Venture Trends: A Decided Tilt To Asia

Venture Trends: Asia Investment Gains On U.S.
It’s perhaps no surprise that Asia is gaining on the U.S. as the largest source of  venture capital, more than doubling to $70.8 billion in 2017 compared with the U.S. at a 17% gain to $71.9 billion.
Globally, investment surged 50% to $164 billion, to a post-2000 record, driven largely by Asia’s gains, according to the latest PwC /CBI Insights report.
China accounted for four of the six largest global deals of 2017: ride sharing service Didi Chuxing at $4 billion, China Internet Plus (or the merged groups deals sites Meituan-Dianping) at $4 billion, bike-sharing startup Ofo at $1 billion, and electric car startup Nio at $1 billion.
A separate year-end VC survey by KPMG breaks out China figures and notes that China venture capital investment rose 15% last year to more than $40 billion.
What’s hot in China tech is artificial intelligence, autotech and enterprise services. Investment in Israeli startups, meanwhile (and since we’ll be in Tel Aviv next week), continues to grow as well, up 9% to $5.24 billion, according to IVC Research Center.
For comparison, note that Europe saw a 40 percent rise in financing to $17.6 billion.
Chalk one up for the Startup Nation!

DEALS
In a reflection of the fast growth in the long-term apartment rental market in China, service provider Ziroom has raised $622 million A financing that makes it one of those highly valued unicorns. Investors in the real estate company were private equity investor Warburg Pincus, VC Sequoia Capital China and social media company Tencent.

PonySilicon Valley-based autonomous vehicle startup Pony.ai has lured in $112 million, first round led by China-focused VC funds Morningside Venture Capital and Legend Capital, along with earlier investor Sequoia China.  A team of ex-Google and Baidu engineers used their knowhow to form Pony.ai in late 2016. Plans are to roll out a fleet of autonomous cars in Guangzhou, site of the startup’s Chinese base.

Softbank‘s Vision Fund is investing $560 million in online car deals Auto1 in Berlin. It’s the first European deal for the Japanese conglomerate’s mega fund.

Three Draper Venture Network funds joined forces to invest $75 million in blockchain security company Ledger, in a Series B round.

FUNDS
Former Cisco chairman John Chambers has launched a self-funded venture fund from Palo Alto focused on Iot, digital communications, security and agriculture. Given his role at the huge global telecommunications firm, wonder how many dollars will go toward Asia.

NOTEWORTHY
Top Silicon Valley venture capitalist Michael Moritz, who spearheaded Sequoia Capital‘s outreach to China and India and has been behind some of the Valley’s most successful brands, sounds off in Vanity Fair about how the U.S. risks losing its superpower status to China in this era of Trump.
In the Financial Times, Moritz aired that he believes the U.S. would be wise to follow China’s lead, as least when it comes to work ethic and speed of innovation.

The radical re-wiring of Europe’s tech ecosystem.
Startup Grind

China is escalating its restrictions on cryptocurrency trading, focusing on online platforms and mobile apps that provide exchange-like services, reports Bloomberg.