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Heather Mowbray / Jun 18, 2021 07:44 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

Two months after celebrating his 100th birthday and just short of his goal of translating the collected works of Shakespeare, renowned translator and professor Xu Yuanchong died Thursday, according to a post on Peking University’s official Weibo account. Some 530 million views of the hashtag #Xu Yuanchong-has-passed-away have been recorded by Friday afternoon.

What’s the story?

Born in Nanchang, East China’s Jiangxi province, in 1921, Xu began translating French and English into Chinese as a scholar in Paris. His efforts gave Chinese readers a chance to read Gustave Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary,” and Marcel Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time” in their own language. He is well known abroad for translating classical Chinese poetry, and “The Analects” of Confucius into English, with an emphasis on communicating the look and feel of the works, not just their meaning.

Xu married Zhao Jun in 1959 in Beijing. They have a son, Xu Ming, who is also a translator. The elder Xu’s wife died in 2018, at age 85. In recent years, he spent most of his time translating Shakespeare, with the goal of publishing the Bard of Avon’s collected works in Chinese by the time he turned 100. There’s a documentary in the works about the project. In 2014, Xu was awarded the prestigious Aurora Borealis Prize.

What are people saying online?

Memories in their thousands have been shared in the comments section of Weibo hashtags mourning the celebrated translator. “Crying on the train ... I will never forget the lovely interactions between the protagonists in ‘The Reader,’ and all the classic works translated by Mr. Xu.”

On Twitter, one translator said “his heavy rhyming style [of poetry translation] may have gone out of fashion, but Xu was a pioneer, and one of a kind.”

One student wrote: “My favorite teacher Xu Yuanchong, I only look at your poetry translations, because you understand the meaning. Your love of Chinese literature and English shines through.”

Another person familiar with Professor Xu wrote, “I remember Mr. Xu handing out his business card at a reading. It said, ‘Chinese and foreign 100-book bestseller’ and ‘[China’s] … only French and English poetry translator.’ All these people we study leave us one by one.”

Related: Trending in China: Should Online Critics Be Forced to Apologize for Giving Bad Reviews?

 

 


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Matthew Walsh / Jun 18, 2021 07:26 PM / Business & Tech

One of Apple Inc.’s biggest glass suppliers is hoping to become a smash hit on the Hong Kong stock exchange, according to reports.

Biel Crystal Manufactory Ltd., a maker of touch screens, is looking to raise as much as $2 billion in an initial public offering (IPO), according to Bloomberg, citing people familiar with the matter.

The Hong Kong-based company is reportedly working with China International Capital Corp., HSBC Holdings PLC and JPMorgan Chase & Co. on the listing.

The firm plans to hand in an IPO application soon and could raise between $1 billion and $2 billion, though the final size has not yet been decided, the sources told Bloomberg.

Biel Crystal, which operates factories in the South China cities of Shenzhen and Huizhou and also supplies the likes of Samsung Electronics Co., attempted a $1.5 billion listing in Hong Kong in 2017 but later ditched the plan due to a stock market selloff triggered by the trade war between China and the U.S., the South China Morning Post reported at the time.

The company would join a long queue of firms looking to list in the Asian financial hub, where over $25 billion has already been raised via first-time share sales, more than twice the figure recorded by this time last year, Bloomberg data shows.

Trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies have hit the fortunes of some of Apple’s other Chinese suppliers, such as OFilm Group Co. Ltd., a maker of camera phone components.

OFilm sold its camera module unit earlier this year after saying a top foreign client, believed to be Apple, had terminated a purchase agreement worth tens of billions of yuan.

Bloomberg contributed reporting.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

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Matthew Walsh / Jun 17, 2021 06:44 PM / Business & Tech

Many of us have felt the familiar pang of irritation when a text message peddling some new sales gimmick appears unsolicited in our inboxes.

The problem is particularly familiar in China, where companies seem to have fewer qualms about bombarding consumers’ phones with special offers and marketing guff.

