China’s startup industry is booming. Here’s a list of Chinese unicorns that have entered the market since the start of the year.
Since the beginning of 2017, China has seen its fair share of unicorns. No, not the national animal of Scotland. We’re talking about startups valued in excess of $1 billion.
In 2017, 41 global technology companies have reached unicorn status, according to data intelligence platform CB Insights. Of those, 15 are from China. Europe, by contrast, has hatched just five unicorns this year.
The United States remains on top (but only just) with 17 new unicorns. Since 2009, the US has dominated the global startup scene. There are now 215 unicorns globally, with the United States claiming 107 of those, according to CB Insights. The majority are based in California.
But China is catching up fast. In 2014 China only had eight unicorns, now it has 56. Europe has 23. Most of China’s new class of unicorns are in the e-commerce and online marketplace industries. “The $1 billion-plus valuations for these companies are influenced by the rise of China’s middle class that are increasingly shopping online for goods and services” says William Altman, a technology industry analyst at CB Insights.
The dominance of Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent in the Chinese market is also significant. “Increasing investment activity in China’s unicorns is also notable for contributing to higher valuations that, in-turn, warrant big-ticket investments” Altman says.
“While most European countries are stagnating in terms of entrepreneurship, China remains wealthy and technologically advanced, with a huge capital inflow” adds Tino Sanandaji, an economist at the Stockholm School of Economics. “The sheer force of China’s entrepreneurial surge means it’s momentum is likely to continue”.
Struggling to keep up? Our list covers all Chinese companies that have reached unicorn status so far in 2017. All figures are based on analysis by CB Insights.
Based in Beijing, Vipkid provides one-on-one video teaching sessions for Chinese children between the ages of five and 12, with teachers based in North America. Vipkid has attracted investment from eight venture capitalists, six based in China and two in Los Angeles. The company was valued at $1.5bn on August 23.
Cambricon is developing a brain-inspired processor chip that simulates human nerve cells and synapses to conduct deep learning. The Beijing-based startup was valued at $1bn on August 18. It’s six investors include Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund.
3. e-shang Redwood
e-Shang Redwood Group is a merger between e-Shang Cayman and the Redwood Group Asia. The Shanghai-based real estate startup was valued at $2.8bn on July 26. Its ten investors include China Minsheng Banking Corp, Huarong Rongde and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank. The group was founded in 2011 by Warburg Pincus, an American private equity firm.
4. Sense Time
This AI startup provides text, vehicle and face recognition to mobile internet companies, financial services and security companies. Based in Beijing and founded in 2015, it joined the unicorn club on the July 11 and is currently valued at $1.47bn. It has 19 investors, all based in China and Hong Kong. They include, Star VC, IDG Capital and Infore Capital.
Shanghai-based Zhaogang is an e-commerce startup focussed on steel trading. Founded by Dong Wang in 2012, it was valued at $1bn on the June 29, 2017. Investors include K2 Ventures, Matrix Partners China and IDG Capital.
This Shanghai-based startup’s mobile app lets users rent bikes for their commute. It has 16 investors, with a mix of funding from China, Germany and the United States. It was founded in 2015 by Hu Weiwei and was valued at $3bn on June 16, 2017.
7. DT Dream
DT Dream is an internet services startup specialising in cloud computing and big data analysis. Based in Hangzhou and founded in 2015 it was valued at $1bn on June 8, 2017. Investors include Alibaba Group, China Everbright Investment Management and Yinxinggu Capital.
Run by Fenbi Technology and formerly known as Yuantiku, this ed-tech startup provides students in China with exams via smartphones and tablets. Founded in 2012 by Yong Li, investors include New York-based Warburg Pincus. It was valued at $1bn on May 31.
Fintech startup Tuandaiwang operates P2P lending site Tuandai.com. It was valued at $1.4bn on May 30. Investors include Beihai Hongtai Investment, China Minsheng Investment and Yisheng Innovation.
10. Netease Cloud music
Founded by William Lei Ding in 2013, Beijing-based music streaming startup is now valued at $1.16bn. Its main investors are China International Capital Corporation, Hunan TV & Broadcast Intermediary and Shanghai Media Group
Also known as Headlines Today or Toutiao, this is a news reading app that analyzes data from users’ social networking accounts and individual reading habits to provide customised information. Based in Beijing and founded in 2012, it is now valued at $11bn. It has five China-based investors including Sequoia Capital China, SIG Asia Investments, Sina Weibo and one Russian angel investor, Yuri Milner.
Formerly known as NextEV, this auto-tech startup manufacturers smart, electronic, and autonomous vehicles. It’s based in Beijing and was founded by William Li in 2014. It’s now valued at $2.89bn. It has 24 investors, mainly Chinese.
Ofo is a Beijing-based on-demand bike sharing startup. Users scan a code from their smartphones to unlock parked bikes, enter their destination and pay via the Ofo app. Founded by Dai Wei in 2014, it was valued at $1bn in March 2017. It has 18 investors, including Chinese giants Alibaba Group and Didi Chuxing.
14. UR Work
This real estate startup rents shared office spaces to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Based in Beijing and founded by Mao Daqing in 2015 by, it was valued at $1.3bn this January. It has 18 Chinese-based investors, including Ant Financial Services Group, Dahong Group and Sequoia Capital China.
Zhihu is an internet search engine that uses a voting system to find the best answers. Founded in 2012 by Lǐ Shēnshēn, Huáng Jìxīn, Zhōu Yuán and Li Shenshen, it has six Chinese investors including Tencent Holdings, Sinovation Ventures and Qiming Venture Partners. It was valued at $1bn on January 12, 2017.