Chinese streaming video startup Kuaishou has acquired longer-established, but smaller rival ACFun. The move is part of the intensifying competition process among specialty streaming operators in China.
ACFun, which stands for animation, comics and fun, has been around since 2007. According to reports, it will retain its operational independence in branding and development. But it will need to lean on Kuaishou for capital and tech support.
ACFun had been in the news for all the wrong reasons. It has had several run-ins with Chinese regulators over its content. And earlier this year its site went dark for a couple of weeks, apparently having failed to pay its server bills.
Kuaishou, recently valued at $18 billion, specializes in youth-friendly user generated short form content. It is backed by social media and games giant Tencent, which operates Tencent Video, one of the big three generalist platforms. The value of the deal was not disclosed, though local media has speculated that it was completed for less than $115 million (RM7B50 million). ACFun’s losses last year exceeded $15.5 million (RMB100 million).
The move bolsters Kuaishou and the Tencent cluster of companies as they battle for market share with other specialty platforms. These include Bilibili, which recently listed its shares on NASDAQ, and the Bytedance cluster, which includes popular news aggregation platform Toutiao, Musical.ly, and Kauishou’s direct rival Douyin.
Tencent and ByteDance are currently engaged in interlocking lawsuits. Tencent is suing ByteDance for defamation. ByteDance this week hit back with a suit that claims Tencent is engaged in anti-competitive behavior.