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LinkedIn Deal With China: What Does This Mean?

First Posted: Mar 02, 2014 04:24 PM EST
Samuel L Jackson and Magic Johnson confused for migrants in viral meme

LinkedIn this week will be expanding their service into the Chinese language market.

According to the San Francisco Gate, LinkedIn already had their service in China for quite some time; but they were only operating in English with only four million members. Now that they have become part of China's virtual structure, the company can attract as many as 140 million of the country's professionals.

Forbes reported that the CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner, had been visiting China repeatedly trying to build its virtual presence. According to Weiner, they are 140 million knowledge workers, managers and executives who live in China, which amounts to 20 percent of the world's total.

Weiner also met with students, entrepreneurs, and corporate employees to get their feedback on their world of work. Similarly to Western society, students want good jobs; entrepreneurs want to build their network, and experienced employees want to be move up in the world.

China has 618 million internet users, and it's government is filled with both human rights and logistical issues. These issues have sent Twitter, Facebook, and Google out of the country

The Times reported on the sacrifices that LinkedIn made in order to operate in China. LinkedIn will be actively censored by China; Twitter and Facebook were banned because they did not comply. Thirteen percent of all social media sites are censored. And LinkedIn promises to be more compliant than its American predecessors; they even promised to store data about Chinese members on its servers in the country.

The main advantage that LinkedIn has in operating within China is that it is not a social media site. A study conducted by Gary King, a director of Harvard's Institute for Quantitative Social Science, after analyzing more than 11 million posts across 1,400 different social media sites, the study indicated that the Chinese government cares less about people bad mouthing them, they care more about the mobilization of organized civil action against the country.

While some may think that LinkedIn sacrificed a lot to gain access into China's market, the company has more than the government to worry about, it's competitors. CNN reported that three of LinkedIn's main competitors are the growing Wechat, a social media app with a reported 272 million users. Tianji, a Chinese networking site owned by France's Viadeo, they claim 15 million users, and they offer similar services to LinkedIn. And, Sina Weibo, a micro-blogging service that is a hybrid of Facebook and Twitter, that is predicted to launch soon in the U.S.

Another issue that the company has to deal with is slow internet speeds. China has control over that. Google faced similar problems.

Despite the negativity, LinkedIn has made leaps by entering into China. Last month, they hired Derek Shen to run its China operations. Shen used to work for Google.

Weiner stated that their first priority is providing the best possible service to its members. LinkedIn has 277 million members worldwide, of which 24 million are in India, and another 16 million in Brazil. 

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