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China: Podcast App Ximalaya, Cloud Startup Qiniu File For IPOs

Two major startups from China have newly filed for their respective IPOs on the US markets. They are Ximalaya , a popular podcast app in the country, and Qiniu , a cloud computing startup backed by investors including local e-commerce giant Alibaba. As required for foreign companies seeking to list their shares on the US markets, Ximalaya and Qiniu have filed their respective F-1 documents with the SEC. The F-1s provide strong insights into both companies' business with information not publicly disclosed before. Details Qiniu: Qiniu's F-1 document shows that of a company with fast-growing revenues over the past few years. It reported $166mn in revenue in 2020, up 100% year-over-year. Qiniu is slightly unprofitable, reporting a small net loss of $3mn in 2020.  For the three months ending March 31, 2021, the company reported $49mn in sales, up 100% year-over-year, and a $4mn loss. With fast-growing revenues and relatively small net losses as reported, Qiniu has strong business p

China's Luckin Coffee Gets $250M Investment After Fraud Fallout

Luckin Coffee, the once high-flying Chinese coffee chain startup that came crashing down on the heels of a major accounting fraud wherein it admitted faking revenue to the tune of over $300 million , appears to be attempting to bounce back even after its hefty troubles.  Luckin has said that it's secured a $250 million investment commitment from two Chinese private equity firms, Centurium Capital and Joy Capital, both of whom were existing shareholders of the company before committing the funding. Under their set terms, they'll purchase preferred shares of Luckin Coffee, which was delisted from the Nasdaq stock market last year and now trades over-the-counter. Centurium Capital will invest $240 million while Joy Capital is ponying up a much smaller $10 million. The new capital for Luckin is akin to a bailout that the company hopes to use to rebound its business.  Unsurprisingly, Luckin says that it'll use the new capital it just secured to help pay a hefty $180 million fin

TikTok Owner ByteDance Makes Big Gaming Purchase, Hires CFO

ByteDance Technologies, the high-flying Chinese technology startup that owns a suite of apps including the popular TikTok, has made a major gaming acquisition that is the company's biggest acquisition yet, paying a reported $4 billion to buy mobile game developer Moonton. Moonton is a Chinese mobile game studio that's best known for its multiplayer online battle arena game Mobile Legends: Bang Bang . It was founded just seven years ago and now has seen a big exit with a sale to ByteDance. Per publicly-known information, Moonton is known to have raised just a small amount of venture funding, making its reported $4 billion sale price very lucrative for its shareholders. Its sale signals ByteDance having big ambitions venturing into the gaming world. As it made a big gaming acquisition, ByteDance also announced the appointment of a new Chief Financial Officer poached from Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi. Shou Zi Chew, who served as Xiaomi's CFO from 2015 to 2020 will become B

Zhihu, "China's Quora", Files For US IPO

The latest Chinese tech company making a push to list on the US public markets is Zhihu, a popular Q&A website in China that's fondly referred to as the country's version of Quora, which is the leading Q&A site in the American market. Zhihu has submitted an F-1 filing  for an IPO to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as usual for foreign companies looking to list securities on a US stock exchange. That F-1 filing provides a peek into the company's business with information not publicly known before. Zhihu will sell American Depositary Shares to investors on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to become publicly-traded in the US. Three banks, namely Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, and J.P. Morgan are the underwriters for the company's imminent IPO. From its F-1 filing, it's indicated that Zhihu generated the equivalent of $207 million in revenue in 2020, double what it made in the previous year 2019. Though, the company isn't profitable, reporti

Taiwan's Foxconn To Build Cars For EV Company Fisker

After becoming a public company last year through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), electric carmaker Fisker has taken a bold and crucial step towards its planned manufacturing of electric cars with a partnership with Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturing powerhouse famously known for assembling Apple's iPhones. Fisker has announced a partnership with Foxconn that'll see the Taiwanese manufacturing giant build electric cars bearing Fisker's name with projected annual production volumes of 250,000+ units. The vehicle to be manufactured by Foxconn will be Fisker's second electric vehicle and hasn't yet been unveiled. Fisker says that the new electric vehicle to be built by Foxconn is planned to go into production by Q4 2023, roughly a year after the scheduled launch of Fisker's first vehicle, the Ocean SUV . Already, over 12,000 reservations have been booked for the Ocean SUV, wherein Fisker has grand plans to get into a competitive elect

