Meituan is one of China’s largest food delivery companies. Delivery drivers can be seen zipping around Chinese cities. Tencent first backed rival Dianping in 2014 which merged with Meituan to form the current company.
Jade Gao | AFP | Getty Images
Chinese food delivery firm Meituan plans to hire 10,000 workers in the first quarter of the year, the company said Wednesday, sending shares more than 6% lower.
Meituan is hiring across a number of different areas of the business including technology development and customer services across dozens of cities including Beijing and Shanghai. The company said that it is hiring as the “consumption recovery trend” in China accelerates.
Last year, China saw a major outbreak of Covid-19 across the country, with lockdowns in Shanghai. Beijing continued to forge ahead with its “zero-Covid” policy that uses strict measures such as mass testing and lockdowns to try to eradicate the spread of the virus. That policy has hurt the Chinese economy. China ended its zero-Covid policy at the end of last year, spurring hopes of a rebound in the Chinese economy which could also help its embattled technology firms.
Meituan’s hiring spree is in contrast to Silicon Valley technology giants from Microsoft to Alphabet that have laid off thousands of workers.
But to some extent, China’s technology cycle has come earlier than in the U.S. Chinese tech firms began to face headwinds in 2021 as Beijing enacted tough regulation in areas from antitrust to data protection. That year, Meituan was hit with a $500 million antitrust fine.
In 2022, Chinese technology giants posted some of their slowest growth in history as the economy faltered and companies from Alibaba to Tencent reduced headcount. Meituan reportedly laid off workers too last year.
Meituan’s hiring spree could be the first signs that China’s technology sector is looking at expansion once more. Meituan has been a beneficiary of lockdowns in China as people turned to online food delivery. Its revenue jumped more than 28% year-on-year in the September quarter while the company, which had been losing money, swung to profit.
The stock market did not like the company’s hiring announcement, which comes at a time when sentiment toward the Chinese tech sector remains fragile. Meituan shares were down 6% on Wednesday.
But the company is facing more intense competition at home from its long-time rival Ele.me, which is owned by Alibaba, but also new players including ByteDance’s short video platform Douyin, which has been trialing a food delivery service since December and is considering expansion.