(Corrects city where Riot Games is based in second-to-last paragraph.)
Tencent Holdings Ltd. (700), already China’s largest Internet company, is investing in Silicon Valley startups with an aim of widening its reach in the U.S.
Everyme Inc., a social-networking service that received some of Tencent’s earliest U.S. seed investing, is opening its doors today, Bloomberg.com’s Tech Deals blog reported. Tencent was the lead investor in the startup’s $1.5 million seed round, which closed in October, Everyme Chief Executive Officer Oliver Cameron said.
Tencent has funded about a half dozen startups, many from business incubator Y Combinator, reflecting the company’s ambition to establish beachheads outside China. Everyme, based in Menlo Park, California, lets people share messages and photos with groups that are arranged automatically, based on a user’s address book and activity on Facebook Inc. (FB:US)
“We kind of agreed with their thesis that there’s a lot of value in the address book,” David Wallerstein, a Palo Alto, California-based senior executive vice president for Tencent, said of his company’s interest in Everyme.
Other Everyme investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, Ron Conway’s SV Angel and Michael Arrington’s CrunchFund.
Wallerstein and Cameron, Everyme’s CEO, were introduced by Paul Graham, the co-founder of Mountain View, California-based Y Combinator.
Though it’s widely recognized in China, Tencent is still unfamiliar to many in the U.S. Cameron said he had to do some online research to brush up on Tencent after the meeting.
Possible China Partnership
Tencent’s influence in China can be attractive to entrepreneurs aspiring to be the next Facebook or Google Inc. (GOOG:US), companies that have struggled to break into the Chinese market.
In the future, Tencent could “publish our app in China as a partnership,” said Cameron.
Everyme boasts five employees, who during a recent visit by a reporter could be seen sporting hoodies and T-shirts bearing the company’s logo as they typed away at big-screen Apple Inc. iMac computers with a ping-pong table behind them.
Tencent began investing in U.S. companies’ initial rounds last year, starting with Everyme in October and a photo-sharing app called Waddle the following month.
The company had invested large amounts in later stages of game developers. A year ago, Tencent purchased a majority stake in Riot Games, based in Santa Monica, California.
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