The Tech Giants Growing Behind China’s Great Firewall
The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.
Every day, your feeds are likely dominated by the latest news about Silicon Valley’s biggest tech giants.
Whether it’s Facebook’s newest algorithm changes, Amazon’s announcement to enter the healthcare market, a new acquisition by Alphabet, or the buzz about the latest iPhone – the big four tech giants in the U.S. are covered extensively by the media, and we’re all very familiar with what they do.
However, what is less commonly talked about is the alternate universe that exists on the other side of China’s Great Firewall. It’s there that four Chinese tech giants are taking advantage of a lack of foreign competition to post explosive growth numbers – some which compare favorably even to their American peers.
Like the “Bizarro Jerry” episode of Seinfeld, the Chinese-based tech giants look recognizably familiar – but markedly different – to the ones we know so well.
Likely the best known of China’s tech giants, Alibaba is the dominant online retailer in the country. The company had revenues of $25.1 billion in 2017 and is seeing that revenue grow at impressive speeds. In its most recent quarterly results (Q3, 2017), the company noted a 56% jump in revenue.
Amazon’s tough sell: Amazon does exist in the Chinese market, but it just has trouble competing with Jack Ma’s creation. Amazon has less than a 1% share of the e-commerce space in China, after a decade of trying to get a foothold. Further, Alibaba also runs AliCloud, which provides direct competition to Amazon’s AWS.
Baidu is the largest search engine in China and also a leading player in AI. It’s the most visited website in China, and ranks #4 globally. The company will announce 2017 annual results in the coming weeks, after reporting a 29% jump in revenue in Q3 2017.
Google’s searching for a way in: Google was blocked in China in 2010 after refusing to filter search requests. However, since then, the giant has been able to take very small steps in entering the Chinese market – even though its signature search engine is still blocked, Google now has at least three offices in the country.
Tencent has recently been in the news for its rapidly surging stock. The company, which owns the dominant social platform in China (WeChat), is now valued at over $500 billion. For those keeping tabs, Facebook is currently worth $550 billion.
It’s complicated: Facebook remains blocked by China, meaning that Zuckerberg and company can’t take advantage of a 1 billion plus market of people with growing buying power. Even if it found its way in, there are multiple social platforms in China and competition would be stiff.
Dubbed as “China’s Apple”, Xiaomi is one of the world’s most valuable private companies. Things have been hot and cold for the ambitious smartphone manufacturer, but recently reports have surfaced that Xiaomi will IPO in the second half of 2018 for upwards of $50 billion.
Apple’s shine has dulled: Apple’s entrance into the Chinese market was once described as a success, but recently competition from domestic manufacturers has derailed that claim.
After a new round of financing, Bytedance – a Chinese company specializing in short-form video – surpassed Uber as the most valuable startup in the world, valued at $75 billion.
Unlike some of its peers, Bytedance has found success outside of China. Tik Tok, for example, has well over 300 million users world wide, and the company is making investments into other popular broadcasting platforms, such as Live.me.
The eSports Boom, and the Numbers Behind the Sector’s Explosive Growth
Everything you need to know about the eSports Boom, including the sector’s rapid growth, massive prize pools, and the most valuable eSports companies today.
The oldest professional sport teams can trace their start back to the mid-19th century, a period when casual past times such as baseball or football transitioned into more organized leagues.
Since this tipping point, pro sports has thrived around the world, and the business of sports has evolved into a multi-billion dollar ecosystem for teams, leagues, players, merchandisers, sponsors, broadcasters, and event spaces.
Today, this evolution still continues – and it is being driven by the emergence of eSports (electronic sports), an exciting frontier for fans and business alike.
Today’s chart breaks down the eSports boom, including data on the sector’s rapid growth, prize pools, and the most valuable eSports companies today.
Despite having a reputation in the media and in popular culture as being on the fringes, it is clear that gaming is now a truly mainstream phenomenon.
In fact, the global gaming industry has now eclipsed $135 billion in revenue worldwide – a figure that is twice as much as the film and music industries combined.
With hundreds of millions of avid fans around the world, demand to watch the most elite gamers has reached a fever pitch – and now, it’s not uncommon to see sold-out arenas, big name sponsorship deals, and massive prize pools in the name of eSports.
