9158 is recognized as the creator of YY Music model, an online music performance platform that makes revenues from virtual item sales. It has been well-known in the circle of tech startups, less known to the public though, in terms of monetization. The site made 600 million yuan ($95mn) in revenue in 2011 and over one billion yuan ($159mn) in 2012, as disclosed by its founder. The company once told media that they planned to list on the NASDAQ in the second half of 2012. However, the one that went in advance and got listed was YY. Recently its founder started talking about IPO again.

The idea of 9158 was from a Korean video chatting product. In 2005, Fu Zhengjun, a serial entrepreneur, came across the Korean product and soon launched a similar one, named 9158 which sounds like “just invite me” in Mandarin. Income would come with little difficulty after it evolved into an online music show. Virtual gifts like flowers that audience can buy for singers sold well, and performers became motivated for they got revenue cuts. Now it has over 20 thousand performers and tens of millions of audience on its platform.

9158 shares a bigger percentage of virtual sales with performers than YY Music does – YY takes 80%, as reported. Its gross margin is about 20% — “way smaller than that of search engines or online gaming, but bigger than e-commerce”, as the founder put it.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com