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With Alibaba Rising, Tencent Tries a Spending Spree

Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent have long ruled their own corners of Chinese cyberspace. Alibaba is tops in e-commerce, Baidu in Chinese-language search, and Tencent Holdings in games and messaging. But with China’s Internet use shifting from PCs toward smartphones, all three companies need to adapt.

Each company has been making deals to strengthen its core business while expanding into new areas. Ahead of Alibaba’s upcoming initial public offering in New York, Chairman Jack Ma has been especially busy pushing into fields from finance to entertainment. Yesterday the company introduced its latest project, a crowdfunding platform called Yu Le Bao that lets people invest as little as 100 yuan ($16.09) in TV and movie productions. In the past year, Baidu has agreed to buy app store 91 Wireless for $1.9 billion and group buying site Nuomi.com for $160 million.