March 19, 2015 – US Internet company Yahoo is shutting down its presence in China, it said, with reports saying at least 200 people will be laid off. The closure of the research centre in Beijing office will eliminate 200 to 300 jobs, Bloomberg reported yesterday, quoting a person familiar with the matter.
The California-based firm’s move contrasts with other Internet companies, which are courting the world’s biggest online population despite authorities blocking their products. Twitter opened an office in Hong Kong this month, while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed a Beijing university audience in Chinese last year.
Yahoo confirmed the closure in a statement, but did not specify how many employees would be affected.
“We are constantly making changes to align resources and to foster better collaboration and innovation across our business,” the statement said. “We will be consolidating certain functions into fewer offices, including to our headquarters in Sunnyvale, California.”
The decision follows Yahoo’s announcement in January that it will spin off its stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which last year listed on the New York Stock Exchange in a record offer. Analysts say cutting the cord with Alibaba leaves Yahoo with a core of assets but no clear path or mission.
In 2005, Yahoo bought a 40-percent stake in Alibaba for US$1 billion. The US company ceded its China operations to Alibaba as a result. Yahoo shut down its China email service in 2013. It was earlier embroiled in controversy when it handed authorities details of a Chinese journalist who was sentenced to 10 years in prison.