LinkedIn looks to China
LinkedIn, the popular social networking site aimed at professionals, is planning a cautious expansion into China.
LinkedIn has been in the news recently after its stock market flotation valued the business at $9 billion. But LinkedIn will need more than whopping dotcom valuations to ensure its future – and its executives have an eye on China.
The world's fastest growing economy represents a huge opportunity for businesses from all sectors of the economy and social networking is no exception.
The opening up of China has led to the establishment of a growing professional class, which shares similar hopes and aspirations to LinkedIn's core market in the west.
While the US remains its biggest market, LinkedIn has members around the globe. There are said to be up to one million Chinese users already signed up.
Keen to capitalise on the existing demand and future growth potential, Arvind Rajan, international vice president at LinkedIn, told attendees at a recent trade show that China offered a number of intriguing opportunities.
However, he added that LinkedIn's approach to the Chinese market would remain cautious – a nod to the many challenges that face foreign companies looking to gain a foothold in what remains a communist dictatorship.
One of those challenges is local competition. Ushi, which provides a similar service to LinkedIn, has ambitious growth plans and aims to raise $5 million in new funding to support its expansion.
"We're aiming to ultimately serve a very large portion of China's 40 million internet users who are white collar or entrepreneurs," Ushi chief executive Dominic Penaloza told Reuters in a recent interview. "Call it 10 million in two years."