What Is Weibo Anyway?

Mar 19, 2014
What Is Weibo Anyway?
Nobody seems to know what Weibo Corp. is worth, though its IPO should value it at several billion dollars. And in honor of Weibo’s U.S. IPO filing last Friday—the company is spinning off from Chinese web media parent SinaSINA -1.34% Corp–MoneyBeat took to the Journal archives to answer another imponderable: just what is Weibo anyway?

Foreign media—including The Wall Street Journal–have struggled for elegant descriptions of Weibo ever since it launched in August 2009. But most agree it’s likeTwitterTWTR -1.21%.
The first Journal report we could find to describe Weibo–in August 2010, a full year after its launch–helped set the trend by calling it a “Twitter-like microblogging website.”
The problem with Twitter comparisons is that Weibo offers many features that Twitter doesn’t: Users can comment in long threads on single 140 character posts, chat in popup windows, and play online games.
Plus, “Twitter-like microblogging website” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.
Reporters have soldiered on. They’ve called it a “miniblog service,” “the most talked-about microblogging site in China” and also simply a “popular site.” But Twitter has been the most frequent reference; the Guardian has called it “the Chinese Twitter that dwarfs Twitter.”
Weibo sees itself differently. It only mentions Twitter four times in its prospectus, and never as a comparable product. The prospectus’s cover page calls Weibo “a microcosm of Chinese society and a cultural phenomenon.” In the summary, it’s “a leading social platform for people to create, distribute and discover Chinese-language content.”
Chinese media has had an easier time describing Weibo as it means “microblog” generically in Mandarin, so it’s largely self-explanatory. In fact, while Sina has claimed the name “Weibo Corporation,” and Weibo has long been English shorthand for Sina’s microblog, competitors Tencent, Sina and Netease all host their own, less popular Weibos.
Netease Weibo’s tagline? “A Weibo with attitude”. We’ll look for that in the coverage when it IPOs.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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