What does a long-deceased eunuch have in common with Chinese tech giants, Baidu and Tencent? It’s not an online music platform or a market capitalization north of US $40 billion (approaching $70 billion in Tencent’s case). Nor is it being a eunuch. Zheng He’s famed Ming-sponsored sea expeditions of the early 1400s represented a powerful China at the center of global trade and influence. Leading fleets of unprecedented size, Zheng He’s seven voyages graced the shores of modern-day Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and India, as well as the Horn of Africa, and extended the emperor’s sphere of influence.
While Baidu and Tencent may not be in shipbuilding (almost surprising given their polymathic aspirations), domestic success has left them with the funds to spread to new lands and markets.
On the heels of Google’s new social search features, I’d like to introduce a Chinese social search startup currently in closed beta: Yunyun.com (云云). Yunyun’s social search merges websites, question-and-answer (Q&A), and Weibo results. Yun means cloud in Chinese and Yunyun has lofty ambitions.
It was exhausting to see my hard work in four years crumble in one day. My four-year tenure as President of Google China was the most exhilarating experience – hiring 700 brilliant and dedicated people and rallying them to compete against the 7000-person Baidu, China’s largest search engine; developing a Silicon Valley culture yet localizing it to fit in China; bringing Google China market share from 10% to 35% while Yahoo, eBay, AOL and other Internet giants gave up their China ventures…
In covering the eTao incident, the media has largely missed just how brazenly hypocritical Alibaba’s cry for ‘openness’ is.
The story starts with the Baidu-Alibaba feud in 2008. When Baidu launched C2C marketplace You’a, in a failed attempt to break Alibaba’s stranglehold on e-commerce, Taobao responded by blocking Baidu’s spiders from crawling its listings, and continues to do so to this day.
The winds of change are blowing in China’s online music industry. The Ministry of Culture is seriously enforcing patent law. On September 15th, all websites and search engines must delete any pirated content including multimedia embeds and widget attachments.
Many of the older music service providers that attracted users by providing free music downloads will have to change or die. A few adopt discrete models, attempting to operate below the state radar at high regulatory risk. The ones that opt to change their business model are now facing the daunting challenge of convincing their old users to switch to a new model: either paid or ad-supported.
The good folks at CIC, a research company focused on Chinese social media (full disclosure: also my internship host), have produced a stunning infographic of the social services for 10 top internet companies.
Chinese internet giants often try to be everything to everybody (mission creep, anyone?) and this infographic lays out the wide range of products they attempt.
About a few days ago, I had a chance to be on on a China Radio International panel to discuss the question “are we in another tech bubble?” Recent valuations of Internet companies and the rapid growth of Facebook and Twitter have left many asking if we are just repeating the buildup of another dotcom boom like the 90′s.
After some discussion, the panel and myself agreed that yes, we are in another boom period but this may constitute an expansion of the industry rather than a bubble. The other question that may have to wait to be answered is whether these Internet companies like Facebook and Baidu are worth the billions of dollars their share price represent.
MySpace global is a failure amidst a revolving door of management (see analysis) and is currently on the auction block with Tencent among the suitors. But before the dismal MySpace global failure there was the dismal MySpace China failure. As the big rumor is that Facebook has partnered with Baidu to enter China, let’s take a retrospective look.
MySpace.cn launched to fanfare in April 2007, with claims that it would be “independent,” “localized,” and hence “different” from the litany of foreign internet failures in China. Of course this was all false.
The internets are ablaze tonight with a blockbuster rumor: Facebook will enter China. “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.”
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