In a stunning turn of events, Douyu International Holdings, a prominent video game live-streaming platform backed by Tencent Holdings, finds itself in the midst of a crisis as its founder and CEO, Chen Shaojie, has been arrested in Chengdu, China. The arrest revolves around allegations of operating an illegal casino, and the detained individual, identified as a 39-year-old man surnamed Chen, is currently under investigation. While local authorities have not disclosed further details, this development poses significant regulatory and operational challenges for Douyu.
The confirmation of Chen's arrest came through a statement on Douyu's official website. The company, quick to address concerns, assured stakeholders that its day-to-day operations remain unaffected. However, the statement also acknowledged the potential "material adverse impact" on Douyu's reputation and operations due to the ongoing detention and the impending legal processes. Douyu is actively devising contingency plans to navigate the complexities arising from Chen's arrest and the associated investigations.
Speculations about Chen's detention had been circulating for several weeks, with unverified claims linking it to gambling-related live-streaming sessions on the Douyu platform—a practice considered illegal in mainland China. This arrest amplifies concerns regarding the regulatory landscape surrounding major players in China's internet sector and underscores the multifaceted challenges faced by online platforms.
Founded in 2014, Douyu has solidified its position as one of China's top three video game live-streaming platforms, alongside main rival Huya, both boasting Tencent as a significant stakeholder. It's worth noting that Tencent's attempt to merge Douyu and Huya, amounting to $5.3 billion, was thwarted by China's antitrust watchdog in mid-2021. Another noteworthy player in the market is Kuaishou Technology.
Chen's entrepreneurial journey is integral to understanding Douyu's evolution. He previously founded Zhangmenren, a video gaming platform subsequently acquired by Shanghai-based Shenda Games. Following this, Chen served as the CEO of Acfun, a video-sharing platform similar to Bilibili, where he established a live-streaming business that eventually morphed into the Douyu we know today.
Douyu's journey to the public market included a notable initial public offering (IPO) in the United States in July 2019, raising a substantial $775 million. However, the company has not been immune to regulatory hurdles. The Cyberspace Administration of China conducted an on-site inspection earlier this year, focusing on issues such as explicit content on the platform. In response to identified problems, a working group was deployed in May to oversee Douyu's rectification process, particularly addressing concerns related to pornographic and vulgar content.
The arrest of CEO Chen has immediate market implications, with Douyu's shares experiencing a 5.9% decline and closing at $0.91 on November 21. This underscores the sensitive relationship between major corporate developments and stock performance. Douyu, in its latest statement, reaffirms its commitment to regulatory compliance, signaling its determination to navigate the evolving regulatory environment in China.
Beyond its immediate market impact, Chen's arrest prompts broader discussions about the intricate regulatory dynamics influencing the gaming and live-streaming sectors within China. The incident has potential repercussions for other major players in the industry, and stakeholders will keenly observe how Douyu addresses and mitigates the challenges that lie ahead.
By fLEXI tEAM