Professional social networks forecast rapid growth in mainland China

27 May 2011 22 h 21 min 5 comments

The US Linkedin and the French Viadeo, two of the major professional socian networks platforms are eying the mainalnd China.

They have both announced intention to develop their activities and increase their subs and users base.



3 months after having been blocked in China and 5 days after its successfull IPO, LinkedIn is exploring opportunities in China, “a market with 100 million working professionals that the business networking site believes it can attract”, according to the company’s vice president Arvind Rajan. The major international social professional network platform is in the early stages of developing a strategy for China, and has yet to consider any possible partnerships. “We are quite intrigued by the opportunities in China,” Rajan told the CHINICT tech conference in Beijing on Thursday. “At the same time, we want to be quite cautious with how we approach the market.”
“More than 1 million of LinkedIn’s 100 million users come from China”, Rajan said, even though the site is not available in the Chinese language. “We hear from our members globally every day, ‘When are we going to be bigger in China?’ They want to do more business in China. They want to hire people in China,” Rajan said. “We also hear from Chinese companies that they want to hire people on a global basis.” “In China, everything is big,” he said, speaking on the sidelines of the CHINICT conference. “The market is big, but the challenges are also big. But There are political challenges, technical challenges. There are a whole lot of things for us to go through. We are far away from making any decision. At this point, we are just here to explore the market, to talk to people.” 

Linkedin must face some challenges including the competition from local platform operators and the government control on internet. In February, China’s Internet censors also temporarily blocked LinkedIn. The move was tied to Chinese government efforts to suppress mention of an anonymous online protest call made on the site, according to analysts.

Linkedin must also compete with the French platform Viadeo and its Chinese subsidiary, Tianjin.

Viadeo / Tianjin

The french platform has already a stronger foothold in mainland.It is already tapping the Chinese market through its local partner. opened in 2005 and acquired by Viadeo in 2008, claims to be the largest professional social networking site in China with 6 million users.

“But it’s only recently that Chinese people have started to view the Web as a business networking tool”, according to the company’s CEO, Derek Ling, in PC World. “It’s taken professionals a while to get used to the idea of using this service. But now we are actually seeing a turning point in China,” he said. “I think people are finally looking for real value in social networks. This is where professional networks can really pick up in China.”

Paris-based Viadeo, Europe’s largest business-oriented online social networking platform, is expecting a rapid increase in its membership in China in the next one to two years“China’s professional networking industry is to speed up development later this year and continue booming in the next two years,” said Lin Tinghan, CEO of At the end of 2010, we added about 100,000 new members each month. Currently, that number jumps to 180,000,” said Lin, expecting an exposive growth later this year but declining to reveal his target. is regarded as an important part of Viadeo, which was founded in Paris in 2004 and has over 35 million members worldwide in 2010. Still far away from LinkedIn which has more than 100 million members in over 200 countries and regions. Expanding its business to the emerging economies, including China could be the way for the French platform to challence its American competitor. especially if Viadeo launch its own IPO. Lin said the move is still under consideration. “Many world renowned venture capital companies have been contacting us. We are ready for an IPO but we are still weighing the pros and cons,” he said. He added that the large population of Internet users in China offers a huge advantage once Viadeo decided on an IPO. “Viadeo has the money and we have the market. No investors can resist that,” Lin said.

SOURCES: China Daily (10/05/11), IDG News / PC World, Reuters (26/05/11)

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