Company Quick10K Filing
Momo
20-F 2020-12-31 Filed 2021-04-27
20-F 2019-12-31 Filed 2020-04-28
20-F 2018-12-31 Filed 2019-04-26
20-F 2017-12-31 Filed 2018-04-26
20-F 2016-12-31 Filed 2017-04-26
20-F 2015-12-31 Filed 2016-04-25

MOMO 20F Annual Report

Part I
Item 1. Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers
Item 2. Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable
Item 3. Key Information
Item 4. Information on The Company
Item 4A. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects
Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees
Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions
Item 8. Financial Information
Item 9. The Offer and Listing
Item 10. Additional Information
Item 11. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 12. Description of Securities Other Than Equity Securities
Part II
Item 13. Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies
Item 14. Material Modifications To The Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds
Item 15. Controls and Procedures
Item 16A. Audit Committee Financial Expert
Item 16B. Code of Ethics
Item 16C. Principal Accountant Fees and Services
Item 16D. Exemptions From The Listing Standards for Audit Committees
Item 16E. Purchases of Equity Securities By The Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers
Item 16F. Change in Registrant's Certifying Accountant
Item 16G. Corporate Governance
Item 16H. Mine Safety Disclosure
Part III
Item 17. Financial Statements
Item 18. Financial Statements
Item 19. Exhibits
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Momo Earnings 2020-12-31

Balance SheetIncome StatementCash Flow

Form 20-F
Shorter of the lease term or estimated useful livesfalseFY00016106012019-04-302020-04-302020-06-01Deposits with third-party payment channels are mainly the cash deposited in certain third-party payment channels by the Group for the broadcasters and the gift recipients who received the virtual items in the value-added service to withdraw their revenue sharing and the customer payment to the Group’s account through the third-party payment channels.Input VAT mainly occurred from the purchasing of goods or other services, property and equipment and advertising activities. It is subject to verification by related tax authorities before offsetting the VAT output.Advance to suppliers were primarily for advertising fees and related service fees.The calculation of the weighted average number of ordinary shares for the purpose of diluted net income per share has considered the effect of certain potentially dilutive securities. For the year ended December 31, 2018, an incremental weighted average number of 14,821,852 ordinary shares from the assumed exercise of share options and RSUs and an incremental weighted average number of 11,251,916 ordinary shares resulting from the assumed conversion of convertible senior notes were included. The amount of RMB4,382 as of December 31, 2019 represented the uncollected amounts for the mobile marketing services provided to Hunan Qindao Network Media Technology Co., Ltd.The amount of RMB29,596 and RMB19,462 as of December 31, 2019 and 2020 primarily represented the unpaid revenue sharing of live video service to Hunan Qindao Network Media Technology Co., Ltd.The sales to Hunan Qindao Network Media Technology Co., Ltd. represented mobile marketing services provided.The purchases from Hunan Qindao Network Media Technology Co., Ltd. and Beijing Shiyue Haofeng Media Co., Ltd. mainly represent the Revenue Sharing.The purchase from Beijing Santi Cloud Union Technology Co., Ltd. and Beijing Santi Cloud Time Technology Co., Ltd. is mainly related to its bandwidth services.Corporate lending receivable was a loan to a third-party entity during 2018, which matured in June 2020. The annual interest rate is 10%, which can be waived if certain conditions are met. The third-party entity repaid RMB8,000 during the year ended December 31, 2020. The Company then assessed the collectability of the remaining loan balance as not probable, and thus recorded impairment loss in full amounting to RMB32,000 for the year ended December 31, 2020.On January 9, 2015, the Group entered into a partnership agreement to subscribe partnership interest, as a limited partner, in Jingwei Chuangteng (Hangzhou) L.P. (“Jingwei”). According to the partnership agreement, the Group committed to subscribe 4.9% partnership interest in Jingwei for RMB30,000. Due to Jingwei’s further rounds of financing, the Group’s partnership interest was diluted to 2.4% as of December 31, 2019 and 2020. The Group recognized its share of partnership profit in Jingwei of RMB16,168, RMB8,977 and RMB4,964 during the year ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively.On August 18, 2015, the Group entered into a partnership agreement to subscribe partnership interest, as a limited partner, in Hangzhou Aqua Ventures Investment Management L.P. (“Aqua”). According to the partnership agreement, the Group committed to subscribe 42.7% partnership interest for RMB50,000. The Group recognized its share of partnership profit or (loss) in Aqua of RMB20,797, RMB1,415 and RMB(42,458) for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. The Group received distribution from Aqua of RMB1,153 during the year ended December 31, 2020.On September 12, 2018, the Group entered into a partnership agreement to subscribe partnership interest, as a limited partner, in Chengdu Tianfu Qianshi Equity Investment Partnership L.P. (“Tianfu”). According to the partnership agreement, the Group committed to subscribe 5.1% partnership interest for RMB30,000, which had been fully paid as of December 31, 2020. The Group recognized its share of partnership profit or (loss) in Tianfu of RMB8,586, RMB(2,121) and RMB237 during the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively.The Group invested in certain preferred shares of private companies. As these investments were neither debt security nor in-substance common stock, they were accounted as an equity securities without readily determinable fair values and measured at fair value using the measurement alternative. There has been no orderly transactions for the identical or a similar investment of the same issuer noted for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020.Others represent equity method investments or equity securities without readily determinable fair values that are individually insignificant.On September 7, 2020, the Company engaged Credit Suisse Securities(USA) LLC (“Credit Suisse”) as agent to facilitate the share repurchase program. 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Table of Contents
 
 
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
 
 
Form
20-F
 
 
(Mark One)
 
REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR 12(g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
or
 
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
or
 
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from
                    
to
                    
or
 
SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Date of event requiring this shell company report
For the transition period from
                    
to
                    
Commission file number:
001-36765
 
 
Momo Inc.
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
 
 
N/A
(Translation of Registrant’s name into English)
Cayman Islands
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
20th Floor, Block B
Tower 2, Wangjing SOHO
No. 1 Futongdong Street
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100102
People’s Republic of China
(Address of principal executive offices)
Jonathan Xiaosong Zhang, Chief Financial Officer
Telephone:
+86-10-5731-0567
Email: ir@immomo.com
20th Floor, Block B
Tower 2, Wangjing SOHO
No. 1 Futongdong Street
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100102
People’s Republic of China
(Name, Telephone,
E-mail
and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
 
Title of Each Class
 
Trading
Symbol(s)
 
Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered
American depositary shares (each American depositary share representing two Class A ordinary share, par value US$0.0001 per share)
 
MOMO
 
The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC
(The Nasdaq Global Select Market)
     
Class A ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share*
     
The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC
(The Nasdaq Global Select Market)
 
*
Not for trading, but only in connection with the listing on The Nasdaq Global Select Market of American depositary shares. 
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None
(Title of Class)
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act:
None
(Title of Class)
 
 
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the Issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report. 
331,617,042 Class A ordinary shares and 80,364,466 Class B ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share, as of December 31, 2020.
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    ☒  
Yes
    ☐  No
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.    ☐  Yes    ☒  
No
Note – Checking the box above will not relieve any registrant required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 from their obligations under those Sections.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    ☒  
Yes
    ☐  No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    ☒  
 Yes
    ☐  No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer or an emerging growth company. See definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one): 
 
Large accelerated filer      Accelerated filer  
       
Non-accelerated filer
     Emerging growth company  
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards† provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  ☐
 
The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.    
  Yes    ☐  No
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
 
U.S. GAAP  ☒   
International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the International
Accounting Standards Board  ☐
 
   Other  ☐
If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.    ☐  Item 17    ☐  Item 18 
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).    ☐  Yes    
  No
(APPLICABLE ONLY TO ISSUERS INVOLVED IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS)
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court.    ☐  Yes    ☐  No
 
 
 

TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
  
 
1
 
   
  
 
1
 
   
  
 
2
 
Item 1.
 
  
 
2
 
Item 2.
 
  
 
2
 
Item 3.
 
  
 
2
 
Item 4.
 
  
 
40
 
Item 4A.
 
  
 
65
 
Item 5.
 
  
 
66
 
Item 6.
 
  
 
90
 
Item 7.
 
  
 
100
 
Item 8.
 
  
 
103
 
Item 9.
 
  
 
104
 
Item 10.
 
  
 
105
 
Item 11.
 
  
 
119
 
Item 12.
 
  
 
120
 
   
  
 
121
 
Item 13.
 
  
 
121
 
Item 14.
 
  
 
121
 
Item 15.
 
  
 
121
 
Item 16A.
 
  
 
123
 
Item 16B.
 
  
 
123
 
Item 16C.
 
  
 
123
 
Item 16D.
 
  
 
124
 
Item 16E.
 
  
 
124
 
Item 16F.
 
  
 
124
 
Item 16G.
 
  
 
124
 
Item 16H.
 
  
 
125
 
   
  
 
125
 
Item 17.
 
  
 
125
 
Item 18.
 
  
 
125
 
Item 19.
 
  
 
125
 
   
  
 
132
 
 
i

INTRODUCTION
In this annual report, except where the context otherwise requires and for purposes of this annual report only:
 
   
“$,” “dollars,” “US$” or “U.S. dollars” refers to the legal currency of the United States;
 
   
“ADSs” refers to our American depositary shares, each representing two Class A ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share;
 
   
“China” or the “PRC” refers to the People’s Republic of China, and solely for the purpose of this annual report, excludes Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan;
 
   
“MAUs” refers to monthly active users. We define Momo MAUs during a given calendar month as Momo users who were daily active users for at least one day during the
30-day
period counting back from the last day of such calendar month. Momo daily active users are users who accessed our platform through mobile devices and utilized any of the functions on our platform on a given day.
 
   
“Momo Inc.,” “we,” “us,” “our company,” or “our” refers to our holding company Momo Inc., its subsidiaries and its consolidated affiliated entities and their subsidiaries;
 
   
“ordinary shares” refers to our Class A and Class B ordinary shares, par value US$0.0001 per share; and
 
   
“RMB” or “Renminbi” refers to the legal currency of China.
FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION
This annual report on Form
20-F
contains forward-looking statements that reflect our current expectations and views of future events. These statements are made under the “safe harbor” provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. You can identify these forward-looking statements by words or phrases such as “may,” “could,” “should,” “would,” “will,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “aim,” “estimate,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” “likely to,” “project,” “continue,” “potential” or other similar expressions. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements about:
 
   
our goals and strategies;
 
   
our future business development, financial condition and results of operations;
 
   
the expected growth of mobile social networking platforms, live video services, mobile marketing services, mobile games and online entertainment services in China;
 
   
our expectations regarding demand for and market acceptance of our services;
 
   
our expectations regarding our user base and level of user engagement;
 
   
our monetization strategies;
 
   
our plans to invest in our technology infrastructure;
 
   
competition in our industry; and
 
   
relevant government policies and regulations relating to our industry.
 
1

You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and you should read these statements in conjunction other sections of this annual report, in particular the risk factors disclosed in “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors.” These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Moreover, we operate in a rapidly evolving environment. New risks emerge from time to time and it is impossible for our management to predict all risk factors, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ from those contained in any forward-looking statement. The forward-looking statements made in this annual report relate only to events or information as of the date on which the statements are made in this annual report. We do not undertake any obligation to update or revise the forward-looking statements except as required under applicable law.
PART I
 
Item 1.
Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers
Not applicable.
 
Item 2.
Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable
Not applicable.
 
Item 3.
Key Information
 
A.
Selected Financial Data
The following table presents the selected consolidated financial information of our company. The selected consolidated statements of comprehensive income data for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020 and the selected consolidated balance sheets data as of December 31, 2019 and 2020 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements included in this annual report beginning on page
F-1.
The selected consolidated statements of comprehensive income data for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2017 and the selected consolidated balance sheets data as of December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements not included in this annual report. Our audited consolidated financial statements are prepared and presented in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States, or U.S. GAAP. Our historical results do not necessarily indicate results expected for any future period. You should read the following selected financial data in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and related notes and “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” included elsewhere in this annual report.
 
    
Year Ended December 31,
 
    
        2016        

RMB
   
        2017        

RMB
   
        2018        

RMB
   
        2019        

RMB
   
        2020        

RMB
   
        2020        

US$
 
          
(in thousands, except share and share-related data)
 
Selected Data of Consolidated Statements of Operations
            
Net Revenues
(1)
     3,707,358       8,886,390       13,408,421       17,015,089       15,024,188       2,302,558  
Cost and expenses
(2)
            
Cost of revenues
     (1,619,327     (4,373,377     (7,182,897     (8,492,096     (7,976,781     (1,222,495
Research and development expenses
     (208,647     (346,144     (760,644     (1,095,031     (1,167,677     (178,954
Sales and marketing expenses
     (647,238     (1,467,376     (1,812,262     (2,690,824     (2,813,922     (431,252
General and administrative expenses
     (259,712     (422,005     (640,023     (1,527,282     (763,150     (116,958
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Total cost and expenses
     (2,734,924     (6,608,902     (10,395,826     (13,805,233     (12,721,530     (1,949,659
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Other operating income
     2,659       156,764       253,697       344,843       228,777       35,062  
Income from operations
     975,093       2,434,252       3,266,292       3,554,699       2,531,435       387,961  
Interest income
     54,603       145,568       272,946       407,542       444,471       68,118  
Interest expense
     —         —         (56,503     (78,611     (78,872     (12,088
Other gain or loss, net
     (39,283     (30,085     (43,200     (15,711     1,500       230  
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Income before income tax and share of income on equity method investments
     990,413       2,549,735       3,439,535       3,867,919       2,898,534       444,221  
 
2

    
Year Ended December 31,
 
    
        2016        

RMB
   
        2017        

RMB
   
        2018        

RMB
   
        2019        

RMB
   
        2020        

RMB
   
        2020        

US$
 
          
(in thousands, except share and share-related data)
 
Income tax expens
     (34,638     (445,001     (699,648     (883,801     (755,620     (115,804
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Income before share of income on equity method investments
     955,775       2,104,734       2,739,887       2,984,118       2,142,914       328,417  
Share of income (loss) on equity method investments
     23,194       39,729       48,660       (23,350     (42,522     (6,517
Net income
     978,969       2,144,463       2,788,547       2,960,768       2,100,392       321,900  
Less: net loss attributable to
non-controlling
interest
     —         (3,635     (27,228     (10,122     (3,092     (474
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Net income attributable to Momo Inc.
     978,969       2,148,098       2,815,775       2,970,890       2,103,484       322,374  
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Net income attributable to ordinary shareholders
     978,969       2,148,098       2,815,775       2,970,890       2,103,484       322,374  
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Net income per share attributable to ordinary shareholders
            
Basic
     2.54       5.44       6.92       7.15       5.05       0.77  
Diluted
     2.41       5.17       6.59       6.76       4.83       0.74  
Weighted average shares used in computing net income per ordinary share
            
Basic
     377,335,923       394,549,323       407,009,875       415,316,627       416,914,898       416,914,898  
Diluted
     407,041,165       415,265,078       433,083,643       451,206,091       452,081,642       452,081,642  
 
    
Year Ended December 31,
 
    
        2016        

US$
    
        2017        

US$
    
        2018        
US$
    
        2019        

US$
    
        2020        

US$
 
Cash dividends per ordinary share
(3)
     —          —          —          0.31        0.38  
 
(1)
Components of our net revenues are presented in the following table:
 
    
Year Ended December 31,
 
    
        2016        

RMB
    
        2017        

RMB
    
        2018        

RMB
    
        2019        

RMB
    
        2020        

RMB
    
        2020        

US$
 
    
(in thousands)
 
Live video service
     2,534,604        7,429,906        10,709,491        12,448,131        9,637,579        1,477,024  
Value-added service
     449,781        695,798        1,883,150        4,105,963        5,112,182        783,476  
Mobile marketing
     441,644        514,279        500,321        331,822        198,197        30,375  
Mobile games
     236,238        241,388        130,392        92,451        39,564        6,063  
Other services
     45,091        5,019        185,067        36,722        36,666        5,620  
  
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
 
Total
     3,707,358        8,886,390        13,408,421        17,015,089        15,024,188        2,302,558  
  
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
 
 
(2)
Share-based compensation expenses were allocated in cost and expenses as follows:
 
    
Year Ended December 31,
 
    
        2016        

RMB
    
        2017        

RMB
    
        2018        

RMB
    
        2019        

RMB
    
        2020        

RMB
    
        2020        

US$
 
    
(in thousands)
 
Cost of revenues
     18,521        13,547        21,661        23,972        18,449        2,827  
Research and development expenses
     37,455        59,190        152,806        175,053        175,870        26,953  
Sales and marketing expenses
     39,139        79,032        142,927        196,311        158,902        24,353  
General and administrative expenses
     115,724        183,204        263,419        1,012,896        325,465        49,880  
  
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
 
Total
     210,839        334,973        580,813        1,408,232        678,686        104,013  
  
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
 
The following table presents our selected consolidated balance sheet data as of December 31, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
 
3

    
As of December 31,
 
    
        2016        

RMB
    
        2017        

RMB
    
        2018        

RMB
    
        2019        

RMB
    
        2020        

RMB
    
        2020        

US$
 
    
(in thousands)
 
Selected Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:
                 
Cash and cash equivalents
     1,788,268        4,462,194        2,468,034        2,612,743        3,363,942        515,547  
Total assets
     5,344,283        8,471,188        18,965,538        22,483,681        23,220,556        3,558,706  
Total liabilities
     942,289        1,719,088        7,942,679        8,764,899        8,385,227        1,285,092  
Total equity
     4,401,994        6,752,100        11,022,859        13,718,782        14,835,329        2,273,614  
 
(3)
Total cash dividends for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2020 were US$128.6 million and US$158.6 million.
Changing in Reporting Currency
Our business is primarily conducted in China and almost all of our revenues are denominated in RMB. Effectively from the fourth quarter of 2018, we changed our reporting currency from U.S. dollar to RMB. The change in reporting currency is to improve investors’ ability to evaluate our financial results against other comparable publicly traded companies in the industry. Prior to the fourth quarter of 2018, we reported our annual and quarterly consolidated balance sheets and consolidated statements of income and comprehensive income and shareholder’s equity and cash flows in U.S. dollar. In this annual report, the financial results for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2020 are stated in RMB. The related financial statements prior to the fourth quarter of 2018 have been recast to reflect RMB as the reporting currency for comparison to the financial results for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2020.
Current period amounts in this annual report are translated into U.S. dollars for the convenience of the readers. The conversion of RMB into U.S. dollars in this annual report is based on the noon buying rate in New York City for cable transfers in RMB as certified for customs purposes by the Federal Reserve Board. Unless otherwise stated, all translations of RMB into U.S. dollars were made at the rate at RMB6.5250 to US$1.0000, the exchange rate as set forth in the H.10 statistical release of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in effect as of December 31, 2020. We make no representation that any RMB or U.S. dollar amounts could have been, or could be, converted into U.S. dollars or RMB, as the case may be, at any particular rate, or at all. The PRC government imposes control over its foreign currency reserves in part through direct regulation of the conversion of RMB into foreign exchange and through restrictions on foreign trade.
 
