Chen Shaojie is the founder and CEO of DouYu, a leading Chinese video game live streaming platform and a pioneer in the eSports industry. Founded in 2014, DouYu allows users to enjoy immersive and interactive games and entertainment live streaming by posting comments in real time. Despite the regulatory headwinds in 2021, there is no denying that Chen has been able to successfully build one of the largest game-streaming platforms in China.
In this new alumni series, we track down CKGSB’s most influential graduates, many of whom have gone on to lead unicorn companies – privately held companies valued at USD $1 billion or more. According to CB Insights – a global platform which provides authoritative and up-to-date information on the world’s billion-dollar private companies – China has created a total of 217 unicorn companies between 2017 to 2021. Thirty-nine (or 18%) of these companies are run by CKGSB alumni, including 35 companies where CKGSB alumni are founders or co-founders, and 4 companies where they serve as the chairman, CEO or president.
As China’s leading business school, it’s not surprising that CKGSB has been able to produce so many business leaders playing a pivotal role in China’s economic development. More than 18,000 successful entrepreneurs, industry leaders and executives of multinational corporations have chosen to study at CKGSB for the original China insights, world-class faculty and peer-to-peer learning with China’s movers-and-shakers. More than half of CKGSB’s alumni are at the CEO or Chairman level and, collectively, lead one-fifth of China’s most valuable brands.
Turning a hobby into a business
Chen Shaojie attended Shandong Youth University of Political Science, majoring in computer science. However, the 21-year-old Chen dropped out in his freshman year and found a job developing online games in Wuhan, Hubei province in 2006. Turning his passion into a career, Chen, together with Zhang Wenming co-founded an online video game platform called Zhangmenren in 2008. It was later acquired by Shengqu Games, an online game operator and publisher.
In 2010, Chen bought AcFun, China’s first video platform. Danmu (literally translated as “bullet-words”, allows users to commentate live during a video). He launched DouYu TV four years later.
DouYu grew rapidly in just a few years and attracted millions of broadcasters, users, and investors. In 2017, the cumulative downloads of DouYu were approximately 25 million. In 2018, Tencent valued the company at USD $2.5 billion and invested USD $630 million. In 2019, DouYu officially listed on the Nasdaq.
At the height of success, Chen ranked 34th in “Hurun Under 40s China Rich List 2020” with a wealth of RMB 5.5 billion. However, it has been a tough time for game-streaming companies especially since July 2021 when China stopped issuing new game licenses. According to its financial reports, DouYu posted a net loss of RMB 193.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Despite the challenges, Chen said that in the future he and the company will continue to “leverage our innovative and interactive model, as well as our rich content across various formats including livestreaming, videos, graphics, and communities – to continue exploring new growth initiatives as we build on our leading position in the gaming livestreaming industry.”