BATX – a term commonly used in the tech industry for Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and X for rising unicorn tech companies such as Xiaomi and Didi Chuxing – have blown the world’s tech sector away with its remarkable achievements and sheer record-breaking numbers. Here are some highlights of BATX’s notable achievements and setbacks in the past year:
Baidu, a web services company well known for China’s Google-equivalent search engine, has been pushing to become a leader in artificial intelligence (AI). The company has already been using AI in machine learning to forecast food delivery times for its Baidu Takeout Delivery and new consumer apps like Baidu’s “Melody” assistant, according to a Huffington Post interview with its director at Baidu Silicon Valley AI Lab.
Despite a drop in revenue in the third quarter following regulatory pressure on paid advertisements after a death of a college student who found therapy for his cancer on Baidu, Baidu is back on track with plans for a US$1 billion initial public offering (IPO) of its video-streaming site iQiyi next year.
It is no doubt that 2016 has been a good year for Alibaba. The well-known China tech giant made international headlines with its new sales record of US$17.8 billion (RMB$120.7 billion) during its one-day online shopping festival Singles’ Day, which is almost three times more than the combined total sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday’s US$6.79 billion. Alibaba has also revolutionized online shopping experience with the use of VR (cardboard virtual reality headsets for 360 degree view of sale products) and AR (“Catch the Tmall Cat” gives consumers the chance to win discount coupons by “capturing” the cat in seven shopping malls across five China cities) in the weeks leading up to Singles’ Day.
On the investment front, Alibaba spent several billion dollars (in USD) acquiring huge stakes in several investments across the food delivery, AR, ride-hailing, ecommerce, several other industries.
Koubei, its on-demand delivery services arm, is close to securing US$1.2 billion in funding for expansion.
Unfortunately, Alibaba’s online shopping platform Taobao is back on the U.S. Trade Representative’s blacklist following complaints of selling counterfeit and pirated goods on Taobao.
WeChat, China’s number one messaging app, attracted international attention when news agencies such as the New York Times and Bloomberg showed how a single app was so integral into the online habits of Chinese users. Last month, Tencent reported a profit of US$1.5 billion (or RMB$10.6 billion) due to the success of WeChat and its mobile games business.
Determined to grow beyond its core mobile phone services business, it has invested billions of dollars on several businesses including biotech, messaging apps, real estate, and gaming. Bloomberg reported that Tencent has “ratcheted up spending by 69 percent” in the third quarter. Other than investments, it has also been building data centers for cloud services, developing an online finance operation, and amassing a content library for video streaming sites.
Apart from manufacturing smartphones, Xiaomi also manufactures other electronic products such as drones and air purifiers. This year, Xiaomi launched its first ever laptop named the Mi Notebook Air. Like its Apple counterpart, the Mi Notebook Air is thin and powerful. The notebook’s 13.3-inch version was also the number 1 best selling tech product on Singles’ Day.
Recently, Xiaomi has announced that it will support Sichuan XW Bank, a Chinese online bank, which was established in a joint venture of several investors including Xiaomi subsidiary Sichuan Yinmi Technology Co Ltd. Sichuan Yinmi owns about 30 percent of the venture.
No one can forget the dramatic rivalry between Didi Chuxing and Uber. This eventually led to Uber selling its China business to Didi Chuxing in a deal which gave Uber 17.7 percent ownership stake in Didi Chuxing and US$1 billion in cash. According to its president Jean Liu, Didi Chuxing handles 20 million rides a day.
Having attracted big companies such as Alibaba, Tencent and Apple to invest in Didi Chuxing, Liu said that it aims to be a “data company” by using data to match rides for users. It is also targetting international expansion, and may collaborate with Lyft to achieve this.
However, on the home ground, Didi Chuxing is hit with new regulations from the Chinese government for ride-hailing apps to restrict their drivers to pick up passengers only in locations located in the driver’s city of residence.
(Top photo from Wikimedia Commons)