Issue 42 | July 23, 2018

A Big Deal: Didi raises $500M from Booking Holdings; Expands into Japan with SoftBank
Didi Chuxing announced that it has raised $500 million from the US company Booking Holdings, owner of multiple hospitality websites including Booking.com, Priceline.com, Kayak.com, Agoda.com, Rentcars.com, and OpenTable.com.Didi will supply rides to customers of Booking’s apps around the world. In return, Booking will allow Didi users to make hotel reservations on Booking.com and Agoda, the two companies said.Based in Connecticut, Booking operates in more than 220 countries and territories. In 2017, 89% of its bookings were made outside the US. The company has been making strategic investments in key Chinese peers, including Ctrip and Meituan Dianping.

In the same week, Didi announced that it is launching a joint venture with Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group to take its ride-hailing service to Japan. The new venture, Didi Mobility Japan, will test a taxi-hailing service this fall in Osaka with a plan to expand into other major cities including Kyoto, Fukuoka, and Tokyo. SoftBank is a major backer of Didi, having participated in two rounds of Didi’s fundraising last year.

Japan is one of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists. More than 7.3 million Chinese tourists visited Japan in 2017, a 15% increase from the previous year. For the 2020 Olympics, Japan expects to welcome 40 million tourists, about half of them from China.

Note: Didi Chuxing and Ctrip are GGV portfolio companies.

An Original: Making Sense of Pinduoduo

Pinduoduo, one of China’s fastest growing e-commerce startups, filed for an IPO on the Nasdaq under the symbol PDD, less than three years after its founding. With over 300 million active buyers and over $20 billion in annual GMV, Pinduoduo has risen to become one of China’s top three shopping apps, leveraging a “team purchase” model for its growth.

We created a detailed deck that explains how Pinduoduo works and factors that led to its rapid growth, complete with a video walk-through of Pinduoduo’s app. GGV is not an investor in Pinduoduo. This deck is for informational purposes only.

Read the deck online here and download the PDF version here.

A Big Deal: Zuoyebang Raises $350M
Leading online tutoring platform Zuoyebang (作业帮, or “homework help”) announced that it completed a new Series D funding round of $350 million from a group of investors led by Coatue Management. GGV Capital participated in the round, co-led the company’s Series B in 2016, and participated in its Series C in 2017.

Founded in 2014, Zuoyebang is an online education platform where K-12 students can upload photos of their homework questions, and the platform will analyze and match to solutions in its database. For questions without answers, students can opt to pay for virtual one-on-one sessions with teachers who partner with Zuoyebang.

Zuoyebang is currently the most popular app in China’s booming online education sector targeting K-12 students, according to iResearch. Zuoyebang says it has more than 70 million active monthly users and more than 5 million paid users, half of whom are from third-tier-or-below Chinese cities where high-quality education is less accessible.

Note: Zuoyebang is a GGV portfolio company. Click here to read an interview (in Chinese) with Zuoyebang founder Hou Jianbing and GGV’s vice president Erica Yu.

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A Big Deal: Ofo Downsizes International Operations
The bike-sharing company Ofo said it is scaling back its operations in a number of international markets, including the US. Ofo will shutter its operations in some countries, such as Australia, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, India, and Israel. Ofo also reportedly laid off the majority of its US workforce and will shut down its operations in several US cities.In early July, the head of Ofo’s US business Chris Taylor, along with two other executives, resigned. Just last month, Taylor had written in a blog post that Ofo was servicing 30 US cities and aimed to be in “at least 100” by the end of the year.The company said it is not vacating the US, but is reorienting to focus on markets that will help it become profitable. As part of the change, Ofo co-founder and CEO Dai Wei will be directly in charge of international markets going forward.

A Product: Google Launches WeChat Mini-Game
Google launched an AI-powered drawing game within WeChat called Cai Hua Xiao Ge (猜画小歌, which roughly translates into “Picture guessing with little Google”). The game, which went viral, is the latest signal of the search giant’s ambition in China.

In the game, users draw an object that Google’s neural network attempts to recognize, and users win points when the machine makes a successful guess. Google AI’s neural network is based upon the world’s biggest sketch database with over 50 million drawings. The game is similar to the web-based Quick Draw that Google launched in 2016.

WeChat is now home to over 1 million mini-programs (lightweight apps that live within WeChat). Games are the most popular genre of mini-programs. In April, WeChat opened its mini-program platform to outside developers for the first time.

Recently, Google has stepped up its involvements in China, where the majority of its services continues to be banned. Last month Google announced a $550 million investment in JD.com, China’s second-largest e-commerce player. It also struck a patent licensing partnership with Tencent, set up an AI lab in Beijing, and invested in game streaming startup Chushou.

Note: Chushou is a GGV portfolio company.

NEW 996 Podcast: Justin Kan of Twitch and Atrium: From Builder to Entrepreneur

We interviewed serial entrepreneur Justin Kan, co-founder of Twitch, the game-streaming platform acquired by Amazon in 2014 for almost $1 billion. More recently, Justin co-founded Atrium LTS, a startup that’s building technology to revolutionize the legal industry. GGV is an investor in Atrium.

Justin recounted the story of how he started to livestream his life before streaming became cool, the pitfalls he has experienced during his startup journey, whether it was the right decision to sell Twitch to Amazon in 2014, and what gets him excited about his new venture Atrium.

Listen to the 996 Podcast on iTunes, Overcast, Spotify, or SoundCloud. We’re on XimalayaFM too! Just search “GGV996.”
Join our 996 Meetup in San Francisco!

Hans and Zara will be hosting a meetup for the 996 community in San Francisco. This event is open to anyone who follows the 996 Podcast or Newsletter. Registration is required and space is limited.

Time: Thursday, July 26, 7-9pm
Location: South Park, San Francisco (specific location will be included in the confirmation email upon registration)
Registration link: 996.ggvc.com/sf

Stay tuned for future meetups in other cities across the world! Details will be announced in the 996 WeChat groups and Slack Channel. To join the community, visit 996.ggvc.com/community.

Hans & Zara from GGV Capital