LinkedIn Corp., the first major U.S. social-media company to go public, said it will be “cautious” in its approach to China and won’t rush in with a product that doesn’t work.
China has a potential target market of 100 million professionals, which is about equal to the company’s current global subscriber base, Arvind Rajan, LinkedIn’s international vice president, said at a technology conference in Beijing today.
While LinkedIn doesn’t currently have a local site in China, it is unique among major U.S. social-networking sites in that its service isn’t currently blocked by the Chinese government, which restricts access to Facebook, Twitter and Google Inc. (GOOG)’s YouTube. LinkedIn’s service was disrupted in China for more than 24 hours Feb. 24-25 after user postings supported calls for protests in the Asian nation.
“We want to be cautious in our approach to China’s vibrant Internet market,” Rajan said today. “We don’t want to jump in and provide something that won’t be successful.”
China-related traffic on LinkedIn flows in both directions, with overseas companies looking for employees in China, and expanding Chinese companies looking to hire workers abroad, Rajan said.
Even without a local site, the company has made headway with Chinese companies such as Huawei Technologies Co., the nation’s largest maker of equipment for mobile-phone networks. As of today, Huawei had 14 jobs posted on LinkedIn, and there were 19,156 users on the site registered as Huawei employees. That’s equal to about 17 percent of the company’s total of 110,000 workers.
LinkedIn raised $352.8 million in its May 18 initial public offering and underwriters two days later exercised an overallotment option for more shares, boosting the offering to $405.7 million.
A block by China is among circumstances under which “the value of our network could be negatively impacted,” LinkedIn said in a March prospectus for the share sale.
China, the world’s largest Internet market with 477 million Web users, bans pornography, gambling and content critical of the ruling Communist Party.
LinkedIn got 27 percent of sales last year outside the U.S.
--Edmond Lococo. Editors: Nicholas Wadhams, Garry Smith
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