We are pleased that we had Chuan Thor, managing partner of Highland Capital Partners(SH), attended ChinaBang 2013 panel discussions and got a chance to talk with him on companies they invested in and the tech trends in China.
Highland Capital Partners is early investor in Qihoo and known for investments in a handful of Chinese startups, 6.cn, Viva, Gamewave, UUSee, and so on. Qihoo, going public on the NYSE about six years after Highland Capital Partners funded it, has become one of the biggest Internet companies in China.
6.cn started off as an average online video service. After modeling 9158, an online music video show platform that profits from virtual item sales, 6.cn gained momentum and decided to drop the traditional video business. The highly profitable business was later joined by YY Music, Kuwo, 56.com, Guagua, among others.
Competitions intensifies. As audiences who visit those sites and spend money on virtual gifts are for performances, it is said that the competition must be in popular performers. It is reported that YY Music, to retain performers, raised payout ratio. But Mr. Thor doesn’t think it could be a problem, saying performers of different styles would settle in where they like and cannot be easily lured away. It sounds like the ecosystem of TV stations.
He thinks there’s a big room in online video show business in terms of both market size and monetization. It is reported that the annual revenue of 6.cn’s was higher than YY Music’s and, however, less than 9158’s in 2012. YY Music made $ 46.0 million, with an increase of 441%, in 2012 through virtual item sales from 845 thousand paying users, according to YY’s annual report.
Viva was an early entrant in mobile media business. It has been helping print media and other traditional media produce quality content on mobile platform. Mr. Thor disclosed that a major update, called Xuankan, will be released later this year that would make the reading experience more interactive and better-designed.
Following Highland Capital Partners, Qihoo also injected funding in Viva in late 2012. Besides that, having a mutual investor with Qihoo who runs one of the biggest app/service distributors in China may help startups like Viva or 6.cn by channeling some users from its huge user pool.
When asked about the fact that giant Chinese Internet companies started purchasing startups in bulk; for instance, Baidu acquired or invested in a plenty of startups, ranging from mobile photo sharing app to Android software manager, Mr. Thor thinks it’s natural to a company like Baidu that it could be hard for them who have been focused on search technologies and little experience on developing other mobile software to develop those services in house.