Yunnan, the ancient province in southwestern China famous for hand-picked tea, snow-capped mountains, and the mystical hidden paradise of Shangri-La, is undergoing a digital makeover.Sensors are also installed along highways for instant toll payments without the need for drivers to slow down or stop.Tourists can skip the queues by buying tickets online, watch live videos of crowds at sites to better plan their trip, or find the nearest available restrooms all through a smartphone app co-developed by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings.The app, as well as a mini program on the do-everything social app WeChat, have together attracted more than 23 million users, according to Tencent.The tourism app is just as important to Yunnan as it is to Tencent, which has pledged to help bring local governments and businesses online as part of a recent shift in direction for the operator of China’s biggest social media and gaming businesses.“This is a significant benchmark project for Tencent to help the digital transformation of the real economy and industries,” Martin Lau, president of Tencent, told an audience of more than 5,000 on Tuesday at the company’s Global Digital Ecosystem Summit in Kunming, capital of Yunnan.
Alibaba and Ant Financial increase stake in Alibaba Health – KrASIAWhat happened: Alibaba and Ant Financial, its fintech affiliate, have agreed to ramp up their stake in pharmaceutical company Alibaba Health.Alibaba’s medical products subsidiary Ali JK will buy a total of 242.4 million shares while Ant Financial subsidiary Antfin will subscribe for 60.6 million shares, according to the document disclosed on Thursday.The Hong Kong-listed Alibaba Health will gain around HKD 2.3 billion (around $289.5 million) in cash from the new subscription agreement.The company said it intends to use the new funds to repay loans, finance ongoing business operations and expansion, and complete previously committed investments.Why it’s important: Alibaba Health, which became a subsidiary of Alibaba in 2015, reported RMB 5 billion ($723 million) in revenue, a 109% increase, for the year ended March 31, 2019.
Chinese food delivery services giant Meituan Dianping plans to continue its foray into China’s grocery retail sector, despite closing a number of its Ella supermarkets in the first quarter of this year, as it ratchets up competition with Alibaba Group Holding.Beijing-based Meituan said it was “disciplined on capital allocation for our new initiatives,” according to a regulatory filing in Hong Kong on Thursday when it posted better-than-expected earnings for the first quarter of 2019.“With our clear scale and structural advantages in user base, merchant base, and delivery network through long-term investments, we have the capability and flexibility to both strengthen our market position and improve our financial performance,” said company cofounder, chairman, and chief executive Wang Xing in a statement released after the close of trading.Meituan narrowed its net loss in the first quarter to 1.4 billion yuan (US$203 million), compared with a 21 billion yuan (US$3 billion) loss in the same period a year ago, on the back of strong revenue growth across all its major business segments.Meituan’s shares, however, were down 5.75% to close at HK$58.15 (US$7.41) on Thursday.“For our food delivery business, our market share continued to increase while operating results continued to improve in the first quarter,” Wang said.
Alibaba-owned online marketplace and retailer Daraz has named Rakhil Fernando as managing director of Daraz Sri Lanka, effective June 1, 2019.He will head the company’s business strategy and overall operations in the country, according to a statement.Prior to this appointment, Fernando was the innovation director at LumenLab, the Asia-focused innovation arm of insurance firm MetLife.He also served as CEO of Kashmi, a peer-to-peer payments and digital banking platform that operated in Singapore and Sri Lanka.Set up in 2012, Daraz has its own online marketplace and logistics business that target customers in South Asia.The company, which also operates in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Myanmar, claims to have over 10 million products in more than 100 categories.
