Former LinkedIn China exec criticizes the platform for lagging WeChat

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Former LinkedIn China president Derek Shen said Monday that the professional networking site has “lagged way behind” Tencent’s chat platform WeChat, two years after stepping down from the company.

“It’s horrible that the LinkedIn product managers don’t even realize they have lagged way behind a list of new social networking services such as WeChat, feeling good about themselves instead,” said Shen in a LinkedIn post on Monday. The former LinkedIn executive said that he tried to improve the platform when he joined the company six years ago, but struggled to make progress as it involved so many stakeholders within the organization.

Shen’s posted his public gripe after he was unable to message a newly added friend. He also said that the company was prioritizing profits by prominently displaying features such as friend recommendations while leaving out core features such as the friend list.

LinkedIn was not available for comment.

In a reference to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Shen added that LinkedIn should “target WeChat and try to catch up.” Zuckerberg said on Friday that he regretted not taking advice given four years ago to learn from WeChat, reported the South China Morning Post.

China’s professional networking market is dominated by domestic companies. According to Beijing-based research firm Sootoo Research (in Chinese), Alibaba’s Dingtalk is the most popular job connection service for Chinese users beginning in the first half of 2018, with more than 92.6 million downloads during the period.

Two other challengers, Maimai and Tongdao, the messaging platform for online jobs website Liepin, follow with 87 million and 18 million downloads, respectively. LinkedIn was not listed in the report, which ranked the top five professional networking apps.

Derek Shen announced his resignation from LinkedIn China in mid-2017, and immediately assumed his post as executive chairman for the shared housing startup Danke Apartment. The Beijing-based startup just raised $500 million in a Series C led by Alibaba’s fintech arm, Ant Financial, and US-based investment firm, Tiger Global Management.