Cash-sprinkler Softbank and Alphabet hand over $1.9bn to Manbang
It's about truckers
Japan's investment cash firehose Softbank and America's definitely-not-Google holding company Alphabet want you to use Manbang, and are paying $1.9bn for the pleasure.
They want workers at shipping companies to hail passing trucks in the same way that drunk revellers use popular app-based taxi hailing services.
China's Manbang has scooped $1.9bn in investment from the two tech financing powerhouses, according to the Wall Street Journal. Earlier in the year Reuters reported that the investment was likely to be in the $500m-$1bn region.
Manbang is a platform owned by the Truck Alliance group (aka Huochebang), a corporation with an interesting history. The idea of the Manbang app is that land-based import/export firms needing to move goods from A to B quickly can do so with a bit less hassle than having to phone lorry drivers on the off-chance they might be nearby and available for work.
Manbang is reportedly backed by China's Tencent group, founded by billionaire Jack Ma, as well as Baidu Capital and a slew of other, lesser-known in the West, venture funds.
Softbank has been injecting vast quantities of cash into seemingly anything vaguely software-based that stands still long enough. In recent months it has dumped $300m into a dog-walking app, $9bn into controversial taxi app Uber and another $20m into storage company Nexenta for good measure. They also own a controlling stake in Britain’s ARM chip designers. ®
The Manbang platform’s Anglophonic name brings to mind Dong Energy: the artist formerly known as Danish Oil and Natural Gas, which renamed itself last year while po-facedly insisting this was because it had flogged off the oil and natural gas bits of the firm and was absolutely nothing to do with childish and usually unilingual English-speakers giggling at its moniker.
The name Manbang – which means "everything" in Korean – was also used by North Korea's propaganda-focused Netflix ripoff a couple of years ago.