Yahoo has cut off its services to China as the country is tightening its grip on the digital sector, making it the latest U.S. technology company to move out of the country.
Yahoo launched a search engine in the country in 1999, betting on the growth of a vast emerging market at a time when the Internet was still in its infancy in China.
Access to many of Yahoo’s features in China has since disappeared, starting with email and news in 2013. In 2015, the company closed its Beijing office in China and canceled approximately 300 jobs.
Chinese authorities are removing politically sensitive topics from the web in the name of stability, and internet giants are being asked to block unwanted content.
Refusing to bow to Beijing’s demands, the American social networks Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, the participative encyclopedia Wikipedia, and multiple foreign media, are completely blocked in China by a large data protection wall built by the censors of the regime.
Yahoo is the latest company in a list of global heavyweights to throw in the towel on the Chinese market in the face of an increasingly difficult commercial and legal environment.
Operating in China has long been a challenging environment for private companies.
In recent months, Chinese President Xi Jinping has been orchestrating a massive regulatory clampdown on technology, education, gaming, and entertainment, resulting in a loss of market value for some of China’s largest companies.
The country’s most recent five-year plan promises to tighten technological innovation regulations and punish monopolistic behavior.
Yahoo was an early investor in the leading Chinese e-commerce powerhouse Alibaba years ago. After several years, Yahoo has paid back $3 billion to its stockholders, having sold back about half of the massive holding in Alibaba for $7.1 billion.
While Yahoo used to be among the world’s largest technology companies, its impact has declined significantly during the past decade.
Multiple presidents and CEOs have failed to recapture the search and advertising market share that Yahoo used to lead. Recently, Apollo Global Management acquired Yahoo from Verizon in a $5 billion deal.