2018 Year In Review: Silicon Dragon Movers And Shakers

cover_new, Silicon Dragon dragonAs the year races toward an end, it’s time for my 2018 Year in Review of the biggest happenings in Sino-US tech innovation and venture capital. So here’s my top news picks for  funds, startups, IPOs, acquisitions, innovations, deal makers, flops and deal breakers. Read on or check out my Forbes column here.

Most impactful startup financing: China’s artificial intelligence startup Sensetime raises a total of $1.6 billion, most recently $600 million at a valuation of $4.5 billion led by Alibaba with Singapore’s Temasek.

Top VC fund raising: Qiming Venture Partners pulls in $1.3 billion for three new funds bringing its capital to more than $4 billion across 12 funds, including a new healthcare-focused fund in the U.S.

 Top VC: Sequoia Capital China’s Neil Shen moves into the top rank of the Forbes annual list of best-performing VCs,  becoming the first China-based venture investor to reach this pinnacle.

Top M&A deals: China’s on-demand e-commerce service Meituan-Dianping acquires bike-sharing startup Mobike for $2.7 billion. Second place: Singapore-based regional leader Grab acquires Uber in Southeast Asia and Uber in turn picks up a 27.5 percent stake in Grab.

Top Unicorn Mover: ByteDance, maker of China’s popular apps Toutiao for news aggregation and TikTok for short video streaming, passes Uber to take first place as  world’s most valuable unicorn at $75 billion based on its most recent financing of $3 billion from Softbank, KKR and General Atlantic.Top Business Model Innovations: WeChat mini-programs that bundle in shopping, gaming and service apps with chats takes off quickly, reaching 200 million daily active users and positioning WeChat in e-commerce. Runner-up: Alibaba’s new Hema stores in China bring digital efficiencies into supermarkets with cashless check-outs and speedy deliveries — ahead of Amazon.

Most Impactful IPO: China’s social commerce upstart Pinduoduo scores a $1.6 billion initial public offering on Nasdaq after scaling up its innovative business model to $23 billion in just three years.

Biggest IPO: China’s smartphone plus maker Xiaomi scores with a $4.72 billion IPO in Hong Kong at a valuation of $54 billion although less than anticipated. Runner-up: Tencent-backed Meituan  raises $4.2 billion in a Hong Kong IPO at valuation of $52 billion.

Top Product PartnershipBaidu teams up with Volvo to make self-driving electric vehicles for China.

Top Startup Stumble: China’s Ofo retreats from the dockless bike-sharing battle, pulling out of most U.S. cities and selling its India operation to Accel and Sequoia-backed scooter-sharing startup Bounce in India.

Top Startup Disappointment: Drone maker eHang files for bankruptcy as it pursues dream of a passenger-carrying helicopter drone.

Least Profitable Startup: Meituan has been losing money since its inception as it chases growth.

Best New Tech BookAI Superpowers by Sinovation Ventures’ Kai-Fu Lee

Best New China Documentary: People’s Republic of Desire

Top New China Hotel: Sukothai’s first luxury hotel in China, in the center of Shanghai, bringing Thai culture and food from its beloved Bangkok location

Top VC Promotions: Venture capitalist and China watcher Connie Chan of VC firm Andreessen Horowitz is promoted to general partner. B2B investor Sarah Guo moves up to partner at Greylock Partners.

Top VC Departure: Venture capitalist and Internet analyst Mary Meeker leaves Kleiner Perkins to start her own investment fund.