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Douyu, China’s Twitch backed by Tencent, files for a $500M U.S. IPO – TechCrunch

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Douyu, a Chinese live streaming service focused on video games, has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as it prepares to raise up to $500 million on the NYSE less than a year after its archrival floated on the same stock market.

Wuhan-based Douyu, whose name translates as “fighting fish”, is the second Twitch -like service backed by Tencent to go public in the United States. Its direct competitor Huya, who has a similarly fierce name “tiger’s teeth” and also counts Tencent as a major investor, raised $180 million from its NYSE listing last May.

It’s not surprising for Tencent to hedge its bets in esports streaming, given the giant relies heavily on video games to make money. For example, Tencent can use some of its portfolio companies’ ad slots to get the word out about its new releases. Indeed, Douyu’s filing shows it received a hefty 27.48 million yuan ($4.09 million) in advertising fees from Tencent last year.

As Douyu warns in its prospectus, its alliance with Tencent can be tenuous.

“Tencent may devote resources or attention to the other companies it has an interest in, including our direct or indirect competitors. As a result, we may not fully realize the benefits we expect from the strategic cooperation with Tencent. Failure to realize the intended benefits from the strategic cooperation with Tencent, or potential restrictions on our collaboration with other parties, could materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.”

But there are nuances in the giant’s ties to China’s top two live streaming services that could mean more affinity between Tencent and Douyu. The social media and gaming behemoth is currently Douyu’s largest shareholder with a 40.1 percent stake owned through its wholly-owned subsidiary Nectarine. Over at Huya, Tencent is the second-largest stakeholder behind YY, the pioneer in China’s live streaming sector that had spun off Huya.

When it comes to the financial terms, the rivaling pair is in a head-on race. In 2018, Douyu doubled its net revenues to $531.5 million. Huya held an edge as it earned $678.3 million in the same period, also doubling the amount from a year ago.

Huya may have learned a few things about monetizing live streaming from 14-year-old YY as it managed to pull in more revenues despite owning a smaller user base. While Douyu claimed 153.5 million monthly active users in the fourth quarter, Huya had 116.6 million.

How the two make money also diverge slightly. In the fourth quarter, 86 percent of Douyu’s revenues originated from virtual items that users tipped to their favorite streaming hosts, with the remaining earnings derived from advertising and more. By contrast, Huya relied almost exclusively on live streaming gifts, which made up 95.3 percent of total revenues.

Screenshot of a Douyu live streaming session 

As Douyu grows its coffers to spend on content as well as technologies following the impending IPO, competition in China’s live streaming landscape is set to heat up. Just earlier this month, Huya raised $327 million in a secondary offering to invest in content and R&D. Like many other businesses anchored in content, Huya and Douyu depend tremendously on quality creators to keep users loyal. Both have offered sizable checks to live streaming hosts, promising to grow the internet celebrities into bigger stars.

And they’ve extended the battlefield outside China as emerging media forms, most exemplified by short video services Douyin (TikTok’s China version) and Kuaishou, threaten to steal people’s eyeball time away. Both bite-size video apps now enjoy a much bigger user base than their live streaming counterparts.

“We intend to further explore overseas markets to expand our user base through both organic expansion and selective investments,” noted Douyu in its IPO filing.

In a similar move, Huya’s overseas expansion is also well underway. “In addition to our vigorous domestic growth, we have successfully leveraged our unique business model to enter new overseas markets. We believe we are delivering long-term value through strategic investments in overseas markets in 2019 and beyond,” said Huya chief executive Rongjie Dong in the company’s Q4 earnings report.

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Libra cryptocurrency renamed Diem to add distance from Facebook

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The Facebook-backed Libra cryptocurrency hasn’t even launched yet, but it’s already rebranding, with its stablecoin product now set to debut as Diem. The move – which comes as the organization hires a number of high-profile execs – is being seen as an attempt to draw further distinction between the crypto project and the ever-controversial Facebook.

Indeed, the new Diem Association will make its independence a key pillar. The new name “signals the project’s growing maturity and independence,” Stuart Levey, CEO, said today.

It’s not been an easy path to launch for Libra, now Diem. Announced in mid-2019, it was pitched as another bitcoin alternative that would be “a global, digitally native, reserve-backed cryptocurrency built on the foundation of blockchain technology.” Although the currency itself would be independent, it could be stored in a Facebook-subsidiary digital wallet, called Calibra.

Since then, though, things haven’t been smooth sailing. Libra faced early criticism for its plan to base value on the US dollar, Euro, Japanese Yen, Singapore dollar, and British pound. Original partners like Visa and Stripe have exited the project.

Facebook’s wallet, meanwhile, will no longer launch as Calibra, and has been rebranded to Novi. Arguably most important, the cryptocurrency’s value won’t be for one, single global stablecoin any more. Instead, there will be multiple versions, with each based on an individual currency such as the US dollar.

