Benjamin Joffe

Facebook‘s IPO forced this other question upon us: is the company ready for China? Forget it, tells internet expert Benjamin Joffe of the digital research & strategy firm +8* (Plus Eight Star) in Techcrunch. 


Facebook has been blocked there for years, and there is simply no way around the local definition of what constitutes objectionable content. Any web or mobile company who does not self-censor faces shut down if it local, and blocking if not.

While I’ve heard local entrepreneurs say it is not worse than dealing with Sarbanes-Oxley, the enforcement is roughly equivalent to how other governments might deal with terrorists, drug dealers, pedophiles, and organized crime (the “four horsemen of Internet apocalypse”), or how mass media deals with touchy topics that could upset the powers that be, or their advertisers. For foreign companies that offer content – published either by themselves or by users – it is a pretty big headache, compounded by the double set of constraints they have to deal with: those at home and those in China.

The PR headaches are – as Google experienced – pretty solid. And the question is: is it worth the effort? Assuming content is managed, China is not a walk in the park anyway: it is easily the most competitive market on the planet, simply because there are so many entrepreneurs and so much venture money. Social networks? China already has TWO listed on the stock market: Tencent (worth $53.4 billion) and RenRen (listed in May 2011 on the NYSE and today valued at $2.43 billion).

More in Techcrunch.

Benjamin Joffe is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

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