LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD) has planned its expansion in China through a local-language website. LinkedIn will be launching its website in China on Tuesday. Though, the huge user base in China is mouthwatering for the social media companies, the main headwind that they have to face is the China’s policy of Internet Censorship. Many other Social media websites like Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) were blocked in China due to violation of the censorship policy. LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD)’s CEO, Jeff Weiner talked to Bloomberg’s Betty Liu about challenges ahead with the planned expansion into China.
Weiner said that in order to comply with the strict local laws in countries like China, LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD), against its will is ready to face a certain amount of backlash from users, by censoring the user, if his profile has some inappropriate content. He added that LinkedIn is a platform, which helps professionals in finding opportunities for them and recruiters to find the professionals. He talked about their initiative to create the world’s first economic graph, which can digitally represent the global economy, job availability in any part of the world, skill requirements for the jobs and appropriate institutions around the globe to gain that skill.
“Well, there are certainly people who feel strongly about supporting freedom of expression. And we’re the same. You know, we’re strong advocates for freedom of expression and we are very firm opponents of censorship,” Weiner mentioned.
He talked about the ever growing opportunity in the country like China with one of the largest economies. He mentioned that a platform like LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD) could help China in their agenda of migrating 250 million people from rural to urban areas, by connecting people within China and the jobs outside the Chinese economy. He added that in order to do so, LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD) has to comply with Chinese laws, which means taking certain amount of backlash from users.
“The challenge was thinking about how we were going to do it and which values we would be open to compromising by virtue of doing business there and which we would not, you know, where we would draw very firm lines,” Weiner said about challenges in doing business in China.
Weiner also mentioned that venturing the business into China provided LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD) with a lot of new learnings, which includes adhering to local laws without compromising for the companies policies. He also mentioned that it has brought in all the executives together to decide on how to structure the business in China.
Weiner said that LinkedIn will operate in China with local language in a Joint Venture with Chinese Partners and Investors. He mentioned that the person who will be leading that effort is a Chinese who is well verse of western culture and companies. He added that the person who leads the effort will be reporting directly to him. Weiner mentioned that Beijing in China would be one of the cities where local development of global LinkedIn platform might happen.
Weiner pointed at 144 million professional, students and pre-professionals as the addressable opportunity in China. He said that venturing into China is very important mainly due to the increasing importance of China in the global economy.
Weiner mentioned that LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD) is first and foremost a professional network and secondly a social media website. He added that knowledge sharing feature of LinkedIn is also very important, since that helps many professionals to take faster decisions.
Weiner also talked about catering to younger demographics who hasn’t started college yet, mainly to help them decide on colleges and universities that they can consider for pursuing their ambition and also by ranking the colleges.
As of 30 June 2014, John Griffin’s Blue Ridge Management hold around 475,000 LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD) shares.