Sinovation Ventures is the early stage venture capital firm established by Dr. Kai-Fu Lee. We invest in start-ups in China and in the U.S., at seed, Series A and Series B stages, in specific technology focus areas.
In the U.S., we invest in start-ups, at seed, Series A and Series B stages, in specific technology focus areas. We evaluate projects primarily based on their team and product, their merit for the U.S. market, as well as their potential for successfully entering the China market in due time.
Sinovation Ventures (fka 创新工场 China's Innovation Works and Idea Bulb Ventures) aims to be the founders' partner both in the U.S. and in China, with the help and support of our teams in the Bay Area, as well as in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. We believe in the "full service" venture investment model; as a result, beyond capital, we also provide a wide range of services to our portfolio companies, including recruiting and networking opportunities, marketing and public relations advice, as well as manufacturing in China resources and advice.
Sinovation Ventures' investment focus areas include:
New - machine learning optimized - applications for specific verticals (e.g. finance, retail and HR) or for specific functions (e.g. sales and marketing) that can show a clear ROI from day one and can create a dense data network effect in the long-term.
Start-ups that eliminate intermediaries (e.g. agents, brokers, middle-men) and the relevant system inefficiencies, through use of data science and artificial intelligence.
Start-ups that are building products that leverage new computing architectures (e.g. GPU, FPGA, embedded systems etc.) to increase performance and efficiency, as well as lower cost.
Sinovation Ventures occasionally invests in projects beyond these focus areas. Such projects are led by exceptional teams and typically have an immediate and clear synergy with our portfolio in China.
Hua is a co-founder and Managing Partner of Sinovation Ventures, based in Beijing. Earlier in his career, Hua served as Google China’s Head of Business Development, where he built Google China’s premium ad network into an annual $80 million business. Hua also managed Google China’s portfolio of investments, including well-established Chinese internet companies such as Dianping, Ganji, Tianya, Xunlei, Maxthon, and others. Prior to Google China, Hua co-founded and managed Shanghai Yinda Technology, an engineering consulting company offering mobile telecom network planning and optimization services. Hua has an MBA from Stanford University.
Chris is a Partner at Sinovation Ventures and the CEO of Sinovation North America, currently based in the Bay Area after spending 10 years in Singapore and in Beijing. Chris has been “hands on” his entire career around his entrepreneurial and angel investment projects. Earlier in his career, he was a Managing Partner at Eastern Bell Venture Capital and also served as the CEO of ICDL Asia Pacific, an organization in the computer skills certification sector with operations in 25 Asian countries which he helped turnaround and relocate to Singapore. Prior to Asia, Chris co-founded and managed ECDL Hellas in his native Athens, Greece. Chris holds a M.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering from Imperial College in London, and an MBA from INSEAD.
Jiaping is an Investments Director and a VP of the AI Institute at Sinovation Ventures. He is responsible for investments in deep technology startups, both in the U.S. and in China. Jiaping was a Lead Researcher at Microsoft Research, initially in Beijing and later in Redmond. His research work was published in 10+ ACM SIGGRAPH papers and US patents, focusing on real-time photo-realistic graphics and data-driven appearance modeling. As a full-stack engineer, he has comprehensive experience in recommendation systems, P2P networks, quantitative trading, GPU computing, etc.
He has received his Ph.D. from the Institute of Computing Technology of the Chinese Academy Of Sciences, advised by Harry Shum, Microsoft EVP. He won the best dissertation award in China for his work on “Data-Driven Appearance Modeling and Rendering” in 2009, the only winner among all Ph.D. graduates in computer science.
Ricky Wong is a Senior Investments Manager at Sinovation Ventures, where he is overseeing investments in deep technology startups, with a focus in robotics, autonomous vehicles, and AI-powered enterprise applications. Prior to that, Ricky started a company applying NLP to eBooks, and he is also an active angel investor. Ricky started his career at Google where he helped start the business intelligence and data-warehousing team. As a tech lead, he grew the team to 30+ engineers across four regions (U.S., UK, India, and China). Ricky got his MS/BS in computer science from UCSB in 3 years, and his MBA from INSEAD.
Angela is a Senior Investments Manager at Sinovation Ventures with experience in U.S.-China cross-border investments, economic analysis, and journalism. Previously, she was a research analyst with the Rhodium Group in New York, where she co-authored a major study on China's economic data and performance. Prior to that, she was a researcher for The New York Times in Shanghai, covering China's economy and the technology sector. She is the creator of an audio program and still writes a column for Bloomberg Businessweek on U.S.-China dynamics and the education sector. A native of Beijing, Angela holds dual Master's degrees in International Finance / Journalism from Columbia University, and dual Bachelor's degrees in Journalism / Economics from Peking University.
