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Global Tech Government Innovation

China is No Longer a Technology Copycat or Underdog

Kevin Zhou grew up in China and came to the US in 2009 to study. He's now a seasoned tech journalist who travels between the US and China and works to explain the different tech cultures to one another. He sees China as having moved into a decisive new stage as a champion of innovation, and says the tech competition between the two countries has changed completely.   More

E-Commerce Global Tech

Beijing Cracks Down on Video and E-Commerce

It seems like I write about the latest Internet crackdown far too often these days, as Beijing focuses on a wide range of industries where it wants to clean up what it sees as unhealthy business practices. Another two such crackdowns are in the headlines as we head into spring, one in the scandal-wracked e-commerce space and the other in online video. Both crackdowns actually began earlier, and these latest moves just show the regulators don’t feel that their job is finished yet.   More

E-Commerce Global Tech

Tencent’s WeChat Trounces Alibaba at Chinese New Year

I remember a time not long ago when we China tech reporters used to write annual stories about the number of people who sent billions of simple Lunar New Year text greetings over their mobile phones. Those days now seem like a distant memory, and new data from Tencent’s WeChat and Alibaba’s Alipay are showing just how small those earlier figures were, even though they seemed impressive at the time. But the real story in this new tide of “red envelope grabbing wars” is the huge victory for Tencent over Alibaba.   More

Global Tech Security & Privacy

Rhetoric Eases, but Troubles Remain in Alibaba Piracy Spat

After reaching a fever pitch last week, rhetoric in the high-profile spat over piracy between e-commerce giant Alibaba and one of China’s main business regulators appears to be softening as the two sides move towards a compromise. The latest headlines say Alibaba and the State Administration For Industry And Commerce (SAIC) have joined hands to fight piracy, marking a sharp toning down of the angry rhetoric that was flying for much of last week.   More

Global Tech

Five of China’s Top Ten Richest Are Techies

The headlines are buzzing about the latest Hurun Report listing the richest people in China, which has a decidedly tech flavor this year that hints at trouble ahead for the overcharged Internet sector. The report has become a gold standard for gauging the latest business trends in China, but is also famous for focusing on industries that have become overheated. That’s not too surprising, since it’s often such overheating that leads to huge surges in company share prices, which are most often the main foundation for calculating individuals’ wealth. This year half of the top 10 richest men in China come from the tech sector.   More

Business Global Tech

Tencent Beats Alibaba to Banking License

Earlier reports of e-commerce leader Alibaba’s strong political ties appear to be overstated, following word that archrival Tencent has become the first of China’s major Internet firms to win a highly sought banking license. Both companies had been aggressively expanding into financial services over the past year, though each was reliant on partnerships with other companies that already had licenses to offer services in the highly regulated sector dominated by big state-run companies. But now Tencent will be able to offer many of those services on its own, following this ground-breaking award of a license from the nation’s banking regulator.   More

Business E-Commerce

Alibaba Picks NYSE, Plays with Yahoo, Football

It’s been two weeks since I’ve written a post exclusively about leading e-commerce company Alibaba, so I thought I’d end the week with a round-up of a few company news bits including its selection of the New York Stock Exchange for its highly-anticipated IPO. In related news, the company’s major shareholder Yahoo is reportedly in talks to reduce its planned sale of Alibaba shares in the offering. Last but not least, Alibaba has formally added its name to one of its latest acquisitions, a stake in one of China’s leading soccer clubs.   More

Global Tech

How Tencent Uses WeChat to Target Alibaba

Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s worries about the rapid rise of mobile instant messaging service WeChat appear to be well founded, with word that Tencent’s wildly popular platform will create an exclusive shopping channel for Alibaba’s chief rival JD.com. This kind of deal must certainly be Ma’s biggest nightmare, as it will instantly link JD, China’s second largest e-commerce company, with the hundreds of millions of young Chinese who regularly use WeChat to communicate. What’s more, WeChat has shown itself quite capable of converting its users into shoppers who could easily become JD customers.   More

E-Commerce Global Tech

NetEase Moves into U.S., Vipshop Tries Russia

Two of China’s leading Internet companies are taking their first baby steps outside their home market, with word that online game maker NetEase is moving into the U.S. and fast-rising discount e-commerce firm Vipshop is tying up with a Russian partner. The pair are joining China’s “big 3″ Internet firms, Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent, in making recent moves outside their home market, as each looks for new growth opportunities. All of these companies also want to convince the world that they can compete in the real world outside their own highly protected and heavily restricted home market.   More

Finance Global Tech

Alibaba Changes IPO Course, Heads For New York

All my previous predictions that e-commerce leader Alibaba would ultimately make its mega IPO in Hong Kong were wrong, with word that the company is now firmly fixed on New York for its highly anticipated share sale. In my defense, I should say that a huge surge in positive sentiment over the last 5 months towards China Internet stocks on Wall Street undoubtedly helped change Alibaba’s mind. The company had previously stated on numerous occasions that Hong Kong was the preferred venue for its blockbuster IPO, which reports are now saying could raise up to $15 billion, making it the world’s biggest Internet offering since Facebook raised $16 billion in 2012.   More

