Google to Invest in Chinese P2P Startup Xunlei?

There’s a rumor going around that Google is investing in a Chinese P2P startup called Xunlei (or Thunder). Xunlei is reported to have between 75 million to 100 million downloads of its software, and has raised previous funding from Morningside and IDG Ventures. The rumor is that Google, along with Ceyuan Ventures, is participating in Xunlei’s next round of funding, and a source says that the pre-money valuation is around $100 million.

We haven’t been able to confirm this planned investment with the companies, but have heard this from three different sources in China and recently read the rumor here, too. We contacted Google and they naturally said “we don’t comment on speculation or rumors.” Ceyuan Ventures and Xunlei didn’t get back to us.

A source tells us that Xunlei’s software is getting an average of 140,000 downloads per day and the company has around 200 employees. The source also says that the company is working with television stations to do P2P downloads of television content that they attach ads to, and content partners include Phoenix TV and Hunan Satellite TV. There’s even a rumor from site ChinaByte that the company plans to partner with Horizon Media Group’s mobile community website 139.com to release an IM service soon.
Last week we emailed the guys at Pacific Epoch, a research company that looks at all things related to China and the Internet, to learn more about the startup. General Manager at Pacific Epoch Sage Brennan said:

Xunlei (“Thunder,” in English) has long been a popular download accelerator, for pulling in large files like video and e-magazines. Xunlei has recently leveraged Thunder (the application) to build a content-based platform, which offers and promotes video, audio, magazines, applications and other content categories. They are basically gunning for mop.com, toodou.com and all of China’s other big content players. I suppose the advantage is in Thunder’s background in serving up large files, as opposed to the UGC-built sites that have limited technology support for serving up, say, a feature-length film.

Brennan says about the Chinese Internet content market:

The portal business appears to be healthy and growing: Chinese Internet users are pounding away at anything that resembles entertainment, and all of the content sites are seeing tremendous growth as a result. This is still an ad-supported content play, which carries risk in China, where the online ads market is still approaching adolescence.

If anyone has any more details about Xunlei or the rumor that Google is planning to invest in them, contact us, or leave comments.

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