Sina reshuffle focuses on Weibo

Beijing (China Daily/ANN) - Sina Corp, the Chinese Web portal operator, has announced a major restructuring of its business, attaching greater importance to its micro-blogging service Sina Weibo as competition from rivals heats up.

The company has now made Weibo one of two major business divisions, consolidating functions that used to be scattered across different departments.

Charles Chao, chairman and CEO, told employees by email on Friday that Sina's organisational structure needed to change "to respond to competition in a mobile era".

"We need to have a strong sense of crisis and change quickly," he added, emphasising that its strategy in 2013 would put "mobile first", while improving overall efficiency.

Within the reshuffle, Wang Gaofei, who used to head Sina's wireless business, will take charge of micro-blogging operations, reporting directly to Chao, which analysts viewed as highly significant.

Sina has been feeling pressure, particularly from WeChat, a mobile messaging service developed by Tencent Holdings Ltd, China's largest Internet company by sales.

Hong Bo, a Beijing-based IT analyst and founder of consultancy company IT5G, said: "Wang's appointment as head of the Sina Weibo means the company can improve communication."

Previously, Weibo was operated by two departments.

Applications running on mobile devices were controlled by its wireless business department, while services on personal computers were provided by the micro-blogging unit.

Sina launched Weibo in August 2009, and by the third quarter of this year, the company claimed it had more than 400 million users, with about half of its traffic generated by mobile users. Its advertising revenues doubled in the quarter, compared to the second quarter, said Chao, without disclosing the exact number.

But while Sina's stock rose to a high of $142 in the US market April 2011, driven by huge investor confidence, its current price of around US$47 reflects growing investor concern that the service hasn't generated revenues as quickly as expected.

Chao admitted earlier that Sina had been aware of WeChat's growing mobile users, and that it would accelerate moves to deliver a profit.

On December 11, it joined hands with AutoNavi Holdings Ltd, China's biggest navigation provider by market share, to bring more location-based services to mobile users. Then on Dec 20 it announced Weibo would be selling smartphones made by local cellphone maker Xiaomi Corp, using a self-developed online payment platform.

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