IQiyi, a video site partly owned by Chinese internet giant Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) is set for an initial public offering in the next three years, according to a report from Bloomberg. The company, which is analogous to Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) rather than Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) offering YouTube, is looking to beat competitor Youku Tudou in the country’s video space.
According to the report, which is based on information from the company itself, IQiyi will go public in the before the end of 2017. The company’s CEO told the news outlet that he’s looking to have the biggest user and revenue share in China as of that date. Some 618 million people use the internet in China, and many of those spend their time looking for videos and television online.
Baidu continues to seek video market
Baidu Inc (NASDAQ:BIDU) has a controlling share of IQiyi and the company’s video platform is part of an arms race between it and AliBaba, which is a major investor in the country’s current most popular video platform Youku Tudou.
IQiyi may be almost unpronounceable for those with a European tongue, but the company’s numbers speak for themselves According to the company its hit local show iParliament, has had cumulative hits of 3 billion for its fourth season, while South Korean import My Love From the Star has cumulative viewings of more than 2 billion. How those viewing numbers, which are massive even by Chinese standards, are likely to translate into revenue is difficult to predict, as is most of the Chinese web industry, including Baidu Inc (NASDAQ:BIDU)
Chinese web firms continue explosion
It’s safe to say that very few people actually understand the way that Chinese internet companies work, and 2014 may be the first time that most investors have sat up and taken notice of the industry. Baidu Inc (NASDAQ:BIDU) is the old hand, having listed on the NASDAQ back in 2005. 2014 is seeing a number of additions, and that’s set to continue, at least according to today’s report.
Weibo Corp (NASDAQ:WB) hit the NASDAQ exchange earlier in April, while the largest Chinese web company of them all, AliBaba, is expected to hit the American market in the months ahead. There’s been massive growth in the valuations of each of those companies, and analysts seem to expect great things from the industry as a whole. There is still difficulty understanding it, however.
Since the disaster that has kept so many people out of the market since the turn of the century, web stocks have looked suspicious. Cries of a bubble reach fever pitch when a stock is valued at a high level, and it gets worse when a subgroup ends up with higher than usual multiples.
Chinese web stocks may be one of those groups, and many have pointed to the exploding valuation of AliBaba as a reason to stay away from investments in the space. Baidu Inc (NASDAQ:BIDU) has already lost around 6% of its value in the momentum bust of 2014. The IPO of IQiyi will bring a cash injection, but investors may start to lose faith before that day comes.