The relationship between China's business to consumer e-business operators and its investors is hostile at present. This was illustrated late Wednesday, when Wang Juntao resigned as chairman and operator of online retailing store my8848.com.
Wang said he resigned mainly because of a disagreement with major investors.
As the first warm advocator of the business to consumer e-business model, Wang is an icon of B2C (business to customer).
However, following his resignation, the enthusiasm for online department store has fallen.
Wang said he believed B2C is developing well than ever at present in China, and, therefore, the environment is at its best now.
However, his investors did not think so. The guaranteed capital did not come, even after much bargaining. Worrying the investment would never be returned, the major investor, Shenzhen-based Wanquanhe, stopped pouring in the money.
"China's social and financial environment is too far away from B2C maturity," said Xie Xiaoxia, researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Few of the online stores have special offers that people could not get from elsewhere.
Chinese people do not have the habit to buy goods via post mail or TV shopping, which would smoothly transfer to online shopping, said the researcher.
Unlike Westerners, Xie said Chinese people regard going to department stores a pleasure, and not a waste of time.
According to the survey, made by the China Internet Network Information Center (CINIC), 31.9 per cent of the 26.5 million netizens purchased goods online in the past 12 months.
Most of them bought books, magazines, CDs, VCDs and computer appliances.
As the netizens' average age is between 20-30, the payment ability of the group is relatively low, said the CINIC.
Most of the surveyed netizens think B2C would not have a significant development in the coming two years.
But they all believe e-business is the inevitable way forward in the future.
Wang, a whiz kid from Fujian Province, became famous by writing warm-hearted football match comments.
As a former software retailer, he started to promote the B2C model three years ago.
He launched 8848.net in 1999, and hoped his retailing business could be as significant as Mount Qomolangma, the highest peak in the world.
In a spin-off of B2C from B2B (business to business) sector, he left 8848.net and launched my8848.com at the end of last year.
Wang's resignation raised another wave of upheaval among high-ranking website managers.
On June 4, Wang Zhidong, CEO of sina.com, was sacked. Eight days later, June 12, King Lai, CEO of netease.com and Susan Chen, chief operating officer, resigned.
Both sina.com and netease.com are NASDAQ-listed popular Chinese portals.
Wang Juntao is different to those mentioned here, as he is not only a website operator but he also represents the B2C model.
Leaving my8848.com does not stop Wang's belief in e-business.
He is in close discussions with sparkice.com, a B2B website, focusing on export and import business.
Wang would probably become the manager of ec123.com, the retailing branch of sparkice.com, according to a spokeswoman from sparkice.com.
"Wang has visited us many times and is now in the final decision-making period," she said.
However, business insiders regarded sparkice.com's move as "brave," as the website itself is also suffering from a burst of dotcom bubbles.
They said the co-operation with Wang Juntao might further enlarge the loss of sparkice.com. Although the initial gain would gradually cover the costs, the investors may not have the patience to wait several years.
(China Daily 08/10/2001)