Silicon Valley is madly in love with startups that promote the “sharing economy” (think Uber for cars, Shyp for packages, or Liquidspace for office space). All of these companies have raised eye-popping amounts of money from eager investors. Now that popularity is going global. Recently Tujia.com, China’s answer to home-sharing site Airbnb, closed a US$ 300m funding round. Investors agreed on a company valuation of over US$ 1 billion, which clears the way for Tujia to join the ranks of ‘unicorns’, the (ghastly, in our opinion) nickname for tech startups that join the billion-dollar club.
Tujia’s investors are a “who’s who” of the fast-growing Chinese venture capital ecosystem. The ongoing implosion of the Chinese equity markets does not appear to be giving them pause. Taxi-hailing app Didi Kuaidi is currently in talks to raise up to US$ 1.5 billion; in the telecom sector, Xiaomi (popularly known as the “iPhone killer”) raised US$ 1.1 billion in December 2014 at a US$ 46 billion valuation.
(Fun fact: The ‘Tujia’ are a Chinese ethnic minority best known for their peculiar wedding ceremonies, where it is mandatory for the bride to cry inconsolably. Hysterical cursing at the matchmaker is encouraged, but apparently not compulsory).