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NASDAQ-listed Sina Looks Beyond Profitability
Sina Corporation Chief Executive Daniel Mao revealed that the firm, one of the country's biggest Internet companies, has set the goal of achieving profitability for at least three consecutive years.

The Internet company's financial report in the third quarter of last year showed that it had achieved a pro forma profit of US$241,000, although the net losses were US$559,000.

Mao added that another goal for Sina's future was to strengthen its core businesses, namely the advertisement-centered Sina.com business, its individual-targeted paid service business on Sina Online and corporate services on Sina.net.

To achieve these goals, the Internet business has launched a series of initiatives in the new year.

On Monday evening, Sina announced that it had acquired the Guangzhou-based MeMeStar Technology with US$20.8 million of cash and shares.

Both MeMeStar and Sina are among the top five mobile value-added service providers (SPs) for China Mobile Corporation, which made 10 million yuan (US$1.2 million) monthly revenues from short messaging service (SMS), which enables mobile phone subscribers to send texts and white-and-black images.

He said a widely accepted prediction of the multimedia messaging service (MMS) phones would reach 10-20 million units by the middle of this year.

Besides MMS, online game becomes another focused area of Sina in this year.

Mao revealed that Sina Corp would set up a joint venture today with NC Soft, one of the largest online game software firms in South Korea.

The Shanghai-based joint venture, with Sina controlling 51 percent of the stakes, will have a first phase investment of US$5 million and both businesses may increase investment in the joint game firm.

The new firm will be responsible for the marketing and development of NC Soft's game software in China and the first product will be "Lineage," a massively multiplayer online role play game.

Mao said that the agreement between Sina and NC Soft will be exclusive, which means that all NC Soft's products will be marketed in China by the new firm.

He predicted that the volume of online game market would amount to 2 billion yuan (US$240 million) this year.

Domestic market researcher CCID Consulting Co Ltd said previously in a report that the revenues of online game market last year would be 700 million yuan (US$84.5 million) from 2001's 325 million yuan (US$39 million).

The online gaming population will grow from the 5.7 million people in the first half of this year to 9.7 million by the year end.

The figure will double again next year with 14.3 million players, CCID Consulting reports said.

(Edited from China Daily January 8, 2003)

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