This week, 36Kr, China’s top tech media, filed its IPO prospectus for Nasdaq listing.
Founded in 2010 by university student Liu Chengcheng, 36Kr rode the wave of China’s tech boom, and outgrew a large number of competitors.
Its masterstroke came in 2016, when Feng Dagang, co-founder of CBN Weekly (one of the premium news magazines in China, since renamed Yi Magazine), joined together with a group of seasoned writers and editors.
According to the listing documents, Feng now owns two times the amount of shares of Liu.
Since then, the quality of its original articles improved by leaps and bounds. Together with articles syndicated from third parties (including Momentum Works’s Chinese blog), 36Kr claims to have monthly page view count of 347.7 million.
In comparison, Tech in Asia claims 6 million+ monthly page views.
36Kr also tried to diversify its business into data, consulting, crowd funding and co-working space, among others.
All of those proved to be tough businesses, where either the fundamentals are in question, or it is just difficult to get people to pay.
It also expanded internationally, including Kr-asia.com, an Indian subsidiary and content collaboration with Nikkei in Japan.
Below is the current business model of 36kr:
Although the Group was marginally profitable in 2018, it lost quite a bit of money in the first half of 2019:
Huxiu, one of 36Kr’s main competitors, promptly did an analysis saying that 36Kr’s valuation would be maxed at US$300m.
Regardless, even with 347.7 million page views and deep influence in a market as big as China, 36Kr would probably not command a very high valuation.
What does that leave to the tech media outlets across other, smaller markets?
Maybe profitability, rather than valuation, is the way to go. Let’s see how The Ken goes.
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