Startups Venture

Snow, A Korea-Based Selfie App With Sights Set On China, Raises A $50 Million Series A

Morning Report: Korea-based selfie app, Snow, raised $50 Million in a Series A funding round by Sequoia Capital China and Softbank.

Aside from the occasional visit via VPNs, Snap is one of the many social media tools blocked in China. Fortunately for Chinese users, another selfie taking app, this time based in Korea, has gained popularity among Chinese investors.

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Snow, a platform which started off as the Korean clone of Snap, now allows users to take selfies with its AR camera and then share their gifs, images, and videos via other social media and messaging platforms. The company just raised $50 million for its China operation in a Series A funding round led by Sequoia Capital China with Softbank joining the round. The announcement adds to the long list of cash-heavy early-stage investments that have defined China’s VC market over the past five years. Snow has raised a total of $95 million to date.

Snow’s other investors include Line, a Japan-based mobile messaging platform. According to Techcrunch, Line went public in 2016 with a U.S.-Japan IPO that raised $1.1 billion. Following the messaging startup’s public debut, Line invested $45 million in Snow in 2016. In February 2017, it doubled its 25 percent stake in the company to a reported 48.6 percent. Line and Snow share Naver as a parent company.

Snow successfully launched in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, and moved over to the mainland in 2016, attempting to tap into the region’s lucrative millennial market. The startup’s success drew the attention of established social media giant Facebook, which was denied the opportunity to acquire Snow in October 2016—another setback for Facebook’s China ambitions. According to TechCrunch, the app had 40-50 million monthly active users in January 2017, with China representing it’s largest market.

In the same period, it was also reported that China’s mobile internet usage hit half of the country’s total population of nearly 1.4 billion. To put that into perspective, that is more than two times the population of the United States. So to say that the market potential is significant is a bit of an understatement.

With the app’s massive potential for growth in the mainland, we’ll have to wait and see if Snow will have larger competitors to contend with in the future. For now, it’s a bit too soon to tell.

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Top Image Credit: Li-Anne Dias.