Baidu has led a $300 million USD investment in one of China’s biggest auto trading and marketing platforms, BitAuto, revealed the search giant on Monday. It’s the latest company to join Baidu’s growing auto investment portfolio.
Baidu is joined by several previous investors in BitAuto, including internet services giant Tencent and e-commerce company JD.com. The three companies each purchased $50 million USD worth of newly issued shares from BitAuto at $20.23 each. BitAuto listed on the NYSE in November 2010.
The new round of funding comes as China’s burgeoning tech autos market undergoes a fresh round of new strategic partnerships between ride-hailing services, online service platforms, and autonomous and electric car projects.
Baidu, which is also a strategic investor in Uber, has been building up their deep learning and AI capabilities to support their autonomous vehicle project, tipped to be revealed in 2018. Tencent is a major investor in Uber’s top China rival, Didi Chuxing, which recently secured a $1 billion USD investment from Apple as part of a larger strategic fundraising effort.
Bitauto is also an investor in ride-hailing services. The company lead a $20 million USD B series in Didi chuxing competitor Dida Pinche, which in May 2015 raised a further $100 million USD from China Renaissance Capital Investment, TBP Capital and IDG Capital Partners among others.
Bitauto CFO Andy Zhang reportedly met with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in March last year to discuss a possible partnership between Dida Pinche and Uber. While there has been no evidence that the two have since worked together, the Baidu’s strategic investment now puts them in the same investment family.
Bitauto, which predominantly serves as a trading platform for new and used vehicles, says they have already begun leveraging Tencent and JD.com’s respective strengths in social media, big data and e-commerce.
“Through our new partnership with Baidu, we expect to leverage its leadership in mobile and desktop online search, big data and transaction services platforms for additional strategic advantages,” said William Li, CEO and Chairman of Bitauto in a statement.