Issue 5 | October 2, 2017

A Big Deal
At least two bike-sharing startups suffered a run on deposits this past week, stoking fears that the bike-sharing bubble in China is going to burst. A bike-sharing startup called Coolqi announced that it was firing its founder and CEO due to incompetence. According to news reports, the cash-strapped company gave all its employees the option to leave. As panic over the company’s potential failure spread, hundreds of users stood in long lines outside Coolqi’s Beijing office to demand their deposit back.

There are at least two dozen bike-sharing companies in China, making it one of the hottest startup genres. Many are struggling during what various media outlets described as a ” shakedown period” in the industry. The largest players in the market include Mobike, ofo, and Hellobike (a GGV portfolio company).

A Number
8.5% – Percentage of seven-year-olds in China who shop online. A recent survey found that Chinese children are getting online as early as three years old. By the time they are seven, 10% use QQ and 15% use WeChat regularly. By the time they are twelve, 88% use QQ and 70% use WeChat.

A Picture

WeChat landing page

On Sept 25, users of WeChat were greeted with a new landing page when they opened their app: The picture of the earth was updated to one taken by Fengyun-4, a newly launched Chinese weather satellite. The picture it replaced, “Blue Marble,” was the first photo of the whole earth taken from space, captured by NASA from the Apollo 17. In the new photo, China replaces Africa as the center of the earth.

This is the first time that WeChat has changed its landing page since the app was launched six years ago.  “It is our special present to Fengyun-4,” the WeChat team explained in a WeChat post. Going forward, Tencent says it will engage in more collaborations with China’s Meteorological Administration to help inform users of real-time weather changes and atmosphere-related news.

A Quote

We should not teach our kids the things that computers can do better. The thing that worries me is: how can we educate our kids in a way such that in 20 or 30 years, they can do things that computers cannot do? We should teach our kids to be creative, innovative, and teach them teamwork, sportsmanship, culture… I don’t think technology will conquer people because we have souls, beliefs, and values that machines don’t have.
–  Jack Ma, at a panel with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau at Gateway 2017 on Sept 25
A Buzzword
新乐视 Xīn Lè Shì (New LeEco)
The troubled Chinese tech company LeEco, which has been suffering a cash crunch for nearly a year,  got a “new” name this week by literally adding the character for “new” before its name.

Various media outlets commented that the name change is part of the company’s attempt to shed the influence of its founder and former chairman, Jia Yueting (who goes by “YT” in English). LeEco, which started as a online video company, tried to expand into a wide range of fields: electric cars, smartphones, TVs, film-making, and sports, among others. It accumulated huge debt over the past year, and was bailed out this January for $2.3 billion by the real estate magnate Sun Hongbin, who now leads the company. It remains to be seen how New LeEco will be different from the old one.

– Zara Zhang & Hans Tung at GGV Capital