Global smart speaker shipments experienced upheaval in Q1 2019, with the US and China swapping spots as the largest market by shipments, according to Canalys.The US accounted for just 24% of smart speaker shipments in Q1 2019, down from 44% in Q4 2018, while China grew almost 500% from the previous quarter to account for 51% of the market.Here's what it means: The Chinese smart speaker market is gaining traction, as its share of shipments reached an all-time high.Chinese smart speaker makers Alibaba, Baidu, and Xiaomi all experienced meteoric growth in Q1.Alibaba's smart speaker shipments grew over 200% YoY to 3.2 million, Xiaomi's grew over 400% YoY to 3.2 million, and Baidu was able to ship the most smart speakers of the three (3.3 million) despite only entering the market in Q2 2018.The Chinese smart speaker market, led by the above-mentioned companies, shipped more units than the US market, led by Google and Amazon.
Now there’s Hello Transtech (formerly Hellobike), which may be valued at $4 billion if a rumored fundraising round (in Chinese) is successful.In a two-part series, I’ll lay out how Hello is bidding for profits amid the bikesharing meltdown—and its importance in Alibaba’s battle for mobility.Launched two years after Mobike and ofo started operations, Hello was the first bike-sharing operator to build up its business in China’s smaller cities.GGV Capital Managing Partner Fu Jixin also reckons that frequency of use in lower-tier cities is higher, with each bike averaging more than four or five rides per day.That compares to an average of three or less rides per bike in first-tier cities.These data points, plus a less-crowded competitive bikesharing landscape in lower-tier cities, gave Ant Financial confidence to drop $321 million in Hello in June 2018, minting a new unicorn.
Alibaba founder Jack Ma was greeted at the Viva Technology conference in Paris like a conquering hero.During an hour-long question-and-answer session on stage, however, he made some rather astonishing claims about the reasons China has succeeded in tech while berating Europeans for being obsessed with regulations.“Most government officials, they don’t know how to make rules and laws for the internet because nobody realizes what internet looks like.“Europe … very interesting,” he continued.Everything you do, let’s follow the rules and laws.I worry about the worries of Europe.”
L’Oréal, Alibaba introduce new AI Skin-testing Tech for Acne – AlizilaWhat happened: Alibaba and L’Oréal said at the Viva Technology Paris 2019 tech expo on Friday that they are offering an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered acne analysis application dubbed Effaclar Spotscan.Based on 6,000 scientific images of acne skin collected by L’Oréal, Alibaba’s AI scientists used deep learning to create a neural network model for acne testing that detects the link between visual information from a user’s selfie and the type of acne.Based on this analysis, the app provides personalized advice and skin care recommendations to treat acne lesions.The service will debut on the Tmall and Taobao mobile apps in June 2019.Alibaba told TechNode that it is providing the technology for the partnership, developed by the DAMO Academy, Alibaba’s AI and machine-learning lab.
A Huge Chinese Video App Is Charging People, Draining Their Batteries, And Exposing Data Without Their Knowledge – BuzzFeedWhat happened: London-based mobile security firm Upstream discovered major security issues on a Chinese video-downloads app, VidMate, that potentially affected users in Egypt, Brazil, Myanmar, and other countries.The app, which supports downloads from YouTube, WhatsApp, and other platforms, was originally developed by Alibaba’s subsidiary UCWeb.It is accused of displaying hidden ads, exposing user data, draining mobile data and battery life, and subscribing users to paid services without their knowledge.VidMate responded that it is investigating the claims, and that any suspicious behavior is due to third-party partners and software development kits.In 2018, VidMate was sold to a Guangzhou-based company; app representatives claim that despite an ongoing business relationship, VidMate is independent from UCWeb.
China’s Alibaba Group has acquired roughly US$635 million worth of convertible bonds from local furniture retailer Red Star Macalline, which would give Alibaba a 10% stake in the company if exchanged, TechNode reports.The ecommerce giant also purchased about 3.7% of Red Star Macalline’s publicly traded shares on the Hong Kong stock exchange.Under the deal, the two companies will work together to improve physical stores, and Red Star Macalline will be able to make use of Alibaba’s ecommerce channels.
