Fast-growing Chinese media startup ByteDance is raising $2.5B-$3B more

Fast-growing Chinese media startup ByteDance is looking to raise as much as $3 billion to continue growth for its empire of mobile-based entertainment apps, which include news aggregator Toutiao and video platform Tiktok. The Beijing-based startup is in early-stage talks with investors to raise $2.5 billion to $3 billion, according to a source with knowledge […]

Fast-growing Chinese media startup ByteDance is looking to raise as much as $3 billion to continue growth for its empire of mobile-based entertainment apps, which include news aggregator Toutiao and video platform Tiktok.

The Beijing-based startup is in early-stage talks with investors to raise $2.5 billion to $3 billion, according to a source with knowledge of the plans. That investment round could value ByteDance as high as $75 billion, although the source stressed that the valuation is a target and it might not be reached.

It’s audacious, but if that lofty goal is reached then ByteDance would become the world’s highest-valued startup ahead of the likes of Didi Chuxing ($56 billion) and Uber ($62 billion). Only Ant Financial has raised at a higher valuation, but the company is an affiliate of Alibaba and therefore not your average ‘startup.’

The Wall Street Journal first broke news of the ByteDance investment plan.

But there’s more: Earlier this week, the Financial Times cited sources who indicate that ByteDance is keen to go public in Hong Kong with an IPO slated to happen next year.

ByteDance is best-known for Toutiao, its news aggregator app that claims 120 million daily users, while it also operates a short-video platform called Douyin. The latter is known as TikTok overseas and it counts 500 million active users. TikTok recently merged with Musical.ly, the app that’s popular in the U.S. and was acquired by ByteDance for $1 billion, in an effort aimed at combining both userbases to create an app with global popularity.

The firm also operates international versions of Toutiao, including TopBuzz and NewsRepublic while it is an investor in streaming app Live.me.

The company’s growth has been mercurial but it has also come with problems as the company entered China’s tech spotlight and became a truly mainstream service in China.

ByteDance had its knuckles wrapped by authorities at the beginning of the year after it was deemed to have inadequately policed content on its platform. Then in April, its ‘Neihan Duanzi’ joke app was shuttered following a government order while Toutiao was temporarily removed from app stores. It returns days later after the company had grown its content team to 10,000 staff and admitted that some content it had hosted “did not accord with core socialist values and was not a good guide for public opinion.”

SoftBank’s move into new services continues with plan for a payment service in Japan

SoftBank is best known in Japan as a mobile operator but the company, which is behind the near-$100 billion Vision Fund, is increasingly getting into other types of consumer services in its homeland. The Japanese firm last month launched a parking app, it is in the midst of rolling out a taxi-hailing service in conjunction […]

SoftBank is best known in Japan as a mobile operator but the company, which is behind the near-$100 billion Vision Fund, is increasingly getting into other types of consumer services in its homeland.

The Japanese firm last month launched a parking app, it is in the midst of rolling out a taxi-hailing service in conjunction with China’s Didi Chuxing and now it is developing a mobile payment service, too.

Bloomberg reports that Softbank is working with India’s Paytm — a startup that counts long-time SoftBank ally Alibaba as its main investor — to introduce a payment service before the end of this year. A source close to the companies confirmed the plans to TechCrunch, adding that an official announcement is expected very soon.

The plan is to start out with payments before moving into financial services, such as loans and insurance. The Japan launch would then be a springboard to expand to other global markets in the future, according to the Bloomberg report. Although it isn’t clear how the service would compete with offerings from Ant Financial, the Alibaba fintech affiliate that has local operations spread across numerous countries in Asia.

Paytm was the first mobile payment service to reach meaningful scale in India. Today it claims over 100 million registered users, thanks to a surge in adoption following the Indian government’s 2016 demonetization campaign which removed 500 INR and 1,000 INR notes in a bid to crack down on illicit usage and counterfeit cash.

The company recently claimed to have hit an annual run rate of five billion transactions, and reached $50 million in gross transaction value over the past twelve months, but Paytm has plenty of competitors waiting in the wings. Google’s Tez app has now passed 50 million downloads, while rivals such as MobiKwik hope Paytm’s focus on services like shopping will present a window to out-perform it on payments.

Japan will be Paytm’s first major international expansion — it has a modest service in Canada, where it has an R&D team — but even then there’s plenty of others in the market. Those include the likes of Line, Japan’s top chat app, and e-commerce giant Rakuten.