China’s Didi Global saw a 27% plunge in its share prices yesterday and its president, Jean Qing Liu is no longer a billionaire. Her net worth now hovers around US$920 million from the 1.6% stake she has of the ride hailing company according to Forbes.
According to news sources such as Nikkei Asia, Didi’s drop comes after the announcement that the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) is probing into the company where it is cited to have breached data security. With this new probe, China has ordered Didi to stop accepting new sign ups and its app removed from the app stores.
In a press release on July 4, Didi said it will “strive to rectify any problems, improve its risk prevention awareness and technological capabilities, protect users’ privacy and data security, and continue to provide secure and convenient services to its users.” With over 493 million annual active users and overseeing more than 41 million average daily transactions, Didi is expected to suffer significant losses due to the takedown as most of its users are based in China.
“This is the first high-profile use of China’s cybersecurity review mechanism. It also raises questions about the firm’s personal data collection practice,” says Xiaomeng Lu, senior analyst for the Eurasia Group. “But more importantly, the timing of the action right after Didi’s record IPO suggests that Beijing is uncomfortable with large tech companies’ New York listings during a time of escalating tech tension between the two countries.” Crackdowns like this have happened before where the authorities try to limit the growing clout of tech companies and their rich founders. Before Didi was Alibaba Group Holding and its Ant Group.
Slightly more than a week ago, Didi has managed to launch its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange with a whopping sum of US$4.3 billion, which is by far the second-largest debut by a Chinese company in US history. With that, Liu’s net worth was catapulted to an estimated US$1.1 billion.
Didi is not alone under the Chinese’s latest crackdown. Tech companies such as Full Truck Alliance and Kanzhun are also targeted by the CAC for possible violations of laws on collection and using personal data.
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