Tencent leads $350M investment in Chinese photo/streaming app Kuaishou

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We reported last month that China-based photo app firm Kuaishou is gearing up for an IPO in the U.S. later this year. Well the company, which also offers live-streaming video in its service, has stopped to refuel its tanks first after it raised $350 million in fresh funding led by Chinese internet giant Tencent.

Tencent, Asia’s highest valued tech company, confirmed to TechCrunch that it led the financing as a new investor. It didn’t, however, disclose whether existing backers — which include Baidu, Sequoia and DCM — also participated in the round, which was first reported by Bloomberg. In our previous report we said the company’s valuation had reached $3 billion, but neither it nor its investors are commenting on that figure.

Kuaishou was founded in 2011 and it began life as a destination for photo sharing on mobile. That side of its business has picked up 400 million users but, like other Chinese tech firms and even Western photo apps like Instagram, it has ventured into live-streaming with some success. Kuaishou claims to have reached 50 million daily users, with five million videos uploaded to its service each day.

Following the investment, Kuaishou said it will work with Tencent and Baidu on product, tech and distribution. It plans to use the capital to invest in artificial intelligence and other R&D to further develop its product.

While it doesn’t compete directly with Snapchat or Instagram in China — Kuaishou does offer an international product — its key domestic rivals include Miaopai, backed by Twitter-like firm Weibo, and dating service Momo, which is gaining some serious steam with its live-streaming product.