Yahoo!China posted a goodbye letter on its homepage that reads
Based on the agreement between Alibaba Group and Yahoo! US, Yahoo!China will adjust its operations strategy. From 12:00 am, September 1st, it will not provide online news or community services any longer. The existing team will be focused on the charitable endeavors of Alibaba Group.
The statement only shows on the site for seconds. Then you’ll be redirected to the official website of Alibaba Charity. Less than half a month ago, Yahoo!China closed its mail service. Now it doesn’t operate any Internet services in China.
Yahoo! started establishing presence in China in 1999. Yahoo!China would hire a plenty of top executives in the next years, with one, Mr. Xie Wen, only serving for 40 days as president.
Among them include Zhou Hongyi, now CEO of Qihoo, who sold 3721, a Chinese character-based search service, to Yahoo! for $120 million in 2003 and joined Yahoo!China as president. Zhou left Yahoo! China in 2005 due to dispute with Yahoo! headquarter who finally paid 3721’s shareholders $90 million.
In 2005, Yahoo! obtained 40% of Alibaba with one billion US dollars cash and Yahoo!China.
Zhou would become CEO of Qihoo. The core members developing Yahoo!China’s search engine would join Alibaba in 2008 to build a search ad system for the latter’s e-commerce marketplaces.
Although Yahoo! was an early entrant and local players actually modeled it to build online portals, it didn’t grow to be of the top ones. Its mail service was once widely adopted but later surpassed by local services such as 163 and QQ Mail. In 2012 it only had 200 staff.
According to a buy-back agreement signed between Yahoo! and Alibaba, the latter would own the right to run “Yahoo! China” brand till 2016. In late last year Alibaba Group bought back $7.1 billion worth of shares with $6.3 billion in cash and $800 million of Alibaba Group preference shares. Now Yahoo! still owns 23% of Alibaba and has to sell between 13% and 14% when Alibaba launches IPO.