Q4 2020: Baidu's Non-Ad Revenues Sprouts Up

Baidu is the Chinese search engine giant that's known as 'China's Google', and just like Google, most of the money made by the Chinese tech giant has come from online advertising. However, the company has in recent years invested heavily to diversify its revenues beyond online advertising, also like Google has done, and has now begun seeing its investments reap fruits. Baidu just posted its quarterly results for the fourth and final quarter of 2020, showing $4.6 billion in revenue that was driven significantly by the rise of its non-advertising businesses. 2020 was the year of the Covid-19 pandemic which negatively affected Baidu's advertising revenue stream while its other businesses increased sales by 52%. Baidu's other businesses include cloud hosting, artificial intelligence software, and the provision of software for connected vehicles. The company has spent billions of dollars in recent years to boost its prowess in those newer markets. In Q4, Baidu posted

Self-Driving Truck Startup Plus Nabs $200M Round

Plus, an American-Chinese self-driving truck startup that formerly bore the name Plus.ai , has announced  that it's raised a fresh funding round of $200 million led by new investors Guotai Junan International, CPE, and Wanxiang International Investment, three Chinese firms. Other existing backers such as the Chinese on-demand trucking giant Full Truck Alliance also participated in the round. With its new funds, Plus says that it's working to meet its goal of mass production of self-driving trucks this very year. The company already has extensive testing operations in the US and China and now plans to expand further internationally into Europe and other parts of Asia. The new funds will allow Plus to hire more employees to guide its growth. Plus has made a key partnership with the Chinese truck maker FAW, a partnership that involves the deployment of its self-driving technology on trucks mass-produced by FAW. The company aims for the mass-production deployment to kick off this y

Electric Carmaker Nio Quadruples Deliveries In January

Nio, the Chinese maker of electric cars, has posted its sales figures for the month of January 2021, revealing that it delivered 7,225 vehicles in the month, about quadruple what it delivered in the same month last year. Nio sold 352% more vehicles in January 2021 than it did in January 2020, indicating very strong growth prospects for the company. During the month, Nio delivered 1,660 ES8 SUVs, 2,720 ES6s, and 2,845 EC6s. The company has now delivered a total of 82,866 vehicles since its start. For now, Nio only offers electric SUVs, even though that wouldn't stay the same for much longer as the company recently unveiled its first electric sedan , the ET7 (pictured above). The new sedan is expected to enter into production next year. As Nio's business has grown, that growth has reflected very well in the company's affairs on the stock market. In 2020, the company's share price rose by over 1,000%, an unprecedented rise by normal standards, and Nio didn't just sit t

Xiaomi Sues US After Investment Blacklist

Just a short while after the Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi was placed on a blacklist by the former Trump administration that sought to bar US investors from buying shares of the publicly-traded company, Xiaomi has now filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Defense and Treasury department, challenging and seeking to reverse the US government's order. In its suit , the US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen are named as defendants, the two of them being freshly appointed by the Biden administration with less than two weeks on the job. Xiaomi is challenging the Trump-issued executive order against the company, arguing that requiring US investors to divest all their Xiaomi shares by the 14th of January, 2022 as stipulated will hurt the company by cutting off its access to US capital markets and also American investors with big Xiaomi stakes like BlackRock, Vanguard Group, and State Street Corp. Xiaomi was placed on a blacklist by the Trump administration ove

Chinese E-Tutor Huohua Siwei Heads For US IPO

Huohua Siwei, a Chinese e-tutoring company backed by investors including the Chinese tech giant Tencent and private equity firm KKR, appears to be on its way towards a public listing that could come this year. The company has picked banks including Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse to work on a public offering in the US, Bloomberg reports . Huohua Siwei, or Spark Education in English, is a major e-tutoring provider in China, serving children aged 3 to 12. It's backed by some $443 million in venture funding from investors including Tencent, KKR, The Carlyle Group, Sequoia Capital China, IDG Capital, and GGV Capital. 2020 was a great year for e-tutoring services as the Covid-19 pandemic largely increased the demand for online learning activities. As such, it seems that Huohua Siwei is looking to ride that boom all the way to the public markets. The company is said to be seeking to raise as much as $500 million from a US public offering. Just like Huohua, another major Chinese e-tutor

