The internets are ablaze tonight with a blockbuster rumor: Facebook will enter China. Luckily Facebook registered the domain name Facebook.cn in 2007, so it will not befall the same cruel fate that Groupon China faces with a Chinese clone at Groupon.cn.
Marbridge Consulting reports:
According to a microblog post by Hu Yanping, founder of Beijing-based market research firm Data Center of the China Internet (DCCI), Facebook has signed an official contract with a local Chinese Internet company to build a new social networking website in China. Hu added that the new website would not be integrated with Facebook.com.
hu yanping founded china net researcher dcci, may have inside info, has 450k weibo followers, “facebook has china deal” news spreading fast
Hu Yanping was the first to break the news about Google’s pullout from China last year so he’s a well-regarded source in the tech industry.
In his weibo post (screenshot above) Hu Yanping names “some company,” rather than Baidu specifically. My translation of his weibo:
Facebook is really on the eve of entering China, the contract has been signed, with some Chinese partner who will build the new site according to some model, but which will not completely connect to Facebook.com. Is Facebook doomed to die in China? [Note: The last bit plays on an unofficial transliteration of Facebook's name into Chinese: "doomed to die."]
But Marbridge continues:
Editor’s Note: Multiple industry sources have revealed to Marbridge that online search giant Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) is the “local Chinese Internet company” that will be working with Facebook and operating the new SNS website in China. In mid-February it was rumored that Baidu’s top management had visited Facebook’s headquarters in Silicon Valley (see “Rumor: Baidu Visits Facebook in Silicon Valley,” MD 2/18/11 issue.)
Hu Yanping just replied 2 me on weibo that alleged Facebook China JV partner is NOT Sina $sina..wonder if rumors yesterday popped Sina $6?
if facebook china jv rumor true, likely partners are alibaba, china mobile, sohu, baidu. china mobile might be an inspired choice
If you’ve read my previous pieces including Why Mark Zuckerberg Came to China and Why Facebook Will Not, you know this news would come as a shock to me! If true, Forbes’ Gady Epstein was clearly on the money when he wrote, Will Facebook Follow Zuckerberg To China? Inevitably.
Baidu is China’s largest search engine with ungodly amounts of search traffic (iResearch says Baidu has 84% market share) and web portal (Baidu Tieba or Post Bar). It also recently surpassed Tencent in market cap to become China’s most valuable internet company at almost $50 billion. That’s only slightly behind Facebook’s most recent valuations based on funding.
Yet like Google, Baidu has been unable to execute a successful social network or microblog to-date. Hello Facebook, welcome to China.
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