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Top 5 tech mergers in China of the year 2015

Looking back on the year 2015, the Chinese internet industry stuck with the theory that “the winter of the capital market has arrived”. Another scene has emerged as many Chinese unicorn tech companies merged with each other. Not only did the winter theory lead to “unicorn marriages”, but many companies now occupy larger shares of their markets by combining resources. Also China’s BAT (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) are directly or indirectly behind the largest merges of 2015.

AllChinaTech has compiled a list of the top 5 largest mergers this year and handpicked highlights including the scale of the merger, quick reasons, and impact on the industry.

The rise of Uber’s rival in China: Didi Dache & Kuaidi Dache

Didi Dache: founded in 2012 in Beijing.
Kuaidi Dache: founded in 2012 in Hangzhou.
Main businesses: ride-hailing, private car, carpooling and designated car driver.

In February 2015, two leading Chinese ride-hailing companies, Tencent-backed Didi Dache and Alibaba-backed Kuaidi Dache announced their merger, retaining their brands and businesses. Didi’s CEO Cheng Wei and Kuaidi’s CEO Lv Chuanwei became co-CEOs of the new company.

The purpose of the merger was to create one of the world’s largest smartphone-based transport services in order to compete with international ride-hailing market leader Uber. Didi later invested in Uber’s U.S. rival Lyft and escalated the battle by investing in India’s Ola and joining hands with Singapore’s GrabTaxi to compete with Uber in Asia.

The immediate valuation of Didi Kuadi has reached USD six billion. In September, the company raised USD three billion, joining the family of tech unicorns with valuation at USD 16.5 billion.

Rising as China’s largest ride-hailing company, Didi Kuaidi has operated a slew of businesses including taxi-hailing, express cars, private cars and carpooling. In December, the company launched a online car sales business aiming to tap into the vehicle market by combining online car sales with test driving.

So far, Didi Kuaidi leads China’s private car-hailing market with 83.2% of the market share, with rival Uber tailing behind at 16.2% and UCAR at 13.4%, Chinese tech industry research group Analysys International said in a report for quarter three in November.


China’s Craigslist pairs with rival: 58.com & Ganji.com

58.com: founded in 2005 in Beijing.
Ganji.com: founded in 2005 in Beijing
Main businesses: ads including apartment and cars rental and sales, recruitment, and second-hand property sales

China’s Craigslist-like classified advertisement website 58.com and its rival Ganji.com merged in April 2015 into a company valued at USD 10 billion. The merge ended a decade-long battle between the two, who competed with each other as real estate and recruitment listing platforms.

A new 58 Ganji was set up, with 58.com acquiring a 43.2% stake in Ganji. They operate separately, with both brands and employees maintained. The founders of both companies have taken the positions of co-chairmen and co-CEOs of the new group.

Before the merger, both companies started to expand their online-to-offline (O2O) businesses. Ganji.com launched a second-hand car trading platform, while 58.com invested in an online family service website, a designated-driver hailing service and online home decoration services.

After the merger, 58.com is more focused on home services and real estate ads, while ganji.com is investing more in online part-time job recruitment services and second-hand car trading.

China’s Groupon partners with China’s Yelp: Meituan & Dianping

Meituan: founded in 2010 in Beijing.
Dianping: founded in 2003 in Shanghai
Main businesses: restaurant, movie tickets, takeout, and hotel bookings.

China’s Groupon Meituan and China’s Yelp Dianping announced their merge in October 2015. The combined company is valuated at USD 17 billion. The two companies injected their assets 50/50 into the new company, with CEO of Meituan Wang Xing and CEO of Dianping Zhang Tao assuming the co-chairmen and co-CEO positions, respectively.

Before the merger, both companies were in a cut-throat competition in the group-buying market. Meituan lead the market with 51.9% market share and Dianping had 29.5% as of June.

Chinese Internet giants BAT are deeply involved in the two companies. Alibaba, which has invested twice in Meituan, and Tencent, which owns 20% of the shares of Dianping, facilitated this merger. The new Meituan-Dianping achieved domination in the group-buying market, posing a threat to rival group-buying websites like Nuomi, which is backed by China’s search engine giant Baidu and Koubei, which is backed by Alibaba. Read more here.

China’s Expedia merged with China’s Orbitz: Ctrip & Qunar

Ctrip: founded in 1999 in Shanghai.
Qunar: founded in 2005 in Beijing.
Main businesses: airline and train tickets, hotel and package tour booking

China’s largest online tourism platform Ctrip merged with its rival Qunar in late October into a new entity valued at USD 15.6 billion.

This merger follows a share exchange deal between Baidu and Ctrip, in which Ctrip acquired a 45% voting position in Baidu-owned Qunar. In exchange Baidu holds 25% of the voting rights in Ctrip. As a result, Ctrip controls Qunar’s board of directors with four positions. Qunar and Ctrip will continue to function as independent companies.

The deal focuses on cutting losses incurred through heavy promotions and discounts to customers in the hotel and airline ticket sectors. After the merger, Ctrip and Qunar hold about 70-80 % of the hotel and air ticket market.

But the alliance still faces intense competition from other rivals, including Alibaba’s Alitrip, which is embedded in Alipay, China’s most used online payment system and Tongcheng Travel, funded by China’s largest real estate developer Wanda. Read more here.

China’s Match.com marries China’s Eharmony: Jiayuan.com & Baihe.com

Jiayuan.com: founded in 2003 in Shanghai.
Baihe.com: founded in 2005 in Beijing.
Main businesses: online matchmaking and dating guide for registered users.

In December, China’s Eharmony Bahe.com announced that it will aqcuire its competitor Jiayuan.com. The company will delist from the NASDAQ. Baihe subsidiary LoveWorld Inc. will buy Jiayuan for USD 7.56 per American depositary share.

This matchup is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016. Jiayuan executive Wu Linguang will become co-executive of the new company.

Like its American equivalent eHarmony, Baihe and Jiayuan are traditional online dating sites founded to match single urban professionals for long-term relationships. However, in China, these matchmaking sites were recently outshone by a surge of mobile social networking apps including Tinder-like Momo and Tantan.

(All photos from Baidu Images)

Read our 2015 series on Top 5 O2O startups, Top 10 Chinese apps in Apple Store,  Top 6 tech founders and Top 5 smartphones.

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