a US-based unicorn, including Snap Inc., Uber and 23andMe, according to CBI Insights.

It’s time for Silicon Dragon’s Year-In-Review 2016. Among the top trends cited by Rebecca Fannin in Forbes:  Silicon Valley Goes Global.

China consumer tech year in review: Alibaba, Tencent, LeEco, Wanda lead the way via Forbes, in a column contributed by Michael Zakkour. In another column, he writes about how a U.S. trade agency has put Alibaba’s Taobao back on ‘Notorious Markets’ List, and why they’re wrong, via Forbes.

MeituMeitu, a Chinese maker of an app for editing selfies, has raised $629 million in a Hong Kong IPO that valued the company at $4.6 billion. While aiming for an IPO of $5.23 billion, Meitu still ranked as Hong Kong’s largest tech IPO since Alibaba in 2007. Hong Kong has become the world’s biggest market for initial public offerings during 2016.Meitu has been backed by IDG-Accel China fund, Qiming Venture Partners, Sinovation Ventures and Tiger Global.

China actress Zhao Wei is set to buy 29% of animation firm Zhejiang People Culture. She intends to pay $440 million for a 29% stake in the Shanghai-listed business and help build up its entertainment business, writes Russell Flannery in Forbes.

Wang Jianlin, the billionaire owner of China’s property-to-entertainment conglomerate Wanda Group, has warned Donald Trump that more than 20,000 U.S. jobs will be put at risk if  Trump “mishandles” Chinese investment in the U.S.

In the latest twist on the ride-hailing business in China, Beijing and Shanghai are requiring that China-based ride-sharing services only hire local residents as drivers. The new rules could deal a significant blow to Didi Chuxing, which cemented its lead of the world’s largest market for ride-hailing apps post its merger with Uber China. Didi is gearing up for a triple digit (150% +) growth rate in 2017, if mutual fund investor predictions are to be believed.

Another over-crowded tech sector in China is food delivery apps. Don’t be surprised to see a wave of mega-mergers among the big three: Meituan, Baidu Waimai and Ele.me.  Their backers are the BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent).

Warburg Pincus has raised a China-focused private equity fund of $2 billion after only six months in the market. The fund is its first dedicated solely to doing deals in China.

Thundersoft, a Chinese operating system designer for drones and other connected devices, is paying roughly $68 million for Rightware, a Helsinki-based user interface developer focused on automotive. Rightware has been backed by Nexit Ventures and Inventure, at $9.5 million.

Yeahmobi, a five-year-old, Hunan, China-based mobile performance marketing network, has raised roughly $100 million in funding, according to a blog post on the company’s site. Investors include Beijing Bohai Tongxin Private Equity FundNanjing Huawen Hongsheng Startup Investment Fund andShenzhen Qianhai Bochuang Private Equity Fund.

Lefit, a Hangzhou-located fitness startup that, like ClassPass in the U.S., invites users to pay one membership fee to access multiple fitness centers, has raised $14 million in Series B funding from lead investors Toutoushidao Capital and Huasheng Capital with IDG Capital and Puhua Capital.

Huochebang, an emerging truck logistics startup based in Guiyang, China, has raised $115 million in fresh funding led by the International Finance Corp. and All-Stars Investments, with participation from earlier backers Tencent HoldingsDCM and Genesis Capital. A similar start-up, Yunmanman, reportedly raised $160 million in new venture funding earlier this month.

Chinese internet giant Baidu is planning an IPO of its video-streaming site iQiyi.com that could value the unit at up to $5 billion. The listing could take place in Hong Kong or the U.S. in 2017.

Koubei, 12-year-old, Hangzhou, China-based on-demand services company owend by Alibaba, is close to securing $1.2 billion in funding from first-time investors Silver Lake Management and China’s sovereign wealth fund.

Aihuishou, a five-year-old, smartphone and consumer electronics recycle startup in Shanghai, has raised $58 million in Series D funding co-led by Cathay Capital and Fortune Venture Capital Co., with participation from Tiantu CapitalJD.comMorningside Ventures and other earlier investors.

Shenzhen is gaining a reputation as the Silicon Valley of China as it has moved up from a producer of cheap clothes, copycat toys and fake DVDs to an innovator of popular consumer electronics. Shenzhen churns out more than 70% of the world’s drones and nearly all the world’s e-cigarettes. Strategic tech industries contributed more than 40% of the city’s GDP in 2015. The ecosystem has been boosted by funding, talent, manufacturing, transportation infrastructure, and supply chains, notes Matthews Asia Weekly.

