The tech world was atwitter last week with the news of a Saudi prince's rumored $300 million investment in Twitter Inc. As it turns out, the capital didn't go directly into the microblogging service. Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud's investment was part of the $800 million round led by Digital Sky Technologies Ltd. announced earlier in 2011. Kingdom Holding Co., the Saudi prince's investment vehicle, purchased its $300 million equity stake from existing investors in a secondary share transaction.
In a statement, Bin Talal said that the investment, which valued Twitter at roughly $8 billion, "reaffirms our ability to identify suitable opportunities to invest in promising, high-growth businesses with a global impact." Bin Talal is also the largest individual shareholder in Citigroup Inc. and has significant positions in News Corp., Apple Inc. and Four Seasons Hotels Inc.
The passing of North Korea's Kim Jong-il hasn't curtailed the enthusiasm of the region's investors. South Korea's Avaco Co. led a $130 million fifth round for Stion Corp., joined by Khosla Ventures, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The San Jose, Calif.-based solar company, which previously raised about $115 million, will use the funding to build a factory in South Korea and also expand its Hattiesburg, Miss., factory.
Capital intensive solar companies continue to command large rounds and are powering venture investment into the cleantech sector, which garnered $1.1 billion in new capital in the third quarter, according to Ernst & Young.
In other solar news, Google Inc. announced that it will be putting $94 million toward four solar photovoltaic projects; to be built by Recurrent Energy, near Sacramento, Calif. Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. LP will be providing $95 million to these California plants as well as other projects. To date, Google has invested more than $915 million in clean energy projects, including a $280 million fund with SolarCity and $168 million in BrightSource Energy Inc.
On the technology front, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Technology received $90 million in Series B funding from IDG Capital Partners, Temasek Holdings Pte. Ltd. and Qualcomm Inc. The capital will be used to improve Xiaomi's technology and customer service. The company, which has raised $131 million to date, is said to be valued at $1 billion.