SEPTEMBER 3, 1999
BW ONLINE DAILY BRIEFING

More Growing Pains for China's Fledgling Web Industry

The popular Sina.com is following Sohu.com with executive-suite turmoil

A top Chinese-language Internet company backed by Goldman Sachs and Softbank is the latest victim of turmoil plaguing China's Net industry. Sina.com, a Silicon Valley-based portal, is expected to soon announce a management shakeup that includes CEO Jim Sha and Chief Financial Officer Riley Willcox, according to a top Internet industry source in Hong Kong. Company officials confirm that Sina.com is prepared to announce a reorganization shortly.

Sina.com has applied for an IPO listing on NASDAQ, and it hopes to simultaneously debut on Hong Kong's new high-technology stock market, called GEM, when the exchange begins operations in late October or early November. Industry sources say the reorganization could be "an issue" in whether the IPO can go forward as planned.

Willcox, reached in his office in Sunnyvale, Calif., confirms that "some changes in the management structure" are taking place and that he no longer holds the position of CFO. However, Willcox adds that "I am still very much with the company."

An assistant to Jim Sha says Sha, a Netscape veteran who is well-regarded in the industry, is still with Sina.com, but he declined to comment on whether his position had changed.

BORN OF A MERGER. The portal targets Web surfers in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the U.S., and is one of the most popular sites in the fast-growing China market. Sina.com is the product of a merger between Sinanet.com, which was founded in Taiwan but later moved to Cuppertino, Calif., and a Beijing software and Internet services company called Sight Rich Sight.

The newly merged Sina.com is now headquartered in Sunnyvale. Its president, Zhidong Wang, is from the Beijing company, while Chairman Daniel Chiang is from the original Taiwan company, and CEO Sha was a senior vice-president at Netscape.

The Sina.com news comes on the heels of turmoil at Sohu.com, a Beijing-based portal backed by Intel and Dow Jones. Once the undisputed leader in the mainland Internet market, Sohu over the past few months has suffered a series of defections by key executives dissatisfied with the company's direction.

By Bruce Einhorn in Hong Kong and Sheri Prasso in New York