It’s only been a couple of months since Twitter listed on the New York Stock Exchange as TWTR — and now it seems like Chinese Twitter-like microblogging platform Sina Weibo is set to follow in its footsteps.
Chinese Internet firm Sina is planning a spin-out of its Weibo service, seeking to raise about $500 million in a public listing, the Financial Times reports. The company has already reportedly hired Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse to handle the IPO in New York, which is expected to be completed in the second quarter.
Sina Weibo’s most recent report claims there are 60.2 million daily active users on the service, which is an 11.2 percent year-on-year increase — but there are signs that they are less engaged than ever in response to China’s efforts to minimize its influence as a free thought platform.
A recent report published by state-affiliated research organization China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) also added on to concerns over the microblogging industry in China. It showed that as of end-2013, the number of total microblogging users in China fell by 27.8 million users, while usage declined by 9.2 percentage points. Though that can be explained away by the decline in Sina Weibo’s competitors — such as Tencent Weibo — people viewed the trend as impacting Sina Weibo as well.
What’s more, messaging service WeChat has been taking away the time users spend on mobile — so much so that Sina previously admitted it believes time spent on Weibo is down because of competition from rival Tencent’s WeChat messaging service.
Taking some steps to diversify, Sina Weibo has started to branch out into offering shopping and payment services after Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba invested $586 million in the service for an 18 percent stake last year.
Given these circumstances, it would be timely for Sina Weibo to attempt an IPO now, which might give it a better valuation than some time later, such as in a year or so.