Besides being annoying, many of the texts actually violate the country’s laws and regulations — something the government now seems keen to clamp down on.

The industrial ministry has told some of China’s biggest e-commerce firms to regulate their use of promotional text messages ahead of Friday’s “618” shopping festival.

The order came at a meeting last week attended by the likes of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. — which operates the Taobao and Tmall online shopping platforms — JD.com Inc. and Pinduoduo Inc., according to a statement (link in Chinese) published Tuesday on the ministry’s website.

The companies in attendance pledged to “strictly manage” the use of such messages, the statement said.

Since the end of May, some e-commerce platforms have been sending registered users texts promoting “618” deals without fully confirming their consent to receive them, the ministry said.

It added that such actions had triggered user complaints, violated consumers’ rights and breached the Civil Code and rules governing the management of text-based telecommunications services.

Named after the date on which it is held — June 18 — “618” started out as an anniversary promotion for JD.com in 2004, but has since morphed into an annual online shopping bonanza.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com) and editor Joshua Dummer (joshuadummer@caixin.com)

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Yang Ge / Jun 17, 2021 06:34 PM / Business & Tech

Baidu’s long ride to bring its autonomous driving technology to the masses has taken another step forward, with word that industry major BAIC has signed on to make cars using the search giant’s Apollo system.

More precisely, Baidu will work together with BAIC’s Arcfox electric vehicle unit to make self-driving robotaxis under a program dubbed Apollo Moon, according to their joint announcement on Thursday. The pair plans to produce 1,000 robotaxis over three years with Level 4 autonomous driving technology, one step down on the six-step scale from Level 5 which is considered fully autonomous.

Each vehicle will carry a price tag of 480,000 yuan ($75,000) — a figure the pair is billing as highly affordable when compared with the more typical price of 1.5 million yuan for cars with such technology. The move marks the latest extension of Baidu’s Apollo program, which has seen it roll out similar robotaxi services with other partners in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing.

“Compared with its predecessors, the overall capabilities of Apollo Moon will have improved tenfold with a 99.99% success rate of ride-hailing in complex urban cityscapes, allowing for a fully driverless vehicular experience that is equivalent to that of human drivers,” the two companies said.

Baidu is among the leaders of China’s autonomous driving sector, though by no means the only player. Another startup called WeRide, backed by Japan’s Nissan, said last month it is testing its own Level 4 driverless minibus service in Guangzhou and Nanjing, with plans to turn it into a paid service later this year.

Related: WeRide Raises Fresh Capital as It Ponders How to Make Money Off Self-Driving Cars 

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)


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Heather Mowbray / Jun 17, 2021 07:21 AM / Trending Stories

Wang Sicong

Wang Sicong

What’s trending?

With more than 14 million followers on Weibo, Wanda Group heir Wang Sicong regularly attracts a six-figure viewership for his posts on wealth, celebrity and women. On Tuesday, the 33-year-old was himself the subject of a trending story by livestreamer Sun Yining about contact between them over the past four years in which she describes feeling “afraid.”

Wang Sicong is son of the chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, Wang Jianlin, who has a net worth of $14 billion, according to Forbes. The older Wang fell down the rich list in 2020 as his real estate and cinema groups lost out during the Coronavirus pandemic, but Dalian Wanda Group remains one of China's largest real estate development company.

What’s the story?

Sun took to Weibo Tuesday to itemize uncomfortable encounters between the two, which included Wang sending Sun gift money on her streaming channel, showing up at her home uninvited, claiming she was his girlfriend in front of friends and disputing her word when she told him she was a lesbian.

Wang, a board member of his father's conglomerate and chairman of Prometheus Capital, a private equity investment company, is considered one of China's most eligible bachelors and is often seen out and about with models and online celebrities. The second-generation billionaire responded to Sun’s accusations saying the relationship between the two had had warmer periods, posting screenshots of other messages as evidence.

What are people saying online?

