China’s Yixia completes US$500m financing round amid boom in live streaming video

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2016, 10:47pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2016, 11:30am

As the audience reach of China’s fast-growing live-streaming video industry widens, Beijing-based software application developer said it had completed its E round financing of US$500 million, boosting the company’s valuation to US$3 billion.

The money came mainly from online portal and other domestic investors, including Shanghai Media Group, iDreamsky Games and Radio and Television Shanghai.

New Industry Investment Fund, set up by China Everbright and Focus Media, and Axiom Asia Private Capital also contributed, according to He Yi, a vice-president of Yixia.

Yixia operates several popular mobile video-sharing and streaming apps, including MiaoPai, used for filming and sharing 10-second videos; XiaoKaxiu, which allows users to dub famous soundbites on their videos; and Yizhibo, Sina Weibo’s live-streaming service that has secured contracts with celebrities.

He said Miaopai and Xiaokaxiu had 70 million active users and more than 1.5 million video uploads, with up to 2.5 billion views daily.

The Chinese market in short video sharing and real-time content consumption was huge, she said. “A growing number of young people, internet celebrities and pop stars are using our platforms to communicate with others and expressing themselves,” she said.

He said the company would spend about 1 billion yuan to increase the production of original video content and support the industry for emerging internet celebrities.

Yixia, founded in 2011, had previously secured more than 5 billion yuan in funding. In November last year, it got US$200 million in D round funding, which was also led by Sina, according to media reports. Since 2013, Sina has invested US$190 million in Yixia.

China’s live-streaming industry began to flourish last year. Since then, countless young internet users have been dreaming of becoming cyber celebrities through regular live video streams in which they sing, tell jokes or give make-up tips.

According to media reports, 116 live-streaming apps were available for smartphones early this year, 108 of which have successfully secured financing. The size of the market is estimated to reach 100 billion yuan by 2020, according to a report by Huachuang Securities.

Through social media and live-streaming sites, China’s internet celebrities are expected to generate 58 billion yuan in revenue this year, exceeding the 44 billion yuan in cinema ticket sales last year.

Meanwhile, the authorities are tightening their grip on cyberspace, implementing more rules including this month’s requirement that online broadcasters of live-streaming news or entertainment be licensed.

Beijing also passed a cybersecurity law demanding that “operators of critical information infrastructure” store personal information and important business data in the country and provide unspecified “technical support” to security agencies and pass national security reviews.