Global Tech

Tencent-JD Tie-Up Takes Aim at Alibaba

The new week is just beginning, but it could well go down as a pivotal moment in Chinese Internet history with Tencent’s new announcement of an e-commerce alliance with JD.com that could threaten the dominance of sector leader Alibaba. The tie-up, which was first rumored last month, will see Tencent pay $215 million for 15 percent of JD.com, which will also receive some of Tencent’s e-commerce assets including a minority stake of its flagship Yixun.com B2C service. The companies will merge their e-commerce businesses, creating a new player with nearly a quarter of China’s B2C e-commerce market.   More

E-Commerce Global Tech

WeChat Wrings Money From Unicom, Wangfujing

Much has been written about the meteoric rise of Tencent’s WeChat mobile instant messaging service, with many drawing parallels to the equally rapid ascent of Sina’s Weibo microblogging service starting in 2010. But while Sina has struggled to wring money out of Weibo, Tencent is having much more success with WeChat, as evidenced by news of its latest commercial tie-ups with retailer Wangfujing Department Store and mobile carrier China Unicom. I have a lot of respect for Sina, which has emerged as a leading information provider in China since it first went public in 2000. But the company has shown itself less adept at earning money, unlike Tencent, which has proven much more skillful at milking cash from its innovative core social networking service (SNS) products.   More

E-Commerce Global Tech

Alibaba, Baidu’s Li Mount High-Stakes U.S. Forays

Two of China’s biggest Internet names are making interesting new moves into the tough U.S. market, with word that Alibaba has launched an American e-commerce website and Baidu founder Robin Li is helming a major new Hollywood animation studio. Both moves look cautious but relatively well conceived, even though each carries a degree of risk due to intense competition in the U.S. e-commerce and animation sectors. Still, I have to admire both companies for at least trying, even if their chances of success could be around 50-50.   More

E-Commerce Global Tech

Southeast Asia E-Commerce Surge Boosts Region

E-commerce companies moved hard into Southeast Asia in 2013. Armed with innovative strategies and lots of funding, global giants and local startups raced to promote online retailing in a region where brick-and-mortar stores still dominate. Their efforts will bring more than just convenience to tens of millions of net-enabled consumers. They’ll also boost living conditions and create opportunities for a new generation of ambitious entrepreneurs.   More

Global Tech

Chinese Microblogging: Weibos May Be on the Wane

New data is highlighting an online trend that I wrote about last year, namely that microblogs have peaked in popularity and are starting to decline, in a bad sign for leading Web portal Sina as it rushes to monetize and list its popular Weibo service. Frankly speaking, I’m not too optimistic anymore about the prospects for Sina Weibo, which is really just a copy of U.S. social media pioneer Twitter and hasn’t shown much ability to innovate in the rapidly changing social networking space.   More

Global Tech

Chinese Moguls Place Actual Bets on New Economy

And now for a lighter look at an emerging trend in the China corporate world, which has seen some of the nation’s biggest tech personalities make high-profile bets with their equally successful peers from more traditional sectors. The latest in these high-tech wagers has seen Lei Jun, the charismatic founder of fast-growing smartphone maker Xiaomi, make a bet with Dong Mingzhu, often considered China’s most successful businesswoman as the chairman of appliance giant Gree. These bets are mostly for entertainment and publicity on the one hand; but they do also represent the very real challenge that traditional industries are feeling from e-commerce and other emerging high-tech business models.   More

Global Tech

Web Firms Flock to Routers, China Mobile Goes Global

First it was smartphones, then it was Internet TV, and now wireless routers have become the latest flavor of the day for Chinese Web firms, as everyone looks to drive traffic to their sites and services in the fast-evolving market. I previously wrote when security software specialist Qihoo 360 entered the router space in June, and now a new report says smartphone maker Xiaomi, search leader Baidu, and game specialist Shanda are preparing to enter the sector as well. Meanwhile, in a separate but related telecoms move, leading telco China Mobile is making a feeble move into the international market with a relaunch of its Jego service that it suspended shortly after an original roll-out earlier this year.   More

Finance Global Tech

Alibaba-Yahoo: Still Some Love?

Alibaba may have lost its affection for Hong Kong’s securities regulator after an impasse over its IPO plans, but it appears to be moving in a happier direction these days with U.S. Internet giant Yahoo. That’s my assessment, following word that Yahoo will hold onto a larger share of China’s e-commerce leader than the two sides had previously agreed to last year when they reached a landmark deal to end their stormy 7-year-old marriage.   More

Global Tech

Xiaomi Steals Google Exec on Road to Global Stage

Most of the world is buzzing with speculation about what prompted a top Google executive to defect to Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, but few are giving much credit to one of China’s hottest tech companies for luring Hugo Barra to join its ranks. Most media are focusing instead on an apparent love triangle between Google co-founder Sergey Brin and an unnamed current love interest, who just happens to be an ex-girlfriend of Barra. But instead, I would venture to guess that Barra’s departure has less to do with this titillating love story, and more to do with Xiaomi’s aggressive global aspirations   More

Business E-Commerce Global Tech

Baidu Eyes Group Buying With Nuomi

Barely a month goes by these days without rumor of a new acquisition target for Baidu, which suddenly seems anxious to buy up major assets in its bid to diversify beyond its core search business. The latest rumors say Baidu is close to a deal to purchase Nuomi, the group buying unit of social networking leader Renren. As one of China’s most profitable Internet companies, Baidu is hoping to take advantage of low valuations of Chinese Internet firms, many of which are running low on cash and have had trouble attracting interest from foreign investors.   More