Sun’s post attracted more than 113,000 comments and was a top trending story on the social media platform Wednesday. Screenshots of messages between the two show his insistent and domineering attempts to have a romantic relationship with Sun while she tries to distance herself from the wealthy scion.

Social media users have posted screenshots of WeChat commentary by friends imitating Wang’s chat-up lines and ridiculing his defense on WeChat that he is no “licking dog,” a term that describes a man who will do anything to gain someone’s attention. One popular comment addressed Wang with, “You’ve raised the bar for being a licking dog.”

Supporters of Sun praised her for speaking up, saying, “The first one who dares to talk back at Wang Sicong is our sister Ning.” Others said she was lying and they hoped people would see through her act.

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/ Jun 15, 2021 08:10 PM / Business & Tech

A person checks out an Aihuishou store in 2020 in Shanghai. Photo: VCG

A person checks out an Aihuishou store in 2020 in Shanghai. Photo: VCG

Chinese electronics reselling platform Aihuishou has fleshed out the details of its planned IPO, setting a target of $261 million.

That target would value the firm, one of the largest second-hand goods platforms in China, at a bit under $4 billion.

Aihuishou cited a laundry list of vulnerabilities in its IPO prospectus, including a deep strategic reliance on China’s No. 2 e-commerce giant JD.com.

Investors don’t seem concerned. China’s e-commerce giants are likely to keep their competitive focus on the much larger new electronics market for the time being, said one. And if Aihuishou can establish itself as a trustworthy seller of second-hand gadgetry, it would stand out from the likes of Alibaba and JD.com that compete on price and delivery and sell pretty much the same stuff.

Aihuishou’s use of both online and offline stores could help with the trust deficit that plagues the online second-hand goods market.

The firm has not hit the dazzling growth of more valuable platforms like ByteDance and Kuaishou, but its steady pace has tracked the slower growth of China’ s second-hand goods market. It reported a net loss of 470.6 million yuan ($72.5 million) last year, down from 704.9 million yuan in 2019. Meanwhile revenues rose to 4.9 billion yuan from 3.9 billion yuan, with transactions up almost 50%.

The Shanghai-based firm plans to sell 16.2 million American depositary shares at a price range of $13 to $15.

Related: Money-Losing Chinese Electronics Reseller Files for U.S. Listing

Contact reporter Flynn Murphy (flynnmurphy@caixin.com) and editor Michael Bellart (michaelbellart@caixin.com)

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By Guo Yingzhe / Jun 15, 2021 05:32 PM / Business & Tech

Zhang Jindong, Chairman of Sunning.com. Photo: VCG

Zhang Jindong, Chairman of Sunning.com. Photo: VCG

A local court at Beijing has frozen more than one-quarter of Suning founder Zhang Jindong’s shareholding in Suning.com. Co. Ltd. (002024.SZ) as the retail giant continues to have trouble paying its bills.

Zhang is the controller shareholder of Suning.com, the e-commerce arm of Suning Holdings Group, the company that owns the football club Inter Milan. He holds 21% of Suning.com’s shares. Beijing Second Intermediate Court has frozen 540.2 million of the shares, which account for 5.8% of the company’s total, according to a company filing (link in Chinese) published Tuesday morning.

Suning.com’s share price closed down by the maximum daily limit of 10% on Tuesday to 5.59 yuan (87 U.S. cents) following the announcement of the freeze.

The move shows that the liquidity crisis at Suning Holdings has persisted despite receiving billions of yuan in state-funded bailouts this year. The crisis began for the Jiangsu province-based company last year as losses to its core retail business and the debts it took on to fund an acquisition spree from 2015 to 2019 tipped its bottom line into the red.

Last year, Suning.com reported a 4.3 billion yuan net loss attributable to shareholders, a reversal from a net profit of 9.8 billion yuan in 2019.

Contact reporter Guo Yingzhe (yingzheguo@caixin.com) and editor Michael Bellart (michaelbellart@caixin.com)

Related: Debt-Ridden Retailer Suning Gets $500 Million State Bailout

 


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By Ding Yi / Jun 11, 2021 08:09 PM / Business & Tech

ByteDance aims to become a technology supplier for companies eager to digitalize as the Beijing-based company seeks to expand revenue beyond mainstay consumer-facing apps.

