Shares of Kuaishou?Technology, China’s second-most popular short-form video app behind TikTok owner ByteDance, rocketed nearly 300 percent Friday in their debut on the Hong Kong stock exchange.
Shortly after the opening bell, the stock was selling at more than HK$330, nearly triple the initial public offering list price of HK$115 and valuing the company at $179 billion. The firm, which is backed by Chinese technology giant Tencent, raised $5.4 billion in the market debut, making its IPO the biggest since Uber’s $8.1 billion share sale in 2019.
Launched in 2012 as an app for making and sharing GIFs, Kuaishou grew into a short-form video behemoth and later added a vibrant live-streaming service. The platform competes head-to-head with Douyin, TikTok’s Chinese version, and makes most of its money by taking a cut of the virtual tipping, or gift-giving, that followers voluntarily offer to their favorite content creators.
Kuaishou has significantly fewer daily active users than Douyin — 264 million as of November 2020, compared to 600 million, respectively — but institutional and retail investors have seized on the company’s rapid growth. Revenues climbed 49 percent to 40.7 billion yuan ($6.3 billion) in the first nine months of last year.
The fervent investor appetite for tech IPOs — amid historically low interest rates — helped traders look past China’s more aggressive recent regulatory posture towards technology companies, including live-streamers.
Kuaishou’s enormous opening-day valuation puts it in direct league with ByteDance, which last raised funds at a $180 billion valuation. At $179 billion, Kuaishou also handily topped the?market values of some of the United States’ most recognizable tech companies, such as Twitter ($45.95 billion) and Uber? Technologies ($107.1 billion).
Kuaishou can now use its windfall to turbocharge growth or work towards profitability. In the first nine months of 2020, the company posted an adjusted net loss of RMB 7.2 billion ($1.1 billion), compared to an adjusted profit of RMB 1.8 billion in the same period a year earlier. Like ByteDance with TikTok, Kuaishou also operates a version of its service intended for the international market, known as Kwai, which could become a focus for growth and investment.
The IPO also made instant billionaires of Kuaishou’s two co-founders, former Google employee Su Hua and Cheng Yixiao. At the opening price of HK$338, Su’s net worth surged to more than $21.1 billion and Cheng’s climbed to $14.7 billion, according to Bloomberg.