A good year for Bertelsmann Asia Investments
2016 was a good year for the investment fund Bertelsmann Asia investments (BAI) under the direction of Annabelle Long, Managing Director of BAI and CEO of the China Corporate Center in Beijing. In all, the fund, which moved into new offices in the heart of Beijing's diplomatic quarter last year, made 30 investments. All of the investments completed 50 rounds of follow-up financing last year, raising funds totaling more than $1.5 billion.
$2 billion revenues
The young companies have used the money from investors to finance further growth – and they are certainly growing: The BAI portfolio companies now generate annual revenues of over $2 billion. Their sites and services reach more than 500 million people a month. In addition, last year alone saw 10 BAI holdings becoming profitable and entering a positive cycle of development on their own. BAI contributed to this not only with capital, but also with expertise in areas such as finance, HR, communications, and law. And it put the startups in touch with other Bertelsmann companies. BAI calls this comprehensive offer for startups “Investor as a service” (IaaS).
One of last year’s highlights from a BAI point of view was the merger of the two fashion e-commerce platforms Mogu Street and Meilishuo to form Meili Inc., now China's largest internet shopping community in the women's fashion sector. BAI had supported the startup Mogu Street and its founder Chen Qi from the beginning. Another example of an early investment seeing rapid development is the e-commerce platform YJP, a B2B online retailer specializing in the sale of alcohol. Supported by BAI, YJP completed three rounds of financing (A) to (C) within a year, raising around $100 million, and is now a leading online liquor platform in China.
Holdings that are active in particularly attractive business fields for BAI were also supported with money and investments in 2016. These include companies that appeal to China’s growing middle class with high-quality services: the fitness app Keep, the dating app Tantan, Dayima, a mobile community in the area of women's health, and Zaozuo, an e-commerce platform for designer furniture. Another area is the growing sharing-economy market, represented by the Mobike bicycle rental company and the startup Xiaozhu.
BAI also continues to invest in companies that are active in content creation - DS Movie, CX 630, Jike, Douban, Penguin Guide, Pencil News, and Mono - as well as in companies, whose business model extends beyond China’s borders, such as Bigo Live, Mena Mobile, Baca and DotC United. And finally, BAI sees good prospects for services in the field of asset management in the next ten years and invested accordingly in Yixin Capital, Fenqile, Nongfenqi and Meixin Finance.
BAI’s investment successes have been accompanied by a number of awards. The China Venture industry association listed BAI as a “Top 10 Mobile Internet VC of the Year 2016.” The investment bank China Renaissance listed the Bertelsmann fund as a “Top 10 Best Portfolio Management VC of the Year 2016,” and the online tech magazine “36Kr” included BAI in its list of the “Top 20 Investment Institutions of the Year 2016.”
BAI Managing Director Annabelle Long has also been honored. She was named in “China’s Top 10 Influential Investors of 2016” by China Renaissance, and as a “2016 China Venture – Financial Times China Top Investor.” Since her appearance on the TV show “Dragon’s Den” (“Shark Tank”) in May 2016 if not before, the Bertelsmann manager has been one of China's most famous investors. As the sole woman on the show, she evaluated promising ideas by founders along with five other investment experts. In the first season of the founders show, she invested in a total of three startups.
Last year also saw awards for BAI VPs Will Wang (“Top 20 Most Promising Investors of the Year 2016,” presented by “36Kr” / “Most Popular Elite Investor of the Year 2016,” presented by China Renaissance) and William Zhao (“Rising Stars 2016,” presented by Global Corporate Venturing / “Most Popular Elite Investor of the Year 2016,” presented by China Renaissance).
Nor were the kudos limited to BAI and its team: The names of BAI’s investments and their founders are also found on many lists. Wang Ning (Keep), Chai Ke (Dayima), and Wang Haoping (zhan.com) were listed by the business magazine “Forbes Asia” as “Top 30 Chinese Entrepreneurs Under 30.” The Chinese edition of the business magazine “Fortune” featured Xiao Wenjie (Fengile), Shi Yi (Avazu) and Dai Kun (Youxin) on its “Top 40 Business Elites Under 40” list. And BAI portfolio companies Jike, YJP, Mobike, Fenqile and Chelunwas made it onto the “Top 100 Innovative Growth Enterprises of China 2016” list published by the industry portal “Cyzone.”