Charles is a Venture Partner at Sinovation Ventures. He is the co-founder of RedOctane and the co-creator of the Guitar Hero video game franchise. Guitar Hero launched in 2005 and went on to become the fastest video game to reach $1B in sales. Charles left Guitar Hero in 2010 and is currently the co-founder of Indigo 7, a startup focused on brands in fashion apparel and entertainment. He is an active, serial angel investor. Charles immigrated to California as a young child and currently resides in Silicon Valley with his wife and two daughters. He holds a BA in Economics and Asian Studies from the University of California at Berkeley.
Kai is a Venture Partner at Sinovation Ventures. He is the co-founder and ex-CEO of RedOctane and the co-creator of the Guitar Hero video game franchise, acquired by Activision in June 2006. Kai was also co-founder and CEO of Adux Software, a software company developing solutions for the server appliance market. Prior to Adux Software, he was a consultant with Accenture, where he worked with Fortune 500 clients in the area of supply chain management. He is an active, serial angel investor. Kai holds a BA in Computer Science from the University of California at Berkeley.
Spaces Raises $6.5 Million, Including by Top Chinese Theme Park Operator
Spaces Inc., the virtual reality and mixed reality company launched in 2016 by VR pioneers from DreamWorks Animation, has raised an additional $6.5 million in funding, led by China-based Songcheng Performances Development Co. Ltd., with additional investment from Comcast Ventures, the venture-capital affiliate of Comcast Corporation, and other leading VC groups. Combined with a previously announced $30-million Spaces-Songcheng theme-park joint venture, the new investments accelerate Spaces’ vision to build a bold new era of VR-enabled parks and attractions. Read more ...
SRI spinoff SuperFlex raises $9.6M to pursue ‘powered clothing’
A spinoff from the robot veterans at SRI is making a big bet on ubiquitous soft robotics: SuperFlex aims to establish a new product category with what it calls “powered clothing.” The company, which initially split off in April, hopes to have a product to show in a few months, and has raised nearly $10 million to develop it. Powered clothing, or “intelligent wearable strength” as the company also calls it, would be custom garments with flexible electric motors built in that help the wearer with everyday tasks like simply standing up and walking around — simple, that is, for people whose muscles and bones are in good shape. But it’s different from the exoskeletons you might have seen coming out of DARPA and other military-orientated research. Read more ...
Earth Networks acquires Whisker Labs, launches DIY home energy monitor
Environmental technology company Earth Networks has spent two decades building sensors to monitor weather, lightning, and greenhouse gases. In order to amass more data (perhaps like SETI) while also helping consumers be better global stewards, the company has launched a home energy monitor that anyone can install. This product is the first to come from Earth Networks’ newest division, which was created through the acquisition of Whisker Labs, founded in 2014 by Oren Schetrit and Steven Lanzisera, both of whom formerly worked at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Read more ...
Sinovation Ventures Raises $675 Million in Fresh Capital
Sinovation Ventures, co-founded by former Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. executive Kai-Fu Lee, on Monday said it closed two venture capital funds aimed at deals. A new U.S. dollar-denominated fund of $300 million was raised from global investors; Apple Inc. supplier Foxconn Technology Group was the anchor investor. Sinovation Ventures also raised a new yuan-denominated fund of 2.5 billion yuan, larger than its previous 500 million yuan fund. Read more ...
Meet Fictiv, the Airbnb of 3-D Printing
We are thrilled to welcome Fictiv to our portfolio of companies. Fictiv makes it easy for hardware entrepreneurs to order and receive prototype parts by connecting them to a network of 3-D printers and manufacturing machinery. Fictiv aims to enable more entrepreneurs to launch hardware startups by lowering the costs of product development. The founders say the company has demonstrated enough traction to secure $10 million in investments. Its chief investor is Accel Partners, which led the company's seed financing and its Series A round late last year. Read more ...
Robot Maker Wonder Workshop Raises a $20M Series B
Wonder Workshop is dashing towards new markets, especially China.The maker of Dash and Dot has raised a $20 million Series B round led by WI Harper Group and Idea Bulb Ventures with participation from Learn Capital, Charles River Ventures, Madrona Venture Group and TCL. The company’s flagship products are two round blue robots aimed at introducing students age 6 to 12 to computational thinking. Read more ...
