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Sogou, Inc. is a public company, listed on the New York Stock Exchange on November 9, 2017, under the ticker “SOGO”. The IPO raised $585 million offering in a bid to accelerate the use of Artificial intelligence in its business. In 2018, Sogou reported net sales of $1.1 billion, net income of $98 million, and reported over $1 billion in cash. Their annual growth rate was 24% over the previous year.
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|Traded as||NYSE: SOGO|
|Founded||9 August 2010|
|Owner||Tencent (38.4%), Sohu (33.2%), CEO Sogou (5.3%)|
|Created by||Wang Xiaochuan (CEO)|
|Revenue||$1.1 Billion (2018)|
The offices of Sogou are located on the southeast corner of Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. Sogou also has offices in Chengdu, China co-located with Tencent's office building. In April 2018, Sogou established a R&D center in Guangzhou, China.
Wang Xiaochuan was hired the day he graduated at Tsinghua University by Sohu.com to create a new search engine. With a small team of 12 students from nearby Tsinghua University, Wang lead the group to develop a new search engine within 10 months. The Sogou search engine (Sogou.com) was launched on 3 August 2004 and operated as a separate division within Sohu. In 2006, Sogou invented Sogou Pinyin, the eventual dominant input platform used in China for both desktop PC and mobile. In 2007, Sogou established a search curriculum with Tsinghua University in order to stimulate the recruitment and development of future engineers to the company. Wang Xiaochuan is known as the "Goalie of the East Gate" for the relentless recruitment from Tsinghua. In 2008, Sogou launched the Sogou Browser.
By 2010, search revenue share was under 1% in comparison against Baidu. Wang Xiaochuan flew to meet Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba.com and in under an hour, convinced him of an equity investment. In return, Sohu.com agreed to spin Sogou from a separate division to an independent company, with a separate P&L line. Pre-IPO stock options were granted to employees for the first time.
By 2012, growth exploded higher by over 300%. Sohu.com purchased shares back from Jack Ma, and by 2013, sought out new partnerships. Baidu.com, QIhoo 360, and Tencent emerged as acquisition suitors. After an offer at a valuation of 8.6 times sales by Qihoo 360, Sogou accepted an offer by Tencent at a valuation of 8.2 times sales. It took Wang Xiaochuan one meeting with Pony Ma, CEO of Tencent, to convince him of the benefits of the merger. In exchange, the #4 search engine in china, SoSo.com, merged with Sogou and an equity investment of $448M was made. By 2014, Sogou became the default search engine for QQ.com, the #2 website in China. Also in 2014, Sogou became the only search engine to be able to search WeChat public accounts. By early 2015, Sogou became profitable.
In contrast with the 2010, when Sogou was spun off to an independent company, sales have grown from $18.6 million annually, to $1.1B in 2018.
According to iResearch statistics, Sogou accounted for 16.7% of the mobile search market share in China.
|Alexa rank||159 (Global) 56(China)(Oct. 2018[update])|
|Launched||3 August 2004|
Search engine and web applicationsEdit
Sogou's web application products are designed to classify online information, such as music, picture, video clip, news, map and vertical information. As of 2017, it has an index of 10 billion pages. As of 2018, over 90% of the company's revenues are from search advertising.
In October 2017, Sogou began testing a general search engine within WeChat, which would allow all 902 million daily active users to access the internet within the app. Since 2013, Sogou has only been able to search and index contents of WeChat official accounts. On the first quarter conference call, 2018, Sogou provided an update indicating so far results in WeChat have been positive, resulting in a 30% improvement in click through rate. In September 2018, Sogou disclosed an annual agreement with Tencent to continue the search integration experiment until 2023, with annual renewals. In the same filing, Sogou was designated the default search engine for Tencent's QQ products.
