Renren.com (人人网) filed F-1 for IPO to the U.S SEC on April 15, the first major step in the road to an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange as “RENN”. So how will Renren fare?
Renren is China’s largest real-name social network, created by Wang Xing back in late (December) 2005. It was initially a clone of Facebook called Xiaonei (校内), with college students as the main users just as Facebook was before opening to all.
MySpace global is a failure amidst a revolving door of management (see analysis) and is currently on the auction block with Tencent among the suitors. But before the dismal MySpace global failure there was the dismal MySpace China failure. As the big rumor is that Facebook has partnered with Baidu to enter China, let’s take a retrospective look.
MySpace.cn launched to fanfare in April 2007, with claims that it would be “independent,” “localized,” and hence “different” from the litany of foreign internet failures in China. Of course this was all false.
China’s social networking landscape is diverse and thriving. No single player is nearly as dominant as Facebook in the U.S. and there’s a long tail of networks for different users (urban and rural) and different purposes (social, dating, and games). Here are the top 15 social networks in China.
Facebook has set the standard for social networking outside of the great firewall, but a different set of rules apply inside of it. In China, RenRen is way ahead of its competitors, with 160 million registered users. It’s biggest competitor, Tencent’s Qzone, claims more registered users, but relies more upon usernames than true names and is slow to change.
RenRen is racing ahead and setting the standards for user interaction and monetization on Chinese social networks. Their model draws on both a healthy dose of Facebook copying and the unique characteristics of Chinese internet users, which can make it hard to grasp for social media observers outside of China.
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