Xiaohongshu, a Chinese social media and e-commerce platform, has hired a former Citigroup executive to oversee its financial management as the company eyes a public listing in the US, according to a report by The Information.

Why it matters: Xiaohongshu, the $6 billion firm backed by Alibaba and Tencent, may be joining a growing list of Chinese tech firms heading to the public markets.

  • An early pioneer of China’s content-driven e-commerce trend, Xiaohongshu, also known in English as Red, faces intensifying competition from short-video platforms like ByteDance’s Douyin and Tencent-backed Kuaishou.

Details: Xiaohongshu has named Yang Ruo, a former Citigroup investment banker, as its chief financial officer overseeing the compilation of financial strategies as well as financial management and internal control, a company spokeswoman told TechNode on Friday.

  • The Shanghai-based company is considering a US listing as early as this year, The Information reported citing people familiar with matter. Investors said the IPO could value Xiaohongshu at more than $10 billion, according to the report, up from a valuation of $6 billion in early 2020 according to sources cited by Bloomberg.
  • The company is in discussion with several banks, but has not settled on a target raise, according to The Information.
  • A Xiaohongshu spokeswoman denied that the company is planning an IPO when contacted by TechNode on Thursday morning.

READ MORE: Xiaohongshu bids to reinvent itself, again

Context: In a similar move, TikTok parent ByteDance hired former Xiaomi executive Shou Zi Chew as chief executive, a sign that has been widely interpreted as preparation for its highly anticipated IPO.

  • Founded in 2013 , Xiaohongshu gained popularity among China’s young, middle-class, and mostly female consumers hungry for insight on lifestyle and fashion. Users can also buy products directly through the platform.
  • The company defines its model as B2K2C, where key opinion leaders help merchants to promote their product to customers. 
  • Xiaohongshu had over 100 million monthly active users as of June, 70% of which were born after 1990, according to company data.
  • After surging in popularity early on, the content-driven app has struggled to land on a scalable monetization model while maintaining its community feel. It battled user trust issues and competition for user attention from other platforms.
  • The app was reportedly raising a Series D of at least $400 million at a valuation of $6 billion in January last year, following a $300 million round at $3 billion valuation in 2018.

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via lixin@sixthtone.com or Twitter.