China Tech Newsletter – May 12, 2015

Source:iiMedia Research
Source:iiMedia Research

About 60% of Chinese mobile users downloaded apps from independent app stores, such as Qihoo’s 360 Mobile Assistant, Tencent’s MyApp and Baidu’s, in the first quarter of 2015, according to the latest report by mobile market research firm iiMedia Research. (report in Chinese)

Increasingly more users download apps through stores preloaded in brand smartphones such as Xiaomi’s and Huawei’s. Apart from app stores, app downloads were mainly through mobile browsers like UC Web, mobile payments app like Alipay Wallet or search services.


4G phone shipments in April increased 470% year-over-year to 38 million, according to the latest report by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology. 3G phone shipments decreased by 92% year-over-year to 2.44 million. (full report in Chinese)


Yunmanman, mobile app developer aiming to connect truck drivers and suppliers, announced Series B round of financing led by Sequoia Capital and joined by returning investor Lightspeed China Partners. (via iyiou.com)

Its competitors include Eunke, which announced Series B funding earlier this month, and oTMS, which raised US$6 million in Series A round of funding in late 2014.


YY reports first quarter earnings. Online dating revenue saw a 1700% year-over-year increase that accounts for 11% of its total revenues. Paying users were 192,000 and ARPU was about US$110. A separate mobile app for dating will launch later this year, according to the management.

Live game broadcasting made RMB90 million (about US$15m) in loss in the quarter. The company planned to invest RMB700 million (about US$113m) into the business this year and expects it to generate RMB300 million (about US$48m) in revenue by year end.

Its own online education platform and the newly acquired ed-tech startups contributed 2% of the total revenues. Revenues from online music business and gaming increased 54% and 29% year-over-year, respectively. Total revenues grew 73% year-over-year.


Aliyun, Alibaba’s Cloud computing arm, will establish a joint venture with Dubai-based Meraas Holding to provide system integration services to private companies and government institutions in the MENA region.


Zhejiang Cainiao Supply Chain Management Co., Alibaba’s logistics affiliate, has launched a three-hour delivery service. It is currently available with five pharmacies on its Tmall marketplace in five cities and plans to expand to 19 cities by year end.


Apple is in talks with Alibaba Group and local banks on bringing Apply Pay to China.


51Job reports first quarter results.

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China Tech Newsletter – May 9-11, 2015

The Logo of Xiaomi Finance
The Logo of Xiaomi Finance

Xiaomi users now are able to purchase financial products provided by third-party financial institutions through Xiaomi Finance, a mobile app developed by the smart device maker Xiaomi.

The first offering on the app is Xiaomi Huoqibao (Huoqi means “current deposit”), a money market fund similar to Yu’ebao provided by Alibaba’s finance arm. The Xiaomi Huoqibao fund is managed by Tiantian Mutual Funds (our translation) of E Fund Management Co., Ltd.

Apart from adding more financial products for users to purchase, Xiaomi Finance will provide loans to consumers and develop a user data-based credit scoring system, according to the company. But Xiaomi hasn’t got a license for consumer credit scoring operations yet. Currently only two internet companies, Alibaba’s Ant Financial Services Group and Tencent, have obtained a license and launched their credit scoring services.

Xiaomi led a round of investment in peer-to-peer lending site Jimubox in 2014. It’s unknown when or whether Jimubox’s offerings will be on Xiaomi Finance platform.

A number of big Chinese internet companies have established online platforms selling financial products or services by partnering with traditional financial institutions that include Alibaba’s Ant Financial Services Group, Tencent, Baidu, Sina, and 58.com.


Tencent has invested RMB50 million (about US$8m) for a 7% stake in Huan.tv, developer of smart TV software solutions, whose clients include Chinese TV manufacturers, set-top box makers and telecom operators.

The company made RMB60.9 million (about US$10m) in revenues in 2014. A partnership with game engine developer Unity announced earlier in February aimed to introduce more games into the app platform of its smart TV solution.

Shareholders in Huan.tv also include electronics manufacturer TCL (its largest shareholder) and TV maker Changhong.


Tencent has had a 20% stake in Future TV Co., Ltd., the online television content business of the state-owned China Network Television (CNTV), according to an exclusive report by Jiemian.com.

Only seven companies or organizations, including CNTV, are allowed by Chinese authorities to supply online television content. Alibaba Group has reached partnership with another license holder WASU (Alibaba’s chairman Jack Ma is investor in WASU).


