Screenshot of Youku home page
Type of site
|Public (NYSE: YOKU)|
(required to upload and/or comment on videos)
|Launched||December 21, 2003|
|Revenue||US$ 649.5 million (2014)|
|79 (April 2014[update])|
Youku Inc., formerly Youku.com Inc., doing business as Youku (simplified Chinese: 优酷; traditional Chinese: 優酷; pinyin: Yōukù; literally: "excellent (and) cool"), is a video hosting service based in Beijing, China.
On March 12, 2012, Youku reached an agreement to acquire Tudou in a stock-for-stock transaction, the new entity being named Youku Tudou Inc. It has more than 500 million monthly active users, with 800 million daily video views.
Youku is one of China's top online video and streaming service platforms, alongside with iQiyi, Sohu, LeTV, V.QQ.com (Tencent Video), PPTV, 56.com and Funshion. However, Youku's domination in the Chinese market has been toppled by its competitor Baidu's iQiyi.
Youku was founded by Victor Koo (S: 古永锵, T: 古永鏘, P: Gǔ Yǒngqiāng), former President of Chinese Internet portal Sohu. Initial funding for the site came from 1Verge, a fund raised by Koo. A beta version of the site was launched with limited geographic reach in June 2006, and the website was formally launched in December 2006. In 2007, the company received $25 million in funding from venture capitalists. In December 2009, the company announced that it had raised a total of $110 million in private equity funding. Major investors include Brookside (Bain) Capital, Sutter Hill Ventures, Maverick Capital, and Chengwei Ventures.
The company initially emphasized user-generated content but has since shifted its focus to professionally produced videos licensed from over 1,500 content partners.
As of January 2010, Youku.com was ranked #1 in the Chinese Internet video sector according to Internet metrics provider CR-Nielsen, (keeping in mind that YouTube is banned in China). In 2008, Youku partnered with Myspace in China. Later that year, Youku became the sole online video provider embedded in the China Edition of popular web browser Mozilla Firefox.
Youku recorded gross revenues of 200 million RMB in 2009.
On December 8, 2010, Youku was listed at the New York Stock Exchange for its first time. The stock closed at $33.44 on its first day of trading giving the company a market capitalization of approximately $3.3 billion. For the first 9 months of 2010 Youku reported revenue of $35.1 million and recorded a loss of $25 million during this period. YouKu.com seems to have no relation to the Chinese domain youku.cn.
Victor Koo was once an employee of Bain & Company, one of the most prominent management consulting firms in the world. 
Youku permits users to upload videos of arbitrary length. Youku has partnered with over 1,500 license holders, including television stations, distributors, and film and TV production companies in China that regularly upload media content on the site.
Youku allows the Government of China to check for inappropriate or offensive videos (see Internet censorship in the People's Republic of China).
Youku's video library includes many full-length films and TV episodes. Viewers from around the world can see these films on Youku for free, though often with Chinese subtitles. Other popular sites such as YouTube cannot display this content because of copyright restrictions, but these laws either do not exist in China or are poorly enforced, enabling Youku to broadcast copyrighted content from their website without license.In January 2010, Youku implemented a digital fingerprinting technology intended to eliminate copyright infringing content on the site.
On March 12, 2012, two of the biggest online video companies in China, Youku and Tudou, announced plans to merge. At the time of the announcement, Youku had 21.8 percent of market share and Tudou had 13.7 percent. The name of the new company would be named Youku Tudou Inc.
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- Global Times - Video sites cooperate on copyrighted films Archived December 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
- INTERVIEW - Youku eyes overseas listing, partnerships
- Youku Investor Relations
- China’s Top 2 Video Portals YouKu and Tudou to Combine China Internet Watch, March 12, 2013
- "Chinese Web Video Rivals To Merge". March 12, 2012.
- Official website (Mobile) (Chinese)
- Corporate information (English)
- Epstein, Gady. "China Groupon Clones’ Strategy: Burn Money Like Youku.com". Forbes. May 3, 2011.