Chinese Online Celebrity Incubator Wants to List on Nasdaq

(Bloomberg) -- Investors may soon have the chance to cash-in on China’s obsession with social media celebrities in the latest Chinese company to file for a U.S. IPO.

Ruhnn Holding, which counts Alibaba’s Taobao China Holding Ltd. among backers, operates like an talent agency, spotting emerging online personalities on platforms such as Weibo and WeChat and offering training and monetization services. It had signed 113 personalities as of the end of 2018, ranging from fashionistas to gaming stars, with the vast majority of influencer fans millennial and female.

Ruhnn filed to list on the Nasdaq Tuesday under the symbol “RUHN,” with an initial registration amount of $200 million. Citigroup Inc. and UBS Group AG are acting as underwriters.

See earlier: China Internet Influencer Company Ruhnn Files for U.S. IPO

The platform’s revenue comes from sales of online stores opened under the name of its promoted personalities. It also connects Internet celebrities with merchants for advertising and charges service fees.

As with all companies dependent on celebrity brands, success is dependent on the popularity of its clients. Ruhnn notes that a high proportion of online stores are opened in the names of just a few influencers. One of its talents, Zhang Dayi, who shares tips on styling, skincare and travel to about 22.9 million social media followers, accounted for more than half of Ruhnn’s $137.8 million revenue in fiscal 2018. The company posted $13.1 million loss for the year.

Further Reading: Chinese Firms Court U.S. Buyers as Trade Jitters Ease: ECM Watch

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.