CANNES -- Charles Zhang, chairman and CEO of leading Chinese Internet firm, Sohu.com, spoke about Chinese audiences' appetite for international programs, the surge in paid content and the decline in piracy during his keynote address on Tuesday at Mipcom."Since 2010, Sohu has been thriving with TV dramas -- first with domestic dramas first and we also started buying shows internationally. Hollywood (certainly felt) the impact as we started spending money on American content," said Zhang.In spite of its "policies and regulations...
A scholarly entrepreneur, Charles Zhang has a doctorate in experimental physics from MIT and was one of the pioneers of the Internet in China. The early days also involved developing new business models. Sohu’s predecessor, ITC, was one of the first Chinese tech firms to attract overseas venture capital, and Sohu was one of the first to float (in 2000) on NASDAQ.
Zhang underlined his credentials as a man of action by climbing Mt Everest in 2003 as a publicity stunt to awaken the Chinese public to the possibilities of the Internet. Friendly with Jerry Yang, Zhang and two professors founded Sohu (which means search fox) in 1996 on lines similar to Yahoo, combining web search and directories. He successfully faced a shareholder revolt shortly after flotation, when the collapse of the Internet stock boom, sent Sohu’s share price plunging below $1.
The portal and search model has since been broadened out to include interactive search (sogou.com,) online games (changyou.com) and streaming video (tv.sohu.com) where the company is now China’s No. 3 player. Zhang took time out for depression in 2012, but returned to the business with a more relaxed approach. He now argues that if he can successfully eliminate stress, living till 150 is a possibility.