ByteDance acquires low-code platform Hipacloud to beef up its productivity tool Feishu

March 22, 2022 0 Comments

To gain more edge for its collaboration tool Feishu, ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, recently bought Hipacloud, an Airtable-like low-code platform.

Hipacloud will cease operations in May, but its staff and founding team will join Feishu. Chen Jinzhou, the startup’s founder and CEO, will be in charge of “Kunlun”, Feishu’s aPaaS (application platform as a service) product. 

Founded in 2019, Hipacloud is a spreadsheet tool with database functionalities that allows anyone to quickly create a database. Similar to Airtable, it offers a variety of templates that enables users to build custom applications without any prior coding experience.

Citing people familiar with the matter, Chinese tech media 36Kr reported that the acquisition was led by Feishu, who opted to close down Hipacloud given that it already had comparable products.

The low-code startup, which targets small and medium-sized enterprises, has advantages in research and development, but struggles in commercialization, said the report.

Attributed to its abilities in improving delivery efficiency and reducing operating costs, low-code has become a key strategy for companies to act more swiftly when facing changes and dynamics in the market.

In 2021, the size of China’s low-code market is predicted to reach 2.9 billion yuan, up more than 50% from the previous year, and it will continue to expand. The growth in demand is reflected in the investment: as of the first half, 11 low-code startups had secured funding, predominantly in the pre-A, A, and B rounds. By comparison, from 2018 to the first half of 2021, there were a total of 32 investments in the low-code field.

Tencent and Alibaba are also keeping a close eye on the market. The two largest Chinese cloud computing providers not only have their own low-code offerings, but also invested in CloudToGo and Qingflow respectively to raise their bets in the sector.

ByteDance has been strengthening its commitment to the enterprise collaboration space to better challenge Alibaba and Tencent. 

In 2017, it acquired automated scheduling tool Sortime (朝夕日历), and invested in Shimo Docs (石墨文档), a Google Docs-like productivity suite. In 2018, it bought the mind mapping software Mubu (幕布), and invested in the enterprise-oriented cloud storage provider Jianguoyun (坚果云). Last year, it wholly acquired Lanmaoweihui (蓝猫微会), a video conferencing service provider.

Those acquisitions have helped the social media upstart build Feishu, a communication tool originally created for internal use, into a full-featured enterprise-oriented service offering. 

ByteDance, which positions itself as an international company, has also rolled out a collaboration tool for overseas markets. The sister app of Feishu, named Lark, mainly focuses on the Southeast Asian market. Its customers include Singapore used car platform Carro, Indonesian logistics company Seryu Cargo, Vietnamese bookkeeping startup SoBanHang, etc.

In response to ByteDance’s aggressive strategy in the team collaboration field, Alibaba is boosting its investment to solidify its leading position. Last week, DingTalk, the workplace app developed by the e-commerce giant, has acquired streaming technology startup Pano for an undisclosed amount.

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