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Baidu: famous as “Chinese Google”

The history of Baidu dates back to a time when Google was still under development.Back in 1994, Robin Li, working for the Down Jones and Company, began researching on algorithms for search engines. He developed RankDex in 1996. It was an algorithm that ranked web pages. However, around the same time, Larry Page began developing a similar kind of algorithm PageRank, which would be used in Google. After working for Infoseek for a few years, Robin Li moved to China in 1999 to launch Baidu. At that time, Internet use in China has just begun and it was a land of overwhelming possibilities. Baidu began as a paid search service for major corporations. After a year, Robin Li scrapped that idea launched Baidu as an independent service.

It was during this time that Robin Li and his team worked the hardest to improve Baidu. They worked overtime, doubled the effort and within the span of just one year, Baidu’s index of searchable pages was double the size of its nearest competitor in China.Baidu continued to dominate the search engine and internet marketing domains in China and to this date, it remains the number one search portal in China. When it went public in 2005, Baidu was the largest IPO since 2000. On its opening day, the stock gained immensely and ended the opening day with a return of 354%! The company offers various internet based services ranging from search to cloud storage, Web browsers to online advertising and marketing. Initially famous as “China’s Google”, Baidu is the second largest independent search engine today. The company has its share of criticisms though. Baidu was accused of censorship and promoting illegal music downloads. Its public image always suffered because the search results would be flooded with sponsored ads making it difficult for users to spot organic search results.

The company is taking steps to make the experience more user centric and friendly by introducing Phoenix Nest – a better way to display advertisements, similar to how Google displays its sponsored ads. The company is trying hard to improve its image.

Baidu Headquarters

Baidu is currently a China centric company with markets in other South East Asian nations, but it has plans to expand onto the global platform soon.The growth of Baidu can be attributed to its founder Robin Li’s vision and dedication. When his algorithm RankDex was shadowed by Google, he did not silently watch his ideas slip into oblivion. Instead he moved on and launched his own business in China and today the success of Baidu is overwhelming. Baidu’s journey from a small startup to the world’s 2nd biggest independent search engine is a story which will inspire many. Considering that its opposition is the mighty Google, the story is all the more motivating. As Baidu begins to rework its strategies to make amends and improve its image, the success story tells you that first step to achieving your dreams is to never give up on them.

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Sina Corp

China’s favorite online media company, Sina Corp, is one success story that can attribute its growth to the era of the massive internet media growth. Today, it majorly has three divisions, Sina.com – a popular website that hosts other websites as well, Sina Weibo – the social networking site, and Sina.cn – a mobile portal. All of these have become huge successes individually.

Sina is popular with the Chinese all over the world. The company did not begin in China but the United States, albeit by a Chinese businessman. Sina corp was formed by Wang Zhidong, the CEO of Stone Rich Site Information Technology Ltd. The merger with Sina.net, the already hugely popular website led to the birth of Sina Corp. Since the inception in the North America, Sina Corp spread quickly throughout the world and then into Hong Kong. During the time of NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy, the website grew in popularity throughout China and the rest of the Chinese community spread out across the world. The portal was known for reporting the incident accurately, thereby getting most people to rely on the news content. The site also went on to replace the then really popular Chinese news website, Sohu.com.

By the year 2000, Sina made it to the listing of websites by NASDAQ, something that only popular names like Sohu and Netease could achieve by then. When the 2000 Olympics was held in Sydney, Sina was chosen as their online media site to officially cover the events as decided by the Australian and the Chinese government.

Sina Corp Headquarters

The social networking site of the company, Sina Weibo is an equivalent to Twitter and is extremely popular. The platform has as many as 500 million users today with 20 million users getting added to the network every month. Despite the fact that Twitter is the most popular microblogging site in the world, Sina Weibo constitutes for a 56.5% of China’s microblogging market. Sina Weibo is bigger than twitter as most of the local celebs use Weibo instead of Twitter. In the early 2000’s Sina even won the ‘Chinese Media of the Year’ award for billions of numbers of page visits gained by the site. Since then, the portal had been reigning the world of Chinese online media, winning some really loyal fans along the way. Today, the Chinese all over the world are still very much hooked on to everything that is Sina.

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NetEase: give me your money

Founded in 1997 with just 3 employees, NetEase has grown into one of the largest Internet companies in China. When Kathy Xu from Baring Private Equity Partners, a venture capital firm, invested 5 million dollars into NetEase, the results could have gone either way. By 2000, the company was listed on NASDAQ and raised about 70 million dollars. For any young entrepreneur, this kind of a journey would be a dream come true. It was at the end of the dot-com bubble that the investors became cautious. NetEase’s accounting scandal broke in 2001. The stock was suspended from NASDAQ and faced threats of delisting. Ding Lei went around looking for new investors but found no takers. Just when it looked like the doors would shut on NetEase, Lei had a plan

He wanted to venture into the online gaming business, a plan that was swiftly rejected by the board. Being a majority shareholder, Lei went ahead with his plan. This was the jackpot for NetEase. By 2003, he had become China’s richest man.

