It’s an understatement to say that Chinese companies struggle to head abroad.

Just like the western counterparts that try to push their way in, exiting can be very difficult, especially when it comes to migrating from local social networks to foreign ones, which are mostly banned in China. There’s also significant pain involved in changing e-commerce solutions, or dealing with the customs headache of global e-retail.

Han Sheng, founder of Chinese micro-video editing app VivaVideo, is tackling a different problem however; people in different countries use video in incredibly different ways.

Southeast Asian users are all about the beautifying features, which apparently are a tough sell in North America. Brazilian are ridiculously skilled at video editing, while other markets struggle to make use of most features and Chinese people love social; if you can’t share it, it’s not worth doing.

It’s a case study of the challenges Chinese companies face when heading overseas, and while we praise tech for being increasingly global, the answer for these companies may still lie in aggressive localization. According to Han, the key to their global strategy will be targeting country-specific social platforms in order to refine the app for each market.

Why Take China-Founded Micro Video Abroad?

Global expansion sounds like an incredible hassle for a Chinese micro-video company who arguably has 1.3 billion consumers in their own backyard, but VivaVideo is dealing with something at home that could possibly make the move abroad more worthwhile; tight competition from Chinese internet giants and a local market that (surprisingly) is just not that into video editing yet. Despite being ravenous consumers of mobile video, content creation is still comparatively weak.

After Vine first gained global traction in 2012, a slew of Chinese startups flocked into the short-form video sharing sector, which was believed to be the next big thing in China’s internet industry after Weibo. Tencent launched Weshow or WeiShi in an attempt to channel the huge user base from their WeChat and QQ platforms. At the same time, Weibo partnered with Miaopai, while Meitu, China’s leading photo app developer, expanded to video clip capturing and editing with Meipai.

But despite early interest from prominent companies, the sector never achieved the same degree of popularity in China as it did in foreign markets. After much pushing and pulling, Tencent quietly closed WeShow earlier this year. Even the backing of gargantuan social platform WeChat couldn’t sell the micro-video in China. There are many reasons why this could be, but two of the major ones commonly cited are inflated mobile traffic costs and the fact that Chinese users are simply better content consumers than generators.

For this reason, Hans Sheng and VivaVideo were looking abroad from the very beginning. The Hangzhou-based startup has nearly 70 million overseas users scattered around Southeast Asia, Middle East, Europe and North America, representing 60% of their total users. Han believes countries like Brazil, India, and Russia – which has a big population and lower smartphone penetration rates – will offer more opportunities for startups like VivaVideo who face stiff competition at home in an unsure market.

Will Younger Audiences Will Bring Micro Video Back To China?

While he intends to focus on global markets for the time being, Hans also believes that China will grow to love video editing back home, it’s just a matter of connectivity, and more importantly, age.

“The prosperity of social video industry will be the combined effect of three factors: The wide application of 4G network, cooperation among SNS platforms, and the growth of a new post-90 and even post-00 user group,” said Hans.

The company has received 5 million RMB of seed investment from Lee Kaifu’s Innovation Works in 2013 and eight-digit RMB in Series A financing from N5 Capital one year later.


Image Credit: Shutterstock, VivaVideo

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.