Jan 31, 2019 06:27 PM

Thursday Tech Briefing: Growth Slows at Alibaba

1. Alibaba Posts Smallest Revenue Gain Since 2016

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. reported a 41% rise in quarterly revenue, the slowest growth since 2016, reflecting tightening purse strings as the world’s second-largest economy cools.

Alibaba said revenue from core commerce rose 40% year-on-year to 102.8 billion yuan ($15.30 billion) in the December quarter. Annual active consumers on its China retail marketplaces reached 636 million, up 35 million from the end of September.

This reflects that China’s tech sector faces growing headwinds amid slowing economic growth and trade tensions with the U.S. (Caixin)

2. ByteDance Slashes Year-End Bonuses

China’s most valuable startup, ByteDance Ltd., slashed Lunar New Year bonuses for employees as founder Zhang Yiming became the latest tech leader to warn of a rocky year ahead, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.

In an email to staff on Wednesday, Zhang, who did not put a figure on the cuts, asked that employees not be disappointed with “much smaller” bonuses and that they maintain a positive attitude amid an “environment that is more difficult, complicated and turbulent.”

ByteDance, valued at $75 billion, owns the short-video app Douyin, which is known internationally as TikTok. (SCMP)

3. Regulators Spell Out Trading Rules for New High-Tech Board

China’s forthcoming Nasdaq-style startup board in Shanghai will welcome pre-profit startups and companies with unconventional legal and shareholding structures, rules newly released by securities regulators showed.

The new board will focus on companies in technology and emerging sectors such as high-tech equipment manufacturing, new energy, biotechnology, big data and cloud computing, the China Securities Regulatory Commission said in a statement. (Caixin)

4. Chinese Smartphones Grow Share Even as Shipments Slip

Global smartphone shipments for the fourth quarter of 2018 dropped to 375.4 million units, the fifth quarterly decline in a row, according to mobile phone tracker IDC. Samsung and Apple ranked first and second in the fourth quarter respectively, with market shares of 18.7% and 18.2% after year-on-year declines of 5.5% and 11.5%. But Chinese brands Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi, which took the next three places, increased shipments by 43.9%, 6.8% and 1.4% respectively in the fourth quarter.

According to IDC, “China, which accounts for roughly 30% of the world’s smartphone consumption, had an even worse 2018 than the previous year, with volumes down just over 10%,” (IDC)

5. Baidu Struggles to Stay Relevant

China’s dominant search engine, Baidu Inc., is struggling to stay relevant in the world’s biggest internet market as the rapid growth of mobile apps allows users to bypass its platform. The nation’s web users are increasingly migrating to mobile devices from desktop computers, and Baidu hasn’t been able to keep pace with the change.

As growth in its key revenue source — advertising — slows, the company is under pressure to find a new growth engine, but its efforts are yet to bear fruit. (Caixin)

6. Tesla Rival Labeled ‘Stupid Smart Car’ After Tiananmen Breakdown

A “smart car” made by China’s Tesla rival, Nio Inc., caught flak on social media Tuesday after one of its cars was stuck for more than an hour on Beijing’s central Chang’an Avenue, the road that passes between the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.

Commenters on Weibo joked that the incident was caused by “stupid artificial intelligence.” (Caixin)

Compiled by Bonnie Wang

Contact editor Flynn Murphy (

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