LinkedIn, operator of the world's largest professional networking website, is keeping a cautious eye on the mainland market as it seeks to speed up growth in Hong Kong.
The California-based company, which has more than 150 million members worldwide, yesterday launched its office in Hong Kong to directly support nearly 500,000 users in the city. It is the firm's ninth office in Asia and its 25th worldwide.
'With more than 2,400 regional corporate offices and over 1,300 regional headquarters, Hong Kong has a skilled talent base and reputation as a leading international centre of finance that makes it an important market for LinkedIn,' said Arvind Rajan, the managing director for Asia-Pacific and Japan operations.
LinkedIn, which has more than 25 million members across the Asia-Pacific region, said the Hong Kong office would also support millions of its members across markets in North Asia, including the mainland.
'We have about 2 million members in [mainland] China that are using LinkedIn's website in English,' Rajan said.
He said entering the mainland, where LinkedIn has not applied for a licence, was 'a bigger proposition than just offering a local-language service' because it was 'a very competitive and complicated market'.
The firm, which had US$522 million in global revenue last year, supports Japanese, Swedish, Indonesian, Malay and Korean, but has no Chinese-language initiative planned.
'We want to be cautious and thoughtful about offering something that we think will be successful long term in [mainland] China.'
Rajan also said LinkedIn's vast global scale had helped many of its mainland members find new opportunities with users based overseas. The site is also widely available on the mainland, where social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are blocked by the government.
Beijing-based Tianji.com, however, runs the biggest mainland social network for professionals, with more than 9 million members. Its operations were merged in 2009 with those of French professional networking firm Viadeo, which has more than 40 million members worldwide.
Tianjin.com chief executive Derek Ling said in November last year it aimed to have more than 18 million members by the end of this year.