Yahoo's gradual pull out of its services in China is all but complete now, with the Web giant having shut down news and community services in the country this past weekend.
Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group, which runs Yahoo China, is now automatically redirecting its users to now.taobao.com, a public welfare website that Alibaba runs, after the following farewell message appears:
Based on 2012 years of Alibaba Group and Yahoo U.S. agreement, Yahoo China to adjust its operating strategy, in 2013 years 9 months 1 at 0:00, no longer providing information and community services. Original team will focus on philanthropy Alibaba Group spread.
Thanks so years has been to support our friends, but also hope that in future the public welfare, can continue to receive the support. Companionship and the way everyone's unreserved support is our greatest motivation to move on.
Whether public or information, our mind is awakened, spread the world's most honest and most beautiful things good.
Yahoo China operations team"
(Sorry for the rough translation; you can thank Google for that!)
The move is not very surprising; it comes only two weeks after Yahoo shut down its e-mail service in the country as well. In that case too Alibaba began redirecting Yahoo Mail clients onto its own e-mail service, called Aliyun, instead.
That followed the shut down of Yahoo's Chinese music service back in January. At the time Yahoo said that it was "an adjustment to our product strategy." Now, with Yahoo shutting down both news and e-mail, it looks like it was just the first step in the shut down of Yahoo services in China altogether.
The team that ran Yahoo China will now be in charge of Alibaba's public welfare program.
The relationship between Yahoo and Abibaba goes back to 2005, when Yahoo spent $1 billion for a 40 percent stake in the company.
Yahoo has recently gone about reducing some of its stake in Alibaba, selling back half of its stake in the Chinese e-commerce company this past September, for a total of $7.6 billion. As per that deal, Yahoo agreed to allow Alibaba Group to continue to operate Yahoo China’s brand for up to four years. Instead, Alibaba has essentially chosen to shut it down.
Of course, the relationship between Yahoo and Alibaba is far from over. Yahoo still owns a sizable amount of the company’s stock, around 23%. Alibaba is expected to have an IPO in the next year or two, will should net Yahoo a whole lot of money. In December, Jacqueline Reses, executive vice president of people and development at Yahoo, joined the board at Alibaba.
So, despite these moves, nobody should be confused and think that Yahoo is giving up on China altoether. Its not like Yahoo is putting all of its eggs in one basket when it comes to the country, either.
Yahoo also recently made another investment in China, buying up Beijing-based social data analytics platform Ztelic in July. The company was founded by Hao Zheng, who spent nearly 10 years working as an architect at Yahoo.
As the move was an acqui-hire for Yahoo, Ztelic is shutting down its product offering as a result of the acquisition.
The shut down was first spotted by Chinese newspaper Global Times.