Linkedin launched its beta Chinese website on 25th February in 2014, naming its Chinese site “Ling Ying”. President of Linkedin China, Derek Shen led a crew of 6 and showed up on Shen’s Sina Weibo. Derek Shen had posted recruiting notice on Linkedin China enterprise Weibo, as well as his profile page on Linkedin.
Linkedin founder Reid Hoffman had been preparing to enter China market for two years, and did a lot of research. Derek Shen revealed to media during an interview with Sina Tech, that China was quite a unique market which barely any international internet enterprise succeeded. Previously, Google, Ebay and Yahoo all failed in China, while Facebook and Twitter never even got a chance. Amazon seemed to be the only giant internet enterprise survived in China. Linkedin had to take an entire new model in order to win a chance of succeeding in China.
Team Up With Sequoia China and CBC
Linkedin set up a joint venture in China with Sequoia China and CBC (China Broadband Capital). Sequoia invested Linkedin in the early stage, it was not a surprise that Sequoia China continued its cooperation. CBC had influence in local venture capital investment, it invested Evernote China, CSDN and Easy Transport. Evernote China “Yinxiang” became a model for foreign companies to enter China market. Linkedin China board of directors includes Neil Shen from Sequoia China, Edward Tian from CBC, and the other three directors are Linkedin founder Reid Hoffman, Linkedin CEO Jeff Weiner and Derek Shen.
Venture Company Framework
Derek Shen explained that Linkedin China decided to adopt the framework of a new venture company in China instead of a branch company. Linkedin China also cooperated with Tencent Weibo and Sina Weibo in technology level. With the help of successful venture capitals and local enterprises supports, Linkedin China would be more likely to operate in Chinese way.
Departments of Linkedin China don’t need to report to American headquarter, in stead, they all report to Derek Shen. Derek Shen joined Linkedin on January 1st in 2014, and he used to be vice president of Renren Inc, founder and CEO of nuomi website. Before that, he was the head of business development in Google China. At present, Linkedin China only has 6 staff and they are recruiting now.
Professional Network Takes Time
Derek Shen regarded that professional network took time to grow. Linkedin was launched in 2003, it only had 80,000 users in the next year. By the end of 2005, Linkedin registered users just reached 300,000.
Linkedin has been attractive for Chinese users, before Linkedin entering China, it had accumulated 4 million Chinese users. There are several professional networks in China, such as dajie.com and tianji.com, they only have registered users but less user generated content.
Professional network’s business model is to charge enterprise accounts, therefore their core competence is user data. Linkedin China will face the challenge of user growth and data collection, and this process will not be easy.