Nǐ hǎo Renren: China’s Facebook

14 May

There is a huge digital gulf in China. A fine blend of  totalitarianism  and internet policing (a.k.a. The Great Firewall of China) has resulted in well-loved Western social media platforms, such as Facebook, being banned in the land of dim-sum.

A trip to Beijing a few November’s ago opened my eyes to the extent of this governing with sites such as BBC News being blocked. The big media dilemma of recent is how to break in to the China market and with a population exceeding 1.3bn people, who would not want a piece of the pie!? For sake of focus though, I will leave this for another post, but I will say it has been a serious ball ache for the biggest of companies. So when Renren began gaining traction who could not take notice? This hype was very much cemented when earlier this month the Financial Times reported shares soared 30% on its trading debut in New York. 

So what is all the bloody fuss about!?

Well, I think anything that hints Facebook is arouses (in every sense of the word) excitement and Renren does that. Even the word itself means Campus which is how Facebook enjoyed its adolescence. Apart from China’s answer to Twitter, Weibo, Renren is probably the most exercised social networking platforms used by college students, graduates and generally China’s urban youth.

At the backend, Renren’s CEO, Joe Chen, is a smart, intelligent and savvy deal-making investor. His previous flings have included Mop.com which claimed to have 20 million active-users so this mind is best placed to see this promising platform rocket. 

However, the true success to this is simply territory. Facebook owns most of the digital landscape world-wide except for a few places. One being China. Without Facebook to compete with and with the facilities and functions evidently proving a hit with the kids, Renren has freedom to make social-networking their own. 


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