Zhang Yiming, founder and CEO of China’s largest news aggregator Toutiao, denied on Monday rumors that it was to be acquired by Tencent.
He made a post on the Today’s Headlines website:
“A colleague told me seriously that he joined Toutiao specifically to avoid becoming a Tencent employee. So did I. That would be boring, ” wrote Zhang.
He quoted a song called ‘Go Big or Go Home’ to explain it further.
Its lyrics go:
“I’m thinking life’s too short, it’s passing by
So if I’m gonna go at all
go big or go
(go go) go big or go home. ”
(Screenshot from Toutiao)
But this post didn’t rule out the possibility that the company may receive future investment from Tencent. Chinese media reached out to Tencent for comment on the rumors, but was declined.
Rumors had begun spreading when a popular individual Internet commentator named “Kaiba” claimed on Thursday that Tencent was in the process of acquiring Toutiao at a whopping value of USD eight billion.
Founded in 2012, Toutiao is a Flipboard-like news aggregator app that recommends news content using computer algorithms, based on the technologies of deep learning and data mining. When you read Toutiao, Toutiao also reads you, keeping track of your browsing history, your clicks, your comments, and time spent on every article.
The company claimed it had more than 47 million daily active users in May 2016, having served more than 480 million users. It was valued at USD 500 million when it closed a Series C round of financing worth USD 100 million, Tencent Tech reported in June.
Inspired by Toutiao, China’s tech giants have released competitor apps, including Yidian Zixun, which is backed by iFeng.com and Xiaomi Tech, Tiantian Kuaibao launched in 2015 by Tencent, and UC subscription service by Alibaba.
(Top photo from Baidu Images)