Sina Weibo: Profits at 'China's Twitter' surge

Weibo logo Internet users have regularly tapped into Weibo to share unfiltered information

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Profits at Sina Corp, owner of China's largest Twitter-like site Weibo, surged in the fourth quarter, boosted by a jump in advertising revenue.

It reported a net profit of $44.5m (£26.7m) in the October-to-December period, up from $2.4m a year ago.

The numbers come amid reports that Sina is planning to list Weibo in the US and that it plans to raise nearly $500m by selling Weibo shares.

Weibo claims that it has over 500 million registered users.

China is the world's biggest internet market and social networking sites have become increasingly popular with users.

As a result, many firms have turned to the medium to advertise their products and services in an attempt to attract new customers, helping boost growth of companies such as Sina.

According to the firm's latest numbers, advertising revenues at Weibo rose to $56m during the fourth quarter - a 163% jump from a year earlier.

"The strong performance of Weibo's advertising and value-added services in the fourth quarter allowed us to end 2013 with strong top line and bottom line growth," said Charles Chao, chief executive of Sina.

Growing user base

However, a report published last month indicated that the number of Weibo users declined steeply in 2013.

Sina Weibo

Sina Weibo logo
  • The largest microblog provider in China
  • Says it has over 500m registered users
  • Says that one in two Chinese netizens were users in 2012

The China Internet Network Information Center said in its annual report that almost 28 million people abandoned Weibo last year.

The fall marked the site's first drop in usage amid a government crackdown on so-called 'rumour mongers' online.

Weibo's surge in popularity gave users new opportunities for self-expression, but it also attracted the attention of authorities who moved swiftly to silence voices online.

A law was introduced to allow the Chinese government to jail microbloggers and dozens more were arrested.

Web users are believed to have migrated to mobile messaging platforms.

Mr Chao of Sina said the firm "will continue to focus on growing Weibo's user base and user engagement" in the current year.

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