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Photo credit: HelloBike

Alibaba and Tencent both go in on Little Red Book, Binance earmarks US$1 billion-worth of its own tokens for blockchain investments, and the bike-sharing space welcomes its latest billion-dollar player.

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Hellobike becomes the world’s third bike-sharing unicorn with US$321 million Ant Financial investment (China). Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial has pumped capital into the bike-sharing app, giving it an estimated post-money valuation of US$1.47 billion. Ant also backed Hellobike’s US$700 million fundraise in April, while Alibaba is a shareholder in fellow bike-sharing unicorn Ofo. Mobike, the third billion-dollar-plus rival in the space, was acquired by Meituan-Dianping earlier this year and had previously been backed by Tencent. (China Money Network)

Blockchain and cryptocurrencies

Binance establishes US$1 billion blockchain fund (China). The fund, launched by Binance’s venture builder Binance Lab, will back blockchain-related projects. It will exclusively invest using the cryptocurrency exchange’s own BNB tokens. Binance is seeking to work with 20 fund management partners, who should be long-term investors with faith in cryptocurrency and blockchain, and handing over US$100 million in assets. Binace Lab also revealed that a blockchain-based ride-hailing project developed by Chen Weixing – the founder of Kuaidi Dache, which merged with Didi Chuxing in 2015 – will be its first incubation project. (China Money Network)

Pioneering Ethereum wallet gets US$10 million backing (China). ImToken raised the funds in a series A round led by IDG Capital. The startup claims to be the world’s biggest – and possibly oldest – Ethereum-based crypto wallet, having launched in 2016 prior to wide scale adoption of the Ethereum blockchain as the basis for new cryptocurrency projects. Users have deposited tokens worth US$35 billion with imToken, compared to the US$20 billion held in US rival Coinbase. (Bloomberg)

Ecommerce

Mao's Little Red Book

Second-hand copies of Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book – Xiaohongshu’s namesake – on sale in Shanghai. / Photo credit: Shankar S

Alibaba leads US$300 million investment in Xiaohongshu, Tencent joins in (China). Genesis Capital, GGV Capital, GSR Ventures, Tiantu Capital, ZhenFund, and Hong Kong businessman Adrian Cheng are among the other investors reported to have participated in the round. Xiaohongshu (meaning “Little Red Book” in Chinese, presumably as a nod to the tome penned by former paramount leader Mao Zedong) started out as a shopping tips app for overseas travelers, before morphing into a social lifestyle and ecommerce platform. (KrAsia)

Artificial intelligence

Kneron banks US$18 million in “series A1” round (China). The startup – based in Shenzhen, but with a presence in Taiwan and the US – secured the capital in a round led by Hong Kong’s Horizons Ventures. Kneron designs AI-driven software and hardware for smart home, surveillance, mobile device, and robotics applications. Examples of its solutions include emotion and behavior recognition software and a navigation software development kit. (DealStreetAsia)

Cinnamon nets US$9 million (Japan). The startup, which develops AI software aimed at enhancing workplace productivity, raised the mix of equity and debt funding from investors, including SBI Group, Sony, and several Japanese banks, among others. Cinnamon said it will hire talent and invest in research and development, with voice recognition technology among its priorities. Its main product is Flax Scanner, a tool that extracts information from hand-written and computerized documents. (DealStreetAsia)

Consumer tech

Personal mobile contact books on sale for as little as US$1.56 a pop (China). User data is being harvested from second-hand mobiles and sold on the black market, according to an investigation carried out by journalists. One merchant offered to sell hundreds of contacts from one mobile phone for US$1.56. (TechNode)

Fintech

FreeCharge co-founder Kunal Shah / Photo credit: Tech in Asia

FreeCharge co-founder raises US$30 million for new venture (India). Kunal Shah, who co-founded digital payments startup FreeCharge in 2010 and sold it to Flipkart for US$450 million five years later, has secured the investment for his new project. Sequoia Capital is said to be among the investors. Shah said, “I am dabbling with multiple ideas and have nothing concrete to talk about at this time.” (Livemint)

See: Previous Asia tech news roundups

This post Asia news roundup: Hellobike joins unicorn club, $1b Binance blockchain fund, and more appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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