Jan 1, 2021
Fresh out of the studio, in episode 338, Shai Oster, the Asia
Bureau chief for The Information is back on his annual review with
us again to discuss the state of China technology giants and
SoftBank in the time of COVID-19 pandemic and predict what is to
come in 2021. Starting the conversation, Shai reviewed the
predictions he made in 2019 and explored the impact of COVID-19
pandemic on how they played out in 2020. From there, Shai reflected
on the year that dominated the headlines in 2020: the diffusion of
the China-US tensions to other regions: India and Australia against
China tech giants, Tik Tok's problems in the US, Ant's botched IPO
and SoftBank's attempt to go private. Last but not least, Shai
offered his predictions for 2021 and what is to come for the
Chinese technology giants and SoftBank for the year ahead.
Here are the interesting show notes and links to the
- Shai Oster (@beijingscribe, LinkedIn, TheInformation Profile), Asia Bureau Chief in The
since your last appearance on the show, what have you been up
& US: Trump’s impeachment
- Tiktok will retreat from US, scale back &
renew focus china, maybe India, Southeast Asia and Africa:
shift of Chinese money to other markets
- 2020 Events that shook China and SoftBank:
The China-US tensions have exacerbated and percolated to
other regions now (and
that includes Australia and India) to Chinese companies: 1/ India
banning 47 apps including Wechat, Tik Tok and many apps from China
and 2/ Australia and US banned Wechat.
go to India first, given that the major unicorns are invested by
Chinese tech giants, for example, PayTM by Alibaba, and the rise of
local giants such as Reliance Jio backed by a strong US consortium:
Facebook, Google, Silver Lake Partners, KKR, how do you see the
challenges moving ahead for Xiaomi, which is dominant in India as
do you think the Biden administration will handle the current
tensions with China?
the year ahead, do you think China will come down hard on US
companies that are heavily invested here, like Apple or Starbucks
- Currently, the Chinese government has directed
the local companies to be self-reliant, and specifically in the
semiconductor industry, does that mean that we will see the
decoupling of the supply chain accelerate much quicker?
that Tencent owns a few major gaming companies, for example, Epic,
and with the recent lawsuit between Apple and Epic, do you see a
possibility that the US government will pressure Tencent to divest
their holdings in the US?
- Tik Tok’s problems in the US
and elsewhere: First,
Kevin Mayer, the former CEO of DisneyPlus was poached and then
became the CEO of Tik Tok US and Group COO, and subsequently
resigned in July 2020, given the Trump’s administration insistence
that the company has to be sold. Finally, after talks with rumors
that Microsoft might acquire the entity completely, the eventual
decision is that Oracle becomes the beneficiary of being an
investor (along with Walmart) for Tik Tok US to ensure that data
resides in the US.
are your thoughts on Tik Tok’s current situation in the
ByteDance grow further given that there is so much pushback from
do you see ByteDance’s growth markets are? Will be they turn
inwards towards domestically or expand to other markets where the
push back is lesser, for example, Southeast Asia?
- The Botched IPO of Ant
Financial and what’s going to be next?
Chinese government has ended Ant Financial’s IPO with direct
interference from President Xi as reported by various outlets. What
are the causes in your opinion as to why the IPO ended up not
are the implications for Alibaba Group as a whole with Ant
Financial not able to IPO?
must Ant Financial do in order to convince the authorities to allow
them to IPO?
billion-dollar question: Will Ant Financial eventually
- A lot
of people did not realize that the Ant Financial IPO has left a lot
of money on the table in the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, do you think
that the companies which are going to IPO in HKSE will benefit from
this offer a lesson to how Chinese tech companies should conduct
themselves? Which companies do you think might run into trouble
with the state?
- COVID-19 Pandemic:
tech companies in China are the major beneficiaries of the COVID-19
has managed the COVID-19 pandemic much better than the US. What are
the implications to the Chinese economy from now with the various
successful vaccines, for example, Pfizer vaccine being
- SoftBank in 2020 and its
current strategy to go private
the Wework debacle, SoftBank has gone on a few different
directions: 1/ Selling their Alibaba stake, 2/ Sell ARM to NVDIA
and Boston Dynamics to Hyundai, 3/ Ran a stock market gambit with
futures in tech, 4/
DoorDash’s IPO giving them 10B
gain that will write off
Wework’s investment, and 5/ quietly buying back shares to go
do you assess SoftBank’s performance in 2020 and do you think that
with DoorDash’s success, will SoftBank Vision Fund 2
SoftBank’s enormous influence on the tech industry waned after
WeWork’s debacle? Where do you think that they will spend the
remainder of the $100B Vision Fund on?
you think that SoftBank will go private according to
Tim Culpan’s analysis
on Masa’s strategy? Do you think
that SoftBank will manoeuvre and make a comeback after being
is now closing to the end, what are your predictions for 2021 so
that we can have a future conversation a year from now?
does our audience find you?
Editor's note: Our team in Analyse Asia thanked
our audience for your support and wished everyone a Happy New Year
2021. The episode is recorded in the last week of 2020.
The show is hosted and produced by Carol Yin (@CarolYujiaYin) and
originally created by Bernard Leong (@bernardleong, Linkedin). Sound
credits for the intro music: Taro Iwashiro, "The Beginning" from
Red Cliff Soundtrack.