Alibaba-backed UCWeb Inc plans on acquisitions to challenge competition

By Nicel Jane Avellana

Jan 16, 2014 10:07 AM EST

UCWeb Inc plans to rely on acquisitions in order to increase its programmers and platforms so it can face up to its rivals Baidu Inc and Tencent Holdings Ltd, Bloomberg reported. A browser maker and app distributor, UCWeb Inc is supported by Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd.

In the last four years, UCWeb has invested in or bought 30 firms and was able to gather at least CNY 1 billion or $165 million in cash from its investments. In an interview, UCWeb Chief Officer Yu Yongfu told Bloomberg that the firm intends to make adjustments to its spending target in 2014 as it grows worldwide. Yu added that the firm's goal was to invest CNY 3 billion from 2013 to 2015. With capital spending included, Yu said UCWeb already expended CNY 2 billion last year.

UCWeb boasts of over 400 million users on mobile browsers and an estimated 50 million customers in its app store. The company is challenging rivals in the field, Baidu and Tencent, as the increasing use of smartphones has also led to growing demand for mobile games, applications and platforms that can bring them to the users. Yu said that it will target Russia, Indonesia, India and Vietnam when it begins to offer its distribution systems for mobile gaming abroad this year.

Yu, who was formerly a dealmaker at venture capital firm Legend Capital, told Bloomberg, "From an investment aspect, we care about technology, because we are very technology driven. We want to understand and study new markets, so our investment isn't only focused on China, but also overseas."

In August last year, Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma joined the board at UCWeb. Alibaba purchased a stake in UCWeb five years ago. UCWeb Spokesman Jay Chen told Bloomberg that Alibaba ramped up its investment in the first half of last year.

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