A look at developments in social media platforms in 2013 reveals that Chinese micro-blogging site Sina Weibo is headed towards becoming an advertising and e-commerce giant. It reported 503 million users in January, a 73% growth from the previous year. It launched social-based advertising, location-based posts, recommended search results, and a Weibo app store in January.
At L2’s Year in Review event in New York last week, we looked at how Sina Weibo’s focus on e-commerce accelerated after Alibaba bought an 18% stake for $600 million in April. In June, Sina Weibo launched social e-commerce and fulfillment site Youwuku, and retargeted ads from Taobao. In August, it extended its reach to financial transactions with the launch of WeiBank, which consumers can use to complete bank transfers and manage credit cards online.
While social media commerce has been a fail for the most part in the U.S., Sina Weibo continues to grow. Benefit Cosmetics, Gam Fook jewelry, and others maintain storefronts on Sina Weibo whereas all major U.S. retailers have shut down their Facebook stores.
Based on what Alibaba paid for its stake, Sina Weibo is valued at $3 billion. Piper Jaffray recently upgraded its target price and increased the valuation to $6 billion. If Sina Weibo continues to expand its and e-commerce advertising options while adding users, it could soon be worth far more.