China Digest: Sequoia China invests in WE11DONE; Waytous raises $47m

WE11DONE's co-founders Jessica Jung and Dami Kwon

Sequoia Capital China has picked up a majority stake in global fashion and lifestyle brand WE11DONE. Separately, Waytous, a startup that develops autonomous solutions for the mining industry, has raised nearly 300 million yuan ($47.2 million) in a Series C round.

Sequoia China buys majority stake in WE11DONE

Sequoia Capital China announced on Thursday that it has reached an agreement to acquire a majority stake in WE11DONE, a global fashion and lifestyle brand that originated in Seoul, to fuel the label’s expansion in China and elsewhere.

Neither the quantum of the stake nor the value of the investment was disclosed.

WE11DONE, founded by lifelong friends Jessica Jung and Dami Kwon, is a label known for its unisex, designer-meets-streetwear fashion appeal.

The partnership will leverage Sequoia China’s local and global resources, its knowledge in technologies and retail innovations, as well as its community of founders and experts to help WE11DONE accelerate its direct-to-consumer business in China, the US, and Europe.

The two founders retain a significant stake in the firm and will continue to pilot the brand’s artistic direction after the investment, said Sequoia China. COO Sang Mo Kim will also remain in charge of the overall business.

In a statement, Sequoia China said that the deal marks “another major step” for it to go into the fashion market. Sequoia China — widely viewed as a bellwether for tech investments in China with portfolios including e-commerce giant Alibaba and food delivery firm Meituan — stepped up its dealmaking efforts in the fashion & lifestyle sector with the joining of Vogue China‘s founding editor, Angelica Cheung, as its venture partner last February.

The addition of Cheung came one month after Sequoia China had made an investment in French designer brand AMI to further expand its business globally, especially into the lucrative China market. Sequoia China also invested in Montreal-based luxury fashion platform SSENSE in June as the firm’s first external investor. The deal valued SSENSE at over $4.1 billion.

Autonomous mining solutions provider Waytous raises $47m

Waytous, a Chinese provider of autonomous solutions for the mining industry, announced on Thursday that it has raised nearly 300 million yuan of financing to help the firm further expand product commercialisation.

The new round was led by a 5-billion-yuan ($786 million) fund jointly set up by Chinese carmaker SAIC Motor Corp and China International Capital Corp (CICC). Yuexiu Industrial Fund and Bohai Zhongsheng, a fund affiliated with China’s BOC International, participated in the investment.

The Beijing-based startup develops products including autonomous mining trucks and semi-autonomous excavators, as well as compatible software and hardware for virtual testing and intelligent fleet management.

Chen Long, CEO and co-founder of Waytous, said in a statement that Waytous was growing “at its full speed” in 2021 with “historic achievements” in product delivery, massive adoption, technological breakthroughs, and revenue growth.

It claimed to have delivered a total of over 200 autonomous vehicles by far, serving clients such as the state-owned mining and energy firm China Energy Investment Corporation and China’s State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC), the country’s top green power operator. The total value of the firm’s commercial orders has reached 500 million yuan ($78.6 million) as of the end of 2021.

Before the Series C round, Waytous closed over 200 million yuan ($31.4 million) in a Series B1 round led by a Chinese state-backed fund in August 2021.

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.