Uber might be the most valuable private company in the world, but a slew of Chinese companies are right behind it.
The Chinese startup space is largely dominated by investments from two behemoths: Amazon equivalent Alibaba and internet giant Tencent. The two have driven up valuations of Chinese companies, many of which are similar to startups on the list of American unicorns.
Here are some of the most valuable and powerful startups in China:
China's largest smartphone maker is the second most-valuable private tech company in the world, trailing only behind Uber. Xiaomi, which means 'little rice,' has a fervent fan base although its competitor Huawei Technologies has been gaining on the tech startup. Xiaomi is now expanding its cell phone sales outside of China and into emerging markets like Africa, India, and Brazil.
In a mega-merger in October, Groupon-like startup Meituan merged with Yelp clone Dianping. Meituan had raised about $US1 billion, while Dianping raised $US1.51 billion.
Chinese startups are fighting over who will control the online to offline experience, and the two companies are going to be working in tandem to help Chinese users book restaurants or local deals.
In November, the WSJ reported that Chinese internet giant Tencent is rumoured to be investing $US1 billion into the newly merged company, valuing it at $US20B.
Total funding: $US4B
In another merger, Uber's largest Chinese competitor was created in February after two competing apps, Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache, united in their fight against Uber China. Didi Kuaidi has since made subsequent investments and partnerships in Uber's US rival, Lyft, bringing the fight to two continents.
US competitors like Lending Club and Prosper are taking off as investors try to cash in on the lending craze, and the same goes for China. There are reportedly more than 1,500 peer-to-peer lending startups in China, but four-year-old startup Lufax is the biggest. As of July 1, it had 10 million registered users.
Another Chinese insurance play, Zhong An is a rare partnership between Chinese heavyweights Alibaba and Tencent. The company raised almost $US1 billion in June in a round led by Morgan Stanley, marking Zhong An as a serious competitor in taking the insurance industry online.
DJI makes the most popular consumer drone in the world, even the one that infamously crashed onto the White House lawn. The drone manufacturer has made more than $US1 billion in sales and sold 400,000 drones in the last year alone. A $US75 million round in May was the first official investment in the company, although it's estimated that it's taken in an additional $US30 million in venture capital in the first couple of years.
Founded a decade ago, VANCL was a hot online only clothing retailer in China geared toward young adults -- similar in ways to Japan's Uniqlo retailer. VANCL, though, only sells online. The once-hot startup was rumoured to IPO in 2011, but has had a hard time retaining market share with China's e-commerce boom.
While the US startup scene has a gaggle of food delivery companies, one Chinese food delivery company is emerging as a frontrunner in China's delivery competition. Ele.me, which means 'Are you hungry?' in Chinese, now has 40 million users and is in 260 cities. It also faces steep competition from its competitor Meituan and social network Baidu's delivery unit Waimai.
Tencent invest in Koudai to try to chip into Alibaba's e-commerce empire. The shopping app is two-faced: one allows merchants to sell their items on WeChat and Weibo, while a consumer app lets shoppers buy directly.
Tujia is China's answer to Airbnb. Whereas the American home-sharing company is still working on making in roads in China, Tujia is on the ground and approaching the Chinese customer differently. The site takes responsibility for inspecting and cleaning the apartments, compared to Airbnb's hands-off booking-only approach. Investors have noticed its local success, although its billion-dollar valuation is dwarfed by Airbnb's $US25.5 billion one.
China's version of Pinterest, Mogujie lets women create photo collages, but it's figured out how to turn those dreams into actual money for merchants. The site claims it has 35 million monthly active users and averages $US48 million a month in transactions. The WSJ reported in March that the site was looking to raise another $US300 million at a $US2 billion valuation, so it's still climbing.
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