Toutiao's parent buys startup firm to tap VR market

Updated 2018-03-01 11:10:02 China Daily

A subsidiary of Beijing Bytedance Technology Co Ltd, which owns news aggregator app Toutiao and video service musical.ly, has acquired a virtual reality startup to enrich its product offerings.

Shares of VR solution provider Vscene are now 100 percent held by Beijing Shanxing Technology Co Ltd, the investment arm of Bytedance, according to Qichacha, a site tracking business registration information.

The deal at an undisclosed amount was made public via the site on Tuesday. Bytedance declined to comment.

Before the transaction, Vscene was controlled by a handful of enterprises and individual investors including Wang Yue, who founded the business in 2016.

Vscene provides VR technologies that can be applied in live-streaming scenarios with the promise of an immersive experience. Service offerings span from VR video capturing, stitching to encoding and adaptive streaming, according to its website.

"Bytedance already has multiple short video and live streaming products. What Vscene can add is the VR technology so as to upgrade the live streaming experience and enhance the level of engagement," said Wang Xiaofeng, senior analyst at consultancy Forrester.

Established six years ago, Bytedance has quickly grown into a media conglomerate that encompasses news aggregators, publishing tools, microblog services, Q&A platforms and short-form video apps.

It revolutionized traditional news portals by using algorithms to filter news and tailor feeds, attracting 120 million readers to spend an average of 70 minutes per day on the app.

Apart from the flagship Toutiao service, the company is on a constant hunt for investment targets such as Flipagram, Musical.ly and Live.me. Just last month, it also purchased Faceu, a selfie app using augmented reality technologies.

"Some of these apps are actually created by Chinese firms but mostly designed for overseas users. So it makes sense to have separate product strategies for different audience," Wang said.

Bytedance was included for the first time among the World's 50 Most Innovative Companies by New York-based Fast Company in February.

"The ultimate goal is to build a powerful digital ecosystem that can grasp as many moments as possible in consumers' daily lives," Wang said.

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