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Qihoo 360 Open to Buying Stakes in Smaller Rivals, CEO Zhou Says

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Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Qihoo 360 Technology Co. Chairman Zhou Hongyi said the Chinese antivirus company is willing to acquire stakes in smaller businesses, as it competes against larger rivals such as Baidu Inc. and Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Zhou said in an interview in Hong Kong yesterday that he has always considered investing and acquiring smaller companies to help more Internet startups grow. Qihoo has invested in more than 100 companies since its initial public offering, according to Zhou.

“If all the little companies die and I’m left alone as the only company fighting against industry giants, I don’t think I have much competitive advantage either,” Zhou said.

Qihoo, which earns most of its revenue by selling ads through its browser and free anti virus software, brands itself as a “disruptive innovator,” and has fought legal battles with Yahoo! China, Tencent Holdings and Baidu.

Qihoo will hire hundreds of engineers to focus on development of its mobile browser, cloud and mobile-search functions, Zhou said. The company’s biggest focus this year will be developing its mobile applications.

“People ask me what will overthrow 360, thinking it’s either Baidu or Tencent or the copycats,” Zhou said. “I think it’s the migration of computers to mobile devices.”

Qihoo had more than 150 million users for its mobile security product 360 Mobile Safe and more than 100 million for its app store for Android, 360 Mobile Assistant, as of Sept. 30.

Zhou said Qihoo’s chief financial officer is in the U.S. meeting with Apple Inc. to resolve issues related to its apps being removed from iTunes.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at ychen447@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net

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