“It’s horrible that the LinkedIn product managers don’t even realize they have lagged way behind a list of new social networking services such as WeChat, feeling good about themselves instead,” Shen said in a LinkedIn post on Monday (in Chinese). He added that he tried to improve the site when he joined the company six years ago but struggled to make progress as it involved so many stakeholders within the organization.
Many of Shen’s criticisms relate to the overall functionality and design of the LinkedIn website, which he claims reflects a general “fear of the social”. LinkedIn China’s website is identical to the global LinkedIn site.
In a reference to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Shen added that LinkedIn should “target WeChat and try to catch up.” According to the South China Morning Post, Zuckerberg has said he regrets not taking the advice he got four years ago to learn from WeChat.
China’s professional networking market is increasingly dominated by domestic companies, particularly among mobile users. According to Beijing-based research firm Sootoo Research (in Chinese), Mai Mai and Liepin Tongdao were the two leading professional social networking apps in China in H1 2018, with 87 million and 18 million downloads, respectively. LinkedIn wasn’t listed in the report, which ranked the top five professional networking apps.
Shen announced his resignation from LinkedIn China in mid-2017 and immediately assumed his post as executive chairman for the shared housing startup Danke Apartment. The Beijing-based startup recently raised $500 million U.S. in a series C funding round led by Alibaba’s fintech arm Ant Financial and U.S.-based investment firm Tiger Global Management.
LinkedIn partnered with China Broadband Capital and Sequoia China to launch LinkedIn China in 2014. The joint-venture allowed the social network to operate legitimately on the notoriously insular Chinese internet. It’s grown to around 41 million users in four years.
LinkedIn China drew criticism in January when it blocked the profile of New York-based democracy activist Zhou Fengsuo from being viewed within China.
Additional reporting: Technode