Chinese tech giant Tencent has invested an additional $300 million U.S. into 58.com-incubated mobile generalist marketplace Zhuan Zhuan, in a series B funding round that closed today. 58.com will remain the majority shareholder of Zhuan Zhuan. Tencent has been a long-term backer of Zhuan Zhuan, investing $200 million U.S. into the platform in a series A round in 2017.
The deal was announced in an internal memorandum (in Chinese) by Zhuan Zhuan CEO Huang Wei, who added that the investment had taken three months to finalise. The announcement wasn’t entirely positive however, with Huang pointing out that, in light of the wider economic downturn in China, Zhuan Zhuan will need to think in terms of “survival” in the near future.
After an initial 2-3 year phase of user-building, Zhuan Zhuan has begun implementing a monetization strategy led by a switch to commissions on c-to-b and b-to-c transactions on higher-end goods like electronics, the platform’s core business. Zhuan Zhuan acquired third-party product testing and verification services platform Whylab in July, and confirmed that the Whylab has now been fully incorporated into its own product-testing infrastructure.
As recently as last year, Zhuan Zhuan was considered to be neck-and-neck with rival mobile generalist marketplace Xianyu, operated by e-commerce giant Alibaba (NYSE: BABA). But the site’s prospects have dwindled over the past 12 months, with Zhuan Zhuan’s market share falling to less than half that of Xianyu.
The IResearch Mobile App Index by IResearch Consulting recorded monthly unique installations of the Zhuan Zhuan app falling by more than half over the past year — from more than 13 million in June 2018 to around 6.5 million in June 2019. The Baidu Index, which tracks terms used on the Chinese search engine, finds that the composite “interest score” in Zhuan Zhuan has fallen by more than 40% over the past year.