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


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




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

Continue reading “Online shopping guide SMZDM surges 44% on China stock market debut”

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


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




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

Continue reading “Hellobike, survivor of China’s bike-sharing craze, goes electric”

Cars-as-a-service, Alibaba and ridehailing, mental health, and the future of financial services


This post is by Danny Crichton from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The future of car ownership: Cars-as-a-service

It’s Mobility Day at TechCrunch, and we’re hosting our Sessions event today in beautiful San Jose. That’s why we have a couple of related pieces on mobility at Extra Crunch.

First, our automotive editor Matt Burns is back with part two of his market map and analysis of the changing nature of how consumers are buying cars these days. Part one looked at how startups like Carvana, Shift, Vroom, and others are trying to disrupt the car dealership’s monopoly on auto sales in the United States.

Now, Burns takes a look at how startups like Fair and premium automakers like Mercedes are disrupting the very notion of owning a car in the first place. Rather than buying a car or leasing one, users with these new services are asked to subscribe to their cars, giving them the flexibility to get a

Continue reading “Cars-as-a-service, Alibaba and ridehailing, mental health, and the future of financial services”

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”

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


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




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

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

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


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




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

Continue reading “China’s Alipay adds sought-after beauty filters to face-scan payments”

Kabbage secures $200M to fuel its AI-based loans platform for small businesses


This post is by Ingrid Lunden from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Kabbage, the AI-based small business loans platform backed by Softbank and others, is adding more firepower to its lending machine: the Atlanta-based startup has secured an additional $200 million in the form of a revolving credit facility from an unnamed subsidiary of a large life insurance company, managed and administered by 20 Gates Management, and Atalaya Capital Management.

The money comes on the heels of a $700 million securitization Kabbage secured just three months ago and it is notable not just for its size but its terms: it’s a four-year facility, a length of time that underscores a level of confidence in the company’s performance.

Kabbage, which loans up to $250,000 in a single deal to small and medium businesses, has built a platform that harnesses the long tail of big data from across the web. It uses not just indicators from a company’s own public activities, but it

Continue reading “Kabbage secures $200M to fuel its AI-based loans platform for small businesses”

Warburg Pincus announces new $4.25 billion fund for China and Southeast Asia


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Warburg Pincus, the private equity fund with over $60 billion under management, is doubling down on Asia after it announced a $4.25 billion fund dedicated to China and Southeast Asia.

The firm has been present in China for 25 years, and it has invested over $11 billion in a portfolio of over 120 startups that includes the likes of Alibaba’s Ant Financial and listed companies NIO (a Tesla rival), ZTO Express (a courier firm)among others. The new fund will work in tandem with the firm’s $14.8 billion global growth fund which was finalized at the end of last year.

What’s particularly interesting about the new fund is that it has expanded to include Southeast Asia, where internet adoption is rapidly expanding among 600 million consumers, for the first time. It is the successor to Warburg Pincus’ previous $2.2 billion ‘China’ fund and, with the addition of Southeast

Continue reading “Warburg Pincus announces new $4.25 billion fund for China and Southeast Asia”

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


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




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

Continue reading “Pinduoduo cements position as China’s second-largest ecommerce player”

Splyt wants to connect the world’s ride-hailing apps for easy international roaming


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




The vision of a universal global ride-hailing service is over. Uber’s decision to exit markets like China, Southeast Asia and Russia coupled with the failure of its rivals to develop a proposed roaming system, means that global travelers must install multiple apps if they are to take advantage of on-demand taxis. That’s unless a little-known startup can turn a bold plan into reality.

In the world of ride-hailing and its billion-dollar investment checks, an $8 million capital raise may not be a big deal but it does represent a coming-out for Splyt, a UK-based startup that is aiming to help make global ride-hailing roaming a reality — and not just within ride-hailing apps.

The four-year-old company announced this week that it closed an $8 million Series A round from a range of undisclosed (and existing) family offices and angel investors. In addition, the round included participation from Southeast

Splyt Team

Continue reading “Splyt wants to connect the world’s ride-hailing apps for easy international roaming”

Carrefour sale shifts the balance of power in China’s new retail battle


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Hot on the heels of Amazon’s decision to shutter its local marketplace, Carrefour — another global commerce giant — is switching up its approach to China, and shifting the balance of power between the country’s tech giants.

