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Home  /  Inside China  /  Renren and Kaixin001: China's Social Networks are going on an IPO, while at home competition is going up a notch
Renren and Kaixin001: China's Social Networks are going on an IPO, while at home competition is going up a notch print version
In days when Facebook is negotiating a cooperation with Chinese internet giant Baidu, attempting to create a Chinese version of the social network, the biggest Chinese social network sites, Renren and Kaixin001 are taking their first steps across the pacific, with an IPO (initial public offering) quest in the US. Do Renren and Kaixin001 rely uniqueness or simply their big target crowd when attracting new potential stock holders?
Renren (人人- 'Everybody', renren.com) and Kaixin001 (开心- 'Happy', kaixin001.com) are the major Chinese social network sites nowadays, and as such they basically offer the same services as Facebook. QQ, another (or THE) Chinese community-network giant, has been around much longer, though is more associated with instant-messaging than social networks, has already made its IPO initiative long ago.

In the beginning of May, Renren will appear on the list of the New York Stock Exchange, offering a share for $9-11 and a total market value approaching $4 billion. Kaixin001 is planning to go on the same path later this year, which will ironically make both ChineseSN available for IPO before the 'original' Facebook.

The US market is certainly paying attention the China's internet market and the potential it withholds, a fact which will give Renren and Kaixin001 a warm welcoming and invite many new curious share-holders. Still, as competition in mainland China is becoming more intense, the possible launch of Facebook China and doubts regarding whether Renren and Kaixin001 provide unique and interesting services, the desired financial elevation of the two might be suppressed significantly.

Another source of doubt regarding each SN's success in the stock exchange sphere is the fierce competition between owners of Renren and of Kaixin, a battle which is both evident in the law court and in the fact that many novice internet users find the two networks almost undistinguishable. The reputation of Oak Pacific Interactive Corp, owners of Renren was harmed on April 11, as a Chinese court found it guilty of violating legal rights of rivals Kaixin001. Oak Pacific is trying to overlook this incident, while Kaixin001 is stimulating the dispute by demanding high compensations.

The competition between the two Chinese social networks has been far from elegant for a few years already. On the one hand, Renren should be credited for being the first 'Chinese Facebook', originally created as Xiaonei (校内, 'inside the school'), a student-oriented SN site, while Kaixin001 came after, using some similar patterns. On the other hand, after Oak Pacific purchased Xiaonei and changed it to Renren ('everybody'; a more universal name, expressing the shift from a student-oriented to an entire-society-oriented SN), it has also purchased the domain Kaixin.com (as opposed to Kaixin001.com),  and created a SN with a layout which is very similar to that of Kaixin001 under the new domain, this way making users who wish to use Kaixin001 accidently fall into the Oak Pacific net. Later, on the end of 2010, Kaixin.com was merged with the popular Renren.com.

Both Renren and Kaixin001 are doing good, with 160 and 120 million registered users, respectively, and in spite of the fierce competition between them, many Chinese net users don't mind being registered in both SN and enjoy a wider communication potential. The IPO listing in the near future will give both Renren and Kaixin001 an interesting push, though the Chinese SN competition jungle is expected to only get thicker and humidor in the near future.

Assisting source: 中国日报网 (China Daily)


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