INTERNET: LinkedIn Networks in China with Low-Key Approach

Bottom line: LinkedIn’s rapid growth in China has been aided by its low-key approach to the sensitive market, and a high degree of autonomy for its local unit from its distant US-based parent.

LinkedIn reaches 20 mln China users

US business networking giant LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) is quietly emerging as one of the few foreign success stories in China’s social networking (SNS) landscape, using a low-key approach that has helped it steer clear of controversy. I haven’t written much about the company since its slightly controversial entry to China 2 years ago, when it issued a statement acknowledging it would be subject to the country’s strict self-censorship rules.

LinkedIn’s ability to avoid controversy is probably due in large part to its low-key approach, and its choice of an industry veteran with experience in both the US and China to head its local operations. True to his low-key style, company chief Derek Shen is making some minor headlines today with comments at a Shanghai event, including his disclosure that LinkedIn has signed up more than 20 million local users during its first 2 years in China. Read Full Post…

Weibo: TCL Dotes On HTC, LinkedIn’s Shen Warns Of Bubble

TCL’s Li praises HTC’s Cher Wang

The microblogging realm has been relatively quiet this past week as Chinese tech executives enjoy the long October 1 holiday. Still, a few couldn’t completely stay away from their online accounts, led by TCL’s (Shenzhen: 000100) thoughtful Chairman Li Dongsheng who hinted at a possible tie-up with struggling former Taiwanese smartphone giant HTC (Taipei: 2498).

Meantime, LinkedIn’s (NYSE: LNKD) China chief Derek Shen commented on the current overheated investment environment in China’s Internet, reinforcing a view I’ve been stating for a while now. Finally there was Lenovo (HKEx: 992) CEO Yang Yuanqing, who let his deputies do the talking on his behalf as he donated a portion of his annual bonus to rank-and-file company employees in a goodwill gesture for the third straight year. Read Full Post…

LinkedIn Launches China Version, Addresses Censorship

LinkedIn launches China edition

Less than 2 months after hiring a top executive to head its new push into China, professional networking leader LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) has come out with a series of announcements on the new launch of a Chinese-language edition for its service, and also some figures for the size of its addressable market in China. The company has also rolled out its official Chinese name, Lingying, which translates roughly to “Leading Hero”, perhaps encapsulating how it hopes to position itself in the market. And in a nod to the challenges it will face, its CEO Jeff Weiner has also put out a separate lower-profile announcement detailing how the company plans to handle sensitive issues involving China’s strict censorship policies. Read Full Post…

Weibo: Xiaomi Buzzes Singapore, LinkedIn Hires In Beijing

Redmi buzzes Singapore

Executives from smartphone sensation Xiaomi were playing their usual marketing tricks in the microblogging realm this past week, trumpeting an online promotion in the run-up to a more formal launch next month in Singapore, the first stop on the company’s global expansion. Meantime, US professional networking giant LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) was moving more quietly in the other direction into China, where its recently hired top executive was tweeting about his ongoing hiring efforts as the company builds up a local operation. Read Full Post…

Weibo: Personal Moments From Autohome, New Oriental, LinkedIn

Autohome founder Li Xiang remembers childhood accident

In this final edition of my weekly microblog column from the Year of the Snake, I thought I’d step back from all the promotional hype I usually write about and look at the more ordinary and often revealing moments from some of China’s top tech executives. This week we look at some of the quieter and more everyday thoughts from top officials at newly listed Autohome (NYSE: ATHM), educational services firm New Oriental (NYSE: EDU) and professional networking site LinkedIn (Nasdaq: LNKD). Such personal moments not only offer insight to some of these top executives and how they think, but also seem like an appropriate way to end the lunar year as everyone heads home for family reunions. Read Full Post…

LinkedIn Takes New Step In Slow Road To China

LinkedIn names new China chief

Online professional networking leader LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) took a big step towards entering the lucrative but tricky China market last week when it created a new China chief position and filled it with an industry veteran as it explores a formal service launch.  The move was just the latest in the company’s slow and careful approach to China, and could boost its chances of success in a market that has proven difficult for other global giants like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) and eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY). Read Full Post…

