Online shopping guide SMZDM surges 44% on China stock market debut


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When Chinese internet companies seek initial public offerings, they tend to look to the United States where rules for profitability are less strict. SMZDM, an online shopping guide that few people outside China have heard of, has joined a small rank of internet startups that are trading on public markets in mainland China.

SMZDM, short for Shen Me Zhi De Mai or “what’s worth buying” in Chinese, saw its shares soar nearly 44% on its first day of trading in Shenzhen. After pricing its IPO at 28.42 yuan ($4.13) and opening the day at 34.1 yuan, SMZDM closed at 40.92 yuan. This values the company at about 2.18 billion yuan ($320 million).

The company is raising 330 million yuan from the public offering and plans to spend the money on upgrading its big data capabilities so it can deliver more personalized content and services to

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Hellobike, survivor of China’s bike-sharing craze, goes electric


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Just two years ago, investors were heavily pouring money into China’s dockless bike-sharing startups. Now that boom has busted with derelict bikes littering the streets of cities.

Meanwhile, a new race has started for two-wheelers with motors — and one of the main players is a survivor from the bike-sharing craze. Blessed with fundings from the world’s most valuable fintech company Ant Financial through its Series D to F funding rounds, Hellobike provides a range of mobility services such as shared e-bikes and rented electric scooters to its 230 million registered users.

Electric push

Hellobike first launched in 2016 by deploying shared bikes in smaller cities and towns — where Ofo and Mobike were largely absent early on — rather than large urban centers like Beijing and Shanghai. This allowed Hellobike to largely avoid the cash splurging competition against Ofo and Mobike.

Ofo is now battling a major financial crisis

hellobike
hellobike

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Chinese electric carmaker Xpeng says Nio stock swings a ‘good lesson’ for rivals


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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Seeing your competitor undergo dramatic changes in fortune can be unnerving as there’s the fear that the same will happen to you. For electric vehicle maker Xpeng, Nio’s period of stock swings is a wakeup call for China’s EV startup boom.

Xpeng and Nio are Tesla -like Chinese startups competing with more established automakers such as Warren Buffett-backed BYD . Like Tesla, Xpeng and Nio design, manufacture and sell EVs through company-owned online and offline channels.

Both have raised large sums of cash from noted investors. Xpeng itself is backed by Alibaba, Foxconn and Xiaomi founder Lei Jun . As late, it’s seeking to raise at least $500 million in funding.

Nio’s investors include Tencent, Hillhouse Capital and Shunwei Capital, a venture fund co-founded by Lei Jun. Its shares were trading at around $2.50 apiece in June, a big fall from the $11.60 high it achieved shortly after debuting on

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Meituan, Alibaba, and the new landscape of ride-hailing in China


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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Instead of switching between apps to secure a ride during rush hour, people in China can now hail from different companies using a single app. Some of the country’s largest internet companies — including ride-hailing giant Didi itself — are placing bets on this type of aggregation service.

The nascent model is reminiscent of a feature Google Maps added in early 2017 allowing users to hail Uber, Lyft, Gett and Hailo straight from its navigation app. A few months later, AutoNavi, a maps app owned by Alibaba, debuted a similar feature in China. Other big names like Baidu, Hellobike, Meituan and Didi subsequently joined forces with third-party ride-booking services rather than building their own.

The trend underscores changes in China’s massive ride-hailing industry of 330 million users (in Chinese). The government is tightening rules around vehicle and driver accreditation, leading to a widescale driver shortage. Meanwhile, established carmakers including BMW

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Meituan, Alibaba, and the new landscape of ride-hailing in China


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Instead of switching between apps to secure a ride during rush hour, people in China can now hail from different companies using a single app. Some of the country’s largest internet companies — including ride-hailing giant Didi itself — are placing bets on this type of aggregation service.

The nascent model is reminiscent of a feature Google Maps added in early 2017 allowing users to hail Uber, Lyft, Gett and Hailo straight from its navigation app. A few months later, AutoNavi, a maps app owned by Alibaba, debuted a similar feature in China. Other big names like Baidu, Hellobike, Meituan and Didi subsequently joined forces with third-party ride-booking services rather than building their own.

