58.com, China’s equivalent of Craigslist, raised $187 million from U.S. investors.
58.com Inc. listed on the New York Stock Exchange with plans to spend the funds to improve customer service, acquire rivals and increase marketing. The initiatives will help in its mission to outmaneuver competitors and drum up new users for the company’s online classified-advertising service.
American depository shares of the Beijing-based company opened 25% higher from their offer price of $17, and were up 49% in Thursday afternoon trading. The strong opening indicated that investors were greeting small and midsize Chinese Internet companies with more warmth, following skepticism stemming from questions over the accounting of a handful of Chinese companies two years ago.
58.com has an average of 129.7 million monthly unique users, with 39% of total traffic coming from smartphones. The company says users call merchants more often and see more pages when they use 58.com’s services on their smartphone. The company’s app has been particularly popular with real-estate agents
Rivals have been active in getting technophobes to use their services. E-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. teaches vendors how to market to Internet users, including what colors to use on banner ads and how to write alluring descriptions of products. For its merchants that act as suppliers for Western companies, Alibaba provided classes to help them draft English emails and learn the etiquette of doing business in the West.