Zhuang (1)

We now have an idea of what CC Zhuang is up to after leaving Qunar, the largest online travel booking company in China that he founded, in January this year.

Zhuang, who recently founded a VC firm called Banma Capital, is in the middle of raising US$1 billion for investments in Southeast Asia and China, with US$350 million closed in June, he confirmed to e27 after being approached about rumbling in the VC community.

Zhuang is tight-lipped about the details of the fund and only revealed broad-strokes, which are as follows:

Besides the US$350 million already closed, Banma is looking to make a second close at US$450 million soon. The first two tranches of the fund will be targeted towards Southeast Asia, while the third portion is said to be focussed on Chinese domestic investments.

One of the participating investment firms is Hillhouse Capital Group, a Beijing-based VC firm which had reportedly participated in a US$57 million investment in Qunar in 2013. A few US-based institutional investors are also said to be involved.

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Zhuang is a leader in the Asian tech community and while the money is crucial, his name brings a certain clout for potential startup investees.

Furthermore, he has already begun to dip his toes in investing (and in Southeast Asia) after leaving Qunar. In July, he participated in the US$20 million Series B round for the Indonesian news aggregator app Baca.

If and when this fund makes the final close, it will be a major building block towards building a bridge between the Southeast Asian ecosystem and the Chinese startup scene — something e27 has made a crucial part of its future.

And while bridging the gap between Southeast Asia and China is the goal, it needs to be accompanied by tangible evidence — which we are starting to see.

Besides Zhuang’s fund, last week Alibaba Cloud and Singapore’s Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd (IIPL) announced a Memorandum of Understanding to help ramp up innovation in the Lion City’s tech ecosystem.

Earlier in the year, Temasek invested in Cainiao (Alibaba’s logistics company) and of course, the Alibaba purchase of Lazada is still one of the biggest stories of 2016.

Also Read: Three big opportunities for China entrepreneurs, according to Premier Li Keqiang

Zhuang’s fund would be an important building block for the ‘bridge to China’ not only financially but also in opening up Asia’s top startup economy to its neighbours to the south.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.