TAL Education Group (NYSE:XRS) has acquired Gaokaopai.com, an online information and advisory service for high school students on finding a college match. TAL’s own news site on college selection will be merged into Gaokaopai. Financial terms were not disclosed.


TAL Education Group has recently also invested in the startup behind Qingqing Private Tutor (our translation), a mobile app connecting K-12 students with private tutors. Last month Qingqing announced US$15 million Series B round of funding led by Sequoia Capital and joined by returning investors IDG Capital Partners and TBP.

Features of the app include locating registered tutors based on distance, tutoring session scheduling, rating tutors, among others. It’s currently only available in two cities, Shanghai and Guangzhou.


Miaozhen Systems,  a marketing tech solution provider, announces US$50 million in Series D round of funding from Primavera Capital. Founded in 2006, the company claims to be powering P&G, Microsoft, Volkswagen, L’Oreal, Coca-Cola, YUM!,Yili, Mengniu, Suning and Midea in digital marketing.


Application performance management (APM) solution provider OneAPM announced RMB165 million (about US$27m) Series C round of funding led by Chengwei Capital and joined by Matrix Partners China and Qiming Ventures. The company’s service was launched in July 2014.


 

Tim Cook is in Beijing announcing new environmental initiatives in China.

China Tech Newsletter – May 8, 2015

JD Milk Tea Shop (image credit: Jfdaily.com)
JD Milk Tea Shop (image credit: Jfdaily.com)

JD.com (NASDAQ:JD) reports first quarter results. The online retailer has led a US$500 million investment in online package tour provider Tuniu (NASDAQ: TOUR).

The company also launched today a “JD Milk Tea” shop where smart devices from the JD+ hardware incubation program or partner products are demonstrated. It’s on the InnoWay in Beijing the Chinese premier Li Keqiang visited yesterday.


Meipai, the short-video sharing app launched by Meitu one year ago, has had 140 million users, with 14 million being daily active.

The app sees some one million video clips uploaded each day and 240 million daily video views.


58.com Inc. launches 58 Qianbao (“money locker”), an online marketplace for financial products provided by financial institutions including banks, mutual funds, and peer-to-peer lending sites.

A number of Chinese internet companies, including Alibaba’s Ant Financial, Tencent, Baidu and Weibo, have established online platforms that sell financial products from traditional financial institutions.


An internal email to all employees at ChinaHR confirms that 58.com has acquired the online recruitment service. Financial terms were not disclosed. (via Sina Tech)


Yihao Zhuanche, the UberX-like rideshare service of Didi-Kuaidi, launches a financial product by partnering with Dianrong, the Shanghai-based peer-to-peer lending site founded by Lending Club co-founder Soul Htite.

Users of the rideshare app have to register with Dianrong to buy the product. Similar to Yu’ebao of Alipay, users are able to make payments for rides with the balance in their Dianrong accounts.


BitAuto reports first quarter earnings.

China Tech Newsletter – May 7, 2015

Drone maker DJI has raised US$75 million funding from Accel Partner. DJI drones now ship to more than 100 countries.

Founded in 2006, DJI has had more than 3,000 employees at its headquarters in Shenzhen, China and offices in the U.S., Germany, Japan and the Netherlands.


Telehealth startup Chunyu has set up 25 clinics in five Chinese cities, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Wuhan, offering clinic space as well as facilities to registered doctors on its telemedicine platform. The company’s plan is to set up some 300 clinics in 50 large and midsized cities by year end.

Chunyu charges an annual subscription fee for the online plus offline service, and the clinics will supply some drugs covered by the public medical insurance plans.


Zhai.me, a marketplace for mini-groceries operated from college dorms, announces Series A+ round of funding from Bertelsmann Asia Investments and installment loans provider Fenqile. Launched in December 2014, the company announced Series A funding from Vertex Venture Holdings Ltd. and angel investment earlier in March. (via Lieyunwang.com)

Zhai.me enables college students to open online mini-stores to sell goods to their schoolmates. The company has developed store management software and supplies goods to store owners. The newly introduced investor Fenqile will offer RMB3,000 (about US$480) in an interest-free loan to help new stores get up and running.

The startup’s competitors include 59store, which also announced Series A funding in March.


58.com Inc. is reportedly acquiring employment website ChinaHR.com, which was fully acquired by Monster in 2008 and then sold to Myjob for US$30 million in 2013. (via Sina Finance)


Dianping, the leading ratings and reviews service, has added on-demand lifestyle service platform, too. Meituan, Dianping’s competitor in group-buying, and 58.com, the leading local listing site, both bet big on it.

