Shanghai-based food delivery service Ele.me has raised USD 350 million in series E funding from Tencent, Sequoia Capital, CITIC, JD.com and Dianping.com. This investment can help the three businesses – Tencent, JD and Dianping to build their online-to-offline strategies.
Founded in September 2008 by Xuhao Zhang, Ele is a website that offers customer-to-customer meal ordering services. It also acts as a communication platform between users and restaurants. In May 2014, it had secured USD 80 million in series D, USD 25 million in series C in November 2013 and an undisclosed amount in series A & B respectively. Including this round, the firm has received a total capital of USD 455 million in 5 rounds from 7 investors.
In its announcement, Ele.me said that it will continue to operate independently. It serves 250 cities, with 200,000 restaurants and has 20 million users on its platform. In 2014, its total order volume reached 110 million yuan, with 75 percent of orders made through its mobile apps.
Tencent also owns a 15 percent stake in JD.com and 20 percent stake in Dianping.com. Tencent’s main rivals Alibaba and Baidu have already backed food delivery services. Alibaba backs Meituan, while Baidu holds a majority stake in Nuomi.
Tencent can use Ele.me to power food delivery services on China’s messaging app WeChat. Chengdu-based “Call A Chicken,”already uses WeChat to connect with customers. O2O market allows companies like Tencent, Baidu, and Alibaba, to leverage their existing network of websites and mobile apps to bring users into traditional brick-and-mortar stores, therefore opening up more ways to make money.