The goal now, it appears, is making financial transactions more straightforward and traceable. “The Diem project will provide a simple platform for fintech innovation to thrive and enable consumers and businesses to conduct instantaneous, low-cost, highly secure transactions,” Levey said. “We are committed to doing so in a way that promotes financial inclusion – expanding access to those who need it most, and simultaneously protecting the integrity of the financial system by deterring and detecting illicit conduct.”

Dahlia Malkhi is joining as the Diem Association’s Chief Technology Officer, Christy Clark as Chief of Staff, Steve Bunnell as Chief Legal Officer, and Kiran Raj as Executive Vice President for Growth and Innovation and Deputy General Counsel. Diem Networks – which will be the regulated payment system operator for Diem – has also named its key exec team.

Still to come, however, is any sort of confirmation on timing for the actual launch of Diem. That’s conspicuous by its absence, though earlier rumors suggested that it could be scheduled for early in the new year, and potentially as soon as January.

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Snapdragon 888 revealed – Qualcomm’s 5G flagship for Android in 2021

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Qualcomm has announced its latest flagship chipset, with the Snapdragon 888 set to power the next generation of high-end Android devices in 2021. As you’d expect, there’s a big focus on 5G, with the Snapdragon 888 featuring the company’s latest 3rd generation Snapdragon X60 modem.

Full details of the chipset won’t be revealed until tomorrow, Qualcomm says, with only the headline features of the new SoC being shared at the moment. Still, there’s enough to get us more than a little curious.

The Snapdragon X60 5G Modem-RF System, for example, will combine mmWave and Sub-6 connectivity “across all major bands worldwide,” Qualcomm promises. There’ll be support for 5G carrier aggregation along with global multi-SIM, as we’ve seen on previous 5G modems, together with standalone, non-standalone, and Dynamic Spectrum Sharing.

Another big area of fascination for Qualcomm recently has been Artificial Intelligence. The 6th generation Qualcomm AI Engine will feature on the Snapdragon 888, with a “completely re-engineered” Hexagon processor. That should be capable of up to 26 TOPS (tera operations per second), and will be linked with the 2nd generation Qualcomm Sensing Hub. That controls always-on sensors in a low-power mode.

Snapdragon Elite Gaming, meanwhile, will continue to offer things like updatable GPU drivers – separate from OS updates, allowing for more frequent incremental improvements in graphics performance, in some cases on a per-game basis – and Desktop Forward Rendering. Qualcomm says the Snapdragon 888 should be able to handle up to 144 fps games with its new Adreno GPUs.

On the flip side of the phone, cameras are another big selling point for the new chipset. There, the updated Qualcomm Spectra ISP will handle photos and videos at up to 2.7 gigapixels per second, or roughly 120 photos at 12-megapixels. That’s up to a 35-percent speed improvement compared to the last Snapdragon flagship, Qualcomm suggests.

Of course, Qualcomm has some rising ARM competition at the moment. All eyes are on Apple, which has spread its own, homegrown chipsets from iPhone and iPad to the desktop, with Apple Silicon launching in the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 13, and Mac mini. They use the M1 SoC, borrowing heavily from the A-series chipsets in recent iOS and iPadOS devices, but we’re expecting to see more potent Apple chips in 2021.

That’s when we can also likely expect to see Android phones based on the Snapdragon 888, though as always it will be down to smartphone-makers to actually decide when their devices launch. Qualcomm says that ASUS, Black Shark, Lenovo, LG, Meizu, Motorola, Nubia, realm, OnePlus, OPPO, Sharp, vivo, Xiaomi, and ZTE are all planning to launch Snapdragon 888-based devices, though we’d expect to see Samsung and others join that list in the new year.

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Apple MagSafe Duo Charger tipped to launch this month

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In October, Apple unveiled its new iPhone 12 line and announced new MagSafe and MagSafe Duo chargers. The standard MagSafe charger is currently available for purchase, but the MagSafe Duo availability is a mystery. A reseller from Switzerland called Digitec Galaxus, apparently a known and popular reseller, has published a listing for the MagSafe Duo charger suggesting that the charger will start shipping this month.

The reseller’s web store claims that MagSafe Duo chargers will ship between December 21 and December 29. It’s worth noting that Apple has yet to offer an official launch date for the charger. It’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility that a major reseller would have inside information about a potential launch date.

Apple certainly won’t be happy that the company is tipping launch dates if there’s any truth to the listing. Another factoid lending weight to the December 21 launch date is that Apple has sent some MagSafe Duo review units out already. It’s unlikely that Apple would’ve sent review units to members in the media if the device wasn’t ready to launch soon.

For those unfamiliar with the MagSafe Duo charger, it’s designed to charge an iPhone 12 series smartphone and an Apple Watch simultaneously. MagSafe chargers are of the sort that the Apple Watch uses and was a new feature to the iPhone 12 series launched in October.

Apple previously said that the MagSafe Duo charger would sell for $129. As is done with recent iterations of its phones and Watch, no USB-C power adapter is included. Apple will gladly sell you one for an additional charge. Most smartphone users likely have USB-C chargers lying around, but you need one with enough power output to get the ideal charge speed.

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