Tencent

Alibaba rival JD.com plays the long-game on technology investment

China’s JD.com  has made it clear recently that it’s venturing into artificial intelligence and automation. Every few months over the past year, the online retailer – China’s second-largest by transactions after Alibaba – has unveiled new products based on cutting-edge technology: for example drone delivery, self-driving trucks, fully automated warehouses, to name a few. Most of these technologies are still in their testing phase and JD’s ever expanding technology investment is already eating into its profitability. In the second quarter, the retail titan’s technology expenses were up over 70 percent year-over-year for the third consecutive quarter, costing the company 2.8 billion yuan, or $400 million. Net income slipped more than 50 percent to 478 million yuan, versus 977 million yuan la...

China’s frenzy over League of Legends championship sheds light on esports growth

When China’s Invictus Gaming defeated European squad Fnatic in the League of Legends 2018 finals this past Saturday, China’s social media platforms became awash in ecstasy and pride. “It’s like winning an Olympic gold, a teenage dream come true,” writes one thirty-something audience of the competition on his WeChat feed. Many others share that sentiment. So far, the hashtag #IG冠军, which means “IG the champion,” has generated over one million threads on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter with over four million monthly active users. This is a critical moment for China’s first-generation of players who grew up under parents and teachers who too easily dismissed all kinds of video games. IG’s victory marks the first time a Chinese team has won the world championship for LoL – fondly called s...

Tencent is launching its own version of Snap Spectacles

Some were surprised to see Snap release a second version of its “face-camera” Spectacles gadget, since the original version failed to convert hype into sales. But those lackluster sales — which dropped to as low as 42,000 per quarter — didn’t only fail to dissuade the U.S. social firm from making more specs, because now Tencent, the Chinese internet giant and Snap investor, has launched its own take on the genre. Tencent this week unveiled its answer to the video-recording sunglasses, which, you’ll notice, bear a striking resemblance to Snap’s Spectacles. Called the Weishi smartglasses, Tencent’s wearable camera sports a lens in the front corner that allows users to film from a first-person perspective. Thankfully, the Chinese gaming and social giant has not made the mistake of Snap’s firs...

Should cash-strapped Snapchat sell out? To Netflix?

Snapchat needs a sugar daddy. Its cash reserves dwindling from giant quarterly losses. Poor morale from a battered share price and cost-cutting measures sap momentum. And intense competition from Facebook is preventing rapid growth. With just $1.4 billion in assets remaining at the end of a brutal Q3 2018 and analysts estimating it will lose $1.5 billion in 2019 alone, Snapchat could run out of money well before it’s projected to break even in 2020 or 2021. So what are Snap’s options? A long and lonely road Snap’s big hope is to show a business turnaround story like Twitter, which saw its stock jump 14 percent this week despite losing monthly active users by deepening daily user engagement and producing profits. But without some change that massively increases daily time spent while reduci...

China is funding the future of American biotech

Silicon Valley is in the midst of a health craze, and it is being driven by “Eastern” medicine. It’s been a record year for US medical investing, but investors in Beijing and Shanghai are now increasingly leading the largest deals for US life science and biotech companies. In fact, Chinese venture firms have invested more this year into life science and biotech in the US than they have back home, providing financing for over 300 US-based companies, per Pitchbook. That’s the story at Viela Bio, a Maryland-based company exploring treatments for inflammation and autoimmune diseases, which raised a $250 million Series A led by three Chinese firms. Chinese capital’s newfound appetite also flows into the mainland. Business is booming for Chinese medical startups, who are also seeing the stronges...

Nubank is now worth $4 billion after Tencent’s $180 million investment

Nubank, the Brazilian financial services company, has raised $180 million from the Chinese internet giant, Tencent. Tencent has long been interested in financial services startups, and with its $90 million direct investment and another $90 million investment in the secondary market, the company now has access to what is arguably the largest digital banking company in the world. With the $4 billion valuation, it also makes Nubank one of the most highly valued privately held startups in Latin America. News of the investment was first reported by The Information, which included the $4 billion figure. For Nubank co-founders David Velez and Cristina Junqueira, the investment from Tencent means the addition of a strategic partner whose financial services products and transaction platform is unma...

