Hillhouse-backed Chinese cloud-enabled home décor unicorn Kujiale acquires Modelo

The management team of Chinese cloud-enabled home design and decoration unicorn Kujiale and US-based SaaS startup Modelo

Six months after its entry into the unicorn club, Chinese cloud-enabled home design and decoration unicorn Kujiale.com has acquired all shares in US-based SaaS startup Modelo, as it seeks to upgrade itself into a comprehensive architectural solutions provider.

Financial details of the acquisition remained undisclosed.

The deal marks the third investment made by Kujiale in the past three years, after the newly-minted unicorn acquired stakes in domestic counterparts Kuchao in July 2018 and PanguVR in April 2017.

Hangzhou-based Kujiale, which competes with rivals like Alibaba-backed 3vjia.com and Red Star Macalline in the home market, has stepped up efforts to consolidate smaller players in an attempt to expand beyond its focused area of home design and decoration into areas like commercial space planning, architecture and industrial design, as well as engineering and construction.

The company was founded in November 2011 and originally specialised in residential decoration projects. It provides corporate clients, such as home decoration companies and furniture sales firms, with solutions and services that cover design, marketing, production, construction and supply chain management.

As one of its major offerings, the company allows clients to view their designs in a panoramic virtual reality (VR)-enabled effect and generate 3D renderings in a matter of seconds.

Upon the completion of the deal, Kujiale will focus on the transformation from a provider of home design and decoration solutions to cover the entire ecosystem of architectural development, said Huang Xiaohuang, founder and chairman of Kujiale, during a media briefing on Tuesday.

“We will also look further into the global expansion, rather than just the Chinese market alone,” Huang added.

Apart from its key Chinese market, Kujiale also offers services and solutions through its international brand “COOHOM” to users across some 180 countries worldwide. It has set up affiliates in Singapore, Malaysia, and the US.

The company told DealStreetAsia in a previous interview that it had started preparations for an initial public offering (IPO) and could go public within two years. But such a plan might be influenced amid the current turmoil in the IPO market.

“Since we previously raised outside financing in U.S. dollars, the ideal IPO destination for Kujiale is undoubtedly Nasdaq or the Hong Kong board,” said Huang.“But of course, the current [IPO] performance in the US is hardly satisfactory. Hong Kong as well is under a virtual border shutdown.”

The eight-year-old company closed a Series D+ round led by Asia-focused private equity major Hillhouse Capital Group in late October 2019, which brought its valuation to over $1 billion. The former round also saw the participation of existing investors like Chinese venture capital company Shunwei Capital, and global venture capital firm GGV Capital.

Kujiale and Modelo “share the same belief” in cloud-based SaaS offerings and technological products, which makes the cooperation “a natural course” for the two companies, said Su Qi, co-founder and CEO of Modelo. The firm will operate independently after the acquisition.

Modelo, created in 2014 by Chinese entrepreneurs Su Qi and Deng Tian, primarily delivers intelligent solutions to help professionals who work with computer-aided design (CAD) software like Revit, Rhino, and SketchUp, collaborate, improve and interactively present their designs.

The company offers two major solutions, including a presentation platform that assists architects in presenting CAD files in 3D, virtual reality (VR) and tour panoramic images, as well as a design asset management (DAM) platform, which helps users connect workflows, manage design assets, and conduct design reviews, among others.

It serves clients including French cosmetics major L’Oreal, American architectural practice CannonDesign, Taiwanese electronics contract manufacturer Foxconn, global architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), as well as China’s largest insurer Ping An Insurance and its domestic counterpart China Life Insurance.

Before the deal, Modelo has raised a combined $3.4 million from Beijing-based angel fund ZhenFund, China Broadband Capital, a Chinese TMT-focused investment firm shortly known as CBC Capital, and Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm TSVC.

Singapore Reporter/s

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

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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.