Why isn’t LinkedIn Blocked in China? If LinkedIn remains unblocked, it should do very well in China

Why isn’t LinkedIn Blocked in China?

July 11, 2013

by Willis Wee

Among major social media sites, China blocks Twitter and Facebook (among others); heck, it even blocks Slideshare! But not LinkedIn. I might be jumping to conclusions too soon (I mean, things get blocked in China pretty rapidly) but it seems safe to assume that China knows LinkedIn has much to offer to the middle kingdom. Enough, apparently, to keep it from getting blocked.Firstly, China has a hard time connecting with the rest of the world through the web. Besides email, LinkedIn is probably the only common major social networking platform that can be accessed by both people in China and the rest of the world. While email is great for one-time threaded communication, it is hardly a tool to keep track of the statuses and updates of your business colleagues. And for obvious reasons, there aren’t many foreigners on Chinese social networks like Weibo or Renren. The most successful Chinese SNS overseas is probably WeChat with 70 million users outside of China. But I bet many of them are Chinese residing overseas.

Secondly, since LinkedIn has no localized site in simplified Chinese, most Chinese on LinkedIn know at least basic English. So naturally, it’s a useful tool for companies to look for talents who are well-versed in both languages and have a more global mindset. If China blocked LinkedIn, even the state-owned corporations wouldn’t be able to easily find those talents. LinkedIn acts as a filter that can help employers find folks who are proficient both languages.

Thirdly, avid users of the platform know that LinkedIn is a great resource for overseas business deals. So the three million Chinese on LinkedIn probably find it useful digging for potential connections and deal flows that they simply can’t find on domestic sites like Tianji or Ushi. While China web is pretty closed-off in general, having LinkedIn allows three million Chinese users to connect with the world, which might not be a bad thing.

With over 3,000 years of history, we can’t expect China to change immediately into an open society. But gradually it should get there and LinkedIn seems like it could help (even it has only three million users). Plus, the government can also conveniently point to LinkedIn as an example of it being “open” when it’s criticized for blocking other social sites. And politically, there isn’t much need to block LinkedIn because it isn’t the most ideal platform to stage a huge revolt. LinkedIn users probably don’t have time for that. Seriously, they are on LinkedIn for business, not to be part of a movement.

If LinkedIn remains unblocked, and I believe it will, I reckon it should do very well in China. Local competitors are probably having a hard time fighting for the top talent (despite Tianji claiming that it has eight million users as of November last year) because their platforms aren’t connected to the world. To me, it is a winner-takes-all game and LinkedIn seems to have the edge with its global appeal, connecting China to the world of business and thus making it hard for China to block it.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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