Dianping’s currently covers laundry, house cleaning, massage and manicure, and will expand to beauty treatment, car maintenance, chef and chauffeur services.


Alibaba Group reports first quarter results and names new CEO. Daniel Zhang, current COO, will replace Jonathan Lu as CEO.


China’s Premier Li Keqiang visited the InnoWay, a street full of incubators, startups, tech media companies and startup-themed cafes in “China’s Silicon Valley”, Zhongguancun.

The Chinese government has recently unveiled series of measures to boost employment through entrepreneurship. A directive the central government issued on May 1st encourages technology professionals at state-owned companies or organizations to found or work for startups.They are allowed to leave their current jobs that their positions will be kept for up to three years.

China Tech Newsletter – May 6, 2015

Xiaominote
image credit: Xiaomi

Xiaomi Note Pro, a high-end addition to Xiaomi Note series, is so far the highest priced Xiaomi phone that will be sold at RMB2999 (about US$480). It will go on sale on May 12 at Mi Home stores and on Xiaomi’s online store in China.


NubiaZ9

Smartphone maker Nubia launches its new flagship smartphone Z9, which is equipped with high-end specs and a “bezel-less” display.

It comes in three models that are priced a RMB3499 (about US$560), RMB3999 (about RMB640) and RMB4499 (about US$720).


 

image credit: QiKU
image credit: QiKU

The joint venture established by Qihoo 360 (NYSE:QIHU) and smartphone maker Coolpad (02369. HK) in late 2014 unveils its smartphone brand: QiKU.

The first batch of QiKU phones will come in three models. Any pre-installed apps in QiKU phones including Qihoo’s own flagship security app would be uninstallable without rooting, according to Zhou Hongyi, CEO of Qihoo 360 (Mr. Zhou’s team have been notorious for making their previous desktop internet services uninstallable). Mr. Zhou also said their phones would be sold at cost.


Palcw, a business-facing auto financing platform under the leading Chinese insurer Ping An, announces Series A round of financing from Zhong Hui Guo Chuang and Zhong Xing Guo Tou. (via Chinanews.com)

Palcw connects investors with auto dealers, car rental companies or other car-related services in need of financing. The company has also launched two investment funds, by partnering with big auto companies and Didi (transport app developer), respectively, that are sold online.

More than 40 auto dealers have successfully raised financing from more than 2400 investors through the platform since its launch in September 2014, according to the company.


Rideshare app Dida Pinche announced Series C round of funding led by China Renaissance Capital Investment and joined by TBP, IDG Capital Partners and Yiche. The nine-month-old startup said their Series A investment was from IDG Capital Partners and Series B from Yiche.

There are about two dozen rideshare apps in China. The well-funded include Tiantian Yongche (funded by Sequoia Capital, Baidu and Innovation Works) and 51yongche (backed by Shunwei Capital Partners, Sequoia Capital, Baidu and Innovation Works).

Didi, the leading transport app developer, has also recently launched ridesharing service Didi Shunfengche.


Ai Wu Ji Wu, an online marketplace for homes for rent and sale, announces US$120 million in Series D financing led by GGV Capital and Morningside Ventures, and joined by Shunwei Capital Partners and Banyan Capital.

Starting with an online platform for rental homes in June 2014, the platform added a channel for used homes for sale earlier this year. Its services currently only available in the four first-tier cities, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou.


1688.com, the marketplace for domestic wholesale trade of Alibaba Group, has added a new platform for foreign goods. After Chinese customers place orders online, 1688 and Taobao Partners, third-party fulfilment services, will help import the goods.

The first foreign wholesalers that have signed up are from Spain. More merchants from Italy and South Korea will get on board soon, according to the company.


Uber’s office in Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan Province, was raided today. (via Zhibo Chengdu at Weibo) Its Guangzhou office was raided by transport officials last week.


Baozun, Alibaba-backed e-commerce solution provider that has filed for IPO on the NASDAQ, updated its new SEC filing to reflect its most recent financials for the first quarter of 2015.

baozun


Autohome Inc. (NYSE:ATHM) reports first quarter 2015 earnings.

China Tech Newsletter – May 5, 2015

Leshi Internet Information & Technology Corp. (300104.SZ), or LeTV, announced late last evening that its stake in LeTV Sports Culture Develop (Beijing) Co., Ltd., which provides sports streaming service and other sports-related products, would be lowered to below 15% after introducing strategic investors.

