Sogou CEO Wang Xiaochuan speaks at a panel discussion in Beijing on Jan 30. (Photo by Tan Xinyu/chinadaily.com.cn)
Chinese search engine Sogou Inc pinned its hopes on input method being a key factor driving the company to be a major player in the industry, said Sogou CEO Wang Xiaochuan in a panel discussion on Tuesday — a day after the company released its first financial results since its New York Stock Exchange debut in November.
Wang pledged to attach more importance to input methods, turning the fundamental tool into a source of wealth in itself instead of relying on the searching process.
A report from Chinese big data service provider Jiguang said the number of daily active users for the Sogou input method reached 151.8 million in December, with a growth 28.8 percent on a yearly basis. The app ranked after Tencent's social apps WeChat and QQ, and Alibaba's e-commerce app Taobao and payment tool Alipay.
The main strategy for Sogou in 2018 is to better its twin growth engines — search engine and input method — with the help of artificial technology, Wang said. "Sogou also aims to develop AI centering on language, such as technologies in voice, conversation, Q&A and translation."
Two new AI-enabled products involved in translation based on pictures and voices were released last Wednesday. Wang sees these as part of an effort to get Sogou's brand well-known in order to cash in on its search business.
Wang told China Daily Website the company focuses on products in the sweet spot between its own core competencies as well as market potential considerations.
In 2017, The Tencent- and Sohu-backed company achieved a total revenue of 8.4 million, an increase of 38 percent year-on-year; net income attributable to Sogou was .2 million, up 46 percent from 2016 according to the company's financial statements.
The last quarter of 2017 also saw the growth rate of total revenue come in at 62 percent to stand at 7.8 million, and net income in the same period was .5 million, a 44 percent increase year-on-year, according to the statement.
Wang bought 2,016,400 Class A Ordinary Shares, increasing his holdings to 5.3 percent of all Sogou's outstanding shares, according to a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Dec 4.
His initial shareholding was 4.9 percent when the Beijing-based company launched an IPO in the United States. Wang expressed his confidence in Sogou on its listing day, saying "both Sogou's services and revenues are in a very healthy condition".