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Baidu’s video business goes independent and raises $155M from investors

TechCrunch TechCrunch 22/04/2016 Jon Russell

Baidu, China’s Google and an Uber investor, has continued its policy of spinning off promising business units. Following the spin-off of its student Q&A app Zuoyebang last September, Baidu Video has gone independent this week and raised RMB 1 billion ($155 million) in capital.

The funding round for the service, which claims 300 million monthly viewers, including Baidu and investors Shanghai New Culture Media Group, Tianshen Yule, Softbank Asia Infrastructure Fund and Redpoint Ventures.

“Baidu Video aims to become the number one professional generated content video platform in China. [Baidu Video] will focus on platform development and continue to provide our audiences with video search and content aggregation services,” a spokesperson told TechCrunch.

Baidu Video’s move to independence comes while Alibaba is in the process of finalizing its $3.5 billion acquisition of Youku Tudou, the company behind two of China’s most popular online video services. Formed from a billion merger between Youku and Tudou, both of which continue to operate as separate sites, research indicates that Youku Tudou has a narrow lead over others in the video space, but there’s plenty of competition applying pressure.

Baidu Video aside, Baidu also owns iQiyi, which it plans to make private in a deal that could be worth up to $2.8 billion. Then there’s the ambitious LeEco (formerly LeTV) which started out in video streaming but has branched out into phones, sports and even electric cars through a partnership with Faraday Future. Making Baidu Video independent removes the drag of a capital intensive business from Baidu’s finances and lets the company act like a more nimble startup that can raise capital and draw on experience from third-party investors that it wouldn’t interact with as a Baidu business unit. In theory, at least.

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