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.