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Google is now in talks with Firework, a Redwood City-based video-sharing start-up, as a possible acquisition, the Wall Street Journal reported last week. Weibo, China's Twitter-like micro-blogging giant, has also reportedly expressed interest in possibly purchasing the firm. Currently valued at more than $100 million during its last funding round, Firework now claims more than 3 million registered users. Founded in 2018, the platform targets an older audience than some of its competitors, hosting content ranging from extreme mountain biking to guitar-instruction tips. IDG Capital led a $30 million funding in Firework this year and was also an early investor in Loop Now Technologies, Firework's parent firm, also based in Redwood City. Firework expanded into India in September.
Zoox, an autonomous vehicle startup based in Foster City, Calif., announced plans to launch a robot taxi service in Las Vegas. After previously testing self-driving cars on public roads in San Francisco, the firm also recently received permission from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles to take its AVs out onto state roads in Las Vegas to further test, validate and refine its technology. Zoox CEO Alcha Evans announced the plan at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco last week. To date, Zoox has raised over $790 million during three funding rounds. IDG Capital joined Zoox's Series A funding round in 2016.
Two online travel companies, in which IDG Capital was an early investor, now dominate the hotel booking market in China. Meituan-Dianping, a Hong Kong Exchange-listed firm, currently owns an estimated 45% share of domestic Chinese market. The company reported bookings of 94 million domestic hotel nights in Q2 2019 alone. Ctrip, a Nasdaq-listed online travel service provider, also has 22% market share, with a special focus on high-end domestic and international bookings. IDG Capital invested in Meituan-Dianping which reported $6.42 billion in revenue last year. IDG Capital also was an early investor in Ctrip which reported 2018 revenues of $4.5 billion.
Coinbase, a San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange, said it will allow customers to earn 1.25% interest annual on USDC, a dollar-pegged stable coin. Coinbase users with at least one dollar's worth of USDC in their accounts will automatically begin to accrue rewards on their holdings, the firm said, at no additional cost. Coinbase said that the program is partly a response to demands from consumers in developing economies. IDG Capital was an angel investor in Coinbase in 2013.
Ripple, a San Francisco-based blockchain payments company, announced the acquisition of Algrim, an Iceland-based crypto trading firm. With offices in San Francisco, New York, London, Mumbai, Singapore, São Paulo and Sydney, Ripple said it plans to leverage the acquisition to expand cross-border payment corridors and contribute to the ongoing development of on-demand liquidity products. Algrim currently operates in more than 30 international markets. In 2015, IDG Capital led Ripple's $28 million Series A funding round.
IDG Capital last week joined a $35 million Series A round for Deepexi, a Beijing-based provider of big data and artificial intelligence-enabled digitization solutions for supply-chain, manufacturing and marketing. Deepexi clients include major automotive, high-tech manufacturing, healthcare and retail enterprises. Founded in 2018, the company currently has more than 500 employees, 85% of whom work in research and development. Deepexi said the latest funding round will be used to recruit new talent and develop products, including a new intelligence platform. IDG Capital also led an angel round in Deepexi in 2018.
Meituan Dianping, an IDG Capital-backed group-buying website for local food delivery services, launched a charitable program called “Food for Good” to help Chinese farmers in less affluent areas find restaurant and merchant outlets for their agricultural products. With 5.9 million active merchants and 420 million users as customers, the Meituan program targets farmers in less developed provinces like Tibet, Xinjiang and Yunnan. IDG Capital was an early investor in Meituan, which raised 4.2 billion in its IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2018.
Aicha Evans, the CEO of Zoox, will speak at the TechCrunch Disrupt Conference in San Francisco in October. Before joining Zoox, a Foster City, Calif.-based self-driving startup, Evans served as Chief Strategy Officer at Intel for 12 years. The California’s Autonomous Vehicle Passenger Service recently issued Zoox a permit to participate in the State’s pilot AV program. The firm plans to publicly deploy autonomous vehicles by 2020 for an all-electric California-based ride-hailing service. IDG Capital joined Zoox’s Series A funding round in 2016.
Chengjia, an apartment service platform in which IDG Capital was an early investor, raised $300 million in a Series A funding round. Founded in Shanghai in 2015, Chengjia offers hotel-style, short-term apartment rentals of apartments, hotel stays and related hospitality services. The platform currently manages roughly 100 housing properties in China and approximately 20,000 apartment units. Previously, IDG Capital joined Chengjia's $50 million Pre-A investment round in 2017.
Coinbase, a San Francisco-based cryptocurrency trading platform, has announced the possible addition of 17 new cryptocurrencies to its current lineup. Reuters estimates the global crypto exchange generated $520 million in revenues in 2018. IDG Capital was an angel investor in Coinbase, which was founded in 2011.
Binance, a global cryptocurrency exchange based in Malta, invested $200 million in Mars Finance, a news and crypto-data website backed by IDG Capital. Founded in Beijing in 2018, Mars Finance provides hosting services for both the Chinese and the global blockchain and cryptocurrency communities, including news, market research reports and data. In 2018, IDG Capital invested in Mars Finance's Series A funding round.
IDG Capital joined a $11 million Series pre-B2 round in EdiGene, a Beijing-based startup which develops genome-editing technologies for the treatment of genetic diseases and cancer. The company is also collaborating now with an unnamed clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company to develop novel T-cell therapies for cancer treatment. Previously, IDG Capital led EdiGene's Series A funding round and also joined an earlier $10 million financing round in the firm.
IDG Capital joined the latest investment round in Galaxy Space, a private company which mass-produces low-cost satellites for commercial use. The firm is currently valued at $710 million, making one of the most valuable startups in the Chinese private aerospace industry. GalaxySpace, which did not disclose the size its most recent funding round, said it plans to develop and launch a Low Earth Orb communications constellation. In 2018, the company also launched an experimental payload satellite to test on-board, high-performance computing, space imaging and communications for a mini-space station built by Chinese tech giant Alibaba. This is the second GalaxySpace fundraising round in which IDG Capital has participated.
IDG Capital joined a $100 million Series C investment round in Smart Fabric, a Chinese startup providing internet-enabled solutions for the textile industry. Founded in 2014, Smart Fabric has developed a cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to connect luxury brands and major fashion retailers with spinning mill operators and printing, dyeing, and weaving factories. Smart Fabric clients include H&M, Walmart, Amazon, Hugo Boss, Armani and Calvin Klein. Previously, IDG Capital also joined Smart Fabric’s Series B round.
In an interview, Jeremy Allaire, the CEO of Circle, a Boston-based crypto trading firm, predicted that China’s cryptocurrency plan for the Bank of China would lead to more global convertibility of cryptocurrencies, including coordination with RMB. As more companies develop digital currency services, Allaire also said, the financial sector will begin to compete with the technology. Previously, IDG Capital was the lead investor in Circle's $50 million Series C and $60 million Series D funding rounds.
Ground X, which operates the Klaytn blockchain network, will offer its“klay”tokens on an Upbit cryptocurrency platforms in Singapore and Indonesia. Upbit is a major South Korean cryptocurrency exchange. Ground X said it was also forecasting distribution of 10 billion tokens by the end of 2021. IDG Capital invested in Ground X in 2018. The firm, which has operations in both Japan and South Korea, was founded by Kakao, South Korea’s largest mobile platform.