Why Google should be wary about buying Sina

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on May 1, 2006

My BusinessWeek colleague Gene Marcial reports that Google might be interested in taking over Beijing-based portal Sina. In response, Google has denied that it’s interested in the Nasdaq-listed company: The China Post, an English-language newspaper published in Taiwan, quotes Johnny Chou, Google’s president of sales and business development for Greater China, saying that the company “is not in talks with Sina.” The paper also quotes Sina president Charles Chao dismissing all the speculation. “We’re not currently in talks with any party about an acquisition,” Chao tells the Post.

Of course, even if Google were interested in Sina, that’s not something that Chou or Chao would likely own up to when talking to a reporter. A Google-Sina deal might happen – anything’s possible. But I can’t see why in the world Google would want to buy Sina, a portal that emphasizes its news coverage from state-controlled media. Google was pilloried worldwide after it launched its own China-based site, censoring results in order to stay in line with China’s regulators. Imagine how much grief Google would get from critics in the U.S. if it took control of China’s No. 1 site for censored news.

Reader Comments

Albert Chu

May 2, 2006 8:47 PM

Bruce Einhorn is fairly knowledgeable about China, but has yet to learn how to look beneath the surface. To see where China is today and what the curent business environment is today is easy. It is not so easy to follow the projection and figure out where China is going to be in three or five or ten years; and that is Google and other major companies wanting to invest and compete in China must do. That's the vision thing.

China Law Blog

May 3, 2006 9:07 AM

I can see Google buying Sina because Sina is much more than just a purveyor of government news. Google is, to a certain extent, floundering in China right now, as would be expected of a newbie. Buying Sina would stop the floundering that much quicker.

Paul V. Sheridan

May 3, 2006 10:48 AM

Bruce: Let me get this straight: You can't understand why a western corporation, like Google, would be interested in short-term money (via purchase of Sina, or anything else for that matter); is that your question?! Or, perhaps you were incisively digging below the surface of what truly motivates a Google (ethics, morality, loyality, decency, etc.) and your question is merely rhetorical. Remember that story about the capitalist and the ropes he was selling; maybe that was before your time, and so NOW is YOUR turn. Wake up and smell the (imported) coffee.

kin

May 4, 2006 2:21 AM

Bruce,

Many of the posts you wrote abt Technology in China have a heavy political weight. Personally, I think you don't understand China at all even given all these years of living in Hng Kong and working with China related material.....This is Businessweek that the reader is reading not Time magazine, please get it straight.

In a country with 1.x billion people any small little thing adds up.

If Google is going to buy Sina, the management must have their own reasoning and objective to achieve.

Does it even appear to you that this might be anotherway to promote free(er) speech in China.

I can disappointed at businessweek

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