China’s fast-rising Bullet Messenger hit with copyright complaint

Bullet Messenger, a fast-rising Chinese messaging upstart that’s gunning to take on local behemoth, WeChat, has been pulled from the iOS App Store owing to what its owners couch as a copyright complaint. Reuters reported the development earlier, saying Bullet’s owner, Beijing-based Kuairu Technology, claimed in a social media posting that the app had been taken down […]

Bullet Messenger, a fast-rising Chinese messaging upstart that’s gunning to take on local behemoth, WeChat, has been pulled from the iOS App Store owing to what its owners couch as a copyright complaint.

Reuters reported the development earlier, saying Bullet’s owner, Beijing-based Kuairu Technology, claimed in a social media posting that the app had been taken down from Apple’s app store because of a complaint related to image content provided by a partner.

“We are verifying the situation with the partner and will inform you as soon as possible when download capabilities are resumed,” it said in a statement on its official Weibo account.

The company did not specify which part of the app has been subject to a complaint.

We’ve reached out to Apple to ask if it can provide any more details.

According to checks by Reuters earlier today, the Bullet Messenger app was still available on China’s top Android app stores — including stores owned by WeChat owner Tencent, as well as Baidu and Xiaomi stores — which the news agency suggests makes it less likely the app has been pulled from iOS as a result of censorship by the state, saying apps targeted by regulators generally disappear from local app stores too.

Bullet Messenger only launched in August but quickly racked up four million users in just over a week, and also snagged $22M in funding.

By September it had claimed seven million users, and Chinese smartphone maker Smartisan — an investor in Bullet — said it planned to spend 1 billion yuan (~$146M) over the next six months in a bid to reach 100M users. Though in a battle with a competitive Goliath like WeChat (1BN+ active users) that would still be a relative minnow.

The upstart messenger has grabbed attention with its fast growth, apparently attracting users via its relatively minimal messaging interface and a feature that enables speech-to-text transcription text in real time.

Albeit the app has also raised eyebrows for allowing pornographic content to be passed around.

It’s possible that element of the app caught the attention of Chinese authorities which have been cracking down on Internet porn in recent years — even including non-visual content (such as ASMR) which local regulators have also judged to be obscene.

Although it’s equally possible Apple itself is responding to a porn complaint about Bullet’s iOS app.

Earlier this year the Telegram messaging app fell foul of the App Store rules and was temporarily pulled, as a result of what its founder described as “inappropriate content”.

Apple’s developer guidelines for iOS apps include a section on safety that proscribes “upsetting or offensive content” — including frowning on: “Apps with user-generated content or services that end up being used primarily for pornographic content.”

In Telegram’s case, the App Store banishment was soon resolved.

There’s nothing currently to suggest that Bullet’s app won’t also soon be restored.

Rejected journalist visa sparks press freedom fears in Hong Kong

There’s concern for the freedom of the press in Hong Kong after the government declined to renew the visa of a veteran Financial Times’ editor, dealing an alarming blow to the country’s thriving journalism community. Victor Mallet, the FT’s Asia news editor who is also vice-president of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, is effectively being expelled after he was […]

There’s concern for the freedom of the press in Hong Kong after the government declined to renew the visa of a veteran Financial Times’ editor, dealing an alarming blow to the country’s thriving journalism community.

Victor Mallet, the FT’s Asia news editor who is also vice-president of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, is effectively being expelled after he was denied a new work visa without reason. The incident follows a controversial FCC event in August, chaired by Mallet, which featured pro-Hong Kong independence activist Andy Chan.

“This is the first time we have encountered this situation in Hong Kong, and we have not been given a reason for the rejection,” an FT spokesperson told HKFP, which was first to report the news.

It is common for the Chinese government to turn down visa renewals for reporters — for example, BuzzFeed’s Megha Rajagopalan had her annual visa rejected last month after she published stories on the plight of China’s Uyghur Muslims — but Hong Kong has long been a bastion of free speech and free press. A range of global media uses the country as their regional HQ for that very reason, while a substantial amount of Chinese reporting is conducted by Hong Kong-based journalists on account of the trickiness of Chinese media visas. Expelling a reporter — and without reason — runs contrary to that.

“This is unprecedented. We expect foreign journalists to have this kind of visa rejection happen in China, but it has never happened in Hong Kong because Hong Kong has a tradition until recent years of respect for free speech,” Human Rights Watch’s Maya Wang told the New York Times.

