Senior executives of Yahoo!, the world's leading Internet portal operator, have arrived in Beijing intent on gearing up its e-commerce and search engine business in the Chinese market.
Led by Daniel Rosensweig, chief operating officer, and Jeff Weiner, senior vice-president for search and marketplace, the team yesterday pledged to enlarge Yahoo!'s investment in China and introduce new products.
The visit came amid widespread market rumour that Yahoo! is pondering acquiring NASDAQ-listed Sina, the leading domestic Internet portal operator, and Shanda, the largest Chinese online games operator.
But Rosensweig declined to comment on the rumour yesterday.
"I am here because China has the second largest Internet population in the world, and Yahoo! is the largest Internet company in the world," he said. "China has tremendous market opportunities," he added.
For the executives, it was a long day yesterday.
In the morning, Rosensweig awarded certificates to China's "top 10 trustworthy online merchants for 2005." The ceremony was co-hosted by the China Electronic Commerce Association and 1pai, which is an online auction joint venture between Yahoo! and Sina.
Calling it an "historic moment" in China's e-commerce industry, Rosensweig said: "We sincerely hope that today will mark the beginning of more and more e-commerce platforms and merchants following suit in an effort to allow consumers in China to truly enjoy the convenience and joy of online shopping."
China's infant e-commerce business has maintained double-digit growth in recent years. But the industry has been plagued with a creditability crisis. Fraud, fake products, vicious bidding and payment evasion have put many potential customers and sellers off e-commerce.
But Rosensweig believes that by establishing a sound "creditability system," there are tremendous opportunities for e-commerce in China, given the enormous numbers who use the Internet.
Chinese netizen numbers reached 94 million by the end of 2004, with more than one third of them having experience of shopping online in the past year.
Joseph Zheng, general manager of 1pai.com, said the company enjoys the rich resources of both companies, Yahoo! technology and large numbers of registered users of Sina.
Talking about the search engine business, the executives said they are confident of becoming the largest provider of such a service within two years.
Weiner indicated that Yahoo!'s wealth of registered users will give the company an upper hand in the intensified competition.
According to a survey by iResearch, a market constancy company, Yahoo! accounts for 22.7 per cent of the Chinese search engine market. This is larger than the 21.12 per cent market share of Google, but less than the 36.3 per cent share enjoyed by Baidu.
The market value of the search engine business was estimated at 1.25 billion yuan (US$151 million) last year, representing a stunning 81 per cent year-on-year rise, the survey revealed.
Source: China Daily