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Cheetah Mobile to Set up R&D Center in Taiwan and Eyes Buyouts

Jun 13, 2014 | By CENS

The Internet security app provider in China, Cheetah Mobile Inc. (CMCM), will open an R&D center in Taiwan to develop security apps for mobile phones and plans to acquire the island's software development houses, according to company chief executive officer (CEO), Fu Sheng.

Fu, being impressed by the quality of Taiwan's high-end R&D specialists in the software industry, initially plans to recruit 50-100 specialists with at least five years of experience by offering high pay. He pointed out that Taiwan's high-end software engineers generally outperform their Chinese counterparts whether in basic educational background or global vision.

Also his company plans to acquire the island's software development companies as the first step of its plan to develop global presence, with the potential buyout targets being mobile ad developers, mobile game developers, and browser app developers in addition to security app developers.

Declining to disclose the sum of investment planned for Taiwan, Fu simply said such figure has no ceiling, adding that 70-80% of its staff, which has more than doubled to 1,500 from 500-600, are R&D engineers, and that personnel are the company's essential asset.

Fu said his company now has 362 million active users a month worldwide, including 223 million users of its mobile apps, which has surged  386% from 45.8 million a year ago.

Cheetah is a major global provider of security software supporting Android platforms, projecting to double its revenue this year from last year's RMB740 million (US$119.3 million). Although apps for PC still account for 80% of its revenue, the company projects to boost apps for mobile devices to outstrip PC apps as part of its revenue plan.

In China alone, the company has over 1,000 customers for online ad service, including Baidu Inc.; the Alibaba Group's Taobao Marketplace, which is the mainland's largest consumer-to-consumer online shopping platform; and Tencent Inc.

Fu is in talks with handset maker HTC Corp. and PC maker Asustek Computer Inc. over cooperation to tap Taiwan's market for apps and third-party payment services.

Cheetah Mobile was spun out of Kingsoft Corporation through an IPO in New York in May this year, having raised around $200 million for the company's global acquisition plan. The company's major shareholders include Kingsoft Ltd., Tencent, Xiaomi Inc. and Baidu.

Qihoo 360 Technology Co., Ltd., one of Cheetah's primary competitors based in China, has also announced plans to open R&D facilities in Taiwan as the first step into the Southeast Asian market. Qihoo has 400 million users worldwide. (KL)



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