Word has been circulating for months that Tencent has invested US$ tens of millions in Innovation Works, the Chinese startup incubator founded by former Google China head Kaifu Lee. Innovation Works spokesman Wang Zhaohui confirmed part of the speculation last night, saying Tencent did invested in the Chinese startup cradle, but refused to disclose the exact sum.
According to local news, investors behind Innovation Works’ back include HTC, Tencent, Russia-based DST, profound American angel investor Ron Conway and Bloomberg, mayor of New York city. People close to Innovation Works disclosed that the Chinese incubator now owns a fund of over RMB 800 million (US$ 123 million).
Also, Tencent is really at it. The Chinese internet powerhouse has swerved from its usual deeds of diving into new fields on its own and became public enemy, getting started to spend its way into new markets. As we have reported before, it had set up a RMB 500 million (US$ 77.15 million) worth of fund focusing on investing in TV serials, film and production houses in this April; then announced investing in Chinese big name film production company HBrothers Pictures last month, acquiring 4.6% shares for RMB 440 million (US$ 67.89 million). Later on, the big appetite shopper went on with US$ 84.4 million investment in elong (Chinese subsidiary of Expedia) for 16% of shares and US$ 50 million investment in Okbuy, a Chinese online vertical for shoes.
Usually, it seems to startups that Tencent is a vicious predator, waiting aside uneasily for a chance to plunge into their territory and squeeze them out of the market. The giant Chinese internet company has released its own portal(qq.com), search engine(soso.com), video site(v.qq.com), online auction service (paipai.com), online payment solution (tenpay.com), social network site (pengyou.com), mini-blog(t.qq.com) and many others, the list can go on and on. This would be why Tencent is deemed as public enemy in Chinese websphere.
So Tencent’s recent moves should bode well for Chinese startups, they might have the opportunity of receiving money from Tencent rather than being squeezed out.