Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, filed for an IPO yesterday. A look inside its F-1 disclosure shows that it is strikingly similar to Twitter in terms of its user base but is much smaller as a business.
Here are some highlights:
- Ownership: Weibo is owned and controlled by Sina Corp. which has 77% of the shares. Alibaba group, a Chinese e-commerce company, invested $US585.8 million and owns 18% of the company, with an option to increase its stake to 30%. (Yahoo owns 24% of Alibaba.)
- Revenues in 2013: $US188 million, up 185%. (Twitter by contrast got $US665 million in the same period.)
- Net loss in 2013: $US38 million (its net loss is declining).
- 129 million monthly active users. (Twitter has 241 million MAUs.) Users generate 2.8 billion feeds a month. Interestingly, Weibo is much smaller than previously thought. It’s less of a threat to Twitter.
- 70% of Weibo users are on mobile devices.
- Revenue per user is roughly $US1.45. (Twitter’s RPU is roughly $US1.49.)
- Weibo’s Alibaba alliance will bring it $US380 million in revenues through 2015.
- Weibo is holding $US246 million in cash on its balance sheet.
- Weibo can be shut down by the Chinese government any time if it “impairs the national dignity of China.”
- Weibo must also register its encryption software with the Chinese government.
- The company is officially registered in the Cayman Islands in order to avoid lawsuits.
Here’s Weibo’s income statement (click to enlarge):
Historic user growth:
Weibo daily user activity:
The filing also has some useful information on the web in China generally. Here is a chart of internet penetration in China. You can see how much room Weibo has to grow — the Chinese population is 1.3 billion.
This chart shows internet ad spending in China, which is now up to $US15 billion a year.
Here’s an example of how Weibo posts go viral. A passenger on the jet that crashed in San Francisco last year uploaded some of the first pictures to Weibo. Chinese TV news stations used the pictures in their reporting.