The situation appears to be a direct response to Chan’s interview at the FCC, which was strongly criticized by the Hong Kong government and China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry. Former Hong Kong leader CY Leung went so far as to suggest that the FCC should be forced to give up its lease (which he incorrectly claimed was government-subsidized) while he claimed that hosting Chan was tantamount to giving “criminals and terrorists” air time. His successor Carrie Lim called the FCC event “regrettable and inappropriate.”

Chan’s Hong Kong National party, which pushes back on increased influence from Beijing, was formally outlawed last month. The ban, the first of its kind since the UK handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, was made “in the interests of national security, public order or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

VP Pence calls on Google to end work on a search engine for China

On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence called for Google to end its development of a search engine custom built to accommodate China’s disposition for censorship. Pence gave the speech at a conservative think tank in D.C., dipping into a range of anti-Beijing sentiments, from intellectual property concerns to tariffs and the trade war. Pence didn’t […]

On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence called for Google to end its development of a search engine custom built to accommodate China’s disposition for censorship.

Pence gave the speech at a conservative think tank in D.C., dipping into a range of anti-Beijing sentiments, from intellectual property concerns to tariffs and the trade war. Pence didn’t mince words, calling on Google to abandon its plans for a China-friendly mobile version of its otherwise ubiquitous search engine.

Pence accused any company with plans to work around Chinese internet restrictions of “abetting Beijing’s oppression” and didn’t hesitate to call the search giant out by name:

More business leaders are thinking beyond the next quarter, and thinking twice before diving into the Chinese market if it means turning over their intellectual property or abetting Beijing’s oppression. But more must follow suit. For example, Google should immediately end development of the “Dragonfly” app that will strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers…

More journalists are reporting the truth without fear or favor, and digging deep to find where China is interfering in our society, and why – and we hope that more American, and global, news organizations will join in this effort.

More scholars are speaking out forcefully and defending academic freedom, and more universities and think tanks are mustering the courage to turn away Beijing’s easy money, recognizing that every dollar comes with a corresponding demand. We’re confident that more will join their ranks.

And across the nation, the American people are growing in vigilance, with a newfound appreciation for our administration’s actions to re-set America’s economic and strategic relationship with China, to finally put America First.

Pence’s full remarks are available on the Hudson Institute’s website.

Google’s covert project, known as Dragonfly, is reportedly a version of the search engine that blocks forbidden sites like Facebook and Twitter, censors search terms like the Tiananmen Square massacre and cuts out prominent Western news sources like the BBC and The New York Times. The project, first reported by the Intercept, sparked internal turmoil at the company and a letter of protest from employees who felt too in the dark to make “ethically-informed decisions about our work, our projects, and our employment.”

Google drama aside, Pence’s tough talk on China might be politically expedient bluster, but it’s not without irony: The Trump administration has repeatedly expressed its outright contempt for a free press, a hallmark of an aggressively restrictive government like China. Pence’s derision of China’s “unparalleled surveillance state” is also fairly rich, given domestic policy on warrantless surveillance.

The vice president also took the opportunity to refresh controversial claims that China is “meddling” in the U.S. midterm elections, echoing language often used to describe Russia’s substantiated election interference efforts. President Trump suggested as much last week, claiming that China “has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election, coming up in November, against my administration.” Yesterday, Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen declined to endorse the president’s unsubstantiated claims, noting that China pursues a “holistic approach” to cultivating a positive image in the U.S.

It’s the end of crypto as we know it and I feel fine

Watching the current price madness is scary. Bitcoin is falling and rising in $500 increments with regularity and Ethereum and its attendant ICOs are in a seeming freefall with a few “dead cat bounces” to keep things lively. What this signals is not that crypto is dead, however. It signals that the early, elated period […]

Watching the current price madness is scary. Bitcoin is falling and rising in $500 increments with regularity and Ethereum and its attendant ICOs are in a seeming freefall with a few “dead cat bounces” to keep things lively. What this signals is not that crypto is dead, however. It signals that the early, elated period of trading whose milestones including the launch of Coinbase and the growth of a vibrant (if often shady) professional ecosystem is over.

Crypto still runs on hype. Gemini announcing a stablecoin, the World Economic Forum saying something hopeful, someone else saying something less hopeful – all of these things and more are helping define the current market. However, something else is happening behind the scenes that is far more important.

