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A Meituan Dianping delivery guy hurtles through the streets of Hangzhou. Photo: VCG via Getty Images

When some of the world's biggest retail companies are announcing forays into food delivery, they might be thinking of Meituan Dianping, which while not widely known outside its base in China, is worth $55 billion.

The big picture: In China, delivery is not just delivery. Meituan Dianping gained notoriety among its 310 million active users by delivering meals super fast, but it has since become the "everything app" — Seamless, Yelp, Uber, Facebook Messenger and more, all rolled into one.

"This is exactly why we have to say China is innovating now and is no longer a copycat," says Samm Sacks of the Center of Strategic and International Studies.

  • There's nothing like Meituan Dianping in the West. Users might not even want such an app — Facebook has tried to become a Swiss army knife, but has had limited success. But, in China, Meituan Dianping solves a slew of problems with efficiency.

The backdrop: Meituan Dianping is backed by Tencent, Alibaba's epic rival. Alibaba has its own delivery arm, Ele.me, but it isn't employing an Amazonian strategy of doing everything like Meituan Dianping.

The catch: As quickly as Meituan Dianping has climbed to the ranks of global tech giants, it has not been able to figure out how to turn a profit. The company lost $3 billion in 2017, according to the WSJ.

  • That sounds a lot like Amazon, which also wasn't profitable for years because CEO Jeff Bezos was focused on getting bigger. Meituan Dianping could be doing the same.

Go deeper

Updated 5 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump departs on final Air Force One flight

President Trump and his family took off on Air Force One at 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning for the final time en route to Florida.

The big picture: Trump's final hours as president were punctuated by his decisions to snub his successor's inauguration and grant pardons to many of his allies who have been swept up in corruption scandals.

Inauguration Day dashboard

Screenshot: Fox News

President Trump has left the White House en route to a farewell event at Andrews Air Force Base, kicking off the day that will culminate with President-elect Joe Biden taking office.

What's next: The inaugural celebration for young Americans is being livestreamed, starting at 10am.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Janet Yellen said all the right things to reassure the markets

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Treasury Secretary nominee and former Fed chair Janet Yellen's confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday showed markets just what they can expect from the administration of President-elect Joe Biden: more of what they got under President Trump — at least for now.

What it means: Investors and big companies reaped the benefits of ultralow U.S. interest rates and low taxes for most of Trump's term as well as significant increases in government spending, even before the coronavirus pandemic.

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