China roundup: Alibaba’s sexual assault scandal and more delayed IPOs – TechCrunch


Hey and welcome again to TechCrunch’s China roundup, a digest of latest occasions shaping the Chinese language tech panorama and what they imply to folks in the remainder of the world.

A sexual assault case at Alibaba has sparked a brand new spherical of #MeToo reckoning in China. Business observers consider it is a watershed second for the struggle in opposition to China’s allegedly misogynist tech business. In the meantime, social media operators are nonetheless undecided on take care of the unprecedented public uproar in opposition to the highly effective web big.

In different information, extra Chinese language tech corporations have delayed plans to go public abroad after Didi’s fallout with Chinese language regulators over its rushed IPO, together with Tencent’s music streaming empire and one in all China’s highest-valued autonomous driving startups.

Name for justice

Simply previous midnight final Sunday, an Alibaba worker posted on the corporate’s inside discussion board an in depth account saying her supervisor and a shopper had sexually assaulted her on a enterprise journey. She took the case public after failing to acquire help from her superiors and human sources.

The put up rapidly made its rounds by means of China’s social media platforms. Individuals stayed up blasting Alibaba’s ignorance, poisonous enterprise consuming, and the pervasive objectification of girls within the Chinese language “tech business,” which has grown so far-reaching that it’s simply the modern company world.

A day later, on August 9, Alibaba swiftly fired the alleged perpetrator. Two managers resigned and the agency’s head of HR was given a “disciplinary warning.” Alibaba’s CEO Daniel Zhang stated he felt “shocked, offended and ashamed” in regards to the incident and known as on the corporate to work with the police to analyze the case.

That is arguably essentially the most high-profile #MeToo case embroiling a significant Chinese language tech firm by far and one which appears to have beckoned the hardest response from the corporate concerned. Alibaba is formulating firm insurance policies to forestall sexual assaults, which surprises many who the worldwide tech behemoth didn’t have already got these in place.

The case managed to garner widespread public consideration in China because of social media. Throughout the first few hours, it appeared as if dialogue across the incident was propagating organically and uncensored on microblogging platform Weibo, by which Alibaba owns a majority stake.

However folks quickly seen that regardless of the severity of the occasion, it took days earlier than the case climbed to the highest of Weibo’s trending chart, a bellwether for essentially the most talked about matter on the Chinese language web. The perceived delay remembers Weibo’s censorship of an extramarital affair involving Alibaba government Jiang Fan final yr.

Talang Qingnian, roughly “Browsing Youth,” a social media column beneath state paper Individuals’s Day by day, blasted in an article:

The sluggish buildup of debate once more raised suspicion over whether or not Alibaba has manipulated public discourse.

Ever for the reason that Jiang Fan case, the nation’s angle has been very clear that capital should not management the media.

As the essential infrastructure for truthful information in China, Weibo shouldn’t be a device for any stakeholder to govern public opinion.

The article fanned up extra public outrage however was quickly taken down, seemingly as a result of its wording was too robust. The Chinese language state media equipment is huge and only some shops, comparable to Xinhua, persistently convey top-level leaders’ official opinions. It’s not unusual to see the much less authoritative state-affiliated publications again down on experiences which have trigger backlashes. Final week, an article from a state-affiliated financial paper eliminated a chunk calling video video games “religious opium,” a loaded description that had earlier tanked the shares of Tencent and NetEase, and republished the article with a softer tone.

Smaller struggle chests

Regulatory uncertainties have all the time been flagged as a threat by Chinese language corporations looking for abroad listings, nevertheless it was largely as much as international traders to determine whether or not they had been worthwhile investments. China’s latest regulatory onslaught on its tech darlings, nevertheless, has change into an actual deterrent for Chinese language corporations’ IPO dream.

This week, experiences arrived that NetEase Music, a well-liked music streaming service, and, an autonomous automobile startup final valued at $5.three billion, have respectively postponed their plans to record in Hong Kong and New York.

Beijing has change into warier of its data-rich corporations getting scrutinized by U.S. regulators. Final month, the U.S. securities regulator stated Chinese language corporations that wish to elevate capital within the U.S. should present data about their authorized construction and disclose the chance of Beijing’s interference of their enterprise.

Many Chinese language tech corporations have realized from Didi’s fallout with the federal government, which had reportedly advised the ride-sharing firm to carry off on its itemizing till it sorted out an information safety framework. Didi went forward regardless, triggering a authorities probe into its knowledge observe and tanking its shares, which now stand at $eight apiece in comparison with $16 round its debut in early July.

Beijing’s crackdown has affected each main participant in China’s shopper tech sector, wiping as a lot as $87 billion off the online price of the nation’s tech billionaires, together with Pony Ma of Tencent and Colin Huang of Pinduoduo, in response to Monetary Occasions. The federal government needs “exhausting tech” like semiconductors and clear vitality, so it has made it clear to future entrepreneurs the place they need to allocate their vitality. The brand new era of startups is listening now.


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