After Google’s pulling out of mainland China, the world’s biggest internet market last year, it left a huge market share for many competitors looking for a piece of the lucrative pie. Sogou, the search engine unit of Chinese portal Sohu.com, is aiming to overtake Google Inc by market share in China within a year, according to Sogou CEO Wang Xiaochuan. Wang Xiaochuan also claims that, Sogou’s revenue would likely exceed US$20 million in the fourth quarter this year and the company would turn profitable next year.
Sogou search revenue has reached US$8 million
The core products of Sogou are search engine services, internet browser and input method software. According to its own statistics, Sogou input method has gained more than 300 million users with 83.6% penetration rate in the market which makes it the top one Chinese input method software.
According to Sohu’s first quarter financial report, Sogou search revenues reached US$8 million, up 183% year-over-year and 21% quarter-over-quarter. Wang Xiaochuan told Reuters in one interview, “Our search volumes doubled in the past year, which led to very fast growth in our revenue, and I don’t see what’s so difficult about reporting a profit next year,” he also indicated that, “We are aiming to overtake Chinese Google within one year.”
Sogou is also looking to increase its headcount by more than 30 per cent to 800 by the end of this year, helped by growing revenue.
Upcoming cooperation with Alibaba Group
Wang also revealed an upcoming venture with Alibaba Group to create a web browser optimised for e-commerce.
“We want to make a Sogou-Taobao web browswer, or a Taobao-optimised Sogou web broswer,” Wang said. “Our current browser already has plenty of add-ons, and Taobao wants it to be optimised for them.”
Taobao, a unit of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, is China’s largest e-commerce website and accounted for 70 percent of all online sales transacted in China in the first quarter of this year.
Wang himself had just returned from Alibaba’s headquarter in Hangzhou to meet with Alibaba founder Jack Ma to discuss closer cooperation on various fronts including Taobao. The specific launch date is not disclosed by Wang, but he claims that Taobao is currently the largest client of the company’s searching business, which contributes nearly 10% of its total revenue.
“A web browser is key for all e-commerce activities,” Wang said. “We want to design a browser that is safe and convenient, especially for Taobao users.”
The cooperation between Sogou and Alibaba will not only stay in the capital level, in the future Sogou will also seek cooperation in integration of business data and user resources with Taobao and Alipay.