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China’s newest unicorn Dada raises $300 million

DST Global, Sequoia Capital, and other previous investors refuel an "Uber for deliveries" app

Financial trends and news by Ronny Kerr
January 5, 2016
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/4274

Lists of the world’s most highly valued private companies, i.e. unicorns, are populated with companies like Uber and Lyft not just because they’re shuttling passengers around with convenient mobile apps, but because they’re solving complex logistical problems related to transportation and delivery. Applied broadly, these breakthroughs in logistics have far-reaching implications.

And that’s why another unicorn was born in China today.



Based in Shanghai, Dada (their logo is the little man leaping up there) offers a mobile app connecting delivery workers with short-distance delivery jobs. In the same way that Uber hires freelance drivers in their own cars to pick up and drop off passengers around the city, Dada works with freelance drivers willing to take on delivery assignments.

The company just closed a $300 million Series D round of funding from from DST Global, Sequoia Capital, and other unnamed investors, according to Chinese media reports. After the new round, Dada is now valued at over $1 billion, making it the world’s newest unicorn.

Today there are nearly 150 unicorns across the globe, with a sizeable chunk of those just barely making the $1 billion valuation cutoff.

Dada last raised funding in June 2015 with a $100 million Series C round from the same investors as today, along with Greenwoods Capital. And that was tacked onto a previous $50 million across two financing rounds, meaning the company has raised $450 million in total.

The company’s growth over the past half year has been explosive.

In the June 2015 announcement, Dada says it had over 100,000 freelancers using its app to make deliveries in more than 30 cities, including Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou. Those numbers have since ballooned to 800,000 registered and verified delivery workers in 40 Chinese cities.

Also revealed last summer was that 100,000 stores and over 100 e-commerce companies were using Dada to fulfill 600,000 online orders every day. We haven’t been able to dig up the latest figures to see how much they’ve grown in the past six months.

Interestingly, Dada’s services are used by another Chinese unicorn whose core service is food delivery, Ele.me. Based in Shanghai like Dada, Ele.me has raised over $1 billion from Tencent Holdings and Sequoia Capital, and is today valued at $4.5 billion.

The plot thickens even more when you see that Uber’s main rival in China, Didi Kuaidi, has also partnered with Ele.me. Uber’s own food delivery service, UberEATS, will definitely struggle to compete with these native-grown businesses and partnerships.


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