While China is the country everyone wants to get a piece of these days - the two major Internet giants in the world - namely, Google and Facebook - face major hurdles with the government's insidious "firewall" and its strict censorship regulations.
Renren, on the other hand is China's own home-grown version of Facebook and as such is allotted more leniency than a foreign company. Microsoft however might be said to lack the social media gene, a criticism that up till now was often reserved for Google and its inability to create its own social network. Now with Google+ scaling well, it looks like MSN has just slipped into those shoes.
Last month, there were rumblings throughout the blogosphere that Microsoft might be covertly developing a social network under the code name "Tulalip." In my previous post, titled, "Is Tulalip Microsoft's Seward Folly," I theorized that Microsoft might be reacting to the sudden popularity of Google+ and its own obvious omission from the playing field.
Already, with an albeit small foothold in China, MSN China has made overtures to partner with Baidu, China's answer to Google. So it made sense when news broke out of Shanghai on August 24, that Renren had also acquiesced to MSN's advances and would be signing an agreement to collaborate on joint social networking initiatives.
According to an MSN press release, the two firms will share a wide range of applications and services across both of their platforms, including instant messaging, unified account log-in, content synchronization, and the ability to search for new followers. The new partnership could help Microsoft expand its users base for MSN
Messenger beyond its 14 million registered users - as Renren's followers have scaled to 124 million active users.
When Renren entertained an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in early May, forecasters thought their opening bid of $US14 would ramp up significantly in the short-term. Unfortunately, they were wrong as the stock fell to an all-time low of US$6.78 on June 16. When the economy received another blow during the US's debt ceiling debates, it has had a hard time scaling back up to double digits. However when the MSN/Renren agreement hit the airwaves, as of closing on August 24, the stock ended the day at US$7.38 (for more on this topic, see my previous post titled, "China's Facebook Launches Social Credit Card While It Slides On Stock Exchange.")
So while the graphic novel, "Facebucks & Dumb F*cks" satirizes Google for lacking the "social media gene," only to have Google+ potentially prove them wrong, they might have been dismissing the other Internet giant as well. At this juncture, Facebucks (aka Facebook) and Mark Zuckerberg (aka Z-Man) might also be considering Microsoft and Renren as formidable foes in the very near future. Your thoughts readers?
Page from Facebucks & Dumb F*cks graphic novel