Where Was The Wow At CES? China!

Where Was The Wow?

Baidu imageThere wasn’t much new or wow at this year’s CES — at least if you don’t count all the new AI-empowered refrigerators, toasters and toilets plus the black-out moments at the convention hall. Makes you wonder about the future of tech and all those electricity-sucking gadgets. But Baidu, Alibaba and other of China’s tech titans were in the spotlight.
Like last year, one-third of the exhibitors at CES were from China!

Hans, titer cropThings were bright at Silicon Dragon’s Happy Hour at CES 2018, where VCs and entrepreneurs mixed for networking, media interviews, a fireside-style chat with Hans Tung of GGV Capital, and a welcome by Nevada state treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Dan Schwartz.
Check out Silicon Dragon livestream at our Facebook page. See more pix at  Silicon Dragon siteHans TungRebecca Fannin, Anna Fang and Wei Jiang of ZhenFund and Sophia Xu of Vipkid. 

 Notable at CES was Baidu’s splashy event where its new line of smart hardware products AI and an autonomous driving platform were launched. What most impressed me were such comments from Baidu execs as: “innovating at China speed.” and
Innovating for the world.” It was a little Steve Jobs-like.

Monster, R, croppedSilicon Dragon enjoyed an impromptu meeting with Monster CEO Noel Lee at Huawei’s press event. I got to hear about Monster’s deal with Huawei to bring improved sounds to its new cellphones.

Taiwan startups also had a good showing at CES and unveiled breakthroughs in smart devices and IoT with a spotlight on three startups:  AEON MotorGeosat and Taiwan Main Orthopedics.

Ali at CES It was interesting to see Alibaba’s giant tent featuring logistics and design services, right at CES and emphasizing some of its core services. Seemed smart! 

 26 Observations about CES 2018
A write-up by HAX partner Benjamin Joffe tells what you missed at CES this year. No dominant theme, pro-looking booths, more B2B and sophisticated, high quality exhibits by Chinese companies – a big difference from years past when shoddy China booths were relegated to back rows.  Read spotting CES.

Alibaba is reportedly buying a $3 billion stake in Chinese-bike-sharing startup Ofo from GSR Ventures in a deal valuing Ofo at $10 billion. It looks like a full exit for GSR, and a solid return for partner Allen Zhu who did Ofo’s series A financing in 2016. This new mega investment comes after Ofo raised $700 million in mid-2017 from  Alibaba and Chinese ride-sharing service Didi Chuxing and others

Chinese social trip planning site Mafengwo has raised $133 million in series D financing from General AtlanticTemasekYuantai Investment and Hopu. Prior investors Capital TodayQiming Venture Partners and Hillhouse Capital also pitched in.

 China’s major e-commerce JD.com is looking to bulk up its logistics business with a $2 billion fund raise. Hillhouse Capital and Sequoia Capital China are reportedly in as investors. The logistics business is also possibly being readied for an IPO overseas, following JD’s public debut on Nasdaq in 2015.

MelanieSequoia Capital China has funded Australian design startup Canva with $40 million in a deal valuation in the unicorn sphere deal.  The startup, which Silicon Dragon featured at a Sydney event in 2013 (!) and has covered regularly, becomes Australia’s second tech unicorn, after Atlassian, which we also spotlit very early on.  It was 2013 that Rick Baker of Blackbird Ventures first invested in Canva, which prides itself on being easier to use than design products from Adobe or Microsoft.

A partner of China’s smartphone + plus maker Xiaomi, Huami Corp.,  which is in the smart wearable space, has filed for a $150 million IPO on Nasdaq.

Top 10 Early Stage Investors in All of 2017
1.@Accel 2. @GreycroftVC 3. @GVTeam 4. @BessemerVP
5. @GGVCapital 6. @500Startups 7. @a16z 8. @lightspeedvp
9. @IntelCapital 10. @IndexVentures

The list is notable for some China-leaning investors, from Silicon Valley. See full Q4 2017 Global Report, Crunchbase

Chinese workers abandon Silicon Valley for riches back home. An exodus triggered by abundant capital, growing innovation and flourishing career opportunities.
Read The Next Silicon Valley is China.

LimeBikesLimeBike arrived in my Bay Area neighborhood over the weekend – good timing for Silicon Dragon’s nearby event in San Mateo, Jan 18. Co-founder Brad Bao is speaking about the new e-bikes and the journey at this Chinese-style bike-sharing startup funded by DCM and Andressen Horowitz.