Sogou Input MethodEdit
Initially released in 2006, Sogou Pinyin is the most popular Chinese input software in China. It makes use of its search engine techniques which are the analysis and categorization of the most popular words or phrases on the Internet. In 2007, Sogou won a patent infringement case against Google for copying their IME. Baidu is second with a 25.7% market share. IME data gives companies large amounts of keystroke history to improve search result accuracy.
Launched in December 2008, Sogou browser adopts a "dual-core" (Google Chrome's WebKit and Internet Explorer's Trident layout engines) techniques and it connects to the cloud to recognize malicious websites and software. According to statcounter (February 2019), Sogou's desktop browser holds a 8.7% marketshare in China, and is ranked the #2 desktop browser used in China.
Sogou Voice Recognition TechnologyEdit
Sogou has been developing voice recognition technology since 2011. At the World Internet Conference in November 2016, CEO Wang Xiaochuan demonstrated a voice translation with both Chinese and English translation with up to 95% accuracy. There has been a rush to partner with manufacturers in connecting devices to the internet between competitors like Baidu. Google-backed AI startup Mobvoi had a deal fall through with Xiaomi's for their MiTV launch in March 2017. Xiaomi company representatives pointed to Sogou getting the business using their ASR solution with accuracy up to 97%. Sogou is currently China's largest search engine by voice, as the country moves from desktop to mobile search.
In 2017, Sogou through their Internet of Things subsidiary, sold over 1 million smartwatches in China. The GPS positioning smartwatch focuses on the child market.
On March 22, 2018, Sogou launched the Travel Translator and Travel Pen, which sold out on the first day. The company estimates it will exceed sales of their smartwatches.
Sogou Lip Recognition TechnologyEdit
On 15 December 2017, Sogou debuted a lip reading program that can operate at up to 90% accuracy, beating out a similar program by Google.
Partnership with Microsoft BingEdit
Partnership with Tsinghua UniversityEdit
In 2016, Sogou donated $30 million to Tsinghua University in a joint partnership to build an Artificial Intelligence Institute. It currently supports the Sogou Search Engine Technology Joint Laboratory at Tsinghua University. Located on the edge of the campus of Tsinghua University, Sogou strategically recruits and partners to train students from the most talented minds in China. Since 2015, Tsinghua has been ranked as the best engineering and computer science school in the world based on factors including total research output and performance.
According to the prospectus, Sogou owns 100% of Chengdu Easypay, a financial technology company specializing in micro loans. As of April 2018, Sogou is still awaiting Government approval to operate in the country. According to the company address, it is located on the 13th floor of Tencent's building in Chengdu in the High-tech zone.
In 2018, Sogou has expanded global presence of their other keyboard app, Typany, of which they own 100% of the company. To date, the app works with over 100 languages. The app goes with their strategy of dominating the voice recognition and language recognition market.
Along with Tencent, Sogou participated in round C and D in Zhihu.com. According to Sogou's IPO prospectus, their investment in Round C in 2015 was 4.8% of Zhihu. The Round D funding contribution was undisclosed, but valued Zhihu at $900m.
In 2014, Sogou launched Zhihu search and is also the default search engine on Zhihu.
In Nov 2018, Sogou led Round A of a virtual doctor assistant application, myaidoctor.com with a $2.9M investment.
In Nov 2018, Sogou invested $2.9m in seed capital to Baikemy.com, a website dedicated toward authoritative health information.
In Apr 2018, Sogou participated in Round B of Airdoc.com, a medicare care solutions provider in China that uses artificial intelligence.
- "Chinese search engine Sogou up 4% following IPO", TechCrunch, 9 November 2017
- "With eye on AI, Sougou debuts on New York Stock Exchange", China Daily, 10 November 2017
- "Sogou.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2016-07-15.
- "Snack Launches a New Way to Learn, Better Serving Our Busy Lives". finance.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2019-04-10.
- "Crunchbase Snack".
- "Crunchbase Myaidoctor".
- "Crunchbase baikemy.com".
- "Crunchbase Airdoc".