Translation and Commentary: Chinese App Kuaidian Wants You to “Hurry Up” and Read, Listen, Watch
Updated: Jul 31
Kuaidian recently raised a $100 million USD Series C from Sequoia China, GGV, and Morningside VC. Kuaidian (which means “Hurry Up” or “Quickly”) is a “text dialogue-inspired” story app. The format for the stories was distinctive for its resemblance to a text conversation between multiple people, where users click to reveal the next line of the chat (photos below). The app is meant to cater to readers’ increasingly short attention spans.
In 2019, Kuaidian announced its entry into short-form video production, which the new funds will contribute to building out. Kuaidian earns revenue on a combination of ads and paid subscriptions.
CEO Zhang Rui believes that Kuaidian’s playbook for short stories of being “short, exciting, and interactive” is defensible enough to build other multimedia platforms around. However, without backing from any Chinese internet and eCommerce giants, there’s not a lot stopping Douyin, Kuaishou, or any other short video platforms to venture into this type of professional drama production. These other platforms have many times the user bases and backing from the tech giants. In addition, a big monetization strategy of Kuaishou has been livestreaming eCommerce with its partnership with JD.com. It is more difficult to capitalize on livestreaming eCommerce with professional video production than it is with the influencer model.
Kuaidian DAUs recently reached 5 million. For reference, Douyin (TikTok) has over 400 million and Tencent-backed Kuaishou reached 300 million earlier this year.
Quick Kuaidian Stats
18-20% of users have created their own content
45-50% of users regularly comment on posts
$80,000 USD annual salary for head creators
For additional context, I translated and summarized an article from Chinese news outlet 36Kr on this topic.
My Translation Below:
Kuaidian Company Timeline
May 2017: Officially launched Kuaidian with its dialogue-inspired stories and live chat functionality, all intended to cater to young audiences.
July 2017: Launched co-writing and User Generated Content, which was successfully in rapidly adding tens of thousands of user-generated stories onto the platform.
2018: Added full audio versions of popular short stories. Continued to focus on expanding media beyond text in order to disrupt traditional web platform models.
2019: The company, formerly known as KuaiDianYueDu (meaning Hurry Up and Read) shortened its name to Kuaidian (just Hurry Up / Quickly) to signify its emphasis on many types of media.
Can Kuaidian Break Into Broader Circles?
Kuaidian, in the 4 years since founding, has built up a thriving creator ecosystem. The platform has paid out attractive wages to creators: A head creator makes about 500,000-600,000 RMB per year ($70,000 to $85,000 USD), which includes base salary plus share of ad revenue. This has prompted a lot of young creators to migrate from traditional creative media outlets over to Kuaidian.
Considering the online reading market is relatively small and retention of video users is better than text users, Kuaidian decided to launch its video content production. CEO Zhang Rui believes that all the unique points about Kuaidian’s text content: brevity, excitement and interactivity will all translate to the short videos and capture audiences.
Kuaidian is the first Chinese company to attempt original short video production. As compared to chinese video giant Bilibili, Kuaidian is probably better positioned to build out the chain of production given its abundance of content and IP assets. In addition, when compared to cash-burning US giant Quibi, which has raised over $1.8 billion, Kuaidian’s can produce lower cost videos and integrate more interactive aspects. However, just looking at the competition within China with short video platforms Douyin, Kuaishou, the real question will be whether Kuaidian can break through the “internet traffic ceiling” and break into “broader circles”.
Today, Kuaidian is actively seeking to break into “broader circles”. It is rapidly expanding the user base and wants to turn the reading platform enthusiasts into fans of Kuaidian’s podcasts and short videos. Kuaidian also wants to improve the quality of its original short video series, picking the best text short stories to adapt into short and long dramas. Finally, Kuaidian also seeks to collaborate with top Chinese production companies. Sources leaked that Kuaidian wants to release 20-30 original series with 10+ episodes by the end of the year.
About the Author and Translator
Bonnie Young runs the Amplified blog. She shares her insights on market trends from US to Asia and interviews founders that are shaking up the tech scene. Please reach out to her on LinkedIn with your questions and feedback. She is currently looking for a growth equity or VC role in the Bay Area.