China's GoPro rival Insta360 plans IPO in 2020

March 21, 2019 12:32
Insta360, a Chinese company that sells 360-degree video cameras, has raised US$30 million in its latest funding round. Photo: Insta360

Insta360, a Chinese firm that makes 360-degree cameras, announced the completion of its Series C-plus funding round as it revealed plans to launch a domestic initial public offering as soon as next year, CNBC reports.

A rival of California-based GoPro, Insta360 said it has raised US$30 million in its latest funding round, backed by Everest Venture Capital, MG Holdings and Huajin Capital, among other investors. It did not disclose its post-money valuation.

The fresh capital will be used for research and development, marketing and after-sales services in its key international markets, including the United States and Japan.

The proceeds will also be used for the launch of branded stores in major Chinese cities and international markets this year. The firm’s products are currently sold in retail outlets, including Apple Stores.

Founded in 2014 by Liu Jingkang, the Shenzhen-based tech firm considers itself as the world leader in 360-degree cameras. Its flagship products include Insta360 ONE for amateurs and 8K Insta360 PRO for professional users creating virtual reality content. Its past backers include IDG Capital, Qiming Ventures, home appliance maker Suning Holdings Group and file-sharing service Xunlei.

While GoPro has been reporting substantial losses and a downturn in sales, Liu told TechCrunch in an interview that the company has been profitable since 2017, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in revenue of 130 percent between 2016 and 2018.

In a separate interview with CNBC, Liu revealed the firm's IPO plans. “We plan on an IPO in 2020 and take on new investments from the public market so we can more aggressively innovate and change the camera industry," he said, adding that the company plans to list in China but has not yet decided on a specific location.

Liu told CNBC that Insta360 cameras that plug into smartphones have an "enormous market”, noting that the industry is “where mobile phones were in 2008”. He also expected families and individuals will be consuming virtual reality content for entertainment in the future, thereby providing a huge market for Insta360 business.

On the other hand, Liu warned that a worsening of the trade war between China and the United States would have an impact on the prices of products.

“We see ourselves as well defended against that,” he said. “Even if there are price rises, we don't see it as a significant threat to our business. Our flagship camera is already on the upper end of the action camera market.”

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