‘Chinese LinkedIn? Ushi partners with US business group

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A employee is seen at the Ushi Office in Shanghai. Photo - Aly Song/Reuters

Ushi, a fast growing Chinese social networking service connecting white-collar professionals and entrepreneurs, is joining hands with Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG).

The service is gaining popularity by helping China’s white collar professionals and entrepreneurs mingle via mobile phones and PCs, making it easier to find new customers, jobs, experts, and contacts.

Ushi has progressed quite a lot since its inception. The number of members doubled to 2 million. This includes 12,000 chief executive officers of thousands of companies and around 5,000 other executives. The network claims 75% of venture capitals active in China are also in Ushi?s network. However, membership is only through invitation-only at the moment.

Ushi intends to be the Linkedin of China. It was officially launched in October 2010. Apart from?Dominic Penaloza, the other founder is?Quentin Zhang, a former Tianji product manager.

Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG) is a US-based marketplace for business expertise. It entered into China?s nascent professional networking space by taking a minority stake in Ushi, a Chinese version of LinkedIn.

GLG?s investment came as part of a recent $3 million financing round for Ushi, which comes on top of $1.5 million the Chinese company raised in an earlier funding drive. GLG stated in a press release on Friday that it plans to partner with Ushi in developing its sites, Ushi.cn and Ushi Answers.

Professional networking sites are still nascent in China, whereas other forms of social media such as micro-blogging have expanded. The sites began to gain attention because they offer marketers access to the country?s growing white-collar elite.

While the partnership with GLG may boost Ushi?s chances of eventually becoming the LinkedIn of China, the company faces stiff competition in the world?s largest Internet market, including from LinkedIn itself. LinkedIn stated in June that it has over one million users in China despite not having set up operations in the country. Another Paris-based professional networking company Viadeo also claims to manage 6 million users to its subsidiary Tianji. Ushi also has competition from Jingwei, a site launched jointly by Nasdaq-listed ?Chinese Facebook? Renren and jobs website Zhaopin.

Whether or not Ushi ends up beating the competition, the new partnership is likely to bring a new lease of life to Ushi.

Sources: technode.com, Wall Street Journal

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