China VC Weekly: Comics, Chips and EVs

In last week’s VC news, China’s largest online comic book platform Kuaikan raised the biggest funding round ever in the country’s comics industry, computer chip maker Pingxin Technology closed a $10 million Pre-A round, while Geely’s electric vehicle subsidiary closed its first external financing round at a lofty $9 billion valuation.

China’s biggest online comics platform Kuaikan rakes in $240 million funding round

Popular Chinese online comics platform Kuaikan has raised $240 million in a new round of funding that was announced Monday. Investors in the round included existing backers Tencent, Coatue Management and Tiantu Capital, as well as some new entities like CCB International, the investment arm of China Construction Bank and One Store, a South Korean app market operator co-owned by Naver, which runs the world’s largest digital comics platform Naver Webtoon.

It has previously been reported that One Store had plans to invest around 223 million yuan ($34.4 million) in Kuaikan in exchange for a roughly 3% stake in the company, bringing the company’s total value to about 8 billion yuan after the latest financing round.

The company went so far as to claim that the recent round was the largest ever in China’s online comics industry, according to a statement on its official WeChat account. The proceeds from the round are expected to be used to cultivate Kuaikan’s content ecosystem. The company said it will spend a total of 2 billion yuan to subsidize its authors and produce animated comic book adaptions, according to the company’s statement.

SEE ALSO: Kuaikan Secures $240 Million in Funding, Setting Single-Round Record for Comics Industry

About Kuaikan

Kuaikan is currently the largest online comic platform in China. The company topped the most popular comic apps list in February with about 29 million monthly active users, according to a Chinese market consultancy Bigdata-Research.

AI computer chip maker Pingxin Technology receives $10 million in Pre-A financing round

Chinese tech media outlet 36Kr reported on Tuesday that Beijing-based artificial intelligence (AI) computer chip startup Pingxin Technology has completed a pre-A round of financing worth nearly $10 million, amid a global push to enhance chip technology and an ongoing semiconductor shortage.

The fresh funds are expected to support the firm’s efforts to develop efficient and versatile AI-powered computer chips that can be implemented in a wide range of smart products. According to 36Kr, the lead investors in the deal are Zhen Fund and Puhua Capital, with Sequoia Capital also having previously provided key funding for the startup.

The investment in Pingxin comes during a persistent global shortage of semiconductors. The deficiency was initiated by supply complications related to the COVID-19 outbreak early last year, then prolonged by soaring consumer demand for cars, computers and other products as economic conditions around the world began to recover.

About Pingxin

Founded just six months ago, Pingxin Technology says it aims to transform and accelerate the advancement of AI computing by fully integrating data storage and computing into a combined chip architecture, cutting costs and improving efficiency. The potential application of such AI chips is highly varied, as the technology will likely play a central role in actualizing the Internet of Things (IoT).

Geely’s EV brand Zeekr raises $500 million in first external funding round

Zeekr, the electric vehicle (EV) brand incubated by automotive giant Geely Auto, announced on Friday that it has raised $500 million in its first external funding round from a prominent cohort of investors including Intel Capital, battery maker CATL, and online entertainment platform Bilibili.

Other investors included Cathay Fortune Corporation, which invests in mining companies, and private-equity firm Boyu Capital that additionally signed long-term investment partnerships with Zeekr, the carmaker said in a statement.

The company is currently led by Chief Executive Andy An, who is also Geely’s president. Zeekr said investors would jointly hold a 5.6% stake in the company, valuing it at around $9 billion. Chief Financial Officer Yuan Jing told reporters that Zeekr does not currently have a clear plan for its initial public offering.

The company’s only product currently is the Zeekr 001 model produced in the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo, with deliveries are expected to start later this year. Zeekr aims to sell 650,000 vehicles per year by 2025.

About Zeekr

Zeekr, which targets young and trendy customers, is jointly owned by Geely Auto and its parent Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.