As I’ve written before, the socialization and general acceptance of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial pursuits is a very recent thing. In the old days – circa 2000 – building your own business was considered somehow sordid. Chancers who gave it a go were considered get-rich-quick schemers and worth of little more than derision.

As the dot-com market exploded, however, building your own business wasn’t so wacky. But to do it required the imprimaturs and resources of major corporations – Microsoft, Sun, HP, Sybase, etc. – or a connection to academia – Google, Netscape, Yahoo, etc. You didn’t just quit school, buy a laptop, and start Snapchat.

It took a full decade of steady change to make the revolutionary thought that school wasn’t so great and that money was available for all good ideas to take hold. And take hold it did. We owe the success of TechCrunch and Disrupt to that idea and I’ve always said that TC was career pornography for the cubicle dweller, a guilty pleasure for folks who knew there was something better out there and, with the right prodding, they knew they could achieve it.

So in looking at the crypto markets currently we must look at the dot-com markets circa 1999. Massive infrastructure changes, some brought about by Y2K, had computerized nearly every industry. GenXers born in the late 70s and early 80s were in the marketplace of ideas with an understanding of the Internet the oldsters at the helm of media, research, and banking didn’t have. It was a massive wealth transfer from the middle managers who pushed paper since 1950 to the dot-com CEOs who pushed bits with native ease.

Fast forward to today and we see much of the same thing. Blockchain natives boast about having been interest in bitcoin since 2014. Oldsters at banks realize they should get in on things sooner than later and price manipulation is rampant simply because it is easy. The projects we see now are the Kozmo.com of the blockchain era, pie-in-the-sky dream projects that are sucking up millions in funding and will produce little in real terms. But for every hundred Kozmos there is one Amazon .

And that’s what you have to look for.

Will nearly every ICO launched in the last few years fail? Yes. Does it matter?

Not much.

The market is currently eating its young. Early investors made (and probably lost) millions on early ICOs but the resulting noise has created an environment where the best and brightest technical minds are faced with not only creating a technical product but also maintaining a monetary system. There is no need for a smart founder to have to worry about token price but here we are. Most technical CEOs step aside or call for outside help after their IPO, a fact that points to the complexity of managing shareholder expectations. But what happens when your shareholders are 16-year-olds with a lot of Ethereum in a Discord channel? What happens when little Malta becomes the de facto launching spot for token sales and you’re based in Nebraska? What happens when the SEC, FINRA, and Attorneys General from here to Beijing start investigating your hobby?

Basically your hobby stops becoming a hobby. Crypto and blockchain has weaponized nerds in an unprecedented way. In the past if you were a Linux developer or knew a few things about hardware you could build a business and make a little money. Now you can build an empire and make a lot of money.

Crypto is falling because the people in it for the short term are leaving. Long term players – the Amazons of the space – have yet to be identified. Ultimately we are going to face a compression in the ICO and, for a while, it’s going to be a lot harder to build an ICO. But give it a few years – once the various financial authorities get around to reading the Satoshi white paper – and you’ll see a sea change. Coverage will change. Services will change. And the way you raise money will change.

VC used to be about a team and a dream. Now it’s about a team, $1 million in monthly revenue, and a dream. The risk takers are gone. The dentists from Omaha who once visited accelerator demo days and wrote $25,000 checks for new apps are too shy to leave their offices. The flashy VCs from Sand Hill have to keep Uber and Airbnb’s plates spinning until they can cash out. VC is dead for the small entrepreneur.

Which is why the ICO is so important and this is why the ICO is such a mess right now. Because everybody sees the value but nobody – not the SEC, not the investors, not the founders – can understand how to do it right. There is no SAFE note for crypto. There are no serious accelerators. And all of the big names in crypto are either goldbugs, weirdos, or Redditors. No one has tamed the Wild West.

They will.

And when they do expect a whole new crop of Amazons, Ubers, and Oracles. Because the technology changes quickly when there’s money, talent, and a way to marry the two in which everyone wins.

