China's net-savvy private companies fight for space

China's net-savvy private companies fight for space
“Trust us, trust the market... trust the new technology,” Alibaba founder Jack Ma (centre) said as his firm started trading on the NYSE on Sept 19, adding: “I want to tell investors, we take care of them.”

SHANGHAI - Private businesses in China have grown dramatically over the three-plus decades since the government launched its reform and opening policies. Now a new breed of nimble, Internet-focused companies promises to shake up industry further and, in the process, keep the economy growing.

In October of last year, a young executive was in the eastern city of Hangzhou, touting the benefits of Super Class Schedule, a mobile phone app that shows the class schedules of around 3,000 colleges and universities across China. Yu Jiwen, CEO of Guangzhou Weekend Internet Technology, developer of the app, told a group of computer engineers the product makes it much easier for students to find the courses they want to take.

The app lets students search for their desired class by name, lecturer, time slot and course description. This allows students to find classes at other institutions easily. The software from the company based in Guangdong Province may change the traditional practice of students attending only classes at the colleges where they are enrolled. The app now has around 10 million users, equal to one in three of the country's college students.

Chen Xiaohong is CEO of Shenzhen-based 12308.com, a website for booking long-distance bus tickets. The site covers 3,000 locations in 200 cities around China using data from transportation organisations, including the China Road Transport Association. The company was set up less than three years ago.

According to Chen, of the 15 billion passengers who use long-distance buses in China each year, roughly 2 per cent reserve their tickets using the Internet. He aims to raise that figure to 15 per cent in the next few years.

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