The Next Big Thing

Dianping, China’s Yelp, 'in no hurry' for public share offer: co-founder

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 April, 2015, 3:15pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 April, 2015, 4:22pm

The co-founder of Dianping, China’s largest restaurant, entertainment and services review and daily deals website, played down speculation of a public share offering, saying that instability in financial markets and its own rapid growth make the timing unsuitable.

Long Wei, 43, told the South China Morning Post on the sidelines of the 2015 Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) in Beijing that the company is growing quickly, with some of the sectors it works in set to double or triple in size in the next six months.  

"Because of our fast growth, the company’s development is unpredictable to non-professional investors. That's why we'd rather to work with private equity at the moment," he said.

Dianping, often compared to US online review and information site Yelp Inc, has more than 200 million users in about 2,300 Chinese cities of its information on restaurants, cinemas, wedding and holiday planning. Founded in 2003, the company has some 10,000 employees.

Media reports earlier this month said it raised around US$850 million from a group of investors, valuing it at about US$4 billion. One of its major shareholders is internet giant Tencent.

Long said the current focus of the company is how to implement its Online to Offline (O2O) strategy, to connect all key services. For example, when a user wants a meal, Dianping’s service should cover all the steps from picking a restaurant and reserving seats to ordering dishes, he said.

That's why the company has joined up with smaller apps to which could add for example the ability to order food. Dianping is primarily known for comments on and reviews of restaurants.

"Today we are a combination of Yelp, Groupon and Open Table," Long said.

Another challenge, and a bigger one in Long’s view, is how to change Chinese customers' perception of its brand.

"To most people, we are always linked with food and restaurants. But we are more than that," he said.

The food and restaurant services only account for less than 50 per cent of current revenue, whereas other businesses, including selling movie tickets and wedding planning, are growing rapidly, he said.

Dianping sold 25 million film tickets in the first quarter of this year, or one seventh of all tickets sold in China.