It’s the end of crypto as we know it and I feel fine

Watching the current price madness is scary. Bitcoin is falling and rising in $500 increments with regularity and Ethereum and its attendant ICOs are in a seeming freefall with a few “dead cat bounces” to keep things lively. What this signals is not that crypto is dead, however. It signals that the early, elated period […]

Watching the current price madness is scary. Bitcoin is falling and rising in $500 increments with regularity and Ethereum and its attendant ICOs are in a seeming freefall with a few “dead cat bounces” to keep things lively. What this signals is not that crypto is dead, however. It signals that the early, elated period of trading whose milestones including the launch of Coinbase and the growth of a vibrant (if often shady) professional ecosystem is over.

Crypto still runs on hype. Gemini announcing a stablecoin, the World Economic Forum saying something hopeful, someone else saying something less hopeful – all of these things and more are helping define the current market. However, something else is happening behind the scenes that is far more important.

As I’ve written before, the socialization and general acceptance of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial pursuits is a very recent thing. In the old days – circa 2000 – building your own business was considered somehow sordid. Chancers who gave it a go were considered get-rich-quick schemers and worth of little more than derision.

As the dot-com market exploded, however, building your own business wasn’t so wacky. But to do it required the imprimaturs and resources of major corporations – Microsoft, Sun, HP, Sybase, etc. – or a connection to academia – Google, Netscape, Yahoo, etc. You didn’t just quit school, buy a laptop, and start Snapchat.

It took a full decade of steady change to make the revolutionary thought that school wasn’t so great and that money was available for all good ideas to take hold. And take hold it did. We owe the success of TechCrunch and Disrupt to that idea and I’ve always said that TC was career pornography for the cubicle dweller, a guilty pleasure for folks who knew there was something better out there and, with the right prodding, they knew they could achieve it.

So in looking at the crypto markets currently we must look at the dot-com markets circa 1999. Massive infrastructure changes, some brought about by Y2K, had computerized nearly every industry. GenXers born in the late 70s and early 80s were in the marketplace of ideas with an understanding of the Internet the oldsters at the helm of media, research, and banking didn’t have. It was a massive wealth transfer from the middle managers who pushed paper since 1950 to the dot-com CEOs who pushed bits with native ease.

Fast forward to today and we see much of the same thing. Blockchain natives boast about having been interest in bitcoin since 2014. Oldsters at banks realize they should get in on things sooner than later and price manipulation is rampant simply because it is easy. The projects we see now are the Kozmo.com of the blockchain era, pie-in-the-sky dream projects that are sucking up millions in funding and will produce little in real terms. But for every hundred Kozmos there is one Amazon .

And that’s what you have to look for.

Will nearly every ICO launched in the last few years fail? Yes. Does it matter?

Not much.

The market is currently eating its young. Early investors made (and probably lost) millions on early ICOs but the resulting noise has created an environment where the best and brightest technical minds are faced with not only creating a technical product but also maintaining a monetary system. There is no need for a smart founder to have to worry about token price but here we are. Most technical CEOs step aside or call for outside help after their IPO, a fact that points to the complexity of managing shareholder expectations. But what happens when your shareholders are 16-year-olds with a lot of Ethereum in a Discord channel? What happens when little Malta becomes the de facto launching spot for token sales and you’re based in Nebraska? What happens when the SEC, FINRA, and Attorneys General from here to Beijing start investigating your hobby?

Basically your hobby stops becoming a hobby. Crypto and blockchain has weaponized nerds in an unprecedented way. In the past if you were a Linux developer or knew a few things about hardware you could build a business and make a little money. Now you can build an empire and make a lot of money.

Crypto is falling because the people in it for the short term are leaving. Long term players – the Amazons of the space – have yet to be identified. Ultimately we are going to face a compression in the ICO and, for a while, it’s going to be a lot harder to build an ICO. But give it a few years – once the various financial authorities get around to reading the Satoshi white paper – and you’ll see a sea change. Coverage will change. Services will change. And the way you raise money will change.

VC used to be about a team and a dream. Now it’s about a team, $1 million in monthly revenue, and a dream. The risk takers are gone. The dentists from Omaha who once visited accelerator demo days and wrote $25,000 checks for new apps are too shy to leave their offices. The flashy VCs from Sand Hill have to keep Uber and Airbnb’s plates spinning until they can cash out. VC is dead for the small entrepreneur.

Which is why the ICO is so important and this is why the ICO is such a mess right now. Because everybody sees the value but nobody – not the SEC, not the investors, not the founders – can understand how to do it right. There is no SAFE note for crypto. There are no serious accelerators. And all of the big names in crypto are either goldbugs, weirdos, or Redditors. No one has tamed the Wild West.