Cisco Gets China Nod For $4.5B Acacia Takeover

Just a while after sweetening its Acacia takeover deal from $2.6 billion to $4.5 billion, Cisco has gotten the required approval from China's antitrust regulator to go ahead with its proposed takeover, clearing the hurdle for the deal to go through.  The approval came from China's State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), the country's antitrust regulator. Before now, Cisco made an earlier $2.6 billion bid for Acacia but later got rebuffed by the company on the grounds that it didn't gain the required approval from China's antitrust regulator in the stipulated time. Now, with a takeover deal that was hiked from $2.6 billion to $4.5 billion, the hurdle appears to have been cleared for Cisco to buy Acacia, which is a major producer of optical communications equipment. It marks a big deal for Cisco to open 2021 with. As it looks, Cisco first struck a deal to buy publicly-traded Acacia Communications in July 2019 but will complete its acquisition in 2021. The

Chinese Smartphone Maker Xiaomi Placed On US Blacklist

The popular Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has been added to the list of Chinese firms blacklisted by the Trump administration over alleged ties to China's military. Xiaomi was newly added to the  Trump administration's military  blacklist along with 8 other Chinese firms including the country's  third-largest national oil company. A blacklist of what's known to be the third-largest smartphone maker in the world represents a somewhat bold move for the Trump administration. The military blacklist Xiaomi has been added to is different from the US Commerce Department’s entity list, which famously includes Huawei and recently the popular drone maker DJI . Xiaomi's blacklist means that the company is now affected by a November executive order from the Trump administration requiring American investors to divest from and not invest in companies placed on the blacklist by November 11, 2021. Whether that order would hold through is another case, given an incoming Biden adm

SoftBank Leads $360M Round For Chinese Fitness App Keep

The SoftBank Vision Fund has led a $360 million round of funding for Keep, a popular workout and fitness app in China. SoftBank led the round and was joined by participants including Coatue Management, GGV Capital, Jeneration Capital, 5Y Capital, and the Chinese tech giant Tencent. The $360 million investment valued Keep at $2 billion, according to local reports.  Keep is a popular workout and fitness app that serves the Chinese market, having 300 million registered users. The company has even ventured into making its own fitness equipment with a home exercise bike that it released in 2019. Also, Keep sells its brand of weight-conscious snacks. With a stated average of 38 million monthly active users, Keep is one of the most popular fitness apps globally and is a frontrunner in the Chinese fitness market, a market that's estimated (by Statista ) to have topped $11.4 billion in 2020. With its just-announced $360 million Series F round, Keep has now raised a total of over $600 milli

Baidu Sets Up Electric Car Venture

The Chinese search engine giant has once again sought to diversify its business, this time with the formation of an electric car venture in partnership with the Chinese automaker Geely.  Baidu has announced  that it's entered into a strategic partnership with Geely that'll see both companies establish a joint company to produce electric cars. As it seems, Geely is the part of the joint venture that'll handle the production of the cars while Baidu will provide software expertise. A joint press statement from Baidu and Geely says that they'll work to produce "intelligent electric vehicles", so we should be expecting smart features for the car to which Baidu will contribute its software expertise. In Geely, Baidu found an established partner with deep experience in producing both electric and internal combustion engine (ICE) automobiles. Geely owns the popular eponymous Geely auto brand as well as Volvo and  BYD Auto , which produces one of the best-selling ele

Nio Unveils First Electric Sedan

The Chinese electric carmaker Nio has unveiled what is its first electric sedan, named ET7 . It represents the fourth flagship electric car unveiled by Nio and is expected to enter into production by 2022.  The Nio ET7 is based on the Nio ET Preview concept unveiled in 2019.  By look, the Nio ET7 is a sleek, premium-looking sedan. It has features including; A dual-motor all-wheel-drive powertrain Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 3.9 seconds Hardware for autonomous driving - 11 8MP cameras, lidar sensors System output of 480 kW and 850 Nm of torque The ET7 will be available in two main options; a 70 kWh battery pack with over 500 km (311 miles) of NEDC range and a 100 kWh battery pack with over 700 km (435 miles) of NEDC range.  A bigger 150 kWh battery option with over 1,000 km (620 miles) of range is planned for later in the future, this option to be made possible with the use of solid-state cells in batteries, Nio claims. Nio has unveiled its fourth vehicle planned for p

