China’s massive O2O platform Meituan Dianping is a company that defies categorization. As the company’s founder and CEO Wang Xing once said, it’s hard for them to compare to any other company. Once known as the Chinese equivalents of Groupon and Yelp, Meituan and Dianping merged in 2015 to become a company that sells movie tickets, delivers food, provides hotel and hospitality services and much more. Its latest frontiers are mobility and the big data-powered “new retail.”

The company has just filed for an IPO in Hong Kong seeking to raise more than $4 billion at a valuation of $60 billion. But the IPO is just the beginning, Market watchers are already speculating if the company will join China’s tech trinity BAT (Baidu-Alibaba-Tencent). The company has been backed by both Tencent and Alibaba with Alibaba selling its share in 2016. Similar to these giants, Meituan Dianping has developed into something of a super-platform.

The rise of China’s super-platforms is driven by both consumers and companies, according to Peking University professor Jeffrey Towson. For consumers, it’s easier to have a single app that offers several services: for example, a mobility app could combine hailing taxis, ride-sharing, and bike rental. On the other hand, companies in a large market like China have to provide a huge number of physical assets, be it bikes or supermarkets. This makes it harder for smaller companies to compete which drives the sector towards one large player, he explains.

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Masha Borak

Masha Borak is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Write to her at masha.borak [at] technode.com. Pitches with the word "disruptive" will be ignored. Read a good book - learn some more adjectives.