Carrefour, which is Europe’s largest retailer, sold a majority 80% stake in its China-based business to Chinese retailer Suning, according to an announcement made this weekend. The deal is worth €620 million — that’s RMB 4.8 billion or $705 million — and it is set to close by the end of this year.

Beyond a retail story, the news also has a strong tech angle given the convoluted relationships of the parties that are involved, and it’s a reminder of the power that Chinese tech giants have grown to command.

Ties to Alibaba

Suning has had close links to Alibaba. The e-commerce giant owns a 20% stake in Suning courtesy of

Continue reading “Carrefour sale shifts the balance of power in China’s new retail battle”

Alibaba proposes share split ahead of reported $20B Hong Kong IPO


This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Alibaba is being heavily linked with a public listing in Hong Kong, which could reportedly happen in Q3 and raise up to $20 billion. The firm is keeping quiet on those rumors, but it did let slip a major hint after it announced plans for a stock split.

Filings uploaded today (but originally released Friday) announced a proposal for a one-to-eight stock split.

Shareholders are invited to vote on the offer ahead of the company’s annual general meeting on July 15. The initiative has already been approved by Alibaba’s board, which is recommending that shareholders follow suit.

The particularly interesting part of the filing is where Alibaba explains the reasons behind the stock split.

“The Board of Directors is proposing the Share Subdivision to increase the flexibility for the Company in future capital market activities. Among other reasons, the one-to-eight share subdivision will increase the number of shares available

Continue reading “Alibaba proposes share split ahead of reported $20B Hong Kong IPO”

Alibaba’s Ant Financial and Hellobike team up on $145M e-bike battery JV


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Shared e-scooters aren’t just gaining popularity in the United States; they’re hitting the streets of China, too. Recognizing the possibility that some people just don’t want to pedal that last mile, China’s transportation startup Hellobike is setting up a 1 billion yuan ($145 million) joint venture with Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Financial and battery maker CATL to provide battery-swapping services for scooters.

That’s according to an announcement from Hellobike on Wednesday, though it did not specify individual shares of the three partners.

Hellobike, backed by Ant Financial, has evolved from a bike sharing service into a one-stop app to include ride-hailing and other transportation means. That puts it in competition with car-hailing leader Didi Chuxing and Mobike, the bike sharing service now owned by Meituan Dianping.

Three-year-old Hellobike claims it’s now serving more than 200 million users in some 360 cities around China. It has its eye set on

Continue reading “Alibaba’s Ant Financial and Hellobike team up on $145M e-bike battery JV”

Alibaba’s Ant Financial and Hellobike team up on $145M e-bike battery JV


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Shared e-scooters aren’t just gaining popularity in the United States; they’re hitting the streets of China, too. Recognizing the possibility that some people just don’t want to pedal that last mile, China’s transportation startup Hellobike is setting up a 1 billion yuan ($145 million) joint venture with Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Financial and battery maker CATL to provide battery-swapping services for scooters.

That’s according to an announcement from Hellobike on Wednesday, though it did not specify individual shares of the three partners.

Hellobike, backed by Ant Financial, has evolved from a bike sharing service into a one-stop app to include ride-hailing and other transportation means. That puts it in competition with car-hailing leader Didi Chuxing and Mobike, the bike sharing service now owned by Meituan Dianping.

Three-year-old Hellobike claims it’s now serving more than 200 million users in some 360 cities around China. It has its eye set on

Continue reading “Alibaba’s Ant Financial and Hellobike team up on $145M e-bike battery JV”

Luxembourg to get €100M investment from Chinese payments startup Pingpong


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




For financial services firms looking to enter Europe, Luxembourg has historically been a popular anchoring point for its political and economic stability as well as a favorable regulatory environment. Another bucketload of capital is coming to the country after Chinese fintech startup Pingpong announced to invest more than €100 million ($113 million) in Luxembourg in the coming years.

