Chinese version of Facebook – RenRen is and isn’t for everyone

One of the benefits to my studying Mandarin is recognizing some Chinese words and phrases. This week RenRen http://www.RenRen.com – a Chinese company raised $ 740 million in an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. RenRen in Chinese means ‘everyone’.

With 450 million internet users in China and Facebook access disallowed by the PRC, buying RenRen stock is a bet that despite Mark Zuckerberg’s continuing efforts, Facebook is not likely to make any headway in China in the near future. Since I don’t see too many people outside of China using the RenRen platform, RenRen isn’t for ‘everyone’.

The IPO was successful in that it was offered around $ 14/share and closed today at just under $ 17/share. Not a home run but something to consider as a buy and hold since its potential user-base of 450 million people and counting is a number to reckon with.

The problem with RenRen right now is that in 2010 the company lost money. That is in stark comparison to Facebook’s $ 2 billion annual income projection. However it does not take a huge leap of faith to believe that RenRen will be profitable shortly and quite possibly in a big way.

Alternative social networks to Facebook pop up all over the place but companies trying to make a dent in Facebook’s lead have been largely unsuccessful. RenRen will by default be successful unless the Chinese government allows Facebook access for Chinese citizens. Something I don’t suspect will happen in the near or even far future.

I think it’s sad that Chinese people will continue to not have the opportunity to interact on the world’s social network – Facebook. So while RenRen serves a purpose of offering Chinese people a social network interface, we all suffer due to the limitations of access.

I am guessing non-Chinese people will not be in a hurry to set up their own RenRen account. But maybe I am wrong?

About markkolier

Futurist, entrepreneur, left lane driver
This entry was posted in Business in China, Social Media, Technology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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