On Thursday, the TikTok owner officially introduced a smart technology brand called Volcano Engine, which it said will focus on exporting proprietary technologies, including recommendation algorithms, data analytics and artificial intelligence to more corporate clients, according to a statement received by Caixin.

ByteDance, which had been operating Volcano Engine for a year in a low-profile manner before Thursday’s official launch, highlighted its recommendation algorithms as a major business growth technology that it wants to sell to enterprise clients, citing an example in which the technology helped an e-commerce firm double its gross merchandise volume, according to the statement.

The company said that it has provided its business growth technologies to corporate clients including e-commerce giant JD.com, smartphone maker Vivo, carmaker Geely, video streamer Bilibili and China Construction Bank.

The huge success of ByteDance could not be achieved without recommendation algorithm technology that played a key role in catapulting its early flagship news aggregator app Jinri Toutiao and its current hit TikTok into stardom by using big data and deep learning to provide users with personalized content.

Thursday’s launch comes as TikTok, one of ByteDance’s major profit drivers, appears to show signs of losing steam globally amid a growing backlash in some of its overseas markets, especially in the U.S. and the EU, where lawmakers have raised concerns over its handling of user information. The app has been permanently blocked in India on national security grounds. India was once TikTok’s biggest overseas market.

In May, TikTok amassed 80 million downloads worldwide, down from the 112 million installs it logged a year ago, according to SensorTower. Although, the download number helped TikTok retain its status as the world’s most downloaded nongame app for the month, the year-on-year decline leaves Bytedance open to questions about whether it can hold on to the territory.

On Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden revoked Trump-era bans on TikTok and WeChat and ordered a new review of software applications from foreign companies that could pose a risk to Americans’ sensitive data.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

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Ding Yi / Jun 11, 2021 07:22 PM / Business & Tech

Alibaba is working with its logistics arm Cainiao to develop self-driving trucks, signaling long-distance freight ambitions to match its development of robots for last-mile deliveries.

That was the message from Alibaba Chief Technology Officer Cheng Li at the 2021 Global Smart Logistics Summit held on Thursday, according to a statement received by Caixin.

The move comes as competition heats up in the self-driving vehicle industry, with more and more players starting to explore how to make better use of their technologies in the trucking business. The moves stem from a widely held notion that trucks, unlike passenger vehicles, are low-hanging fruit in a push to make money from self-driving technology because they operate under less complex driving conditions such as on highways.

The statement did not provide details about its plan for developing autonomous trucks. And an Alibaba representative declined to comment on the matter when contacted by Caixin.

However, the statement revealed that Cainiao plans to deploy 1,000 logistics Xiaomanlü robots on Chinese university campuses and in residential communities over the next year.

Xiaomanlü, meaning “little workaholic donkey” in Chinese, was introduced by Alibaba last September for use by Cainiao in delivering orders on the last mile of their journey. The robot is powered by a deep learning and high-definition positioning system that enables it to plan delivery routes, identify obstacles, predict pedestrian movements and operate in spite of a weak GPS signal, according to Alibaba.

Apart from Alibaba, JD.com and Meituan are also trialing their last-mile robot-enabled delivery services. Last month, the two companies obtained permits to test their driverless delivery vehicles on several designated public roads of Beijing, where the government has rolled out policies to promote the future commercialization of the technology.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Alibaba Unveils Delivery Robot to Meet ‘Last-Mile’ Demand

 


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Ding Yi / Jun 11, 2021 07:19 PM / Business & Tech

BlueCity, the operator of China’s largest LGBTQ dating app Blued, released mixed first-quarter results showing the company suffered widening losses even as revenue grew.

In the three months through March, the company’s total revenue jumped 30.7% year-on-year to 271.1 million yuan ($41.4 million), while its net loss widened to 52.1 million yuan from 7.6 million yuan the year before, according to its financial report released Thursday.