Founded in 2014, Pingpong has been celebrated by its home city Hangzhou — also Alibaba’s backyard — as a pioneer in the country’s booming cross-border ecommerce sector. Backed by one of China’s largest investment banks CICC, the startup collects payments for Chinese exporters selling through Amazon, Wish, Shopee, Newegg and some other 14 ecommerce platforms around the world, which means clearing local regulatory hurdles is key to its business.

Its European ambition does not stop with Luxembourg. Luo Yonglong, a partner at Pingpong, said at a Saturday event that within three years,

Continue reading “Luxembourg to get €100M investment from Chinese payments startup Pingpong”

Alibaba, Mail.Ru, Megafon form AliExpress Russia JV to double down on e-commerce in CIS


This post is by Ingrid Lunden from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




After announcing plans in September 2018 to build a joint venture together, today Russian internet giant Mail.ru,  Megafon and China’s Alibaba announced that the deal has closed. With support also from Russia’s sovereign wealth fund RDIF, the three are forming a new operation called AliExpress Russia JV — which will include business assets and investment from all three — to double down on building e-commerce services to serve consumers and businesses in Russia and neighboring countries. The joint effort is estimated to have a value in the region of $2 billion.

The operation has several moving pieces, which is one reason why it’s taken nearly eight months to bring it all together and close the deal:

With iOS 13, Apple delivers new features to court users in India


This post is by Manish Singh from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Apple has finally listened to its small, but slowly growing user base in India. The iPhone-maker today announced a range of features in iOS 13 that are designed to appease users in the world’s second largest smartphone market.

First up, the company says Siri now offers an all new and “more natural” Indian English male and female voices. It has also introduced a bilingual keyboard, featuring support for Hindi and English languages. The keyboard offers typing predictions in Devanagari Hindi that can suggest the next word as a user types and it learns from their typing over time.

Additionally, the keyboard in iOS 13 supports 15 additional Indian languages, up from seven earlier. The new languages are Assamese, Bodo, Dogri, Kashmiri (Devanagari, Arabic), Konkani (Devanagari), Manipuri (Bangla, Meetei Mayek), Maithili, Nepali, Sanskrit, Santali (Devanagari, Ol Chiki), and Sindhi (Devanagari, Arabic).

The addition of these features comes as Apple grows more

Continue reading “With iOS 13, Apple delivers new features to court users in India”

Alibaba pumps $100 million into Vmate to grow its video app in India


This post is by Manish Singh from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Chinese tech giant Alibaba is doubling down on India’s burgeoning video market, looking to fight back local rival ByteDance, Google, and Disney to gain its foothold in the nation. The company said today that it is pumping $100 million into Vmate, a three-year-old social video app owned by subsidiary UC Web.

Vmate was launched as a video streaming and short video sharing app in 2016. But in the years since, it has added features such as video downloads and 3-dimensional face emojis to expand its use cases. It has amassed 30 million users globally, and will use the capital to scale its business in India, the company told TechCrunch. Alibaba Group did not respond to TechCrunch’s questions about its ownership of the app.

The move comes as Alibaba revives its attempts to take on the growing social video apps market, something it has missed out completely in China. Vmate could

Continue reading “Alibaba pumps $100 million into Vmate to grow its video app in India”

Alibaba reportedly mulling to raise $20B through a second listing in Hong Kong


This post is by Rita Liao from TechCrunch


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Massive news just dropped for Hong Kong’s capital markets. Alibaba, one of the world’s largest tech companies, is considering raising $20 billion through a second listing in Hong Kong, Bloomberg reported on Monday citing sources.

TechCrunch has reached out to Alibaba for comment and will update the story if and when we have more information.

Unnamed people told Bloomberg that the money raised in Hong Kong is intended to help Alibaba “diversify funding channels and boost liquidity.” The Chinese ecommerce behemoth is aiming to file a listing application confidentially as early as the second half of 2019, according to the report. That would come five years after Alibaba famously scored a record $25 billion listing on the New York Stock Exchange following Hong Kong’s refusal to approve its filing due to rules around company structure.

But the Hong Kong Stock Exchange is becoming an increasingly popular destination for public

Continue reading “Alibaba reportedly mulling to raise $20B through a second listing in Hong Kong”