In last week’s VC news, direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform Cider bags $130 million for brand building, Xiaomi backs AI company Studio 51, Didi rival Caocao rakes in a massive $589 million round, while TikTok owner ByteDance leads a $31 million round for healthcare services platform Haoxinqing.
Chinese direct-to-consumer e-commerce firm Cider raises Series B round led by DST Global
Cider, a Chinese direct-to-consumer (DTC) e-commerce platform, announced Thursday that it had completed B-round financing worth $130 million, led by DST Global and followed by Greenoaks Capital and A16Z. Cider’s current valuation is over $1 billion, making it one of the fastest-growing unicorn companies in the world.
Cider said that this round of financing will be used for brand building, R&D of its systems and overseas business expansion. In terms of strategic layout, the firm said that it will continue to increase investment in its brand and technology by upgrading traditional manufacturing methods with AI, big data and algorithms. Cider aims to build intelligent factories and upgrade cross-border clothing e-commerce services.
This is Cider’s fourth round of financing in the last year. In September 2020, Cider received nearly $10 million in angel funding, led by A16Z and IDG Capital, while Dexun Investment, Fengrui Capital and Chuxin Capital later followed the investment. At the end of 2020, Heyu Capital led the Pre-A round of financing. In May 2021, Cider announced the completion of Round A financing, led by DST Global and A16Z, followed by IDG Capital and Decent Capital.
Established in May 2020, Cider is a Chinese DTC e-commerce platform focusing on overseas markets. Its products are mainly low-priced and popular women’s clothing fashions. Cider has accumulated one billion impressions on social media around the world, covering consumers from more than 100 countries, and has more than 2 million followers from around the world. At present, the firm has offices in Guangzhou, Beijing and Los Angeles, with branches located in New York, London, Seoul and Brisbane.
AI firm Studio 51 closes 100 million yuan round led by Xiaomi
According to a Monday report by 36Kr, Studio 51, an intelligent technology company jointly driven by AI, game engine and visual effect technology, received almost 100 million yuan ($15 million) in a financing round led by Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi.
Xiaomi was followed by 37 Interactive Entertainment and its existing shareholder Shanghai Trust Bridge Partners Management Co., Ltd. This round of funding will be mainly used for investment in product R&D and to strengthen business development.
At present, the company has reached agreements with Youku, Thunder Stone, Baidu Video, Fun TV, Renren Video and HanjuTV.Net to become their exclusive platform for the advertising service. It has also established partnerships with the likes of iQiyi, Tencent Video and others.
Jiang Wen, managing director of the Strategic Investment Department of Xiaomi, said, “Video technology has been a long-term focus area for our company’s strategic investment. Studio 51 has industry-leading advancing technology and an innovative business model in the field of intelligent video advertising.”
About Studio 51
Studio 51 is positioned as a global video technology engine company. After three years of R&D, the company has successfully built NEURO, a video commercial SAAS platform. This platform can be used to create a virtual advertising space from video content, while utilizing automatic real-time rendering and the accurate implementation of video advertisements. The platform can also deliver original videos with embedded advertisements by virtue of AI, visual effects engines and other technologies.
Didi rival Caocao rakes in $589 million in latest financing round
Caocao Chuxing, the ride-hailing arm of automaker Geely, announced the completion of Round B financing worth 3.8 billion yuan ($589 million) on Monday, which will be used for the improvement of services for drivers and passengers, as well as the R&D and application of new technologies.
Caocao Chuxing’s investors include Suzhou Xiangcheng Financial Holding (Group) Co., LTD., Suzhou High-Speed Railway New City State-Owned Assets Holding (Group) Co., LTD., Suzhou Urban Construction Investment and Development Co., LTD., ABC International Investment (Suzhou) Co., LTD., and Dongwu Innovation Asset Management Co., LTD.
This financing is not only the first domestic equity investment for a ride-hailing company this year, but also the largest financing for a ride-hailing company in China since 2020. It indicates that investors might have identified new opportunities in this space, possibly due to the Cyberspace Administration of China’s cybersecurity recent investigation into ride-hailing giant Didi.
“The fresh funds will also help us to step up efforts in key work such as technology research and development, business expansion, service quality improvement and driver protection, so as to further enhance our competitiveness,” said Gong Xin, CEO of Caocao Chuxing.
Established in 2015, Caocao Chuxing provides ride-hailing services in 62 cities across China, with more than 60 million registered users, more than 13.5 million monthly service users, and 3 million registered drivers.
ByteDance leads $31m round in healthcare firm Haoxinqing
Chinese online healthcare services platform Haoxinqing, focusing on central nervous system and mental health research, has reportedly secured 200 million yuan ($31 million) in its Series C round of financing. The round was led by TikTok owner ByteDance with notable healthcare investor Fosun Health, life science and healthcare-focused Decheng Capital, PE firm Richen Capital and other investors also joining in.
Existing shareholders 6 Dimensions Capital and Korea Investment Partners (KIP) also raised their stakes in the company during the latest round. Chinese investment bank WinX Capital, the startup’s financial advisor, announced the deal via a WeChat post on Tuesday.
Founded in 2015, Haoxinqing provides users with online and offline mental health solutions covering consulting, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders through a mobile app, as well as brick-and-mortar clinics.