A station battle

For the Chinese Internet giants, it has become an inevitable choice to continue to grow bigger and occupy a strategic position, and to carry out offensive and defensive warfare in multiple fields.

Author | Luo Lijun

It’s extremely difficult to get the A station quickly.

He needs to meet a tired but savvy businessman: For Cai Dongqing, who has invested too much in Station A and whose main appeal lies in the stop loss, who can give the most satisfactory price in the fastest time, this transaction can be achieved. .

There is also a need to face factional competition: Ali and Cai Dongqing have been arguing for a long time. Even if they have to give up the strong players in the second-yuan field, they hope to maximize the trading price of their opponents. Ali may also be more willing to let the “enemy enemy” take the A station today.

Faster than today’s headlines show a more tenacious attitude: the competition is hot, the fast hand needs a long video platform and sub-cultural content community of its own, expanding the battlefield also means expanding the traffic portal and improving the commercial structure. Compared with today’s headlines that have built their own Internet product matrix, fast hands are just beginning to take the first step.

Last time, the fast hand and the headline were competing together, still Musical.ly The founder of Yang Luyu was at the table. That time the headline won the victory, and Tencent, who was happy to see the fast-handed winner, failed to wait for the good news.

After more than four months of negotiations and delays due to their own difficulties, the fast hand finally won.

On June 5, 2018, Fast Hand announced the holding of Station A. Fast-handedly said to a number of media that the A station has performed well as the birthplace of the domestic secondary and youth barrage culture. Although it has not developed smoothly due to various reasons, after the acquisition, the quick hand can give the station A funds and technology greatly. stand by. The fast hand also stressed that in the future, Station A will develop independently and operate independently and will not interfere with it.

At noon that day, the former shareholder of Station A, China Online, announced that it would transfer 13.51% of the A station shares held by Chinese online at a price of 140 million yuan. Based on this price, the valuation of station A is 1.04 billion yuan.

This is undoubtedly a good news for the A station. After being acquired, Station A finally got rid of the complicated capital relationship and owned the controlling shareholder who probably knows the Internet most in the history of the establishment of the A station.

For the Chinese Internet giants and unicorns, they continue to occupy a strategic position, and attacking and defending the battlefields in multiple fields has become a daily competition. As a video platform and a gathering place for youth culture, the strategic node and the contest center of the 11-year-old station A have made this competition far more intense than its own price.

In the Chinese Internet world, which is accustomed to the winners, small and beautiful does not exist. “Without victory, you can’t survive.”

Official opening

The foreshadowing of war has long been written.

At the end of 2017, Cai Dongqing, the largest shareholder holding 54.77% of the A station, and the management team had to face a dangerous situation: if the station A still does not receive new funds until January 31, 2018, then Alibaba Cloud can only Out of service.

Cai Dongqing’s patience with station A is not much. Since 2016, the management of Station A has been turbulent and it has not been settled until 2017. But whether it is content, traffic or liquidity, station A has fallen rapidly in the industry rankings.

Cai Dongqing himself is one of the main factors that caused this result: he failed to assign the most suitable principal to station A, and failed to give enough trust to the manager of his choice. He once forced the seniors of Station A to follow his will by cutting the capital chain. For a long time, Station A has been relying on the limited funds provided by Cai Dongqing to rent servers and continue to maintain basic operations. At the same time, Station A is unable to expand new services and explore various ways of realizing.

The current station A has been riddled with holes and it is difficult to repair it in a short time.

For Cai Dongqing, the jetty became the latest choice after getting satisfactory returns. The more important reason is that Oufei Entertainment’s business situation last year was not optimistic. The “Dongfang Disney”’s hot dream was in jeopardy. After completing the refinancing far below expectations, Oufei Entertainment was released on January 29, 2018. The performance revision announcement significantly reduced the 2017 annual profit forecast from less than 350 million yuan to less than 200 million yuan. The main reason for the decline in profitability was the loss of the film and television investment business, and the game and the tide play business failed to meet expectations.

