Chinese startup Full Truck Alliance breaks even en route to IPO

Shanghai, China. Photo by Ihor Dvoretskyi on Unsplash

China’s Uber-for-trucks startup Full Truck Alliance said it’s weighing an initial public offering after breaking even from May, defying a sector-wide downturn.

The company, which is backed by SoftBank Group Corp. and Tencent Holdings Ltd., said its improved financial performance dovetailed with its decision not to follow through on a plan to raise as much as $1 billion in a private round, Chief Financial Officer Richard Zhang said during an interview with Bloomberg TV.

“We broke even both in the accounting and cash flow sense,” said Zhang. “I don’t want to commit to a timetable here, but eventually we probably want to go for an IPO.” The company also hasn’t decided whether it will need to do a pre-IPO round, Zhang added.

Despite dominating the truck-sharing sector in China, Full Truck Alliance is now confronted with the same challenges that on-demand businesses world-wide face — proving its business model can lead to sustainable revenue and profit growth.

Much also depends on conditions in the market. Bets on a once red-hot Chinese technology sector are cooling alongside waning economic growth. In July, investments made by venture capital and private equity firms dropped 60% to 407 cases, while the amount plummeted around 78% to 32.8 billion yuan ($4.6 billion), according to research consultant Zero2IPO. Investors in the sector have also been spooked by WeWork’s IPO setback.

Formed by a merger between China’s two largest truck-sharing platforms — Huochebang and Yunmanman– the company has attracted backers including Sequoia and Alphabet Inc.’s CapitalG. It was said to be planning to raise as much as $1 billion at a valuation of about $9 billion, Bloomberg reported late last year. Zhang confirmed the company didn’t complete that round, adding that Full Truck Alliance’s valuation stood at $6.4 billion post-money after it raised funds in April 2018.

By creating a marketplace that connects millions of mostly independent truckers, the company makes money by charging a fee when brokering transactions, and from servicing drivers by selling top-up toll cards and directing them to service stations.

The company is also expanding into automotive technology and is now the largest external investor in autonomous trucking startup Plus.AI. The Cupertino-based company co-founded by David Liu formed a joint-venture with China’s state-backed heavy truck manufacturer FAW Jiefang, introducing their first commercial product (a Level-2 semi-autonomous truck) earlier this month.

Plus.AI is currently in talks with new investors for funding, Liu said during the interview.

Bloomberg

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.