Asia

Chinese App That Gives ‘Plastic Surgery’ to Your Selfies Wants a $1 Billion IPO

If you’ve been searching for touch-up apps to add some “oomph” to your selfies, chances are you’ve come across one of Meitu’s.

Meitu is China’s most popular selfie app maker, and it’s eyes are currently on Hong Kong. The company hopes to raise up to $1 billion through an initial public offering (IPO) in the city.

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Meitu applied with Hong Kong regulators on Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported. If successful, it could be one of the biggest IPOs in the city, South China Morning Post said. Earlier this year, Meitu raised $136 million in a Series D funding round.

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While Meitu is hopeful, it also listed some risks, Bloomberg pointed. These include failure to keep up with constantly-evolving tastes, government scrutiny over app misuse and rising component costs for its hardware business, where the majority of its revenue comes from.

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Based in Xiamen, Meitu offers a number of apps designed for editing photos and selfies. These apps allow users to whiten skin, remove blemishes, slim bodies, grow taller, enlarge eyes and  much more. With effects that are so polished, it’s easy for the unsuspecting to mistake them as plastic surgery.

The demand for such apps is rooted in a booming cultural trend. Apparently, more and more Chinese women are concerned about their appearances, stemming from social media pressure.

If apps aren’t enough, there’s always the more realistic option of getting the job done — students and celebrity fans do it.

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Unfortunately for Meitu, numbers don’t always translate to cold hard cash. The company revealed a loss of 2.2 billion RMB ($330 million) in the first half of 2016. In response, it aims to increase advertisements and establish e-commerce by recommending cosmetic brands to users.

Whether Meitu scores in Hong Kong remains to be seen, but with the goal of making the world “a more beautiful place,” why not?

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