Wang Xing, the founder of Meituan, plans to vote for another brother.
On March 8, Wang Xing released a circle of friends and revealed that individuals will participate in the A-round investment of Wang Huiwen’s startup company "light years away" and serve as directors.
Wang Huiwen and Wang Xing were bunk school classmates when they were studying in Tsinghua University. Together, they founded the intranet and Meituan, and Wang Huiwen officially retired from Meituan at the end of 2020. Since then, the venture capital circle and the technology circle have been paying attention to when Wang Huiwen will come back to start a business. Until ChatGPT detonated AI, Wang Huiwen finally found a new direction.
In February this year, Wang Huiwen announced the establishment of Beijing Lightyear Beyond Technology Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "Lightyear Beyond"), and said on the social platform that "China OpenAI should be built". Regarding the old classmate’s decision, Wang Xing bluntly said, "Lao Wang and I have been on the road to entrepreneurship for nearly 20 years. Since he is determined to embrace this big wave, I must support it."
According to the radar finance, Internet tycoons are used to the road of "innovating and investing", and Wang Xing is no exception. Investment has long been a trump card for him.
From 2014, Meituan began to invest abroad. After Meituan’s comment industry fund was renamed as Dragon Ball Investment in 2017, a "troika" of Meituan’s war investment, Dragon Ball Capital and Wang Xing’s personal investment was formed, and the investment style of Meituan also showed a trend of moving closer from the early consumer category to "hard technology".
"two kings" join hands to start a new business
The entrepreneurial story about the "two kings" of the US Mission is widely circulated in the Internet circle.
As early as 1997, Wang Xing was sent to Tsinghua University from Longyan No.1 Middle School in Fujian, and Wang Huiwen slept in Wang Xing’s lower berth in the dormitory. During his classmates, he forged a deep friendship, and Shine Wong Wen became what Wang Xing called "Lao Wang".
They majored in electronic engineering, that is, hardware, but in their second year of college, they bought a computer together and started playing games. Wang Huiwen once told Wang Xing that the current game is not good enough. It is better to learn programming to play games, and the seeds of entrepreneurship are planted.
After graduating from Tsinghua University, Wang Huiwen was sent to the Chinese Academy of Sciences for postgraduate study, but the idea of starting a business remained. The SARS in 2003 changed the fate of many people. It was also at this time that Wang Xing made a choice, decided to suspend his studies in the United States and return to China to start a business, and joined Wang Huiwen and Lai Binqiang, a middle school classmate.
After the first two entrepreneurial projects died, inspired by Facebook, their intranet (later "Renren") was officially launched at the end of 2005, and it gained millions of users in the following year.
With the rapid growth of the campus network, the team needed money to increase the server and bandwidth. At that time, Sequoia Capital wanted to invest, but because Wang Xing had not figured out how to make a profit on the campus network, Sequoia turned to invest in Zhanzuo.
Later, in 2006, the intranet was acquired by Thousand Oaks Interactive in Chen Yizhou for 2 million dollars, and it was renamed Renren in 2009 and successfully listed in 2011.
After selling the company and successfully cashing out, the "two kings" separated briefly. Wang Huiwen traveled around the world for a year, while Wang Xing set up a Twitter-like Fanfan website in May 2007.
In the first half of 2009, Fanfan.com had millions of registered users. However, due to an accident, all servers were forced to shut down. When I returned more than 500 days later, the same type of Weibo rose in China, but the rice declined.
After several entrepreneurial failures, Wang Xing saw the opportunity to buy a track, and Meituan.com was born in March 2010. At that time, the development of Wang Huiwen’s Taofang.com was not satisfactory. In October of that year, at the invitation of Wang Xing, Wang Huiwen officially joined the US delegation, and the "two kings" once again joined hands to start a business.
Wang Huiwen was considered to have played a vital role in the later "Thousand Regiments War" of Meituan, as well as in the important development nodes such as cutting into the take-away business, entering local life and rushing to the beach to get a car, and was dubbed by the media as the "second person" of Meituan after CEO Wang Xing.
