China, which is likely to become the largest broadband nation sometime in 2007, is attracting the attention of overseas Internet giants recently. Last week it was Rupert Murdoch’s MySpace plans, and their talks with China Mobile. This week it is The New York Times, and its About.com division.
GigaOM has learned that About.com is seriously eying China for future expansion. About.com’s CEO Scott Meyer confirmed that the company is in the process of planning a move into China, looking to build a team there and is headhunting for a general manager. Meyer said the plans are still in the early phase. Thirty percent of About’s unique visitors are from outside of the U.S., Meyer said.
Meyer wouldn’t disclose how the Chinese operations would be financially structured, or if the company would use a new Chinese brand or an About China brand. The timing of the launch remains fuzzy.
Like most non-Chinese Internet companies, About will have to figure out how to navigate the Chinese markets, and adapt to the local government regulations, the business models, and the consumer tastes of the Chinese market. Murdoch has said that he has struggled over the control of content with Chinese regulators in his attempts to move MySpace to China.
About’s content will likely face similar issues. When we asked Meyer what he thought of Murdoch’s troubles thus far in China, he said “We are spending a lot of time staying up to speed on the Internet market in China, and MySpace is just one of those examples.” He didn’t seem too concerned. We will call him in a few months and see if he’s still so relaxed.