NetEase’s massively multiplayer online game Fantasy Westward Journey, developed by an in-house team was a raging hit amongst gamers. By 2005 alone, the game had about 25 million users and required about 198 game servers.

In the rapidly evolving world, mobile games are quickly taking over from their desktop counterparts. NetEase has a large in-house R&D team which not only puts the company ahead of its curve, but also tackles gaming transitions. Ding Lei has a plan to start an organic farming business and has readied about 16 million dollars for investment into the sector. Ding Lei’s aim is to create jobs in the country side and provide an incentive for the farmers to return to farming.

NetEase has identified about 17 possible sectors for investment where it can install modern equipment and provide a platform for farmers to utilize the latest in technology. In a country like China with vast tracts of fertile land at disposal, this could be a next step forward for a sustainable future.NetEase has already partnered with Coursera to deliver an online learning platform to provide quality education for free. They have translated over 8000 hours of video lectures into Chinese and this is one way of NetEase giving back to the community.

NetEase’s success can be largely attributed to its ability to come up with innovative ideas which are executed with dedication and commitment. NetEase’s journey and its plan for the future is a proof of the fact that hard work and the ability to adapt always help one to bounce back from the setbacks.

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Young girl’s Entrepreneur experience

In 2004, at age 14, Detroit native Qualls launched Whateverlife.com, conceived as a personal portfolio with pictures and graphics she created. Later, she offered free MySpace layouts and tutorials for teens who wanted to learn how to do their own graphic designs and coding.A quote from Qualls on her Web site says the site’s name means “for whatever life you lead.” She goes on to write that her goal is to include “information and fun things for anyone and everyone,” and she seems to be making big strides in that direction. (Qualls did not return multiple calls seeking comment.)

Whateverlife.com, which Qualls owns outright, claims to nab 7 million individual visitors a month and counts Verizon Communications as an advertiser. In March 2006, Qualls reportedly received an offer (from an undisclosed buyer) for $1.5 million, but turned it down.

In her 17, Qualls is an emancipated minor. While considered an adult in the eyes of the law, she knows she has a long way to go, evidenced by an entry on her MySpace.com page: “I have lived a lot in the past three years and have only a few things to say about it. There is always so much to learn.”

 

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How JD.com get into future success

After graduation, Liu (JD.COM’s CEO) put his dreams of entrepreneurship on hold and went to work for health products company Japan Life, where he quickly rose through the ranks, in 1998 Liu decided to take another shot at starting his own business. With just 12,000 yuan he established Jingdong Century Trading, a consumer electronics shop specialising in magneto-optical products.The business was a success, opening 12 stores in just five years and earning more than 10 million yuan. Then severe acute respiratory syndrome struck. The disease which swept China in 2003, killing more than 300 people, sparked a panic and kept customers at home, leaving Jingdong teetering on the edge of disaster.

“The Sars crisis was a shock to the whole retail business in China,” said Jasmine Sun, an e-commerce and retail expert at consulting firm SmithStreet. “Because of Sars, a lot of people started to use e-commerce so they didn’t need to go out and take the risk of being infected, so there was a boom in e-commerce that year.”

 Recognizing that the demand to buy goods online was unlikely to go away once the Sars crisis was over, Liu threw himself wholeheartedly into e-commerce. He launched his first online retail website in 2004 and founded JD.COM later that year. By 2005, all of the company’s original bricks-and-mortar stores were closed.

The pivot was a risky move. In 2005, after all, JD business had moved online, sales dropped to 30 million yuan, less than half of what it had made the previous year. Liu stuck to his approach, however, and in the five years from 2004 to 2009, the company recorded an average growth rate of more than 300 percent. JD has struggled at times to compete with e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba, which owns Taobao and Tmall. In March, Liu’s company got a much-needed boost from another Alibaba-rival, Tencent, which acquired a 15 percent stake in JD for US$214.7 million in cash. The web giant also transferred its e-commerce businesses QQ Wanggou and Paipai, as well as a minority stake in Yixun, to JD.

Within months of the Tencent deal, JD.com Inc debuted on Nasdaq, beating Alibaba to an IPO. The deal also catapulted Liu into the ranks of China’s super-rich. According to Forbes, he is now worth around US$8 billion, making him one of the 100 richest individuals in China. With 84 per cent of voting power under a dual-class share structure, Liu also retained effective veto control over all JD’s future decisions, something no doubt important to a chief executive who is so detail-oriented that he once served as a delivery boy to better understand the company’s logistics wing.

Liu seems determined to go his own way, shrugging off comparisons to others. “Copying business models of any other companies is doomed to fail,” he told Bloomberg in May.

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