Chinese internet company Sina (Nasdaq: SINA) has begun small-scale testing of "Weihao" user account numbers for its Weibo microblogging platform among popular microbloggers. Within six hours after the Weihao system went online, more than 10,000 microbloggers had signed up for account codes.
"Weihao" user account numbers are divided into "Copper," "Silver," and "Gold" tiers. The majority of Weihao accounts are free "Copper" accounts, while both "Silver" and "Gold" account numbers, many of which are lucky or otherwise symbolic, cost a certain amount of "Weibi" ("Weibo coins") to select and maintain.
Weihao users can define custom URLs for their accounts. The service also supports smart search and smart "@" functionality: when users want to search for a user or send them a message, they can simply search for "Weihao" or tag the user in a message. Users of the service will have a "Weihao" icon and badge next to their avatars.
Reports of "Weihao" numbers being auctioned began to appear in September. Peter KK Lee, son of Hong Kong tycoon Lee Shau-kee, is rumored to have paid RMB 1.5 mln to purchase the URL "weibo.com/888888" at a fundraising event.
Editor's Note: For more information on this topic, please see "Rumor: Sina Testing QQ-Type Account Numbers," MD 9/30/11 issue.