In December 2020, Wang Huiwen, who was only 42 years old, wrote a farewell message, "Ten years, I need a rest, and the next decade will be entrusted to my brothers, thank you."
After retirement, from the content published by his personal social platform, Wang Huiwen is concerned about Crypto (cryptocurrency) and web3-related content. The reappearance in the public eye is related to ChatGPT.
On February 10 this year, Wang Huiwen released the "Declaration on Artificial Intelligence" in the circle of friends, saying that "50 million US dollars, with capital to join the group, regardless of post, salary and tittle, seeking a team."
Two days later, he added the details of his AI venture, and set up Beijing Lightyear Technology Co., Ltd., with a capital contribution of 50 million US dollars and a valuation of 200 million US dollars. 75% of the shares were all used to invite top R&D talents, and said that the top VC had subscribed for 230 million US dollars in the next round of financing.
Sky-Eye Survey shows that Beijing Lightyear Beyond Technology Co., Ltd. was established in 2018 with a registered capital of 1 million yuan, and Wang Huiwen holds 100% of the shares.
Although there is no lack of voices to pour cold water on, and that $50 million is not enough for several large-scale model trainings, Wang Xing chose to stand on the side of good brothers.
"Lao Wang and I have been on the road to entrepreneurship for nearly 20 years. Since he is determined to embrace this big wave, I must support it. I personally will participate in the A-round investment of Pharaoh’s startup company’ light years away’ and serve as a director. " On the afternoon of March 8, Wang Xing released a circle of friends.
Wang Xing also said that the AI ? ? big model made him both excited about the huge productivity to be created and worried about its future impact on the whole world.
It is understood that apart from Wang Huiwen, there are also Yan Li, a former AI core figure in Aauto Quicker, Zhou Bowen, a former technical director in JD.COM, and Wang Xiaochuan, a former Sogou CEO, who are interested in building China OpenAI.
Wang Xing’s Secret Investment Empire
As an Internet veteran, supporting Wang Huiwen’s entrepreneurship is just the latest example of Wang Xing’s many investment cases.
However, just like investing in light years, most of the projects that Wang Xing personally participated in were innovative when they were founded, and the entrepreneurs themselves were also friends of Wang Xing. Therefore, Wang Xing’s personal investment is often evaluated by the outside world as containing more human feelings.
In July 2014, Wang Xing suddenly invested in the Angel Wheel of Internet brokerage Tiger Securities. At that time, the domestic internet brokers were still in their infancy, and the prospects were not clear. The financial business of Meituan itself had not been fully rolled out, and Wang Xing’s investment once puzzled the outside world.
But in fact, Wu Tianhua, the founder of Tiger Securities, is Wang Xing’s younger brother in Tsinghua. After two people talked on the phone for about an hour, Wang Xing decided to invest in Tiger Securities.
Since then, Wang Xing has invested in projects such as Water Drop Mutual Assistance and mobike. In 2016, Shen Peng, the "No.10 employee" of Meituan, left his job and founded "Water Drop Chip". Before the launch, Water Drop Mutual Assistance received 50 million yuan in financing, among which Meituan Review was an important investor.
In October 2016, mobike completed the C+ round of financing of nearly US$ 100 million. In addition to institutions such as Gaoyou and Sequoia, the investor Wang Xing participated in the investment in his own name. Two years later, Meituan collected mobike for $2.7 billion, then fully accessed Meituan and renamed Meituan Bicycle.
In September 2017, Wang Xing and Wang Huiwen invested in the convenience of unmanned shelves in their own names. Their founder Si Jianghua served as the general manager of the culture and entertainment division of Meituan Store. Later, the former public comment COO and the president of Meituan’s comprehensive business group Lu Guangyu also joined the company.
In the same year, Lai Binqiang, who worked hard with Wang Xing, also left to start a business. When the name of an "online learning" project he did was not announced, he got the seed investment of Wang Xing and Wang Huiwen.
Wang Xing’s biggest bet is the investment in LI. It is reported that when LI was at a loss for financing in 2019, the ideal founder Li wanted to go to Wang Xing.
