China embraces blogging; BlogChina's IPO plans

 |  Includes: NTES, SINA, SNDA, SOHU
by: Ezra Marbach

BlogChina is riding the wave of interest in blogging in China. The company enjoys
8 million daily page views, 30,000 daily postings, and funding from Softbank and Shanda Interactive (ticker: SNDA). Here are excerpts from an interview with BlogChina founder Fang

On reports BlogChina is planning a Nasdaq IPO:

....Yes, definitely. I think blogging will be the hottest thing on the Internet in the next one to two years. 

On Softbank's blogging expectations:

....Softbank invested in BlogChina because they have high
expectations for blogging. Softbank will support BlogChina in various
ways in addition to providing operating capital. We will have a
significant amount of additional investment coming in soon. Legend
Capital vice president Tan Yongquan recently came on as CEO of
BlogChina, which will assist us in raising more capital.

On the lack of a clear revenue generating model: 

....Our revenue model may not be clear at present, but BlogChina
is still in its initial stages of development. We only have several
million users now but I think when our user number reaches ten million,
we will be able to show investors a clear profit generating model.

On potential revenue sources:

....Advertising will be one way, and not the same kind of advertising
that you find on the portals. Advertisements on BlogChina will target a
very specific audience. Another is WVAS, because mobile blogging will
definitely become a mainstream service. A third is to provide value
added services and applications for bloggers. A blog portal like
BlogChina is like an online family for bloggers. Users will pay for
certain services.

On facing competition from blogging services from the likes of Sina (ticker: SINA), Sohu (ticker: SOHU), and Netease (ticker: NTES):

....I believe all major portals and many
other websites will launch blog services and relevant blog
applications. When this happens, it means blogging has become
mainstream. BlogChina will be a professional blog services company and
will be an industry leader in terms of service. We are not a portal,
media or technology company, we are a service company. We have recently
established a BlogChina Service Center. Our level of service will
differentiate us from other blog sites.

On censoring blogger content:

....We use technology and manual examination procedures. China
is more sensitive about political content compared with foreign
countries such as the US, while the US is more strict on the use of
copyrights. To use a company logo in an article may be against the law
in the US but is common in China. As a blog website with three million
registered users, we must have content management. However, Blogging
mainly deals with personal content. Bloggers will not typically put
inappropriate content on their own page. Blogs normally only contain
one tenth of the inappropriate content found on online forums. In
China, I think it is much easier to manage a blog site than a forum.

See here for the full text of the Pacific Epoch interview.