Soufun’s Vincent Mo fits a profile that a lot of Mainland Chinese view with skepticism. He’s a sea turtle (a Mainlander who grew up in China, worked overseas and then came back home). Supposedly, after getting spoiled overseas, they lose touch with the real China.
He left for the US in 1990 and came home to build a business that gives information to locals looking to buy a home. Mo set up Soufun. Today, according to website-ranking outfit Alexa, it’s the 17nth most popular in China and the 162nd worldwide. (Note that Alexa ratings are not reliable and notoriously easy to fiddle. But they are a help as an indication if nothing else.)
Soufun does not go in for short listings. Buyers can chat with neighbors and others about property woes and prices. Spending by real estate companies was the fourth-largest source of internet advertising last year, growing at 34% a year to $143 million, according to iResearch of Shanghai. Soufun got a lot of it. As it is unlisted, you have to go with an educated guess by Vincent Mo says $100 million, which seems very possible.
Success has brought competition. In October China Real Estate, a Soufun rival for ad dollars, raised $215 million in a Nasdaq IPO.
Forbes says China Real Estate was formed by the combination of the real estate Web site at China portal Sina and E-House’s in-house research business. Which gives Soufun real competition to think about.