B.
Capitalization and Indebtedness
Not applicable.
 
C.
Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds
Not applicable.
 
D.
Risk Factors
Risks Related to Our Business and Industry
If we fail to retain our existing users, further grow our user base, or if user engagement on our platform declines, our business and operating results may be materially and adversely affected.
The size of our user base and the level of our user engagement are critical to our success. Although our MAUs generally grew over time since our inception, there were times when our user base failed to grow. There is no guarantee that our MAUs will continue to grow at a desirable rate or at all. Growing our user base and increasing the overall level of user engagement on our social networking platform and in particular our live video service, which currently contributes a majority of our revenues, are critical to our business. If our user growth rate slows down, our success will become increasingly dependent on our ability to retain existing users and enhance user engagement on our platform. If our Momo and Tantan mobile applications are no longer one of the social networking tools that people frequently use, or if people do not perceive our services to be interesting or useful, we may not be able to attract users or increase the frequency or degree of their engagement. A number of user-oriented instant communication products that achieved early popularity have since seen the size of their user base or level of user engagement decline, in some cases precipitously. There is no guarantee that we will not experience a similar erosion of our user base or user engagement level in the future. A number of factors could negatively affect user retention, growth and engagement, including if:
 
   
we are unable to attract new users to our platform or retain existing ones;
 
4

   
we fail to introduce new and improved services, or if we introduce services that are not favorably received by users;
 
   
we are unable to combat spam on or inappropriate or abusive use of our platform, which may lead to negative public perception of us and our brand;
 
   
technical or other problems prevent us from delivering our services in a rapid and reliable manner or otherwise adversely affect the user experience;
 
   
we suffer from negative publicity, fail to maintain our brand or if our reputation is damaged;
 
   
we fail to address user concerns related to privacy and communication, safety, security or other factors;
 
   
there are adverse changes in our services that are mandated by, or that we elect to make to address, legislation, regulations or government policies; and
 
   
the growth of the number of smartphone users in China stalls.
If we are unable to grow our user base or enhance user engagement, our platform will become less attractive to our users, customers and platform partners, which would have a material and adverse impact on our business and operating results.
We cannot guarantee that the monetization strategies we have adopted will be successfully implemented or generate sustainable revenues and profits.
As online social networking and online entertainment industries in China are relatively young, prevailing monetization models similar to ours have yet to be proven to be sustainable, and it may be more difficult to predict user and customer behaviors and demands compared to other established industries. Our monetization model has been evolving. We began to generate revenues in the second half of 2013 primarily through membership subscriptions and also game publishing and other services, but we continue to explore and implement new monetization models. While membership subscriptions contributed a majority of our revenues prior to 2016, live video service, which we launched in September 2015 and adopted a virtual items-based revenue model, has replaced membership subscription as our major source of revenues in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. The services that we currently provide, including live video service, value-added service (comprising membership subscriptions and virtual gift service), mobile marketing services, mobile games, and other services, contributed approximately 64.1%, 34.0%, 1.4%, 0.3% and 0.2%, respectively, of our net revenues in 2020. Apart from live video services, from time to time we have launched new services on our platform, explored new monetization models and broadened our revenue sources, and we expect to continue to do so. For example, in the fourth quarter of 2016, we launched a virtual gift service which allows our users to purchase and send virtual gifts to other users outside of live video service. In 2018, we
co-produced
a TV variety show. In addition, compared to Momo, Tantan is at an earlier stage of monetization. In 2018, Tantan launched membership subscriptions and some other premium features on a
pay-per-use
basis. In 2019, Tantan introduced Quick Chat, which has services based on both the subscription model and the
pay-per-use
model. In 2020, Tantan launched its live video services with a virtual item-based revenue model. However, there is no assurance that any of these and other new monetization models would be profitable or sustainable. If our strategic initiatives do not enhance our ability to monetize our existing services or enable us to develop new approaches to monetization, we may not be able to maintain or increase our revenues and profits or recover any associated costs.
We may in the future introduce new services to further diversify our revenue streams, including services with which we have little or no prior development or operating experience. If these new or enhanced services fail to engage users, customers or platform partners, we may fail to attract or retain users or to generate sufficient revenues to justify our investments, and our business and operating results may suffer as a result.
We operate in a highly dynamic market, which makes it difficult to evaluate our future prospects.
The market for social networking platforms is relatively new, highly dynamic and may not develop as expected. Our users, customers and platform partners may not fully understand the value of our services, and potential new users, customers and platform partners may have difficulty distinguishing our services from those of our competitors. Convincing potential users, customers and platform partners of the value of our services is critical to the growth of our user base and the success of our business.
 
5

We launched our Momo mobile application in August 2011 and acquired our Tantan mobile application in May 2018. The operating history, the recency of our Tantan acquisition and our evolving monetization strategies make it difficult to assess our future prospects or forecast our future results. You should consider our business and prospects in light of the risks and challenges we encounter or may encounter in this developing and rapidly evolving market. These risks and challenges include our ability to, among other things:
 
   
expand our paying user base for the various services offered by our platform, including live video service, value-added service, mobile games and others;
 
   
develop and deploy diversified and distinguishable features and services for our users, customers and platform partners;
 
   
convince customers of the benefits of our marketing services compared to alternative forms of marketing, and continue to increase the efficiency of our mobile marketing solutions and expand our network of marketers;
 
   
develop or implement strategic initiatives to monetize our platform;
 
   
develop beneficial relationship with key strategic partners, talented broadcasters and talent agencies for our live video service;
 
   
develop a reliable, scalable, secure, high-performance technology infrastructure that can efficiently handle increased usage;
 
   
successfully compete with other companies, some of which have substantially greater resources and market power than us, that are currently in, or may in the future enter, our industry, or duplicate the features of our services;
 
   
attract, retain and motivate talented employees; and
 
   
defend ourselves against litigation, regulatory, intellectual property, privacy or other claims.
If we fail to educate potential users, customers and platform partners about the value of our services, if the market for our platform does not develop as we expect or if we fail to address the needs of this dynamic market, our business will be harmed. Failure to adequately address these or other risks and challenges could harm our business and cause our operating results to suffer.
We currently generate a substantial majority of our revenues from our live video service. We may not be able to continue to grow or continue to achieve profitability from such service.
In September 2015, Momo launched our live video service with a virtual items-based revenue model, whereby users can enjoy live performances and interact with the broadcasters for free, and have the option of purchasing
in-show
virtual items. In 2020, Tantan launched its live video services and contributed to our live video service revenue. While we had initial success with this service, which contributed RMB7,429.9 million, RMB10,709.5 million and RMB12,448.1 million to, or 83.6%, 79.9% and 73.2% of, our net revenues in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively, this contribution dropped to RMB9,637.6 million (US$1,477.0 million) in 2020, or 64.1% of our net revenues. While we plan to continue to invest significantly in expanding our live video service, we may not be able to continue to achieve our historical levels of profitability based on the virtual items-based revenue model. In addition, popular broadcasters or talent agencies may cease to use our service and we may be unable to attract new talents that can attract users or cause such users to increase the amount of time spent on our platform or the amount of money spent on
in-show
virtual items.
 
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Table of Contents
Although we believe we have a large and diversified pool of talented broadcasters, talent agencies as well as paying users and have entered into multi-year exclusivity agreements with popular broadcasters and talent agencies, if a large number of our broadcasters, particularly popular broadcasters, were to leave our platform for competing platforms at the same time, if we are unable to negotiate acceptable business terms with popular broadcasters or talent agencies, or if a large number of our users decided to use live video services provided by our competitors, we might not be able to expand the user base of our live video service and achieve or maintain the level of revenues and profitability as we currently anticipate. Broadcasters provide live video service on our platform as an individual or as a member of a talent agency. The talent agencies recruit, train and retain the broadcasters. We are committed to provide strong support and resources to broadcasters and talent agencies to offer high-quality content. We are also committed to closely cooperate and develop long-term relationship with broadcasters and talent agencies. However, under our current arrangements with our broadcasters and talent agencies, we share with them a portion of the revenues we derive from the sales of
in-show
virtual items in our live video service. Payments of revenue sharing to broadcasters and talent agencies for our live video service constitute a major portion of our cost of revenues. If we are required to share a larger portion of our revenues with the broadcasters and talent agencies for competition purpose, our results of profitability may be adversely impacted.
We may not be able to successfully maintain and increase the number of paying users for the various services we offer on our platform.
Our future growth depends on our ability to convert our users into paying users of our services, including live video service, value-added service, mobile games and other services, and our ability to retain our existing paying users. However, we cannot assure you that we will be successful in any of the foregoing initiatives, nor can we assure you that we will be able to successfully compete with current and new competitors on attracting paying users. Our efforts to provide greater incentives for our users to pay for our various services may not continue to succeed. Our paying users may discontinue their spending on our services because they may no longer serve our paying users’ needs, or simply because the interests and preferences of these users shift. If we cannot successfully maintain or increase the number of our paying users, our business, results of operations and prospects will be adversely affected.
Our business is dependent on the strength of our brands and market perception of our brand.
In China, we market our services under the brands “
陌陌
” or “Momo” and “
探探
” or “Tantan.” Our business and financial performance are highly dependent on the strength and the market perception of our brands and services. A well-recognized brand is critical to increasing our user base and, in turn, facilitating our efforts to monetize our services and enhancing our attractiveness to customers. From time to time, we conduct marketing activities across various media to enhance our brands and to guide public perception of our brands and services. In order to create and maintain brand awareness and brand loyalty, to influence public perception and to retain existing and attract new mobile users, customers and platform partners, we may need to substantially increase our marketing expenditures. We cannot assure you, however, that these activities will be successful or that we will be able to achieve the brand promotion effect we expect.
In addition, people may not understand the value of our platform, and there may be a misperception that Momo is used solely as a tool to randomly meet or date strangers. Convincing potential new users, customers and platform partners of the value of our services is critical to increasing the number of our users, customers and platform partners and to the success of our business.
Content posted or displayed on our social networking platform, including the live video shows hosted by us or our users, has been and may again be found objectionable by PRC regulatory authorities and may subject us to penalties and other serious consequences.
The PRC government has adopted regulations governing internet and wireless access and the distribution of information over the internet and wireless telecommunications networks. Under these regulations, internet content providers and internet publishers are prohibited from posting or displaying over the internet or wireless networks content that, among other things, violates the principle of the PRC constitution, laws and regulations, impairs the national dignity of China or the public interest, or is obscene, superstitious, fraudulent or defamatory. Furthermore, internet content providers are also prohibited from displaying content that may be deemed by relevant government authorities as instigating ethnical hatred and harming ethnical unity, harming the national religious policy, “socially destabilizing” or leaking “state secrets” of the PRC. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in the revocation of licenses to provide internet content or other licenses, the closure of the concerned platforms and reputational harm. The operator may also be held liable for any censored information displayed on or linked to their platform.
 
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Table of Contents
On December 15, 2019, the Cyberspace Administration of China released the Provisions on Ecological Governance of Network Information Content, or PEGNIC, which came into force on March 1, 2020. The PEGNIC is one of the latest regulations governing the distribution of information over the internet and wireless telecommunications networks in which it classifies the network information into three categories, namely the “encouraged information,” the “illegal information” and the “undesirable information.” While illegal information is strictly prohibited from distribution, the internet content providers are required to take relevant measures to prevent and resist the production and distribution of undesirable information. PEGNIC further clarifies the duties owed by the internet content providers in preventing the display of content that against the PEGNIC, such as obligations to improve the systems for users registration, accounts management, information release review,
follow-up
comments review, websites ecological management, real-time inspection, emergency response and disposal mechanism for cyber rumor and black industry chain information.
We have designed and implemented procedures to monitor content on our social networking platform, including the live video shows hosted by us or our users, in order to comply with relevant laws and regulations. However, it may not be possible to determine in all cases the types of content that could result in our liability as a distributor of such content and, if any of the content posted or displayed on our social networking platform is deemed by the PRC government to violate any content restrictions, we would not be able to continue to display such content and could become subject to penalties, including confiscation of income, fines, suspension of business and revocation of required licenses, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Regulatory authorities may conduct various reviews and inspections on our business operations, especially those related to content distribution, from time to time. If any
non-compliance
incidents in our business operations are identified, we may be required to take certain rectification measures in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, or we may be subject to other regulatory actions such as administrative penalties. We have been subject to administrative measures for the content posted or displayed on our platforms, which has negatively affected our business operations and financial results. During the period from late April to early May 2019, several mobile application stores in China removed the Tantan mobile application on direction of governmental authorities in China. In response, we communicated with the relevant government authorities and conducted a comprehensive internal review of the content in the Tantan mobile application and undertook other measures necessary to stay in full compliance with all relevant laws and regulations. As a result, Tantan’s download and payment services were fully restored by July 15, 2019. We cannot guarantee that such inspections and administrative measures will not happen again in the future, the occurrence of which will adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may also be subject to potential liability for any unlawful actions by our users on our platform. It may be difficult to determine the type of content or actions that may result in liability to us and, if we are found to be liable, we may be prevented from operating our business in China. Moreover, staying in compliance with relevant regulatory requirements may result in limitation to our scope of service, reduction in user engagement or loss of users, diversion of our management team’s attention and increased operational costs and expenses. The costs of compliance with these regulations may continue to increase as a result of more content being made available by an increasing number of users of our social networking platform, which may adversely affect our results of operations. In order to comply with relevant regulatory requirements, we temporarily suspended the ability of users to post social newsfeeds on our platforms between May 11, 2019 and June 11, 2019 as part of our internal measures to strengthen our content screening efforts. Tantan’s download service was also suspended from the application stores in China around the time we took these internal measures. Such service suspension has negatively affected our business operations. Although we have adopted internal procedures to monitor content and to remove offending content once we become aware of any potential or alleged violation, we may not be able to identify all the content that may violate relevant laws and regulations or third-party intellectual property rights. Even if we manage to identify and remove offensive content, we may still be held liable.
Our acquisition of Tantan, and the subsequent integration of Tantan into our business, creates significant challenges which may affect our ability to realize the benefits of the acquisition and have a material adverse effect on our business, reputation, results of operations and financial condition.
In May 2018, we completed the acquisition of Tantan, a Chinese social and dating app for approximately 5.3 million newly issued Class A ordinary shares of our company and US$613.2 million in cash. While we currently expect Tantan to remain a stand-alone brand and to largely operate independently, the process of integrating certain aspects of Tantan’s operations into our own operations is still continuing and could result in unforeseen operating difficulties, divert significant management attention and require significant resources that would otherwise have been available for the ongoing development of our existing operations. Challenges and risks from the Tantan acquisition include, among others:
 
   
the difficulty in retaining Tantan’s users following the acquisition;
 
8

Table of Contents
   
the need to integrate certain operations, systems, technologies, and personnel of Tantan, the inefficiencies that may result if such integration is delayed or not implemented as expected, and unforeseen difficulties and expenditures that may arise in connection with such integration;
 
   
the difficulty in successfully evaluating and utilizing Tantan’s technology and features;
 
   
the difficulty in integrating potentially contrasting corporate cultures and management philosophies;
 
   
diversion of our management’s and personnel’s attention from our existing businesses and initiatives;
 
   
the difficulty in retaining employees following the acquisition;
 
   
the difficulties relating to achieving the expected synergies of the transaction;
 
   
the incurrence of unforeseen obligations or liabilities, which may entail significant expense; and
 
   
the difficulty in integrating Tantan’s financial reporting, which may affect our ability to maintain effective controls and procedures over our consolidated financial reporting.
Moreover, we may not be able to achieve our intended strategic goals or attain the synergies from the transaction. If we are unable to successfully integrate Tantan and manage the larger business, or are unable to achieve the expected benefits of the transaction, we may be required to record substantial impairment charges to goodwill. Any such negative development could have a material adverse effect on our business, reputation, results of operations and financial condition.
The mobile social and dating industry is an evolving and competitive market, with low switching costs and a consistent stream of new products and entrants, and innovation by Tantan’s competitors may disrupt its business.
The mobile social and dating industry in China is evolving and competitive, and has experienced a consistent stream of new products and market entrants within recent years. Tantan’s competitors may hold stronger competitive positions in certain geographical regions or with certain user demographics that we currently serve or may serve in the future. These advantages could enable these competitors to offer features and services that are more appealing to current users and potential users than our features and services or to respond more quickly and/or cost-effectively than us to new or changing opportunities.
In addition, within the mobile social and dating industry generally, costs for consumers to switch between products and apps are low, and consumers have demonstrated a propensity to try new approaches to connecting with people. As a result, new products, entrants and business models are likely to continue to emerge. It is possible that a new app could gain rapid scale at the expense of existing brands through harnessing a new technology or distribution channel, creating a new approach to connecting people or some other means. If we are not able to compete effectively against our current or future competitors and other apps, products and services that may emerge, the size and level of engagement of our user base may decrease, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may be unsuccessful in monetizing Tantan’s social and dating services.
Tantan is a relatively new mobile social and dating app with a limited operating history and track record of monetization of its services. The success of the Tantan acquisition will be significantly affected by our ability to continue to grow the monetization of Tantan. However, we may be unable to do so due to, among other reasons,
COVID-19’s
negative impact on Tantan’s user retention and engagement, Tantan’s users ceasing to use mobile technology for dating and socializing, Tantan’s users opting to forgo paid services on the app, perceived or actual privacy concerns, the introduction of new regulations on the use and monetization of user data, any interruption of Tantan’s business operations from the inspection and administrative measures taken by relevant governmental authorities, and the introduction of competition offering services at lower cost or additional or different features. If we are unable to successfully monetize Tantan’s business, we may be unable to achieve the expected benefits of the Tantan acquisition, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, reputation, results of operations and financial condition.
 
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Tantan’s growth and profitability rely, in part, on its ability to attract and retain users, which involves considerable expenditure. Any failure in these efforts could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Tantan commenced monetization of its business in July 2017, and historically has not been profitable. In order to continue to grow its business and eventually become profitable, Tantan will need to continue to attract and retain users for Tantan’s app, which will involve considerable expenditures and possibly the complete containment of
COVID-19.
Historically, Tantan has had to increase its selling and marketing expenses over time in order to attract and retain users and sustain its growth in users.
Tantan’s marketing expenditures consist primarily of investments in paid marketing channels to acquire more users and drive traffic to the app. To continue to reach potential users and grow the Tantan business, we must identify and devote more of Tantan’s overall marketing expenditures to new and evolving marketing channels, which may include mobile and virtual platforms. The opportunities in and sophistication of newer marketing channels generally are relatively undeveloped and unproven, making it difficult to assess returns on investment associated with such channels, and there can be no assurance that we will be able to continue to appropriately manage and fine-tune our marketing efforts in response to these and other trends in the industry. Any failure to do so could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Negative publicity may harm our brand and reputation and have a material adverse effect on our business and operating results.
Negative publicity involving us, our users, our management, our social networking platform or our business model may tarnish our reputation and materially and adversely harm our brand and our business. We cannot assure you that we will be able to defuse negative publicity about us, our management and/or our services to the satisfaction of our investors, users, customers and platform partners. There has been negative publicity about our company and the misuse of our services, which has adversely affected our brand, public image and reputation. Such negative publicity, especially when it is directly addressed against us, may also require us to engage in defensive media campaigns. This may cause us to increase our marketing expenses and divert our management’s attention and may adversely impact our business and results of operations.
Any legal action, regardless of its merits, could be time consuming and could divert the attention of our management away from our business and a failure of any legal action may bring negative impact on our reputation and cause a loss of our brand equity, which would reduce the use of our platform and demand for our services. Moreover, any attempts to rebuild our reputation and restore the value of our brand may be costly and time consuming, and such efforts may not ultimately be successful.
User misconduct and misuse of our platform may adversely impact our brand image, and we may be held liable for information or content displayed on, retrieved from or linked to our platform, which may materially and adversely affect our business and operating results.
Our platform allows mobile users to freely contact and communicate with people nearby, and our live video service allows users to host and view live shows. Because we do not have full control over how and what users will use our platform to communicate, our platform may be misused by individuals or groups of individuals to engage in immoral, disrespectful, fraudulent or illegal activities. For example, on a daily basis we detect spam accounts through which illegal or inappropriate content is posted and illegal or fraudulent activities are conducted. Media reports and internet forums have covered some of these incidents, which have in some cases generated negative publicity about our brand and platform. We have implemented control procedures to detect and block illegal or inappropriate content and illegal or fraudulent activities conducted through the misuse of our platform, but such procedures may not prevent all such content from being broadcasted or posted or activities from being carried out. Moreover, as we have limited control over real-time and offline behaviors of our users, to the extent such behaviors are associated with our platform, our ability to protect our brand image and reputation may be limited. Our business and the public perception of our brand may be materially and adversely affected by misuse of our platform.
In addition, if any of our users suffers or alleges to have suffered physical, financial or emotional harm following contact initiated on our platform, we may face civil lawsuits or other liabilities initiated by the affected user, or governmental or regulatory actions against us. For example, we are or may continue to be involved in disputes relating to refunding to users’ spouses all or part of funds consumed by users for purchase of
in-show
virtual items in our mobile applications based on claim of unauthorized disposition of commonwealth property. We believe such type of claims is groundless and lacks merit, because from a contractual perspective, users purchase and send virtual gifts to broadcasters in exchange for the live performance delivered to them or for the interaction between them and the broadcasters, and it is entirely up to the users to purchase
in-show
virtual items. We therefore will defend against such claims vigorously.
 