Data and analytics has caught on big-time among CEOs in China. A KPMG survey of chief executives in China found that 57% use data and analytics to find tune marketing strategies and achieve cost efficiencies while nearly half use big data to predict or manage skills shortages, and improve financial reporting.

Tightening its censorship, China has blocked sharing of unofficial videos or user-generated video content. Newsy videos and livestreaming have been popular sources of information outside state media.

At a recent fashion show in Paris, Victoria’s Secret tried to woo Chinese consumers by showcasing dragon-themed lingerie. The supermodel Elsa Hosk appeared on the runway with an elaborate dragon wrapped around on her body. But Chinese consumers found these outfits distasteful and tacky. Many commented on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblog site, that the dragon themed-outfits were “really ugly” and didn’t represent Chinese culture. Some were even offended. What went wrong with Victoria’s Secret’s effort to impress Chinese consumers? Read more here.

Even if U.S. companies can gain a foothold in China, which is hard enough, there is practically no way they will be able to overtake the Chinese companies that have comfortably established themselves, concludes an article in the Washington Post. Facebook’s China charm offensive, which included Mark Zuckerberg studying Mandarin, has yielded little. Google’s search business and Twitter remain blocked. LinkedIn and Microsoft censor — and still, neither is a major player in China’s online space. Amazon.com is sputtering along against the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. After great initial success, Apple is being overtaken by local upstarts.

ISRAEL
Pitango Venture Capital, one of the most active venture firms on the Israeli startup scene, has closed its seventh early-stage venture fund, at $175 million and focused on AI, digital health, and IoT. A year ago, Pitango closed its first growth fund, a $250 million vehicle that focuses on later-stage companies. Additionally, Pitango established an investment platform, i3 Equity Partners, in partnership with Chinese giant HNA, Tel Aviv University, Qualcomm Ventures, GE, Microsoft Ventures and India’s Tata Group. , which will focus on IoT (Internet of Things), offering early-stage entrepreneurs investment in the region of $1 million..

Dragonera, a Tel Aviv-based AI-powered software development platform, has raised $3 million in seed funding led by Singulariteam.

Lumus, an Israeli maker of augmented reality wearable displays, has raised $30 million in additional Series C funding totaling $45 million, including from HTC and Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Quanta Computer.

INDIA
Uber expects to see profit soon in India amid a fierce battle with Ola, says co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick, who claims he will apply for Indian citizenship to compete locally, if necessary.

Lightbox India Advisors, a Mumbai-based VC firm, has tacked on $54 million to its second fund, which had closed with $100 million in 2014.

NoBroker, a two-year-old, a real estate marketplace in Bangalore, has raised $7 million in additional Series B funding led by KTB Ventures, with participation from earlier backers SAIF PartnersBeenext, and Digital Garage. The round now stands at $17 million.

Indifi Technologies, a Gurgaon-based startup for financing for micro, small and mid-size enterprises in India, has raised $10 million in Series funding led by Omidyar Network, with participation from earlier backers Accel Partners and Elevar Equity.

XSEED Education, a Singapore- and Gurgaon, India-anchored K-12 startup focused on enhancing school learning, has raised more than $10 million in new funding from Verlinvest, a Belgium-based venture firm.

KOREA
Zepl, a five-year-old, Seoul-based data analytics company formerly known as NFLabs, has raised $4.1 million in Series A funding led by Vertex Ventures, with participation from Translink CapitalSpecialized Types, and Big Basin Capital.

Eutilex, a South Korea-based biopharmaceutical company that’s focused on treating cancers and autoimmune diseases, has raised $18.9 million in Series A funding from DS Asset ManagementKolon InvestmentG.N. Tech Venture, and SNU Bio Angel.

Podotree, a six-year-old, Seoul-based affiliate of the mobile and web giant Kakao, has raised around $107 million in funding led by Anchor Equity Partners, with participation from the Singapore investment fund GIC and others. Podotree manages two of Kakoa’s fast-growing services: its social network and its digital comics service Daum Webtoons.

MALAYSIA
iPrice, an 18-month-old, Malayia-based e-commerce aggregation service that’s active throughout Southeast Asia, has raised $4 million in Series A funding led by earlier backers Asia Venture Group and Venturra Capital, with participation from Gobi PartnersDMPEcona and Starstrike Ventures.

 OTHER
Rakuten and Saudi Telecom have invested $350 million in Careem, a 4.5-year-old, Dubai-based ride-hailing company. The round reportedly values the company at more than $1 billion.

GAN Ventures has launched a $10 million early stage venture capital fund. The six-year-old company located in Denver publishes industry research about best practices for accelerators.

  • Silicon Dragon’s weekly digest is edited by Rebecca Fannin with news contributions curated by Ying-Ying Lu.