China’s news app Qu Toutiao said to mull U.S. IPO at $3b valuation

People use smartphones in Beijing, China, on Saturday, March 7, 2015. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

Qu Toutiao, a Chinese news and video aggregation mobile app, is weighing a U.S. initial public offering, people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Shanghai-based startup, whose name means “Fun Headlines,” is considering seeking a valuation of as much as $3 billion from the share sale, according to the people. It may list as soon as this year, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Qu Toutiao, which launched in June 2016, extracts content from online sources and media partners including the People’s Daily website, Beijing Times and financial news portal It then repackages the news into customized feeds based on users’ interests and reading patterns.

The offerings from Qu Toutiao are often more light-hearted than rival news aggregation service Jinri Toutiao, which is one of China’s largest startups. Jinri Toutiao was valued at about $20 billion last year, a person with knowledge of the matter has said. Qu Toutiao has no connection to the more popular Jinri Toutiao, which translates as “Today’s Headlines” and is run by Beijing ByteDance Technology Co.

Deliberations on a potential listing of Qu Toutiao are at an early stage, and there’s no certainty they will lead to a transaction, the people said. A representative for Qu Toutiao declined to comment.

Qu Toutiao, which operates as a mobile-only service, is popular among residents of so-called third- and fourth-tier Chinese cities, which are usually smaller and less prosperous than urban centers like Beijing and Shanghai, according to its website. It was used on 32.9 million unique devices in January, ranking 128th among all mobile apps available in the country, according to a report from industry consultancy iResearch.