They will.

And when they do expect a whole new crop of Amazons, Ubers, and Oracles. Because the technology changes quickly when there’s money, talent, and a way to marry the two in which everyone wins.

Chinese Tesla rival Nio trims IPO target: now aims to raise up to $1.5B

The U.S. IPO window may be wide open for Chinese tech firms, but electric vehicle maker Nio has conservatively cut the target for its NYSE listing to $1.5 billion after it released a price range for its shares. The company plans to sell 184 million shares between $6.25-$8.25. That range would yield a total raise […]

The U.S. IPO window may be wide open for Chinese tech firms, but electric vehicle maker Nio has conservatively cut the target for its NYSE listing to $1.5 billion after it released a price range for its shares.

The company plans to sell 184 million shares between $6.25-$8.25. That range would yield a total raise of $1.518 billion, which is down from the initial target of $1.8 billion from the firm’s first filing in August. The range is, of course, subject to change and it doesn’t include income from the green shoe option — which allows underwriters to take an additional allocation of shares — but nevertheless, it is a notable development.

Nio also revealed in its newest filing that its existing investors have committed to investing $250 million into the IPO which, at the middle of the range, would account for 22 percent of the allocation.

There are plenty of possible explanation as to why Nio has cut its overall fundraise estimate.

The most fundamental may be around sales. The company has only just begun to generate revenue. It opened sales for its ES8 vehicle last year but it only began shipping in June. So, thus far, it has fulfilled just 481 orders but it does claims that there are 17,000 customers who reserved a model and are waiting in the wings to purchase it.

That’s meant that the company has recorded hefty losses — a negative $759 million in 2017 and minus $503 million this year to date — as it went pedal to the metal on R&D and preparation. Just a month of revenue makes it hard to gauge that potential, even though Nio has plans to scale up and open its own manufacturing plants.

Also, however, it may also be related to general concerns around China.

Nio is an international firm which develops technology in Silicon Valley and has design teams in Germany and the UK, but China is the only market it is focused on for sales. That makes a lot of sense since China is the world’s largest market for consumer EV sales, but there is, of course, a disconnect between the country and U.S. IPO investors. While Chinese firms have performed well on U.S. public markets — Alibaba holds the record for the world’s largest IPO and the window is very much open for Chinese tech companies right now — but EVs still remain a new concept, even in the world of technology.

Then there’s also the ongoing issue of politics. In particular, there’s President’s Trump continued trade war with China — the U.S. doubled down with a range of new tariffs last week — and some concern around Beijing’s interference with China’s top technology companies.

Tencent, the $500 billion giant, had a rare earnings miss last quarter on account of government interference in some of its core business, while arch-rival Alibaba has taken criticism about the way it dressed up its latest financials, which were good on paper. Indeed, both companies — which are China’s top tech firms — have seen their share prices drop: Alibaba’s current price is down by 15 percent from what it was on January 1, while Tencent is down by 25 percent.

All those concerns gathered together have likely caused Nio to price more conservatively, but we’ll have to wait for the list price to know for sure. Still, we’re looking at a billion-dollar IPO for the company which is seen by many as the closest competitor to Tesla — even if it currently has no U.S. sale plans.

You can read more about the Nio business from our original story on the IPO filing below.

Playing the global game, Sequoia can cut checks for up to $1 billion

As the shadow of SoftBank (and its $100 billion fund) looms large over the investment landscape, Sequoia Capital is pushing the upper limits of the checks it’s willing to write to global growth-stage companies up to $1 billion. With a B. That’s the word from Sequoia’s global managing partner Doug Leone speaking onstage at Disrupt […]

As the shadow of SoftBank (and its $100 billion fund) looms large over the investment landscape, Sequoia Capital is pushing the upper limits of the checks it’s willing to write to global growth-stage companies up to $1 billion. With a B.

That’s the word from Sequoia’s global managing partner Doug Leone speaking onstage at Disrupt San Francisco.

Thankfully for Leone, the firm has closed all of its U.S. and global funds, to support those unprecedently massive checks.

While the firm hasn’t yet cut a check for a cool billion (Leone joked that he “doesn’t have a pacemaker yet”), the head of one of Silicon Valley’s preeminent investment funds did say that Sequoia has written $400 million checks twice already. Alas, Leone wouldn’t say whether those commitments were made to companies in the U.S. or in what is increasingly becoming Sequoia Capital’s new largest market — China.

