What's going on?
Chinese ecommerce platform Pinduoduo (bet you can’t say that quickly three times) announced further details of its plan to “go public” in the US this week. It could value the three-year-old company – that’s yet to make any profit – at up to $24 billion.
What does this mean?
If you mixed Groupon, Amazon and Facebook together, you’d end up with something like Pinduoduo. It sells discounted basic items – like food, clothes and toilet paper – that it purchases in bulk and ships directly to consumers. Pinduoduo encourages people to share its wares on WeChat (China’s version of WhatsApp), offering lucrative discounts of up to 90% to users who do so.
Whatever it’s doing seems to be working: Pinduoduo is China’s fastest-growing ecommerce platform. Current investors include the maker of WeChat, Tencent, which is looking to invest even more in the company.
Why should I care?
The bigger picture: Don’t neglect China’s poor.
Rather than chasing the affluent middle class in China’s larger cities (and competing with the likes of Alibaba), Pinduoduo’s targeting lower-income people in China’s smaller cities. Many of them have only recently gotten online, and rely on WeChat and other social media as sources of information – so they see their friends sharing Pinduoduo on the daily. Only 56% of people in China have the internet (compared to 85% of people in the US), which leaves loads of room for Pinduoduo to grow as internet access in rural areas improves.
For markets: Chinese companies still have eyes for US stock exchanges.
Pinduoduo’s listing its shares on the Nasdaq exchange in New York, likely a blow to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange since it loosened its rules after Alibaba and other Chinese tech unicorns ditched it to list in the US. However, the last big tech company to go public in Hong Kong (smartphone maker Xiaomi) didn’t do so well, and its listing led to some confusion and bickering between the exchange and investors.