SAN FRANCISCO — Twitter.com is blocked in China, but that doesn’t mean the company behind it is forgoing the potential business opportunities. Kathy Chen, who has two decades of experience in the Chinese tech industry, joined the flock as Twitter’s managing director for China, the company announced Thursday.
Chen will lead Twitter’s efforts to cater to its advertisers, influencers and other business partners in China. Twitter grew its number of Chinese advertisers by more than 300 percent over the last year, according to the South China Morning Post. No baseline number was provided.
Expanding in China may not immediately mean adding to its already stalled user base, but it could help boost revenue by tapping Chinese marketers trying to reach its global, English-language user base. Twitter recorded a loss of $90 million on $710 million in revenue, a 48 percent increase year-over-year, last quarter.
“I’m really excited to find more ways to create value for our advertisers, enterprises, creators, influencers and our developers and partners as well,” Chen said in a video posted on Twitter.
— Twitter GCN (@TwitterGCN) April 15, 2016
Chen will not only work to bring in more ad dollars, but also to sign on more data licensing partners who are interested in Twitter’s data insights from over 500 million tweets sent per day. Data licensing has been one of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s areas of focus since returning as full-time CEO in October. Additionally, Twitter has worked to bring on more developers to use Twitter’s software development kit, which allows integrations with tweets and its ad product MoPub.
Prior to joining Twitter, Chen served as general manager of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise product group for its Asia-Pacific region. She spent nearly 10 years at Microsoft working in various positions for its business in China. Between roles, she worked at Cisco. She got her start in the early days of dot-com tech at 3Com Networking Technology, in 1997.
“She's got a real rich background in tech, so I’m sure they’re delighted to have her,” said Betsy Page Sigman, a professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. “The social media over in China is pretty deeply ingrained. But I think for businesses, they can market to the rest of the world that allows Twitter.”
While Twitter and Facebook have been blocked in China since 2009, people in China have taken advantage of their own localized social networks, including WeChat and Weibo. WeChat has more than 697 million monthly active users. Weibo advertises its more than 100 million daily users. These two networks are run by Tencent, China’s largest internet portal and investment holdings company.
American organizations partner with these Chinese networks to build their presence in China. For instance, the National Basketball Association partners with Tencent to stream live games and in fact just launched an app Thursday dedicated to statistics and game updates.
In China, “our focus is on our relationship with Tencent, which offers many of the same features and in many ways is the innovator in that space. For now, that means we’re pretty darned delighted to be in partnership with them,” NBA China CEO David Shoemaker told International Business Times.
Still, Facebook, Google and Twitter are trying to expand their reach in China. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been learning Mandarin and meeting with Chinese officials. Google has worked to provide localized versions of its services in China.
Twitter opened its offices in Hong Kong last year and launched a new Twitter account for Twitter Great China on Thursday.
Twitter is the best way to give live updates of your products & services, and share Chinese content in real-time, with a global audience.
— Kathy Chen (@kathychen2016) April 15, 2016