/Tech financing this week – The home service arm of China’s Craigslist shakes up on-demand beauty services scene, & more

Tech financing this week – The home service arm of China’s Craigslist shakes up on-demand beauty services scene, & more

Don’t miss out these headlines for the week: Mobile app developer receives USD 100 million investment led by Qihoo 360; O2O home renovation startup aims to reset industry’s quality standards with pre-A financing; LeEco’s sports subsidiary may have scored USD 1 billion in Series B funding.

360 security
Photo from 360 Security’s website

Mobile app developer receives USD 100 million investment led by Qihoo 360 and FreesFund

Ibo Feng
MobiMagic, a Beijing-based sci-tech company backed by China’s search engine giant Qihoo 360, announced that it received USD 100 million in investment, NetEase’s tech channel reported on Tuesday.

Qihoo 360 and FreesFund led the round of financing. At the beginning of 2015, MobiMagic received a joint investment of over USD 80 million from Qihoo 360 and Wang Liwei, a senior executive at Chinese games company Kunlun Tech. Qihoo 360 and Kunlun Tech are companies recently involved in an offer to buy Norway-based web browser Opera.

MobiMagic focuses on the development of mobile applications and their global promotion. One of its core products, 360 Security has more than 300 million users, most of whom are from mainstream Android markets including Europe, Japan, and India. This application, according to App Annie, ranks among the top five apps on Google Play in 79 countries.

MobiMagic also has a dozen other applications that are a hit in overseas markets. MobiMagic will cooperate with a number of enterprises including Cheetah Mobile, Apus, 3G.cn, and Solo Launcher which are active in overseas markets.

 

Photo from Aijiaji.com
Photo from Aijiaji.com

O2O home renovation startup aims to reset industry’s quality standards with pre-A financing

Catherine Lai
O2O home renovation startup Aijiaji has received RMB 11 million (USD 1.7 million) in Pre-A series financing just over a year after it was formed.

The investment comes from River Capital, a VC firm focused on early financing for Internet+, new consumption, smart hardware and big health projects and startups.

Shenzhen-based Aijiaji has completed 200 renovation projects to date and has plans to enter three to five cities in the Pearl River Delta in 2016. Its services are aimed at young people in the post-80s and post-90s generations who have never renovated before, making the process easy and affordable for them. Clients can receive project estimates and book online, or visit one of the company’s offline showrooms. Then staff will visit the client’s home for measurements and talk about design. Transactions are conducted online, and clients can oversee the entire process online though the supervisor uploading pictures after predetermined stages of renovation.

The company’s CEO Zhou Ping is a veteran of 58 Tongcheng, China’s largest classifieds site, which acquired its rival Ganji.com last year.

Aijiaji aims to solve the problems that plague the traditional home renovation industry.

“Renovations not meeting standards, a complicated process, poor use experience, these are problems that desperately need solving in the home renovation industry,” Zhou told Lieyunwang, a news portal for tech entrepreneurs.

Traditional renovation has a very non-transparent process, and there isn’t a system in place to ensure quality. Aijiaji aims to solve these problems and give control of the process back to the consumer.

In traditional home renovation, the project manager may add unnecessary materials and rush the job to make more money. Aijiaji has divided this role into two parts, replacing it with an IT system and a supervisor. It claims to have developed a digital system to calculate project schedules and pricing, creating a way to standardize these two aspects.

Currently, the online home renovation field is a huge, but widely dispersed market valued at thousands of billions of RMB. According to Zhou, unlike other fields, it has not yet been dominated by one big company or by the big three, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent (BAT).

The big online home renovation companies like Tubatu and Qijia look pretty similar to traditional home renovation companies, providing only services as a platform to connect construction companies and consumers. Even with Qijia’s pay after completion system, it’s still hard to control quality. iKongjian, famous for its RMB 699/square meter, done in 20 days guarantee, uses its own construction crews, but it was found to have contracted work to outside companies when it received more orders than it could fulfill.

Compared to these companies that have completed thousands of projects, Aijiaji is small with only 60 staff. It uses workers who have completed a training process and who have completed tests to ensure quality standards are met. Its competitive edge may be its technological solution to problems of quality that plague traditional home renovation.

 

Photo from www.ouquan.com
Photo from www.ouquan.com

The home service arm of China’s Craigslist shakes up on-demand beauty services scene

Danielle Li
Born out of China’s online classifieds giant 58.com, and with recent financial support from Alibaba, 58 Daojia is uniquely positioned make big inroads into China’s red-hot O2O field. It is now a sought-after partner for smaller players in the sector.

Wednesday, 58 Daojia tied the knot with Dudu Meijia, or Dudu Manicure in English, for an undisclosed amount, tech media outlet 36Kr reports.