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In response to allegations of illegal or inappropriate activities conducted through our platform or any negative media coverage about us, PRC government authorities may intervene and hold us liable for
non-compliance
with PRC laws and regulations concerning the dissemination of information on the internet and subject us to administrative penalties or other sanctions, such as requiring us to restrict or discontinue some of the features and services provided on our mobile application. Therefore, our business may be subject to investigations or subsequent penalties if contents generated by our users are deemed to be illegal or inappropriate under PRC laws and regulations. See “—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—If we fail to obtain and maintain the requisite licenses and approvals required under the complex regulatory environment applicable to our businesses in China, or if we are required to take compliance actions that are time-consuming or costly, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.” As a result, our business may suffer, our user base, revenues and profitability may be materially and adversely affected, and the price of our ADSs may decline.
The market in which we operate is fragmented and highly competitive. If we are unable to compete effectively for users or user engagement, our business and operating results may be materially and adversely affected.
As a social networking platform that provides multiple services, including live video service, value-added service, mobile marketing services and other services, we are subject to intense competition from providers of similar services, as well as potential new types of online services. Our competitors may have substantially more cash, traffic, technical, broadcasters, business networks and other resources, as well as broader product or service offerings and can leverage their relationships based on other products or services to gain a larger share of marketing budgets. We may be unable to compete successfully against these competitors or new market entrants, which may adversely affect our business and financial performance.
We believe that our ability to compete effectively depends upon many factors both within and beyond our control, including:
 
   
the popularity, usefulness, ease of use, performance and reliability of our services compared to those of our competitors, and the research and development abilities of us and our competitors;
 
   
changes mandated by, or that we elect to make to address, legislation, regulations or government policies, some of which may have a disproportionate effect on us;
 
   
acquisitions or consolidation within our industry, which may result in more formidable competitors;
 
   
our ability to monetize our services;
 
   
our ability to attract, retain, and motivate talented employees;
 
   
our ability to manage and grow our operations cost-effectively; and
 
   
our reputation and brand strength relative to our competitors.
If we fail to keep up with technological developments and evolving user expectations, we may fail to maintain or attract users, customers or platform partners, and our business and operating results may be materially and adversely affected.
We operate in a market characterized by rapidly changing technologies, evolving industry standards, new product and service announcements, new generations of product enhancements and changing user expectations. Accordingly, our performance and the ability to further monetize the services on our platform will depend on our ability to adapt to these rapidly changing technologies and industry standards, and our ability to continually innovate in response to both evolving demands of the marketplace and competitive services. There may be occasions when we may not be as responsive as our competitors in adapting our services to changing industry standards and the needs of our users. Historically, new features may be introduced by one player in the industry, and if they are perceived as attractive to users, they are often quickly copied and improved upon by others.
 
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Introducing new technologies into our systems involves numerous technical challenges, substantial amounts of capital and personnel resources and often takes many months to complete. For example, the market for mobile devices in China is highly fragmented, and the lower resolution, functionality, operating system compatibility and memory currently associated with the kaleidoscopic models of mobile devices in the Chinese marketplace may make the use of our services through these devices more difficult and impair the user experience. We intend to continue to devote resources to the development of additional technologies and services. We may not be able to effectively integrate new technologies on a timely basis or at all, which may decrease user satisfaction with our services. Such technologies, even if integrated, may not function as expected or may be unable to attract and retain a substantial number of mobile device users to use our Momo mobile application. We also may not be able to protect such technology from being copied by our competitors. Our failure to keep pace with rapid technological changes may cause us to fail to retain or attract users or generate revenues, and could have a material and adverse effect on our business and operating results.
If we fail to effectively manage our growth and control our costs and expenses, our business and operating results could be harmed.
We have experienced rapid growth in our business and operations and expansion of our platform since our inception in 2011, which places significant demands on our management, operational and financial resources. However, given the rapidly evolving market in which we compete, we may encounter difficulties as we establish and expand our operations, product development, sales and marketing, and general and administrative capabilities. We face significant competition for talented employees from other high-growth companies, which include both publicly traded and privately held companies, and we may not be able to hire new talents quickly enough to meet our needs and support our operations. If we fail to effectively manage our hiring needs and successfully integrate our new hires, our efficiency and ability to meet our forecasts and our employee morale, productivity and retention could suffer, and our business and operating results could be adversely affected.
We expect our costs and expenses to continue to increase in the future as we seek to broaden our user base and increase user engagement, and develop and implement new features and services. In addition, our cost and expenses, such as our research and development expenses, sales and marketing expenses and general and administrative expenses, have grown rapidly as we expanded our business. Our costs and expenses increased each year before 2020, and they decreased in 2020 due to a decrease in our revenue. We expect to incur increasing costs and expenses going forward to support our anticipated future growth. Continued growth could also strain our ability to maintain reliable service levels for our users and customers, develop and improve our operational, financial, legal and management controls, and enhance our reporting systems and procedures. If we are unable to generate adequate revenues and to manage our expenses, we may again incur significant losses in the future and may not be able to maintain profitability. Our expenses may grow faster than our revenues, and our expenses may be greater than we anticipate. Managing our growth will require significant expenditures and the allocation of valuable management resources. If we fail to achieve the necessary level of efficiency in our organization as we grow, our business, operating results and financial condition could be harmed.
We may not be able to remain profitable, and the consolidation of the results of operations of Tantan with ours may negatively impact our financial performance and results of operations.
We believe that our future revenue growth will depend on, among other factors, the popularity of social networking applications and our ability to attract new users, increase user engagement, effectively design and implement monetization strategies, develop new services and compete effectively and successfully, as well as our ability to successfully monetize Tantan’s operations. In addition, our ability to sustain profitability is affected by various factors, many of which are beyond our control, such as the continuous development of social networking, live video services, mobile marketing services, and mobile games in China. We may again incur losses in the near future due to our continued investments in services, technologies, research and development and our continued sales and marketing initiatives. Changes in the macroeconomic and regulatory environment or competitive dynamics and our inability to respond to these changes in a timely and effective manner may also impact our profitability. Furthermore, we completed our acquisition of Tantan in May 2018, and consolidated Tantan’s results starting in the second quarter of 2018. Tantan commenced monetization of its business in July 2017 and has not been profitable historically. If Tantan continues to incur losses, this may also affect our ability to remain at our current profitability level. Accordingly, you should not rely on the revenues of any prior quarterly or annual period as an indication of our future performance.
 
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Privacy concerns relating to our services and the use of user information could negatively impact our user base or user engagement, or subject us to governmental regulation and other legal obligations, which could have a material and adverse effect on our business and operating results.
We collect user profile, user location and other personal data from our users in order to better understand our users and their needs and to support our social interest graph engine and our big data analytical capabilities for more targeted services such as interest- or location-based user groups and mobile marketing services. Concerns about the collection, use, disclosure or security of personal information, chat history or other privacy-related matters, even if unfounded, could damage our reputation, cause us to lose users, customers and platform partners and subject us to regulatory investigations, all of which may adversely affect our business. While we strive to comply with applicable data protection laws and regulations, as well as our privacy policies pursuant to our terms of use and other obligations we may have with respect to privacy and data protection, any failure or perceived failure to comply with these laws, regulations or policies may result, and in some cases have resulted, in inquiries and other proceedings or actions against us by government agencies or others, as well as negative publicity and damage to our reputation and brand, each of which could cause us to lose users, customers and platform partners and have an adverse effect on our business and operating results.
Any system failure or compromise of our security that results in the unauthorized access to or release of the data or chat history of our users, customers or platform partners could significantly limit the adoption of our services, as well as harm our reputation and brand. We expect to continue expending significant resources to protect against security breaches. The risk that these types of events could seriously harm our business is likely to increase as we expand the number of services we offer and increase the size of our user base.
Our practices may become inconsistent with new laws or regulations concerning data protection, or the interpretation and application of existing consumer and data protection laws or regulations, which is often uncertain and in flux. If so, in addition to the possibility of fines, this could result in an order requiring that we change our practices, which could have an adverse effect on our business and operating results. For example, the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), which came into effect on May 25, 2018, includes operational requirements for companies that receive or process personal data of residents of the European Economic Area. The GDPR establishes new requirements applicable to the processing of personal data, affords new data protection rights to individuals and imposes penalties for serious data breaches. Individuals also have a right to compensation under the GDPR for financial or
non-financial
losses. Although we do not conduct any business in the European Economic Area, in the event that residents of the European Economic Area access our platform and input protected information, we may become subject to provisions of the GDPR. Additionally, California recently enacted legislation that has been dubbed the first “GDPR-like” law in the U.S. Known as the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, it creates new individual privacy rights for consumers (as that word is broadly defined in the law) and places increased privacy and security obligations on entities handling personal data of consumers or households. The CCPA, which went into effect on January 1, 2020, requires covered companies to provide new disclosures to California consumers, and provides such consumers new ways to
opt-out
of certain sales of personal information. The CCPA provides for civil penalties for violations, as well as a private right of action for data breaches that is expected to increase data breach litigation. With some other conditions, the CCPA requires companies “doing business in California” to follow the CCPA. However, the phrase “doing business in California” is not defined in the CCPA. With reference to the California tax code, the phrase “doing business in California” is described as “
actively
engaging in any transaction for the purpose of financial or pecuniary gain or profit.” We are currently not actively doing business in California, and thus, there is still uncertainty regarding whether the CCPA will apply to us. If further interpretations or court decisions render us “doing business in California,” the CCPA will apply to us and it may increase our compliance costs and potential liability. Some observers have noted that the CCPA could mark the beginning of a trend toward more stringent privacy legislation in the U.S., which could increase our potential liability and adversely affect our business. On May 28, 2020, the National People’s Congress adopted the Civil Code of the PRC, or the Civil Code, which came into effect on January 1, 2021. Pursuant to the Civil Code, the personal information of a natural person shall be protected by the law. Any organization or individual shall legally obtain such personal information of others when necessary and ensure the safety of such information, and shall not illegally collect, use, process or transmit personal information of others, or illegally purchase or sell, provide or make public personal information of others. Civil subjects have a right to compensation under the Civil Code for financial or
non-financial
losses. In October 2020, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress issued the Draft Personal Information Protection Law for public comments. The Draft Personal Information Protection Law integrates provisions from several rules with respect to personal information rights and privacy protection. According to the Draft Personal Information Protection Law, personal information refers to information related to identified or identifiable natural persons which is recorded by electronic or other means (excluding the anonymized information). The Draft Personal Information Protection Law provides the circumstances under which a personal information processor could process personal information, such as where the consent of the individual concerned is obtained and where it is necessary for the conclusion or performance of a contract to which such individual is a party to such contract. It also stipulates certain specific provisions with respect to the obligations of a personal information processor. Violations of relevant provisions, if the Draft Personal Information Protection Law becomes effective, may subject the processor to rectification, confiscation of its illegal gains, fines, suspension of relevant business, revocation of the relevant business permit or business license or criminal liabilities. According to the Law of the PRC on the Protection of Minors (2020 Revision), which will take effect on June 1, 2021, information processors must follow the principles of legality, legitimacy and necessity when processing personal information of minors via internet, and must obtain consent from minors’ parents or other guardians when processing personal information of minors under age of 14. In addition, internet service providers must promptly alert upon the discovery of publishing private information by minors via the internet and take necessary protective measures. Violations of relevant provisions may subject the processor to rectification, confiscation of its illegal gains, fines, suspension of relevant business, revocation of the relevant business permit or business license or criminal liabilities. Complying with new laws and regulations could cause us to incur substantial costs or require us to change our business practices in a manner materially adverse to our business. See also “—Risks Related to Doing Businesses in China—Uncertainties in the interpretation and enforcement of PRC laws and regulations could limit the legal protections available to you and us.”
 
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We cannot guarantee that our mobile applications, including Momo and Tantan, in their current versions or any future updates to our mobile applications will be considered compliant with PRC data privacy laws. If any of our mobile applications is ultimately considered not compliant with PRC data privacy laws, we shall update such mobile application, may further be subject to penalties and other administrative actions, and our reputation may be harmed, which may negatively affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects. For example, on January 23, 2019, the Cyberspace Administration of China, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, or MIIT, the Ministry of Public Security and the State Administration for Market Regulation jointly issued an Announcement on the Special Administration of Collection and Use of Personal Information by Apps, or the SACUPIA, to carry out a nationwide special campaign against apps collecting and using personal information in violation of laws and regulations from January to December 2019. The SACUPIA states that app operators shall only collect and use personal information in strict accordance with their responsibilities and obligations as prescribed in the PRC Cyber Security Law, as effective as of June 1, 2017, be responsible for the security of the personal information obtained, take effective measures to strengthen personal information protection and not collect any personal information irrelevant to the services provided. Specifically, when collecting personal information, the app operators are required to present the rules for collection and use of personal information in an
easy-to-understand
and straightforward manner, which shall be subject to the consent of users at their sole discretion; it is not allowed to force users to make authorization in a disguised manner by acquiescence, binding, termination of installation and use or other means, nor collect or use their personal information in violation of laws and regulations or agreements with users. Failure to comply with the aforesaid requirements may subject the app operator concerned to taking relevant rectification measures within a statutory period, cessation of relevant business operation, or revocation of relevant permits or business license. Moreover, on November 28, 2019, the Secretary Bureau of the Cyberspace Administration of China, the General Offices of the MIIT, the Ministry of Public Security and the State Administration for Market Regulation jointly issued the Notice of the Measures for the Determination of the Collection and Use of Personal Information by apps in Violation of Laws and Regulations which listed six categories of acts that may be determined as failing to comply with the laws and regulations. In July 2019, the Personal Information Protection Task Force on Apps, an administrative task force in the PRC founded to review mobile apps for their compliance with PRC data privacy laws, issued a notice of criticism directed at several mobile apps including our Tantan mobile application. The notice of criticism stated that our Tantan mobile application violated Article 41 of the PRC Cyber Security Law by demanding users to grant authority to access excessive amount of personal information in exchange for being allowed to install and use the mobile app. Since the publication of the notice of criticism, we have updated our Tantan mobile application to address all of the issues brought up in the notice.
Techniques employed by short sellers may drive down the market price of our listed securities.
Short selling is the practice of selling securities that a seller does not own but rather has borrowed from a third party with the intention of buying identical securities back at a later date to return to the lender. Short sellers hope to profit from a decline in the value of the securities between the sale of the borrowed securities and the purchase of the replacement shares, as short sellers expect to pay less in that purchase than they received in the sale. As it is in short sellers’ interest for the price of the security to decline, many short sellers publish, or arrange for the publication of, negative opinions and allegations regarding the relevant issuer and its business prospects in order to create negative market momentum and generate profits for themselves after selling a security short. These short attacks have, in the past, led to selling of shares in the market.
 
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Public companies listed in the United States that have substantially all of their operations in China have been the subject of short selling. Much of the scrutiny and negative publicity has centered on allegations of a lack of effective internal control over financial reporting resulting in financial and accounting irregularities and mistakes, inadequate corporate governance policies or a lack of adherence thereto and, in many cases, allegations of fraud. As a result, many of these companies are now conducting internal and external investigations into the allegations and, in the interim, are subject to shareholder lawsuits and/or SEC enforcement actions.
Any allegations or reports published by short sellers against our company may be followed by periods of instability in the market price of our ADSs and negative publicity. Regardless of whether such allegations and information in the such reports are proven to be true or untrue, we may have to expend a significant amount of resources to investigate such allegations and/or defend ourselves against negative information in such reports, including in connection with class actions or regulatory enforcement actions derivative of such allegations. While we would strongly defend against any such short seller attacks, we may be constrained in the manner in which we can proceed against the relevant short sellers by principles of freedom of speech, applicable state law or issues of commercial confidentiality. Such a situation could be costly and time-consuming, and could divert management’s attention from the
day-to-day
operations of our company. Even if such allegations are ultimately proven to be groundless, allegations against us could severely impact the market price of our securities and our business operations.
The continuing and collaborative efforts of our senior management and key employees are crucial to our success, and our business may be harmed if we were to lose their services.
We depend on the continued contributions of our senior management, especially the executive officers listed in “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—A. Directors and Senior Management” section of this annual report, and other key employees, many of whom are difficult to replace. The loss of the services of any of our executive officers or other key employees could materially harm our business. Competition for qualified talents in China is intense. Our future success is dependent on our ability to attract a significant number of qualified employees and retain existing key employees. If we are unable to do so, our business and growth may be materially and adversely affected and the trading price of our ADSs could suffer. Our need to significantly increase the number of our qualified employees and retain key employees may cause us to materially increase compensation-related costs, including stock-based compensation.
We may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property, which could cause us to be less competitive and third-party infringements of our intellectual property rights may adversely affect our business.
We rely on a combination of patent, copyright, trademark and trade secret laws and restrictions on disclosure to protect our intellectual property rights. See also “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview.” Despite our efforts to protect our proprietary rights, third parties may attempt to copy or otherwise obtain and use our intellectual property or seek court declarations that they do not infringe upon our intellectual property rights. Monitoring unauthorized use of our intellectual property is difficult and costly, and we cannot be certain that the steps we have taken will prevent misappropriation of our intellectual property. From time to time, we may have to resort to litigation to enforce our intellectual property rights, which could result in substantial costs and diversion of our resources. The legal regime relating to the recognition and enforcement of intellectual property rights in China is particularly limited, and does not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as federal and state laws in the United States. Legal proceedings to enforce our intellectual property in China may progress slowly, during which time infringement may continue largely unimpeded.
We have been and may be subject to intellectual property infringement claims or other allegations by third parties for information or content displayed on, retrieved from or linked to our platform, or distributed to our users, which may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and prospects.
We have been, and may in the future be, subject to intellectual property infringement claims or other allegations by third parties for services we provide or for information or content displayed on, retrieved from or linked to our platform, or distributed to our users, which may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and prospects.
 