Defining the eSports Ecosystem
Like any professional league, eSports creates the foundation for an entire ecosystem of opportunities.
Players are central to the ecosystem, since they are the stars and they have their own personalities. One famous star is Kuro Takhasomi (KuroKy), who has brought in a whopping $4.2 million in prize money from Dota 2 tournaments so far. He has earned more than any other player in eSports.
Because the games played are mostly team-based, there is a crucial element of teamwork involved. eSports franchises are currently selling for millions of dollars. It’s worth noting that these franchises don’t just employ players – they also hire staff that can better ensure the success of players, such as coaches, trainers, and personal chefs.
Games and Developers
Some of the most important games in the eSports world right now include: Dota 2, Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Overwatch, Fortnite, and Call of Duty.
Leagues and tournaments can offer massive prize pools for players. The biggest single pool so far was $25.5 million, offered for a Dota 2 tournament in 2017 (“The International”). It’s the second-largest prize pool offered in any kind of sport, behind the U.S. Open (tennis).
Running eSports events is big money, and organizers of events can tap into sponsorship and fan revenue. Sometimes game publishers will organize the events, but third-party ones also exist in the ecosystem.
Sponsors like Coca-Cola, Intel, and Mercedes-Benz have shelled out millions of dollars to sponsor events and reach the massive audiences associated with eSports. In more recent news, SAP signed a deal to sponsor one of the biggest names, Team Liquid.
Broadcasters, both traditional and online (YouTube, Facebook Live, Twitch, etc.), are also in to get a part of the action. Recently, game developer Blizzard signed a broadcasting deal with Disney to broadcast Overwatch League playoffs on ESPN, ABC, and Disney XD.
What do you think is the most exciting part of the eSports boom, and why?
Visualizing the Unicorn Landscape in 2019
Breaking down the world’s 326 unicorns – privately-held startups valued at over $1 billion – by country, sector, and valuation.
Visualizing the Unicorn Landscape in 2019
It was only six years ago that venture capitalist Aileen Lee coined the term “unicorn” to describe any privately-held startup worth $1 billion or more.
At the time, such valuations were so rare that they deserved a special name – but since then, it’s fair to say that the landscape has shifted dramatically. The startup boom intensified, and capital flowed into private companies at an unprecedented pace.
In recent times, unicorns have multiplied more like rabbits, and investors have propped up the combined value of the world’s 326 unicorns to the tune of $1.1 trillion.
Breaking down the World’s 326 Unicorns
Today’s chart uses data from the Unicorn Tracker created by CB Insights, and it breaks down the unicorn landscape by sector, valuation, and country.
Let’s start by looking at the biggest unicorns currently in existence:
|#5||JUUL Labs||$38||United States||Other|
|#9||Epic Games||$15||United States||Other|
ByteDance is the world’s largest unicorn at a $75 billion valuation. The company owns Toutiao, a popular machine-learning enabled content platform in China that customizes feeds based on a user’s reading preferences. It also owns video sharing platform Tik Tok.
Experts are estimating that over 100 unicorns could IPO in 2019, including Uber and Airbnb from the above list.
So far this year, Lyft and Pinterest have already hit the public market – and another recent unicorn to IPO was conferencing platform Zoom Video, which has seen shares increase 120% in price since its impressive mid-April debut.
Unicorns by Sector
The two most common sectors for unicorns are Internet Software Services and E-commerce.
|Sector||# of Unicorns||Valuation ($B)|
|Internet Software Services||82||$153|
However, as you can see, the segment most valued by investors is On-Demand, which includes companies like Uber, Didi Chuxing, and DoorDash.
Unicorns by Geography
Nearly half of the world’s unicorns come from the U.S., but China also has an impressive roster of highly valued startups.
|Country||# of Unicorns||%|
|Rest of World||32||9.8%|
Strangely, outside of the six major countries listed above, the rest of the world only combines for a measly 32 unicorns – less than 10% of the global total.
Unicorns by Valuation
Seven unicorns – including Uber, WeWork, Airbnb, and ByteDance – account for almost 30% of all of the value of the entire landscape.
|Valuation Range||# of Unicorns||Value ($B)||% of Value|
The bottom of the pyramid ($1-5 billion in valuation) holds 280 companies. Added together, they are worth $461 billion, which is equal to 42.5% of the unicorn total.
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