LinkedIn is closing down the Chinese version of its social networking service for professionals, becoming the latest Western company to shutter services in China amid increased competition and a tightening regulatory environment. The company will also lay off 716 employees worldwide, including teams dedicated to engineering and marketing in China, because of slumping demand. It did not say how many of those layoffs will be in China.
The Microsoft-owned company announced on Tuesday it was shutting down InCareer, the pared-back job application site that had replaced the localized LinkedIn social networking site it closed in 2021.
When LinkedIn started a Chinese-language version of its website in 2014, it charted a path that its peers, including Facebook and Google, had shied away from. It partnered with local firms and began censoring the content of millions of Chinese customers in accordance with Beijing’s strict laws. Several U.S. journalists and activists said their profiles had been blocked because of prohibited content.
The company said at the time that while it opposed government censorship, its absence in the country could deprive Chinese professionals of the chance to make professional connections.
“Although we have made initial progress in the past year, InCareer has faced increasingly fierce competition and macroeconomic challenges.”
The service will close in three months on August 9, but the company will retain a presence in China to help local groups hire and train employees outside the country, it said.
Social media rivals Facebook and Twitter have been blocked in China for more than a decade. One coder in the LinkedIn China office said the company held a meeting on Tuesday morning to notify employees that it was cutting staff.
In a letter to employees, Ryan Roslansky, LinkedIn’s chief executive, said the cuts were prompted by slower revenue growth and fluctuations in customer behavior. The news follows an overall slowdown in tech that has led to tens of thousands of layoffs this year by the largest companies, including Amazon, Meta, and Google.
The individual said most of the coding team had been let go at the same time. LinkedIn chief executive Ryan Roslansky wrote in a letter to employees on Monday that the company would cut 716 jobs globally, including the product and engineering teams in China.
“This is a problem because authorities cannot track the conversations,” the official said.
The move comes as Chinese authorities increase scrutiny of US companies in the wake of a counter-espionage law that appears to have widened the scope of documents and data that can be defined as pertinent to national security. Recommended Chinese business & finance China’s ‘men in black’ step up scrutiny of foreign corporate sleuths On Monday, China announced that its state security services had raided multiple offices of international consultancy Capvision, saying the advisory group had passed sensitive information abroad.
State broadcaster CCTV aired an in-depth report on Monday night accusing the consultancy of arranging interviews with well-known experts in government policy, national defense, and technology, a few of whom revealed sensitive information during consultations. LinkedIn is the latest in a string of Western companies vastly reducing their presence in the Chinese market as they confront a tougher regulatory environment and strong domestic competition.
LinkedIn, which employs about 20,000 people, said Monday that while it was reducing operations in China and other countries, it plans to create 250 jobs in other areas.
Mr. Roslansky said it will retain a presence in China to help companies operating in the country hire and train employees from overseas.