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Sogou plans to double Chinese workforce

12-15-2011 19:23 BJT

BEIJING - Sohu.com Inc, one of China's largest Internet portals, plans to double the number of people working for its online-search unit next year.

That decision came amid the company's intensifying efforts to fend off competition from Baidu Inc, Google Inc and other Internet rivals.

Sogou Inc, a search engine which was spun off from the company in 2010, plans to hire 700 more employees next year, boosting the total number to 1,400, said Wang Xiaochuan, chief executive officer of the company on Tuesday. The new employees will mainly be technicians and marketing staff.

Wang's remarks came after Sogou has started to draw more Chinese search-engine traffic than Google since Sept 30, according to the data tracker Cnzz.com Inc. In November, 7.67 percent of all Internet searches in the country were conducted through Sogou and 5.32 percent through Google. Still, Baidu, the nation's biggest search engine in the country, had the heaviest traffic with 80.51 percent.

Marsha Wang, spokeswoman of Google China, declined to comment on Cnzz.com's data.

In March 2010, Google began to direct its mainland traffic through its Hong Kong operation. Its revenues from the mainland have declined ever since, the result of some of its former advertisers starting to do business with its rivals.

Even so, the third quarter saw Google continue to bring in the second-largest amount of money of any search engine in China, taking about 17.2 percent of the total haul. Baidu, for its part, got 78.2 percent, according to the domestic research company Analysys International. Sogou ranked a distant third, bringing in only 2.2 percent of total search-engine revenue.

Sogou's Wang said the company is likely to double its annual revenues next year, taking in more than $100 million. The third quarter of the year saw Sogou break even for the first time, when it reported collecting $18.4 million in revenue. That was up 244 percent from the year before, according to Sohu's financial report.

Meanwhile, Sogou is not the only company seeking to challenge Google.

Tencent Holdings Ltd, the biggest Internet company in China measured by revenue, will spend about 1 billion yuan ($157 million) next year on research and development for its search engine Soso.com, Jeff Xiong, Tencent chief technology officer, said this past month as Soso started a promotional campaign in nine cities. In 2010, the company recruited Zhu Huican, the designer of Google's photo search, to be the chief architect of Soso.

Xiong said the company hopes Soso can break even within two to three years and become one of the top two moneymakers among Chinese search engines, according to a report in the China Business News newspaper.

Although Baidu is meeting most of the Chinese demand for online searches, an increasing number of players have been coming in, including the e-commerce giant, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, and the online video site Youku.com Inc.

Editor:Zhang Hao |Source: China Daily

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