China-based tech blog 36kr has published a company-wide email (link via Google Translate) from Sina CEO Charles Chao that previews the China-based Internet giant’s 2013 strategy, which revolves around a restructuring that will allow it focus on its mobile business. Chao wrote that Sina will reboot its strategy next year by splitting its business into two parts, with one focusing on its Web portal and the other on Sina Weibo, its massively popular microblogging service which boasts more than 400 million members. Sina’s COO Hong Du will focus on running the Web portal and report directly to Chao, who will take charge of its microblogging and mobile operations. Each side will take responsibility for their own products, technology and operations.
In the email, Chao said that despite Sina’s business accomplishments in 2012, it also dealt with “not a small number of regrets” in the way it runs both its mobile and Web portal businesses. Though Chao did not specify exactly what those regrets are, he said that he hoped the company’s reorganization will create more synergies between its PC and mobile businesses. Chao added that the development of Sina’s mobile business during 2012 had been “exceptionally quick,” and that Sina must stay ahead of the curve in terms of developing new products and services in order to remain competitive. Sina Weibo and other mobile services offer “an opportunity and a challenge” for Sina, Chao wrote, with the challenge being able to continually push out updated and innovative new products ahead of competitors.
Sina’s strategic focus in 2013 will be “mobile first” as it works to better understand the habits of mobile users, Chao added. In order to accomplish this and increase the company’s overall efficiency, Sina must “break through” its current business and organizational model.
Though Chao did not name specific competitors in the email, one company it has to keep an eye on is Tencent Holdings, whose mobile instant messaging app WeChat has accumulated 200 million members in just two years, with analysts estimating that that number could double to 400 million within three years. In addition, Sina shares fell earlier this week after the company dismissed rumors that Alibaba Group Holding was looking to buy a 15 to 20 percent stake in Sina Weibo, which had raised the hopes of investors when they began circulating in November.
On the regulatory side, the Chinese government’s efforts to introduce a new law that would require Internet users to use their real names when they register for online services could potentially decimate Sina Weibo’s user base.
We have emailed Sina for comment and will update if they respond.