TikTok Operator Pours $182M Into Pre-IPO Round Of Chinese Sports Commentary App

ByteDance, the Chinese operator of several machine learning-enabled content platforms including short videos app TikTok, announced on Thursday that it has invested RMB1.26 billion (US$182.27 million) in a pre-initial public offering (IPO) round of financing in Chinese sports commentary app Hupu.

The transaction saw ByteDance become the largest shareholder of the Chinese popular sports commentary app with a 30% stake, ByteDance told Chinese online publication All Weather TMT. ByteDance said the two companies will work closely by sharing their online content and connecting contributors to "make information create more value for users."

The investment came three months after the 12-year-old firm applied for an initial public offering (IPO) on the Shanghai stock exchange in March 2019, shows information unveiled on the China Securities Regulatory Commission website. The IPO application represents the company’s attempt to resume its listing plan on the domestic stock market — almost three years after Hupu first submitted a prospectus in 2016, and then halted the previous IPO plan in late March 2017.

Hupu, formally known as Hupu Sports Shanghai Media Co. Ltd., was registered in September 2007 as a sports commentary and news platform that provides one-stop integrated marketing services for businesses and organizations for sports fans.

The Shanghai-based company offers the Hupu Sports app, which it touts as the fastest and most polished on the market that delivers real-time "text-broadcasting" of every single NBA game, covering the pre-season, regular season and playoffs. The company also owns and operates sports-related news website "Hupu," and online sports brands marketplace "Shihuo." It has posted over 30 million registered users across all platforms as of March 2019.

Hupu said the company expects to "deeply explore" the value of community marketing, and obtain "more world-class sports-related intellectual property (IP) resources" through the strategic cooperation with ByteDance.

Hupu has raised a total of five funding rounds before the new one. In January 2018, the company secured RMB618 million (US$89.37 million) in a funding round from Chinese investment management firm China International Capital Corporation (CICC). It also closed RMB240 million (US$34.70 million) in a series C round in December 2015.

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