China’s Twitter-like microblogging platform Sina Weibo has just dropped ‘Sina’ from its name to become known only as ‘Weibo,’ as it aptly announced via Weibo today. The logo on the service’s homepage has also been changed to reflect the switch in name.
Weibo means “microblog” in Chinese. This move essentially makes the platform synonymous with microblogging in China and overrides all other similar services — which include Tencent Weibo — and comes as it recently filed for a US IPO to raise up to $500 million.
A recent report published by state-affiliated research organization China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) showed that as of end-2013, the number of microblogging users fell from 2012 by 27.8 million users, while usage declined by 9.2 percentage points. This sent the market into panic thinking that Sina Weibo was in deep trouble — as a lot of people conveniently forgot that there are other competing services which may have lost users instead. It is no wonder the company has decided to take over the name entirely — with its IPO looming, it can’t afford to give potential investors cause for worry.
However, this doesn’t mean that it is all rosy for Weibo. There are signs that users are less engaged than ever in response to China’s efforts to minimize its influence as a free thought platform. 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.
In turn, Weibo revealed in its filing that it expects its user growth rate to slow over time as the size of its user base is already pretty sizeable in China. As of December 2013, Weibo had 129.1 million monthly active users. For comparison, Twitter has about 241 million monthly active users.
Headline image via Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images