On April 8th, 2018, Aofei Entertainment opened a press conference to announce a new round of IP content and industrial planning, including several children’s IP big movie projects including Pleasant Goat, Super Flying Man and Beacon Bear. Aofei Entertainment stressed that in the next five years, Aofei will further consolidate the entire industry chain platform and accelerate the deployment of theme parks and preschool education.

Cai Dongqing has shown greater interest in the new energy sector and is planning a larger retreat in the entertainment sector. At the end of September last year, he also attended the opening ceremony of the first Guangzhou pure electric vehicle power station, which was built by his own new energy vehicle energy service company, Aodong New Energy and Beiqi New Energy.

In other words, regardless of boosting the main business or entering new areas, Cai Dongqing does not want to continue to spend money and energy on the A station.

Ali first expressed interest in Cai Tingqing’s controlling stake in Station A, which is about to be sold. From the perspective of strategic layout, in the field of secondary elements, Ali does not have a qualified “agent” to correspond to the strong expansion of the “secondary alliance” from Tencent.

Tencent has always regarded cultural entertainment as a key layout track. In 2017, it took 34 shots. At least nine of them belonged to the second-level field, with content production as the mainstay. In the platform field, the B station invested by Tencent in 2016 was listed on the NASDAQ in New York on March 29.

If you don’t act quickly, Ali may be completely aphasia in this area.

Ali’s only known external investment entity in the secondary domain is Wuhan’s animation company at two o’clock. According to the industrial and commercial information changed on March 31, 2018, Zhejiang Dongyang Alibaba Film Co., Ltd. accounted for 20% at 2:00. Ali also set up a small-scale cultural fund with two points to participate in early investment in the field of secondary yuan.

At this stage, there are two parties in the board of directors of the A station: Cai Dongqing (54.77%) and Cai Dongqing as an angel investor who invested in Chinese online (13.51%); It is Ali (13.23% of the shares), and Ali shareholders who have been standing on the united front with Ali, Softbank China (12.8%). Among them, Cai Dongqing, Chinese Online and Ali, all have one vote veto.

Chinese Online also mentioned in the announcement on June 5, 2018 that in November 2016, Chinese Online agreed to subscribe for 13.51% of the A station at a price of 250 million yuan. As of the announcement date, Chinese Online has paid an investment advance payment of 139 million yuan to Station A. Since the A station failed to meet the prerequisites for the Chinese online investment station A, Chinese Online did not fully pay the full investment for the reservation. In other words, there was at least a 110 million funding gap before the A station, and life and death were suspended.

At the end of 2017, Ali was the most realistic seller of Cai Dongqing. Both Yang Weidong and Cai Dongqing are the two strong men in the negotiating field and will not let go of any opportunity to seize the initiative. Ali even proposed that he would only be willing to acquire the shares held by Cai Dongqing with a valuation of less than 500 million yuan. This has shrunk by more than 70% compared to the valuation of RMB 1.85 billion in the previous round of Chinese online stocks.

For Cai Dongqing, the quotation of Ali can be said to be looting. Under the arrogance, no one is willing to lend money to let A station pay the server fee and pay the employee’s salary. In other words, both parties hope to use the urgency of stopping the service to allow the other party to agree to their plan as soon as possible. This is a strategy to challenge the border, because once stopped, the market reaction of station A itself will only continue to decline.

Involuntarily

Ali gives a low price for a reason. Station A at the end of 2017 is not a particularly attractive target.

Liu Yanzhen, the current CEO of Station A, met Yang Weidong of the potato period before joining the A station. There are remarks that Liu Yanxi was invited to join Youku Tudou, but he finally chose to teach at the Beijing Film Academy as a teacher, and then served as the CEO of Station A.

In the fall of 2015, Liu Yanzhao and Yang Weidong planned the future in this way, and created a “culture of annihilation” at station A, that is, the copyright of “bad movies, bad TV dramas, folk DV images, and documentaries”, to encourage the main station of station A. Use the “worst thing” for secondary creation and build the UGC ecosystem. This idea made Yang Weidong, the president of the current potato, excited.

