Feeds

Is LinkedIn preparing for a China push?

Founder Reid Hoffman has been doing his homework

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Self-styled professional social networking site LinkedIn is planning to make a move in the Chinese market, if rumours are to be believed, as it seeks to further its plans for worldwide domination.

CNET China reported that founder Reid Hoffman met big name homegrown web firms Baidu, 360.cn, Sina and Renren last week to discuss the possibility of setting up a business operation in the country.

Although that was pretty much all the unnamed source had to say about the matter, it would be a logical move for the social-network-for-suits, which has over 150 million users and recently floated on the stock market valued at well over $4bn.

LinkedIn already has an Asia Pacific office, opened in Singapore last year, although China, with its strict censorship laws and idiosyncratic business practices, would certainly demand a separate outpost.

If it made a move in China, the firm would come up against local rivals in the form of fast-growing Tianji (which has over six million users) as well as Wealink.com, Renhe.cn and many other smaller players.

Ovum senior analyst Saurabh Sharma told The Reg that LinkedIn would face a tough battle in this crowded market full of players who have a better cultural understanding of the region.

"It is also important to understand that primarily LinkedIn will serve as an enabler to the networking of Chinese professionals and should have realistic expectations for growth potential in this market," he added.

"Success will be primarily determined by its ability to provide a tailor-made user experience that includes functionalities that are already being provided by its local competitors."

One thing that will work in LinkedIn’s favour is that, unlike Facebook, it is not banned in China, although it was blocked for a day or so last February during the time of the Arab Spring protests.

And it's unlikely to clash with the censors because it focusses strictly on business professionals sharing work-related information, whereas regular social networks like Facebook - whose users can swap random thoughts and opinions - quite frankly terrify the Chinese authorities.

China, with its growing middle class and estimated 500m+ web users, represents an attractive prospect for any growing business-to-consumer tech company, but as Google found out it can be a challenging environment to flourish in.

It wouldn’t be out of the question to see LinkedIn partner with a local specialist to establish itself in what can be a hostile market for foreign companies. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Microsoft exits climate denier lobby group
ALEC will have to do without Redmond, it seems
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.