Google-backed KaiOS bags $50m in Series B led by Cathay Innovation

KaiOS Technologies

KaiOS Technologies, a Google-backed web-based mobile operating system provider with offices in Hong Kong and the US, announced raising $50 million in its Series B funding round led by Cathay Innovation, an affiliate of Cathay Capital Private Equity.

Founded in 2016, KaiOS Technologies operates mobile operating system KaiOS, which is used by more than 100 million devices in over 100 countries. The startup said existing shareholders Google and TCL Holdings also participated in the funding round.

The funding round brings KaiOS Technologies’ total funds raised to $79 million. In March 2018, the startup raised $7 million in its corporate round led by Reliance Retail, the largest retailer in India in terms of revenue. Google entered the company with a $22-million investment in its Series A round last year.

The company, which also has offices in Taiwan, mainland China, India, Brazil, and France, said it will use the fresh capital to expand into new markets and to invest in product portfolio research and development.

“It will also enable Kai to mature its ecosystem by accelerating the growth of the KaiOS developer community,” the company said. KaiOS is based on HTML5 and other open web technologies.

KaiOS partners with OEMs and carriers, such as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Reliance Jio, HMD, and China Mobile. By mid-2019, KaiOS said its web-based mobile operating system will be running on over 150 million devices around the world.

“Our mission is to open up new possibilities for individuals, organizations, and society by bringing mobile connectivity to the billions of people without internet in emerging markets, as well as providing those in established markets with an alternative to smartphones,” said Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies.

The Series B round will allow the company to accelerate these efforts and increase the impact that the company can make in societies around the world “one phone at a time”, he said.

The funding round comes at a time when the smart feature phone segment accounted for nearly one-quarter of all handset shipments by Q3 of last year, according to a Counterpoint study. This represents a $28-billion market opportunity in the coming years, according to KaiOS.

The lead investor in this round, Cathay Innovation, is a global VC fund created in affiliation with Cathay Capital Private Equity. It has offices in San Francisco, Paris, Beijing, and Shanghai. In July 2017, the firm raised its debut venture capital fund at $320 million, making it one of the largest ever in Europe for a debut VC fund.

The firm invests in early-growth tech startups in North America, Europe, and China with initial commitments between $3 million and $15 million.

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.