Sequoia China, IDG, Hidden Hill co-lead $186m round for e-signature service eSign

eSign, a Chinese provider of electronic signature services backed by investors including Ant Group, has closed a Series E funding round at 1.2 billion yuan ($186.1 million).

The investment was jointly led by Sequoia Capital China, IDG Capital, and Hidden Hill Capital, a private equity (PE) investment platform backed by Asia’s warehouse operator GLP, the startup announced on Monday.

PE fund manager Sealand Innovation Capital; Guangxi Investment Group’s asset management unit; and Wens Capital, the investment arm of Chinese poultry processing firm Wens Foodstuffs Group participated in the deal. Existing shareholders Fortune Capital and Grand Flight Investment re-upped in the round.

The financing follows the completion of eSign’s Series D round in November 2020, when it raised over 1 billion yuan (about $155 million) in a Series D round led by Shenzhen Capital Group, Evergrande High-Tech Group, and Fortune Capital.

Ant Group had invested in eSign in 2019 as the lead investor of its 650-million-yuan ($100.7 million) Series C round.

Hangzhou-based eSign, which claims a 43.1% share in China’s e-signature market, delivers services to clients including Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, telecom major Huawei Technologies, smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp, Japan’s Sony Corp, video surveillance systems purveyor Hikvision, as well as automakers Geely and Toyota.

Its e-signature solutions are widely adopted across fintech, healthcare, business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce, manufacturing, online travel, and tech-enabled human resources industries.

Besides private-sector clients, the firm also helps more than 150 provincial and municipal governments, as well as over 280 district government bodies realise internet-based operations of government affairs.

“The nationwide e-signature network built by eSign can support various business scenarios, allowing enterprises across China to sign and manage their contracts online. We will also invest more resources in areas like contract management, file processing, and AI to help enhance social trust and make trust easier through e-signature services,” said founder and CEO Jin Hongzhou in a statement.

As a major player in the domestic e-signature market, eSign is looking to cash in on this market that has grown to 10.8 billion yuan ($1.7 billion) in 2020 from 850 million yuan ($131.7 million) in 2016 — a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 66.3% during the period, according to a report released by iiMedia Research in February.

The Chinese research firm expects the market size to further increase to about 25 billion yuan ($3.9 billion) after the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of online solutions.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.