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Chinese microblogging service Sina Weibo prepares for IPO in U.S.

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Sina Weibo, the Chinese answer to Twitter, filed papers on Friday to raise $500 million via a U.S. IPO, according to a report from Reuters. The move not only signals a willingness from Chinese social networks to enter into the frothy American market, but also gives investors a chance to enter the Eastern market.

Sina Weibo made a name for itself as a microblogging service almost as soon as it was introduced in 2009 by Sina (s SINA), with rumors of international expansion dating back to 2011. But the platform has grown and maintained a monopoly in China: The company apparently surpassed the half-billion user mark in early 2013, and has remained strong even as increasing government regulations have turned some users off to the site. According to Reuters, Sina Weibo has 61.4 million daily active users.

Like Twitter, Sina Weibo is unprofitable but making gains — the company had $188.3 million in revenues in 2013 with a net loss of $38.1 million, down from a loss of $102 million in 2012. But, unlike Twitter, the company stressed the potential impact of Chinese regulation, and possible jail time for publicly speaking against the country, as a prohibiting factor in using the service.

Feature image courtesy of Flickr/Jon Russell