News Wrap: Tianji Shuts Down, 4 Asian Startups Bulk Up
Indian online grocery portal PepperTap closed $4 million in funding from InnoVen Capital as part of a $40 million Series B funding round that it began raising in October 2014, bringing its total funding to $51 million. In addition to InnoVen, investors in the latest round include SnapDeal, Sequoia India, SAIF Partners and JAFCO Asia.
Concurrently, PepperTap acquired Bangalore-based Jiffstore, a hyperlocal grocery marketplace, for an undisclosed amount, to boost in operations in Bangalore and spin off into a new entity. Plans for the new funding are to beef up customer acquisition and back-end operations. Research estimates the current market opportunity of the hyperlocal space in India at about $16 billion.
Dada, a Chinese mobile app that connects delivery workers with short-distance delivery jobs, closed a $300 million Series D investment from DST Global, Sequoia Capital (also a Series A investor) and other undisclosed investors. Based in Shanghai, Dada claims 800,000 registered and verified delivery workers across 40 Chinese cities. Its logistics services are used by other startups, including Baidu’s popular food delivery mobile app Ele.me.
China’s Tianji, owned by Viadeo, the French rival to LinkedIn, announced plans to exit China and has subsequently shut down the site. The surprise move was motivated by Viadeo’s desire to focus on users in Europe, and followed a failure by the firm to find a suitable Chinese investor or partner to provide Tianji with necessary resources to grow. The French firm had acquired Tianji in 2007 to access the world’s biggest internet market, but has since decided that the mobile revolution and changing usage patterns have made remaining competitive in China a challenge.
Tianji.com’s 25 million China-based users, who were notified via a message on the website, have seen all of their data deleted. The departure speaks to the success of LinkedIn China, which claims 13 million users and has experimented with growth tactics including heavy localization efforts and partnerships with the likes of Sequoia China.
Seoul-based Buzzvil, a mobile lock screen ad platform, has closed an $11 million Series B round from joint investors LB Investment, KTB Network, POSCO Ventures, Company K Partners and ES Investment. This is the startup’s second investment following a $3.4 million Series A from SoftBank in December 2013.
Buzzvil, similar to U.S.-based Locket which was acquired by mobile shopping app Wish in mid-2015, monetizes the concept of using smartphone lock screens to connect advertisers and consumers. Honeyscreen, its flagship mobile app, claims more than 3 million users in South Korea. With the new funds, Buzzvil plans to expand its lock screen platform business, add to its team, create more partnerships, and step up international expansion.
Chinese outbound travel site Fxtrip closed a $10 million Series B, led by Shanghai Zhongwei Venture Capital and with involvement by its Series A investor, Xiaomi co-founder Lei Jun’s Shunwei Capital. The site, founded in September 2013 in Beijing, targets young women and positions itself as a value-add boutique agency, with higher quality travel choices as compared with other online travel firms.
The 100-person startup provides tour packages focusing on a few select destinations, in an effort to ensure quality and cut costs. The new funds are earmarked for increasing destination options (at the pace of one a month), expanding distribution channels, and bulking up marketing, which has been mostly word-of-mouth.
In China, the site competes with several established rivals including Tuniu Travel, backed by e-commerce giant JD.com. Fxtrip.com’s founder and CEO, Wang Zhenhua, was previously the vice president of Ganji.com, the second-biggest classifieds site in China.