Editor’s Note: The piece originally appears on LinkedIn, we reproduced it here under Kaifu Lee’s authorization. Kaifu is the founder of Chinese incubator Innovation Works , he also served as Google and Microsoft VP.
Over the past three years, “weibo” has taken China by storm. “Weibo” literally means “micro-blog”, and some have called weibo “the Chinese Twitter”. But more accurately, weibo is a 500-character Twitter with Facebook look-and-feel, in a country with very few high-quality traditional media. Weibo is offered by several companies, with Sina having a leadership position.
More specifically, the 500-character comes from the fact that 140 characters in Chinese is as expressive as 500 characters in English. Compared to Twitter, weibo has a structured (e.g., nested dialogs) + media-rich (easy to enjoy photo/video/music without leaving the page) approach, which made it more approachable for the many amateur netizens in China. Finally, in a country where traditional media lacks of brand and expressiveness, weibo is particularly welcome as a breath of fresh air.
Weibo posts can get deleted, but almost all the time you can say almost anything you’d like, and what you say could be heard by millions. That’s more freedom of speech than ever enjoyed by the Chinese people.
As a result, there are now over 300 million registered users. Weibo has become the preferred platform for product marketing, entertainer adoration, commercial fights, ideology debates, and real-time news dissemination. It is on weibo that we first heard about virtually all current events, as well as many cases of corruption and injustice. Weibo is providing an equalized and transparent platform for all citizens, and is changing China deeply and quickly. I will report on more interesting Chinese events learned through weibo via linkedin. Stay tuned.