LinkedIn just announced a beta version of its site in Simplified Chinese. With more than 140 million professionals working in China, it was only a matter of time before the planet’s largest social enterprise platform made its move into the jobs rich region. The launch is the 22nd local language site for LinkedIn.
In a blog post, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner explains that the move will likely attract new companies to China as they seek out new talents in the international arena.
While LinkedIn would love to take over the social enterprise space in China, the company will actually require a license from the country’s government officials.
“With more than four million members, China has quickly become one of the fastest growing countries for LinkedIn. That’s why today, we are pleased to announce the launch of our beta site in Simplified Chinese. The new Simplified Chinese website will broaden our reach to the country’s more than 140 million professionals who currently represent roughly one in five of the world’s knowledge workers. Our goal is to connect these Chinese professionals with each other and with the rest of LinkedIn’s 277 million members in over 200 countries and territories.
Over the last five years, China has experienced strong GDP growth and is now the second largest and one of the most important economies in the world. During the same period, more than 50 million jobs in urban areas were created, and per capita income of Chinese residents rose significantly. Given the rapid acceleration and development of China’s economy, the expansion of our offering in China marks a significant step forward in our mission to connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.
Consistent with LinkedIn’s “members first” approach to business decisions, our primary focus will be on delivering value, connecting members, and building a solid member experience. Since this is only the beta version of Simplified Chinese, we will continue to tailor the site to local needs and add features to enhance the product.
Expanding our presence in China presents a challenge that our company must address directly, clearly and in a manner consistent with our core values. As a condition for operating in the country, the government of China imposes censorship requirements on Internet platforms. LinkedIn strongly supports freedom of expression and fundamentally disagrees with government censorship. At the same time, we also believe that LinkedIn’s absence in China would deny Chinese professionals a means to connect with others on our global platform, thereby limiting the ability of individual Chinese citizens to pursue and realize the economic opportunities, dreams and rights most important to them.
As we weighed our options in China over the last several years, we sought input from many experts, including business leaders, policymakers, global human rights organizations, and China analysts. Their counsel was highly valuable as we charted our course. Over this same period, we also discussed and debated our China strategy internally in an extensive series of meetings that included every member of our senior management team.
Extending our service in China raises difficult questions, but it is clear to us that the decision to proceed is the right one. We believe that individuals in the United States, China, and beyond will benefit substantially from Chinese professionals connecting with each other and LinkedIn members in other parts of the world.
Our presence in China also helps us achieve our vision of extending the company’s professional network into the world’s first economic graph. We want to digitally map the global economy, identifying the connections between people, companies, jobs, skills, and professional knowledge, thus allowing all forms of capital – intellectual, working, and human – to flow to where it can best be leveraged. This economic graph will enable millions of individuals all over the world to realize opportunities in unprecedented ways, and, in doing so, create the next generation of entrepreneurs and professionals.
Consistent with the company’s core values, three guidelines will inform our ongoing approach to China:
o Government restrictions on content will be implemented only when and to the extent required.
o LinkedIn will be transparent about how it conducts business in China and will use multiple avenues to notify members about our practices.
o The company will undertake extensive measures to protect the rights and data of our members.
Within this framework, I believe that the benefits of LinkedIn’s evolution in China will prove compelling to our members, who are based in China, as well as members around the world.
On an ongoing basis, LinkedIn will continue to engage a variety of experts and policy makers as we work to safeguard the interests of our members. Along with our partners, Sequoia China and CBC, and our President of China, Derek Shen, we will continue to navigate the practical challenges of expanding our presence in China.
We are confident that LinkedIn’s efforts in China will meaningfully contribute to the lives of the world’s professionals as they seek new possibilities. I look forward to updating you on our progress in the months and years ahead.”
LinkedIn already has more than 4 million users in China. Those users have taken advantage of the network’s English language website, and will now have the option to join Chinese speaking members via the company’s simplified Chinese beta website.
Do you think LinkedIn’s simplified Chinese language website will find success or go the way of Google’s China presence?