By Coco Feng in Beijing
LinkedIn, the Microsoft-owned platform for jobseekers and recruiters, is shuttering the app it launched in China less than two years ago, ending its remaining social media presence in the country as it cuts hundreds of jobs worldwide.
The company is cutting 716 jobs across its global operations amid “fierce competition” and “slower revenue growth”, CEO Ryan Roslansky wrote in a letter published on Monday. Revenue was up 8 per cent year on year in the quarter ended March, slower than the 10 per cent and 17 per cent growth in the two previous quarters, according to Microsoft financial disclosures.
In China, LinkedIn is dismissing its product and engineering teams and downsizing the corporate, sales, and marketing departments, Roslansky said in the letter. It will maintain the talent, marketing and learning businesses to focus on “assisting companies operating in China to hire, market, and train abroad”, he added. The letter did not specify the size of job cuts in China.
In a separate Chinese letter to clients published on the social media platform WeChat, LinkedIn said its China app, called InCareer, will shut down on August 9, 2023.
LinkedIn launched InCareer at the end of 2021 as a paired-back job-hunting app, without a social feed so it would be easier to comply with China’s censorship rules. The company shut down its main social network in the country earlier that year, citing “greater compliance requirements”.
LinkedIn launched in China in 2014, making it relatively long-lived in the country for a foreign platform. To operate in the country, it censored content deemed sensitive by Beijing.
Censorship on the platform has sometimes extended beyond written posts. In 2021, LinkedIn blocked Chinese users from viewing the accounts of multiple US journalists who had written stories about sensitive topics. It also censored accounts of academics and human rights activists.
Since the launch of InCareer, the app has languished far behind rival domestic platforms. It had 959,600 monthly active users in March, according to market research firm Analysys. By comparison, 51job had 18.5 million users that month, Boss Zhipin had 17.3 million, while Liepin had 6.7 million.
LinkedIn launched InCareer in December 2021 after ending service for its main social network in the country earlier that year. Photo: iOS App Store
LinkedIn now joins its US peers in having no platform presence in China. The largest platforms including Google, Facebook and Twitter have all been blocked by the Great Firewall, with related services increasingly being blocked in recent years. Gmail was permanently blocked in 2014, while Instagram, owned by Facebook owner Meta Platforms, faced the same fate two years later. Meta’s WhatsApp was also blocked in 2017.
Since China tightened content and data regulations in 2021, some foreign companies have shut down before being blocked. In late 2021, US internet company Yahoo halted its remaining online services in the country, including the Weather app and tech blog Engadget, after its email, news and community services were terminated in 2013 and its research and development operations in Beijing were shut down in 2015.