Bottom line: Sogou is unlikely to shed its position as a second-tier search engine anytime soon, despite its ties to Tencent ties, and its stock is also unlikely to be a strong performer over the next 2-3 years.
After writing about up-and-coming hot new names like Qudian (NYSE: QD) and ZhongAn Insurance (HKEx: 6060) making blockbuster IPOs over these last few weeks, it feels a bit like going back to the future by writing today about a new listing for search engine Sogou (NYSE: SOGO). The fact of the matter is that Qudian, ZhongAn and just about all of the companies listing in this current wave of IPOs didn’t even exist when Sogou was born, and many of their founders were probably still in college or perhaps younger.
Anyone out there sensing just a tiny bit of skepticism from what I’ve just written isn’t just imagining things. As a longtime China tech reporter, I remember meeting with Charles Zhang, founder of Sogou’s parent Sohu (Nasdaq: SOHU), more than a decade ago, at which time he told me about all the great things in store for his then-fledgling search engine. Fast forward to the present, when it doesn’t seem like much has changed, including Sogou’s ongoing status as a niche player in China’s massive search market. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: Sohu’s plan to list its Sogou search unit has a 50-50 chance of happening this year, while AirMedia’s 2-year-old privatization plan is likely to close within that period.
A couple of IPOs are in the headlines as we head into the new week, led by an often-discussed offering by perennial third-place search engine Sogou, which is co-owned by Internet titan Tencent (HKEx: 700) and second-rate portal Sohu (Nasdaq: SOHU). At the same time, another second-rate company, AirMedia (Nasdaq: AMCN), has slashed the proposed buyout price for its attempt to go private, reflecting the company’s own troubles.
Both of these stories have a bit of the “who cares?” element for long-term investors, since neither company is one that has particularly strong long-term prospects. But they do both reflect the larger realm of smaller Chinese Internet and media companies that are struggling for attention, as investors get mesmerized by giants like Tencent, Alibaba(NYSE: BABA) and JD.com(Nasdaq: JD). Read Full Post…
Bottom line: The resignation of Xunlei’s founder as CEO, even as he retains his chairman’s title, could indicate a sale is coming soon, with the most likely buyer as Xiaomi.
The incredible shriveling online video company Xunlei (Nasdaq: XNET) is making a tiny splash in the headlines as we head toward the weekend, with word that its founder is relinquishing his position as CEO. The move seems potentially significant, since one of the main obstacles that keeps more companies from being acquired in China is resistance by their founders to relinquish their “empires” to someone else.
In this case, Xunlei’s empire is rapidly vanishing, as it gets overtaken by larger rivals like Baidu’s (Nasdaq: BIDU) iQiyi and video services operated by Tencent (HKEx: 700) and Sohu (Nasdaq: SOHU). That may mean that no one really wants Xunlei anymore, including ordinary stock investors. The company’s shares have been on a downward trajectory since its Nasdaq IPO three years ago, and now trade at $3.24 apiece, about a quarter of their IPO price of $12. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: Sohu could privatize and sell itself after its Changyou buyout, while LeEco’s mass layoffs could presage a shuttering of all its newer operations as it reverts to its original online video business.
Two relatively large pullbacks are in the headlines as we reach the midpoint of the week, led by the latest privatization bid for online game specialist Changyou (Nasdaq: CYOU) by parent Sohu (Nasdaq: SOHU). That news is coupled with the unrelated by equally large retrenchment by struggling online video company LeEco (Shenzhen: 300104), which is making mass layoffs in its bid for survival.
Each of these stories is interesting because the future existence of a major company is at stake. In the first case, the Changyou privatization could signal a future privatization and sale of the company’s parent, Sohu, one of China’s oldest Internet players. The LeEco story represents the latest twist in the downward spiral for this company, which appears to be rapidly slimming down or closing most of its operations outside its original core online video service. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: A tussle that resulted in injuries to a Tencent worker by a Youku peer at an industry event reflects the big tensions that exist in China’s online video sector due to years of stiff competition that shows no signs of easing.
Stiff competition in a wide range of online industries is pretty much par for the course in China, but a scuffle between employees of Tencent (HKEx: 700) and Youkuat an industry event is underscoring just how high tensions can get. This particular case won’t really mean much for either company beyond a few sensational headlines in the next few days, and perhaps some internal emails at both companies. But it does show how tough things are in the online video space, where everyone is looking for the elusive formula for profits.
