Briefing: Bytedance to raise funds for AI and media content

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ByteDance in Talks to Raise $1.45 Billion for Startup Shopping Spree – The Information

What happened: Bytedance is reportedly in talks to secure RMB 10 billion ($1.45 billion) for its first venture fund to invest in AI and media content. Around RMB 2 billion will reportedly come from ByteDance, while the rest will be from outside investors, potentially including major Chinese government-led funds and state-owned investment banks. Bytedance is also reportedly planning to launch a new social media app called Flipchat to compete with Wechat.

Why it’s important: Bytedance is currently the most valuable startup in the world. The company is known for its heavy emphasis on AI to provide personalized content as well as targeted advertisements for its users. The new fund, as one of the largest corporate venture efforts by a private unicorn, could enable Bytedance to gain further access to new technologies and content while facing an increasingly diverse global audience. Coming at a time when venture capital fundraising in China is increasingly difficult, it could be a strategic move for the company to seek investment from state-backed investors. The new social messaging app Flipchat, not officially confirmed, has come off as potentially being a strong competitor to Chinese messaging giant WeChat.