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Companies in the internet, technology and media industries are frequently involved in litigation based on allegations of infringement of intellectual property rights, unfair competition, invasion of privacy, defamation and other violations of other parties’ rights. The validity, enforceability and scope of protection of intellectual property rights in internet-related industries, particularly in China, are uncertain and still evolving. We have faced, from time to time, and expect to face in the future, allegations that we have infringed the trademarks, copyrights, patents and other intellectual property rights of third parties, including our competitors, or allegations that we are involved in unfair trade practices. See “Item 8. Financial Information— A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information—Legal Proceedings.” As we face increasing competition and as litigation becomes a more common method for resolving commercial disputes in China, we face a higher risk of being the subject of intellectual property infringement claims.
We allow users to upload text, graphics, audio, video and other content to our platform and download, share, link to and otherwise access games and other content on our platform. We have procedures designed to reduce the likelihood that content might be used without proper licenses or third-party consents. However, these procedures may not be effective in preventing the unauthorized posting of copyrighted content. Therefore, we may face liability for copyright or trademark infringement, defamation, unfair competition, libel, negligence, and other claims based on the nature and content of the materials that are delivered, shared or otherwise accessed through our platform.
Defending intellectual property litigation is costly and can impose a significant burden on our management and employees, and there can be no assurances that favorable final outcomes will be obtained in all cases. Such claims, even if they do not result in liability, may harm our reputation. Any resulting liability or expenses, or changes required to our platform to reduce the risk of future liability, may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and prospects.
User growth and engagement depend upon effective interoperation with mobile operating systems, networks, mobile devices and standards that we do not control.
We make our services available across a variety of mobile operating systems and devices. We are dependent on the interoperability of our services with popular mobile devices and mobile operating systems that we do not control, such as Android, iOS and Windows. Any changes in such mobile operating systems or devices that degrade the functionality of our services or give preferential treatment to competitive services could adversely affect usage of our services. Further, if the number of platforms for which we develop our services increases, which is typically seen in a dynamic and fragmented mobile services market such as China, it will result in an increase in our costs and expenses. In order to deliver high-quality services, it is important that our services work well across a range of mobile operating systems, networks, mobile devices and standards that we do not control. We may not be successful in developing relationships with key participants in the mobile industry or in developing services that operate effectively with these operating systems, networks, devices and standards. In the event that it is difficult for our users to access and use our services, particularly on their mobile devices, our user growth and user engagement could be harmed, and our business and operating results could be adversely affected.
Our operations depend on the performance of the internet infrastructure and fixed telecommunications networks in China.
Almost all access to the internet in China is maintained through state-owned telecommunication operators under the administrative control and regulatory supervision of the MIIT. Moreover, we primarily rely on a limited number of telecommunication service providers to provide us with data communications capacity through local telecommunications lines and internet data centers to host our servers. We have limited access to alternative networks or services in the event of disruptions, failures or other problems with China’s internet infrastructure or the fixed telecommunications networks provided by telecommunications service providers. Web traffic in China has experienced significant growth during the past few years. Effective bandwidth and server storage at internet data centers in large cities such as Beijing are scarce. With the expansion of our business, we may be required to upgrade our technology and infrastructure to keep up with the increasing traffic on our platform. We cannot assure you that the internet infrastructure and the fixed telecommunications networks in China will be able to support the demands associated with the continued growth in internet usage. If we cannot increase our capacity to deliver our online services, we may not be able to keep up with the increases in traffic we anticipate from our expanding user base, and the adoption of our services may be hindered, which could adversely impact our business and our ADS price.
 
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In addition, we have no control over the costs of the services provided by telecommunications service providers. If the prices we pay for telecommunications and internet services rise significantly, our results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. Furthermore, if internet access fees or other charges to internet users increase, some users may be prevented from accessing the mobile internet and thus cause the growth of mobile internet users to decelerate. Such deceleration may adversely affect our ability to continue to expand our user base.
Our business and operating results may be harmed by service disruptions, cybersecurity related threats or by our failure to timely and effectively scale and adapt our existing technology and infrastructure.
People use our platform for real-time communication, socializing, entertainment and information. We have experienced, and may in the future experience, service disruptions, outages and other performance problems due to a variety of factors, including infrastructure changes and cybersecurity related threats as follows:
 
   
our technology, system, networks and our users’ devices have been subject to, and may continue to be the target of, cyber-attacks, computer viruses, malicious code, phishing attacks or information security breaches that could result in an unauthorized release, gathering, monitoring, misuse, loss or destruction of confidential, proprietary and other information of ours, our employees or sensitive information provided by our users, or otherwise disrupt our, our users’ or other third parties’ business operations;
 
   
we periodically encounter attempts to create false accounts or use our platform to send targeted and untargeted spam messages to our users, or take other actions on our platform for purposes such as spamming or spreading misinformation, and we may not be able to repel spamming attacks;
 
   
the use of encryption and other security measures intended to protect our systems and confidential data may not provide absolute security, and losses or unauthorized access to or releases of confidential information may still occur;
 
   
our security measures may be breached due to employee error, malfeasance or unauthorized access to sensitive information by our employees, who may be induced by outside third parties, and we may not be able to anticipate any breach of our security or to implement adequate preventative measures; and
 
   
we may be subject to information technology system failures or network disruptions caused by natural disasters, accidents, power disruptions, telecommunications failures, acts of terrorism or war, computer viruses, physical or electronic
break-ins,
or other events or disruptions.
Any disruption or failure in our services and infrastructure could also hinder our ability to handle existing or increased traffic on our platform or cause us to lose content stored on our platform, which could significantly harm our business and our ability to retain existing users and attract new users.
As the number of our users increases and our users generate more content on our platform, we may be required to expand and adapt our technology and infrastructure to continue to reliably store and analyze this content. It may become increasingly difficult to maintain and improve the performance of our services, especially during peak usage times, as our services become more complex and our user traffic increases. If our users are unable to access our mobile application in a timely fashion, or at all, our user experience may be compromised and the users may seek other mobile social networking tools to meet their needs, and may not return to our platform or use our services as often in the future, or at all. This would negatively impact our ability to attract users and maintain the level of user engagement.
Existing or future strategic alliances, long-term investments and acquisitions may have a material and adverse effect on our business, reputation and results of operations.
We have made and intend to continue to make long-term investments in third-party companies. From time to time we evaluate and enter into discussions regarding potential long-term investments. Our existing and any future long-term investments could have a material impact on our financial condition and results of operations. If our long-term investments are unable to implement or remediate the necessary controls, procedures and policies, do not perform as we have expected or become less valuable to our business due to a change in our overall business strategy or other reasons, we may not be able to realize the anticipated benefits of investments and we may have to incur unanticipated liabilities, expenses, impairment charges or write-offs.
 
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We may also in the future enter into strategic alliances with various third parties. Strategic alliances with third parties could subject us to a number of risks, including risks associated with sharing proprietary information,
non-performance
by a counterparty and an increase in expenses incurred in establishing new strategic alliances, any of which may materially and adversely affect our business. We may have little ability to control or monitor their actions and to the extent strategic third parties suffer negative publicity or harm to their reputation from events relating to their business, we may also suffer negative publicity or harm to our reputation by virtue of our association with such third parties.
In addition, we may acquire additional assets, technologies or businesses that are complementary to our existing business. Future acquisitions and the subsequent integration of new assets and businesses into our own would require significant attention from our management and could result in a diversion of resources from our existing business, which in turn could have an adverse effect on our business operations. Acquired assets or businesses may not generate the financial or operating results we expect. Moreover, the costs of identifying and consummating acquisitions may be significant. In addition to possible shareholders’ approval, we may also have to obtain approvals and licenses from the governmental authorities in the PRC for the acquisitions and comply with applicable PRC laws and regulations, which could result in increased costs and delays. Acquisitions could result in the use of substantial amounts of cash, potentially dilutive issuances of equity securities, the incurrence of debt, the incurrence of significant goodwill impairment charges, amortization expenses for other intangible assets and exposure to potential unknown liabilities of the acquired business. Such use of cash may add significant liquidity pressure on us by materially reducing our existing cash balance and adversely affecting our working capital. The sale of equity or equity linked securities may further dilute our existing shareholders. Debt financings may subject us to restrictive covenants limiting or restricting our ability to take specific actions, such as incurring additional debt, making capital expenditures or declaring dividends.
In February 2018, we reached a definitive agreement with Tantan Limited, or Tantan, a social and dating app in China, and all of its shareholders, pursuant to which we agreed to acquire 100% fully diluted equity stake in Tantan for a combination of share consideration and cash. The acquisition of Tantan, which closed in May 2018, exposes us to potential uncertainties and risks. For our acquisition of Tantan, the combination of consideration included approximately 5.3 million newly issued Class A ordinary shares of us, which were fully issued as of the acquisition date, and US$613.2 million in cash, of which US$603.7 million was paid as of December 31, 2020. As Tantan was founded in 2014 and has a short operating track record, it would be difficult for us to assess its future prospect or forecast its future results and thus we may not be able to achieve the objective of our acquisition of Tantan if Tantan’s business does not develop as we expect. In addition, if Tantan continues to incur losses in the future, we would have to consolidate its losses as its sole shareholder, the occurrence of which would adversely affect our future profitability. After the consummation of the acquisition, we may face difficulties in integrating the internal control and financial reporting of Tantan and may incur unanticipated costs and expenses relating to such integration.
We rely on assumptions and estimates to calculate certain key operating metrics, and real or perceived inaccuracies in such metrics may harm our reputation and negatively affect our business.
The respective number of monthly active users and paying users of Momo and Tantan is calculated using internal company data that has not been independently verified. While these metrics are based on what we believe to be reasonable calculations for the applicable periods of measurement, there are inherent challenges in measuring usage and user engagement across our large user base. We treat each account as a separate user for the purposes of calculating our active and paying users, because it may not always be possible to identify people that have set up more than one account. Accordingly, the calculations of our monthly active users and paying users may not accurately reflect the actual number of people using Momo and Tantan, or paying for their services.
Our measures of user growth and user engagement may differ from estimates published by third parties or from similarly titled metrics used by our competitors due to differences in methodology. If customers or platform partners do not perceive our user metrics to be accurate representations of our user base or user engagement, or if we discover material inaccuracies in our user metrics, our reputation may be harmed and customers and platform partners may be less willing to allocate their resources or spending to Momo or Tantan, which could negatively affect our business and operating results.
 
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We have granted, and expect to continue to grant, share options under our share incentive plans, which may result in increased share-based compensation expenses.
We have adopted several share incentive plans as of the date of this annual report for the purpose of granting share-based compensation awards to employees, directors and consultants to incentivize their performance and align their interests with ours. In November 2012, we adopted a share incentive plan, or the 2012 Plan, which was amended and restated in October 2013. In November 2014, we adopted the 2014 share incentive plan, or the 2014 Plan, pursuant to which a maximum aggregate of 14,031,194 Class A ordinary shares may be issued pursuant to all awards granted thereunder. Beginning in 2017, the number of shares reserved for future issuances under the 2014 Plan would be increased by a number equal to 1.5% of the total number of outstanding shares on the last day of the immediately preceding calendar year, or such lesser number of Class A ordinary shares as determined by our board of directors on the first day of each calendar year during the term of the 2014 Plan. With the adoption of the 2014 Plan, we will no longer grant any incentive shares under the 2012 Plan. In addition, in January 2015, Momo Technology Overseas Holding Company Limited, or Momo BVI, our wholly-owned BVI subsidiary, adopted a share incentive plan, or the BVI Plan. In March 2015, Tantan adopted the 2015 Share Incentive Plan, or the Tantan 2015 Plan, and in July 2018, Tantan adopted the 2018 Share Incentive Plan, or the Tantan 2018 Plan. With the adoption of the Tantan 2018 Plan, we will no longer grant any incentive awards under the Tantan 2015 Plan. As of March 31, 2021, options to purchase 28,769,414 Class A ordinary shares (excluding those already forfeited) had been granted under the 2012 Plan, 4,727,842 of which remained outstanding. In addition, as of March 31, 2021, options to purchase 34,865,185 Class A ordinary shares (excluding those already forfeited and cancelled) and 700,001 restricted share units had been granted under the 2014 Plan, of which 22,946,287 options remained outstanding and 234,375 restricted share units remained outstanding. As of March 31, 2021, options to purchase an aggregate of nil shares of Momo BVI under the BVI Plan remained outstanding. As of March 31, 2021, options to purchase 3,953,920 ordinary shares of Tantan (adjusted retrospectively for share split and excluding those that have been forfeited or redeemed) remained outstanding under the Tantan 2015 Plan and options to purchase 24,023,108 ordinary shares of Tantan (adjusted retrospectively for share split and excluding those that have been forfeited or redeemed) remained outstanding under the Tantan 2018 Plan. See “Item 6. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—B. Compensation” for a detailed discussion. We expect to incur share-based compensation expenses of RMB498.4 million, RMB341.7 million and RMB227.3 million in 2021, 2022, and after 2022, respectively, in connection with the currently outstanding share-based awards, and we may grant additional share-based awards under our share incentive plans, which will further increase our share-based compensation expenses. We believe the granting of share-based awards is of significant importance to our ability to attract and retain our employees, and we will continue to grant share-based awards to employees in the future. As a result, our expenses associated with share-based compensation may increase, which may have an adverse effect on our results of operations.
If we fail to implement and maintain an effective system of internal controls, we may be unable to accurately report our results of operations or prevent fraud or fail to meet our reporting obligations, and investor confidence and the market price of our ADSs may be materially and adversely affected.
We are subject to reporting obligations under the U.S. securities laws. The Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, as required by Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, has adopted rules requiring every public company to include a report of management in its annual report that contains management’s assessment of the effectiveness of such company’s internal controls over financial reporting. In addition, an independent registered public accounting firm must attest to and report on the effectiveness of the company’s internal control over financial reporting.
Our management has concluded that our internal controls over financial reporting were effective as of December 31, 2020. Our independent registered public accounting firm has issued an attestation report, which has concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was effective in all material aspects as of December 31, 2020. However, if we fail to maintain effective internal controls over financial reporting in the future, our management and our independent registered public accounting firm may not be able to conclude that we have effective internal controls over financial reporting at a reasonable assurance level. This could result in a loss of investor confidence in the reliability of our financial conditions which in turn could negatively impact the trading price of our ADSs and result in lawsuits being filed against us by our shareholders or otherwise harm our reputation. Furthermore, we have incurred and anticipate that we will continue to incur considerable costs and use significant management time and other resources in an effort to comply with Section 404 and other requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
 
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Our business, financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected by the ongoing
COVID-19
pandemic.
The ongoing
COVID-19
pandemic has continued to spread across the world and has created unique global and industry-wide challenges.
COVID-19
has resulted in quarantines, travel restrictions, and the temporary closure of facilities in China and many other countries. New
COVID-19
variants have also emerged in a few countries, potentially extending the period where
COVID-19
will negatively impact the global economy.
The vast majority our revenues and our workforce are concentrated in China. Consequently, our results of operations and financial performance may be adversely affected, to the extent that
COVID-19
exerts long-term negative impact on the Chinese economy. The disruption of
COVID-19
to business activities in China has been eliminated to a large extent, however, it is still difficult to predict how
COVID-19
will impact our business in the near term. For example, if a
COVID-19
variant strikes in a future wave, the prolonged social distancing control and the associated decline in outdoor activities may significantly limit our users’ urge to use services from social network platforms, such as our Momo and Tantan mobile applications, and some of our users may not be able to leave their hometown or may delay the time they get back to the big cities for work due to quarantine measures. Consequently, our user growth may be depressed and our user retention and engagement may be negatively impacted under such as scenario. In addition, the economic impact of
COVID-19
may also cause the sentiment, willingness and ability to spend of our paying users, especially our high paying users, to deteriorate. All of these factors may lead to a negative impact on our financial performance generally. The extent to which the
COVID-19
pandemic impacts our results will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain, including the availability and effectiveness of any new vaccines and the emergence of any new
COVID-19
variants, among others.
We face risks related to health epidemics and natural disasters.
In addition to the impact of
COVID-19,
our business could be adversely affected by the effects of natural disasters, other health epidemics or other public safety concerns affecting the PRC. In recent years, there have been outbreaks of epidemics in China and globally. Our business operations could be disrupted if one of our employees is suspected of having
COVID-19,
H1N1 flu, H7N9 flu, severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS, Zika virus, Ebola virus, avian flu or another epidemic, since it could require our employees to be quarantined and/or our offices to be disinfected. In addition, our results of operations could be adversely affected to the extent that the epidemic outbreaks harm the Chinese economy in general and the mobile internet industry in particular.
We are also vulnerable to natural disasters and other calamities. Although we have servers that are hosted in an offsite location, our backup system does not capture data on a real-time basis and we may be unable to recover certain data in the event of a server failure. We cannot assure you that any backup systems will be adequate to protect us from the effects of fire, floods, typhoons, earthquakes, power loss, telecommunications failures,
break-ins,
war, riots, terrorist attacks or similar events. Any of the foregoing events may give rise to server interruptions, breakdowns, system failures, technology platform failures or internet failures, which could cause the loss or corruption of data or malfunctions of software or hardware as well as adversely affect our ability to provide services on our platform.
We have limited insurance coverage.
The insurance industry in China is still at an early stage of development and business and litigation insurance products offered in China are limited. Other than the directors and officers liability insurance, we do not maintain any third-party liability, property, business interruption or
key-man
life insurance. The costs of insuring for these risks and the difficulties associated with acquiring such insurance on commercially reasonable terms make it impractical for us to have such insurance. In addition, any insurance policies that we maintain may not adequately cover our actual loss and we may not be able to successfully claim our losses under the insurance policies at all or on a timely basis. Any business disruption, litigation or natural disaster may cause us to incur substantial costs and divert our resources.
 
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Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure
If the PRC government finds that the agreements that establish the structure for operating our businesses in China do not comply with PRC regulations on foreign investment in internet and other related businesses, or if these regulations or their interpretation change in the future, we could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish our interests in those operations.
Current PRC laws and regulations impose certain restrictions or prohibitions on foreign ownership of companies that engage in internet and other related businesses, including the provision of internet content and online game operations. Specifically, foreign ownership of an internet content provider may not exceed 50%. Internet content and online game operations, which are critical to our business, are provided through a number of our PRC incorporated consolidated affiliated entities. Contractual arrangements between us and the consolidated affiliated entities and their respective shareholders allow us to exert effective control over each of these consolidated affiliated entities and enable us to obtain substantially all of the economic benefits arising from these consolidated affiliated entities and consolidate their financial results into our results of operations. Although the structure we have adopted is consistent with the longstanding industry practice and is commonly adopted by comparable companies in China, the PRC government may not agree that these contractual arrangements comply with existing PRC licensing, registration or other regulatory requirements or policies, or requirements or policies that may be adopted in the future.
In the opinion of our PRC counsel, Han Kun Law Offices, the ownership structure of our PRC subsidiaries and consolidated affiliated entities are in compliance with existing PRC laws, rules and regulations.
There are, however, substantial uncertainties regarding the interpretation and application of current or future PRC laws and regulations. Thus, we cannot assure you that the PRC government will not ultimately take a view contrary to the opinion of our PRC counsel. If we are found to be in violation of any PRC laws or regulations or if the contractual arrangements among our PRC subsidiaries, our consolidated affiliated entities and their respective shareholders are determined to be illegal or invalid by the PRC court, arbitral tribunal or regulatory authorities, the relevant governmental authorities would have broad discretion in dealing with such violation, including, without limitation:
 
   
revoke our business and operating licenses;
 
   
require us to discontinue or restrict operations;
 
   
restrict our right to collect revenues;
 
   
block our websites;
 
   
require us to restructure the operations in such a way as to compel us to establish a new enterprise,
re-apply
for the necessary licenses or relocate our businesses, staff and assets;
 
   
impose additional conditions or requirements with which we may not be able to comply; or
 
   
take other regulatory or enforcement actions against us that could be harmful to our business.
The imposition of any of these penalties may result in a material and adverse effect on our ability to conduct our business. In addition, if the imposition of any of these penalties causes us to lose the rights to direct the activities of our consolidated affiliated entities and their subsidiaries or the right to receive their economic benefits, we would no longer be able to consolidate our consolidated affiliated entities and their subsidiaries. We do not believe that any penalties imposed or actions taken by the PRC government would result in the liquidation of our company, our PRC subsidiaries, or our consolidated affiliated entities and their subsidiaries.
We rely on contractual arrangements with our consolidated affiliated entities and their respective shareholders for our operations in China, which may not be as effective in providing operational control as direct ownership.
Due to the PRC restrictions or prohibitions on foreign ownership of internet and other related businesses in China, we operate our business in China through a number of our consolidated affiliated entities, in which we have no ownership interest. We rely on a series of contractual arrangements with our consolidated affiliated entities and their respective shareholders, including the powers of attorney, to control and operate the business.
 