Half the firm’s investments are now made in China, which is attracting more and more attention as not only a competitor to Silicon Valley, but a leader in its own right when it comes to global growth and innovation.

Sequoia was one of the early firms that ventured out from Silicon Valley to explore the market in China in the early part of the new millennium. And while Kleiner Perkins, DFJ, and other leading firms of the dot-com boom stumbled as they made their way along China’s digital silk road, Sequoia has found incredible success from its base in Beijing (nearly 6,000 miles from its Silicon Valley home).

“We sensed by 2025 it was going to be a globalized world,” Leone said. “We didn’t go to Europe because it was large but not growing. We didn’t go to Vietnam, because it was growing but not large.”

Instead, the firm went to China. To succeed in China, Leone noted, it is critically important to find a local team and let that team make their own decisions. And the Sequoia team found a perfect local partner in Neil Shen — the leader of the firm’s China operations. “If we went to China and made decisions from the U.S., we would fail,” Leone said.

With the help of Shen’s decision-making prowess, it’s no understatement to say that Sequoia Capital has been one of the architects of the current explosion of Chinese entrepreneurial talent. And as parallels are increasingly drawn between the U.S. startup culture and the culture in China, Leone says that they’re “similar in character.” “Both dream about changing the world,” Leone said. The difference? “Chinese founders have half another gear because they’re a little more desperate.”

Whether that desperation comes from the breakneck pace of competition that famed VC Kai-Fu Lee alluded to yesterday at Disrupt, or to an increasingly regulation-happy and controlling Beijing government, is an open question.

As Leone looks to the future of China’s development, he’s thinking that the tight grip that Xi Jinping has placed around the country will begin to loosen and that the Chinese market will open up to foreign competitors (something that entrepreneurs and investors have been hoping would come to pass for several decades… and still has yet to materialize). “Four or five years from now things are going to be a little different,” Leone said. “There’s a lot of pressure now that China is going to be more open over time.”

If Sequoia’s global managing partner is correct, then maybe Silicon Valley startups will see themselves on a more even competitive footing with their domestic counterparts in China.

Yet, even as Leone dreamed his impossible dream of a more open China, he acknowledged the heavy hand that regulators still have over business decisions. It extends from the ways companies list publicly, to the way they have to adhere to provincial- and even district-level government regulations. Indeed, China’s regulators keep the pace of public offerings controlled to try and ensure that local Chinese investors don’t lose money on the stock markets. (That policy has clearly been ineffective, given where the Shanghai Stock Exchange is today.)

“That license [to list publicly] alone is worth $500 million to $1 billion. [The market is] … much more managed and much more to please local investors,” Leone said.

That’s one reason why foreign capital continues to be attractive to Chinese companies. But it’s also why increasingly large rounds are getting raised, whether in China or in the U.S., so companies can stay private longer.

And it’s why Sequoia has been pushed to write its large checks. Indeed, Leone rebuffed any suggestion that SoftBank had really changed the firm’s investment strategy. (Sequoia has “never” lost a deal to SoftBank, Leone insisted.) Rather, market dynamics have changed, along with the need for startup companies to receive what Leone called “friendly” private capital.

“Cisco Systems went public at $300 million pre. Now we’re raising money at $30 billion pre,” Leone said. “We raised an $8 billion fund that’s global in nature to serve the founders throughout the whole journey.”

Apple cracks down on gambling apps in China

Apple is cracking down on illegal content in China after it removed potentially thousands of apps related to gambling. The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. phone-maker purged as many as 25,000 apps — that’s a figure that was first cited by state-owned broadcaster CCTV [link in Chinese]. Apple didn’t comment on the number […]

Apple is cracking down on illegal content in China after it removed potentially thousands of apps related to gambling.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. phone-maker purged as many as 25,000 apps — that’s a figure that was first cited by state-owned broadcaster CCTV [link in Chinese]. Apple didn’t comment on the number of apps removed, but it did confirm that it took action.

“Gambling apps are illegal and not allowed on the App Store in China. We have already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Apple offers over 1.5 million apps in China. Greater China — which includes China, Hong Kong and Taiwan — is Apple’s third largest region based on business, grossing $9.6 billion in the most recent quarter. That’s around 18 percent of its total revenue.

The removals come weeks after