The composition of 10-year-old BlueCity’s revenue is in line with a trend in which more and more social networking platforms are deriving considerable revenue from livestreamed videos.

In the first quarter, nearly 81% of BlueCity’s total revenue came from livestreaming services, reaching 219.9 million yuan, up 22.4% year-on-year. The remainder of the total revenue was contributed by services related to merchandise sales, membership and advertising, with merchandise sales enjoying the fastest year-on-year growth of 297.7% among its four major business segments, the earnings report showed.

The revenue growth was offset by increased spending on marketing, R&D and administration, which grew 69.2%, 59.1% and 157.5% year-on-year respectively.

The number of paying users reached 640,000 by the end of March, representing a year-on-year increase of 47.8%, according to BlueCity.

The company said that it expects its full-year revenue to stand between 1.41 billion yuan and 1.46 billion yuan, representing a year-on-year increase of between 37% and 42%.

BlueCity’s Nasdaq-listed shares closed down 5.84% at $7.10 on Thursday.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Chinese LGBTQ Dating App Owner BlueCity Acquires Youth-Focused Gay Platform Finka

 


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Matthew Walsh / Jun 10, 2021 07:29 PM / Business & Tech

As China’s top leaders discuss a draft law that would beef up data protections, companies are hurrying to show they have what it takes.

The latest to do so is Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., which on Wednesday opened its largest cybersecurity and transparency center in the southern Chinese city of Dongguan.

The 20,000-square-meter complex aims to help cybersecurity industry stakeholders share their expertise in cyber governance and work on technical solutions, Huawei said in a statement.

The center, which will employ more than 200 engineers, will be open to regulators, independent third-party testing organizations, and standards bodies, the technology giant added.

“Cybersecurity is more important than ever,” said Ken Hu, Huawei’s rotating chairman, at the facility’s opening ceremony. “As an industry, we need to work together, share best practices, and build our collective capabilities in governance, standards, technology and verification.”

The project is Huawei’s seventh “transparency center” and the first it has set up in China. The controversial company built the previous facilities amid scrutiny from foreign regulations over the security of its products.

Beijing’s top brass are meeting this week to discuss proposed new rules on how personal data is collected, processed and stored, as the country looks to further curb the power of its tech titans.

One draft provision would penalize Chinese firms that hand over domestically stored information to foreign law enforcement and judicial agencies.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)


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Ding Yi / Jun 10, 2021 07:23 PM / Business & Tech

Hanson Robotics, a Hong Kong-based tech startup that shot to fame for making a social robot named Sophia, is launching a new prototype for the health care market, according to Reuters.

The prototype, named Grace, has a thermal camera that can take people’s temperature and measure their responsiveness, and it uses artificial intelligence to diagnose patients, Reuters reported on Thursday.

The English, Mandarin and Cantonese-speaking robot has capabilities that allow it to talk to front-line medical workers. The robot can take medical readings and ease frontline health care workers’ pressure by talking to them and assisting with certain tasks, Reuters said.

Hanson Robotics founder David Hanson told Reuters that Grace “can simulate the action of more than 48 major facial muscles” with a demeanor akin to an anime character, which is helpful in building trust and enhancing natural engagement with humans.

Mass production of a beta version of Grace is expected to begin by August, Reuters reported, citing David Lake, CEO of Awakening Health, a joint venture between Hanson Robotics and Singularity Studio. There are plans to fully deploy Grace next year in countries including China, Japan and South Korea, Lake added.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Delivery Robot Specialist PuduTech Pockets $78 Million in New Funding

 


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Ding Yi / Jun 10, 2021 07:18 PM / Business & Tech

Geek+, a Beijing-based startup focusing on developing robotics and artificial intelligence technologies to improve warehouse efficiency, has secured a contract to deploy its autonomous mobile robots in a distribution center operated by convenience store chain Circle K in Hong Kong, capitalizing on a trend of robots being used to streamline workflow and reduce staffing costs in industries from manufacturing to logistics.