But soon, Liu Yanxi’s idea was interrupted by the A station. Even after he became CEO, station A had more urgent matters that he needed to deal with – at that time, Cai Dongqing had begun to clean the staff of the former principal Yang Xinyi.

Liu Yanzhen may be an excellent content operator. The well-respected beauty of the station A and the homepage of the spirit of the home are all his handwriting. However, it is really difficult for him to be successful in the position of CEO. The staff of Station A revealed that it was difficult to see Liu Yanzhen in the company. Many important revitalization work was difficult to advance because of Liu Yanzhen’s uncertainty.

At the end of 2017, Liu Yanzhen made several work reports on the senior officials of Ali University. The theme was about the future plan of Station A. At that time, it was already the moment of survival at Station A. The people who listened to him in the conference room had a lot of lifelines. However, Liu Yanzhao’s report did not satisfy Ali.

In fact, from the first appreciation of the A station to the end of 2017, nearly three years have passed, Yang Weidong’s work position has changed dramatically, and the interests and considerations involved are no longer the same.

Yang Weidong is currently the president of Alibaba and the president of Youku. Although he has an important voice in business judgment, he needs to work with the class committee. In the case that the plan for the future does not satisfy Ali, in order to reduce the company’s investment risk, the key to the Ali team at the negotiating table can be taken when the other party’s appeal is more urgent than the demand for self-purchasing. The solution is to try to lower the price of station A. In this way, even if it fails in the future, it will try its best to reduce the loss in the early stage.

Undoubtedly, Yang Weidong’s most urgent task now is to lead Youku to win a victory and regain advantage in the frontal battlefield. In the first quarter of the past, Youku chose to compete with iQiyi in street dance and mechs. This is the “high-level oppression” tactic that Yang Weidong took the initiative to attack. This term derived from the football game represents an organized robbing of opponents and attempts to destroy the opponent’s offensive line.

However, “high pressure” also means concentration and concentration. In the face of an opponent who already has a first-mover advantage, how to find the opportunity missed by the other party and break the weak point of the other party, there is no distraction from other chores.

Due to the pursuit of synergy, the priority of integrating resources and allowing resources to flow in various parts of the system is far higher than that in the vertical field. For example, Youku has signed the contest including Nikki in “This is Street Dance” in the big entertainment system. The artist will “tour and show Youku’s programs, whether it is drama, film or pan-cultural entertainment, enter the whole system.”

In other words, if it is urgent, the secondary or sub-cultural community is not the most urgent task for Ali Entertainment.

Move the lens back to the A station negotiating table. Cai Dongqing is determined not to sell his own equity, and Ali is not willing to pay a risky price. The negotiations can only be stuck. On January 31, the news that Station A was about to stop serving has spread to circles of all sizes. At 10:30 on the morning of February 2, the homepage of station A showed no access, and Alibaba Cloud finally stopped the service to station A.

As a result, station A once again fell into a 10-day pause, and Ali finally gave up the holding station A.

Two strong followers

On February 12, the A station borrowed tens of millions of RMB from the outside, and the website was able to go online again. It was able to pay the salary of the staff who had been delayed for several months before the Spring Festival holiday, and it was possible to have a stable Spring Festival.

The rumors began to pervade within the station A at the time, and the reliever was a newcomer who had not noticed before.

According to the enterprise credit information publicity system, on the 27th of February, Beijing Sai Ruisi Culture Communication Co., Ltd., a subsidiary controlled by A station, produced the 2560 equity of Sun Company Entertainment Star (Beijing) Technology Co., Ltd. to Beijing Express. Technology Co., Ltd.; March 6th, Guangzhou Barrage Network Technology Co., Ltd. (the main body of the operation of the station A), the quality of the company’s equity to the fast.

When playing against Ali, the A station has not given up the possibility of finding new shareholders. For the A station and the fast hand bridge, the second shareholder Chinese online. On the eve of the suspension, the two sides had already made basic contacts. The A station and the fast-handed high-level officials began direct contact at the end of January and early February. The latter clearly expressed interest in the station A and began to promote the relevant processes.

