Google Eyeing E-Sports Market in China with Chushou Investment

Google joined an investment in the Chinese livestream mobile game Chushou that gives the total funding for the startup to more than $120 million, as Google seeks new ways to enter China since its search engine has been blocked there.

Chushou, founded in 2015, is an e-sports platform that operates online where users are able to livestream mobile games. The service had approximately 8 million streamers with 250,000 live streams daily, said the company in a prepared statement Friday.

Google is expected to help the firm expand services to target more viewers overseas, it announced.

Platforms specializing in livestream gaming are very popular in China as a form of e-sports. This is an expanding industry that includes competitive game play that is watched by spectators. YouTube, which is owned by Google, launched a service that is specialized for livestream gamers back in 2015, which helped to capture a large amount of the worldwide market.

Both companies failed to reveal the stake that Google is taking and the valuation of Chushou following its round of investment funding. It is the second investment by Google in a startup from China in the last few years, as the company seeks out new routes into the huge market in China where its search engine has not operated since 2012 due to being blocked by the country’s censorship authorities.

The U.S. based company acquired a minority stake in Mobvoi an artificial intelligence startup based in Beijing in 2015 that was part of a fundraising round of $75 million.

The inability of Google to access the large population in China of tech-savvy, young internet users is a big challenge for the company whose flagship search engine has grown to become the largest and most used in the world.

The company in 2017 started to target China as a possible market for expansion of its offering in AI. In December, Google launched a China-based AI lab, and in May held a GO match featuring Alpha GO its AI project and Ke Jie the champion of Chinese GO. The match was heavily publicized in the international media but local media did little coverage on the event.

In December, Google CEO Sundar Pichai spoke in China at an event of high-profile organized by China’s Cyberspace Administration of China that oversees the censorship of internet for the country.

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