Although China is the world’s largest Internet market by user volume, it has proven nearly impenetrable by Western companies, including the almighty Google. Last week, we reported on Bing and Facebook’s new collaboration, as well as LinkedIn’s IPO. As the power of social media and social media marketing become more and more apparent, Mark Zuckerberg plans a trip to the world’s most populous country in hopes of further achieving his goal of “connecting the world.”
Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg, was quoted in a recent Reuter’s article as saying, “Our company mission is really clear, which is we want to connect the whole world; and it’s impossible to think about connecting the whole world right now without also connecting China.” Given the unprecedented growth of the social network since it was created in a Harvard dorm room in 2004, China is a logical next step for the multi-billion dollar company. According to the article, research firm comScore reports that Facebook accounted for almost a third of the total graphical, online display ad impressions in the United States. And with hundreds of thousands of advertisers, it is clear that Facebook marketing and other forms of interactive marketing have become central to most company’s advertising strategies.
“Success” seems more like a euphemistic description of what Facebook has experienced over the past 7 years, and it has led reporters to regularly inquire as to when the company expects to have an IPO. Sandberg commented that it was “inevitable,” but provided no details on an exact date – “It’s a process that all companies go through. It’s an inevitable process for us, the next thing that happens,” she explained.
Renren, dubbed China’s version of Facebook, issued an impressive IPO earlier this month, initially for $671 million in mid-April and jumping to $743 million just three weeks later. Currently the fourth-largest IPO of 2011 in the US, the pressure is on Facebook to seal a deal with Chinese Internet heads. Zuckerberg paid a visit to China in December, meeting with the heads of Chinese Internet companies like Baidu Inc., Sina Corp and Alibaba Corp. There has been no announcement as to when the next trip will be and what will be on the agenda.