On the last day in July, Baidu (BIDU) announced that it will buy back up to $1 billion of its shares. Baidu is China’s huge Internet search provider.

Three weeks earlier, China Vanke (CVKEY) said it would repurchase $1.6 billion worth of shares. China Vanke is the country’s biggest residential real estate developer.

And in August, Alibaba (BABA) blew both companies out of the water. It said it will be buying back $4 billion worth of shares over the following two years.

Alas, these moves to bolster the price of their companies’ shares did nothing to keep the Chinese stock market from plummeting. So the government created a $19.3 billion fund to bankroll further repurchasing of shares.

The Chinese leaders are simply dipping into their old bag of tricks. Here is what they did back in 2008. Like today, China’s markets were nose-diving (back then, from the near takedown of the global financial system)…

If the Chinese government gave lessons on how to artificially prop up markets, its go-to move would be getting companies to buy their own shares. It’s naked stock price manipulation – a Band-Aid approach to dealing with market bubbles. It’s also bound to make things worse at the end of the day.

Startups Investing in Startups

But there’s something that concerns me more than companies buying their own shares.cIt’s startups buying shares of other startups.cAnd I’m seeing it happen more and more.

Is it a sign of too much money sloshing around the startup ecosystem?vOr is something else going on?

For example, why did Expensify – an online expense-management startup – start its own corporate venture unit called Expensify Ventures?

Expensify has raised all of $27.2 million. Its last round was in July. It raised $17 million in a Series C. Last September, it raised $3.5 million.

I can’t imagine Expensify taking this step without the backing of its early investors. They must have agreed to Expensify using their money to invest in even smaller and earlier-stage startups than Expensify itself.

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