In June 2009, the first website of the company was launched by Xu Yi, followed by the official renaming in January 2010 to “Bilibili”. The name is connected with the manga culture.
The founder wanted to provide a better service than the existing video-sharing websites available at the time: Niconico and AcFun.
Between 2011 and 2014, Bilibili restructured its company scheme several times to find a way to overcome the restrictions imposed by PRC laws and regulations on foreign ownership of companies that engage in internet and other related businesses.
In August 2012, Bilibili started displaying its affiliation with the state-owned company Shanghai Media Group and the use of various content provider licenses.
Starting from November 2014, the guidance of the founder Xu Yi was replaced by Chen Rui, a billionaire tech tycoon, currently CEO and Chairman of the Board.
On March 28, 2018, BiliBili was listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol “BILI”. The net proceeds from the IPO were approximately $ 443.3 million.
In October 2018, the company entered into a definitive agreement with Tencent, for a capital injection of net proceeds of approximately $ 317.2 million. Later in the same month, BiliBili entered into a strategic collaboration with Tencent to ensure the sharing and the operating of existing and additional games on the platform.
In December of the same year, the Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao entered into business collaboration agreement with BiliBili to commercialize the company’s intellectual property assets. Under the agreement, Taobao will develop a dynamic ecosystem that will connect content creators, merchandise and users of both the platforms in this deal.
In April 2019 and June 2020, BiliBili seeks fresh capital to be invested. In 2019, they proposed to the market 2026 notes with a 1.375% interest rate per year, payable semiannual. In 2020, instead, the company proposed 2027 notes with an interest rate of 1.25% per year.
In April 2020, Sony Corporation invested in the company and entered into strategic collaboration arrangements. Sony will acquire a 4.98% minority stake with the deal for $ 400 million. During September 2020, BiliBili entered into a strategic partnership with Riot Games and secured a three-year exclusive license for live broadcasting the League of Legends E-Sports global events in China.
In February 2021, Bilibili announced the acquisition of Shanghai Yarun Culture Communications Co., Ltd, the parent company of the animation studio Haoliners Animation League and all its subsidiaries.
In March 2021, the company underwent a second listing at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange: net proceeds from this operation at $ 2.6 billion.
Structure of the company
The core customers of this company are the Gen Z+ individuals.
The user base is proliferating: in the fourth quarter of 2020, there were 202 million Monthly Average Users, from 130.3 MAU for the same period in 2019.
Bilibili has a special community membership. The access to this restricted group is granted after having passed a 100 multiple choice exam. The number of the members of this special community reached the 102.6 million mark in 2020, growing by 51.1% year over year.
The whole ecosystem that BiliBili built during the years can count on different formats of content and entertainment fruition.
The portfolio of content spans from video services to mobile games and value-added services.
In particular, the company states that “a comprehensive suite of video services is offered, with PUGV being the cornerstone of the content ecosystem, and live broadcasting and OGV being the major attractions to the platform”.
The PUGV are a crucial part of BiliBili’s content ecosystem: they contribute to 91% of the total video views on the platform.
To international investors, these services are equiparable to the ones offered by YouTube. Thanks to the advancement of technology and the low investments to be sustained to get a basic high-quality setup to shot videos, content creators are providing the users with a fulfilling experience, creating word-of-mouth.
This service is a natural extension of the already provided video services and allows users to interact with the content creators in real time.
Live broadcasting is particularly popular for the gaming enthusiasts, who follow their favourite e-sports athletes.
BiliBili produces content directly and through joint ventures for its OGV offering. Also, the company engages in licensing agreements to enrich its catalogue. From 2018 and 2020, BiliBili produced and co-produced 100 titles, covering Chinese and overseas anime, documentaries, variety shows, TV shows and movies.
The company’s strength when it comes to OGV is related to its anime library.
A large share of BiliBili’s users is composed by online games enthusiasts. Gaming is the second most popular category of the PUGV and the most popular category of live broadcasting.
As of 31 December 2020, the company operated 43 exclusively distributed mobile games, and hundreds of jointly operated mobile games.
Maoer and BiliBili Comic
In 2018, the company acquired a majority equity interest in Maoer Inc., an audio platform offering audio drama, such as music and audiobooks.
Moreover, during the same year, a deal to acquire NetEase Comics was finalized: this allowed the company to create BiliBili Comics, a mobile app offering anime and comic content.
The management expects BiliBili Comics and Maoer to score significant growth in the future.
The company generates revenues primarily from mobile games, VAS, advertising and e-commerce.
In 2020, 40% of BiliBili’s sales were attributable to the sales of in-game virtual items that enhance the game-playing experience of users.
Furthermore, the company receives revenues from various kinds of VAS: Bilibili can count on a premium membership program (43% of VAS sales), live broadcasting (34% of VAS sales) and other value-added services (Bilibili Comic and Maoer audio program).
Other sources of income are advertising inside the platforms and e-commerce of ACG-related merchandise. In fact, many users interested in a certain anime will be recommended to buy related products manufactured directly for BiliBili. Offline e-commerce sales are mainly related to the sale of event tickets and peripheral products.
Mr Rui Chen is the Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer.
Mr Chen has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of the Company since November 2014. He is a serial entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in the tech sector in China. Mr Rui led the strategic development of the company since its founding.
Before joining the company, Mr Chen co-founded Cheetah Mobile Inc. (NYSE: CMCM), a mobile internet company. In 2009, Mr Chen founded Beike Internet Security Co., Ltd. and served as its CEO from 2009 to 2010. Prior to that, Mr Chen served as general manager of Internet Security R&D at Kingsoft Corporation Limited (SEHK:03888), a leading software and internet service company, from 2001 to 2008.
Mr Chen received his bachelor’s degree from Chengdu University of Information Technology in 2001.
Mr Yi Xu is the Founder, Director and President.
Mr Yi Xu founded the company’s website in 2009 and has served as director and president since December 2013. Mr Xu has guided the company’s technological development and played an instrumental role in developing various ground-breaking interactive features.
Ms Ni Li is Vice Chairwoman of the Board of Directors, and serves as Chief Operating Officer.
Ms Ni Li has served as the company’s COO since November 2014 and vice chairwoman of the company’s board of directors since January 2015. Ms Li oversees the company’s overall business operation, building content ecosystem, commercialisation, strategic investment, and brand marketing.
Prior to joining the company, Ms Li was in charge of HR operations at Cheetah Mobile (NYSE: CMCM) from 2013 to 2014. Previously, Ms Li founded Goalcareer, a management consulting firm serving Fortune 500 companies and startups focusing on the semiconductor, telecommunication and internet sectors, and worked as its CEO from 2008 to 2012. Ms Li received a bachelor’s degree in Law from Lingnan Normal University in 2008.
Mr Xin Fan represents BiliBili as Chief Financial Officer.
Mr Xin Fan has served as CFO since September 2017. Prior to that, Mr Fan served as VP of Finance since April 2016. Before joining the company, Mr Fan was a finance director at NetEase (Nasdaq: NTES, HKEX: 9999) from 2011 to 2016. Prior to 2011, Mr Fan held various positions at KPMG Huazhen for eight years and served there as a senior manager from 2008 to 2011. Mr Fan received a Bachelor’s degree in international accounting from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in 2001.