IDG News Service
China has been a tough market for U.S. Internet companies to crack, but LinkedIn has high hopes it can buck the trend and increase its user base in the country to as high as 50 million over the next five years.
“This is a very long-term investment, it’s not an experiment,” said Derek Shen, head of LinkedIn’s China operation on Friday.
The social networking site officially entered the nation’s market back in February, and is targeting China’s growing number of working professionals, numbered at over 140 million, according to the company. To reach those users, it launched a Chinese language site called Lingying.
LinkedIn, however, wants to avoid the same fate as other U.S. Internet companies that have struggled to take off in the nation’s competitive market. Google, eBay and Groupon have all come up against local roadblocks, including stiff competition from domestic rivals, and China’s notorious online censorship.
In LinkedIn’s case, the company studied the Chinese market for four years before finally deciding to enter the market, Shen said at China 2.0 Forum, an event in Beijing organized by the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Currently, the site has about four million users in China.
The failure of some international companies in China may be due to their structure or lack of incentives for the operation to succeed, Shen said. “So we decided in China, we wanted to do a startup,” he added.