Baidu, heralded as the Google of China, felt the heat from its continued spending on artificial intelligence and other next-gen technologies that have yet to reach the mass market as it unveiled troubled first-quarter financials on Thursday.The company logged a net loss attributable to shareholders of $49 million in the quarter ended March 31, marking the first quarterly loss since it went public in 2005.Content costs surged 47 percent to $917 million on account of continued investments in Baidu’s Netflix-like video streamer iQiyi, while research and development expenses stood at $621 million, up 26 percent.In a letter to staff today, founder and CEO Robin Li acknowledged that Baidu faces a “grim situation” and reiterated the firm’s strategy to “invest in return for growth.”Baidu remains as the largest search service in China with a 67 percent market share per data from research firm StatCounter.It’s reaped huge rewards from search ads in the PC era, but as consumers allocate attention to new forms of mobile services — notably recommendation-based apps — to discover content, Baidu is losing its appeal.
Japan to unify mobile payment codes, enlisting Chinese giants – Nikkei Asian ReviewWhat happened: Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Tencent are among the five internet companies that will help Japan standardize QR code payment.Other companies also taking part in this endeavor include Japanese messaging service Line, e-commerce platform Mercari, and mobile carrier NTT Docomo.Why it’s important: Mobile payment has become increasingly popular in Japan, but it is fragmented.There are more than a dozen payment service providers in the space and each has its own QR code standard.China’s leadership in cashless payments has nurtured homegrown payment companies which are eager to make inroads into other countries.
Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group has invested RMB 4.36 billion (around $635 million) in home furnishings retailer Red Star Macalline (RSM) in an exchangeable bond subscription for 10% of common shares.Under the deal, the two companies will cooperate in the areas of home improvement and furniture shopping malls, shopping centers, and other business areas.The e-commerce company also acquired 3.7% of the furniture retailer’s Hong Kong-traded shares.One of the largest home improvement and furnishings shopping mall operators in China, Red Star Macalline operates more than 300 shopping malls across the country as of end-March.In addition, the company also operates a total of 364 home improvement centers through franchises.“The investment in Red Star Macalline, China’s leading home improvement and home furnishing shopping malls, underscores Alibaba’s commitment to providing Chinese consumers the highest quality experience when shopping for home-related products and services,” an Alibaba spokeswoman told TechNode on Thursday.
Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba Group Holding projected that its annual revenue will surpass 500 billion yuan (US$72.7 billion) this financial year despite a trade war between the US and China.The New York-listed company said its revenue rose 39% to 376.8 billion yuan (US$54.7 billion) for the 12-month period ended March, excluding newly consolidated revenue, according to a company statement.Alibaba’s financial results were announced as the US and China continued to pursue a resolution to their ongoing trade dispute.The US has also pledged to impose tariffs of up to 25% on all remaining Chinese imports, with an approximate total annual trade value of US$300 billion.“The US trade war has become both a challenge and an opportunity for China’s economy,” Daniel Zhang Yong, chief executive of Alibaba, said in a conference call with analysts on Wednesday.The trade war has an inevitable impact on ecommerce companies like Alibaba, which operate a global business across dozens of countries, Ben Kwong Man-bun, a Hong Kong-based director at brokerage KGI Asia, said before the results were announced.
Alibaba Group has acquired about RMB 4.36 billion ($635 million) worth of convertible bonds in Red Star Macalline, one of China’s biggest furniture retailers.If converted, this would give Alibaba about a 10 percent stake in the company.It also purchased 3.7 percent of Red Star Macalline’s publicly traded shares on the Hong Kong stock exchange, according to a disclosure.Red Star Macalline operates about 300 shopping malls and 364 home improvement centers throughout China, leasing space to retailers in addition to selling its own inventory and services, including interior decoration consultations and construction.The company will work together with Alibaba to improve its physical stores and take advantage of the latter’s e-commerce channels.This investment comes about six months after Red Star Macalline announced a digital marketing partnership with Alibaba rival Tencent.
