Alibaba CEO Ma: Yahoo China to Be Community-Based Portal
By CIO Staff
Alibaba.com plans to turn the Yahoo China website into a community-based portal that relies on users for the bulk of its content, the company’s top executive said Wednesday.
“I’m changing Yahoo China from a full portal of self-generated content to user-generated content,” said Jack Ma, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, speaking at a conference in Singapore.
Alibaba acquired Yahoo’s Chinese operations in 2005 as part of a deal that saw Yahoo invest more than US$1 billion in the Chinese e-commerce company.
That deal gave Alibaba access to Yahoo’s search technology to help it fend off expected competition from Google, which was then just starting a big push into the Chinese market, Ma said. In addition, it gave Alibaba the cash it needed to buy out the shares of venture-capital backers, easing pressure on the Hangzhou, China, company to take itself public, he said.
Turning around Yahoo China’s flagging operations wasn’t easy. “I’ve got more gray hairs because of Yahoo China,” Ma joked, saying the business has now been stabilized.
While Ma did not delve into specifics of his plan for Yahoo China, the decision to rely largely on user-generated content closely follows the strategy of partner Yahoo, which relies on input from users for many of its latest offerings, such as Yahoo Answers. The announcement also underscores the significance of Alibaba’s investment in Koubei.com, which offers classified ads and discussion forums that cover goods and services available in different Chinese cities.
Alibaba said the investment, announced on Monday, will support its wider e-commerce operations, which are centered on the Alibaba.com website, which is designed to connect small and midsize Chinese companies with overseas buyers.
-Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service (Singapore Bureau)