Planetary Resources Raises $21.1 M Series A
Planetary Resources, the asteroid mining company, announced today that it has secured US$21.1 million in Series A funding. The capital will be used to deploy and operate Ceres, an advanced Earth observation business that features the first commercial infrared and hyperspectral sensor platform to better understand and manage humanity’s natural resources. The funding was led by Bryan Johnson and the OS FUND; and joined by Idea Bulb Ventures; Tencent; Vast Ventures; Grishin Robotics; Conversion Capital; The Seraph Group; Space Angels Network, a syndication of investors from Angel.co; and Larry Page. Read more ...
Snapchat is acquiring mobile search app Vurb for $110M+
Snapchat could help you organize a night out with friends or get a digest of the day’s news thanks to its acquisition of mobile search startup Vurb. TechCrunch caught wind of the impending deal over the weekend and now The Information reports Snapchat is in the closing stages of talks to pay $110 million for Vurb (75 percent stock, 25 percent cash). Snapchat is also said to offer $75 million in retention bonuses to keep Vurb founder and CEO Bobby Lo around. Read more ...
Edyn debuts smart water valve
Oakland-based Edyn started selling a new, smart gardening device this week: an Internet-connected water valve that lets users irrigate their gardens or lawns automatically. The Edyn Water Valve uses data from the company’s Edyn Garden Sensor, a soil sensor, along with local weather systems, to adjust the moisture levels in the soil. If a user wants, they can adjust their irrigation systems via the Edyn smartphone app. Read more ...
DreamWorks Animation veterans create Spaces VR
Entertainment veterans from DreamWorks Animation have started their own virtual reality startup with $3 million in funding. The Santa Monica, California-based Spaces is headed by chief executive Shiraz Akmal and chief technology officer Brad Herman, two veterans who worked on DreamWorks Animation’s early VR experiences through 2015. Comcast Ventures led the funding for the company, which will VR and “mixed reality” experiences. Spaces is already working with such companies as Microsoft, NBCUniversal, Big Blue Bubble and The Hettema Group, among others, to develop and produce a wide range of projects across all VR and mixed reality platforms. Read more ...
Kamcord's Series C led by Time Warner
Today is a big day for Y Combinator graduate Kamcord, after the San Francisco-based startup announced a $10 million Series C round led by Time Warner, and a move that expands its streaming focus from mobile games to any app. Alongside Time Warner, existing backers Tencent, TransLink Capital, XG Ventures, Plug & Play Ventures and Wargaming participated in the round, which values the four-year-old company at more than $100 million. Read more ...
ClassWallet Closes $1.5M Seed Round
ClassWallet, fast-becoming the leading platform for school funds disbursement and tracking, has closed a $1.5 million round of seed financing. Total funding raised to date is $4.03 million. The priced round was led by Idea Bulb Ventures. Other investors include Techstars Ventures and William Guttman, as well as several education and financial technology angel investors. Read more ...
Square acquires Framed Data
Square is acquiring the team behind Framed Data, a predictive analytics service, and will be deploying the team of data scientists to its Square Capital team. Square tracks merchants’ transaction history through its services in order to better determine their eligibility for loans through Square Capital. There are certainly a lot of requirements around the analytics part of the service; Square has to do a detailed risk analysis for each customer and determine at what rate they are going to be paying back their loans. Read more ...
Caeden Introduces a Smart Bracelet
Just about every major tech company, like Apple and Microsoft, has some sort of wearable computer. Caeden, a wearable tech start-up, thinks that with most of these smartwatches and fitness accessories, an important first step was skipped: They don’t look like something you would want to wear. On Tuesday, the one-year-old company is opening orders for Sona, its smart bracelet. The bracelet includes the usual sensors you would find on a fitness gadget for counting steps, but also a heart rate sensor that can measure overall health and stress levels. Read more ...
Vurb has launched!
Google Search was not built for mobile. It’s all about lists of web pages, but the small screen is ruled by apps. That’s why if Google launched today, it might look a lot like Vurb … which did launch today. Vurb is a mobile search engine that pulls info from partnered apps like Yelp and Rotten Tomatoes, and deep-links you out to apps like Uber and Google Maps. Rather than send you clicking through links, it cobbles together critical content and contextual suggestions into saveable, shareable, actionable cards. Read more ...
