Hi there, it’s Robin.
2018 saw a significant wave of Chinese tech firms jumping on the initial public offering (IPO) bandwagon. One of the triggers was the revamp of listing rules at the HKEx. That essentially paved the way for Xiaomi, Meituan-Dianping, and China Renaissance to list on the Hong Kong bourse.
Nonetheless, the same narrative is replayed again and again both in the US and Hong Kong. The public debut either fails to impress or the spectacular performance always ends up on a decline right after.
Cases in point
— HK-listed Xiaomi’s much-anticipated IPO wasn’t that great. Nasdaq-listed Pinduoduo saw its share price drop after the initial surge on its debut day.
— Meituan-Dianping impressive rise to become China’s fourth largest Chinese internet company is also experiencing falling share price over this past week.
— China’s English learning platform LAIX Inc only raised $71.9 million – a mere 24% of its initial target in July 2018 – on its NYSE public debut this week.
Indeed, these less-than-spectacular debuts do suggest that investors are getting more wary of tech companies that acquiring large market share quickly at such high costs. Caixin Global also cited examples of money-losers like Pinduoduo and Meituan-Dianping who went ahead with their pre-profit IPOs to bring home the point that the Chinese tech IPO boom is about to end.
But, as of now, there are still many Chinese tech giants that are waiting in the IPO pipeline. Didi Chuxing, Jinri Toutiao, Ant Financial, Niu, and Tencent Music are just some examples. They seemed determined to become a public entity, despite the doubts in the market.
Perhaps one way to explain this trend lies in the way these tech giant founders think.
Here are some examples of the thoughts and aspirations of the founders of tech giants:
— Wang Xing, Meituan’s founder, once talked about how he doesn’t look at IPO as the end, but he believes in the concept of an infinite game.
— Fan Bao, China Renaissance founder, told CNBC on the firm’s public debut day that he is fine with the dismal performance as this is really just the beginning of a long game.
— Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s goal for Alibaba to last for up to 102 years.
— Lei Jun, the founder of Xiaomi, has recently unveiled its new CEO succession plan.
The common thread is this: the IPO is not the end goal for these founders. The entrance into the public markets is but a new beginning for them. Thus, rather than be overly concerned over the initial investors’ responses, ensuring a viable business model and adaptability are more important attributes that will allow them to ride through the vicissitudes as a public entity.
And this could be of something for startups in Southeast Asia to emulate.
Given the growing pace of Grab’s expansion and reach in the region, and Go-Jek’s competition plan, it is only a matter of time that Southeast Asia will see its very first public listed tech unicorn in the future and the lessons from China’s tech IPO boom would become very valuable.
One example of the increasing competition can be the push into Thailand. Even as Go-Jek looks to expand its service offerings into Thailand, Grab is now exploring a deal with Central Group – Thailand’s largest retail operator – to boost its ‘digital payment and e-commerce’ operations there.
Read on to find out more interesting stories from last week, and feel free to tip us if you have news clue or you just want to talk with us, email us at [email protected] and we are looking forward to hearing from you.
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