Bidding on Baidu

China's Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) now wants to become China's eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY  ) . Baidu.com (Nasdaq: BIDU  ) is gearing up to build a consumer-to-consumer (C2C) e-commerce platform that will launch next year.

Why not? Armed with iResearch data showing that nearly half of the country's C2C users conducted searches before hitting an auction or classifieds listing website, it has no reason to let them get away.

It won't be easy, though. Even eBay has come up short in its quest to earn the title of China's eBay. Despite eBay acquiring local favorite EachNet five years ago, Alibaba's Taobao is the auction marketplace of choice in the world's most populous nation. SINA (Nasdaq: SINA  ) thought it could make a dent in the lucrative market, but ultimately sold its stake in 1pai to Alibaba last year.

There is no entitlement in cyberspace. Being a leader in search doesn't make you a C2C star. All you need to do is look at Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) . The company launched Yahoo! Auctions when it was at the top of its game, but pulled the plug on the moribund marketplace earlier this year.

You still have to give Baidu a shot here. It watches over a thick 58% slice of the search engine market in China. No one else even comes close. Baidu has used its active search engine to launch everything from a popular query-activated discussion board to its own blogging site. The C2C leap makes perfect sense.

The timing of that leap makes even more sense. With Alibaba.com's IPO now just weeks away, hopping on the coattails can only help if Alibaba.com's shares take off. Even though the IPO is for the B2B-centric Alibaba website itself -- focusing on moving business-manufactured goods in and out of China -- the sympathy play is obvious.

Baidu may not become China's eBay. It's highly unlikely to become China's Taobao. The point is that it keeps growing, stacked on top of its already-impressive organic growth that has led analysts to expect Baidu to report next week that third-quarter earnings more than doubled.

So it's only natural to bid on Baidu, months before you can physically bid on Baidu's C2C platform.     

Other Baidu business:


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