This particular story looks quite similar to another one that happened in February, in which a video of brawling take-out deliverymen from rivals Meituan and Ele.me went viral. (English article) That particular story had a very blue-collar feel, since most of these deliverymen are migrants from the countryside with relatively low education and who tend to stay at their jobs for relatively short periods. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: Sohu founder Charles Zhang should privatize his company in the next year and then sell off the pieces, or risk see his dwindling empire slowly become worthless.
You know you’re a CEO when you can call results like those just released by Internet company Sohu(Nasdaq: SOHU) “solid”. Of course that’s my sarcastic assessment, after reading the latest quarterly report that absolutely nothing upbeat about it from one of China’s oldest Internet companies. Nearly all of the numbers in Sohu’s latest report were down, with the lone exception of its online search business, whose anemic growth shouldn’t excite anyone.
Also down was Sohu’s stock, which slumped 6.4 percent after the results came out and is rapidly approaching lows not seen for nearly a decade. All that brings us to my assertion that perhaps it’s time for founder Charles Zhang to consider the unthinkable and break up his company and sell of the various pieces while there are still potential buyers. If he waits too much longer, those pieces will continue to diminish in value to the point where nobody wants them. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: Sogou is unlikely to make an IPO this year, despite new talk of potential for such a plan from its CEO, and may ultimately never list due to its lackluster performance.
Online search engine Sogou is testing the market yet again for a potential IPO, hoping to spin a story of opportunity to grab market share from scandal-tainted industry leader Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU). That story may sound attractive to investors unfamiliar with this perennial number-three in China’s search market, whose main shareholders are web portal Sohu (Nasdaq: SOHU) and Internet titan Tencent (HKEx: 700).
The only problem is that Sogou’s credibility is nearly nil these days, a direct result of the equally low credibility of controlling shareholder Sohu, which seizes on any opportunity to talk up IPOs for its various units. Accordingly, I will quite definitively go on the record saying this particular IPO won’t happen this year, and possibly not ever, regardless of what anyone at Sohu or Sogou says. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: Sohu may be forced to separately sell off its portal, video, search and gaming units over the next 1-2 years, or risk seeing them gradually fall in value as the company’s losses mount.
After running for years as a solid second-tier player, Internet veteran Sohu (Nasdaq: SOHU) is finally showing signs of running out of steam, based on its latest quarterly results and word of a major new loan to the company from its cash-rich but fading Changyou (Nasdaq: CYOU) gaming unit. This kind of turn isn’t all that surprising, since status as a second-tier player should only be temporary and such companies should either aspire to top-tier positions or sell themselves to rivals to ensure their longer term survival.
But Sohu has defied such pressures, largely due to the fiercely independent nature of its founder Charles Zhang, who is both quite shrewd but also famously averse to giving control of his empire to others. These latest results show that Zhang may soon have no choice but to sell some or all of his company, or risk seeing it slowly relegated to oblivion due to pressure from better-run rivals. Read Full Post…
The following press releases and news reports about China companies were carried on October 25. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
HNA Group Acquires 25 Pct Equity Interest in Hilton (NYSE: HLT) for $6.5 Bln (Businesswire)
Syngenta Slumps After EU Watchdog Sparks ChemChina Deal Doubts (English article)
JD.com (Nasdaq: JD) Corruption Incident Nets More Than 10 Workers (Chinese article)
Bottom line: Alibaba is the biggest beneficiary of business lost by Baidu after a scandal earlier this year, with search rivals Qihoo and Sogou also likely to pick up new business.
A couple of news items are showing how Baidu’s (Nasdaq: BIDU) core search business is coming under assault from several directions, in an ominous sign for the company’s main revenue source. The first item shows that Baidu has officially lost its crown as China’s top digital adverting platform to e-commerce titan Alibaba (NYSE: BABA), following a scandal earlier this year that wiped out up to a fifth of its revenue. In the other item, reports are saying that China’s other Internet titan Tencent (HKEx: 700) has boosted its stake in Sogou, one of Baidu’s main search rivals, to 45 percent. Read Full Post…
The following press releases and news reports about China companies were carried on August 2. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
Didi Chuxing Acquires Uber China Operation, Uber Founder to Enter Didi Board (Chinese article)
Fantasia (HKEx: 177) to Buy Wanda Commercial Property Management Arm for 2 Bln Yuan (Chinese article)