Qihoo 360: building a “free” business model

Sunny Li Sun, Yanli Zhang
  • The CASE Journal, April 2015, Emerald
  • DOI: 10.1108/tcj-07-2014-0055

How Internet companies use the free business model to overpower competitors

What is it about?

Qihoo 360 is a company that took just six years to become a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (with a market value of over US$ 2 billion at IPO). This case discusses Qihoo 360’s free business model, how it used this free model to overpower competitors, and how the model evolved over time.

Why is it important?

This case illustrates how a new company can challenge incumbents through reinventing the business model and disruptive innovation. Particularly, it presents the business model/strategy of offering products for free, and the evolution of the business model/strategy during the entrepreneurial process. It also illustrates how a start-up company adapted its business model along the way, and the opportunities of starting and growing ventures in emerging markets.


Dr Yanli Zhang
Montclair State University

Further References: Anderson, C. (2009) Free: The Future of a Radical Price, New York: Hyperion. Eisenhardt, K. M. & Sull, D. N. (2001). Strategy as Simple Rules. Harvard Business Review, 79(1): 106-119. Johnson, M. W., Christensen, C. M., & Kagermann, H. (2008). Reinventing Your Business Model. Harvard Business Review, 86(12): 50-59.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Sunny Li Sun and Dr Yanli Zhang