Sogou, the Chinese search engine, debuted on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, under the ticker “SOGO.”
After pricing at the top of the range at $13 per share, the company raised $585 million. Sogou then hovered around $13.50 for most of its first day of trading, closing the day at $13.51, up about 4%.
Beijing-based Sogou aims to be a Google for China. While it’s a distant second to Baidu, the company says it’s the fourth largest internet business in China.
Sogou has particularly benefited from being the default search engine of China’s very popular social messaging service, WeChat. This is in part due to Tencent, which is an investor in both Sogou and WeChat. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba also invested in Sogou.
CEO Xiaochuan Wang told TechCrunch that the overall goal is to “make it easy for Chinese users to communicate and get information.” Calling the IPO a “milestone,” he hopes that a U.S. IPO will help with hiring and make it easier to collaborate with U.S. tech companies.
When asked about the Chinese government’s controversial role in censoring internet sites, he explained that Sogou has opted to comply with regulations. Google, Facebook and Twitter are amongst the many sites that are blocked in mainland China.
Sogou was founded as a division of Sohu, a Chinese internet company that has advertising, gaming and other businesses.
Sogou brought in $597.2 million in revenue for 2016. This compares to $539.5 million the year before.
Last year it had $56 million in profit, down from $99.5 million in profit the year before.
Sogou is part of a wave of Chinese companies going public. This week, China Literature also did an IPO.
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