Friday, May 15, 2015

Renren's Pivot to Fintech Deals: Hear Joe Chen at Silicon Dragon's Beijing event May 21

The transition underway at Chinese social media company Renren underscores the fast and furious startup scene for China tech innovation and investments. Never before has the momentum been quicker or the impact deeper and wider. See Forbes post: Renren's pivot.
Renren, which started out as the Facebook of China, is pivoting now to the internet finance business and diversifying into more profitable areas with investments in such seemingly far afield areas as logistics (ie the company’s recent investment in a trucking deal).
Chairman and CEO Joe Chen says the company’s first quarter financial results — net revenues down 41 percent from a year ago with an operating loss of $26.5 million – reflect a bottoming out of Renren’s legacy business in online advertising and gaming.
As new social messaging apps such as WeChat have caught on in China, Renren has been busy investing in numerous tech startups, with as much as $500 million venture capital invested in more than 30 deals. More than half, $275 million, have been invested in the fintech space. See prior article at Forbes, Renren’s burst of deals in U.S. tech startups.
One of the more significant of those fintech investments is online lending platform SoFi, which is set to go public this year in what could be a $3.5 billion valuation. Renren has a 25 percent stake in SoFi.
Such moves are being regarded by hedge fund investors as worth watching for the upside potential.
We will learn more about Renren’s future as CEO Joe Chen speaks next Thursday, May 21, at Silicon Dragon’s Beijing event.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

London Tech Investor Amadeus Opens In India, Hires Intel VC

In a forward-thinking move, London-based Amadeus Capital Partners has set up in Bangalore and plans to soon make the fund’s first investment in a business with operations in India.
Leading the team in India is Bhavani Rana, an experienced venture and private capital investor who was until recently Investment Director at Intel Capital. Rana is a seasoned investor with 14 years of leading and managing more than $170 million of investments in 30 companies in India, the U.S. and Europe. He spent 14 years with Intel and scored several IPOs and M&A deals.
Rana said he aims to help build out India’s technology and Internet services ecosystem, which has been in catch-up mode for several years and is now growing very fast as India startups ride an improving economy and huge mobile communication markets. He will be speaking about these topics on a venture capital panel at Silicon Dragon London 2015, March 11.
Keep reading post at my Forbes column,  Amadeus Journey To India.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Guru Fixer COO Takes US Tech Startup Quixey On Fast-Track Journey to China and India

Not too many Silicon Valley tech companies are going after both the China and India markets even though that’s where the biggest opportunities exist for many tech companies going after fast growth and profitability.
One company that is ahead on this front is mobile app search engine Quixey in Mountain View. China followed by India are top priority markets for Quixey, COO Guru Gowrappan told me during an interview this week.
Already, China accounts for 50 percent of the search app’s volume and some 20 to 30 percent of revenues  — on par with the U.S. market, Gowrappan revealed. India, a market that skipped right over the desktop generation, lags on revenue so far for Quixey, but should speed up within two to three years, he added.
It helps to have a COO with international perspective and experience working with leading businesses in key global markets.
It helps to have a partner such as Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba on this journey.
Continuing read post at Forbes: onforb.es/1vaVema
Quixey and other U.S. tech startups will reveal their lessons, challenges and milestones at Silicon Dragon, February 5, in Palo Alto.  

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Renren CEO Empire Builds Once More With Tech Startup Deals

Renren CEO Joe Chen
(Bloomberg photo)
Chinese social networking site Renren
has been making steady investments in tech startups as it seeks to broaden its revenue stream, become profitable, and boost its stock price.All of these new investments led by CEO Joseph Chen have been far afield from its core business in social networking, and most of these deals are in the U.S. Chen, throughout his entrepreneurial career, has been an empire builder, acquiring and investing in related tech startups and also divesting businesses that are not going anywhere. Renren itself was built mostly from a combination of acquired or invested in sites.
Renren plans to invest some $500 million in financial tech, and has already invested nearly half that amount, although the NYSE-listed company is investing in other tech areas, too.
Chen’s latest investment in San Mateo-based stock trading site Motif is one in a series of those bets on financial tech. In mid-January 2015, Renren led a $40 million financing for the four-year old Motif, which has raised some $120 million from Ignition Partners, Norwest Venture Partners and Foundation Capital.
A look at earlier tech startup investments made by Renren include:
Keep reading post at Forbes:
onforb.es/1usohMe

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Why China's Xiaomi Is Not A Copy Of iPhone

If Chinese smart phone maker Xiaomi succeeds in its mission, it may become known as the company that dispelled notions that China technology is a copy of western knowhow.
But there is still a hurdle to jump. Say Xiaomi, and most people think copy, not original. But as Xiaomi becomes better known in the West, that impression could change.
Or at least that’s according to early Xiaomi investor Hans Tung of GGV Capital. He sat down with me recently for an interview on Silicon Dragon Talk and shared his perspective on what makes Xiaomi an original.
He pointed to three key differentiators for Xiaomi:
Keep reading post at Forbes: onforb.es/1uhwcdY

 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

One More US Startup Takes In Capital From China - This Time Xiaomi!

Wearable device maker Misfit may be gaining a significant competitive edge with its latest $40 million capital intake that includes Chinese smart phone leader Xiaomi making its first investment foray in the U.S.
Having a strategic China investor in its camp should help the San Francisco-based startup gain traction and scale up more quickly in the large Middle Kingdom market as expansion in Asia is prioritized.  With speed to market and China as increasingly important dynamics, this trend-setting investment could prove a big boost for Misfit, which already sells its waterproof activity tracker Shine in more than 35 countries.
It also can’t hurt to have one of the more innovative Chinese companies around on its side to build out its talent pool from China, where Misfit has a small software team to round out its team of nearly 100 people, most of them in R&D.
With this first investment in the U.S., Xiaomi is following an increasingly traveled path by the Chinese tech titans Baidu Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and others of investing in U.S. tech businesses. View Silicon Dragon Talk on this trend and see prior Forbes post: Why U.S. startups are taking investment from China’s tech titans.
For the Chinese investor standpoint, this strategy helps them gain technology, talent and U.S. market experience in their long-term quest to expand outside their home market and build their base globally.  Their strategies bear little resemblance to the Japanese trophy seekers who bought American landmark  properties Pebble Beach and Rockefeller Center some two decades ago. Keep reading Forbes post:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/rebeccafannin/2014/12/04/1-more-us-startup-takes-in-capital-from-china-xiaomi/

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

All It Takes Is 1 Hong Kong Startup To Break Through

Amidst the buzz and energy surrounding Hong Kong’s push to become a hub for tech innovations, startups here are beginning to make waves, pulling in some big financings from venture capitalists and corporate venture investors, scaling up and expanding internationally.
Seeing these startups take off is an encouraging sign for Hong Kong, where young businesses have faced a financing gap to boost their operations and to pursue global ambitions.  While not sizeable rounds compared to the what we’ve been seeing in Silicon Valley or India lately, these recent venture financing in Hong Kong are still quite respectable.
Take the $14 million that innovative lending service WeLab hauled in this year from Sequoia Capital and Li Ka-Shing’s Tom Group. It was the first time that Sequoia Capital, a force behind many successful ventures in mainland China and Silicon Valley, has invested in a Hong Kong startup.
See tech chat video.
Keep reading Forbes post: Hong Kong breakthrough