Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Li Ka-shing bought facebook?

Every move of Li Ka-shing is news. so did this one. Wall Street Journal reported that the Hong Kong billionaire has acquired 0.4 percent in facebook for $60 million, following a $240 million investment by Microsoft in October. Financial Times reported that Li is going to buy the shares through Li Ka Shing Foundation, his charity vehicle. FT commented "Buying a stake in Facebook through the foundation, rather than one of his companies – such as Hutchison Whampoa, Mr Li’s global conglomerate, or Tom Group, Hutch’s internet and media unit – suggests that for the time being he intends only to salt his Facebook shares away."

Li's Tom Online, a media company based in China, may benefit from this move in China's growing social-networking website. We see News Corp's Myspace already got a high-exposed market access to China, a threatening move for Tom Online. Now Tom Online's alliance with facebook will create a nose-to-nose competition in China. At least, facebook hasn't got a Chinese version.

But the point is only a few, if none, of the U.S. Internet companies could be very successful in China, including Google, Yahoo and Ebay. The user habit is very different, the reason for those foreign firms to get a local partner. Facebook will not be an exceptional. Alliance with Tom is a smart move, but still needs effort to beat thousands of "Chinese facebook" which already started years ago.

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