The 13,000-square-meter distribution center, which restocks more than 300 Circle K Hong Kong stores that serve over 600,000 customers per day, is using 100 autonomous mobile robots developed by Geek+ to perform tasks such as moving ordered goods from designated areas to workstations where human workers complete the selection process, Geek+ said in a statement on Tuesday.

Geek+ said that these robots are equipped with technologies enabling them to automatically plan the optimal routes and that their small size will leave more room for storage racks to be placed in the distribution center.

Founded in 2015, Geek+ has developed a portfolio of robots that are designed to do jobs including picking, sorting, forklifting and disinfecting, according to its website.

Use of robots in workplaces or public places has seen a rapid rise especially since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, due to the implementation of social-distancing measures. In China, for example, some hospitals started to use robots to deliver drugs and meals in an effort to reduce potential infections with the virus.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Chinese Robot-Maker Rokae Raises Fresh Capital Amid Official Push for Intelligent Manufacturing

 


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Ding Yi / Jun 10, 2021 07:15 PM / Business & Tech

Tesla’s Shanghai-built Model Y became China’s second best-selling new-energy vehicle model in May, an achievement that came only five months after the U.S. carmaker started delivering the SUV in the world’s largest auto market.

Last month, Tesla sold 12,728 Model Ys in China, compared with April when the car claimed the title of the country’s sixth most popular new-energy car model with sales of 5,407 units, according to statistics from the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA).

In January, Tesla, which sees the Chinese market as a major profit driver and has been deepening its localization efforts, started delivering the Shanghai-assembled Model Ys to China-based customers. The Model Y is the second locally-produced car model Tesla now sells in China after the Model 3, which the company started delivering locally in January 2020.

The Model 3 was the third best-selling new-energy car model in May with sales of 9,208 units, representing a year-on-year decrease of 17%, according to the CPCA.

The Model 3’s sales drop came after Tesla was mired in a public relations crisis in China triggered by a protest staged at April’s Shanghai Auto Show by a Tesla customer, who alleged that the company’s brakes had safety issues citing a crash in February involving a Model 3 driven by her father. Under pressure from regulators, Tesla agreed to provide the protester with complete driving data for the half hour before the crash, which the company said showed poor driving rather than brake failure.

The Elon Musk-founded company has also made efforts to meet regulatory compliance requirements related to car data security in China. In May, the electric carmaker said it had built a new data center in Shanghai to store information gathered on local users and their vehicles, with a promise to give car owners access to its vehicle information checking platform.

May’s top spot was taken by Hongguang Mini, a low-cost, two-door micro-electric vehicle made by General Motors’ Chinese joint venture, with sales of 29,706 units, according to the CPCA.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Tesla Announces New Shanghai Data Center to Allay Concerns

 


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Ding Yi / Jun 09, 2021 07:22 PM / Business & Tech

With a growing number of contracts it has secured with tech firms betting on autonomous driving, Chinese lidar-maker Hesai Technology has caught more and more attention from venture capitalists bullish on the company’s remote sensing technology, which can boost smart cars’ self-driving capabilities.

The latest investors endorsing Hesai, a Shanghai-based startup that develops lidar sensors for autonomous vehicles and other robotics applications, are smartphone maker Xiaomi, food delivery firm Meituan, Hillhouse Capital’s GL Ventures and Citic Private Equity Funds Management, which co-led Hesai’s series D funding round that raised more than $300 million, Hesai said in a statement on Tuesday.

Other investors included a U.S. dollar-denominated fund managed by Huatai Securities and Hesai’s existing shareholders — Lightspeed China Partners and Qiming Venture Partners, according to the statement.

Lidar is a key technology for autonomous driving as it uses pulsed laser light the way radar uses radio waves to detect objects around a car as it moves.

Seven-year-old Hesai said it will use the proceeds for the mass production of a hybrid solid-state lidar, the construction of a smart manufacturing facility and the development of automotive-grade lidar chips.

