By Alexei Oreskovic
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Connect, a San Francisco start-up that helps consumers manage their social networking and mobile messaging contacts, has raised $10.3 million in a funding round led by the venture arm of Chinese conglomerate Fosun International.
Connect Chief Executive Ryan Allis said the investment from Fosun's Kinzon Capital would help to expand his product's reach in Asia as rival messaging services such as Tencent's WeChat amass vast numbers of users in the region.
The financing is the latest sign of the growing appetite among Chinese companies to invest in U.S. Internet firms. Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd has set up an investment team in Silicon Valley and Tencent Holdings Ltd, another Chinese Internet company, has invested in numerous U.S. tech start-ups in recent years.
Connect creates a master address book for consumers to communicate with friends on their various social networks, such as Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and LinkedIn Corp or by phone, and it displays a map of nearby friends.
The funding includes a $2.8 million convertible note and has investments from Salesforce.com Inc CEO Marc Benioff and Bull City Venture Partners.
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Alan Crosby)