In May, Tencent invested RMB 84.4 million (US$ 13.1m) in online travel service eLong and RMB 445 million (US$ 69.1m) in film production Huayi Brothers. As for June, Baidu invested RMB 306 million (US$ 47.6m) in another travel services aggregator Qunar. And in July, Alibaba Group led the US$ 50 million funding for group buying service Meituan.
Above are just several cases made by those giant internet businesses. These three giants are investing more aggressively than before. Sources say almost all well-known e-commerce companies have received calls from Tencent and Baidu investment divisions.
Online shoe store Okbuy has just received RMB 324 million (US$ 50.4m) from Tencent. Okbuy CEO Li Shubin explained that under the current financing environment, getting money from Tencent and the like is as good as from traditional PE (private equity), and even better when factoring into stuff like user resources and payment system. “Okbuy and Tencent are complementary to each other. ” Li said, “We are the ‘mall’ for Tencent community, and Tencent QQ members can buy shoes in our store.”
An analyst pointed out that companies in travel, e-commerce and other areas appeal to investors in recent years due to market growth, and there are some bubbles emerging already. “Money is no longer vital. When these companies are looking for partners, “traffic growth”, “logistics system” and “the influence of the brand” have all became the important factors. And that is the main reason why internet giants like Tencent look more attractive to startups and entrepreneurs now.
while Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba are investing aggressively, major portals such as Sina, Netease and Sohu seem indifferently. Some observers say one reason might be they are not aware enough of the changes out there, or they simply lack the cash to invest in.