Content aggregator Qutoutiao is developing two short video products

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Nasdaq-listed content aggregator Qutoutiao has been developing two short video apps to target Douyin and Kuaishou, media outlet TechPlanet reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: Facing widening losses and declining time spent on the platform, Qutoutiao is looking at the large yet highly competitive short video landscape for growth opportunities.

  • Qutoutiao’s net loss in the second quarter jumped 167% year-on-year to RMB 560 million.
  • The average time spent on the platform per daily active user has been dropping for two consecutive quarters.

Details: The two unnamed short video products intend to combine the functionalities of short video apps and cash rewards features that Qutoutiao has been using.

  • Qutoutiao started working on the two platforms in July and could release them before the end of 2019.
  • The two short video apps are led by Zhang Jing, the leader of Qutoutiao’s online novel platform, Midu Novel, and an unspecified former project manager of Douyin.
  • Qutoutiao is likely to push whichever of the two products to launch first and could merge them in the future, a former Qutoutiao employee told TechPlanet.
  • Qutoutiao’s earlier experiments in short video proved unsuccessful. Two of its released short video products, “Quduopai” and “QiuQiu Video,” can’t be found in any app store.

Context: The past few months have been turbulent for Qutoutiao. The company’s growth has slowed down in the second quarter, following which at least eight middle managers from the company’s product, algorithm, and analytics departments.

  • Several other middle managers are also preparing to leave Qutoutiao, according to the TechPlanet report.
  • Midu Novel, one of Qutoutiao’s major drivers of growth, was also suspended for three months for uncompliant content in July during a cleanup campaign targeting online novel platforms.
  • Before the IPO, Qutoutiao raised money from Tencent, Alibaba, and The Paper, a state-owned digital-only news publication.