Tech Insider: Self-Flying Hopeful EHang Runs Into Turbulence, Chipmaker Arm China Joins Auto Drive, iQiyi Gives Up on Its Idols
Welcome to the first issue of Caixin's Tech Insider, your twice-weekly wrap on the movers, shakers and deal-makers in China’s tech scene.
iQiyi gives up on its idols
Chinese video streaming platform iQiyi Inc. has promised to no longer run idol talent shows or host any form of online voting, as regulators say they are targeting abuse in the country’s online fan groups for a crackdown.
“IQiyi is cancelling its idol competition shows, and future IQiyi programs will not feature any form of online voting,” the Baidu Inc.-owned company told Caixin.
Self-flying hopeful EHang hits turbulence
EHang Holdings Ltd., a Chinese startup set on leading the air-taxi revolution, reported plummeting revenue and widening losses in the second quarter of 2021. In the three months through June, the New York-listed company’s net loss swelled to 74.6 million yuan ($11.6 million) from 19.7 million yuan a year ago, while its total revenue nosedived 65.9% year-on-year to 12.2 million yuan, the company said. Ehang is blaming a decision to shift its focus from vehicle sales to operating an air mobility platform.
Chipmaker Arm China joins auto drive
Arm Technology China Co. Ltd., the Chinese joint venture of SoftBank Group Corp.-backed British semiconductor design giant Arm Ltd., announced it will start making all-in-one computing units for self-driving systems. The growing sector is drawing more firms, from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. to Xiaomi Corp., with mixed results.
Faraday Future plugs hiring binge, says first car expected next year
Faraday Future Intelligent Electric Inc. said it would increase its head count “significantly” over the next 12 months, without giving specifics, as it plans to deliver its first electric car model, the FF91, in 2022. The new hires will fill positions in pretty much every part of the company from manufacturing to sales. The California-based electric vehicle startup, which is best known for being founded by fugitive Chinese tech billionaire Jia Yueting, slumped in its Nasdaq debut last month, which was achieved through a SPAC merger.
Taobao to hide customer data from merchants
After China’s Personal Information Protection Law passed China’s top legislature last week, firms with user-data driven business models have been taking a newfound interest in privacy. Alibaba’s Taobao said last week that it has improved its encryption technology to better protect users’ information.
But as part of the push, the online shopping heavyweight said it would no longer share data like customer names, phone numbers and addresses with merchants. Taobao said it will not affect sellers’ operational analysis, but observers will be wondering if the move will hinder their ability to leave the platform if they choose to.
Douyin backs down from copyright showdown with Tencent Video
China’s big tech firms are getting increasingly litigious as they fight over turf. This week, Douyin, the Chinese version of international short-video sensation TikTok, took down thousands of user-generated clips suspected of violating copyright to a TV crime drama streamed on Tencent Video, as legal tussles intensified over intellectual property infringement and online distribution rights between the companies.
Xpeng begins shipping flagship electric car to Norway
Chinese electric vehicle startup Xpeng Inc. has started shipping the first batch of its flagship P7 sedans from Guangzhou to Norway, the company said in a statement (link in Chinese) on Wednesday, upping its efforts to carve out territory in a country the sector sees as the gateway to Europe. The Tesla challenger said that it expects to deliver these P7s to customers in Norway in October at the earliest. Xpeng said it is establishing a full-scale Norwegian operations system that includes sales, deliveries, charging facilities and after-sales services.
Trucker Plus works with Goodyear on fuel efficiency
Self-driving truck startup Plus signed a deal (link in Chinese) with U.S. tire brand Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. to use its web-connected tires to improve the safety and fuel efficiency of rigs powered by its autonomous driving system PlusDrive, it said on Monday. The move could help the trucks perform in extreme weather, Plus said.
Unmanned mining truckmaker Waytous raises $31 million
Waytous, which is making unmanned trucks for use in mining operations, raised more than 200 million yuan ($31 million) in a series B funding round (link in China), the company said Monday. CEO Chen Long said that the fresh capital will be used to grow its market share, optimize its supply chain and to “build government relations.” The Beijing-based firm has a remote driving system, a vehicle-road coordination system and an anti-collision system under its belt.
