China VC Weekly: Qiming’s New $1B Fund, Tencent’s Philippine Moves and More AI

Last week saw one of the most prominent Chinese TMT investors Qiming Venture Partners raise their seventh USD fund, a notable milestone for a fund partly responsible for the success of companies like Xiaomi and Meituan Dianping. One of China’s largest internet corporations, Tencent, topped up its investment into Phillippines-based fintech startup Voyager Innovations to gain a better foothold in the region. Several investments in AI were also announced as per usual with companies AI Speech and Lightelligence among the largest beneficiaries.

Qiming Venture Partners raise $1.1 billion for their new USD fund

Qiming Venture Partners raised $1.1 billion in the seventh round of fundraising for their USD fund. The VC firm will continue to focus on early investment opportunities in the healthcare and TMT fields, including biomedicine, medical devices, genetic diagnosis, medical services, information technology, artificial intelligence, corporate services, consumer Internet and e-commerce. Similar to before, the vast majority of the funds raised comes from institutional investors such as university endowments, charity funds, family funds, and pension funds.

According to Qiming, the new fund will be led by Qiming partners Duane Kuang, Nisa Leung, William Hu and Gary Rieschel. The investment management team is located in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. 

About Qiming Venture Partners

Founded in 2016, Qiming Venture Partners has so far invested in over 30 unicorns. Among the Qiming-invested companies that have successfully listed on stock exchanges are Xiaomi, Meituan Dianping and Bilibili. In 2019, Qiming distributed over $1 billion in cash returns to its institutional backers.

Tencent raises its stake in Philippine fintech startup Voyager Innovations

China’s Tencentand several other investors committed an additional investment of $120 million to the Philippines-based digital financial services company Voyager Innovations, according to a statement released by Voyager. Voyager said the $120 million investment is part of its new round of fund-raising and that the company is currently negotiating with other financial and strategic investors.

In October 2018, Tencent and KKR completed an investment of $175 million in the company, the largest single investment raised by a Philippines-based technology company at that time. 
In February 2017, Voyager’s local competitor, Mynt, backed by the Philippine telecommunications operator Globe, received a strategic investment from Alibaba-affiliated Ant Financial, the operator of Alipay. Mynt runs multiple businesses including a digital wallet service — Gcash.

About Voyager Innovations

Founded in 2013, Voyager owns brands such as PayMaya, the first prepaid online payment app that enables the financially underserved to pay online without a credit card. The service has already penetrated Philippine e-commerce, retail and even natural gas industries.

Natural language processing firm AI Speech completes a RMB 410M series-E round

Suzhou-based natural language processing startup AI Speech completed a series-E round of financing raising a total of 410 million yuan. The round was led by CTC Capital, BAIC Investment, and the CITIC subsidiary Goldstone Investment. The financing will mainly be used for product development, technological innovation and market expansion.

Gao Shixing, chairman and CEO of AI Speech, said that in the future, his company will further increase R&D investment in technology innovation and product capability upgrades. The firm aims to facilitate the digitization of government apparatuses and the financial services industry.

About AI Speech

AI Speech provides natural language processing solutions for Internet of Things devices based on a new generation of human-computer interaction systems and independently developed artificial intelligence chips. The company also offers an omni-channel intelligent information service robot solution.

Optical chip developer Lightelligence raises a $26-million Series A from Matrix Partners China and others

Optical chip developer Lightelligence announced that it has completed a $26 million Series A round financing. This round was led by Matrix Partners China and China Capital Investment Fund with Vertex Ventures, CASSTAR, China Merchants Venture followed. Previous investors Baidu Ventures and FreesFund also contributed to the round. 

Lightelligence raised a seed round of financing of $10.7 million in 2018. The company has raised a cumulative total of $36.7 million over two rounds.

“In the past two years, photon computing has received considerable attention around the world. It is no longer a scientific research project, but a productive technology. Many startups and large companies have entered the market,” said Shen Yichen, founder and CEO of the company.

About Lightelligence

Established in 2018, Lightelligence is exploring the application of photonic chips to accelerate AI computing. Lightelligence released its first photonic chip prototype in April 2019. The company currently has roughly 50 employees with teams in Boston, USA and Shanghai, China.