China portal Sohu to start video-sharing service
By Sophie Taylor
SHANGHAI, July 11 (Reuters) - Chinese Web portal Sohu.com Inc. (SOHU.O) plans to launch a video-sharing service next week, its chief executive said, as it broadens its focus beyond its search engine roots into social networking.
Sohu, which recently made a renewed foray into online gaming with the launch of its Tian Long Ba Bu game, is looking to re-position itself as a social networking site, said Charles Zhang, who is also the company's chairman.
"The overall strategy of Sohu is to be not only a news portal but also a big community -- like MySpace," Zhang told Reuters on Wednesday in an interview on the sidelines of ChinaJoy, China's biggest video game conference.
Zhang was referring to News Corp.'s NWS.N popular online social networking service MySpace. A test version of the site launched in China in April.
"Tian Long Ba Bu", the title of a famous kung fu novel, translates to "Sky Dragon Eight Factions".
Sohu, which plans to upgrade its blogging service to include video-sharing, had around 400,000 active online users, Zhang added.
Sohu -- "search fox" in Chinese -- like many others is trying to gain traction against heavyweights Google Inc. (GOOG.O) and Baidu.com Inc. (BIDU.O), which together command three-quarters of the search engine market in China.
China is the world's second-largest Web market, after the United States, with more than 140 million users.
Sohu, Sina Corp. (SINA.O) and Netease (NTES.O) were once China's fastest-rising technology stars, as the Web portals found elusive profits providing services such as ringtone downloads and daily weather reports in China's mobile messaging market.
But for the last few years, the trio have been working to diversify revenues, as the market for their core wireless services starts to mature and their commissions are squeezed by China's mobile carriers.
((Reporting by Sophie Taylor, editing by Anne Marie Roantree; email@example.com; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org; +86-21-6104-1791)) Keywords: SOHU CHINA
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