NetEase - a Chinese internet sensation
While the success of companies at the forefront of the so-called ‘dot com' revolution have peaked and waned over the years, there are many continual success stories. Amongst these is NetEase, the Chinese internet company that operates the popular portal 163.com
Since it was founded in 1997, NetEase has gone from strength to strength, partially down to its heavy investment in search engine technology, as well as other hugely popular ventures like multi-player gaming and ‘Fantasy Westward Journey'. The latter is a classic example of what is known as a ‘massively multiplayer online role-playing game'; indeed, with registered users reaching 25 million in August 2005, it is China's most popular online game. Together with the equally popular ‘Westward Journey II', these games are both inspired by ‘Journey to the West' (regarded as one of the four great classic novels of Chinese literature, written during the Ming Dynasty of the 16th century, and translated into English-speaking countries as ‘Monkey').
The instigator and chief architect of NetEase was internet entrepreneur William Ding (Ding Lei). An innovator in the field of technology, Ding received the prestigious Wharton Infosys Business Transformation Award for his skills and dedication, resulting in him becoming one of the wealthiest individuals in China.
As of May 2012, NetEase had gained a market value of $8.7 billion (US dollars), employing a workforce of some 6,000. The 163.com domain that is hosted by NetEase (simplistically put, the Chinese version of a giant search engine facility like Google) attracted upwards of 1.8 million annual visitors in 2008, according to a survey by web traffic analysts Compete.com. Two years later it had risen to the 28th most visited website in the globe, as determined by the Alexa internet rankings. These statistics meant that the NetEase site was drawing a larger scale of internet traffic than massively popular websites such as Apple, LinkedIn, Flickr, the BBC site, AOL, CNN and Adobe, amongst many other traditionally visitor-heavy sites.
The latest innovations being offered by China's most influential website include a mobile device app known as ‘Fan Fan', dedicated to recommending the best places to eat.