almost 3 years ago • 3 mins
New details emerged over the weekend of TikTok-owner ByteDance’s plans to expand its ecommerce business, in an effort to sweeten the deal ahead of its potential initial public offering.
What does this mean?
The runaway success of social media star TikTok and Chinese twin Douyin has helped make ByteDance one of the world’s most valuable private companies. But viral videos aren’t the extent of the company’s ambitions: it wants to use them to sell stuff too. So while ByteDance’s Chinese apps already hosted $26 billion worth of shopping and lifestyle spending last year, it’s currently hiring thousands of extra staff in a bid to turn that into $185 billion by 2022.
ByteDance is hoping that its addictive algorithms will allow it to make more money serving up ads and in-app purchases to Douyin’s 600 million daily users. And the company’s even more excited about the international potential: pilot TikTok partnerships with Walmart and Shopify are likely to be only the start.
Why should I care?
The bigger picture: Chinese ecommerce is a big opportunity.
The world’s biggest retail market is increasingly moving online: 52% of sales in mainland China are expected to be completed virtually this year, compared to 28% in the UK and just 15% in the US. And there’s plenty of room for growth too: the majority of the Chinese population are still yet to make their first online purchase.
For markets: Everyone’s on tenterhooks.
ByteDance’s reported $250 billion valuation would make it worth more than Coca-Cola, and public investors everywhere are anxious to get their hands on the company’s stock. But it’s unclear whether ByteDance would be able to list shares in either New York or Hong Kong while appeasing authorities in both Washington and Beijing. That might be why the firm is keeping its plans for its stock market debut private for the time being…
Keep reading for our next story...
Plant-tech firm Benson Hill announced over the weekend that it’d list on the stock market via a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), unless it engineers the technology to grow money on trees in the meantime.
What does this mean?
With the global population still growing and the world’s stomachs rumbling for plant-based meat alternatives, it’s never been more important to be able to create perfect agricultural conditions. Enter Benson Hill, whose platform uses machine learning, simulations, and genetics to develop breeds of crops that mature faster, have higher protein content, or just taste a lot better than the real thing. And since the company’s expecting the plant-based meat segment to be worth $140 billion by 2029, it’s decided to merge with a SPAC, so it can fast-track putting some roots down in the stock market.
Why should I care?
The bigger picture: Precision agriculture is hitting the mark.
Benson Hill is one of the pioneering names behind precision agriculture, which uses technology to boost farms’ output without using so much water, fertilizer, and arable land. And according to the World Economic Forum, the shift really could work wonders: if even 25% of farms adopted precision agriculture techniques, global crop yields would be 15% higher, water usage 20% lower, and greenhouse gas emissions 10% lower by 2030. Speaking of hot air, analysts at Morgan Stanley estimated that the precision agriculture market could rake in $17 billion of revenue in 2030 – up from $5 billion in 2019.
Zooming out: SPACs are still alive and kicking.
SPACs are facing a few stumbling blocks at the moment, but that doesn’t seem to have put off Benson Hill – nor driverless truck startup Plus, which announced on Monday it’d be joining the SPAC pack too. Plus has designs on making its trucks fully autonomous by the end of 2024, but it’ll have some stiff competition where that’s concerned: rival TuSimple made its US stock market debut last month.
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