One of the main reasons for the quick acquisition of the acquisition of the A station is that from the perspective of business expansion, the fast hand needs a long video platform of its own. According to Questmobile, in the past three months, the fast-handed DAU has remained at around 100 million, with a peak of 120 million, but last year, the fast-handed daily growth exceeded 60 million. On a single platform, the fast hand may have seen its own bottleneck.

It is worth noting that the A station naturally attracts users who are not the same as fast hands. The coincidence ratio between the A station and the fast hand is extremely low. According to the May data of Aurora Big Data, only 0.3% of the fast users have also installed AcFun. However, compared with the fast hand, A users in the first-tier cities accounted for 20.04%, while fast-hand users accounted for more than 60% in third-tier cities and below.

Almost at the same time, today’s headlines also see the opportunity to enter. It was only half a month slower than the fast hand. Today’s headlines were also added to the negotiations on the acquisition of Station A before and after the Spring Festival. In mid-March, today’s headlines began the specific process of promoting the A station.

However, Zhang Yiming, who has always been decisive, has hesitated at this time. For today’s headlines that already have a watermelon video, the value and status of station A needs to be considered differently, and the focus of this consideration is not on the second dimension.

In fact, at this time, today’s headlines are very clearly working in the field of secondary elements. In February 2018, today’s headlines acquired the “half-dimensional” of the second-yuan community platform and the “shadow-shadow animation” of the animation company in March. There are also reports that today’s headlines and Aofei have made some contact around the demon.

What has been shown in the past cases is that the investment style displayed by today’s headlines is very decisive, and the investment rhythm is also very rapid. In the face of enterprises that need investment or even acquisition, there is usually not much hesitation, but this style is in A. The station is relatively conservative.

Today’s headlines and fast hands have been fiercely competitive in the short video field. According to Questmobile’s “2018 China Mobile Internet Spring Report”, in March 2018, the monthly user size of fast hands was 230 million. The monthly user size of the headline video products is: 120 million vibrato, volcano video and watermelon video are 110 million.

As the two companies that are still in a period of rapid growth and exploring their own borders, today’s headline and fast-handed investments are more for the purpose of supplementing their own business and growing, and the pressure on the “fission” is obviously greater.

Today’s headlines have been effectively implemented by divesting and independent original channels (such as knowing the car), acquisitions (such as half-dimensional) and developing new products (such as vibrato, volcano video and watermelon video) with the video community as the core. Established a matrix of its own Internet products.

In contrast, in addition to the just announced A station, the fast-handed Internet products are only fast-hand app and the fast-flashing pistol (fast hand game) launched this year, as well as the low-profile editing tools.

In terms of investment, fast hands have not started an intensive pace. The fast-track investment that has already been announced is the creation space of the New Third Board Company, which mainly deals with the idol entertainment business. On May 4th, Chuangdong Space released a new stock issuance plan. The company quickly invested in “guaranteed capital and purchase” and invested 30 million yuan, becoming the third largest shareholder in the creation space.

The launching plan of the creation space shows that after the fundraising is completed, it will be invested in offline performance projects, artist business management and MCN business, as well as an open online fan management platform, which is more obvious with the fast-handed business. contact.

At the same time, the relationship between Fasthand and Tencent is extremely close, and there are many exchanges and cooperation in the investment business. The latest round of financing for the quick hand is $1 billion. Tencent, the last round of the lead, continues to follow suit and guarantees that voting rights will not be diluted.

Defense and shortsightedness

The uniqueness of this acquisition of Station A is that no company with such a valuation has attracted the interest of so many star companies.

From the facts, the acquisition by the fast-handed is undoubtedly a good news for the station A: After the acquisition, the station A finally got rid of the complicated capital relationship and was able to reorganize the equity relationship that is more conducive to the development of the station. At the same time, the fast hand may also be the controlling shareholder of the Internet in the history of the establishment of the A station.

This is the story of the emergence of the Internet giant’s fierce competition: When the commercial value of the station itself begins to fade, it can attract affordable prices because of its unique card value and not too high valuation in the new content field. Internet companies that do not pursue short- and medium-term returns and strong expansion attributes participate in bidding.

