After the talk in Unconference 2009, I have received some queries about social networking sites in China. Based on what I have known, Xiaonei is not the number 1 SNS in China, but 51.com. Other than these two top social networks, there are other social networks which are also dominant within the Great Wall. As Gang Lu mentioned during the panel that the Chinese internet landscape has now moved from cloning era to an reformation era, where the sites are innovating within after realizing that some of the cloned services did not work in the China market. Hence I thought it might be good to summarize the top 3 social networks in China at the present time after QQ which I considered as more of an IM (even though it incorporated social networking features), with the data I have found. Based on an earlier article “Chinese Social Networks ‘Virtually’ Out-Earn Facebook And MySpace: A Market Analysis” by George Godula, David Li & Richard Yu in TechCrunch about an analysis on how Chinese social networking sites are beating their western counterparts, here are the top 3 social networks in China:
Number 1: 51.com with 130M users in China, targets working class adults from rural parts of China after QQ (which I don’t consider it to be a social network, but rather an instant messaging service with certain social networking features within). The site is founded by IT entrepreneur Mr. Pang Sheng Dong, in Shanghai. From the corporate site, it is claimed that the site attracts 14 million unique users visit per week, 31.5 million logins at least once a month,
350 million page views per day and users uploading over 10M photos and write
over 3M blogs per day. 51.com is jointly funded by Sequoia Capital China (its silicon valley counterpart funded YouTube, Google and Apple), SIG Asia Investments (SAI), Giant Interactive, Intel Capital, Redpoint
Ventures and other renowned international enterprises and venture
51.com is the first social network in the world which open their payment API (as compared to Facebook who is now starting to contemplate to do so). The revenue is split 50/50 between 51.com and the developer.
Number 2: Xiaonei with 40M users in China and the bulk of the users are students especially from the Chinese universities. The site is created by Wang Xin in Beijing. Often known to be the “Facebook clone in China”, Xiaonei has practically cloned the same user interface from the outside and also opened her APIs to 3rd party developers. The only known statistic I can find about this network so far that in 2008, there are about 40K unique visitors by April 2009 (source: Crunchbase). The site has been acquired in October 24, 2006 by Oak Pacific Interactive, a holding company which consists of web 2.0 communities, content creation and distribution, and integrated communication. The company is backed up with US$430 million in funding from its parent company Oak Pacific Interactive and investors led by Softbank.
Number 3: Kaixin with 30M users that comprises of white collar workers in China’s largest cities. It came in with a surprise surge of users during July to Oct 2008 and . This social networking site allows for photo uploading, a blogging and micro-blogging platform, music sharing, and a 1G online hard drive, but also adopts controversial invitation techniques in getting members to join the network. Based on Crunchbase data, it has about 20K unique visitors by April 2009. The site has raised a total of US$25M with the series B phase (US$20M) funded by QiMing Venture Partners, Ceyuan Ventures and Northern Light Venture Capital.
Of course other sites of interest in this space are MySpace China (6M Users), Yahoo’s Guan Xi and Tencent’s Xiaoyou. Most of the western counterparts have difficulty penetrating into China because the strategy and approach to market are rather different. The same kind of resistance is also encountered in Korea and Japan by their own dominant social networks, whereas in southeast Asia and India, the situation is reverse with one of the contributing reasons is that most of the countries in that region are either former British colonies or mainly English speaking (with the exception of Thailand and Vietnam). It will be interesting for those social networks in southeast Asia to learn some lessons of user growth and monetization from their east Asia counterparts.
 George Godula, David Li & Richard Yu, “Chinese Social Networks ‘Virtually’ Out-Earn Facebook And MySpace: A Market Analysis“, TechCrunch
 MJK, TechNama, Top 10 Best Social Networking Sites in China