Qihoo 360 is one of China's largest domestic technology players. Although smaller than the BATs, Qihoo provides a diversified portfolio of products and services including search, an ad-sponsored anti-virus product and web browsers.
On August 10th, the company launched its 360 Internet Plus index fund in collaboration with Dacheng Fund and China Securities Index. The product is an active investment fund that trades on data gathered from the company's search engines, mobile apps and browsers. The components of the fund are equities listed on the Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Board (35%), the NASDAQ style ChiNext (29%) and the remainder from the two main exchanges.
Same same, but more data
Baidu launched its Baifa 100 fund towards the end of last year and the product was sold out within hours. The recent fall of the Shanghai markets has likely tempered investors' interest in new equity based funds and products, but Qihoo's product should still be of interest. The Baifa fund traded on search results and sentiment and prior to the stock market run-up, had performed remarkably well.
What we are seeing today is really just the start. Without getting diving into the sophistication of the analytics behind the 360 Internet Plus product, the company has said that it is based on data from browsers, apps and search, thus providing a more robust view of user behavior than the Baifa product.
Qihoo however doesn't have the relatively squeaky clean image that its big brother Baidu has and has recently come under scrutiny for its products and practices - most recently for potentially providing misleading anti-virus testing results. My experience on the product has not been particularly great either and I have actually kept our staff from installing the applications. Bordering on what I would consider malware, there are a lot of add-on products that we have had to work hard to scrub off of PCs in the office when people have left.
But will it really matter? Unlikely. China is at the forefront on pushing the boundries on what data can be used for and the Qihoo product certainly won't be the last we'll be seeing in this space as more vendors and providers get into the habit of leveraging user data in new and potentially profitable ways.