China’s 710 million web-savvy netizens are becoming increasingly reliant on social media, aka we-media or self-media. Digital media overtaking traditional ones is no longer a far-fetched dream in China.
In 2016, Chinese adults are going to spend more time on digital media than on traditional media of TV, radio and print, combined, research institute eMarketer predicted this April.
Papi Jiang’s 12 million RMB ($1.8 million USD) fundraising case surprised the crowds when the news first broke earlier this year, but it’s just among a raft of we-media startups that are receiving huge capital inflows. We picked six self-media startups loaded with cash to scrutinize and dissect.
1. Luojisiwei/ Luogic Show (逻辑思维)
Started in 2012 by founder/host Luo Zhenyu as an online social-issues talk show brand, Luojisiwei, which means “logical thinking” in Chinese, is a multi-media content production company that built an active fan base from its talk show, WeChat subscription account, WeChat micro-shop and Baidu Tieba.
The three-year old startup has been quite successful in commercializing its user base, by selling all kinds of services from ads, books, membership to moon cakes. Luo, who emerged as an opinion leader in China’s intellectual community, is eagerly sought after for making commercial public speeches around the country.
As one of Papi Jiang’s investors, Luojisiwei’s team played an important role in pushing the 22 million RMB ad bid for Papi Jiang’s first commercial ad.
The company has secured an undisclosed amount B round at a valuation of 1.32 billion RMB in October 2015. As of then, its online videos have been played 290 million times in total, while its WeChat public account has over 5.3 million subscribers.
2. Baozou Comic (暴走漫画)
Following the popularity of rage comics in the U.S., Baozou Comic introduced the new genre to China by launching a series of internet talk-variety shows where a wide line of topics such as news, literature, politics and history, are commented on in humorous ways. The company’s popular program titles include Baozou Big News Events (暴走大事件), Baozou Kan Sha Pian (暴走看啥儿片), Baozou Lu A Lu (暴走撸啊撸) and so on.
The Xi’an-based startup has received an eight-digit USD dollar C round from NewMargin Ventures together with its previous investor Innovative Works in 2014.
3. Tongdao Dashu/Uncle’s Friends (同道大叔)
As the Chinese younger generation becomes more serious about the zodiac and how the constellations determines people’s characters, offering constellation-related contents could also be a big business. Uncle’s Friends started as cartoonist startup that draws funny comics, mocking the queer characters of people from the different zodaic signs.
The company has made endeavors to expand business through three subsidiaries, Tongdao Media (cartoon production, WeChat account operation, drama), Tongdao Life (design, production and marketing for derivative constellation products like mascots), Tongdao Film (film and internet-variety program).
According to local media, Uncle’s Friends has generated more than 50 million RMB of revenue in 2015, mainly from ads, e-commerce derivative products and drama. The company has finalized an eight-digit RMB A round at the beginning of this year.
4. Club For Gossip Growth (关爱八卦成长协会)
Club For Gossip Growth is a well-known internet-variety program on China’s top video site Youku. Hosted by former Hunan TV anchorman Ma Rui, the show exposes celebrity gossip and delivers sharp comments on hot entertainment news in a humorous way. With his highly personal character, Ma Rui is dubbed as the “Chairman Husband” by his fans, mostly female, who also act as paparazzi for the show.
The company has raised 10 million RMB of funding from online marketing service Tensyn in 2015.
5. Pomegranate Granny Report (石榴婆报告)
Pomegranate Granny Report is a budding fashion and lifestyle KOL (key opinion leader). It has been fully acquired by an unnamed company with 60 million RMB in 2015.
6. Laomei, How Do U Think (老美怎么看)
Centered around the theme of culture shock, Laomei, How Do U Think invites foreigners to try out all kinds of “weird” foods in China such as stinky tofu, chicken feet, preserved eggs, latiao, a Chinese spicy snack made of beans, and so on.
For Chinese who wants to keep up with the headlines, new channels like Weibo, WeChat, Qzone, Baidu Tieba, Youku, forums, blogs are becoming their favorite alternative information source.
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