EBay’s decision to close its Web site in China and take a 49 percent stake in an e-commerce venture with a Chinese company is the latest sign that local knowledge and connections matter in the Chinese market.
While eBay’s new partner, TOM Online Inc., has suffered a series of commercial setbacks in the last three years, no one questions that it knows the Chinese market and has political influence.
TOM Online has been a fairly small, struggling company until now. It earns nearly 90 percent of its revenue from providing cellphone services, mainly sending the latest entertainment news and weather in short text messages or multimedia messages to cellphone users. Most of the rest of its revenue comes from advertising on a Yahoo-like Internet portal that specializes in Chinese entertainment news.[Full Text]