Caixin
Oct 15, 2021 05:40 AM
BUSINESS

Microsoft Shuts Down LinkedIn in China, Citing ‘Challenging’ Climate

LinkedIn, which entered China in 2014, is one of the few U.S. social networking companies allowed in the country. Currently, the service has 52 million users on the Chinese mainland. Photo: Bloomberg
LinkedIn, which entered China in 2014, is one of the few U.S. social networking companies allowed in the country. Currently, the service has 52 million users on the Chinese mainland. Photo: Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) — Microsoft Corp.’s LinkedIn is shuttering a localized version of its professional networking platform in China, becoming the last major U.S. social media provider to pull out of the world’s most populous country.

LinkedIn said it made the decision in light of “a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China.” The company will close the current version later this year, LinkedIn said Thursday in a blog post.

After entering China in 2014, LinkedIn seemed to offer a model for American internet companies to break into the country. The company agreed to restrict some content to adhere to state censorship rules. The service had about 52 million users on the Chinese mainland. Other social media platforms like Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. have long been banned.

Signs of turbulence for Microsoft emerged in March. LinkedIn said then that it paused new member sign-ups for its China service while it worked to ensure that it was in compliance with local law.

LinkedIn said its new strategy for China is to focus on helping local professionals find jobs in China and helping Chinese companies find high-quality candidates. Later this year, it will introduce InJobs, a new stand-alone jobs application for China. The site won’t include a social feed or the ability to share posts or articles.

LinkedIn, which entered the Chinese market under the name Lingying, had been the only U.S. social media network allowed to operate in the country. In order to do that, it complied with the government’s restrictions on certain kinds of content for users in China. Microsoft bought LinkedIn in 2016.

Microsoft’s several decades in China have been marked with challenges, as well as rare successes. The company maintains a large research lab in Beijing, sells cloud services through joint ventures with Chinese firms and was the first to market a video-game console in the country. Yet Microsoft has struggled to generate a significant amount of sales in China and has faced investigations by the government. The company has also been caught up in trade tensions between the U.S. and China, including around partner Huawei Technologies Co.

Contact editor Bob Simison (hello@caixin.com)

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