According to the announcement, Dudu Meijia is to remain an independent operation after the merger. Both parties are to integrate their resources in manicure services.

Dudu Meijia, an on-demand manicure service provider, was initially introduced in Shanghai in June 2014. It snagged tens of millions of dollars in an October round of Series A financing from Sequoia Capital and Source Code Capital and, within half a year, was rolled out to six more cities including Beijing, Chengdu and Guangzhou.

Founded in September 2014, 58 Daojia is a multi-category service provider, including home cleaning, beauty care, moving, nanny and maternity matron services, and is now available in 28 Chinese cities. Last October, it landed USD 300 million in Series A financing from Alibaba, KKR and Ping An Ventures.

Besides facilitating self-run businesses, 58 Daojia started a “platform” strategy last April. To lead the market as a huge player, it plans to cooperate with third-party O2O service providers in different vertical markets and host them on its own platform.

Last October, the company partnered with the Shanghai-based on-demand laundry and flower delivery platform, 24Tidy, making laundry service available for its users.

After this merger, 58 Daojia will occupy more market share in the on-demand beauty service market, rivaling the other prominent player in the sector, Helijia, which completed Series C financing of USD 50 million last February.

With this in mind, 2016 will be a challenging year for the over-crowded on-demand beauty service sector. According to 36 Kr, there are thousands of such beauty care apps in China including manicure, pedicure, hairdressing and makeup services.

In this huge online-to-offline market, BATs and other tech giants including Meituan-Dianping and JD.com are all speeding up O2O business expansion which circles around industries like retail, food delivery and customer service.

 

opera
Photo from Baidu Images

Qihoo 360 will pay USD 48 million for share in Opera browser as part of USD 1.2 B bid

Catherine Lai
The group of Chinese companies including Qihoo 360 and Kunlun Tech that bid USD 1.2 billion for Internet browser developer Opera has confirmed the proportion that each party will pay.

Internet security company Qihoo 360 is the smallest stakeholder, contributing USD 48 million. Kunlun Tech, a game developer, will pay 168 million, with the remaining 80% (USD 984 million) coming from the Golden Brick Silk Road Fund Management of China.
The USD 1.2 billion bid is a generous offer for 56% higher than Opera’s current valuation.

Opera, based in Norway, is the 6th most-used web browser in the world, and one of the first browsers made for mobile devices. Though it has fallen behind competitors, it is still widely used in developing countries. It is the top browser in Africa, third most popular in Russia and India, and 4th in Indonesia. It announced that it was considering selling last year due to slow ad sales.

The acquisition is part of Qihoo 360’s international strategy. It can combine its browser with Opera, taking advantage of its 350 million user base, and also strengthen its mobile performance using Opera technology.

Kunlun Tech, which bought 60% of dating app Grindr last month, can potentially push its games through Opera apps to increase its user base abroad.

The deal is expected to be completed before the end of June, and is subject to approval by government and shareholders.

 

Photo from LeSports' Weibo
Photo from LeSports’ Weibo

LeEco’s sports subsidiary may have scored USD 1 billion in Series B funding

Wendy Tang
LeSports, the sports video streaming arm of LeEco, is rumoured to have amassed USD one billion in a round of Series B funding which would boost its valuation to USD four billion, the Tech channel of Sina news reported on Monday.

Sina news quoted an anonymous source who is close to the deal. The Chinese news portal said LeSports will announce the details of the fundraising next week.

The tech channel of Tencent News acquired documents that shows LeSports’ Series B funding was only about USD 500 million. It is yet to be verified.

LeSports completed Series A funding of RMB 800 million (USD 122 million) last May which brought the company’s valuation to USD 2.8 billion. Its first round of fundraising was split into Series A and Series A+. Series A was led by China’s largest commercial property company Dalian Wanda Group. Yunfeng Fund, Orica, Pusi Capital, along with seven other venture capital firms and individual investors invested in Series A+.

Since the last round of fundraising, LeSports has purchased the exclusive rights to broadcast the English Premier League in Hong Kong for three seasons from 2016 to 2019. The sports streaming site also obtained the naming rights of an iconic sports arena in Beijing, the main basketball venue for the 2008 Summer Olympics. The sports arena was renamed LeSports Center as of January 1.

LeSports’ most recently acquired the Chinese sports live-streaming platform Zhangyu.tv for USD 46 million in late January, after securing a three-year deal with Major League Baseball for broadcasting rights. LeSports also bought 56% of the shares of Soda Soccer, which provides soccer game analytics, for RMB 39.2 million.

LeSports was spun off in December 2014 from LeEco, formerly known as LeTV — a leading provider of video-streaming content in China. LeEco changed its name in January to reflect the company’s new business development and strategy including smart TVs, set-top boxes, smartphone manufacturing, VR headsets and content production and the internet finance and cloud computing sectors.