News > Venture Capital

Goldman Sachs' startups to watch
<p>Goldman Sachs is edging its way into the hearts and minds of startups looking for funding and support, particularly the unicorns. The investment firm examined some of the up-and-coming firms for a list of the top 10 startups to watch, reports Business Insider.</p> <p> Appear Here- $9.4 million, London- finds pop-up shop storefronts to rent, much like booking a hotel room.<br /> EquipmentShare- $2.2 million, Missouri- allows contractors to rent and lend construction equipment.<br /> Getaround- $43 million, California- lets you rent your car in advance or on demand.<br /> Mast Mobile- $5.4 million, New York- combines your business and personal mobiles into one device.<br /> Narrative Science- $32.4 million, Illinois- automates simple reports and journalistic stories.<br /> Nutmeg- $37.3 million, London- customized financial portfolios to replace traditional advisors.<br /> Plated- $56.4 million, New York- food delivery services that provides the exact ingredients and recipes needed to cook.<br /> TradeBlock- $2.8 million, New York- bitcoin data provider.<br /> Vestorly- $2 million, New York- automated content marketing for businesses and leveraged use of online connections.<br /> Yhat- $2.6 million, New York- tool to make big data implementation more efficient.</p> <p>Photo: George Redgrave</p>
VC-backed phone giant Xiaomi launches new service
<p>Xiaomi made big waves in the smartphone industry when it introduced its first low-cost phone in 2011. Now the Chinese electronics firm plans to bring its unique brand of disruption to the laptops and telecoms space.</p> <p>This week Xiaomi launched its new telecoms service, Mi Mobile, alongside its latest Mi 4C budget smartphone. The company has been given a state license for a virtual telecoms network, which means it can lease infrastructure from one of China’s three big telecoms to offer self-branded services.  </p> <p>The fact that Xiaomi is bringing its brand to a fresh and potentially very lucrative sector should no doubt be welcome  to its venture capital backers which include IDG Capital, Morningside Group, GIC, DST Global, Hopu investments, and All-Star Investments.</p> <p>Tech in Asia reports that less than 1% of China’s mobile users subscribe to China’s virtual telecom operators. Xiaomi hopes to topple the existing but lackluster service providers by leveraging its brand and offering both pay-as-you-go and contract services.  </p> <p>And it’s not just China's virtual operators that are facing fresh competition. Xiaomi has confirmed it will be releasing a laptop. The details are sparcse at this point, but the firm is looking to launch in the second quarter of 2016.<br /> Photo: Kārlis Dambrāns</p>
Asia's bulging unicorn birth rate is close on US heels
<p>When it comes to churning out unicorns - startups valued over $1 billion -  the US rides high, but the Asian stampede is growing. For now at least. </p> <p>Business Insider points out that while many expect a  unicorn extinction event soon, this does little to stop the rise in the number of unicorns coming into existence.</p> <p>CB Insights' Unicorn Tracker reveals that of the current 137 unicorns, 83  are in the US. The rest are found in Asia, Europe, and South America. China alone had 25.</p> <p>But the gap between Asia and the US is closing, In the second quarter of 2015, the US produced 12 new unicorns and Asia created nine, buoyed by several mega-financings. These included  Tujia, Panshi, and One97 Communications which each raised in excess of $200 million.</p> <p>A look over the past year shows that Asia has produced 20 unicorns, nearly two-thirds of the US's 34. This is impressive considering the relative infancy of Asia's start-up ecosystem compared with that of the US.  The only issue is whether Asia will maintain this kind of momentum in the face of slower economic growth in China.<br /> Photo: Owlana<br /> &nbsp;</p>
11 European unicorns hit $1B valuation
<p>The U.S. may be the unicorn kingdom, but Europeans are creating their own tech unicorns too.</p> <p>In the last 12 months, Europe has birthed 11 new startups with valuations of $1 billion or more, reports Business Insider. Most of the list comes from London or Germany, and three are finance related. Here they are:</p> <p> Farfetch-$1 billion- London-based fashion startup. Serves as a storefront for more than 300 global boutiques.<br /> Funding Circle- $1 billion- London-based peer-to-peer lending platform.<br /> TransferWire- $1 billion- London-based, with a background from Estonia, peer-to-peer money transfer service.<br /> Auto1 Group- $1 billion- German-founded car sale startup.<br /> Shazam- $1 billion- Music identification app with ambitions to move beyond just songs.<br /> Home24- $1.03 billion- Online German furniture store.<br /> Ayden- $1.5 billion- Netherlands' payments company.<br /> BlaBlaCar- $1.6 billion- European car sharing service.<br /> HelloFresh- $2.9 billion- German-based food delivery startup.<br /> Delivery Hero- $3.1 billion- German-based platform that allows apps and local websites to partner with local restaurants in other countries.<br /> Global Fashion Group- $3.1 billion- A compilation of fashion startups in emerging markets.</p> <p>Photo: Steven Depolo</p>
Ratan Tata: An archangel of Indian VC
<p>This week Ratan Tata was listed by LiveMint as one of the “archangels of Indian e-commerce”, a title earned by his long list of investments in the space - but his investment activity goes far beyond that.</p> <p>If you don’t know Ratan Tata, you know his surname.  The 77 year old is chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons - the holding company for Indian mega-conglomerate Tata Group - and one of the leading lights of India’s business community.  He is also a prolific and enthusiastic angel investor.</p> <p>In short, Ratan loves India’s VC scene, and startups love to be associated with him, and his name. His  list of investments also shows he has a knack for picking winners:</p> <p> Altaeros Energies - Wind energy<br /> Snapdeal - E-commerce<br /> Bluestone - E-commerce<br /> Urban Ladder - E-commerce<br /> Swasth India - Healthcare<br /> CarDekho - E-commerce<br /> Grameen Capital - Finance<br /> Paytm - Fintech<br /> Ola Cabs - Ride sharing<br /> Ampere - Electric vehicles<br /> Kaaryah - E-commerce<br /> Infinite Analytics - Marketing analytics<br /> Holachef - Food delivery<br /> Xiaomi Mi - Electronics</p> <p>He is also an advisor to three India-focused VC funds: Jungle Ventures, Kalaari Capital, and IDG Ventures India. He only joined IDG this month, and  now the fund is hoping to to use some of that Tata magic to help raise $200 million for its  next fund.</p> <p>Photo: American Center Mumbai</p>
