Ximalaya secures $580m ahead of 2019 Hong Kong IPO

Ximalaya FM raises funds, after reconstructing its VIE structure.

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Ximalaya FM, one of China’s major online audio streaming platforms, closed an RMB 4b (US$ 580.62m) in its latest financing round. This brings its valuation up to RMB 24b ($3.48b) and will see it listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange by H2 2019.

Backers of this latest capital infusion after its reconstructed VIE structure include the likes of Tencent, Goldman Sachs, and General Atlantic LLC, confirming a report by KrASIA in July 2018.

Incepted six years ago, Ximalaya FM is reportedly China’s largest online audio service platform in terms of weekly active penetration rate. Users can share their personal experiences and knowledge in specific fields via audio and personal podcast stations. A recent account by  IPO 早知道, a Chinese media outlet, indicates the startup’s user base has increased to more than 470 million individuals and 5 million anchors. Currently, it offers up to 20 categories of different content.

According to a report by United Media Solutions, a digital media specialist, as at January 2018, Ximalaya FM had 40 million registered users. Of these, 6 million daily active users tune in to the 10,000 daily uploaded audios of Professional Generated Content (PGC).

Leveraging on its substantial traffic since 2016, the Ximalaya started offering paid-content columns that allow professionals to sell PGC online. This move, which saw the firm onboard upwards of 3,000 professionals on its platform, pushing the startup’s average revenue per user (ARPU) above RMB 90 this year.

Moreover, it has partnered original car manufacturers such as BMW and Ford to provide in-car entertainment, while also onboarding smart home product providers like Haier, Midea, and Skyworth in deals which permits users to tune in at home.

Similar to other social media apps, Ximalaya FM’s largest age group is between 25-35 years of age. Unlike other e-shopping apps that lure mainly women, the content generated attracts both male (at 52 per cent) and female (at 48 per cent), with Ximalaya FM seemingly outdoing its major competitors in terms of market penetration at this time.

In Q2 2017, according to Cheetah Global Lab’s data, Ximalaya’s 1.195 per cent penetration rate of weekly active users surpassed rivals such as Qingting FM (at 0.468 per cent) and Irts FM (0.323 per cent). Details in an iMedia Research report indicates that as at January 2018, Ximalaya posted a 5.12 per cent penetration rate, ahead of competitor Qingting FM at 2.29 per cent,

Yu Jianjun, Ximalaya FM’s co-founder, revealed to IPO 早知道 the long-term goal of shifting from operating as an audio app to offering an audio ecosystem encompassing smart hardware to access professional audio content.

Editor: Shiwen Yap