The trend underscores changes in China’s massive ride-hailing industry of 330 million users (in Chinese). The government is tightening rules around vehicle and driver accreditation, leading to a widescale driver shortage. Meanwhile, established carmakers including BMW

Continue reading “Meituan, Alibaba, and the new landscape of ride-hailing in China”

Image recognition, mini apps, QR codes: how China uses tech to sort its waste


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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China’s war on garbage is as digitally savvy as the country itself. Think QR codes attached to trash bags that allow a municipal government to trace exactly where its trash comes from.

On July 1, the world’s most populated city Shanghai began a compulsory garbage sorting program. Under the new regulations (in Chinese), households and companies must classify their wastes into four categories and dump them in designated places at certain times. Noncompliance can lead to fines. Companies and properties that don’t comply risk having their credit rating lowered.

The strict regime became the talk of the city housing over 24 million residents, who criticized the program’s inflexibility and confusing waste categorization. Gratefully, China’s tech startups are here to help.

For instance, China’s biggest internet companies responded with new search features that help people identify what wastes are “wet” (compostable), “dry”, “toxic”, or “recyclable”. Not even the most environmentally conscious

wechat garbage sorting
shanghai garbage

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WeChat wants to own tourism


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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When people travel, they usually have a list of apps installed to navigate a new city, find restaurants, book transit tickets and more. China’s top chat app WeChat has designs on claiming that spot with a new strategy that lumps all these functions into a collection of destination-specific apps.

Operated by Tencent, Asia’s second most valuable tech giant, WeChat is a so-called “super app” defined by the myriad of services it hosts ranging from ride-hailing and food delivery to e-commerce and payments. Its efforts to dominate China received a huge boost back in 2017 when it launched “mini programs”, easily-downloadable apps that provide stripped-down but essential functionality. Millions of these lite apps are serving WeChat’s one billion users today, and WeChat is now adding travel to the list of needs it addresses.

One of WeChat’s first attempts at aiding tourism is a mini app called “MyHelsinki”, a collaboration between

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China’s Alipay adds sought-after beauty filters to face-scan payments


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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In China, striving for accuracy in a piece of facial recognition software isn’t enough. As Alibaba’s e-wallet affiliate Alipay has recently demonstrated, the way software presents a user’s look is also crucial to its success.

On Tuesday, Alipay announced on social media platform Weibo (in Chinese) that it’s added beauty filters to its pay-with-face system inside the app. Within a week, the feature will roll out across retail stores equipped with Alipay’s face-scanning solutions.

“We are going to make you look even prettier than with a beauty camera. I bet you’ll be impressed,” Alipay wrote on Weibo.

The new feature was created to address complaints that facial recognition machines make people look ugly. A new poll (in Chinese) ran by news portal Sina Technology showed that more than 60% of respondents think they look uglier through the next-gen payments method than on a regular camera. This could be a real

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China’s Didi removes 300,000 drivers amid safety overhaul


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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2018 was the year when Didi Chuxing, the ride-hailing company that defeated Uber in China, vowed to put safety ahead of rocket-ship growth after two deadly passenger incidents. One way it works to ramp up safety is a stricter vetting process for drivers.

The mobility giant said Tuesday to a group of media that it has removed more than 300,000 drivers who don’t meet its standards since launching a safety overhaul last year. That adds pressure to an already loss-making company, which some speculate could be hit with a halved valuation (link in Chinese) since reaching an $80 billion high last year, for which passenger wait time is crucial to the success of its business.

In the long term, Didi could address the driver shortage by betting on robotaxis. The Information reported this week that the seven-year-old company is in talks with its largest shareholder SoftBank and other

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China silences podcast and music apps as online crackdown widens


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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Audio apps are flying high in China. In 2018, online listeners in the country grew 22.1% to surpass 400 million, at a rate far exceeding that of the mobile video and e-reading populations, according to market researcher iiMedia.

But the fledgling sector is taking a hit. On Friday, a total of 26 audio-focused apps were ordered to terminate, suspend services, or have talks with regulators as they were investigated and deemed to have spread “historical nihilism” and “pornography,” according to a notice posted by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).

The clampdown has, in a way, been foreshadowed by a recent attack of user-generated audio content. Last month, Apple restricted Chinese users from accessing podcasts that aren’t hosted by its local partners, effectively preventing those with a Chinese Apple account from consuming content unchecked by Chinese censors.

