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Google takes an interest in e-sports with $120 million investment

This is Google's second-ever investment in a Chinese startup, with the first being AI firm Mobvoi back in 2015.

Published onJanuary 5, 2018

  • Google confirmed it is leading a $120 million investment in Chushou
  • Chushou is a Chinese online e-sports platform that focuses on mobile game livestreaming
  • Google did not say how large its investment and stake are

Android might be the most popular mobile operating system in China, but Google is barred from having its search engine be available in the country. “Oh well,” say the folks from Mountain View. “I guess we’ll help to throw $120 million at a Chinese online e-sports platform.”

And throw money it did, as CNBC reports that the search giant is leading the seven-figure investment in Chushou, the aforementioned platform.

Both companies confirmed the investment, though neither Google or Chushou said how big (or small) is Google’s stake or how much Chushou is valued at following the investment round. Google did say that it will help the platform gain a worldwide presence and increase its already sizable 8 million user base.

Either way, this might seem like a strange move, seeing how this is only Google’s second investment in a Chinese startup. The first was artificial intelligence startup Mobvoi, which saw Google attain a minority stake during a $75 million investment round back in 2015.

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Looking at the bigger picture, things start to make more sense. For starters, e-sports has become a hot field in recent years, particularly in China, where twice as many people as in the US play mobile games. Seeing how Chushou is an online e-sports platform that focuses on mobile game livestreams, it’s a good time as any for companies to start investing.

More significantly, the investment allows Google to remain relevant in the Chinese market, particularly in the eyes of China’s population of young internet users. Remember that Google’s search engine is barred from the country, and even though Android is extremely popular, software skins don’t exactly scream “Google.”

As such, it makes sense for Google to continually make headway through other means. Last May, Google DeepMind’s Alpha Go took on top Chinese Go players, while Google also opened an AI lab in Beijing this past December.

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