PandaTV, Chinese live streaming platform specializing in e-sports and other entertainment content, plans go public by the end of this year, Chief Operation Officer Zhang Juyuan told local media (in Chinese). Zhang also said earlier that Hong Kong and US are IPO destinations the company is now considering.
Co-founded by Wang Sicong, son of multinational Wanda Group’s Wang Jianlin, Panda TV just had its 3-year anniversary on October 20, amid increasing doubts of liquidity problems, financing shortage, and Wang Sicong’s hesitation in continuous material support.
“We are not dead, and PandaTV is about to profit. We will raise a fresh round of financing from giants by the first quarter of 2019, which would increase our valuation to over RMB 5 billion ($720 million ),” Zhang said, specifying no other detailed operation data.
China is said to have the world’s largest gaming market and the most netizens, but live streaming industry’s future is haunted by both financial and administrative uncertainties.
Yizhibo, another well-known live streaming platform established 2011, was reportedly to merge into Sina fully, while industry leader Huya went public in May and another industry power Douyu received $630 million exclusive financing from Tencent in March.
Prior to Zhang’s official confirmation of PandaTV’s IPO plan, the information regarding Wang Sicong’s cashing out from the enterprise received massive attention in the industry.
“Wang’s dumping shares was due to some negotiations with financial institutions about the future of PandaTV’s live streaming businesses, which includes mergers and acquisitions, and [regular] financing,” Zhang explained on October 20. “After discussion, [we] reckon the best solution is to [have PandaTV] finance independently and file for an IPO.”
Zhang’s answer didn’t deny Wang’s share sales, and signals Wang’s reluctance to directly inject capital into the business by referring to independent fundraising and public channels such as an IPO.
Additionally, tightening state-backed content management is placing more obstacles for content-oriented enterprises to attract users. On October 9, Douyu was found to have been removed from the iOS store due to some suspected copyright violations and is still not available. Access to a light version with less content is available on Android, though.
PandaTV is now laying emphasis on e-sports related content and collaborating Wang Sicong’s own e-sports sources including a professional team for competition and tournaments.