The Metaverse Money Pit: How Meta’s $70 Billion Bet Compares to Tech’s Biggest GamblesView Now

The Jitian village dance group, in matching outfits purchased on Pinduoduo, at the Lunar New Year gala.

Let 100 Apps Blossom: WeChat, Pinduoduo Transform China’s Rural Life

By  |  June 10, 2019 7:00 AM PDT
Photo: The Jitian village dance group, in matching outfits purchased on Pinduoduo, at the Lunar New Year gala.

Last year, after nearly a decade working long hours at a variety of factory and office jobs in Shenzhen, one of China’s tech-saturated mega cities, 28-year-old Yu Lixia came home to Jitian, the remote village where she grew up. She started a modest online shop selling local specialties such as tea and wild mushrooms to customers near and far.

Ms. Yu’s decision to return to her rural roots would have been surprising just a few years ago, when hundreds of millions of people were fleeing China’s small towns in search of good jobs and excitement in cities. But cheap smartphones and a government push to bring affordable internet access to poor areas are changing how rural residents spend their time and money, and creating new opportunities that are drawing some transplanted city dwellers home. The trend, while still small, is opening up new markets for internet giants Alibaba, ByteDance, Tencent and others whose social media, payment and e-commerce apps are driving the change.

Get access to exclusive coverage
Read deeply reported stories from the largest newsroom in tech.
Latest Articles
 
The Briefing apple enterprise
Why Cellular Carriers are Apple's Best Friend
Photo by Bloomberg.
This was not a day for Apple fans. Shares of the iPhone maker dipped just over 1% even as the rest of the market rallied, after Bloomberg reported that demand for the new line of iPhones was turning out to be weaker than expected. As a result, Apple won’t make as many devices as anticipated. This is supposedly the result of belt-tightening among consumers globally, at least partly. But as...
Latest Briefs
 
Chinese Video App Bilibili to Change Hong Kong Listing Status
Apple Removes Russia’s Largest Social Media App
TripActions Said to File Confidentially for IPO
Stay in the know
Receive a summary of the day's top tech news—distilled into one email.
Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
Art by Clark Miller
The Big Read crypto
‘What Am I Going to Do Now?’: Fired Crypto Workers Weigh Life After the Boom
On July 14, James Hu was sitting in his “fabulously expensive” apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Illustration by Matheus Costa.
apple crypto
How Apple’s App Store Policies Squeeze NFT Startups
Non-fungible tokens, like much of the crypto world, are in regulators’ and lawmakers’ crosshairs.
Patrick Collison. Photo by Getty Images.
Exclusive startups venture capital
Stripe’s Early Stock Awards Could Spur IPO Plans
Stripe founders John and Patrick Collison have indicated the payments software pioneer, valued in its last fundraising at $95 billion, is in no rush to go public.
Instacart CEO Fidji Simo. Photo by Bloomberg.
Exclusive startups
Instacart Cuts Staff, Curbs Hiring in Run-up to IPO
Instacart has been letting go of staff, slowing hiring and curbing other expenses as it heads toward a public listing, when the grocery-delivery company will try to convince public investors that it can maintain its growth—and make a profit—as the economy slows.
Ana Kirova courtesy of Feeld.
The 1:1 culture
‘Monogamy Should Not Be the Default’: What a Dating App CEO and Her Tech Clientele Have in Common
Ana Kirova is a frequent user of her own dating app—but not without complications. As CEO of Feeld, which describes itself as “a dating app for exploration, curiosity and pleasure,” Kirova never knows when to divulge her role at the company to potential matches.
google apple
The Metaverse Money Pit: How Meta’s $70 Billion Bet Compares to Tech’s Biggest Gambles
Is Meta Platforms’ $70 billion bet on the metaverse shaping up as the biggest money pit ever in tech?