Tencent-backed news aggregation app Qutoutiao (趣头条), or “Fun Headlines,” is said to list in September in the US, according to sources quoted by Tencent Tech. Previous media reports put Qutoutiao’s IPO around mid-August. The Shanghai-based startup is seeking a valuation of $3 billion from the share sale, Bloomberg reported in March.
Qutoutiao didn’t confirm the claim, saying that they “have been open to all kinds of financing channels, including a listing of course, but the time can not be confirmed.”
Qutoutiao is notable for its connection to Tencent in recent legal battles with ByteDance, the parent company of China’s biggest news aggregator Jinri Toutiao. Qutoutiao announced a B-round financing deal in March led by Tencent which included Advantech Capital, Shunwei, and Xiaomi among others. The financing valued the company at more than $1.6 billion raising it to the status of a new content unicorn.
Tencent seems eager to produce a viable competitor to ByteDance, which aside from Jinri Toutiao also owns news aggregation apps TopBuzz and the News Republic as well as one of the most popular short video platforms in the word Douyin aka Tik Tok. In May, Tencent led a $50 million Series C round of funding in India’s news aggregator app NewsDog.
Similarly to its rival Jinri Toutiao, Qutoutiao aggregates news and videos and tailors them to viewers. The difference is that the app focuses more on small-city dwellers. Founded in 2016, the platform drew users by awarding coins for using the app and inviting friends that could be later exchanged to real RMB. According to iResearch, the number of active users of the app reached 32.9 million in January.
Chairman of Qutoutiao Tan Siliang said after the company’s B financing round in March that after reaching a certain number of users, the app’s next mission will be building a content ecosystem. The firm also operates a “self media” platform, a term that refers to independently operated social media accounts, and is hoping to boost its advertising capabilities.
“Platforms need more content, and we need more subsidies for authors, which is normal,” said Tan.