A startup that streams video games is China's biggest Wall Street IPO this year

DouYu often compared to Amazon's Twitch service

By Michelle Toh, CNN Business
Copyright 2019 CNN

So-called eSports have enjoyed a huge growth curve in recent years, with revenues in the billions of dollars.

A popular video streaming platform has gone public in the biggest Wall Street debut by a Chinese company so far this year.

DouYu, a live-streaming platform for gamers backed by Chinese tech giant Tencent, began trading on the Nasdaq on Wednesday under the ticker symbol "DOYU."

The shares dipped in early trading, dropping less than 1% to around $11.40. They had been priced at $11.50 in the initial public offering, the bottom of the company's target range.

The company said in a statement that it expected to raise about $775 million through the share sale, making it the largest initial public offering by a Chinese firm in the United States so far this year, according to data from Dealogic and Refinitiv.

That would break the record set in May, when Starbucks rival Luckin Coffee went public, raising about $645 million, according to Refinitiv.

DouYu, which translates to "fighting fish" in Mandarin, is often compared to Amazon's Twitch service. It hosts interactive live-streams of video games on its desktop and mobile apps while letting users chat in real time and inviting them to watch other content created for its platform.

The company has also gained popularity offline by sponsoring several eSports teams and organizing its own tournaments. A "video-streaming festival" it hosted last year in its home town of Wuhan, a central Chinese city, attracted over 150,000 participants and almost 12 million online viewers on the first day, according to local authorities.

DouYu was founded in 2013 and quickly grew into one of China's most valuable startups, crossing the billion-dollar mark in 2017, according to CB Insights.

The company boasts more than 153 million monthly active users, largely due to its videos of people playing popular eSports games such as League of Legends, King of Glory and Tencent's own PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

That has translated to commercial success. In the 2018 fiscal year, Douyu took in about 3.7 billion Chinese yuan ($532 million) in revenue, which it hopes to grow by expanding overseas and converting more users into paying customers, according to a recent filing. Currently, its revenue primarily comes from ad sales.

The company had previously filed to go public earlier this year, but delayed its IPO in May reportedly because of concerns of a broader market sell-off.

Its Wall Street debut comes a week after Budweiser owner Anheuser-Busch InBev canceled a listing of its Asia unit on the Hong Kong stock exchange, which would have eclipsed Uber as the biggest IPO of this year.

Julia Horowitz contributed to this report.

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