Hesai has developed a series of products including mechanical lidar, solid-state lidar and an all-in-one sensing kit for autonomous driving, with its latest product, the PandarXT lidar, being designed for uses in unmanned logistics, mapping and surveillance, according to its website.

The new financing also mirrors strategic implications for Xiaomi and Meituan.

In March, Xiaomi jumped on the electric car manufacturing bandwagon with a massive investment plan, and a cash injection into Hesai opens the possibility that future Xiaomi-branded cars will be outfitted with Hesai-developed sensor systems. The move came after Baidu, which also has a partnership with Hesai, said it had embarked on a joint venture with domestic automaker Geely to produce smart electric cars.

Meanwhile, Meituan is exploring last-mile delivery services using robots capable of automatically identifying obstacles and planning delivery routes. Meituan is also a backer of Shenzhen-based startup PuduTech, which focuses on developing indoor delivery robots.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Meituan, JD.com Get Green Light to Trial Unmanned Delivery Vehicles in Beijing

 

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Ding Yi / Jun 09, 2021 07:18 PM / Business & Tech

Momo Inc., which runs two of China’s biggest dating apps, started the year 2021 with lackluster quarterly results, with both revenue and profit suffering a decline as the number of paying users diminished.

In the three months through March, the company’s total revenue fell 3.4% year-on-year to 3.5 billion yuan ($529.7 million) while its net profit dipped 14.3% year-on-year to 461.7 million yuan, according to its latest earnings report released Tuesday. The firm expects revenue to dip further in the current quarter.

Momo makes money from four major businesses including live videos, value-added services, mobile marketing and mobile games, with the first two contributing nearly 98% of its total revenue in the first quarter.

In the first quarter, revenue derived from live videos totaled 2 billion yuan, down 15.9% year-on-year. This was largely offset by a jump in revenue generated from value-added services, which reached 1.5 billion yuan during the period, up 23.8% year-on-year. The remainder of the quarterly total revenue came from mobile marketing and games, generating 38.7 million yuan and 11.2 million yuan, down 32.3% and 11.9% year-on-year respectively.

In addition to its namesake dating app Momo, which has developed into a diversified social messaging and networking platform featuring various entertainment functions including short videos, livestream broadcasting and group video chats, the company also operates a dating app called Tantan that it acquired in 2018.

Unlike the Momo app, Tantan recorded 48.7% revenue growth in the first quarter, reaching 567.7 million yuan, which the company said was largely due to the increased popularity of its live video services. Tantan managed a pivot to livestreaming amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The number of the company’s paying users of live video and value-added services reached 12.6 million by the end of March, compared with 12.8 million a year ago, according to the financial report.

Momo said that it expects total revenue for the second quarter to stand between 3.6 billion yuan and 3.7 billion yuan, representing a year-on-year decrease of between 6.9% and 4.3%.

Momo’s U.S.-listed shares closed up 3.23% at $14.37 on Tuesday.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

Related: Momo Breaks Up With Founder as Dating App’s Revenue Continues to Slide

 


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Ding Yi / Jun 09, 2021 07:15 PM / Business & Tech

China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) and BYD are scrambling to win a contract to supply electric vehicle batteries to Apple, which aims to start production of a passenger vehicle in 2024, Reuters reported.

CATL and BYD are in preliminary discussions with the iPhone designer, which come with a prerequisite that the two companies build manufacturing facilities in the U.S., where some automakers are calling on the government to support producing batteries locally, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing sources with knowledge of the matter.

The condition was confirmed by senior White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein, who told Reuters that Apple’s demand is “completely consistent with what the president has talked about in terms of onshoring supply chains particularly in areas where we might grab global market share.”

However, CATL, which already provides Tesla with batteries, is unwilling to build a U.S. factory due to political tensions between the two countries and cost concerns, the sources said.

The news comes as many battery-makers are increasing their production capacities against the backdrop of many governments around the world demanding a higher share of electric cars in total car sales as part of efforts to fight global warming.

