What happened: China’s largest audio service platform Ximalaya FM has led a round of investment worth $100 million into San Francisco-based podcasting startup Himalaya Media. The startup will continue to operate independently but will have access to Ximalaya FM’s technology and resources, Himalaya Media told the Variety. However, from conversations TechNode had with Himalaya Media and Ximalaya staff in 2018, the actual relationship between the two companies is unclear. Among the resources that Himalaya wants to integrate is a tipping feature that allows users to support shows with cash gifts, something that has long existed in Ximalaya FM’s app.
Why it’s important: This is Ximalaya FM’s first investment outside of China and one of its largest investments. The audio giant reports that it has 400 million app downloads and was valued at RMB 24 billion (around $3.4 billion) in August 2018, according to KrAsia. The investment in the San Francisco-based startup marks an increased push from the audio platform to extend its reach beyond China, where it wants to bring a Chinese-business model into the well-developed podcasting industry in the US and perhaps trial its in-app features.