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Our ability to control the consolidated affiliated entities depends on the powers of attorney, pursuant to which our PRC subsidiaries can vote on all matters requiring shareholder approval in the consolidated affiliated entities. We believe these powers of attorney are legally enforceable but may not be as effective as direct equity ownership. These contractual arrangements are intended to provide us with effective control over our consolidated affiliated entities and allow us to obtain economic benefits from them. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure—Contractual Arrangements with Our Consolidated Affiliated Entities and Their Respective Shareholders” for more details about these contractual arrangements.
Although we have been advised by our PRC counsel, Han Kun Law Offices, that these contractual arrangements are valid, binding and enforceable under existing PRC laws and regulations, these contractual arrangements may not be as effective in providing control over our consolidated affiliated entities as direct ownership. If our consolidated affiliated entities or their respective shareholders fail to perform their respective obligations under the contractual arrangements, we may incur substantial costs and expend substantial resources to enforce our rights. All of these contractual arrangements are governed by and interpreted in accordance with PRC law, and disputes arising from these contractual arrangements will be resolved through arbitration in China. However, the legal system in China, particularly as it relates to arbitration proceedings, is not as developed as in other jurisdictions, such as the United States. See “—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—Uncertainties in the interpretation and enforcement of PRC laws and regulations could limit the legal protections available to you and us.” There are very few precedents and little official guidance as to how contractual arrangements in the context of a variable interest entity, or a consolidated affiliated entity, should be interpreted or enforced under PRC law. There remain significant uncertainties regarding the ultimate outcome of arbitration should legal action become necessary. These uncertainties could limit our ability to enforce these contractual arrangements. In addition, arbitration awards are final and can only be enforced in PRC courts through arbitration award recognition proceedings, which could cause additional expenses and delays. In the event we are unable to enforce these contractual arrangements or we experience significant delays or other obstacles in the process of enforcing these contractual arrangements, we may not be able to exert effective control over our consolidated affiliated entities and may lose control over the assets owned by our consolidated affiliated entities. As a result, we may be unable to consolidate our consolidated affiliated entities in our consolidated financial statements, our ability to conduct our business may be negatively affected, and our business operations could be severely disrupted, which could materially and adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
We may lose the ability to use and enjoy assets held by our consolidated affiliated entities that are important to the operation of our business if our consolidated affiliated entities declare bankruptcy or become subject to a dissolution or liquidation proceeding.
Our consolidated affiliated entities hold certain assets that are important to our business operations, including the value-added telecommunication service license concerning the internet information service, or the ICP license, the internet culture operation license and the internet audio/video program transmission license. Under our contractual arrangements, the respective shareholders of our consolidated affiliated entities may not voluntarily liquidate our consolidated affiliated entities or approve them to sell, transfer, mortgage or dispose of their respective assets or legal or beneficial interests exceeding certain threshold in the business in any manner without our prior consent. However, in the event that the shareholders breach this obligation and voluntarily liquidate our consolidated affiliated entities, or our consolidated affiliated entities declare bankruptcy, or all or part of their assets become subject to liens or rights of third-party creditors, we may be unable to continue some or all of our business operations, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. Furthermore, if our consolidated affiliated entities undergo a voluntary or involuntary liquidation proceeding, their respective shareholders or unrelated third-party creditors may claim rights to some or all of its assets, thereby hindering our ability to operate our business, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Contractual arrangements we have entered into with our consolidated affiliated entities may be subject to scrutiny by the PRC tax authorities. A finding that we owe additional taxes could significantly reduce our consolidated net income and the value of your investment.
Pursuant to applicable PRC laws and regulations, arrangements and transactions among related parties may be subject to audit or challenge by the PRC tax authorities. We may be subject to adverse tax consequences if the PRC tax authorities determine that the contractual arrangements among our PRC subsidiaries, our consolidated affiliated entities and their respective shareholders are not on an arm’s length basis and therefore constitute favorable transfer pricing. As a result, the PRC tax authorities could require that our consolidated affiliated entities adjust their taxable income upward for PRC tax purposes. Such an adjustment could adversely affect us by increasing our consolidated affiliated entities’ tax expenses without reducing the tax expenses of our PRC subsidiaries, subjecting our consolidated affiliated entities to late payment fees and other penalties for under-payment of taxes, and resulting in our PRC subsidiaries’ loss of their preferential tax treatment. Our consolidated results of operations may be adversely affected if our consolidated affiliated entities’ tax liabilities increase or if they are subject to late payment fees or other penalties.
 
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If the chops of our PRC subsidiaries and our consolidated affiliated entities are not kept safely, are stolen or are used by unauthorized persons or for unauthorized purposes, the corporate governance of these entities could be severely and adversely compromised.
In China, a company chop or seal serves as the legal representation of the company towards third parties even when unaccompanied by a signature. Each legally registered company in China is required to maintain a company chop, which must be registered with the local Public Security Bureau. In addition to this mandatory company chop, companies may have several other chops which can be used for specific purposes. The chops of our PRC subsidiaries and our consolidated affiliated entities are generally held securely by personnel designated or approved by us in accordance with our internal control procedures. To the extent those chops are not kept safe, are stolen or are used by unauthorized persons or for unauthorized purposes, the corporate governance of these entities could be severely and adversely compromised and those corporate entities may be bound to abide by the terms of any documents so chopped, even if they were chopped by an individual who lacked the requisite power and authority to do so.
The shareholders of our consolidated affiliated entities may have potential conflicts of interest with us, which may materially and adversely affect our business.
Some of the shareholders of our consolidated affiliated entities are also our directors or officers. Conflicts of interest may arise between the roles of these individuals as directors or officers of our company and as shareholders of our consolidated affiliated entities. We rely on these individuals to abide by the laws of the Cayman Islands, which provide that directors and officers owe a fiduciary duty to our company to act in good faith and in the best interest of our company and not to use their positions for personal gain. The shareholders of our consolidated affiliated entities have executed powers of attorney to appoint our PRC subsidiaries, or a person designated by our PRC subsidiaries to vote on their behalf and exercise voting rights as shareholders of our consolidated affiliated entities. We cannot assure you that when conflicts arise, shareholders of our consolidated affiliated entities will act in the best interest of our company or that conflicts will be resolved in our favor. If we cannot resolve any conflicts of interest or disputes between us and these shareholders, we would have to rely on legal proceedings, which may be expensive, time-consuming and disruptive to our operations. There is also substantial uncertainty as to the outcome of any such legal proceedings.
We may rely on dividends paid by our PRC subsidiaries to fund cash and financing requirements. Any limitation on the ability of our PRC subsidiaries to pay dividends to us could have a material adverse effect on our ability to conduct our business and to pay dividends to holders of the ADSs and our ordinary shares.
We are a holding company, and we may rely on dividends to be paid by our PRC subsidiaries for our cash and financing requirements, including the funds necessary to pay dividends and other cash distributions to the holders of the ADSs and our ordinary shares and service any debt we may incur. If our PRC subsidiaries incur debt on their own behalf in the future, the instruments governing the debt may restrict their ability to pay dividends or make other distributions to us.
Under PRC laws and regulations, a foreign-invested enterprise in the PRC, such as Beijing Momo Information Technology Co., Ltd., or Beijing Momo IT, may pay dividends only out of its accumulated profits as determined in accordance with PRC accounting standards and regulations. In addition, any company, including a foreign-invested enterprise is required to set aside 10% of its
after-tax
profits each year to fund certain statutory common reserve funds, until the aggregate amount of such funds reach 50% of its registered capital. If the statutory common reserve funds are not sufficient to make up its losses in previous years (if any), the company shall use the profits of the current year to make up the losses before accruing the statutory common reserve funds. At the discretion of the shareholders of a foreign-invested enterprise, it may, after accruing the statutory common reserve funds, allocate a portion of its
after-tax
profits based on PRC accounting standards to discretionary common reserve funds. These statutory common reserve funds and discretionary common reserve funds are not distributable as cash dividends. Any limitation on the ability of our wholly-owned PRC subsidiaries to pay dividends or make other distributions to us could materially and adversely limit our ability to grow, make investments or acquisitions that could be beneficial to our business, pay dividends, or otherwise fund and conduct our business.
 
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Risks Related to Doing Business in China
Uncertainties in the interpretation and enforcement of PRC laws and regulations could limit the legal protections available to you and us.
The PRC legal system is based on written statutes and court decisions have limited precedential value. The PRC legal system evolves rapidly, and the interpretations of many laws, regulations and rules may contain inconsistencies and enforcement of these laws, regulations and rules involves uncertainties.
From time to time, we may have to resort to administrative and court proceedings to enforce our legal rights. However, since PRC judicial and administrative authorities have significant discretion in interpreting and implementing statutory and contractual terms, it may be more difficult to predict the outcome of a judicial or administrative proceeding than in more developed legal systems. Furthermore, the PRC legal system is based, in part, on government policies and internal rules, some of which are not published in a timely manner, or at all, but they may have retroactive effect. As a result, we may not always be aware of any potential violation of these policies and rules. Such unpredictability towards our contractual, property (including intellectual property) and procedural rights could adversely affect our business and impede our ability to continue our operations.
We face uncertainties with respect to the implementation of the Foreign Investment Law and how it may impact the viability of our current corporate structure, corporate governance and business operations.
On March 15, 2019, the National People’s Congress approved the Foreign Investment Law, which took effect on January 1, 2020 and replaced the Sino-Foreign Equity Joint Venture Enterprise Law, the Sino-Foreign Cooperative Joint Venture Enterprise Law and the Foreign Owned Enterprise Law, together with their implementation rules and ancillary regulations, to become the legal foundation for foreign investment in the PRC. Further to the Foreign Investment Law, on December 26, 2019, the State Council of the PRC passed the Regulation for Implementing the Foreign Investment Law of the People’s Republic of China, which took effect on January 1, 2020. The Foreign Investment Law and its implementing regulations embody an expected PRC regulatory trend to rationalize its foreign investment regulatory regime in line with prevailing international practice and the legislative efforts to unify the corporate legal requirements for both foreign and domestic investments. Under the Foreign Investment Law, “foreign investment” refers to the investment activities in China directly or indirectly conducted by foreign individuals, enterprises or other entities. The Foreign Investment Law and its implementing regulations stipulate three forms of foreign investment, and does not explicitly stipulate contractual arrangements as a form of foreign investment. However, the Foreign Investment Law provides a
catch-all
provision under the definition of “foreign investment” to include investments made by foreign investors in China through means stipulated by laws or administrative regulations, or other methods prescribed by the State Council. Therefore, there are possibilities that future laws, administrative regulations or provisions prescribed by the State Council may regard contractual arrangements as a form of foreign investment, at which time it would be uncertain as to whether foreign investment via contractual arrangements would be deemed to be in violation of the foreign investment access requirements and how the above-mentioned contractual arrangements would be regulated. There is no guarantee that the contractual arrangements and our business will not be materially and adversely affected in the future due to changes in PRC laws and regulations. If future laws, administrative regulations or provisions prescribed by the State Council mandate further actions to be completed by companies with existing contractual arrangements, we may face substantial uncertainties as to whether such actions can be timely completed, or at all. Failure to take timely and appropriate measures to cope with any of these or similar regulatory compliance challenges could materially and adversely affect our current corporate structure and business operations.
If we fail to obtain and maintain the requisite licenses and approvals required under the complex regulatory environment applicable to our businesses in China, or if we are required to take compliance actions that are time-consuming or costly, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.
The internet and mobile industries in China are highly regulated. We are required to obtain and maintain applicable licenses and approvals from different regulatory authorities in order to provide their current services. Under the current PRC regulatory scheme, a number of regulatory agencies, including but not limited to, the National Radio and Television Administration, or NRTA, the National Press and Publication Administration, or NPPA (formerly known as the General Administration of Press and Publication, or GAPP), the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, or MCT, the MIIT, and the State Council Information Office, or SCIO, jointly regulate all major aspects of the internet industry, including the mobile internet and mobile games businesses. Operators must obtain various government approvals and licenses for relevant mobile business.
 
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We have obtained the ICP licenses for provision of internet information services and operation of online games and the internet audio/video program transmission license for our live video service. These licenses are essential to the operation of our business and are generally subject to regular government review or renewal. However, we cannot assure you that we can successfully renew these licenses in a timely manner or that these licenses are sufficient to conduct all of our present or future business. In addition, we cannot assure you that we will be able to secure any additional licenses that we may need to conduct our operations.
We are also required to obtain an internet publishing license from NPPA in order to publish online games through the mobile networks. As of the date of this annual report, we have yet to obtain an internet publishing license, and are in the process of preparing the application documents. We have entered into several cooperation agreements with entities holding the internet publishing license in order to publish online games. Each mobile game is also required to be approved by NPPA prior to the commencement of its operations in China. As of the date of this annual report, we have obtained approvals from the NPPA for all two of the games. In the event of any failure to meet the above-mentioned requirements, we may no longer be able to offer games on our platform, which would have an adverse effect on our business. If we fail to complete, obtain or maintain any of the required licenses or approvals, we may be subject to various penalties, such as confiscation of the net revenues that were generated through online games, the imposition of fines and the discontinuation or restriction of our operations of online games.
Failure to complete, obtain or maintain any of the required licenses or approvals has resulted in, and may in the future result in, us being subjected to various penalties, such as confiscation of the net revenues that were generated through the unlicensed internet or mobile activities, the imposition of fines and the discontinuation or restriction of our operations. Any such penalties may disrupt our business operations and materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our ADSs may be delisted under the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act if the PCAOB is unable to inspect auditors who are located in China. The delisting of our ADSs, or the threat of their being delisted, may materially and adversely affect the value of your investment. Additionally, the inability of the PCAOB to conduct inspections deprives our investors with the benefits of such inspections.
The Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, or the HFCA Act, was enacted on December 18, 2020. The HFCA Act states if the SEC determines that we have filed audit reports issued by a registered public accounting firm that has not been subject to inspection by the PCAOB for three consecutive years beginning in 2021, the SEC shall prohibit our shares or ADSs from being traded on a national securities exchange or in the over the counter trading market in the U.S.
Our auditor, the independent registered public accounting firm that issues the audit report included elsewhere in this annual report, as an auditor of companies that are traded publicly in the United States and a firm registered with the PCAOB, is subject to laws in the United States pursuant to which the PCAOB conducts regular inspections to assess its compliance with the applicable professional standards. Since our auditor is located in China, a jurisdiction where the PCAOB has been unable to conduct inspections without the approval of the Chinese authorities, our auditor is currently not inspected by the PCAOB.
On March 24, 2021, the SEC adopted interim final rules relating to the implementation of certain disclosure and documentation requirements of the HFCA Act. We will be required to comply with these rules if the SEC identifies us as having a
“non-inspection”
year under a process to be subsequently established by the SEC. The SEC is assessing how to implement other requirements of the HFCA Act, including the listing and trading prohibition requirements described above.
The SEC may propose additional rules or guidance that could impact us if our auditor is not subject to PCAOB inspection. For example, on August 6, 2020, the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, or the PWG, issued the
Report on Protecting United States Investors from Significant Risks from Chinese Companies
to the then President of the United States. This report recommended the SEC implement five recommendations to address companies from jurisdictions that do not provide the PCAOB with sufficient access to fulfil its statutory mandate. Some of the concepts of these recommendations were implemented with the enactment of the HFCA Act. However, some of the recommendations were more stringent than the HFCA Act. For example, if a company was not subject to PCAOB inspection, the report recommended that the transition period before a company would be delisted would end on January 1, 2022.
 
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The SEC has announced that the SEC staff is preparing a consolidated proposal for the rules regarding the implementation of the HFCA Act to address the recommendations in the PWG report. It is unclear when the SEC will complete its rulemaking and when such rules will become effective and what, if any, of the PWG recommendations will be adopted. The implications of this possible regulation in addition to the requirements of the HFCA Act are uncertain. Such uncertainty could cause the market price of our ADSs to be materially and adversely affected, and our securities could be delisted or prohibited from being traded
“over-the-counter”
earlier than would be required by the HFCA Act. If our securities are unable to be listed on another securities exchange by then, such a delisting would substantially impair your ability to sell or purchase our ADSs when you wish to do so, and the risk and uncertainty associated with a potential delisting would have a negative impact on the price of our ADSs.
The PCAOB’s inability to conduct inspections in China prevents it from fully evaluating the audits and quality control procedures of our independent registered public accounting firm. As a result, we and investors in our ordinary shares are deprived of the benefits of such PCAOB inspections. The inability of the PCAOB to conduct inspections of auditors in China makes it more difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of our independent registered public accounting firm’s audit procedures or quality control procedures as compared to auditors outside of China that are subject to the PCAOB inspections, which could cause investors and potential investors in our stock to lose confidence in our audit procedures and reported financial information and the quality of our financial statements.
In May 2013, the PCAOB announced that it had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on Enforcement Cooperation with the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or the CSRC, and the PRC Ministry of Finance, which establishes a cooperative framework between the parties for the production and exchange of audit documents relevant to investigations undertaken by the PCAOB in the PRC or by the CSRC or the PRC Ministry of Finance in the United States. The PCAOB continues to be in discussions with the CSRC and the PRC Ministry of Finance to permit joint inspections in the PRC of audit firms that are registered with the PCAOB and audit Chinese companies that trade on U.S. exchanges.
Regulation and censorship of information disseminated over the mobile and internet in China may adversely affect our business and subject us to liability for content posted on our platform.
Internet companies in China are subject to a variety of existing and new rules, regulations, policies, and license and permit requirements. In connection with enforcing these rules, regulations, policies and requirements, relevant government authorities may suspend services by, or revoke licenses of, any internet or mobile content service provider that is deemed to provide illicit or pornographic information or content online or on mobile devices, and such activities may be intensified in connection with any ongoing government campaigns to eliminate prohibited content online. The competent government authorities, including the Cyberspace Administration of China, the MIIT and the Ministry of Public Security, may crack down on illicit and pornographic information and content in the internet information services industry from time to time. Applicable sanctions, including fines, revocation of online publishing and online video licenses, and criminal prosecution, may be imposed on the provider of such information or content or its responsible officers.
We endeavor to eliminate illicit and pornographic information and content from our platform. We have made substantial investments in resources to monitor content that users post on our platform and the way in which our users engage with each other through our platform. Since our inception, we have terminated tens of million user accounts because we viewed content generated by those users to be indecent and we terminated a substantial percentage of new user accounts in order to eliminate spam, fictitious accounts and indecent content from our platform. We use a variety of methods to ensure our platform remains a healthy and positive experience for our users, including a designated content management team, licensed third-party software, and our own data analytics software. Although we employ these methods to filter our users and content posted by our users, we cannot be sure that our internal content control efforts will be sufficient to remove all content that may be viewed as indecent or otherwise
non-compliant
with PRC law and regulations. Government standards and interpretations as to what constitutes illicit and pornographic online information, content or behavior are subject to interpretation and may change. Government standards and interpretations may change in a manner that could render our current monitoring efforts insufficient. The Chinese government has wide discretion in regulating online activities and, irrespective of our efforts to control the content on our platform, government campaigns and other actions to reduce illicit and pornographic content and activities could subject us to negative press or regulatory challenges and sanctions, including fines, the suspension or revocation of our licenses to operate in China or a ban of our platform, including closure of one or more parts of or our entire business. Further, our senior management could be held criminally liable if we are deemed to be profiting from illicit and pornographic content on our platform. We cannot assure you that our business and operations will be immune from government actions or sanctions in the future. If government actions or sanctions are brought against us, or if there are widespread rumors that government actions or sanctions have been brought against us, our reputation could be harmed, we may lose users, customers or platform partners, our revenues and results of operation may be materially and adversely affected and the price of our ADSs could be dramatically reduced.
 
