Fengxin, CEO of Baofeng.com, disclosed that his company had submitted its application for IPO on the Shenzhen GEM. He claims Baofeng, unlike most other video services, has been profitable for three years. (in Chinese)
Previously Baofeng raised a total of $24 million in financing, according to media reports. The company once planned to list on the NASDAQ in 2012. Mr. Feng recently said that they’d also consider acquisition but didn’t want to sell it to a company who’d buy it just for killing another competitor.
Starting as a video player in 2006, Baofeng was once dominating the market in China. When online video streaming became ubiquitous it shifted to be a tool streaming content from providers such as Youku, counting on advertising in terms of monetization.
Youku and Tudou were to be the two successful in online video streaming. Both, backed by venture capital, gained considerable market shares with licensed copyrighted videos and user-generated content. After the two merged into one company, Youku Tudou became the biggest in terms of market share. Baofeng didn’t work out in the years when big players spent tons of money buying rights and doing marketing.
Like a plenty of Chinese Internet companies who could hardly monetize their services, Baofeng turned to the lucrative online games. PPS, a peer-to-peer video service, has been making a good living by operating games. But Baofeng sold its web game business not long after its launch.
Baofeng made a turnaround thanks to a shifted strategy and technologies developed in-house, according to Mr. Feng. Features driven by the technologies, he estimates, contributed 30% of the new users in the past three years. (source in Chinese) As to content, Baofeng would spend much less money buying mainstream content and avoid direct competitions with bigger players.
China’s online video landscape is very different. iQiyi didn’t gain as big a market share as Youku or Tudou had back then, but it gained traction after Baidu acquired it and helped it rank higher in search results. PPS later became part of iQiyi that was expected to help the latter on mobile.
After Sohu and Tencent decided to work on online video business, the two spent a lot of money at hand to buy exclusive rights and promote videos with their resources. Tencent, with more users and more powerful a social platform, became one of the top players and is still counting on its huge user base.
Youku Tudou is still a big player but not that powerful anymore. Now it bets on original content and started touting user-generated content again but hasn’t seen profitability to come anytime soon.
LeTV, the only video company that listed on a domestic stock market, has tapped into every area related to the video business, from hardware manufacturing to content production. There are still a handful of smaller players like Baofeng; namely, 56, Xunlei, PPTV, etc. It is reported that Alibaba is acquiring or making strategic investment in PPTV.