Ask any Chinese net user to name the sites they spend their time on and you’ll probably come across a few — perhaps all — of these names: Tencent, Netease, Sohu, Sina, Phoenix. These companies are all portal sites; they provide one-stop shopping for net users by providing a variety of services starting with news aggregation and also offering a variety of additional services from social networking to gaming. But how are these guys making their money? TechWeb has run an excellent report comparing the companies based on their financial results from Q1 2012. Here’s how it breaks down (original chart via TechWeb, translated by me):
There are lots of ways to look at this data, and it’s no surprise to see Tencent way ahead of the rest of the pack. But the first thing that jumped out to me was the stark difference between what Tencent is making from its social networks and what Sina is making — or more accurately, what it isn’t making — from Weibo. Granted, Tencent versus Sina isn’t an entirely fair comparison when it comes to SNS, since Tencent has QQ, Weixin and Qzone in addition to its weibo service. But it’s certainly clear that Sina is having a very hard time monetizing its popular social network.
(Incidentally, it’s also worth noting Sina doesn’t seem to be making much of anything from its weibo gaming platform either. That’s not a huge surprise, as I’ve reviewed a number of the games and found them to be pretty bad, generally speaking, and way too blatant about begging for money.)