17u.cn, a Chinese online travel service provider, has received RMB500 million (USD82mn) round of funding from Boyu Capital and existing investors, Oriza and Tencent.
Launched in 2004, 17u started with business-to-business online travel products. Till now it has little difference from other consumer-facing online travel services like Ctrip. 17u.cn provides hotel/flights/cruise booking, sightseeing tickets, services for self-travelers, group-buying deals, etc.
Tencent invested RMB tens of millions in 17u.cn in mid-2012. An earlier rumor was the Chinese Internet giant bought 30% a stake in 17u in 2011. But 17u never confirmed it. In 2008 the company received RMB35 million funding from Oriza.
After the deal in 2012, 17u’s services were introduced onto Tencent’s QQ Travel platform.
In 2012 17u announced it would go public on the Growth Enterprise Market in mainland China. That it hasn’t happened may have something to do with the fact that Chinese authorities put a freeze on IPOs from October 2012 to January 2014. Commenting on the latest round of funding, 17u said their goal is still IPO. This round of funding will be input into sightseeing tickets, short-distance travels, mobile, among others. The company aims to be the No.1 in casual travel in China.
Sightseeing tickets market is where Chinese online travel services are fighting, as the markets for flights and hotels are mature. Ctrip planned to input heavily into its attraction tickets platform this year.