Drivers are able to save more steering an EV compared to a gas vehicle.Environmentally conscious consumers will choose to hire an electric car.And EVs are designed with better compatibility with autonomous driving, which is expected to hit the public road in the coming decades.Indeed, Tesla is eyeing to launch its first robotaxis in 2020 as part of a broader ride-sharing scheme.Over in China where Tesla has a few disciples, EV startup Xpeng Motors, also known as Xiaopeng, just started offering a ride-hailing app powered by its own electric fleets.Rather, this may be a prime time to crack a market long dominated by Didi, which is prioritizing safety over growth following two high-profile incidents and a series of new government regulations.
Huawei moved to grow its enterprise business by launching new cloud database and storage products on Wednesday, after announcing last month that it would expand its presence in the global cloud arena.The Shenzhen-based firm, best known for its smartphones and telecom equipment, said in a statement that the new cloud-computing products would help the company build a data industry ecosystem.Huawei announced last month that it would partner with Spanish telecom carrier, Telefonica, to operate cloud services in Brazil and Chile as it expands the business globally.The release of its cloud-computing products come as the company’s carrier business falters amid intensifying global scrutiny over the security of its equipment for next-generation wireless networks, known as 5G.As a result of the US-led backlash against its telecom equipment, Huawei’s carrier business declined 1.9% last year compared with an increase of 23.8% in its enterprise business.In five years, “China’s spending on private cloud infrastructure will surpass that of the US and become the world’s largest market,” said the report.
Indonesian ecommerce unicorn Tokopedia launched its own order fulfillment service TokoCabang to help merchants expand their reach.TokoCabang will take care of storage, order receipts, buyer support, product packaging, and product delivery to logistics agents.The Alibaba-backed company already has warehouse facilities spread across Indonesia, according to its website.To use the service, stores will have to register for monthly subscription, which will cost 3,000 rupiah (US$0.21) per item for products to be kept in Tokopedia’s warehouses for above 60 days.Tokopedia also specified that TokoCabang will not be available for products that are banned from its platform, as well as for fresh food and beverage, expired products, aerosols, and items with dimensions exceeding 40cm x 28cm x 28cm.The service will also only be open to stores with a minimum Gold 1 reputation or Official Store label.
Ant Financial-backed Hello Chuxing seeks hefty financing that would take valuation to USD 4 billion – KrASIAWhat happened: Chinese bike-rental platform Hello TransTech (formerly Hello Bike) is reportedly seeking to raise several hundred million dollars in new financing that would bump its valuation to $4 billion.In December, the company secured RMB 4 billion (around $580 million) in a financing round led by Alibaba’s Ant Financial and Primavera Capital Group, which valued the company at more than $2.5 billion.Why it’s important: In February, the ride-hailing company launched its carpooling service in a bid to capture a larger share of the mobility market.At the time, the company said it would put RMB 500 million into promoting the new service, which is similar to ride-hailing giant Didi’s Hitch platform which has been suspended since September after the murders of two female passengers.Bloomberg reported last month the cash-hungry company was seeking to raise between $500 million to $1 billion.
He rose to fame for selling over 15,000 of the essential cosmetic item in five minutes, a striking number compared with few hundreds the former L’Oréal makeup artist could achieve per day at brick-and-mortar outlets of the French cosmetics brand.Chinese consumers’ shopping preferences and brand awareness are influenced by content from digital influencers, or key opinion leaders (KOLs), who spread their views in WeChat articles, usually with the function to direct users to the shopping site, to social media livestreams, photos and videos.“Quality contents from KOLs and web celebrities have a huge influence on my purchasing decisions,” Qu Lijie, a 27-year-old student from Changchun from northeastern China’s Jilin province told TechNode.Since then, Alibaba has been building its own content ecosystem that include Taobao’s built-in social commerce platform Weitao, and fashion and shopping news aggregation Taobao Toutiao.In the same month, its rival Kuaishou upgraded its e-commerce services, giving preference to domestically produced goods and partnering with Chinese e-commerce giants in the hope of commercializing its 150 million daily active users.In addition to external investment, Alibaba has upgraded its internet content activities by drastically expanding the operations of Taobao’s live streaming unit Taobao Live.