China Slowly Catches Up To The US In Top Tech Companies List
Nine of the Top 20 tech companies are Chinese; should the US internet giants be worried?
China is slowly catching up to the United States in the rankings of the top tech companies according to market valuation, holding nine of the Top 20 slots. Of those nine, only two appeared on the radar five years ago in the famous Mary Meeker annual report on internet trends; Tencent and Baidu.
The huge rise in valuation and tech companies in recent years can be attributed to the different attitudes the Chinese population have towards the internet and being online. According to Meeker, 38% of Chinese internet users are more likely to share their personal data for financial benefit or some reward in receipt of a better service, and the difference in online habits are also driven by the use of mobile apps like WeChat where an entire ecosystem of connected services can be utilised from a single platform.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg and only represents a fraction of the top tech companies that are reported on widely.
The Hidden Giants In China
Founded in 2010 by Jerry Liao Jieyuan an artificial intelligence expert, WeDoctor has grown from a small startup that helped book doctor appointments to a $6 billion healthcare giant that operates follow-up consultations via an online service and real clinics, and issues prescription medicines.
It is also building artificial intelligence to make sense of clinical data, helping detect ailments like cervical cancer. It sells a $600 speaker similar to the Amazon Echo for the home that can link to wearables and acts like a hotline to available doctors for diagnosis. To all intents and purposes it has beaten Amazon’s own entry into the US healthcare system by a long way but we’re only just hearing about this now. WeDoctor is backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd. and is set to address the healthcare market in China worth $1.2 trillion by 2020.
With 160 million registered users and 27m active monthly users, coupled with China’s attitudes to data privacy as mentioned above, WeDoctor’s access to personal information and medical data means its analytics and machine learning goals are an easy reach, helping it grow to a reported 1.2bn Yuan in revenues in 2016.
China’s Growing Relationship With The UK And Scottish Tech Scene
WeDoctor is just one example of hidden top tech companies in China which dwarf US counterparts. But this doesn’t stop the big three tech companies; Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba from investing overseas too. Recently all three have increased their rates of investment in startups and tech companies around the World, with money being pumped into entertainment, ride sharing and artificial intelligence ventures. But this also represents unique opportunities for the UK, and especially Scotland to deepen its relationships with its Chinese counterparts to showcase that our own startup community and innovation is worth investing in.
Earlier this year First Minister Nicola Sturgeon held discussions with Chinese vice premier Hu Chunhua, focusing on strengthening co-operation between Scotland and China in the fields of investment, culture and education. It’s a long awaited step forward in realising that Scottish companies and its growing tech startup community are worth taking seriously.
China also holds four places out of the Top ten largest internet companies globally ranked by revenue, with JD.com beating Facebook, Netflix and eBay to the third spot.