LinkedIn is now using the Japanese language and a base in Tokyo
Pierre Leblanc and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
LinkedIn Corp. is hoping to further expand in Asia and after first entering this continent in 2009 by focusing on English speaking areas, this is set to change for Japan because now the service is available in Japanese. The head person of LinkedIn’s operations in Asia is Arvind Rajan and he clearly believes that you have huge potential in Japan despite cultural barriers.
The growth rate at LinkedIn remains buoyant but this company is in no rush to enter new markets. Therefore, the decision was well thought about before deciding to move into Japan and creating a service in Japanese.
Not surprisingly, the office of LinkedIn is based in Tokyo but in all fairness Osaka is also a mega-city and the region which encompasses Kobe, Kyoto and Osaka is a huge economic powerbase. However, Tokyo was chosen and this follows on from opening a base in Singapore earlier in the year.
In many ways while LinkedIn is hoping for a breakthrough in Japan, the company is also going to utilize the ups and downs of this new venture. Therefore, when further international expansion begins it is believed that much will be learnt from the experience in Japan.
This is debatable because the Japanese market is unique and clearly if everything goes smoothly then it won’t be a problem. However, if things don’t pan-out so well then this may be related to the business thinking, close ties between companies, how individuals feel about being more open with information and Japanese workers, on the whole, stay longer at companies.
Therefore, it will be fascinating to see how LinkedIn does in Japan. After all, Nokia and Motorola found out the hard way that the market in Japan is very complex. Indeed, Apple struggled until the advanced 3DS system turned things around. Also, Google is still playing catch-up in Japan and it isn’t only in the land of the rising sun because in Taiwan Google is even further behind Yahoo.
Currently the membership of LinkedIn is approximately 120 million and around 20 million members are based in Asia. Obviously, LinkedIn focused on nations like Australia and India because of the English language and this is what makes the new venture so fascinating.
This applies to linguistic issues, knowledge of LinkedIn in Japan amongst internet users, marketing and a host of other factors. Also, will LinkedIn work closely with another Japanese company in a field which will enhance the profile of LinkedIn and open up new doors?
Arvind Rajan commented that “As we think about the region as a whole, we see tremendous opportunities for growth” and “Our penetration levels in Asia, except for those English-speaking countries, are still relatively low.” He also said that “We know that if we build a successful membership in Japan, we’ll have companies, we’ll have advertisers using LinkedIn.”
This approach is very level-headed and LinkedIn isn’t focused on revenue initially because more important is building up the membership.
Obviously different cultural factors will make it difficult at first with regards to developing the membership. However, LinkedIn is certainly entering a new market with the knowledge of this complexity. Also, because of no added pressure related to generating capital then all the right attention will be focused on weak areas.