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LinkedIn to cut 716 jobs and shut its China app amid ‘challenging’ economic climate

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: In this photo illustration, the LinkedIn app is seen on a mobile phone on January 11, 2021 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Edward Smith/Getty Images)

(CNN) — LinkedIn, the world’s largest social media platform for professionals, is cutting 716 positions and shutting down its jobs app in mainland China, the California-based company announced.

The decision was made amid shifts in customer behavior and slower revenue growth, CEO Ryan Roslansky said Monday in a letter to employees.

“As we guide LinkedIn through this rapidly changing landscape, we are making changes to our Global Business Organization and our China strategy that will result in a reduction of roles for 716 employees,” he said.

LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, has joined a slew of US tech companies that have made significant job cuts this year. Meta announced in March an additional 10,000 layoffs on top of mass layoffs announced in 2022. Amazon also said during the same month it would eliminate 9,000 positions, on the heels of the 18,000 roles the company announced it was cutting in January.

“As we plan for [the fiscal year of 2024], we’re expecting the macro environment to remain challenging,” Roslansky said. “We will continue to manage our expenses as we invest in strategic growth areas.”

As part of the move, LinkedIn will phase out InCareer, its app for mainland China, by August 9.

Roslansky cited “fierce competition” and “a challenging macroeconomic climate” as the reason for the shutdown.

LinkedIn will retain some presence in China, including providing services for companies operating there to hire and train employees outside the country, according to a company spokesperson.

LinkedIn is the last major Western social media app still operating in mainland China. Twitter, Facebook and Youtube have been banned in the country for more than a decade. Google left in early 2010.

China challenges

LinkedIn first entered China in 2014 by launching a localized version of its main app. But its moves to censor posts in the country, in accordance with Chinese laws, came under criticism.

In March 2021, LinkedIn had to suspend signups in China to ensure it was “in compliance with local law.” A few months later, it replaced that app with InCareer, which was focused solely on job postings, with no social networking features such as sharing or commenting.

The US social media site has faced tough competition in China. By 2021, it had more than 50 million members in the country, making it the company’s third biggest market after the United States and India. But it lagged behind local competitors such as Maimai.

Maimai was launched in 2013 and dubbed the Chinese version of LinkedIn. In a few years it surpassed LinkedIn to become the most popular professional networking platform in the country, with 110 million verified members. A major feature that powered its success was that it allowed users to post anonymously in a chat forum.

The operating environment in China has also become more challenging. Since Xi Jinping took power in 2012, he has tightened control over what can be said online and launched a series of crackdowns on the internet.

“While we’ve found success in helping Chinese members find jobs and economic opportunity, we have not found that same level of success in the more social aspects of sharing and staying informed,” LinkedIn wrote in an October 2021 blog post. “We’re also facing a significantly more challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China.”