Tencent Ups Stake In Chinese Grocery App Xingsheng

The Chinese tech giant Tencent has continued its long-running investing spree by increasing its stake in the popular Chinese on-demand grocery app Xingsheng Youxuan. The company has poured an extra $100 million into Xingsheng Youxuan in a deal that values the grocery app at $5 billion, Bloomberg reports . Tencent's $100 million investment comes just a month after another Chinese tech giant, the e-commerce company JD.com, invested $700 million in Xingsheng Youxuan  and secured a strategic partnership with it. Even with the big investments from JD and now Tencent, Xingsheng is in talks to raise even more, Bloomberg reports. Xingsheng Youxuan is a popular group-buying grocery app that serves 13 provinces in China. The company is well-funded and has previously secured funding from investors including KKR, Sequoia Capital, Temasek, and Primavera Capital Group. Tencent is apparently doubling down with its fresh $100 million investment in Xingsheng. The company last year joined a $300 m

China Probing Ant Group Investments?

Amid the regulatory scuffle between Chinese authorities and the local fintech giant Ant Group, regulators from China have turned towards another center of attention in Ant's probe, this time its equity investments in other companies, Reuters reports . The report says regulators are probing and considering whether to urge Ant to divest some of its investments in other firms if they violate antitrust rules with unfair market competition. Ant Group is notably one of the biggest investors in both the Chinese and foreign technology industries and has backed many companies globally, most of them in the fintech space. Its investments in other companies helps Ant to wield influence in several markets both in China and abroad and majorly in the fintech area. Among companies that Ant Group has backed include domestic fintech players like Wave Money, Xinlian Payment, and Ofo as well as foreign fintech firms like India's Paytm, Sweden's Klarna, and South Korea's Kakao Pay. Its inv

China's Zhangmen Eyes US IPO

Zhangmen, an online education company based in China, is considering a public listing in the US that'll raise up to $300 million and has held talks with potential advisers on a share sale, Bloomberg reports . Zhangmen is a popular online tutoring service in China that has more than 60 million registered members, the company says. It started in 2005 with a focus on afterschool learning in classrooms but in 2014 shifted focus to online one-on-one tutoring for Chinese students from as young as elementary to as old as high school students.  Zhangmen is well-funded, backed by over $500 million in venture funding from investors including the likes of Shunwei Capital, Fortune Venture Capital, Genesis Capital, and the American private equity firm Warburg Pincus. With a host of venture backers and over half-a-billion dollars in funding, it's not startling that Zhangmen is reportedly heading towards an exit on the public markets. Zhangmen is one of the biggest online education companie

China's Zuoyebang Scores $1.6B Round

Zuoyebang, a Chinese online education startup, has raised a fresh $1.6 billion funding round led by the e-commerce giant Alibaba and the American investment firm Tiger Global. The round tops up a $750 million round that Zuoyebang closed just in June this year. With the new funding round, Zuoyebang has now raised a total of around $3.4 billion in funding since its inception. The valuation that came with the new round isn't disclosed, but for a tip, Zuoyebang was valued at $15.5 billion from a funding round it closed earlier this year. Zuoyebang is a widely-used online education and tutoring app in China and has seen a large usage surge as a Covid-19 pandemic this year led to unprecedented demand for online education services. As such, Zuoyebang has taken advantage of the booming market to raise more funding for its expansion. Zuoyebang is notably a spinoff of the Chinese search engine giant Baidu. It was founded five years ago and has since then soared to have over 170 million month

China Urges Ant Group To Refocus Business

After halting its planned public offering  last month, Chinese authorities have requested that the local fintech giant Ant Group refocuses its business back to its roots as a provider of online payments services, a request that threatens Ant's growth in its most lucrative areas of consumer lending and wealth management.  The requests to refocus and "rectify" its business was revealed in a statement by the central People’s Bank of China on Sunday. It's apparent that Chinese authorities are requesting that Ant returns and refocuses on its roots as an online payments provider, an area in which it started in and dominated before branching out into other areas such as consumer lending, wealth management, and insurance. Ant's expansion into other areas saw the company grow very big and dominate the Chinese market, wherein it was poised to hold what would have marked the world's biggest IPO this year before Chinese authorities swooped in with antitrust action and hal

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