China created a unicorn every 3.8 days in 2018 – South China Morning Post

What happened: According to the Hurun Report, which also releases an annual ranking of China’s richest individuals, 97 new unicorns were formed last year. In total, 186 startups were valued at $1 billion or over in China. Tech giants dominated the list: Alibaba’s Ant Financial, worth RMB 1 trillion (about $148 billion) alone, ranked first, followed by Bytedance’s news app Jinri Toutiao at around half of that value. Didi Chuxing, priced at RMB 300 billion, was third. Combined, the three companies made up over one-third of Chinese unicorns’ combined valuation. In addition, the Hurun Report chairman said that “more than 70%” of the 24 unicorns that went public last year beat their pre-IPO valuations.

Why it’s important: Given the sheer number of Chinese enterprises valued at $1 billion or more, the term “unicorn”—meant to indicate such companies’ rarity—no longer seems to apply. But while it may no longer be a measure of exceptional growth, it does show that the trade war and an economic slowdown hasn’t stopped top companies from getting even bigger. In addition, live-streaming platforms like Douyin, known as Tiktok internationally, and Kuaishou, as well as the on-demand service sector as a whole, expanded at above-average rates. Despite the disappointing returns on companies like Meituan and Xiaomi after hot IPOs last year, there may be bright spots yet for China’s tech sector in 2019.

Bailey Hu is based in China’s hardware capital, Shenzhen. Her interests include local maker culture, grassroots innovation and how tech shapes society, as well as vice versa.

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