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Adverse changes in economic and political policies of the PRC government could have a material and adverse effect on overall economic growth in China, which could materially and adversely affect our business.
Our revenues are substantially generated in China. Accordingly, our results of operations, financial condition and prospects are influenced by economic, political and legal developments in China. Economic reforms begun in the late 1970s have resulted in significant economic growth. However, any economic reform policies or measures in China may from time to time be modified or revised. China’s economy differs from the economies of most developed countries in many respects, including with respect to the amount of government involvement, level of development, growth rate, control of foreign exchange and allocation of resources. While the PRC economy has experienced significant growth in the past 30 years, growth has been uneven across different regions and between economic sectors. The PRC government exercises significant control over China’s economic growth through strategically allocating resources, controlling the payment of foreign currency-denominated obligations, setting monetary policy and providing preferential treatment to particular industries or companies. Although the Chinese economy has grown significantly in the past decade, that growth may not continue, as evidenced by the slowing of the growth of the Chinese economy since 2012. In addition,
COVID-19
may continue to have a material impact on the Chinese economy in 2021. Any adverse changes in economic conditions in China, in the policies of the Chinese government or in the laws and regulations in China could have a material adverse effect on the overall economic growth of China. Such developments could adversely affect our business and operating results, lead to reduction in demand for our services and adversely affect our competitive position.
A severe or prolonged downturn in the Chinese or global economy could materially and adversely affect our business and financial condition.
The global macroeconomic environment is facing challenges. The growth rate of the Chinese economy has gradually slowed in recent years and the trend may continue. There is considerable uncertainty over the long-term effects of the monetary and fiscal policies adopted by the central banks and financial authorities of some of the world’s leading economies, including the United States and China. Unrest, terrorist threats and the potential for war in the Middle East and elsewhere may increase market volatility across the globe. There have also been concerns on the relationship among China and other countries, including the surrounding Asian countries, which may potentially have economic effects. In particular, there is significant uncertainty about the future relationship between the United States and China with respect to trade policies, treaties, government regulations and tariffs. Economic conditions in China are sensitive to global economic conditions, as well as changes in domestic economic and political policies and the expected or perceived overall economic growth rate in China. Any severe or prolonged slowdown in the global or PRC economy may materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition. In addition, continued turbulence in the international markets may adversely affect our ability to access capital markets to meet liquidity needs.
Under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law, we may be classified as a PRC “resident enterprise,” which could result in unfavorable tax consequences to us and our shareholders and have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and the value of your investment.
Under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law, or the EIT Law, which became effective on January 1, 2008, as amended on February 24, 2017 and further amended on December 29, 2018, an enterprise established outside the PRC with “de facto management bodies” within the PRC is considered a “resident enterprise” for PRC enterprise income tax purposes and is generally subject to a uniform 25% enterprise income tax rate on its worldwide income. In 2009, the State Administration of Taxation, or the SAT, issued the Notice Regarding the Determination of Chinese-Controlled Overseas Incorporated Enterprises as PRC Tax Resident Enterprise on the Basis of De Facto Management Bodies, or SAT Circular 82, which provides certain specific criteria for determining whether the “de facto management body” of a
PRC-controlled
enterprise that is incorporated offshore is located in China. Further to SAT Circular 82, on July 27, 2011, the SAT issued the Administrative Measures for Enterprise Income Tax of Chinese-Controlled Offshore Incorporated Resident Enterprises (Trial), or SAT Bulletin 45, to provide more guidance on the implementation of SAT Circular 82; the bulletin became effective on September 1, 2011. SAT Bulletin 45 clarified certain issues in the areas of resident status determination, post-determination administration and competent tax authorities’ procedures.
 
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According to SAT Circular 82, an offshore incorporated enterprise controlled by a PRC enterprise or a PRC enterprise group will be considered as a PRC tax resident enterprise by virtue of having its “de facto management body” in China and will be subject to PRC enterprise income tax on its worldwide income only if all of the following conditions are met: (a) the senior management and core management departments in charge of its daily operations function have their presence mainly in the PRC; (b) its financial and human resources decisions are subject to determination or approval by persons or bodies in the PRC; (c) its major assets, accounting books, company seals, and minutes and files of its board and shareholders’ meetings are located or kept in the PRC; and (d) more than half of the enterprise’s directors or senior management with voting rights habitually reside in the PRC. SAT Bulletin 45 specifies that when provided with a copy of Chinese tax resident determination certificate from a resident Chinese controlled offshore incorporated enterprise, the payer should not withhold 10% income tax when paying the Chinese-sourced dividends, interest, royalties, among others, to the Chinese controlled offshore incorporated enterprise.
Although SAT Circular 82 and SAT Bulletin 45 only apply to offshore incorporated enterprises controlled by PRC enterprises or PRC enterprise groups and not those controlled by PRC individuals or foreigners, the determination criteria set forth therein may reflect the SAT’s general position on how the term “de facto management body” could be applied in determining the tax resident status of offshore enterprises, regardless of whether they are controlled by PRC enterprises, individuals or foreigners.
If the PRC tax authorities determine that we or any of our
non-PRC
subsidiaries is a PRC resident enterprise for PRC enterprise income tax purposes, then we or any such
non-PRC
subsidiary could be subject to PRC tax at a rate of 25% on its world-wide income, which could materially reduce our net income. In addition, we will also be subject to PRC enterprise income tax reporting obligations.
If the PRC tax authorities determine that our company is a PRC resident enterprise for PRC enterprise income tax purposes, gains realized on the sale or other disposition of ADSs or ordinary shares may be subject to PRC tax, at a rate of 10% in the case of
non-PRC
enterprise holders or 20% in the case of
non-PRC
individual holders, if such gains are deemed to be from PRC sources. In addition, any payments of dividends or interest on the ADSs, ordinary shares may be subject to PRC withholding tax at a rate of 10% in the case of
non-PRC
enterprise holders or 20% in the case of
non-PRC
individual holders, if such dividends or interest payments are deemed to be from PRC sources. Any PRC tax liability may be reduced under applicable tax treaties. However, it is unclear whether if we are considered a PRC resident enterprise, holders of our ADSs, ordinary shares will be able to claim the benefit of income tax treaties between China and other countries.
Further, if we are required to withhold PRC tax from interest payments on the ADSs, we may be required, subject to certain exceptions, to pay additional amounts as will result in receipt by holders of ADSs of such amounts as would have been received had no such withholding been required. The requirement to pay additional amounts will increase the cost of servicing interest payments on the ADSs and could have an adverse effect on our financial condition.
We face uncertainty with respect to indirect transfer of equity interests in PRC resident enterprises by their
non-PRC
holding companies.
We face uncertainties regarding the reporting on and consequences of previous private equity financing transactions involving the transfer and exchange of shares in our company by
non-resident
investors. On April 30, 2009, the Ministry of Finance, or the MOF, and the SAT jointly issued the Notice on Issues Concerning Process of Enterprise Income Tax in Enterprise Restructuring Business, or Circular 59, to enhance the scrutiny over the direct or indirect transfer of equity interests in a PRC resident enterprise by a
non-resident
enterprise.
On February 3, 2015, the SAT issued a Public Notice 2015 No. 7, or Public Notice 7, which extends its tax jurisdiction to capture not only indirect transfers but also transactions involving transfer of immovable property in China and assets held under the establishment and place in China of a foreign company through the offshore transfer of a foreign intermediate holding company. Public Notice 7 also addresses the transfer of the equity interest in a foreign intermediate holding company widely. In addition, Public Notice 7 provides clear criteria on how to assess reasonable commercial purposes and introduces safe harbor scenarios applicable to internal group restructurings. However, it also brings challenges to both the foreign transferor and transferee (or other person who is obligated to pay for the transfer) of the indirect transfers as they have to make self-assessment on whether the transaction should be subject to PRC tax and to file or withhold the PRC tax accordingly. In October 2017, the SAT issued the Announcement of the State Administration of Taxation on Issues Concerning the Withholding of
Non-resident
Enterprise Income Tax at Source, or Bulletin 37, which came into effect in December 2017 and was amended in June 2018. The Bulletin 37 further clarifies the practice and procedures of the withholding of
non-resident
enterprise income tax. Where a
non-resident
enterprise transfers taxable assets indirectly by disposing of the equity interests of an overseas holding company, which constitutes an indirect transfer, the
non-resident
enterprise as either the transferor or the transferee, or the PRC entity that directly owns the taxable assets, may report such indirect transfer to the relevant tax authority.
 
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Where
non-resident
investors were involved in our private equity financing, if such transactions were determined by the tax authorities to lack reasonable commercial purpose, we and our
non-resident
investors may become at risk of being taxed under Bulletin 37 and Public Notice 7 and may be required to expend valuable resources to comply with Bulletin 37 and Public Notice 7 or to establish that we should not be taxed under Bulletin 37 and Public Notice 7, which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations or the
non-resident
investors’ investments in us.
The PRC tax authorities have the discretion under SAT Circular 59, Bulletin 37 and Public Notice 7 to make adjustments to the taxable capital gains based on the difference between the fair value of the equity interests transferred and the cost of investment. We may pursue acquisitions in the future that may involve complex corporate structures. If we are considered a
non-resident
enterprise under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law and if the PRC tax authorities make adjustments to the taxable income of the transactions under SAT Circular 59, Bulletin 37 and Public Notice 7, our income tax costs associated with such potential acquisitions will be increased, which may have an adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
China’s M&A Rules and certain other PRC regulations establish complex procedures for some acquisitions of Chinese companies by foreign investors, which could make it more difficult for us to pursue growth through acquisitions in China.
The Regulations on Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Enterprises by Foreign Investors, or the M&A Rules, and other recently adopted regulations and rules concerning mergers and acquisitions established additional procedures and requirements that could make merger and acquisition activities by foreign investors more time consuming and complex. For example, the M&A Rules require that the Ministry of Commerce, or MOFCOM, be notified in advance of any
change-of-control
transaction in which a foreign investor takes control of a PRC domestic enterprise, if (i) any important industry is concerned, (ii) such transaction involves factors that impact or may impact national economic security, or (iii) such transaction will lead to a change in control of a domestic enterprise which holds a famous trademark or PRC time-honored brand. Moreover, the Anti-Monopoly Law promulgated by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on August 30, 2007 and effective as of August 1, 2008 and the Provisions of the State Council on the Standard for Declaration of Concentration of Business Operators, promulgated on August 3, 2008 and amended on September 18, 2018, require that transactions which are deemed concentrations and involve parties with specified turnover thresholds (i.e., during the previous fiscal year, (i) the total global turnover of all operators participating in the transaction exceeds RMB10 billion and at least two of these operators each had a turnover of more than RMB400 million within China, or (ii) the total turnover within China of all the operators participating in the concentration exceeds RMB2 billion, and at least two of these operators each had a turnover of more than RMB400 million within China) must be cleared by the Anti-Monopoly Law enforcement authority of the State Council before they can be completed. In addition, on February 3, 2011, the General Office of the State Council promulgated a Notice on Establishing the Security Review System for Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Enterprises by Foreign Investors, or the Circular 6, which officially established a security review system for mergers and acquisitions of domestic enterprises by foreign investors. Further, on August 25, 2011, MOFCOM promulgated the Regulations on Implementation of Security Review System for the Merger and Acquisition of Domestic Enterprises by Foreign Investors, or the MOFCOM Security Review Regulations, which became effective on September 1, 2011, to implement the Circular 6. Under Circular 6, a security review is required for mergers and acquisitions by foreign investors having “national defense and security” concerns and mergers and acquisitions by which foreign investors may acquire the “de facto control” of domestic enterprises with “national security” concerns. Under the MOFCOM Security Review Regulations, MOFCOM focused on the substance and actual impact of the transaction when deciding whether a specific merger or acquisition was subject to security review. If MOFCOM decided that a specific merger or acquisition is subject to security review, it would submit it to the Inter-Ministerial Panel, an authority established under the Circular 6 led by the National Development and Reform Commission, or NDRC, and MOFCOM under the leadership of the State Council, to carry out security review. The regulations prohibit foreign investors from bypassing the security review by structuring transactions through trusts, indirect investments, leases, loans, control through contractual arrangements or offshore transactions. There is no explicit provision or official interpretation stating that the merging or acquisition of a company engaged in the social network, live video, or mobile games business requires security review, and there is no requirement that acquisitions completed prior to the promulgation of the Circular 6 are subject to review. On April 30, 2019, the NDRC issued an announcement, i.e., 2019 Announcement 4, stating that the security review is now subject to its review because of the government reformation. In December 2020, the NDRC and the MOFCOM promulgated the Measures for the Security Review of Foreign Investment, which came into effect on January 18, 2021. The NDRC and the MOFCOM will establish a working mechanism office in charge of the security review of foreign investment. Investment in certain key areas with bearing on national security, such as important cultural products and services, important information technology and internet services and products, key technologies and other important areas with bearing on national security which results in the acquisition of de facto control of investee companies, shall be filed with a specifically established office before such investment is carried out.
 
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In the future, we may grow our business by acquiring complementary businesses. Complying with the requirements of the above-mentioned regulations and other relevant rules to complete such transactions could be time consuming, and any required approval processes, including obtaining approval from the NDRC or its local counterparts may delay or inhibit our ability to complete such transactions. It is unclear whether our business would be deemed to fall into the industry that raises “national defense and security” or “national security” concerns. However, NDRC or other government agencies may publish explanations in the future determining that our business is in an industry subject to the security review, in which case our future acquisitions in the PRC, including those by way of entering into contractual control arrangements with target entities, may be closely scrutinized or prohibited.
PRC regulations relating to offshore investment activities by PRC residents may limit our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to increase its registered capital or distribute profits to us or otherwise expose us to liability and penalties under PRC law.
The State Administration of Foreign Exchange, or the SAFE, promulgated the Circular on Relevant Issues Relating to Foreign Exchange Control on Domestic Resident’s Offshore Investment and Financing and Roundtrip Investment through Special Purpose Vehicles, or SAFE Circular 37, in July 2014 that requires PRC residents or entities to register with SAFE or its local branch in connection with their establishment or control of an offshore entity established for the purpose of overseas investment or financing. In addition, such PRC residents or entities must update their SAFE registrations when the offshore special purpose vehicle undergoes material events relating to any change of basic information (including change of such PRC citizens or residents, name and operation term), increases or decreases in investment amount, transfers or exchanges of shares, or mergers or divisions.
If our shareholders who are PRC residents or entities do not complete their registration with the local SAFE branches, our PRC subsidiaries may be prohibited from distributing their profits and proceeds from any reduction in capital, share transfer or liquidation to us, and we may be restricted in our ability to contribute additional capital to our PRC subsidiaries. Moreover, failure to comply with the SAFE registration described above could result in liability under PRC laws for evasion of applicable foreign exchange restrictions.
To our knowledge, Messrs. Yan Tang, Yong Li, Zhiwei Li and Xiaoliang Lei have completed SAFE registration in connection with our financings and share transfer. However, we cannot compel all of our beneficial owners to comply with SAFE registration requirements. As a result, we cannot assure you that all of our shareholders or beneficial owners who are PRC residents or entities have complied with, and will in the future make or obtain any applicable registrations or approvals required by, SAFE regulations. Failure by such shareholders or beneficial owners to comply with SAFE regulations, or failure by us to amend the foreign exchange registrations of our PRC subsidiaries, could subject us to fines or legal sanctions, restrict our overseas or cross-border investment activities, limit our subsidiaries’ ability to make distributions or pay dividends or affect our ownership structure, which could adversely affect our business and prospects.
Failure to comply with PRC regulations regarding the registration requirements for employee stock ownership plans or share option plans may subject the PRC plan participants or us to fines and other legal or administrative sanctions.
In February 2012, SAFE promulgated the Notices on Issues Concerning the Foreign Exchange Administration for Domestic Individuals Participating in Stock Incentive Plans of Overseas Publicly-Listed Companies, or Circular 7. Under the Circular 7 and other relevant rules and regulations, PRC residents who participate in stock incentive plan in an overseas publicly-listed company are required to register with SAFE or its local branches and complete certain other procedures. Participants of a stock incentive plan who are PRC residents must retain a qualified PRC agent, which could be a PRC subsidiary of such overseas publicly listed company or another qualified institution selected by such PRC subsidiary, to conduct the SAFE registration and other procedures with respect to the stock incentive plan on behalf of its participants. Such participants must also retain an overseas entrusted institution to handle matters in connection with their exercise of stock options, the purchase and sale of corresponding stocks or interests and fund transfers. In addition, the PRC agent is required to amend the SAFE registration with respect to the stock incentive plan if there is any material change to the stock incentive plan, the PRC agent or the overseas entrusted institution or other material changes. We and our PRC employees who have been granted stock options are subject to these regulations. Failure of our PRC stock option holders to complete their SAFE registrations may subject these PRC residents to fines and legal sanctions and may also limit our ability to contribute additional capital into our PRC subsidiaries, limit our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to distribute dividends to us, or otherwise materially adversely affect our business.
 
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PRC regulation of loans to, and direct investment in, PRC entities by offshore holding companies and governmental control of currency conversion may restrict or prevent us from using offshore funds to make loans to our PRC subsidiaries and consolidated affiliated entities and their subsidiaries, or to make additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries.
We are an offshore holding company conducting our operations in China through our PRC subsidiaries and consolidated affiliated entities and their subsidiaries. We may make loans to our PRC subsidiaries and consolidated affiliated entities and their subsidiaries, or we may make additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries, or we may establish new PRC subsidiaries and make capital contributions to these new PRC subsidiaries, or we may acquire offshore entities with business operations in China in an offshore transaction.
Most of these ways are subject to PRC regulations and approvals. For example, loans by us to our wholly-owned PRC subsidiaries to finance their activities cannot exceed statutory limits and must be registered with the local counterpart of SAFE. If we decide to finance our wholly-owned PRC subsidiaries by means of capital contributions, these capital contributions must be filed with the local counterpart of the State Administration for Market Regulation. Due to the restrictions imposed on loans in foreign currencies extended to any PRC domestic companies, we are not likely to make such loans to Beijing Momo, which is PRC domestic company. Further, we are not likely to finance the activities of Beijing Momo by means of capital contributions due to regulatory restrictions relating to foreign investment in PRC domestic enterprises engaged in mobile internet services, online games and related businesses.
On March 30, 2015, SAFE promulgated the Circular on Reforming the Management Approach Regarding the Foreign Exchange Capital Settlement of Foreign-invested Enterprises, or SAFE Circular 19, which upon its effective date as of June 1, 2015. Circular 19 provides that, among other things, the foreign-invested company may convert the foreign currency in its capital account into RMB on a “at will” basis and the RMB funds so converted can be used for equity investments provided that equity investment is included in the business scope of such foreign-invested company.
On June 9, 2016, SAFE promulgated the Circular on Reforming and Regulating of Administrative Policy on Settlement of Foreign Exchange of Capital Account, or SAFE Circular 16, which became effective on June 9, 2016. According to SAFE Circular 16, the foreign exchange capital of foreign-invested enterprises, or FIEs, foreign debt and funds raised through offshore listings may be settled on a discretionary basis, and can be settled at banks. The proportion of such discretionary settlement is temporarily determined as 100%. The RMB converted from relevant foreign exchange shall be kept in a designated account, and if a domestic enterprise needs to make further payment from such account, it still must provide supporting documents and go through the review process with the banks.
On October 23, 2019, SAFE promulgated the Circular on Further Promoting the Facilitation of Cross-border Trade and Investment, or SAFE Circular 28. On the basis of continuing to allow investment FIEs (including foreign investment companies, foreign-funded venture capital enterprises and foreign-funded equity investment enterprises) to use the registered capital for domestic equity investment in accordance with the laws and regulations, SAFE Circular 28 cancelled the restriction on the
non-investment
FIEs and allows the
non-investment
FIEs (like Beijing Momo IT) to use the registered capital for domestic equity investment under the premise of not violating the existing “negative list” and the authenticity and compliance of the domestic equity investment projects. SAFE Circular 28 further clarifies the two ways of using the foreign currency registered capital of
non-investment
FIEs for domestic equity investment, i.e., by way of transfer of the foreign currency registered capital in its original currency and by way of foreign exchange settlement of the foreign currency registered capital. On October 23, 2019, the same date, SAFE promulgated the Circular on Reducing Foreign Exchange Accounts, or SAFE Circular 29, which became effective on March 2, 2020. The Appendix B of SAFE Circular 29 provides operational guidance for SAFE Circular 28. SAFE Circular 29 further specifies that the domestic equity investment set forth in Circular 28 is not limited to direct investment in a domestic enterprise but also includes equity investment conducted in the form of “equity transfer.” According to the Circular on Improving Administration of Foreign Exchange to Support the Development of Foreign-related Business, or the SAFE Circular 8, issued by the SAFE on April 10, 2020, eligible enterprises are allowed to make domestic payments by using their capital funds, foreign credits and the income under capital accounts of overseas listing without submitting the evidentiary materials concerning authenticity of such capital to banks in advance, provided that their capital use is authentic and in compliance with administrative regulations on the use of income under capital accounts. The bank in charge shall conduct spot checking in accordance with the relevant requirements. Although SAFE Circular 19, SAFE Circular 16, SAFE Circular 28, SAFE Circular 29 and SAFE Circular 8 loosed the regulatory restrictions but there is still uncertainty regarding how the SAFE and banks will interpret and implement these regulations and whether SAFE or other government authorities will continue to promulgate new regulations that may substantially influence our ability to transfer the net proceeds from our overseas offerings to our PRC subsidiaries and to convert such proceeds into Renminbi, which may adversely impact our ability to fund and expand our business in the PRC.
 