Objectively speaking, Cai Dongqing’s negotiating strategy and business style also fueled the battle for the high bidder.

The unique meaning of the younger groups corresponding to the second-dimensional people in the Internet industry need not be said. When the prospectus was published at the B station, it was the story of the “Z generation”, and 87.1% of the users of the B station were born in 1990-2009. Their enthusiasm for virtual products, cultural products, and products with more spiritual labeling is far higher than those older than them.

According to the latest data, the B-station stock with an issue price of $11.50 per share has now risen to $16.43 per share, and the market value of station B has risen from $3.2 billion to nearly $4.6 billion in more than two months.

This group of people who have grown up from the Internet age and are happy to consume digital content is also a user that Tencent must firmly grasp. At present, Tencent has invested in 22 companies in the field of secondary. During the January-July 2017 period, Tencent concentrated on investing in 12 animation and comic companies.

If the head office in the second-dimension segment, such as B-station, Tencent Animation, and Dreaming Animation, which have a capital relationship or direct relationship with Tencent, is regarded as a unified and loose alliance, then after the quick acquisition of Station A, the alliance Will gain great advantages in the secondary and even sub-cultural fields.

The first is to be able to lead and suppress opponents absolutely. In today’s headline and Tencent’s direct competition, investing in interesting headlines and launching micro-visions are Tencent’s series of point-to-point attacks. Today’s headline secondary and long video still lacks a flagship platform.

At present, the half-dimensional is temporarily responsible for the task in the field of secondary elements. From the end of March, the entire network of the Japanese classic IP heavy brake painting “Galaxy Hero Legend” was broadcasted on the whole network, but it seemed to be somewhat rushed. At that time, it was not even possible to get on the line. The watermelon video is also brewing new moves, and today’s headline how to fission or invest in a long video platform still needs to be practiced.

Secondly, even though Tencent has invested in the video platform company B station, according to the B station prospectus, Tencent holds 5% of the shares and has limited control over station B. In Tencent itself, it also pays great attention to the investment in secondary content and Tencent video in the animation field. At the same time, with the supervision of relevant departments, the fast-handed can re-invest a more controllable secondary vertical video community at a reasonable price. For Tencent, it is not a bad choice.

In today’s China, the two giants have a competitive relationship in almost every commercial field. According to the statistics of the end of last year, there are more than a dozen, including finance, payment, cloud computing, shared bicycle, retail, O2O. Industry. In the event of an inevitable conflict, they either start a “agent war” or go out on their own and face up in person.

On the other hand, in this transaction and even in the wider competition, Ali is more willing to form a certain form of cooperation with today’s headlines. Such ideas have been verified one after another: On March 16th, today’s headline announced that Youku and today’s headlines have reached a short video content licensing cooperation. Youku’s thousands of movies, TV, anime and variety shows will be in short video format in watermelon video. Broadcast on. At the same time, the two sides also considered to innovate the content of cooperation through adaptation and re-creation.

At the end of April this year, some media reported that Ali might invest in today’s headlines. However, Wang Shuai, chairman of the Alibaba Market Public Relations Committee, denied this news. He also stressed that today’s headlines are a good partner of Ali and a hot spot and object for many people to study, study and discuss.

In the past few days, Tencent has become the first (and perhaps the only) business executive to publicly support the headlines in the conflict between Tencent’s headline today’s headlines and the depreciation of goodwill, and today’s headline counterclaims Tencent’s unfair competition. He said on Weibo. “This prosecution is to make people shut up. According to the law is the law of WeChat. I am quite headline today.”

However, there are also comments that Ali’s friendly relationship with the headline is only a technical mutual cooperation, and the strategic “appeasement” of the headline is still dangerous. After all, Zhang Yiming’s tough commercial will is reflected again in the ongoing confrontation with Tencent. In the long run, the mode of getting along with today’s headlines and Ali, which is “unwilling to be a Tencent employee”, is still unknown.

The robbing of the A station is only a typical case, and a small-scale “war” is happening intensively in the Chinese Internet world. Every conflict and every choice defines both themselves and the profound influence of China’s business world in every corner.

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