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LinkedIn links out of China with 716 roles for the chop

Basic InCareers app perfect candidate to be included in cost cutting

Microsoft's social network for suits, LinkedIn, announced on Tuesday that its localized Chinese app is shutting down and the company is embarking on a layoff process.

"As we guide LinkedIn through this rapidly changing landscape, we are making changes to our Global Business Organization (GBO) and our China strategy that will result in a reduction of roles for 716 employees," read a message from CEO Ryan Roslansky.

Roslansky cited "shifts in customer behavior and slower revenue growth" as reasons for the reorganization. He also said LinkedIn's Chinese business segment experienced some successes but encountered fierce competition and a challenging macroeconomic climate.

The location of the layoffs was not specified.

The message, originally sent as an email and later shared on the company website, said affected employees would be contacted today for a meeting with a team leader and HR, surely leading some to frantically back up their contact list and deal with some other loose ends.

The CEO said that even though LinkedIn was removing over 700 positions, it was adding 250 in certain operation segments beginning mid-May.

LinkedIn originally set up shop in China in 2014. The social media platform then reduced its presence in 2021, operating as an app called InCareers. At the time, the platform was facing domestic censorship laws and cited a "challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in China" as its reasons for mostly leaving.

The country was left with InCareers, which at one point was slated to be called InJobs. The localized version of the app is described as "a career development platform tailor-made for the Chinese professionals" and does not allow for user posting or sharing articles – only searching job listings.

Roslansky said LinkedIn will now focus on assisting companies operating in China to hire, market and train abroad.

"This will involve maintaining our Talent, Marketing, and Learning businesses, while phasing out InCareer, our local jobs app in China, by August 9, 2023," said the CEO.

For the year ahead, Roslansky said the company will manage expenses while investing in strategic growth areas.

"As we plan for FY24, we're expecting the macro environment to remain challenging," he added.

In other cost-cutting moves, LinkedIn said its Product & Engineering teams will "take the lead for our technology roadmap" and the Business Productivity team will be "sunsetted." The company is also planning on "removing layers, reducing management roles and broadening responsibilities to make decision's more quickly."

LinkedIn's layoffs add to a growing list in the tech industry that includes IBM, Google, Meta, Microsoft, Dell, Intel, Zoom and many more.

The platform's exit comes as other tech companies beat a retreat from China. Yahoo stopped providing email services last year; Amazon also announced it was closing its Kindle bookstore by the end of June; and Airbnb, fed up with lockdowns, closed everything last summer except an outbound travel-focused office.

More could be joining as local rules targeting foreign enterprises tighten, including through a revision of China's Anti-Espionage Law. State-sponsored media said this week that Beijing was cracking down on consultancy firms it considers hotbeds for espionage just a month after Micron was investigated for national security risks.

But if the presence of Apple, Qualcomm, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Abbott Laboratories, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Shell, Rio Tinto, and Singaporean sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings at the > 2023 China Development Forum are any indication, plenty will likely stay as long as they can. ®

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