Qihoo 360 led Series D financing for NETA Auto on Monday, and will now be in charge of NETA’s security systems.
By KE Xiaobin
Qihoo 360 led the 3-billion-yuan (US$460 million) Series D round financing of NETA Auto on Monday, becoming the second-largest shareholder of the Chinese EV start-up.
Specialized in cybersecurity, Qihoo began looking for car manufacturing partners early last year.
In 2017, Qihoo spotted a backdoor that could allow hackers to remotely take control of a Tesla and raising the specter of cybersecurity in the EV industry.
Sources say Qihoo will be in charge of NETA’s security systems and is not simply wading into the EV pool. By working with Qihoo, EV makers can save a lot of money on developing security systems.
Qihoo’s 2020 fiscal report last year was not great. Revenue of 11.6 billion yuan (US$1.8 billion) was down slightly in 2019. Advertising business shrank by 22 percent while hardware services increased by 27 percent.
CEO ZHOU Hongyi said the auto security research team of his company – which Zhou claimed to the first one focusing solely on the cybersecurity of cars – has been working with BYD and Mercedes-Benz to provide solutions.
The EV market lost all sense of perspective last year. Everybody tech Tom, Dick or Harry decided to make cars. And as far as last year’s spate of unholy alliances goes, Qihoo seems to have made quite a smart (and cheap) choice.
NETA was founded in 2018 and has two models priced from 59,900 yuan to 159,800 yuan. Compared with competitors, a NETA is quite cheap, which is one reason for Qihoo’s choice.
In Q1, NETA sold 7,500 EVs out, fourth after the “big” three, Nio, XPeng, and Lixiang.