China was closed for much of last week, but that didn’t some of its top tech executives from emitting a steady stream of tweets on their microblogs regaling followers with tales of their travels over the Lunar New Year holiday. The US emerged as the travel destination of choice for many who favored a destination that has been quite generous towards their sector over the last few months.
Regular tech readers will know I’m talking about the huge success of 5 major Chinese Internet IPOs in New York, many of which have nearly doubled in value since their trading debuts in the last 2 months of 2013. Executives at JD.com, China’s second largest e-commerce company, are hoping to ride that wave of positive sentiment with another New York IPO this year. That pending deal saw one JD.com executive complain of having to take part in a late-night teleconference during the Lunar New Year holiday that I suspect was connected to that upcoming listing.
None of the chatter in the microblogging realm over the last week was particularly insightful in terms of revealing anything about tech executives on their winter holidays. But collectively, the assortment of posts from the US reflect a recent love affair between Chinese tech start-ups and their US backers, which include a wide assemblage of venture capitalists, private equity investors and institutional and retail stock buyers.
PC giant Lenovo (HKEx: 992) led the list of Chinese companies whose executives spent their Lunar New Year in the US, as many went there for an announcement of the company’s purchase of faded cellphone giant Motorola for $2.9 billion from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG). Senior vice president Chen Xudong and vice president Wei Jianglei both tweeted about the trip on their Chinese microblogs, with the latter noting the delegation made stops in both New York and in California’s Pebble Beach where CEO Yang Yuanqing held a meeting to inspire executives following the major purchase. (microblog post)
Others who were in the US over their New Year holiday included the chief executives from e-commerce firm Dangdang (NYSE: DANG) and software giant Kingsoft (HKEx: 3888), as well as an executive from smartphone maker Xiaomi. Dangdang CEO Li Guoqing regaled followers with his impressions from an event at Lincoln Center in New York (microblog post), while Kingsoft CEO Zhang Hongjiang sent posts from his Lunar New Year vacation in the southern California cities of Palm Springs and Irvine.
It should come as no surprise that New York was quite generous to Dangdang last year, with the company’s shares more than doubling during the year amid a broader rally for China tech stocks. Kingsoft is also eying US financial markets, following the company’s disclosure last month that it was spinning off its security software unit in preparation for a separate New York listing. (previous post) Others touting of US connections on their microblogs over the holiday included corporate social networking giant LinkedIn’s (NYSE: LNKD) new China head Derek Shen, who said LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner held a special event at the company’s headquarters to usher in the Year of the Horse. (microblog post)
But the holiday wasn’t all fun for at least one big tech executive, as JD.com vice president of sales Xu Lei complained of having to take part in a last-minute late-evening teleconference on Lunar New Year’s eve. (microblog post) Xu didn’t say where he was at the time or the subject of the call, though I suspect he was celebrating the holiday with his family in China. I also suspect the call was related to JD.com’s first public filing for its planned New York IPO, since the company made that filing right around that time. Xu’s message hints that JD.com, formerly known as Jingdong, is moving ahead full steam with its planned offering to raise more than $1 billion, and more broadly that the financial love affairs between Chinese tech firms and US investors is likely to continue into the first half of the new year.