Beijing Bytedance Technology Co Ltd., the startup behind hit Chinese news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, is seeking to raise as much as $3 billion in a funding round that is mostly targeting U.S. investors, a person familiar with the matter said.
The fast-growing company held meetings with potential investors for a financing that could value Bytedance at as much as $75 billion, the person said, asking to not be identified as the details are private. The talks have not been finalized and the amount and valuation could still change, the person said. The Wall Street Journal reported the funding earlier.
At $75 billion, Bytedance would become the world’s most valuable startup by eclipsing Uber Technologies Inc. at $68 billion and its Chinese ride-hailing rival Didi Chuxing at $56 billion, according to CB Insights data. While Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., is said to be valued at $150 billion, CB Insights doesn’t count them as a startup unicorn.
The Beijing-based company’s Toutiao app uses artificial intelligence to serve users a steady diet of personalized content and it has branched out to include a fast-growing short-video clip service called Douyin, known as Tik Tok abroad, with 500 million monthly active users.
Bytedance declined to comment on any potential funding plans.
The planned funding comes despite Chinese content-makers facing one of the harshest internet crackdowns in the country’s history. Bytedance, like many of its competitors, has seen several of its apps either temporarily pulled from China’s app stores or shut down entirely on the orders of Chinese regulators over allegedly inappropriate content.
Bytedance also owns the Musical.ly app, which has about 100 million users and is being merged with Tik Tok, the company said this month.