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Litigation and negative publicity surrounding China-based companies listed in the U.S. may result in increased regulatory scrutiny of us and negatively impact the trading price of the ADSs and could have a material adverse effect upon our business, including our results of operations, financial condition, cash flows and prospects.
We believe that litigation and negative publicity surrounding companies with operations in China that are listed in the U.S. have negatively impacted stock prices for such companies. Various equity-based research organizations have published reports on China-based companies after examining, among other things, their corporate governance practices, related party transactions, sales practices and financial statements that have led to special investigations and stock suspensions on national exchanges. Any similar scrutiny of us, regardless of its lack of merit, could result in a diversion of management resources and energy, potential costs to defend ourselves against rumors, decreases and volatility in the ADS trading price, and increased directors and officers insurance premiums and could have a material adverse effect upon our business, including our results of operations, financial condition, cash flows and prospects.
Fluctuations in exchange rates could have a material and adverse effect on our results of operations and the value of your investment.
The conversion of RMB into foreign currencies, including U.S. dollars, is based on rates set by the People’s Bank of China. The RMB has fluctuated against the U.S. dollar, at times significantly and unpredictably. The value of RMB against the U.S. dollar and other currencies is affected by changes in China’s political and economic conditions and by China’s foreign exchange policies, among other things. We cannot assure you that RMB will not appreciate or depreciate significantly in value against the U.S. dollar in the future. It is difficult to predict how market forces or PRC or U.S. government policy may impact the exchange rate between RMB and the U.S. dollar in the future.
Any significant appreciation or depreciation of RMB may materially and adversely affect our revenues, earnings and financial position, and the value of, and any dividends payable on, our ADSs in U.S. dollars. For example, to the extent that we need to convert U.S. dollars into RMB for capital expenditures and working capital and other business purposes, appreciation of RMB against the U.S. dollar would have an adverse effect on the RMB amount we would receive from the conversion. Conversely, if we decide to convert RMB into U.S. dollars for the purpose of making payments for dividends on our ordinary shares or ADSs, strategic acquisitions or investments or other business purposes, appreciation of the U.S. dollar against the RMB would have a negative effect on the U.S. dollar amount available to us. In addition, a significant depreciation of the RMB against the U.S. dollar may significantly reduce the U.S. dollar equivalent of our earnings, which in turn could adversely affect the price of our ADSs.
Very limited hedging options are available in China to reduce our exposure to exchange rate fluctuations. To date, we have not entered into any hedging transactions in an effort to reduce our exposure to foreign currency exchange risk. While we may decide to enter into hedging transactions in the future, the availability and effectiveness of these hedges may be limited and we may not be able to adequately hedge our exposure or at all. In addition, our currency exchange losses may be magnified by PRC exchange control regulations that restrict our ability to convert RMB into foreign currency. As a result, fluctuations in exchange rates may have a material adverse effect on your investment.
 
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Our leased property interests may be defective and our right to lease the properties affected by such defects may be challenged, which could cause significant disruption to our business.
Under PRC laws, all lease agreements are required to be registered with the local housing authorities. We presently lease 39 premises in China, and all the landlords of these premises have completed the registration of their ownership rights, but none of the landlords of these premises have completed the registration of our lease with the relevant authority.
Failure to complete these required registrations may expose our landlords, lessors and us to potential monetary fines. If these registrations are not obtained in a timely manner or at all, we may be subject to monetary fines or may have to relocate our offices and incur the associated losses.
Proceedings instituted by the SEC against certain
PRC-based
accounting firms, including the auditor of our consolidated financial statements included in this annual report, could result in financial statements being determined to not be in compliance with the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act.
Starting in 2011 the
PRC-based
“big four” accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, were affected by a conflict between U.S. and Chinese law. Specifically, for certain U.S.-listed companies operating and audited in mainland China, the SEC and the PCAOB sought to obtain from the Chinese firms access to their audit work papers and related documents. The firms were, however, advised and directed that under Chinese law, they could not respond directly to the U.S. regulators on those requests, and that requests by foreign regulators for access to such papers in China had to be channeled through the CSRC.
In late 2012, this impasse led the SEC to commence administrative proceedings under Rule 102(e) of its Rules of Practice and also under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 against the Chinese accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm. A first instance trial of the proceedings in July 2013 in the SEC’s internal administrative court resulted in an adverse judgment against the firms. The administrative law judge proposed penalties on the firms including a temporary suspension of their right to practice before the SEC, although that proposed penalty did not take effect pending review by the Commissioners of the SEC. On February 6, 2015, before a review by the Commissioner had taken place, the firms reached a settlement with the SEC. Under the settlement, the SEC accepts that future requests by the SEC for the production of documents will normally be made to the CSRC. The firms will receive matching Section 106 requests, and are required to abide by a detailed set of procedures with respect to such requests, which in substance require them to facilitate production via the CSRC. If they fail to meet specified criteria, the SEC 60 retains authority to impose a variety of additional remedial measures on the firms depending on the nature of the failure. Remedies for any future noncompliance could include, as appropriate, an automatic
six-month
bar on a single firm’s performance of certain audit work, commencement of a new proceeding against a firm, or, in extreme cases, the resumption of the current proceeding against all four firms. If additional remedial measures are imposed on the
PRC-based
“big four” accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, in administrative proceedings brought by the SEC alleging the firms’ failure to meet specific criteria set by the SEC with respect to requests for the production of documents, we could be unable to timely file future financial statements in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act. In the event that the SEC restarts the administrative proceedings, depending upon the final outcome, listed companies in the United States with major PRC operations may find it difficult or impossible to retain auditors in respect of their operations in the PRC, which could result in financial statements being determined not to be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act, including possible delisting. Moreover, any negative news about any such future proceedings against these audit firms may cause investor uncertainty regarding China-based, U.S.-listed companies and the market price of our ADSs may be adversely affected.
If our independent registered public accounting firm was denied, even temporarily, the ability to practice before the SEC and we were unable to timely find another registered public accounting firm to audit and issue an opinion on our financial statements, our financial statements could be determined to be not in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act. Such a determination could ultimately lead to the delisting of the ADSs or deregistration from the SEC, or both, which would substantially reduce or effectively terminate the trading of the ADSs in the United States.
 
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Risks Related to Our ADSs
The trading price of our ADSs is likely to be volatile, which could result in substantial losses to investors.
The price of our ADSs has been and is likely to continue to be volatile and could fluctuate widely due to factors beyond our control. This may happen because of broad market and industry factors, like the performance and fluctuation of the market prices of other companies with business operations located mainly in China that have listed their securities in the United States. A number of Chinese companies have listed their securities on U.S. stock markets. The securities of some of these companies have experienced significant volatility, including price declines in connection with their initial public offerings. The trading performances of these Chinese companies’ securities after their offerings may affect the attitudes of investors toward Chinese companies listed in the United States in general and consequently may impact the trading performance of our ADSs, regardless of our actual operating performance. Furthermore, the stock market in general has experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have often been unrelated or disproportionate to the operating performance of companies like us. These broad market and industry fluctuations may adversely affect the market price of our ADSs. Volatility or a lack of positive performance in our ADS price may also adversely affect our ability to retain key employees, most of whom have been granted options or other equity incentives.
In addition to market and industry factors, the price and trading volume for our ADSs may be highly volatile for factors specific to our own operations, including the following:
 
   
variations in our revenues, earnings, cash flow and data related to our user base or user engagement;
 
   
announcements of new investments, acquisitions, strategic partnerships or joint ventures by us or our competitors;
 
   
announcements of new products, services and expansions by us or our competitors;
 
   
changes in financial estimates by securities analysts;
 
   
detrimental adverse publicity about us, our services or our industry;
 
   
additions or departures of key personnel;
 
   
release of
lock-up
or other transfer restrictions on our outstanding equity securities or sales of additional equity securities; and
 
   
potential litigation or regulatory investigations.
Any of these factors may result in large and sudden changes in the volume and price at which our ADSs will trade.
In the past, shareholders of public companies have often brought securities class action suits against those companies following periods of instability in the market price of their securities. We have been named as a defendant in a putative shareholder class action lawsuit which could divert a significant amount of our management’s attention and other resources from our business and operations and require us to incur significant expenses to defend the suit, which could harm our results of operations. Please see “Item 8. Financial Information—A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information—Legal Proceedings” for description of the putative shareholder class action lawsuit. Any such class action suit, whether or not successful, could harm our reputation and restrict our ability to raise capital in the future. In addition, if a claim is successfully made against us, we may be required to pay significant damages, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or reports about our business, or if they adversely change their recommendations regarding our ADSs, the market price for our ADSs and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for our ADSs will be influenced by research or reports that industry or securities analysts publish about our business. If one or more analysts who cover us downgrade our ADSs, the market price for our ADSs would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease to cover us or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which in turn could cause the market price or trading volume for our ADSs to decline.
 
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Substantial future sales or the expectation of substantial sales of our ADSs in the public market could cause the price of our ADSs to decline.
Sales of our ADSs in the public market, or the perception that these sales could occur, could cause the market price of our ADSs to decline. Such sales also might make it more difficult for us to sell equity or equity-related securities in the future at a time and price that we deem appropriate. If any existing shareholder or shareholders sell a substantial amount of ADSs, the prevailing market price for our ADSs could be adversely affected. In addition, if we pay for our future acquisitions in whole or in part with additionally issued ordinary shares, your ownership interests in our company would be diluted and this, in turn, could have a material and adverse effect on the price of our ADSs.
Because we may not continue to pay dividends in the foreseeable future, you must rely on price appreciation of our ADSs for return on your investment.
Although we declared special cash dividends to holders of our ordinary shares in the past, we may not continue to do so regularly, or at all. Therefore, you may need to rely on price appreciation of our ADSs as the sole source for return on your investment.
Our board of directors has complete discretion as to whether to distribute dividends subject to our memorandum and articles of association and certain restrictions under Cayman Islands law. In addition, our shareholders may by ordinary resolution declare a dividend, but no dividend may exceed the amount recommended by our directors. Even if our board of directors decides to declare and pay dividends, the timing, amount and form of future dividends, if any, will depend on, among other things, our future results of operations and cash flow, our capital requirements and surplus, the amount of distributions, if any, received by us from our subsidiaries, our financial condition, contractual restrictions and other factors deemed relevant by our board of directors. Accordingly, the return on your investment in our ADSs will likely depend entirely upon any future price appreciation of our ADSs. There is no guarantee that our ADSs will appreciate in value or even maintain the price at which you purchased the ADSs. You may not realize a return on your investment in our ADSs and you may even lose your entire investment in our ADSs.
Your interests may not always align with those of our shareholders, including our principal shareholder.
You are also reminded that your interests may not always align with those of other shareholders, including our principal shareholders. Mr. Yan Tang, our
co-founder
and executive chairman, has considerable influence over important corporate matters. We have adopted a dual-class voting structure in which our ordinary shares consist of Class A ordinary shares and Class B ordinary shares. Holders of Class A ordinary shares are entitled to one vote per share in respect of matters requiring the votes of shareholders, while holders of Class B ordinary shares are entitled to ten votes per share. Each Class B ordinary share is convertible into one Class A ordinary share at any time by the holder thereof, while Class A ordinary shares are not convertible into Class B ordinary shares under any circumstances. Due to the disparate voting powers associated with our two classes of ordinary shares, Mr. Tang beneficially owned a total of 71.0% of the aggregate voting power of our company as of March 31, 2021. As a result of his majority voting power, Mr. Tang has considerable influence over matters such as electing directors and approving material mergers, acquisitions or other business combination transactions. This concentrated control will limit the ability of holders of our Class A ordinary shares and ADSs to influence corporate matters and could also discourage others from pursuing any potential merger, takeover or other change of control transactions, which could have the effect of depriving the holders of our Class A ordinary shares and our ADSs of the opportunity to sell their shares at a premium over the prevailing market price. We cannot assure you that actions taken by our principal shareholders will completely align with your interests, or that any conflicts of interest will be resolved in a way beneficial to you.
We may be classified as a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, under U.S. tax law, which could result in adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. holders of our ADSs or ordinary shares.
Under United States federal income tax law, we will be classified as a PFIC for any taxable year if either (i) 75% or more of our gross income for the taxable year is “passive” income or (ii) 50% or more of the value of our assets (determined on the basis of a quarterly average) is attributable to assets that produce or are held for the production of passive income (the “asset test”). Although the law in this regard is unclear, we treat Beijing Momo as being owned by us for U.S. federal income tax purposes, not only because we exercise effective control over the operation of this entity but also because we are entitled to substantially all of its economic benefits, and, as a result, we consolidate its results of operations in our consolidated U.S. GAAP financial statements. If it were determined, however, that we are not the owner of Beijing Momo for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we would likely be treated as a PFIC for the taxable year ended December 31, 2020 and would anticipate being a PFIC for future taxable years. Assuming that we are the owner of Beijing Momo for United States federal income tax purposes and based upon our income and assets and the value of our ADSs, we do not believe that we were a PFIC for the taxable year ended December 31, 2020 and do not anticipate becoming a PFIC in the foreseeable future.
 
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However, because PFIC status is a factual determination made annually after the close of each taxable year on the basis of the composition of our income and assets, there can be no assurance that we will not be a PFIC for the current taxable year or any future taxable year. Fluctuations in the market price of our ADSs may cause us to become a PFIC for the current or subsequent taxable years because the value of our assets for purposes of the asset test, including the value of our goodwill and unbooked intangibles, may be determined by reference to the market price of our ADSs from time to time (which may be volatile). In estimating the value of our goodwill and other unbooked intangibles, we have taken into account our current market capitalization. If our market capitalization subsequently declines, we may be or become classified as a PFIC for the current taxable year or future taxable years. In addition, the overall level of our passive assets will be affected by how, and how quickly, we spend our liquid assets. Under circumstances where our revenue from activities that produce passive income significantly increase relative to our revenue from activities that produce
non-passive
income, or where we determine not to deploy significant amounts of cash for active purposes, our risk of becoming classified as a PFIC may substantially increase. Furthermore, because there are uncertainties in the application of the relevant rules, it is possible that the Internal Revenue Service, or the IRS, may challenge our classification of certain income or assets as
non-passive,
or our valuation of our goodwill and other unbooked intangibles, each of which may result in our company becoming classified as a PFIC for the current or subsequent taxable years.
If we were to be or become classified as a PFIC, a U.S. Holder (as defined in “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—United States Federal Income Tax Considerations”) will generally be subject to reporting requirements and may incur significantly increased U.S. federal income tax on gain recognized on the sale or other disposition of the ADSs or ordinary shares and on the receipt of distributions on the ADSs or ordinary shares to the extent such gain or distribution is treated as an “excess distribution” under the U.S. federal income tax rules. Further, if we were a PFIC for any year during which a U.S. Holder held our ADSs or ordinary shares, we generally would continue to be treated as a PFIC for all succeeding years during which such U.S. Holder held our ADSs or ordinary shares. You are urged to consult your tax advisor concerning the U.S. federal income tax considerations of holding and disposing of ADSs or ordinary shares if we are or become classified as a PFIC. For more information see “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—United States Federal Income Tax Considerations—Passive Foreign Investment Company Rules.”
Our memorandum and articles of association contain anti-takeover provisions that could have a material adverse effect on the rights of holders of our Class A ordinary shares and ADSs.
Our currently effective second amended and restated memorandum and articles of association contain provisions to limit the ability of others to acquire control of our company or cause us to engage in
change-of-control
transactions. These provisions could have the effect of depriving our shareholders of an opportunity to sell their shares at a premium over prevailing market prices by discouraging third parties from seeking to obtain control of our company in a tender offer or similar transaction. Our dual-class voting structure gives disproportionate voting power to the Class B ordinary shares held by Gallant Future Holdings Limited and New Heritage Global Limited, both of which are wholly owned by a family trust controlled by Yan Tang, our
co-founder
and executive chairman. In addition, our board of directors has the authority, without further action by our shareholders, to issue preferred shares in one or more series and to fix their designations, powers, preferences, privileges, and relative participating, optional or special rights and the qualifications, limitations or restrictions, including dividend rights, conversion rights, voting rights, terms of redemption and liquidation preferences, any or all of which may be greater than the rights associated with our Class A ordinary shares, in the form of ADS or otherwise. Preferred shares could be issued quickly with terms calculated to delay or prevent a change in control of our company or make removal of management more difficult. If our board of directors decides to issue preferred shares, the price of our ADSs may fall and the voting and other rights of the holders of our Class A ordinary shares and ADSs may be materially and adversely affected.
 