What Spotify can learn from Tencent Music

On Tuesday, Tencent Music Entertainment filed for an IPO in the US that is expected to value it in the $25-30 billion range, on par with Spotify’s IPO in April. The filing highlights just how different its social interaction and digital goods business is from the subscription models of leading music streaming services in Western countries. That divergence suggests an opportunity for Spotify or one of its rivals to gain a competitive advantage. Tencent Music is no small player: As the music arm of Chinese digital media giant Tencent, its four apps have several hundred million monthly active users, $1.3 billion in revenue for the first half of 2018, and roughly 75 percent market share in China’s rapidly growing music streaming market. Unlike Spotify and Apple Music, however, almost none of i...

Tencent backs fintech firm Voyager to set up battle with Alibaba in the Philippines

China’s internet battle is rapidly reproducing itself in Southeast Asia. One new hotspot is the Philippines, where Tencent just agreed to invest in Voyager, a fintech business started by telecom firm PLDT. The deal would bring Tencent into direct competition with arch-rival Alibaba, which entered the Philippines 18 months ago when its fintech affiliate Ant Financial invested in Mynt, a financial venture from Globe Telecom which is a competitor to Voyager. Following a week of speculation, PLDT announced a deal today that sees Tencent and KKR pay up to $175 million for a minority stake in the Voyager business. There have been reports that PLDT is looking to sell its majority stake, for now that has been retained but the firm did say that it has options to add other investors via the creation...

Africa Roundup: Paga goes global and 4 startups raise $99M in VC

Jake Bright Contributor More posts by this contributor Polestar unveils first production EV with aim to overtake Tesla Liquid Telecom goes long on Africa’s startups as future clients Nigerian digital payments startup Paga is gearing up for international expansion with a $10 million round led by the Global Innovation Fund. The company is exploring the release of its payments product in Ethiopia, Mexico, and the Philippines—CEO Tayo Oviosu told TechCrunch. Paga looks to go head to head with regional and global payment players, such as PayPal, Alipay, and Safaricom according to Oviosu. “We are not only in a position to compete with them, we’re going beyond them,” he said of Kenya’s MPesa mobile money product. “Our goal is to build a global payment ecosystem across many emerging markets.” Laun...

Tencent Music, China’s largest streaming service with 800M users, files for US IPO

This year has seen a number of tech companies that are majority or substantially owned by Chinese giant going public in the U.S. Baidu’s iQiyi service, Xiaomi-backed Huami and Viomi are a few examples, and now Tencent Music — the music division of Tencent, as you can guess — is making its run after plenty of speculation. TME — Tencent Music Entertainment — filed initial paperwork to go public in the U.S. (exchange not specified) overnight and the initial target is a $1 billion raise, although that is subject to change. We know that Tencent Music is valued at least at $12 billion, based on data from Spotify’s IPO earlier this year, so it’ll be interesting to note how much that rises from this listing. Hardly a startup, TME is a spunout subsidiary that houses four Tencent music streaming ser...

Tencent shakeup puts the focus on enterprise

Chinese internet giant Tencent is reorganizing its business to place more emphasis on enterprise as it prepares for the future of technology and looks to alleviate the pressure on its under-fire consumer business. The reorg, which Reuters reports is the company’s first shakeup for six years, was announced over the weekend — ahead of a holiday in China — and it comes at a challenging time. Tencent’s share price is down 33 percent from a record high in January, and the firm just experienced a rare quarterly profit drop largely on account of regulators freezing new game releases in China. Gaming is where the firm is strongest — Honour of Kings over 200 million monthly players and is one of the top-grossing games ever, while Tencent has stakes in current blockbusters Fornite and PUBG — but a c...

Chinese Tesla rival Nio trims IPO target: now aims to raise up to $1.5B

The U.S. IPO window may be wide open for Chinese tech firms, but electric vehicle maker Nio has conservatively cut the target for its NYSE listing to $1.5 billion after it released a price range for its shares. The company plans to sell 184 million shares between $6.25-$8.25. That range would yield a total raise of $1.518 billion, which is down from the initial target of $1.8 billion from the firm’s first filing in August. The range is, of course, subject to change and it doesn’t include income from the green shoe option — which allows underwriters to take an additional allocation of shares — but nevertheless, it is a notable development. Nio also revealed in its newest filing that its existing investors have committed to investing $250 million into the IPO which, at the middle of the rang...

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