LinkedIn is doing what Facebook, Google, and Twitter can’t: expanding in China

LinkedIn is doing what Facebook, Google, and Twitter can’t: expanding in China

By John McDuling @jmcduling 7 hours ago

The only major American social network with a significant presence in China is LinkedIn. And that presence is about to get much bigger, the company hopes, after it today switches on a beta version of a mainland China-focused, Chinese-language site, branded 领英 (pronounced “ling ying.”)

Unlike Google, Facebook, and Twitter—all generally blocked by the country’s government—LinkedIn has a growing presence in China. It has already quietly amassed four million users in the country. The new Chinese-language site aims to broaden its reach in a market with some 140 million professionals. The company has also established a joint venture with venture capital funds Sequoia China and CBC (China Broadband Capital) to further that aim.

“Our mission is to connect the world’s professionals and create greater economic opportunity—and this is a significant step towards achieving that goal,” Derek Shen, LinkedIn’s president of China, wrote in a blog post.

While native services like Sina Weibo, WeChat, and Baidu have massive user bases, there appears to be a gap in professional social networking in China that LinkedIn can address. That could help the social network jumpstart sluggish growth in its users, amid concerns its penetration in developed markets like the US has peaked.

It’s not immediately clear how the company’s ambitions to become the “definitive professional publishing platform” will be affected by the Chinese government’s censorship activities. A person familiar with the company’s plans said a condition of LinkedIn’s license is that it must store data about Chinese citizens on servers housed inside the country. The company will be required to censor content in China, but will only engage in filtering that is expressly required by Chinese law, and only to Chinese members inside China, this person said.

LinkedIn’s users don’t typically debate politics or organize protests, activities that censors target. But there’s a relatively long history of US internet firms struggling to reconcile Chinese-mandated censorship with their own values. And Yahoo and others have faced strong criticism over complying with Chinese government requests for user data it can use to crack down on dissent.

Facebook and Google are among the US internet companies that have either stayed out of or pulled out of China as a result. Users in China can generally circumvent government blocking by using virtual private network services to access those US sites, though that’s generally much slower than if they were hosted locally.

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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