Meituan Dianping is a name that may not sound familiar within India but it has virtually become a household name in China and what’s more this startup is now being valued at a whopping $30 billion, the fourth highest, in terms of valuation of startups across the world.
The company is into many things like delivering food to homes and offices, selling groceries and movie tickets and offers group discounts and so on. All these can be availed by 1.4 billion strong Chinese population by downloading the app on their smartphones and using it.
Observers say Meituan Dianping is like Groupon, Yelp, Foodpanda and Uber Eats, all rolled into one. Meituan Dianping was formed into one company through the merger of two different entities Meituan.com and Dianping.com in the year 2015. In terms of funding, the company has roped in $4 billion in the latest round and the investors in this round include Tencent Holdings Ltd., Sequoia Capital and Priceline Group Inc. of the US. During the merger, the combined entity was valued at $15 billion.
In some of the services that Meituan Dianping renders, it has virtual monopoly and it is only adding more to its portfolio. One example is given of how you can get your car washed while you are in your office and the vehicle is parked in the road. Meituan Dianping’s representative will wash the car and send you a photograph of it on your mobile and you can make the payment online. The model called online-to-offline or O2O is becoming increasingly popular. The sheer numbers are mind-boggling. There are 280million annual active users and the number of merchants registered in its platform is 5 million.
But Meituan Dianping has to contend with competition also. Alibaba, the Chinese giant and a rival to Tencent Holdings has funded another venture, Ele.me. And each of the sub-groups or verticals it works on, there are competitors vying for the same pie. Online travel bookings and restaurant reservations is one such business vertical which is receiving increasing attention from many investors and startups.
The funds now being pumped into Meituan Dianping will be used by the company towards improving on AI-based services and also investing on drone-delivery technology.