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by M.G. Siegler


Ex-Google Engineer Builds $1.5 Billion Startup in 21 Months

Peter Elstrom and David Ramli on the rise of Pinduoduo, a fast-growing company/service in China.

The app has the feel of a game, with colorful photos and hidden bargains. Deals change every day and, as you scroll through a category, the discounted price is shown below the image. You click on an image of mangos at 34.8 yuan for eight and find the price is 39.9 yuan if you buy alone. To get the discount, you have to find a friend to join in the purchase. Because you're already on WeChat, you can instantly pitch others.
The motivation can be compelling. Recently, a track suit in red, white or black was on sale at 48 yuan for a single purchase. You can click a button and pay 29.8 yuan if you say a friend will join. That sends shoppers off in search of friends willing to participate. If you can't find another buyer, you get a refund. Ren Shuying, a Beijing accountant, is a dedicated user. "I check it out every day and chat about products with friends," Ren says. "I’ve bought all sorts of products—things to eat or wear."

This strikes me as decidedly more interesting and decidedly less fleeting and perhaps most importantly, decidedly more sustainable than the Groupon model...


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