中国分享经济的未来 小猪短租


Chinese Airbnb rival Xiaozhu was valued by investors at $300m in a fundraising round last year, reflecting high hopes for the country’s home-sharing sector and prompting takeover interest from the Silicon Valley company.


But Kelvin Chen, the Chinese tech veteran who is Xiaozhu’s co-founder and chief executive, has bad memories of excessive overseas management after a previous US buyout.

但在中国科技行业浸淫多年的陈驰(Kelvin Chen)对于中国公司被美资收购后外方的过度管理却有着不好的回忆,他是小猪短租的联合创始人及首席执行官。

“If we wanted to hire a single person, we would need approval from HR three months in advance but, in the same time, our competitors could grow from a staff of 200 to 1,000,” Mr Chen says of his time at travel site Kuxun, owned by TripAdvisor from 2009-15.


Xiaozhu boasts 100,000 listings in China, making it the second biggest home-sharing service in a country where travellers make 4bn trips each year. Tujia, a Chinese company that links property developers with short-term renters, was valued at $1bn and has 400,000 listings.


Airbnb currently lists around 75,000 properties in China, and has partnered with internet giant Alibaba to make mobile payments easier for Chinese users. It plans to double its listings, investment and spending over the next year.


Investors are betting that the Chinese government will back the “sharing economy” as a source of growth as old drivers such as heavy manufacturing and property slow.


Participation in the sharing economy — renting out belongings once thought of as personal — is now within the reach of China’s middle class. “Thirty years ago, we had nothing to share. Now Chinese people have extra cars, extra space,” says Mr Chen.


Li Keqiang, China’s premier, told a Davos forum last year that “the sharing economy means entrepreneurship for the masses”. Beijing has tolerated the rapid growth of car-booking apps to a greater degree than many western countries, despite fierce resistance from the country’s state-linked taxi providers. China’s flexibility towards the disruptive sector is “greater than what we see in foreign countries”, Mr Chen says.


Mr Chen predicts pushback from hotels should be less fierce, as the sector is used to competition. But he admits that Chinese officials — who insist that travellers have their identity cards scanned and sent to local police every time they check into a hotel — might be wary about loss of control. “China is a little special in this regard,” he says.


In an attempt to ease concerns, Xiaozhu hosts are encouraged to use the company’s mobile app to scan a guest’s identity card upon arrival. Although the information is not automatically sent to local authorities, they can access it in the event of security incidents. The company wants to start supplying hosts with “smart locks” that can read the cards without the host being present.


On Wednesday, Airbnb started storing bookings and listings data on Chinese servers, to comply with a restrictive cyber security law that requires operators of “CRItical information infrastructure” to store data in China and assist government security agencies.


For now, Xiaozhu exists in a grey zone marked out by its semi-formal arrangements with the government. “There has not been any clear law supervising [house-sharing]. For now, the way we do it is more of a result of negotiation,” says Tarry Wang, Xiaozhu’s chief operating officer.

与政府的非正式约定给小猪短租划出了其所生存的灰色区域。“还没有任何清晰的法律来监督(住宿分享服务)。目前我们做这个的方式更多取决于协商的结果。”小猪首席运营官王连涛(Tarry Wang)表示。

But analysts expect tighter regulation. “The government’s usual approach is to step back and let the market develop. Then, once a handful of players achieve significant traction and demonstrate a successful mechanism for meeting regulatory requirements, you start licensing the top players and weed out the rest,” says Mark Natkin at Marbridge Consulting, an advisory group.

但分析人士预计监管将会收紧。北京迈博瑞咨询(Marbridge Consulting)的马克.纳特金(Mark Natkin)表示:“政府通常的做法是退一步,让市场发展。然后一旦有一小撮参与者引起了瞩目,并展示出一套符合监管要求的成功机制,政府就会向最优秀的参与者发放牌照,让其他参与者出局。”

When Mr Chen considers the prospect of regulators swooping in and stifling the sector, he finds solace in a Shanghai wonton shop championed last month by Mr Li. The premier stepped in to defend the humble stall as an example of “grassroots entrepreneurship”, rebuffing zealous bureaucrats who had ordered it to close because it lacked a licence.


“From this small event we can see that the Chinese government, when it comes to reform and regulation, China is not quite [as strict] as the outside world thinks,” Mr Chen says.


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