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KrASIA Weekly: Didi spins off car services; drives into Japan with Softbank joint venture

Written by Robin Moh Published on   3 mins read

Didi powers on as it readies for an IPO.

Hi there, it’s Robin.

China’s ever-changing tech scenes just got more exciting over the past week, especially in the ride-hailing, online education and social media sectors.

In the ride-hailing sector, even as T3 Mobile Travel Services – a newly created entity- was formed just to compete with Didi, in addition to Meituan & Ctrip, Didi moved on with a spin off its car services unit to raise between US$1-1.5b in its preparation for its upcoming initial public offering (IPO) and a joint venture with Softbank to  launch its services in Japan, looking also to leverage machine learning-based technology to improve its ability to predict demand and dispatch efficiently.

The ride-hailing giant also secured US$500 million from Booking Holdings as a strategic investor, allowing Didi users access to book hotels through Booking.com or Agoda, pitting itself against Meituan & Ctrip in the hotel booking sector, possibly implying of a bigger blood-bleeding battle when both Meituan and Didi goes public.

As for the online education sector, the IPO wave isn’t stopping anytime soon. Even after 18 educational startups went public in 2018 alone, the other competitors remain undeterred. In this week alone, we saw Koolearn.com moving ahead with its HK float plans, while English learning app Liulishuo also targets for a $300m US IPO.

In the social media space, the young upstart Douyin announced on Tuesday that it has hit 500 million monthly active users worldwide. Immediately, just days after, other players like Kuaishou and Tencent’s Weishi started to launch new product offerings to up the competition.

By the end of the week, rumors of Alibaba investing into Douyin started to circulate.

With these Chinese tech firms growing bigger, there are already more and more glaring signs of them spreading their tentacles into the Southeast Asia region.

Singapore-based blockchain startup Points, for example, recently entered into a partnership with one of China’s largest credit agencies.

The Singapore airport is also integrating with China’s WeChat Pay to allow Chinese tourists to purchase goods with a swipe on their WeChat app.

In addition to these two recent examples this week, another prominent illustration could be Tencent, the company behind the WeChat app, owns 34 per cent stake in SEA, a Singapore-based gaming app and internet company and is also the one who led a $1.2 billion funding round for Indonesia-headquartered ride-hailing giant Go-Jek.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, on the other hand, is the main backer of Lazada, a Southeast Asian e-commerce marketplace, having invested a total of $4 billion. It has also invested heavily in Tokopedia, an Indonesian e-commerce firm.

Clearly, this trend of Chinese tech giants into the region is set to only continue.

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’re looking forward to hearing from you.

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