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July 26, 2018

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Facebook plans China innovation hub

FACEBOOK Inc will open an innovation hub in China through a wholly-owned subsidiary registered in Hangzhou with investment of US$30 million, Shanghai Daily learned yesterday.

Facebook’s investment, along with newly announced research centers from Google and Apple, highlights China’s opening up and willingness to welcome overseas investment, including in the high-tech and Internet sectors, analysts said.

Announcement of the planned hub, to be called Facebook Technology (Hangzhou), also drove shares of advertising and marketing firms — likely beneficiaries of Facebook’s expansion into China — higher yesterday.

Hangzhou is also the home of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

“We are interested in setting up an innovation hub in Zhejiang (Province) to support Chinese developers, innovators and startups,” a Facebook representative was quoted by media as saying.

The hub will probably start as an innovation accelerator, likely targeting the Chinese advertising market, according to media reports.

Facebook has created similar hubs in France, Brazil, India and South Korea to focus on training and workshops, said the company. Facebook is not alone among Silicon Valley giants to invest in China. In December, Google announced it would establish its first artificial intelligence lab in China. Google also launched an AI-featured mini-game on WeChat last week, the first mini-game offered by Google on China’s mainland.

Apple also announced recently it would set up several research centers in China, including Shanghai and Suzhou in each China’s Jiangsu Province.

Meanwhile, other firms including Microsoft, Amazon and SAP have invested heavily on the Chinese mainland, covering cloud centers, research hubs and funds to boost innovation.

Facebook and Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi are cooperating on virtual reality device sales in the domestic market. The VR device carries both Xiaomi and Facebook’s Oculus logos.

Looking overseas

Facebook’s hub will help developers and related firms, especially those looking to expand into overseas markets.

Bluefocus Intelligent Communications Group Co, with a subsidiary as Facebook’s advertising agent, surged the 10 percent daily cap to close at 5.89 yuan (87 US cents) yesterday. Sichuan Xun You Network Technology Co, whose clients include Facebook and Google, also hit the 10 percent daily cap to close at 36.49 yuan. Shenzhen Zqgame Co, which has published and distributed games overseas through Facebook’s platform, gained 5.24 percent to close at 11.84 yuan.

The gains compared with a 0.02 percent decrease in the Shenzhen Component Index yesterday.

Facebook is inviting game developers to attend a conference in Chinajoy 2018 in Shanghai next month. It’s the first time for the giant to attend the country’s biggest game show, according to an email obtained by Shanghai Daily.

China’s game developers generated a revenue of US$8.3 billion in 2017, a 15 percent growth year on year which created a “gold” market, Facebook said in the email.

During the Chinajoy conference, Facebook will introduce its marketing platform for the gaming industry, through its gaming community with more than 2.2 billion users.

Chinese game and e-commerce developers and firms, which have expanded overseas, have great potential in advertising business.

Hangzhou is also the headquarters of NetEase’s game business. NetEase is China’s No. 2 gaming firm.



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