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Sony's $400 million strategic investment? Himalayan FM's IPO in the US

via:博客园     time:2021/4/8 18:20:48     readed:79


Text / Cindy

Source: Jiji business (ID: chedongxi)

Sony has sufficient IP and content resources, and can provide more help through a complete and mature industrial chain. Perhaps, if Sony's strategic investment plan can be successfully implemented, then Himalayan FM's IPO may come true.

The IPO of online audio company Himalaya FM is in a fog again.

On March 9, Himalayan FM was rumored to plan an IPO in the U.S. to raise up to $1 billion. Subsequently, relevant people responded that there is no clear listing plan at present.


Third party query data shows that since its establishment, Himalaya FM has completed nine financing. The most recent is round e, which was invested by Tencent and Chunhua capital in August 2018. Similarly, round e financing has not been confirmed by Himalayan FM.

For Himalayan FM, which was founded in 2012, after more than nine rounds of financing, whether the founder, the team get a return or the investors exit, there is already a demand for IPO. Therefore, this is also an important reason why Himalayan FM has been repeatedly reported to plan IPO in the past few years.

However, under a series of worries about the layout of audio industry by a number of giants, as well as the low user payment rate, uneven content, single revenue structure and high cost of PGC copyright, whether Himalayan FM can be listed and when it will be listed are still in a fog.


Himalayan FM complements Sony entertainment?

As an online entertainment segment, the potential of online audio can not be underestimated.

According to the data of Anson Securities Research Center, as the country with the largest number of online audio users in the world, China's audio users will rise from 377 million in 2018 to 902 million in 2023, with a compound annual growth rate of 15.7%. Data from iimedia research also shows that the number of online audio users in China will reach 570 million in 2020, and it is expected to continue to maintain stable growth in the future, reaching 690 million in 2022.


In 2021, after clubhouse and Tiya (owned by litchi) set off a global upsurge of social audio, the online audio market is full of imagination. Therefore, for Sony, in the case of animation, movies, TV dramas, games, music and other layout, online audio can complement the final puzzle of Sony interactive entertainment track.

However, focusing on the online audio track, Sony has few choices to enter the domestic online audio industry, among which Dragonfly FM and Himalayan FM are undoubtedly the right choices, when litchi has been listed, byte beat has launched tomato Changting app, and Tencent music has acquired lazy people to listen to books.

According to the third-party query data, Himalayan FM was established in August 2012, which is subordinate to Shanghai Himalayan Technology Co., Ltd. and its legal representative is Yu Jianjun. According to public data, Himalaya FM has completed nine rounds of financing so far, the most recent of which was the 4 billion yuan e round financing led by Tencent and Goldman Sachs in August 2018.

Dai Zhikang expressed the wish of A-share listing, which to some extent represents the wish of major shareholders. However, Yu later responded that there were no IPO arrangements.

In the end, many shareholders who could not wait for the return on investment chose to withdraw. In May 2019, 12 directors, including Dai Zhikang and Hongfeng, vice president of Xiaomi, quit. Only Yu Jianjun, co-founder and co CEO, can be found. Subsequently, the equity of Himalayan FM was changed, and 18 shareholders, including Zengda investment, withdrew. It is reported that Yu Jianjun took most of the equity in his hands after offering a high price to buy back the shares.

Since then, many versions of Himalayan FM have been released. In September 2019, the registered capital of Shanghai Zhengda Himalaya increased from 25.43 million yuan to 95.43 million yuan. According to market sources, Himalaya has chosen Goldman Sachs to arrange IPO, raising 500 million to 1 billion US dollars. The Himalayan FM side still denies this.



Recently, the Dai Zhikang case ushered in the first instance. However, some people in the industry said that as the shareholding situation of Himalayan FM's overseas parent company has not been disclosed at present, it can not be ruled out whether Dai Zhikang invested or held Himalayan FM in his own name before. According to the Securities Daily, the same is true for former shareholders such as Xiaomi, who have relevant equity arrangements in the overseas structure, so it can not be said that Xiaomi has completely withdrawn.


Commercial action spared no effort, but the imagination was limited

What has frustrated Himalayan FM's listing is the limited imagination behind its huge losses.


Yu Jianjun, co founder of Himalayan FM

User payment rate is the core index to evaluate the liquidity of online audio platform. According to official data, as of May 2019, its platform has 4 million paying users, and the number of monthly active users in Himalayas is 75.529 million, with a payment rate of only 5.3%. In 2020, Himalayan FM will use activities to pull new Z generation, but overall, the platform payment ratio is still not high, no more than 6%.

Obviously, less than 6% of paid users can hardly support the future of Himalayan FM.

The same is true for online audio. According to the special research report on China's online audio in 2019-2020 released by AI media consulting, 60% of online audio users have a clear willingness to pay. The premise, however, is a willingness to pay for content of particular interest and value.


Judging from the content of the complaint, it doubted the professionalism of Himalayan content, teaching staff and platform management. But so far, Himalayan FM official customer service has not given a reply.

Industry insiders believe that the high homogeneity of content and the serious stunt of high-quality content may be the reason why Himalaya FM has a large number of users, but its repurchase rate, class completion rate and usage time are low, which eventually leads to the difficulty in breaking through the user payment rate.


Cost pressure not solved, giants hit, competition intensified


It is worth mentioning that compared with litchi, which relies on Tiya differentiation and ranks in the top 10 social apps in 70 countries and regions around the world, Himalaya FM also misses audio social networking.

For the future development of Himalayan FM, NetEase Finance once quoted industry analysts as saying that copyright issues and sustainable profits have become two big mountains on Himalayan FM.

According to relevant data, the revenue of Himalayan FM increased significantly in 2017, with a net loss of 108 million yuan, and it has not made a profit so far.

At the same time, under the Himalayan PGC mode, the cost of building a content moat is getting higher and higher. For example, the radio drama "three bodies" launched on Himalayan FM in December 2019 has a total investment of 10 million yuan. In the industry, it's almost a small investment in making movies.


Industry insiders believe that this may be one of the reasons why Himalayan FM has been trapped in the copyright whirlpool for a long time.

Relevant news shows that since 2018, there have been more than one thousand judicial risks and more than 990 legal proceedings, including people's Culture Publishing House Co., Ltd., Tencent and other enterprises, as well as a number of creators and actors, who have sued for infringement of works' information network transmission right, adaptation right dispute, advertising contract dispute and copyright infringement. The public opinion and legal pressure caused by the copyright issue has appeared substantially.

Meanwhile, competition in Tencent, byte beating, Kwai, NetEase and other chief secretary audio fields and competition with dragonfly FM, lychee and so on have made Himalaya FM face the risk of losing users and hosts.

However, a rare consensus is: if Himalayan FM can be successfully launched, it will be good for the entire online audio track, and its value and potential will be reassessed.

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