China VC Weekly: Cheese Tea, Autonomous Driving, New Funds

In this week’s VC news: Chinese cheese tea giant HeyTea on track to raise a new massive round, autonomous driving champion WeRide raising over $600 million in just 5 months and early stage startup focused VC fund Northern Light closes new round.

Chinese Cheese Tea powerhouse HeyTea rumored to be preparing for a new fundraising round at $9 billion valuation

According to PEDaily, several independent sources said that Chinese milk tea chain HeyTea is getting ready to complete a new round of funding. At present, the amount of funding for the upcoming round has not been disclosed, though the company is currently valued at around $9.27 billion. HeyTea did not comment on the matter.

According to current information, investment institutions such as IDG Capital, Investor He Boquan, Meituan Dragon Ball Capital, Sequoia China, Black Ant Capital, Tencent, Hillhouse Capital and Coatue are believed to be in the running for financing this round of funding.

EqualOcean reported that HeyTea has completed four rounds of funding as of now.

In August 2016, HeyTea completed its first Series A round of more than 100 million yuan with IDG Capital as one of the investors. In April 2018, it received a Series B round of 400 million yuan with Meituan, Dragon Ball Capital and Black Ant Capital as investors; In July 2019, HeyTea gained the Series B+ round of funding from Tencent Investment and Sequoia Capital China, though the specific amount was not disclosed.

About HeyTea

In 2012, HeyTea was founded in an alleyway named Jiangbianli in Jiangmen in Guangdong Province. The innovative drink kicked off a new era of tea-based drinks infused with the unique taste of cheese. The company’s founder, Nie Yunchen, born in 1991, is on track to create the highest-valued brand for modern China teas.

SEE ALSO: HeyTea to Complete New Round of Funding for $9.27 Billion

Chinese Nissan-backed autonomous driving firm WeRide raises $600 million in five months

WeRide, a prominent Chinese autonomous driving startup, has raised more than $600 million in the past five months, bringing its total current valuation to $3.3 billion.

The Guangzhou-based company has now completed its $310 million Series C round of funding led by Alliance Ventures, China Structural Reform Fund and Pro Capital. This is the second investment in WeRide from Alliance Ventures, the venture capital fund of the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi (RNM) Alliance.

The four-year-old startup has accumulated more than five million kilometers of autonomous driving mileage and is moving forward with the commercialization of its driverless Robotaxi and Mini Robobus.

Ashwani Gupta, the COO of Nissan, expressed great confidence in the investment. “As China stands at the forefront of helping define the future of mobility, we are delighted to partner with WeRide to bring even more innovative technologies and services to enrich people’s lives in China,” he said.

“Throughout the past three years, Nissan has been a key partner of ours, enabling us to establish a leading fleet of Robotaxis. With their support, we will accelerate the commercial use of our driverless Robotaxis in China,” Tony Han, the Founder and CEO of WeRide, said.

About WeRide

Established in 2017, and headquartered in Guangzhou, WeRide is the first startup in the world to hold driverless test permits in both China and the US. WeRide’s Robotaxi service became available to the public in June 2020 through Amap, a popular ride-hailing mobile app with 140 million monthly active users.

Early stage VC Northern Light closes new $700 million fund

Northern Light Venture Capital (NLVC), which backs early-stage startups in China and the US, is set to close an RMB-denominated and a US dollar fund with $700 million in total capital commitments to double down on investments in the world’s two largest economies, especially emphasizing its presence in China.

Northern Light’s prominent portfolio companies include, Chinese mobile payment service provider LianLian, online platform for baby products Beibei, and education technology firm VIPKid.

About Northern Light Venture Capital

Northern Light Venture Capital was founded by general partners Feng Deng and Yan Ke on January 1, 2005. Currently it is managed by five Managing Directors. It manages approximately US$ 1.5 billion in committed capital with 4 US$ funds and 4 RMB funds, investing in more than 180 portfolio companies and seed investments to date.