While LinkedIn has the privilege of expanding in China, where many other foreign firms didn’t have the opportunity, China based alternatives are rising and growing faster.
These are in my mind, Maimai, Zhaopin and Liepin.
As of the Spring of 2017, LinkedIn only had around 30-million registered users in China. Growth has not been easy for LinkedIn in China, while it has grown well in recent times in places like India, Brazil and South-East Asia.
LinkedIn has Competition in China
zhaopin.com, a career-focused Website that provides online recruitment services, including classified job postings and display advertisements, resume access, and other online value-added recruitment services, as well as mobile applications.
Maimai, founded in 2013, itself has raised $75 million recently, and claims to have 30 million registered users in China, with 10 million monthly active users. This is bad news for the global professional opportunity site of Microsoft, in its bid to enter mainland China.
Last summer when LinkedIn’s head of China left, you knew it was a bad sign. Government regulations have thwarted LinkedIn’s attempt in China at many turns. Also the Chinese online ecosystem favors solution born in China and owned locally.
The WeChat for the Workplace
Maimai is more of a direct competitor to LinkedIn a China’s own career and social-networking platform founded in 2013 by Lin Fan. It now has tens of millions of users and is trying to be the WeChat for the workplace, and is thought to have surpassed LinkedIn in China for most used professional social networking site.
It’s said that Maimai has plans to go IPO in 2019. Users can network and meet peers within two degrees of separation, as opposed to WeChat where users cannot see friends of friends.
In the summer of 2015, LinkedIn China launched a youth-focused app Chitu (“Red Rabbit”).
Maimai is Part of China’s Social Credit System
Maimai has pulled ahead of LinkedIn China also by incorporating features such as anonymous chatting, a concept made popular among young Chinese by the controversial Wumi, according to TechNode.
As it supports real-name registration (which is growing increasingly common on the Chinese internet), something I personally wish places like Twitter and Reddit and YouTube would adopt due to incessant trolling. Maimai has also partnered up with other internet services such as car rental Didi Chuxing and travel site Qunar to determine user credit scores. This is of course part of the social credit system that emerges in China and goes mainstream circa 2020.
The fact is, LinkedIn China has for the most part failed thus far in its localization strategy. In-spite of this, a few notable foreign born LinkedIn influencers have emerged in China. Meanwhile, it’s not clear how well Chitu is performing with its audience of young-working class Chinese citizens in Tier 2–4 cities. Usually the lack of press, is not a good sign.