It’s not uncommon

li zhi

Continue reading “China silences podcast and music apps as online crackdown widens”

China silences podcast and music apps as online crackdown widens


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Audio apps are flying high in China. In 2018, online listeners in the country grew 22.1% to surpass 400 million, at a rate far exceeding that of the mobile video and e-reading populations, according to market researcher iiMedia.

But the fledgling sector is taking a hit. On Friday, a total of 26 audio-focused apps were ordered to terminate, suspend services, or have talks with regulators as they were investigated and deemed to have spread “historical nihilism” and “pornography,” according to a notice posted by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).

The clampdown has, in a way, been foreshadowed by a recent attack of user-generated audio content. Last month, Apple restricted Chinese users from accessing podcasts that aren’t hosted by its local partners, effectively preventing those with a Chinese Apple account from consuming content unchecked by Chinese censors.

It’s not uncommon

li zhi

Continue reading “China silences podcast and music apps as online crackdown widens”

Cathay Innovation leads Laiye’s $35M round to bet on Chinese enterprise IT


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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For many years, the boom and bust of China’s tech landscape have centered around consumer-facing products. As this space gets filled by Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and more recently Didi Chuxing, Meituan Dianping, and ByteDance, entrepreneurs and investors are shifting attention to business applications.

One startup making waves in China’s enterprise software market is four-year-old Laiye, which just raised a $35 million Series B round led by cross-border venture capital firm Cathay Innovation. Existing backers Wu Capital, a family fund, and Lightspeed China Partners, whose founding partner James Mi has been investing in every round of Laiye since Pre-A, also participated in this Series B.

The deal came on the heels of Laiye’s merger with Chinese company Awesome Technology, a team that’s spent the last 18 years developing Robotic Process Automation, a term for technology that lets organizations offload repetitive tasks like customer service onto machines. With this marriage, Laiye

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Pinduoduo cements position as China’s second-largest ecommerce player


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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Alibaba and JD.com have been in a war over the Chinese e-commerce space for a decade or so, but a third player called Pinduoduo has managed to shake up the duopoly in recent times. The startup, which was founded in 2015 by an ex-Googler and went public on the Nasdaq last July, has further flexed muscles during the recent “6/18” shopping spree.

According to data provider QuestMobile, Pinduoduo’s daily active users have outnumbered JD’s for at least the past 12 months, and it came out of the mid-year sales festival — first popularized by JD as a counterpart to archrival Alibaba’s “11/11” shopping day — with 135 million DAUs.

JD, in comparison, ended with 88 million DAUs and Alibaba’s Taobao retained its top spot at 299 million. That result further solidified Pinduoduo’s position as China’s second-biggest ecommerce company by number of users.

The boom of Pinduoduo is

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Huawei says two-thirds of 5G networks outside China now use its gear


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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As 5G networks begin rolling out and commercializing around the world, telecoms vendors are rushing to get a headstart. Huawei equipment is now behind two-thirds of the commercially launched 5G networks outside China, said president of Huawei’s carrier business group Ryan Ding on Tuesday at an industry conference.

Huawei, the world’s largest maker of telecoms gear, has nabbed 50 commercial 5G contracts outside its home base from countries including South Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Finland and more. In all, the Shenzhen-based firm has shipped more than 150,000 base stations, according to Ding.

It’s worth noting that network carriers can work with more than one providers to deploy different parts of their 5G base stations. Huawei offers what it calls an end-to-end network solution or a full system of hardware, but whether a carrier plans to buy from multiple suppliers is contingent on their needs and local regulations, a Huawei

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Cartier, Bulgari and other luxury brands are flocking to WeChat


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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Not long ago, people in China would need to visit a posh, stylish mall for luxury shopping. That’s rapidly changing as high-end brands race to embrace digital channels, which aren’t just the obvious options of ecommerce platforms or brand-owned sites. In China, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Bulgari and other luxury brands are now connecting and selling to millions of customers through WeChat .

Many know WeChat as China’s largest messaging app, and perhaps how it has over time morphed into an all-in-one ecosystem that lets one chat, run errands, hire services, and shop for an infinite list of things. Now the flurry of different products people find on WeChat may include a $10,000-plus purse.

The trend, according to Pablo Mauron, partner and managing director for China at Digital Luxury Group, a luxury marketing agency, reflects WeChat’s huge potential as an app tailored to transactions and services.