Powerbank startup Energy Monster reports dip in quarterly profits
Energy Monster, a Shanghai-based firm that places rentable portable smartphone chargers in shops and bars around the country, reported a drop in net profit to 8.2 million yuan ($1.3 million) in the second quarter of 2021, down from 29.9 million yuan in the same period last year. That came even as revenue grew 52.9% year-on-year to 972.4 million yuan, with about 96% coming from its charger hire business.
Energy Monster said it had 255.1 million registered users by the end of June, but that was only about 20 million more than the same time last year, suggesting growth is capping out. Its power bank rental footprint had grown from 716,000 to 771,000 over the same period.
Didi shelves launch plans in UK, continental Europe amid China tech crackdown
Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Global Inc. has suspended its planned launch in Britain and continental Eueop after a regulatory slapdown at home, the Telegraph reported on Monday. Authorities are investigating whether the firm is a national security risk as part of Beijing’s broader crackdown on potentially sensitive cross-border data flows. Employees working on the planned launches have been told that they face redundancy, and Didi has stopped hiring in Britain, putting the plans on ice for at least a year, according to the report.
Foxconn and carmaker Stellantis launch smart cockpit joint venture
Foxconn Technology Group and Stellantis, a carmaker formed from the merger of Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group, have inked an agreement to establish a joint venture called Mobile Drive, which will aim to make smart cockpit systems for cars featuring navigation, voice assistance and payment services, the companies said on Monday. Ownership of Mobile Drive will be shared equally between Foxconn’s subsidiary FIH Mobile Ltd. and Stellantis.
Volvo to buy Chinese truck manufacturer for $123 million
Sweden’s AB Volvo has agreed to buy a Chinese truck manufacturer for about 800 million yuan ($123 million) to capitalize on a boom in China’s logistics industry. The deal, which is awaiting the approval of China’s regulators, will give Volvo’s truck arm full ownership of JMC Heavy Duty Vehicle Co. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of state-owned carmaker Jiangling Motors Co. Ltd. (JMC), and its factory in the northern Chinese city of Taiyuan.
As part of the deal, Volvo Trucks plans to use the Taiyuan facility, which is expected to have an annual production capacity of 15,000 units within a few years, to produce its Volvo FH, Volvo FM and Volvo FMX heavy-duty trucks for the Chinese market starting at the end of 2022.
Tencent’s big games make $530 million in July
Tencent’s “Honor of Kings” and “PUBG Mobile” were the world’s highest-grossing mobile games in July, according to research firm SensorTower. “PUBG Mobile” came first, taking in $299 million in revenue, up 26.7% year-on-year. More than two thirds of the game’s monthly revenue came from the Chinese mainland, with the U.S. and Turkey being the second and third largest revenue sources with 6.7% and 6% respectively. “Honor of Kings” claimed the second spot with revenue of $231.2 million, nearly 95% of which came from the Chinese mainland, followed by Taiwan with 2%.
TikTok strengthens e-commerce efforts with Shopify deal
ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok has forged a partnership with Canadian e-commerce giant Shopify Inc. that will let users place a shopping tab on their TikTok profile and link directly to online stores, according to a statement from the firms Tuesday. A pilot is underway for Shopify merchants in the U.S. and the U.K. and a small group in Canada will soon be added, with the program to be rolled out more widely in coming months.
Baidu-owned Xiaodu valued at $5.1 billion by new funding round
Xiaodu Technology, a Baidu unit that develops smart voice assistants, has been valued at $5.1 billion in a recent funding round, its parent said Tuesday. Baidu, which did not disclose the value of the round, remains a majority shareholder in Xiaodu, it said. The developer of DuerOS, a voice assistant system compatible with many consumer devices, Xiaodu completed its series A funding round in November last year at a post-money valuation of $2.9 billion.
The Caixin Tech Insider is compiled by Ding Yi and edited by Flynn Murphy. Send your tips and feedback to email@example.com
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