Jeffrey Towson

The winner among the sharing companies is not the one who sells most rides, but the one who is best in collecting smart data, says Peking University professor Jeffrey Towson to the New York Times. “The fight is no longer over who has the biggest fleet,” Towson says, “but who has the smartest fleet.”

The New York Times:

Cities around the world have embraced the sharing economy — Seoul, Amsterdam, Milan — but China is the first country to frame it as a “national priority.” While innovation can’t be conjured on demand, Beijing has financed start-up incubators, offered tax incentives, formed think tanks and kept foreign competitors away. “This is state capitalism,” says Jeffrey Towson, a private-equity investor and a professor of investment at Peking University. “When the government gives the green light, everybody follows.” That includes investors. Mobike and Ofo, which are financed by China’s biggest tech giants, Tencent and Alibaba, respectively, have raised roughly a billion dollars each in venture capital. (Didi Chuxing, the ride-sharing company that bought out Uber’s China operation last year, is even bigger — with $5.5 billion in financing and 450 million users across China.)…

Every time consumers scan the QR code on a bicycle — or basketball, handbag, umbrella — they provide information about habits, locations, behaviors and payment histories. That’s invaluable not just to Tencent and Alibaba but also to city planners seeking precise information about where to build roads, bridges and subways. “The fight is no longer over who has the biggest fleet,” Towson says, “but who has the smartest fleet.”

More in the New York Times.

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