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Provisions of our convertible senior notes could discourage an acquisition of us by a third party.
In July 2018, we issued US$725 million principal amount of convertible senior notes due 2025. Certain provisions of our convertible senior notes could make it more difficult or more expensive for a third party to acquire us. The indenture for our convertible senior notes define a “fundamental change” to include, among other things: (i) any person or group becoming a direct or indirect beneficial owner of our company’s ordinary share capital (including ordinary share capital held in the form of ADSs) representing more than 50% of the voting power of our ordinary share capital or more than 50% of our outstanding Class A ordinary shares (including Class A ordinary shares held in the form of ADSs); (ii) any recapitalization, reclassification or change of our Class A ordinary shares or ADSs as a result of which these securities would be converted into, or exchanged for, stock, other securities, other property or assets or any share exchange, consolidation or merger of our company pursuant to which our Class A ordinary shares or ADSs will be converted into cash, securities or other property or any sale, lease or other transfer in one transaction or a series of transaction of all or substantially all of our consolidated assets, taken as a whole, to any person other than one of our subsidiaries; (iii) the approval of any plan or proposal for the liquidation or dissolution of our company by our shareholders; (iv) our ADSs ceasing to be listed or quoted on any of The New York Stock Exchange, The Nasdaq Global Select Market or The Nasdaq Global Market (or any of their respective successors); or (v) any change in or amendment to the laws, regulations and rules in the PRC or the official interpretation or official application thereof that prohibits us from operating substantially all of our business operations and prevents us from continuing to derive substantially all of the economic benefits from our business operations. Upon the occurrence of a fundamental change, holders of these notes will have the right, at their option, to require us to repurchase all of their notes or any portion of the principal amount of such notes in principal amounts of US$1,000 or integral multiples thereof. In the event of a fundamental change, we may also be required to issue additional ADSs upon conversion of our convertible notes.
You may face difficulties in protecting your interests, and your ability to protect your rights through U.S. courts may be limited, because we are registered by way of continuation under Cayman Islands law.
We are an exempted company limited by shares registered under the laws of the Cayman Islands. Our corporate affairs are governed by our memorandum and articles of association, the Companies Act (As Revised) of the Cayman Islands (the “Companies Act”) and the common law of the Cayman Islands. The rights of shareholders to take action against the directors, actions by minority shareholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our directors to us under Cayman Islands law are to a large extent governed by the common law of the Cayman Islands. The common law of the Cayman Islands is derived in part from comparatively limited judicial precedent in the Cayman Islands as well as from the common law of England, the decisions of whose courts are of persuasive authority, but are not binding, on a court in the Cayman Islands. The rights of our shareholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our directors under Cayman Islands law are not as clearly established as they would be under statutes or judicial precedent in some jurisdictions in the United States. In particular, the Cayman Islands has a less developed body of securities laws than the United States. Some U.S. states, such as Delaware, have more fully developed and judicially interpreted bodies of corporate law than the Cayman Islands. In addition, Cayman Islands companies may not have standing to initiate a shareholder derivative action in a federal court of the United States.
Shareholders of Cayman Islands exempted companies like us have no general rights under Cayman Islands law to inspect corporate records (except for our memorandum and articles of association and our register of mortgages and charges) or to obtain copies of lists of shareholders of these companies. Our directors have discretion under our articles of association to determine whether or not, and under what conditions, our corporate records may be inspected by our shareholders, but are not obliged to make them available to our shareholders. This may make it more difficult for you to obtain the information needed to establish any facts necessary for a shareholder motion or to solicit proxies from other shareholders in connection with a proxy contest.
As a result of all of the above, shareholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests in the face of actions taken by management, members of the board of directors or controlling shareholders than they would as public shareholders of a company incorporated in the United States.
 
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Certain judgments obtained against us by our shareholders may not be enforceable.
We are a Cayman Islands exempted company and most of our assets are located outside of the United States. Substantially all of our current operations are conducted in China. In addition, a majority of our current directors and officers are nationals and residents of countries other than the United States. Most of the assets of these persons are located outside the United States. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for you to effect service of process within the United States upon us or these persons or to bring an action against us or against these individuals in the United States in the event that you believe that your rights have been infringed under the U.S. federal securities laws or otherwise. Even if you are successful in bringing an action of this kind, the laws of the Cayman Islands and of China may render you unable to enforce a judgment against our assets or the assets of our directors and officers. There is no statutory enforcement in the Cayman Islands of judgments obtained in the federal or state courts of the United States (and the Cayman Islands are not a party to any treaties for the reciprocal enforcement or recognition of such judgments), a judgment obtained in such jurisdiction will be recognized and enforced in the courts of the Cayman Islands at common law, without any
re-examination
of the merits of the underlying dispute, by an action commenced on the foreign judgment debt in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands, provided such judgment (a) is given by a foreign court of competent jurisdiction, (b) imposes on the judgment debtor a liability to pay a liquidated sum for which the judgment has been given, (c) is final, (d) is not in respect of taxes, a fine or a penalty, and (e) was not obtained in a manner and is not of a kind the enforcement of which is contrary to natural justice or the public policy of the Cayman Islands. However, the Cayman Islands courts are unlikely to enforce a judgment obtained from the U.S. courts under civil liability provisions of the U.S. federal securities law if such judgment is determined by the courts of the Cayman Islands to give rise to obligations to make payments that are penal or punitive in nature. Because such a determination has not yet been made by a court of the Cayman Islands, it is uncertain whether such civil liability judgments from U.S. courts would be enforceable in the Cayman Islands.
We are a foreign private issuer within the meaning of the rules under the Exchange Act, and as such we are exempt from certain provisions applicable to United States domestic public companies.
Because we are a foreign private issuer under the Exchange Act, we are exempt from certain provisions of the securities rules and regulations in the United States that are applicable to U.S. domestic issuers, including:
 
   
the rules under the Exchange Act requiring the filing of quarterly reports on Form
10-Q
or current reports on Form
8-K
with the SEC;
 
   
the sections of the Exchange Act regulating the solicitation of proxies, consents, or authorizations in respect of a security registered under the Exchange Act;
 
   
the sections of the Exchange Act requiring insiders to file public reports of their stock ownership and trading activities and liability for insiders who profit from trades made in a short period of time; and
 
   
the selective disclosure rules by issuers of material nonpublic information under Regulation FD.
We are required to file an annual report on Form
20-F
within four months of the end of each fiscal year. In addition, we intend to publish our results on a quarterly basis through press releases, distributed pursuant to the rules and regulations of the Nasdaq Global Select Market. Press releases relating to financial results and material events will also be furnished to the SEC on Form
6-K.
However, the information we are required to file with or furnish to the SEC will be less extensive and less timely compared to that required to be filed with the SEC by U.S. domestic issuers. As a result, you may not be afforded the same protections or information, which would be made available to you, were you investing in a U.S. domestic issuer. As a Cayman Islands company listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, we are subject to the Nasdaq Global Select Market corporate governance listing standards. However, Nasdaq Global Select Market rules permit a foreign private issuer like us to follow the corporate governance practices of its home country. Certain corporate governance practices in the Cayman Islands, which is our home country, may differ significantly from the Nasdaq Global Select Market corporate governance listing standards. To the extent that we choose to utilize the home country exemption for corporate governance matters, our shareholders may be afforded less protection than they otherwise would under the Nasdaq Global Select Market corporate governance listing standards applicable to U.S. domestic issuers. We follow home country practice with respect to annual shareholders meetings and did not hold an annual meeting of shareholders in 2020. In addition, we followed home country practice with respect to the adoption of the Tantan 2018 Plan in July 2018 and did not seek shareholder approval pursuant to Nasdaq Stock Market Rule 5635(c). As a result, you may not be afforded the same protections or information, which would be made available to you, were you investing in a U.S. domestic issuer.
 
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We are a “controlled company” within the meaning of the Nasdaq Stock Market Rules and, as a result, may rely on certain exemptions from certain corporate governance requirements that provide protection to shareholders of other companies.
We are a “controlled company” as defined under the Nasdaq Stock Market Rules because Yan Tang, our
co-founder
and executive chairman, beneficially owns more than 50% of our total voting power. For so long as we remain a controlled company under that definition, we are permitted to elect to rely, and may rely, on certain exemptions from corporate governance rules. As a result, you may not have the same protection afforded to shareholders of companies that are subject to these corporate governance requirements.
The voting rights of holders of ADSs are limited by the terms of the deposit agreement, and you may not be able to exercise your right to vote your underlying Class A ordinary shares.
As a holder of our ADSs, you will only be able to exercise the voting rights with respect to the underlying Class A ordinary shares in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement. Under the deposit agreement, you must vote by giving voting instructions to the depositary. Upon receipt of your voting instructions, the depositary will vote the underlying Class A ordinary shares in accordance with these instructions. You will not be able to directly exercise your right to vote with respect to the underlying shares unless you register the underlying shares in your own name. Under our currently effective second amended and restated memorandum and articles of association, the minimum notice period required for convening a general meeting is 10 days, exclusive of the day on which notice is given and the day of the meeting. When a general meeting is convened, you may not receive sufficient advance notice to register the underlying class A ordinary shares represented by your ADSs in your own name to allow you to vote with respect to any specific matter. If we ask for your instructions, the depositary will notify you of the upcoming vote and will arrange to deliver our voting materials to you. We cannot assure you that you will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that you can instruct the depositary to vote the underlying class A ordinary shares represented by your ADSs. In addition, the depositary and its agents are not responsible for failing to carry out voting instructions or for their manner of carrying out your voting instructions. This means that you may not be able to exercise your right to vote and you may have no legal remedy if the underlying class A ordinary shares represented by your ADSs are not voted as you requested.
The depositary for our ADSs will give us a discretionary proxy to vote our Class A ordinary shares underlying your ADSs if you do not instruct the depositary to vote your shares, except in limited circumstances, which could adversely affect your interests.
Under the deposit agreement for the ADSs, if you do not instruct the depositary to vote the underlying class A ordinary shares represented by your ADSs, the depositary will give us a discretionary proxy to vote the underlying Class A ordinary shares represented by your ADSs at shareholders’ meetings unless:
 
   
we have failed to timely provide the depositary with notice of meeting and related voting materials;
 
   
we have instructed the depositary that we do not wish a discretionary proxy to be given;
 
   
we have informed the depositary that there is substantial opposition as to a matter to be voted on at the meeting;
 
   
a matter to be voted on at the meeting would have a material adverse impact on shareholders; or
 
   
the voting at the meeting is to be made on a show of hands.
The effect of this discretionary proxy is that if you do not instruct the depositary to vote the underlying class A ordinary shares represented by your ADSs, you cannot prevent the underlying Class A ordinary shares represented by your ADSs from being voted, except under the circumstances described above. This may make it more difficult for holders of ADSs to influence the management of our company. Holders of our Class A ordinary shares are not subject to this discretionary proxy.
You may not receive dividends or other distributions on our Class A ordinary shares and you may not receive any value for them, if it is illegal or impractical to make them available to you.
The depositary of our ADSs has agreed to pay to you the cash dividends or other distributions it or the custodian receives on Class A ordinary shares or other deposited securities underlying our ADSs, after deducting its fees and expenses. You will receive these distributions in proportion to the number of Class A ordinary shares your ADSs represent. However, the depositary is not responsible if it decides that it is unlawful or impractical to make a distribution available to any holders of ADSs. For example, it would be unlawful to make a distribution to a holder of ADSs if it consists of securities that require registration under the Securities Act but that are not properly registered or distributed under an applicable exemption from registration. The depositary may also determine that it is not feasible to distribute certain property through the mail. Additionally, the value of certain distributions may be less than the cost of mailing them. In these cases, the depositary may determine not to distribute such property. We have no obligation to register under U.S. securities laws any ADSs, ordinary shares, rights or other securities received through such distributions. We also have no obligation to take any other action to permit the distribution of ADSs, ordinary shares, rights or anything else to holders of ADSs. This means that you may not receive distributions we make on our Class A ordinary shares or any value for them if it is illegal or impractical for us to make them available to you. These restrictions may cause a material decline in the value of our ADSs.
 
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You may experience dilution of your holdings due to inability to participate in rights offerings.
We may, from time to time, distribute rights to our shareholders, including rights to acquire securities. Under the deposit agreement, the depositary will not distribute rights to holders of ADSs unless the distribution and sale of rights and the securities to which these rights relate are either exempt from registration under the Securities Act with respect to all holders of ADSs, or are registered under the provisions of the Securities Act. The depositary may, but is not required to, attempt to sell these undistributed rights to third parties, and may allow the rights to lapse. We may be unable to establish an exemption from registration under the Securities Act, and we are under no obligation to file a registration statement with respect to these rights or underlying securities or to endeavor to have a registration statement declared effective. Accordingly, holders of ADSs may be unable to participate in our rights offerings and may experience dilution of their holdings as a result.
You may be subject to limitations on transfer of your ADSs.
Your ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its books at any time or from time to time when it deems expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. The depositary may close its books from time to time for a number of reasons, including in connection with corporate events such as a rights offering, during which time the depositary needs to maintain an exact number of ADS holders on its books for a specified period. The depositary may also close its books in emergencies, and on weekends and public holidays. The depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of our ADSs generally when our share register or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary thinks it is advisable to do so because of any requirement of law or of any government or governmental body, or under any provision of the deposit agreement, or for any other reason.
 
Item 4.
Information on the Company
 
A.
History and Development of the Company
We started our operations in July 2011 when our founders established Beijing Momo Technology Co., Ltd., or Beijing Momo, in China. In order to facilitate foreign investment in our company, we incorporated our holding company under the name of Momo Technology Company Limited in the British Virgin Islands in November 2011. In July 2014, Momo Technology Company Limited was redomiciled in the Cayman Islands as an exempted company registered under the laws of the Cayman Islands, and was renamed Momo Inc. The following outlines other major changes to our corporate structure in the last three years.
 
   
In March 2017, we acquired 100% equity interest of Zhejiang Shengdian Digital Network Technology Co., Ltd., or Zhejiang Shengdian, upon which it became a subsidiary of Beijing Momo. Zhejiang Shengdian now holds our internet audio/video program transmission license.
 
   
In July 2017, we established Loudi Momo Technology Co., Ltd., or Loudi Momo, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Beijing Momo.
 
   
In September 2017, we established Changsha Heer Network Technology Co., Ltd., or Changsha Heer, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Beijing Momo. Changsha Heer changed its name to Changsha Deep Fusion Network Technology Co., Ltd. on July 19, 2019.
 
   
In February 2018, we established QOOL Media Hong Kong Limited, or QOOL Media HK, a company which was initially 70% owned by Momo Technology HK Company Limited. In August 2018, the shareholders of QOOL Media HK transferred all their equity interests in QOOL Media HK to QOOL Media Inc., or QOOL Media Cayman.
 
   
In March 2018, we established Hainan Momo Pictures Co., Ltd., or Hainan Momo Pictures, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Momo Pictures Co., Ltd., or Momo Pictures.
 
   
In May 2018, we successfully completed our acquisition of Tantan and acquired a 100% fully diluted equity stake in Tantan for a combination of share consideration and cash, including approximately 5.3 million newly issued Class A ordinary shares of our company and US$613.2 million in cash.
 
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In April 2018, we established Hainan Miaoka Network Technology Co., Ltd., or Hainan Miaoka, and Hainan Yilingliuer Network Technology Co., Ltd., or Hainan Yilingliuer, as our consolidated affiliated entities.
 
   
In May 2018, we established Beijing Yiliulinger Information Technology Co., Ltd., or Beijing Yiliulinger, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Beijing Momo Information Technology Co., Ltd., or Beijing Momo IT.
 
   
In July 2018, we established QOOL Media Cayman, a company which is 79.6% owned by us.
 
   
In July 2018, we issued US$725 million principal amount of convertible senior notes due 2025. The notes will bear interest at a rate of 1.25% per year, payable semiannually on January 1 and July 1 of each year. Holders of the notes have the right to convert their notes into our ADSs based on an initial conversion rate of 15.4776 of our ADSs per $1,000 principal amount of notes (which is equivalent to an initial conversion price of approximately US$64.61 per ADS). The conversion rate for the notes is subject to adjustment upon the occurrence of certain events. In 2019, the conversion rate was adjusted to 15.7172 of our ADSs per US$1,000 principal amount of notes (which is equivalent to a conversion price of approximately US$63.62 per ADS) due to the special cash dividend paid on April 30, 2019. In 2020, the conversion rate was adjusted to 16.2937 of our ADSs per US$1,000 principal amount of notes (which is equivalent to a conversion price of approximately US$61.37 per ADS) due to the special cash dividend paid on April 30, 2020. We will not have the right to redeem the notes prior to maturity, except in the event of certain changes to the laws or their application or interpretation. Holders of the notes will have the right to require us to repurchase all or part of their notes in cash on July 1, 2023, or in the event of certain fundamental changes. The notes will mature on July 1, 2025, unless previously repurchased, redeemed or converted in accordance with their terms prior to such date.
 
   
In December 2018, we established QOOL Media Technology (Tianjin) Co., Ltd., or QOOL Media Technology, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of QOOL Media HK.
 
   
In March 2019, we established Beijing Fancy Reader Technology Co., Ltd., or Beijing Fancy Reader, as our consolidated affiliated entity.
 
   
In March 2019, we established Hainan Heer Network Technology Co., Ltd., or Hainan Heer, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Beijing Momo.
 
   
In April 2019, we established Beijing Perfect Match Technology Co., Ltd., or Beijing Perfect Match, as our consolidated affiliated entity.
 
   
In July 2019, we established Tianjin LaiFu Culture Development Co., Ltd., or Tianjin Laifu, and Tianjin Apollo Exploration Culture Co., Ltd., or Tianjin Apollo as wholly-owned subsidiaries of Tantan Culture Development (Beijing) Co., Ltd, or Tantan Culture.
 
   
In August 2019, we established SpaceCape Inc. in Cayman Islands, or SpaceCape Cayman, a company which is 100% owned by us.
 
   
In August 2019, we established SpaceCape Technology Pte. Ltd. in Singapore, or SpaceCape Singapore, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of SpaceCape Cayman.
 
   
In November 2019, we established Beijing DBD Reader Technology Co., Ltd., or Beijing DBD Reader, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Beijing Fancy Reader.
 
   
In December 2019, we established Beijing SpaceCape Information Technology Co. Ltd., or Beijing SpaceCape, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of SpaceCape Singapore.
 
   
In December 2019, we established MatchUp UK Limited in Hong Kong, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tantan Limited.
 
   
In December 2019, we established Chengdu Ketanjuan Tech Co., Ltd, or Chengdu Ketanjuan, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tantan Culture.
 
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In February 2020, we established DeepMatch Inc. in Cayman Islands, or DeepMatch Cayman, a company which is 100% owned by us.
 
   
In March 2020, we established DeepMatch Technology Pte. Ltd. in Singapore, or SpaceCape Singapore, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of DeepMatch Cayman.
 
   
In March 2020, we established Mana Games Inc. in Cayman Islands, or Mana Games Cayman, a company which is 100% owned by us.
 
   
In March 2020, we established Mana Games HK Limited in Hong Kong, or Mana Games HK, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mana Games Inc.
 
   
In March 2020, we established Tianjin Qianchuan Media Co., Ltd., or Tianjin Qianchuan, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Beijing Momo.
 
   
In March 2020, we established Tianjin Xiaomofanshi Tech Co., Ltd., or Tianjin Xiaomofanshi, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Beijing Momo.
 
   
In June 2020, we established Gannan XiaomoGantian Tech Co., Ltd, or Xiaomo Gantian, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tianjin Xiaomofanshi.
 
   
In September 2020, we established SpaceTime (Beijing) Technology Co., Ltd, or SpaceTime Beijing, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Beijing Momo.
 
   
In November 2020, we established Laiqianshou (Chengdu) Technology Co., Ltd, or Laiqianshou, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tantan Culture.
 
   
In March 2021, we changed the name of Beijing Fancy Reader to Beijing Top Maker Culture Co., Ltd., or Beijing Top Maker, and changed the name of its subsidiary, Beijing DBD Reader, to Beijing All For One Culture Co., Ltd.
 
   
From May 2018 to April 2019, we entered into a series of contractual arrangements with Tantan Culture, Hainan Miaoka, Hainan Yilingliuer, Beijing Fancy Reader and QOOL Media (Tianjin) Co., Ltd., or Tianjin QOOL Media, and their respective shareholders, through which we exert control over these entities and their subsidiaries and consolidate their operating results in our financial statements.
From April 2019 to October 2019, we entered into a series of contractual arrangements with Beijing Perfect Match and Beijing Fancy Reader, adjusted one shareholder of Beijing Fancy Reader shareholders and registered capital of Tantan Culture, through which we exert control over these entities and their subsidiaries and consolidate their operating results in our financial statements.
From April 2020 to March 2021, we entered into a series of contractual arrangements with Beijing Momo and SpaceTime Beijing, and adjusted two shareholders