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.