Kaymbu at FastCompany's Top 10
Kaymbu was selected by FastCompany as one of the top 10 most innovative companies in education for 2015, for bridging the gap between school and home. Thanks to messaging tools like Remind and ClassDojo, teachers and parents communicate far more frequently and easily than they did in the days of printed letters lost in the murky depths of student backpacks. Kaymbu, a young startup focused on preschools, stands out from the pack for three reasons. Read more ...
GungHo Backs Kamcord's Series B
Fast-growing startup Kamcord Inc. – mobile gaming’s answer to Twitch – has secured a strategic round led by Japanese gaming giant GungHo Online Entertainment Inc. (3765.TO) at a valuation around $100 million. Kamcord makes a software developer kit, or SDK, for developers to drop into their mobile games. The code allows players to record slices of their game play and share key moments. Read more ...
Caeden debuts its headphones
While there are many established headphones on the market today, most lack sophistication and style. That’s where Caeden comes in. Hosted by Soo Joo Park, Caeden celebrated its launch in New Yorkl by throwing a party with friends and family. Caeden debuted the Linea Collection; featuring No1 on-ear headphones in three color ways (Faceted Carbon + Gold, Convex Carbon + Gunmetal, and Faceted Ceramic + Rose Gold) as well as No2 in-ear headphones. Read more ...
Scaled Inference Lands $8M!
Scaled Inference, a startup founded by two ex-Googlers that is building a cloud-based platform for third parties that want to use artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to run their apps and services, has raised another round of funding to continue its development and hiring, a Series A round of $8 million from Khosla Ventures. Read more ...
The “Idea Bulb China Tech Tour”
In September 2014, we took the founders of three of our Idea Bulb Ventures startups to Beijing, as part of the inaugural “Idea Bulb China Tech Tour”. It was a week full of interesting meetings, cultural immersion and a lot of fun. This is a snapshot of the overall experience and a recollection of the key takeaways from the trip. Read more ...
Smart baking scale rakes in $2M!
Drop, the smart baking scale that opened up for pre-orders back in June, announced today that it has raised $2M in seed funding to save as many baking students as possible from embarrassment. The scale connects to a mobile app and helps you measure exact amounts of the ingredients you need for your recipes. As for the app, it contains recipes and leads you through them with pictures and directions.
Vurb closes $8M Series A round!
Vurb wants to solve mobile search by aggregating utility from top third-party apps so you can make decisions rather than click links. Today the 2014 Disrupt NY Battlefield winner announced it has raised a meaty $8 million Series A led by Redpoint Ventures to play David to Google’s Goliath in search. Read more ...
Vurb wins TC Disrupt NY 2014!
It’s been a long, tough road, but it’s finally time to crown the winner of the Disrupt Battlefield. This year’s batch was truly awesome. Twenty-seven startups took the stage to present. The six finalists were Boomerang Commerce, ISI Technology, Mimi, Mink, ShowKit, and Vurb. It was an amazing batch with multiple hardware startups, innovative business models and good engineering. Read more ...
Kamcord raises $7.1M Series A!
With a new app and Asian markets in its eye, one of the few companies working to add gameplay video recording on iOS and Android just got a bunch of cash to pursue its goals. Kamcord, the maker of a software-development kit that enables gamemakers to add video recording to their mobile apps, reported this morning that it closed a $7.1 million Series A funding round.
Framed Data launches its beta
A study found that the average American user has 25 apps on their smartphone. But figuring out how to convince users to keep returning to your app instead of letting it languish on their mobile is much harder. YC-backed Framed Data, which just launched out of closed beta, wants to make it easy for developers to parse user behavior, even if they don’t have a data scientist on their team. Read more ...
OneMonth's new HTML course
OneMonth launched its HTML course, a series of video lessons and tutorials that show anyone (even a total beginner) how to build their first website. The student will pick up HTML, CSS, FTP, SEO best practices, Facebook API, Bootstrap, blog theming, and much more. Read more ... In the meantime, Mattan and Chris (OneMonth founders) continue their weekly Hacker News Nation episodes, which are both informative and fun to watch.
Swivl launches its cloud service
Swivl announced its "S Cloud", a connected service for its robotic mobile accessory for creating and hosting learning video content. The service is a companion to the company’s second-generation robot designed for tablets, smartphones, and handheld cameras. S Cloud is available for public beta since January 2014, with free and premium levels offered. Watch the video ...
Yahoo! acquires Distill
Yahoo! just acquired a San Francisco-based startup called Distill, which was working on a way to make technical recruiting easier by pairing video interviews and programming challenges. They had raised $1.3 million in funding from investors including Felicis Ventures, China’s Innovation Works and DN Capital. Read more ...
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