In 2014 rival taxi apps Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache engaged in a fierce price war that left onlookers stunned. According to multiple sources, Didi and Kuaidi altogether splashed over RMB 2 billion (approx. $376 million) on subsidizing customer ride fares. Yet in early 2015, the two bitter rivals announced their decision to merge. It made little sense. They couldn’t possibly have buried the hatchet that soon. Cases like Didi-Kuaidi are becoming common in China’s internet industry, spanning areas like online travel, group buying and classified advertisement websites. Why is China’s online sector witnessing a series of frenzied mergers, acquisitions and partnerships between sworn rivals?
This year Alibaba broke all records on Singles Day with sales of $14.3 billion. Singles Day, or China’s Black Friday, was first invented by Alibaba in 2009. The idea was to create an annual sales event with crazy discounts supposedly for those who are single. (The fact that everyone, irrespective of their romantic status, jumped in and shopped is a different matter altogether.) This year a whopping 95 million users joined the cyber shopping fest. In other words, approximately almost one out of eight people in the world clicked the “buy” button on Alibaba’s marketplaces. What did it take to pull this off?
China’s internet world is ruled by three big players: Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, collectively known as BAT. The three companies generated revenues of $20 billion in 2013 and $8.16 billion in the third quarter of 2014. The big three account for a significant, and perhaps disproportionate, share of China’s internet market. Another technology company that has risen to prominence pretty quickly is Xiaomi. BAT and Xiaomi are quickly making inroads into new areas outside their core business—by either investing in or acquiring companies. Take a look at the brand and companies that are backed by these four companies.
Yum Brands, owner of brands like KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, has been on a scary roller coaster ride in China. The highs were really high—the Chinese loved KFC so much that China became Yum’s largest market in terms of profits globally. Things were so good that Yum even ventured into uncharted territory: a western brand offering Chinese food to Chinese customers. But 2012 onwards Yum China has been running into trouble. The troubles have grown so big that the parent company finally succumbed to investor pressure and split the China operations into a separate company. Post the split, can Yum China get its mojo back?
Are you among those who worry about where their products come from? So you prefer to shell out an extra buck for fair trade coffee instead of a regular cup of joe. You look for the Fairtrade certification when you buy clothes. But what about your phone? Fairphone, an Amsterdam-headquartered company, is selling phones on the premise that they are made from conflict-free minerals. Is that a compelling proposition for customers? Will they pick an ethically produced phone over an iPhone which has greater functionality, more aspiration value and a style quotient?
Wang Jianlin’s sprawling business conglomerate, the Dalian Wanda Group, has its fingers in many pies: from real estate and retail to sports and entertainment.
There are stark regional disparities between the inland and the coastal regions in China. Can the less-developed regions ever catch up with the coast?
As China’s economy matures, the leaders are trying to move manufacturing up the value chain with the Made in China 2025 plan.
The China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is poised to reshape development in Asia, and international finance.
A megalopolis six times the size of New York, JingJinJi will ease the pressures being faced by China’s capital Beijing.