Asian food delivery startups are gobbling each other up
<p>Food delivery start-up Foodpanda has just made its ninth acquisition, picking up Singapore-Dine for an undisclosed sum. This is the latest in a string of mergers in this space</p> <p>According to the Straits Times the purchase adds Singapore eateries Tony Roma's, Subway, 4Fingers and California Pizza Kitchen to its list of about 500 restaurants.</p> <p>Food delivery platforms have been gaining popularity in Asia for some time, offering both convenience for consumers and cost savings for restaurants who want to avoid the painful overheads associated with food delivery.</p> <p>With nine acquisitions under its belt, Rocket Internet-backed Food Panda is certainly becoming an apex predator in the space. In Asia it now covers all of Southeast Asia, South Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.</p> <p>But its not the only one gobbling up competition in the region.</p> <p>Over the past 18-months we have seen Singapore's Food Runner swallow down Philippine start-up City Delivery and Hong Kong's Koziness Concepts - previously iDelivery - buy Dial-a-Dinner and Soho Delivery.</p> <p>Its not just food delivery sites angling for a top spot in the space, either. In India ride sharing app Ola has launched Ola Cafe while Zomato - the fast growing restaurant discovery site that recently bought US rival Urbanspoon - is expanding into food delivery too.</p> <p>Dubbed by TechCrunch as an "Uber for Food", India-based  Zomato has eight acquisitions to its name and it could soon show FoodPanda that its not the only big fish in sea.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
Is this Chinese start-up disrupting the world's oldest profession?
<p>A Beijing-based start-up called Zubowa - meaning "rent me" -  has raised a $1.5 million angel round for a platform that allows users to sell themselves for a day... or a night.</p> <p>Of course, many uses for this service are purely innocent: perhaps you need someone to teach you piano, another player on your soccer team, or just someone to play bridge with your grandma. But there are other - potentially murkier - services also being offered: dating.</p> <p>According to Tech in Asia, the app is not shy about it either. The description attached to the app even boasts: "there are a ton  of beautiful girls and handsome guys waiting for you."</p> <p>It doesn't take a massive leap of the imagination to see how a platform such as this opens itself for exploitation. It will also be interesting to see how this startup navigates clear regulatory and cultural pitfalls.</p> <p>In any case, online-to-offline services is a fast-growing sector in China right now. Given that China's unemployment rate is the rise - the National Bureau of Economic Research recently put it at 10.9% -  a platform like this could still gain traction.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
Raising money? There's a new entry fund-raising step -- 'pre-seeding'
<p>After family and friends, hopeful entrepreneurs would go to seed funds to raise money. There's a new step now in the fundraising process. It's called "pre-seed."  Sarah Lacy writes in Pando.com (paywall):<br /> Welcome to the messy, inevitable collision of four trends: The series A crunch, bigger rounds later in a company’s life demanding higher pro-ratas, the rise and success of institutional seed rounds over the last 5+ years, and the increasing prices of building a company in San Francisco.</p> <p>Simply put: “Seed” is no longer seed. Pre-seed is seed. And even that’s not the earliest round: There’s friends and family before that. “Series A is actually the fourth round of funding,” says Manu Kumar, of K9 ventures, the best known pre-seed fund. “Before that there is seed, then before that there is pre-seed and then before that there is friends and family. We are the first institution in, but typically we are the second money.”<br /> Photo: Hartwig HKD</p>
HK billionaire Li Ka-shing's tech fund is Israel’s biggest foreign investor for upstarts
<p>Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures Ltd, which invests in technology companies such as Facebook, Slack and Spotify, is the biggest source of foreign investment for a number of tech startups in Israel.</p> <p>Citing data from market tracker IVC Research Center, the WSJ says Horizons has invested in at least 28 tech startups in Israel including Corephonotics, designer of dual-lens system for mobile-phone cameras, and Kaiima, a seed-technology company. In fact, startups from Israel now accounts for more than a third of the tech venture-capital fund’s more than 60 portfolio of startups, it says.</p> <p>The latest information comes as no surprise as Li, ranked the second richest man in Asia according to Bloomberg, has been aggressively expanding his empire all over the world. Just this week, Li’s Hutchison Whampoa sealed a deal with Spain’s Telefonica to acquire its British mobile phone unit O2 for 10.25 billion pounds (US$15.3 billion).</p> <p>Hutchison has been active in Israel way ahead of Horizon. Hutchison has established its presence in the country for more than a decade while Horizon, the first major Asian investor to put up money in Israeli tech companies, only did so in 2011, the WSJ says.</p> <p>Hutchison owns stakes in Partner Communications, Israel’s No.2 mobile-phone company, and in SDL Desalination, a water company, the report says.<br /> Photo: Ron Shoshani</p>
Video: The rise of the private IPO
<p>Frederic Kerrest, COO and Co-Founder, of Okta, a unicorn and red-hot identity management company, sat down with Fortune journalist Dan Primack and Anand Sanwal, CEO and Co-Founder of CB Insights, the venture capital research company. First question: Would you invest in an index comprised of unicorns? How would you answer?</p>