Youku raises $30 mil from Maverick

Video site also gets $10 mil equipment loan

SHANGHAI -- Youku.com, China's largest video Web site, has raised $30 million from U.S. hedge fund Maverick Capital and a group of its previous investors.

Shanghai-based Youku, which in June reported an average of more than 150 million daily video views, said late Tuesday that Dallas-based Maverick led this round of investment. It was Maverick's first backing of Youku.

"The money will be used to expand the sales and marketing network, enhance the cooperation with media partners and support the expansion of the online video platform," Youku spokeswoman Echo Qin said.

The latest cash backing also came from Youku's previous investors: Silicon Valley's oldest firm, Sutter Hill, Farallon Capital and Brookside Capital, and from Shanghai-based Chengwei Ventures. During the past two years, these firms invested a total of $40 million in Youku.

Youku also said that it had landed a loan of $10 million in equipment from San Jose, Calif.-based Western Technology Investment.

In June, Youku was conspicuously absent from a list of Web sites granted online video licenses. Founder and CEO Victor Koo told The Hollywood Reporter then that Youku would work closely with the government and was hopeful it would get its license soon.

Around the same time, Youku announced pacts to distribute video online for more than 100 traditional media groups such as Shanghai TV, Beijing TV, China Film Group, Universal Music and EMI Music.

Established in December 2006, Youku became profitable in 2008, Qin said.

Before this round of investment, Youku had $10 million in cash reserves, "enough for normal operations," Qin said.

"Our main source of income is currently from advertising," she said, adding that other income comes from downloading music to cell phones in cooperation with China Mobile and Chinese music providers.
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