“I think WeChat is finally

louis vuitton china

Continue reading “Cartier, Bulgari and other luxury brands are flocking to WeChat”

Cartier, Bulgari and other luxury brands are flocking to WeChat


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Not long ago, people in China would need to visit a posh, stylish mall for luxury shopping. That’s rapidly changing as high-end brands race to embrace digital channels, which aren’t just the obvious options of ecommerce platforms or brand-owned sites. In China, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Bulgari and other luxury brands are now connecting and selling to millions of customers through WeChat .

Many know WeChat as China’s largest messaging app, and perhaps how it has over time morphed into an all-in-one ecosystem that lets one chat, run errands, hire services, and shop for an infinite list of things. Now the flurry of different products people find on WeChat may include a $10,000-plus purse.

The trend, according to Pablo Mauron, partner and managing director for China at Digital Luxury Group, a luxury marketing agency, reflects WeChat’s huge potential as an app tailored to transactions and services.

“I think WeChat is finally

louis vuitton china

Continue reading “Cartier, Bulgari and other luxury brands are flocking to WeChat”

Razer goes big on payments with Visa prepaid card


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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The latest pairing between a tech upstart and a financial titan is a digital prepaid card targeted at Southeast Asia’s 430 million-plus unbanked and underserved population.

On Monday, Razer, the Singapore-based company best known for its gaming laptops and peripherals, announced a partnership with Visa to develop a Visa prepaid solution. The service, which allows unbanked users to top up and cash out easily, will be available as a mini program embedded in Razer Pay, the gaming company’s mobile payments app. That means Razer’s 60 million registered users will be able to pay at any of the 54 million merchant locations around the world that take Visa.

Going virtual is the natural step given the region’s fast-growing digital population, but the pair does not rule out the possibility to introduce a physical prepaid card down the road, Razer’s chief strategy officer Li Meng Lee told TechCrunch over a phone interview.

Continue reading “Razer goes big on payments with Visa prepaid card”

California has let two Chinese startups offer robotaxis to the public


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


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China’s driverless cars are coming for passengers in the United States. AutoX and Pony.ai just became the first Chinese companies allowed to offer fully self-driving cars in the state of California, according to notices posted on the website of the California Public Utilities Commission this week.

Started in 2016 by Princeton University professor Jianxiong Xiao, called “Professor X” by his students, AutoX is now one of China’s most well-funded autonomous driving startups alongside Pony.ai, which was co-founded in 2016 by two former executives at Baidu’s self-driving department.

AutoX said in January that it was in talks with investors to raise a lofty $100 million. Pony.ai had banked at least $214 million in funding as of April.

While more than 62 companies hold the permits to test autonomous vehicles in California, very few are actually allowed to transport people in those cars. Zoox passed a new milestone when

autonomous driving

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China to lose top spot to U.S. in 2019 gaming market


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China is losing its global lead in games. By the end of 2019, the U.S. will replace China as the world’s largest gaming market with an estimated revenue of $36.9 billion, says a new report from research firm Newzoo.

This will mark the first time since 2015 that the U.S. will top the global gaming market, thanks to healthy domestic growth in consoles. Globally, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo and other console games are on track to rise 13.4% in revenue this year. Driving the growth is the continued shift toward the games-as-a-service model, Newzoo points out, on top of a solid installed base across the current console generation and spending from new model releases.

China, on the other hand, suffered from a nine-month freeze on game licenses last year that significantly shrank the stream of new titles. Though applications have resumed, industry experts warn of a slower

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Xiaomi’s latest products for Russia include its smart TVs and flagship Mi 9T


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Xiaomi, best known for its smartphones, is making serious inroads into Russia as it launched a collection of products in the country where some 145 million people live. That includes its smart TVs featuring 700,000 hours of content, smart wristbands, wireless earbuds, and flagship phone Mi 9T, which is identical to its recently announced Redmi K20 for China under a different identifier.

Customers can find these products online on Xiaomi’s website and offline at its 31 authorized retail stores across the country. The hardware giant aims to open 100 new Mi Stores in Russia this year, a company spokesperson told TechCrunch. Russian news outlet Kommersant reported the plan last week.

Xiaomi began shipping to Russia back in 2017 by introducing three handset models and its offering has since broadened. Russia marks the third international country following India and Indonesia — its biggest markets outside China — where it has

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