Bloomberg reported yesterday that LeTV Sports had raised more than US$100 million at a valuation of about US$450 million. This round of financing is reportedly led by Wanda Group or a venture capital firm affiliated to it.

LeTV announced today the “smart” bicycle under development would be launched in July.


It’s been a year since the launch of Zhao Cai Bao, the online marketplace for financial products and services of Alibaba’s finance arm. The total sales through the platform have reached RMB107 billion (about US$17b). The platform’s main target audiences are individuals and SMEs.


eDaijia, on-demand chauffeur service, announced that it has raised US$100 million in Series D round of funding at a valuation of US$800 million. This round was led by Warburg Pincus and participated by Matrix Partners China and Lightspeed China Partners.

Some 75,000 drivers, who have passed a test and received training from eDaijia, in about 130 Chinese cities have signed up, according to the company.


Used car marketplace Che101 has raised US$10 million in Series A funding led by Super Capital and joined by Lightspeed China Partners.

Established in 2013 and starting from providing dealers with used car information packages, Che101 began selling used cars directly to consumers from early this year. Its services currently are only available in two cities, Beijing and Chengdu. The company plans to expand to 20 cities by year end.


Online fresh produce supplier Fields has sold 54.5% stake to Sun Art Retail Group Ltd. (06808.HK). Fields was established in 2009 in Shanghai and raised US$5 million Series A funding led by Clearvue Partners in 2013.

Other notable fresh produce sites in China include TootooYummy77 (funded by Amazon), Benlai and SFbest (established by logistics giant S.F. Express).


Chinese online advertising network Panshi, or Adyun, claimed to have raised US$200 million in Series B round of funding led by NewMargin Ventures and joined by JD Capital, WI Harper, Refine Capital and Fang Fund. Panshi received a Series A funding of US$20 million from NewMargin Ventures in 2010, according to previous media reports.

China Tech Newsletter – May 1- 4, 2015

TencentOS for Smart Watch
The TencentOS for Smartwatch (image credit: Digi.tech.qq.com)

Several photos of the TencentOS for smartwatch were unveiled. The custom version of Android Wear developed by Tencent, unsurprisingly, is pre-loaded with WeChat, Tencent’s flagship mobile app.

TencentOS (TOS), unveiled earlier in January, isn’t Tencent’s first effort on custom Android system. This time the Chinese social networking giant will make it available with the emerging categories of smart devices besides smartphones.


TAL Education Group (NYSE:XRS) launches Lewaijiao.com that connects English tutors with Chinese students in grades 3 – 8. Apart from one-on-one online courses, there’re also offline classes or activities that will take place at TAL’s training centers. The first tutors Lewaijiao has hired are from the Philippines.


Zhimi, English learning app developer, announces Pre-A round of funding led by Dragonrise Capital and joined by its exiting investor Shunwei Capital Partners. (via Jmdedu.com)

The company has developed two apps, a vocabulary builder for a variety of English tests and the other for improving English listening skills.


Eunke, mobile logistics solution developer, claims to have raised US$126 million in Series B round of funding. Founded in April 2014, the company raised angel investment from ZhenFund and US$3 million in Series A from IDG Capital Partners later in the year. (via Lieyunwang)

Eunke has developed two mobile apps for suppliers and drivers, respectively.

China’s logistics market is highly fragmented that there’re millions of small logistics companies and drivers.


Beijing Thunisoft Co., Ltd. (300271.SZ), formerly Tsinghua Unisplendour, announced to acquire Wanhu for RMB320 million (about US$52m) and the remaining 49% stake in Thunisoft Credit (Beijing) Software Co., Ltd. for RMB184 million (about US$30m).

Thunisoft Credit Software, formerly Hangyu Jinxin, supplies software solutions to local food safety authorities and administrations for industry and commerce. Founded in 2007, Hangyu Jinxin became majority-owned subsidiary of Thunisoft in 2012 and was renamed Thunisoft Credit Software in 2014. The company recorded total revenues of RMB68 million (about US$11m) with RMB7 million (about US$1m) in profit in 2014.

Wanhu, founded in 1998, develops websites and collaboration software for businesses and organizations. The company made RMB70 million (roughly US$11m) in total revenue and RMB3.7 million (about US$0.6m) in profit in 2014.


Beijing Orient National Communication Science & Technology Co., Ltd. (BONC), business analytics software solution provider, has acquired UK-headquartered Cotopaxi Ltd., which provides energy and carbon reduction solutions.