Kuaishou’s IPO: Powering Authentic Expression
In July 2014, DCM led the $20 million Series B round of a little-known Chinese short video app called Kuaishou. The company had recently launched their short, 8-second videos product when DCM GP Hurst Lin saw the huge market potential. Hurst’s deep operating experience as the founder of Sina (parent company to Weibo, comparable to Twitter in the US) convinced the Kuaishou founders to partner with DCM. As a board member, Hurst has witnessed Kuaishou grow into one of the leading short-form video and live streaming platforms in the world. Kuaishou is a combination of entertainment, e-commerce, and gaming built into a single platform.
When we first invested six and a half years ago, Kuaishou had under 15 employees, less than 10 million monthly active users, and zero revenue. Today, Kuaishou employs nearly 20,000 people; has 769 million monthly active users (larger than both Twitter and Snapchat); and is now the world’s largest livestream platform by gross transaction value of virtual goods. In 2019, Kuaishou generated $7.2 billion in revenue, the majority coming from livestreaming and virtual goods — a new form of monetization that the U.S. is just starting to understand.
It’s been astonishing to witness the growth of the company, and we’d like to take this opportunity to not only congratulate the entire Kuaishou management team on the beginning of a tremendous journey but also explain to many who may not be familiar with Kuaishou why it is such a special company.
At DCM, one of our core advantages is our cross-border investment expertise. Because our team sits on both sides of the Pacific, we can identify and execute on local ideas with global potential, connecting consumer trends in China and the U.S. Inspired by the early success of short video sharing companies such as Instagram and Vine in the U.S., our team in China saw Kuaishou was suited for the local market due to its focus on capturing the authentic daily lives of its users. Today, the product has evolved far beyond anything we could have ever imagined. It spans everything from users sharing funny videos to livestreamers hosting events or broadcasting games to playing mobile games.
Perhaps the most important quality — and why we felt so strongly about our investment — is Kuaishou’s obsession with engaging as many of its users as possible. Nearly a quarter of Kuaishou’s 769 million monthly active users are creators themselves. This means that within Kuaishou, there is truly a vibrant community of users who are expressing themselves.
Kuaishou is the latest but surely not the last exit for what has been a spectacular period for DCM. In the past two years, DCM has had 14 portfolio companies go public (or announce they are going public)¹. This includes 8 US-based, 3 China-based and 3 Japan-based portfolio companies. We are just a few weeks into 2021, and Kuaishou is already the fourth DCM portfolio company to go public or announce going public². At a $60 billion IPO valuation, this will be the largest IPO ever in the firm’s history and one of the largest tech IPOs in recent years (Update: Kuaishou nearly tripled in its IPO, and closed at $160 billion market cap). DCM is proud to be a long-time supporter of Kuaishou, having invested out of DCM VII (2014 Flagship Fund), A-Fund I (Global Seed Fund) and DCM Turbo (Growth/Opportunities Fund).
Congratulations to Su Hua, Cheng Yixiao, and the entire Kuaishou team! We are honored to have been a part of your journey and cannot wait to see what lies ahead.
-The DCM Team
¹Includes companies that have publicly announced SPAC mergers
²Includes companies that have publicly announced SPAC mergers