Last week, Reuters reported that CATL was mulling a new car battery plant in Shanghai, which would be situated near Tesla’s China factory.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

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Icy Chen / Jun 09, 2021 07:13 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

A video of a woman berating a fellow bus passenger on a Beijing bus went viral on Tuesday, with the related hashtag #Woman-cursed-passenger-for-being-slow-to-give-up-their-seat accruing 450 million views and 16,000 comments on Weibo by Wednesday evening.

What’s the story?

A video shows the woman, who claims to be physically disabled, confront a younger woman for not giving up her seat.

The 63-year-old, who says she is a local of the capital, loudly insults the other passenger, calling her a “stinky migrant” and accusing her of “begging in Beijing.” She was subsequently detained and has since apologized for her behavior.

According to the latest census, Beijing’s official population stands at 21.89 million of which 38.5% originate from outside the city. The number of registered migrants in the capital has swelled by 19.5 % in the past decade.

What are people saying online?

Social media users condemned the older woman’s sense of superiority and her rudeness. One comment said, “On public transportation, you should be grateful that others give up their seats for you if there are no priority seats. And if they don’t, it is also fine. You got the seat in the end and kept swearing?”

Some readers were outraged by the Beijing native’s discriminatory remarks about migrants. “Does the prosperity of a city depend only on the locals? No city can live without migrants. Only a city with people in it can have what it wants!”

One reader pointed out that this incident reflects “psychological pressure faced by locals when their living space is squeezed,” going on to say, “It pokes at the pain of migrants in the north, and at the tears of local residents.”

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Ding Yi / Jun 08, 2021 07:37 PM / Business & Tech

JD.com-backed delivery platform Dada Group said its losses swelled in the first quarter of 2021, despite a decent jump in revenue.

The Shanghai-based company reported a net loss of 710.3 million yuan ($111 million) in the three months through March, compared with a 495.4 million yuan loss a year ago, according to its earnings report released on Monday.

Total revenue grew 52.1% year-on-year to 1.7 billion yuan, according to the report. The report also showed that its number of active users hit 46.1 million by the end of March, up 67% year-on-year.

Dada makes money from two major businesses. One is Dada Now, an intracity courier service that generated 894.5 million yuan in revenue in the first quarter. The other is JDDJ, a grocery delivery unit Dada acquired from JD.com in 2016, which contributed 778.3 million yuan to Dada’s quarterly total revenue.

The spike in revenue was offset by surging operational and marketing expenses, which drove Dada’s total spending up 70% year-on-year in the first quarter to 2.4 billion yuan.

Dada’s Nasdaq-listed shares closed up 1.3% at $25.74 on Monday.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

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Ding Yi / Jun 08, 2021 07:06 PM / Business & Tech

Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo made the ranking of world’s top five smartphone vendors in the first quarter of 2021, according to research firm Gartner, collectively controlling a third of a global market from which U.S.-sanctioned Huawei has retreated.

In the three months through March, Xiaomi retained its status as the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor, with sales growing 65% year-on-year to 48.9 million devices during the period, giving it a global market share of 12.9%.

Vivo and Oppo ranked fourth and fifth with a basically equal share of the market — 10.2%. The two companies’ sales jumped 73% and 60% year-on-year in the first quarter to 38.7 million and 38.3 million units respectively.

Gartner attributed the Chinese smartphone makers’ sales growth to increased demand for their 5G-enabled phones and the decline of Huawei and LG. Huawei suffered a severe contraction in smartphone sales starting in the second half of last year largely due to chip shortages caused by U.S. sanctions. In April, South Korea’s LG announced it would close its money-losing smartphone division, a move that Reuters reported would leave its 10% share of the North American market, where it is the third-largest smartphone brand, ripe for being gobbled up by Samsung and Apple.

According to Gartner, in the first quarter of 2021, Samsung was still the global market leader with a share of 20.3%, followed by Apple which controlled 15.5%.

Overall, global smartphone sales increased 26% year-on-year to 378 million units, Gartner said.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)

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