Sina CORP is a Chinese media company which engages in four business lines known as Sina Weibo, Sina Mobile, Sina.net and Sina Online. The corporation has more than 100 million registered users all over the world and an outstanding reputation, having received recognition as China’s Media of the Year in 2003, from Southern Weekend. Sina provides online media platforms and social networking services that enable businesses and brand advertisers to engage with their target audiences through viable connections. The services include regional portals, MVAS, microblog, blog, photo sharing, online games, email, search, classified listings, fee-based services, e-commerce, enterprise e-solutions, music video streaming and more. The corporation, through Sina.cn, also provides information and entertainment, in the mobile application portal which is customized for all mobile users. Weibo.com is the official website of Sina Weibo, which offers the social media content, micro-blogging services and social networking features that allows users to share information with each. The Twitter-like platform is a microblog social network that has over 56.5% of the active Chinese microblogging market users and 86.6 % browsing users.
FOUNDERS OF COMPANY
Sina Corp was first launched in 1999 by Zhidong Wang, a Chinese businessman who founded the company through a merger with Sina.net. The company was, at the time, facing difficulties in getting a listing on the NASDAQ. He overcame this challenge through the firm’s establishment as a Variable Interest Entity company, thereby enabling it to have a listing in the US. He worked as the company’s chief financial officer, its chief operating officer and eventually became the president in 2005 and its chief executive officer in 2006. He is now the chairman of the company’s board of directors. The company’s current chief executive officer is Charles Chao. He is also the president of Sina Corp, having acquired a Master of Professional Accounting degree from University of Texas, Austin, and a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma. Mr. Chao also holds a Bachelors of Art degree in Journalism from the Fudan University based in Shanghai, China.
START/HISTORY OF THE COMPANY
In March 1999, Sina Corp was founded following a merger between the Stone Rich Sight Information Technology Limited and the US website company, Sinanet.com, based in Sunnyvale, California. The merger was established by the former chief executive officer and President Wang Zhidong, and ensured an extended service across North America, and eventually Hong Kong in July 1999. Sina.com was the first company of its kind to be approved for listing on the Nasdaq US National market on 13 April, 2000, before the others such as Netease and Sohu.com, which acquired listings in June and July respectively The Company has two headquarters based in Beijing and Shanghai China. Sina.com was selected by the government and the Chinese Olympic committee to be the official website which provided for online coverage of the Sydney Summer Olympics, in the 2000 millennium year.
The company succeeded in raising up to US$68,000,000 before the plummeting of NASDAQ in May 2000. In July 2000. Since then, the company has attracted major investments from Chinese e-commerce giants. In November 8, 1999, the company received a Series C funding round worth $60 from Trend Micro, Creative Technology Marketing & Design, PCCW, Sumitomo Corporation, United Overseas Bank, Dell, and SoftBank. The first round of investment was led by Dell. Sina Corp also raised US$20M following a Series C investment by Funding Global Innovation on November 27, 2009. It also received Series A funding type worth US$5M in 1995 and series B type in 1997, worthUS$6.5M, which was led by Funding Global Innovation. The company also received an undisclosed amount of Series C funding led by GWC in January 2012 and 2015 respectively. Another round of investment was led by Miaopai in September 25, 2014 worth US$50M Series C type funding from investors including: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Redpoint, Ren Quan Ventures, StarVC, and Sina. Alibaba first announced the investment of more than US$10 million in the Company’s Sina Sports branch, following the listing of the firm’s sports news site in Hong Kong local media, in August 2015. This deal gave the Asia’s largest internet company a stake in the country’s largest three online sports broadcasters. Alibaba’s investment made it a major stockholder of Sina Sports, and consequently which a Sina Corp stakeholder. The private equity which was co-founded by Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma Yun, led the first round of investment.
DATA/ METRICS (IN-DEPTH DESCRIPTION)
Through efficient marketing, Sina Corp has been providing tailored internet services for all its local users. Sina.com has conducted both quantitative and qualitative market researches that included demographic research and psychograph on their target audience in specific regions. The company also provides internet services to the entire Chinese population worldwide, having localized their websites with over thirty integrated channels such as news, sports, technology information, finance, advertising services, entertainment, fashion, and travel. Sina.com is a multiple service provider that majors in delivery of SMS, Mail, Search, Games, Match, Entertainment, Sina Blog, Sports and Sina Microblogging. The firm’s blog service provide the celebrities from mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong with platforms that enable them reach their fans and supporters. Taiwanese hosts Dee Hsu as well as Kevin Tsai use are examples of the Microblog celebrity users, each having more than ten million followers on their microblogs. Sina Weibo is a match for Twitter which is blocked by the Chinese authorities, giving it complete advantage and monopoly in the China market. The company ensures localization through political censorship. Just like all other internet service providers operating in mainland China, it ensures all its web pages have internet censors that control discussion of sensitive political contents. Their news comes from local newspapers, which are subject to censorship by the government. The censorships are not however extended to pages and forums that are not intended for audiences in mainland China.
Sina Corp has partnered with various other web-based companies including People, Nanfang Daily, Xinhuanet, Lifeweek among others. Apart from the company’s media partners, its clients are companies such as Microsoft, DELL, IBM, Kodak and Motorola. The company website Sina.com developed its business in the wireless internet field, thus partnering with China Mobile, China Telecom, and Ericsson. Sina.com and Yahoo.com have also partnered to provide joint online auction services in China, a move which enabled EachNet, a company which cooperates with eBay, to lower its registration fees in 2004, in order to keep its market share. Sina Corp has been also sponsor of the annual ChinICT conference which is usually held at the Tsinghua Science Park. The company also begun a partnership with Qihoo 360 to address internet security. This collaboration, Qihoo 360 provides Sina Weibo technical support needs thereby protecting Weibo from hackers and virus attacks.
Like all multinationals, Sina has had challenges over time due to mixed fourth quarter results and stiff competition in the Chinese markets. The introduction and increase in number of rival companies such as Youku Tudou Inc., Baidu Inc. and NetEase Inc. among others, have threatened Sina’s profitability in the marketplace. However, its strong product pipeline, superior reputation, ancient brand, constant investments and new marketing solutions, have enabled the company to position itself as the premier enterprise in the Internet services and Content industry. Moreover, the company has proceeded with the Weibo initial public offering, which has added value to its shareholders. It has also implemented growth strategies involving vertical expansion and restructuring of its various networking domains. It has however faced challenges with the mainland Chinese government which has been increasingly strict with regulation policies on content to be aired for audiences. This has been a major obstacle to the company and its top competitors like Tencent and Baidu.
Sina Corporation is a leading internet service provider in China as well as global Chinese communities. With its network brand of localized websites, the company is able provide services that target mainland China and Chinese living overseas. The Company, through five major business lines, provides multiple services such as regional online portals, MVAS, social networking service, audio and video streaming, album, online games, email, search, classified listings, fee-based services, e-commerce, enterprise e-solutions, blog and microblogs. The Company also generates most of its revenue from online advertising, MVAS offerings, and, as well as from search engines and other fee-based services. A big challenge for Sina Corp is monetizing its massive following on Sina Weibo. The firm has taken various steps in an attempt to address this issue by developing a “pay-for-forward” feature enables users to pay in order to have their message forwarded by an account that has a large following. This ensures the company gets 20% of the revenue generated from the “pay-for-forward” fees.