In 2012 Yu Jianjun and Chen Xiaoyu co-founded Ximalaya in Shanghai in a bid to create what they described as “the audio version of YouTube” with Chinese characteristics. For instance, the platform has a tipping feature that allows fans to support their favourite shows financially.

In 2014, the start-up raised $11.5 million in Series A funding from SIG China, Kleiner Perkins and Sierra Ventures. By the time of its Series E round of financing in 2018, the valuation had risen to $3.4 billion and Ximalaya then expanded its audio empire by investing $100 million in San Francisco-based podcaster Himalaya Media in 2019, becoming the biggest investor in the rival to Spotify.

Ximalaya had more than 200 million monthly active users this year, according to its filing for a listing on the New York Stock Exchange in April 2021. The company then pulled its application, reportedly after pressure from the Chinese authorities to sell its shares in Hong Kong instead.

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