RenRen is going to IPO, which is not really a breaking news, and we will see more Chinese web companies to be listed soon. You should not be surprised. However, a few articles were published in past 1-2 days in English media with comments on RenRen and Facebook. It seems that people have a complicated feeling about a copy of Facebook from China being listed even before Facebook. Forbes even predicts that Facebook will beat RenRen once it comes to China. This is interesting. RenRen is the copy of Facebook when it started as Xiaonei. But after around 5 years’ development, comparison between Facebook and RenRen does not make much sense any more, I have to say so.

RenRen’s going IPO is just another typical example in Chinese web industry: People, including the majority of investors and startup founders are only looking at the short term.

The ultimate goal for Chinese social networks is to go IPO one day, but Facebook’s vision is to change the world.

And the philosophy or you can say the spirit behind RenRen and Facebook is quite different since the very beginning. Facebook has changed the real society of western citizens, but RenRen still mainly exists in virtual world where people are connected for fun; Facebook invented the open platform and aims to change the world, but RenRen follows the open strategy simply driven by money. RenRen turns out just one leading social network in China and IPO is the best and the only option when it becomes big.

It’s easy to compare the user base, revenue, valuation and the product of RenRen and Facebook, but the key thing we need look into is the overall environment for both parties, I mean, the comparison will make sense only if you could take the Internet culture of China and the west into account.

Dr. Gang Lu - Founder of TechNode. He's a Blogger, a Geek, a PhD and a Speaker, with passion in Tech, Internet and R'N'R.

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  1. Interesting argument.

    I cancelled my Renren account last year and actually haven’t been used it since my college graduation. Yes I think internally they have been focused too much on short-term KPIs by releasing meaningless applications such as social games (copied-and-pasted from Facebook and Kaixin001) and a retweet-like feature. It is no longer a social network but a garbage dump (sorry).

    It is pretty wise to push their stuff to the Street though.

  2. Saying RenRen is Facebook of China is an insult to Facebook.

    Same thing could be said for YouKu as Chinese YouTube.

    There’s NO comparison.

  3. The social behavior is fundamentally different since on RENREN, users connect to people that they donn’t necessarily know to meet new people and to “have fun”, whereas facebook is a social tool for you to keep contact with the important people in your life. Sure, there are games on facebook, but that is not what makes it sticky in the long run. Kaixin is the perfect example of a “game/happy” based SNS that just dies as soon as people are sick of the games.

  4. How accurate are the analytical statistics for RenRen? I heard that the company responsible for providing statistics about RenRen was also on the board of RenRen – which he quit so RenRen’s IPO wouldn’t be affected..

  5. @neozhang and basically anyone who may not understand Asian behavior on the internet: I have observed (often correctly) that Chinese, Taiwanese, and Asian people in general (NOT as much Asian Americans) play those game-type apps on their Facebook. A lot of them (I can’t say all) use their FB accounts just for those apps, and I think that is why Renren’s purpose is mostly focused around games. Renren was probably created around that observation.

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