Wednesday, September 26, 2007

China's Leading Internet Companies

Due to Baidu's flying shares, the interest in Chinese Internet companies has increased a lot in the last few weeks.
As a consequence many visitors have come to my weblog to find information about other promising web companies from Middle Kingdom. So I've decided to make a short overview on China's leading internet companies for those not yet familiar with China's online sector.

Portals, Search, Online Media (BIDU)

Baidu is the leading Chinese search engine with a market share of almost 70% (Google 23%, Yahoo 3%). Besides the search engine Baidu also operates very popular search query-activated message boards (Baidu Post Bar), a social question & answers service (Baidu Knows) and an online collaboratively-built encyclopedia similar to Wikipedia (Baidu Baike). (SINA)

Sina is the leading internet portal in China. Most of China’s netizens go and check Sina for breaking news at least once a day, giving Sina a similar position in the news market like CNN and MSNBC in the US.
Sina is also one of the biggest blogging service providers in China(Blog Sina) and together with China Telecom they are operating the fast growing video sharing platform Sina-Vnet Podcast. (SOHU) is a well established online brand in China and Sina's archrival. Sohu’s most important web properties are (portal); (search engine - market share 2%);, an online alumni club;, a games information portal and, a real estate website. In an attempt to gain an edge over its competitors, Sohu bought the right to create the official 2008 Beijing Olympic Games website and to use the logo in marketing.

Tencent QQ (SEHK:700 Hong Kong; not traded on Nasdaq)

Tencent is China’s instant messaging (IM) king. Its flagship product Tencent QQ, generally referred to as QQ, is the most popular free instant messaging service in China with a market share of almost 80% (over 250 million subscribers). Tencent is quickly leveraging its IM leadership into other business lines, including online media ( Portal), mobile & telecommunications value-added services , online gaming, e-commerce ( C2C auctions; online payment ) and online advertising services. (TOMOY.PK)

Tom Online is a leading mobile Internet company in China that offers an array of wireless internet services such as SMS, MMS, WAP, wireless IVR (interactive voice response) services, content channels, search and classified information. Tom Online is also operating the quite popular Internet portal In 2005 Tom Online partnered with Skype to provide Skype Voice over IP (VOIP) communications services in China. Tom Online also holds a 51% stake in (formerly known as EbayEachnet) - a joint venture created with eBay in 2006., known as "the YouTube of China", is the leading video sharing website in China. As of August 2007, Tudou had 28.84 million weekly unique visitors and 360 million weekly clip views according to Nielson/NetRatings.

However, it is not clear yet if Tudou can keep its leading position in the future as China’s internet giants Sina and Tencent have launched their own video sharing sites – and not to forget the fact that there are already at least 150 similar services available in China.


The Alibaba Group

The Alibaba Group is the largest e-commerce company in China and operates the world's largest online business-to-business marketplace.

As of September 2007, the Alibaba Group is made up of 5 companies:

1.) Alibaba International is now the world's largest online business-to-business marketplace, with more than 500,000 people visiting the site every day and 3 million registered users from more than 200 countries.
Alibaba China is the largest B2B marketplace for domestic China trade. As of June 30, 2007, it had nearly 21 million registered users across China.

2) Within three years Taobao has dethroned eBay as China’s auction king and is now the largest C2C online auctions platform in China with a market share of between 70% and 80%.

3) Yahoo! China: In October 2005, the Alibaba Group acquired Yahoo! China and formed a long-term strategic partnership with Yahoo! Inc.. Under the agreement, Alibaba owns and operates Yahoo! China, with exclusive rights to use the Yahoo! brand and technologies in China. (In exchange, Yahoo took a 40 percent stake in Alibaba.)

4) Alipay: A service similar to PayPal and now one of the leading Chinese online payment systems.

5) Alisoft: Alisoft provides web-based business software services for SMEs in China. (CTRP)

Ctrip is the leading online travel service company in China with a market share of almost 50% (Zacks Equity Research). Ctrip provides all kinds of travel related services including hotel reservation, air-ticketing and packaged tour services. Other activities include Internet-related advertising services and hotel management operations in China. is China's version of They are the biggest online bookstore with a market share of around 27%, slightly ahead of Amazon’s Chinese subsidiary,, which the Americans purchased in 2004.

Online Gaming

Shanda Interactive Entertainment (SNDA)

Shanda is one of the leading operators of online games, especially massively multiplayer online role-playing games ( MMORPGs), in China. They were the first company in China to license and operate online games from abroad.
Shanda has recently aquired Chengdu Aurora Technology Development, a Chinese developer of 3D online role-playing games and also increased its stake in Korea's MMORPG developer Actoz Soft Company to 50.1%.
The most important MMORPGs that Shanda operates at the moment are The Legend of Mir II, Dungeons & Dragons Online and The World of Legend. (NTES)

NetEase online games business focuses on offering massively multi-player online role-playing games to the Chinese market, known as MMORPGs. Unlike its main competitors Shanda and The9, Netease has developed most of its games in-house. Netease’ flagship product Fantasy Westward Journey is the most popular online game in China.

Besides its online gaming business NetEase also operates, the third most popular web portal in China.

The9 (NCTY)

The9 Limited is a Shanghai-based online game operator with the exclusive license to operate and distribute World of Warcraft in mainland China. Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft is the world's largest MMORPG in terms of monthly subscribers. As of June 30, 2007, approximately 8.3 million accounts have been registered and activated for the World of Warcraft game in Mainland China.
The9 has also obtained exclusive licenses to operate additional MMORPGs in China, including Granado Espada, Guild Wars, Soul of the Ultimate Nation and Ragnarok Online 2.


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E-commerce has exploded the internet market with many successful businesses that exist solely on the web. The main reason behind this is that with a virtual storefront, the overhead costs of running a business are greatly reduced. Therefore, with effective marketing, these businesses can hang on during the difficult early stages of a new business and are less dominated by cash flow while trying to stay afloat.

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The Street (71% of Market Cap): The Street (TSCM) has seen their shares hammered in recent weeks, falling from $5.99 at the end of September to close at $3.72 today. That's a 38% drop in valuation in a little over 2 weeks. However, TSCM has over $80M on their balance sheet and are carrying no debt. That's $2.64 per share in cash! In addition, the company is profitable with analysts expecting the company to earn $.27 per share in 2008 and $.32 per share in 2009.


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