LinkedIn, Evernote Low-Key In China Internet Approach

LinkedIn takes low-key approach to China

Since everyone is buzzing with excitement today over the successful IPO for social networking (SNS) pioneer Twitter (NYSE: TWTR), I thought I would end the week with a look at 2 other up-and-coming US Internet firms and their decidedly low-key approach to China. I’m talking about LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD), the professional networking site, and Evernote, a cloud-based note-taking service. Neither of these 2 up-and-comers has made any high-profile announcements about their entries to China, even though both are active in the market. That could be a smart approach, following high-profile missteps by earlier arrivals that may have ultimately hurt their prospects in the large but also challenging market. Read Full Post…

INTERNET: Amnesty, Employees Launch Google Attack

Bottom line: A major new campaign calling on Google to abandon its plan to return to China’s search market will add pressure on the company to reconsider its decision, but is unlikely to succeed unless the pressure grows significantly stronger.

Amnesty launches petition to protest Google’s China return

If Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) CEO Sundar Pichai thought he could quietly launch a new filtered China search engine without any major backlash, he’s quickly finding out otherwise. The search giant’s controversial plan to return to the world’s biggest search market is facing its stiffest resistance to date, in a frontal assault coordinated by human rights group Amnesty International and Google’s own employees.

The message from both groups is the same: Don’t do it. In Amnesty’s case, the group has launched an online petition (announcement) calling on Google not to go through with the plan, code named Dragonfly, that was first uncovered back in August. (previous post) At the same time, a group of more than 300 Google employees has signed a petition urging the company to reconsider its China plans on the blogging site Medium. (online petition) Read Full Post…

INTERNET: Whatsapp Goes Spotty in China, Headed for Shutout?

Bottom line: China’s apparent partial blockage of some Whatsapp functions for brief periods is unlikely to end with a total blockage, mostly because the service is used almost exclusively by foreigners.

Whatsapp temporarily blocked in China

Foreign media are buzzing about what appears to be the blockage of some functions on Whatsapp, with the obvious implication that a full blockage of the the popular instant messaging app could be next. This particular story has a few interesting angles, led by the fact that Whatsapp isn’t used by very many Chinese and also that it’s owned by social networking giant Facebook (Nasdaq: FB).

There are a also a number of precedents to go by, none of which looks too positive for the future of Whatsapp. Just about every other major global social networking app has been blocked in China by now, including Facebook itself, as well as Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) and Japan-listed Line (Tokyo: 3938). But there are a few notable exceptions that have been allowed to keep operating in China, one of which is Whatsapp and two others being the Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) owned Skype and LinkedInRead Full Post…

SMARTPHONES: Lenovo Starts Rebuilding Year with Samsung Poach

Bottom line: Lenovo could reverse its smartphone decline this year under a new leadership team anchored by a respected company veteran, though chances of success are relatively low due to stiff competition and magnitude of the task.

Lenovo nets former Samsung smartphone exec

My first post in the new lunar Year of the Rooster seems like a good time to look at the ultra-competitive smartphone market, and what may lie ahead for the embattled Lenovo (HKEx: 992) as it seeks to regain its footing in the space. CEO Yang Yuanqing has made repeated overhauls of his mobile devices division, including the naming of longtime executive Gina Qiao to try and turn the division around late last yaer. Now the latest reports are saying that Qiao has made one of her first big moves in that post by hiring an executive from rival producer Samsung (Seoul: 005930). Read Full Post…

GUEST POST: Uber’s U-turn in China: The Real Lesson

Uber learns lessons from Didi

By Kitty Fok                                                               Managing Director, IDC China

Much of the conventional wisdom and press commentary about Uber’s recent decision to sell its China business to Chinese rival Didi portrayed the move not just as a defeat for Uber, but a broader setback for all American tech companies in China.

The New York Times described the development as “a stark signal of how difficult it is for American technology companies to thrive in China,” while the Financial Times wrote that Uber had become “the latest in a succession of US Internet companies that have tried to conquer the China market, and walked away with much less than they had hoped for.” Read Full Post…