Wang Xing, who has already done his homework, is optimistic about the potential of electric vehicles and agrees with Li Xiang. "I think many people also underestimate the founder Li Xiang, and he will become a top entrepreneur in China in the future."
To this end, Wang Xing chose to mortgage his shares in Meituan to Goldman Sachs, and borrowed 285 million US dollars, plus 15 million US dollars from Longzhu Capital, a subsidiary of Meituan, and invested a total of 300 million US dollars in the ideal.
After additional investment in the later period, in just one year, Wang Xing and related parties of Meituan have invested more than $1.1 billion in Li Xiang. According to the financial report of Meituan in the third quarter of 2020, the return on investment brought by Meituan’s investment in LI is as high as 5.8 billion yuan.
According to media statistics, in addition to the above cases, Wang Xing’s personal investment projects include e-generation, Qingping Technology, Maibu Technology and flight steward.
The data shows that there are currently 121 affiliated enterprises and 39 foreign-invested enterprises under Wang Xing’s name, of which 34 are still in existence; Through direct or indirect shareholding, Wang Xing has actual control over 90 enterprises.
Meituan investment turns to "hard technology"
Under the internet tradition of "creating the best and investing", Meituan has become a force that cannot be ignored in the venture capital circle.
Statistics show that since 2014, Meituan has made frequent efforts in the investment field, with a total investment of about 100 projects. Only in the early stage, Meituan Zhantou closely followed the local life format and made strategic supplement through investment.
The merger of public comments in 2015 became an important starting point for the expansion of the US Mission. According to the statistics of billion euros, before the merger, Meituan Zhantou only completed six investments, involving five fields, including local life, corporate services and e-commerce.
After the merger, Meituan has invested 38 times in five years, the largest proportion is still local life (catering, beauty industry, wedding), followed by e-commerce, corporate services and tourism.
At present, as an investment institution, Meituan is mainly composed of Dragon Ball Capital, Meituan War Investment and Wang Xing’s personal investment.
Among them, Longzhu Capital was established in February 2017, formerly known as Meituan Review Industry Fund, with Chen Shaohui, senior vice president of Meituan, as CEO, and the funders including Meituan Review, Tencent Investment and New Hope Group.
As an independent investment institution, Longzhu Capital focuses on the field of large consumption, and is known as the "online celebrity Harvester in Investment Circle". The famous projects it has invested in include Xicha, Guming Milk Tea, Mannner Coffee and Happiness Cake.
It is worth noting that in recent years, the investment style of Meituan has quietly changed, expanding from the field of life service to the fields of automobile transportation, intelligent manufacturing and artificial intelligence. Starting from investing in LI, Meituan began to make frequent bets on the smart car industry chain.
In February, 2021, Meituan participated in the Pre-A round of investment of Haomo Zhixing, an autonomous driving company hatched by Great Wall Motor. Subsequently, Meituan also invested in laser radar manufacturer Wo Sai Technology, light boat Zhihang focusing on L4 unmanned minibuses, and self-driving truck enterprise Win Che Technology.
In 2022, Meituan and its related parties laid out projects in the fields of science and technology, such as future robots, Xinwangda EVB, AI vision chip research and development platform Aixin Yuanzhi, and Ling Mingguang, a single-photon sensor chip developer.
Some people in the investment community pointed out that the reversal of Meituan’s investment logic, on the one hand, shows that the growth dividend of Internet users is over, and it is difficult to have exponential growth again; On the other hand, it is also related to the core strategic transformation of Meituan to some extent.
In September 2021, Meituan upgraded its strategy from "Food+ Platform" to "retail+technology", hoping to use advanced technology to open a new breakthrough and seek new development.
This concept is reflected in the investment style. The left hand harvests online celebrity consumer brands, and the right hand grasps the underlying technology in the field of science and technology, which has become the underlying logic of Meituan’s investment in recent years.
Wang Xing once revealed his unique understanding of investment, saying that Sequoia’s investment principle is "betting on the track, not betting on the racers", but he prefers Sun Tzu’s statement that "seeking the situation and not blaming others". Combined with this homeopathic thinking, we may be able to better understand the investment behavior of "Meituan Department".