Uber China Exec Pivots To New London VC Fund

Uber China Exec Pivots To New London VC Fund

Candice Lo, croppedCandice Lo led the launch of Uber in China. Now she’s a venture capitalist in London with a new VC firm, Blossom Capital, investing in the next generation of innovative companies from a European base.
It should be very interesting to hear from Lo about the frenzied pace of opening 65 new markets for Uber in China  and what ultimately happened — its lead rival in China, Didi, took over Uber’s business and merged it in with its own.  This is hardly the first time that an American company has been beaten in China and gotten absorbed by its biggest local Chinese foe. Remember it happened with eBay and Jack Ma’s look-alike e-commerce site Taobao.
Lo will describe the type of companies she’s investing in now: early stage bets on “highly differentiated” startups from a new $75-$100 million fund formed with ex-Index VC Ophelia Brown.
Lo’s talk will kick off Silicon Dragon London, March 20. The forum is focused on growing Sino-British connections for VC fund raising, deal making and startup investing.
Watch the livestream if you can’t make it.

FUNDING DEALS
Personalized news apps surely are becoming the thing in China. Tencent has led a pre-IPO investment of more than $100 million in Chinese personalized news recommendation app Qutoutiao, valuing the startup at close to $1.5 billion. The deal pits two rivals in the same space — Toutiao and Qutoutiao — against each other in a battle for leadership.
Both startups are angling for IPOs soon. Toutiao is reportedly targeting a $3 billion U.S. IPO.

The finance arm of China’s large e-commerce company JD.com is fund-raising at a $20 billion valuation. The capital raise comes as Chinese tech companies chase the increasing demand for digital payment options.

Walden International and Google Ventures along with Atlantic Bridge and Redline Capital have poured $56 million in Series A funding into SambaNova Systems in Palo Alto. The startup is developing next-generation computing platforms to power machine learning and data analytics applications for enterprises. You can bet that the underlying technology for this startup has Stanford roots — two professors plus a former senior VP at Oracle.

San Francisco and Mexico City-based edtech startup Yogome has nabbed $27 million in Series B funding led by Exceed Capital Partners to expand its business into Asia.

IPOs
Baidu‘s video streaming giant iQiyi, a Chinese Netflix-like service valued in the range of $13.7 billion, expects to raise some $2.25 billion in its forthcoming share sale and listing on Nasdaq.

 

M&A DEALS
In Asia’s overheated market for co-working spaces, UCommune (renamed from URWork) has acquired Chinese workspace brand You Space to create what’s being called the region’s largest co-working entity. VCs involved include Sinovation Ventures, Sequoia Capital China, ZhenFund, Matrix China and others. The new combined entity, with a reported $1.7 billion valuation, will devote more resources to community engagement, standardization of operations plus expansion.

The co-working market has been growing by 30 percent annually.  UCommune has been in a driver in the race, and merged with a peer, New Space, in January 2018.
Well-funded WeWork, running on $8 billion in venture capital, has been beefing up in Asia as well. Expect more consolidation in this sector.

Alibaba finance affiliate Ant Financial has formed a strategic partnership with Norwegian telecom giant Telenor to invest $184 million in Telenor’s microfinance bank in Pakistan.

ASIA ROUNDRUP
Softbank has led a $62 million Series E round in Indian online grocer Grofers, joined by Tiger Global, in a valuation 20% lower than the previous round.  The online grocery has fallen under criticism in India for anti-farming policies and lack of standardization in food labeling and delivery.

From Down Under, Sydney-based business innovation advisory platform Ansarada has raised $18 million to step up expansion in the U.S. and Europe, Middle East, Africa.  The funding was led by Ellerston Ventures, the VC unit of tycoon James Packer‘s investment firm.

NOTEWORTHY
Stephen Hawking‘s death has put a spotlight on his work particularly in China where one publisher reports receiving 1 million orders of his books, including the best-seller“A Brief History of Time.”  

RECAP: China-Hollywood VIP Dinner

China-Hollywood deals are still happening but smaller and more strategic. Rolling out the red carpet with Silicon Dragon in Beverly Hills to talk trends were Sony Music, Mattel, Toutiao, Alibaba, DMG, Dick Clark Productions, Fanstang, HBO, Legacy Media, East West Bank, KPMG, co-host Nixon Peabody + more! Stay tuned!