China’s live streaming giant YY fully acquires Singapore’s Bigo for $1.45b

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Photo by Nicholas LB on Unsplash.

Nasdaq-listed Chinese live streaming major YY has paid about $1.45 billion to fully acquire Bigo Inc, the Singapore-based startup that owns global live streaming platform Bigo Live and short-form social video platform Like.

In a statement, YY said it has acquired the remaining 68.3 per cent stake in Bigo from shareholders, including YY’s chairman and acting CEO David Xueling Li. The Chinese firm owned approximately 31.7 per cent of Bigo prior to the transaction.

It was Li who started Bigo in 2016 to introduce YY’s revenue model outside of China. Viewers on the platform can buy virtual gifts, which represent real money, for the live streamers, with YY taking a cut.

Last June, YY announced that it invested $272 million in a Series D round for Bigo Inc as its lead investor. Ping An Overseas Holdings, an asset management unit of China’s Ping An Group, had led Bigo’s Series C funding round in 2017.

“We are very excited to announce the completion of the acquisition of Bigo. It is an important milestone for YY group which demonstrated our confidence and commitment to the globalization strategy,” said Li.

YY said Li’s total voting power in YY remains largely the same before and after the transaction.

Headquartered in Singapore, Bigo currently has a presence in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and West Asia, and is planning to further expand globally.

Bigo Live features game-like elements, providing people with the ability to send digital gifts paid for by cash-purchased diamonds that are turned to beans. These can be exchanged for more in-game diamonds or converted into real money.

With significant popularity among the 18-25 years age group, it has built a registered user base of 200 million globally, with an average use time of 40 minutes daily, while monthly active users have reached close to 37 million people worldwide.

Li said the combination of YY’s and Bigo’s unparalleled businesses and services in both China and overseas will enable the Chinese firm to create enhanced live streaming content and further expand its global footprint.

Launched in 2005, YY is funded by GGV Capital, Morningside Group, and Steamboat Ventures. In May 2018, YY listed its e-sports video platform Huya Broadcasting in the US, less than a month after Huya raised $461.6 million in its Series B round led by Tencent.

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