Two Of Three New Unicorns Rise From China
Three of the three newly minted unicorns in January 2017 came from China. Two of them were from China, and both of these startups with valuations over $1 billion were invested in by Kai-Fu Lee’s Sinovation Ventures. The two China unicorns were question and answer website Zhihu and office space company URwork.
Zhihu’s investor list extends to Tencent, Sogou, SAIF Partners, Qiming Venture Partners, and Capital Today. URWork, a copycat of WeWork, drew investment from Sequoia Capital China and ZhenFund as well as Sinovation Ventures. U.S.-based cloud video conferencing company Zoom Communications was the third new unicorn in the first month of 2017, according to CB Insights data.
China’s popular news app Toutiao has snapped up U.S.-based video sharing site Flipagram. Toutiao was backed by Sequoia Capital China, Weibo and SIG China. Hong Kong-based Mind Fund was an early investor in Flipagram in Los Angeles way back in 2012.
The godfather of venture capital, Dick Kramlich, is back in the game after leaving behind NEA. He’s raised Green Bay Ventures, a new fund of $130 million with venture capitalist Anthony Schiller who has been working with Kramlich at his private equity group, Kramlich Investment Company.
Legend Capital, the venture and growth capital arm of China’s Legend Holdings, has raised $243 million its latest fund, its seventh.
Google Play has been angling for entry into the Chinese market and may have a found a way, via a detour. NetEase, China’s online games provider, has approached Google to form a joint venture to launch the app download service in China. The two are in talks. This comes as search engine share of Chinese online dollars have fallen as other formats have become more popular, notes Tim Culpan of Bloomberg Gadfly.
Offering her insightful perspective once again on the China digital scene, Connie Chan of Andreessen Horowitz points out that the mobile phone has become the remote control of Chinese consumers. She delves into the use of QR codes, livestreaming and stickers as examples of new forms of social media communication. View the video here at Connie’s blog.
The latest Israeli startup to receive funding from Asian sources is CodeMonkey, which has developed an educational platform using games to teach children how to code. China-Israel Education VC Fund, Japanese holding company Edulab and Japan’s J21 Corporation took part in the $1.5 million seed financing along with Invictus Capital in Washington, DC.
This follows Alibaba’s the recent $6 million funding of Lumus, an Israeli augmented reality lens maker. Lumus had already raised $45 million late last year from Taiwan’s HTC and Quanta Computer plus Shanda Group. Seculert, an Israeli emerging company in cloud-based cyber security, has been purchased by Radware, a publicly traded, Tel Aviv, Israel-based cybersecurity company. Seculert raised $15.6 million in venture funding from investors including Sequoia Capital and Norwest Venture Partners. Meanwhile, Mindspace, a Tel Aviv-based startup in the highly competitive co-working space, has raised $15 million from Israeli angel investors for its boutique-like set-up to take on WeWork and others in Europe and the U.S.
Business-to-business marketplace Wydr has raised a second round of Series A funding from VC firms Bessemer, Jungle and Stellaris.
Google’s CapitalG, Alphabet and previous investor Sequoia Capital India have led a $15 million investment in Cuemath, a promising Indian startup in the education technology space.
After pulling in major funding of $750 million from Japan’s Softbank last year, Southeast Asian ride-sharing app Grab is planning to invest $700 million into further developing the Indonesian market. The money is going into R&D and talent hires in what’s being labeled the “2020 master plan.”