Didi and the founders of Lenovo go private on Chinese social networks and withdraw from the spotlight
Chinese ride-hailing giant President Didi Chuxing and her Lenovo founder father (0992.HK) have ended their public presence on China’s most popular social media platform, becoming the latest tech leaders Chinese to step away from the spotlight.
Didi’s Jean Liu and her father, Liu Chuanzhi, have both activated a feature on China’s Weibo platform that hides all posts made at any given time during the just-ended Labor Day holiday. Neither had posted in the previous six months.
Elder Liu, who has 880,000 followers, and his daughter, who has 10 million, offered no explanation for their decision to go private, but it was noted by Weibo users who questioned their decision.
On Thursday, Didi and Lenovo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Several other Chinese internet company founders, including Alibaba Group’s Jack Ma (9988.HK), ByteDance’s Zhang Yiming and Meituan’s Wang Xing (3690.HK), went private on social media or stopped posting during the of the past two years.
These entrepreneurs, especially Ma, were previously among the most outspoken Chinese citizens, buoyed by their entrepreneurial success before a massive government crackdown that began in late 2020 brought China’s once-freewheeling internet sector to heel.
Such withdrawals from public spaces online reflect increased limits on what can be said publicly in China, as well as the increasingly difficult climate in which digital companies operate, said Henry Gao, a law professor at Singapore Management University. .
“The era of high-flying, outspoken tech leaders is over,” Gao remarked of China.
He described the situation in China as “completely different from the West, where tech executives are not only expected to speak out, but also have to take a stand on these difficult political issues, even though some of them they might not want it.”
Wang de Meituan, an avid member of the Fanfou social media site he started, saw his company’s shares plummet last year after posting an old poem that some saw as critical of the government and the government. President Xi Jinping.
Wang subsequently stopped blogging and her Weibo posts were hidden from public view.
Jean Liu, a former Goldman Sachs banker, is one of China’s best-known corporate figures, but he has recently come under fire over issues surrounding Didi’s $4.4 billion IPO in New York. of dollars. The company dubbed “Uber of China” has declared its intention to withdraw from the New York Stock Exchange.