LinkedIn to Shut Down Service in China, Citing ‘Challenging’ Environment


In one letter last month, Senator Rick Scott, Republican of Florida, wrote to Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s chief executive, demanding to know why it had censored the accounts of three journalists. Mr. Scott called the censorship “gross appeasement and an act of submission to Communist China.”

LinkedIn’s business has also grown, with China contributing minimally. Since Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in 2016, revenue from the business has tripled. Mr. Nadella told investors in July that LinkedIn’s revenue had surpassed $10 billion in annual sales, up 27 percent from the previous year.

LinkedIn declined to comment beyond its announcement.

While Microsoft has tried to build a market in China for more than a decade, it has had only modest success. Last year, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, said the country accounted for less than 2 percent of its revenue.

Microsoft Windows and Office are common in China, but a large number are using pirated copies. The company has tried to overcome the issue, by hosting its software online and by tapping a major Chinese military contractor to help it offer an operating system better trusted by China’s government. Microsoft’s Bing search engine, one of China’s last remaining portals to the global internet, briefly appeared to have been blocked by government censors in 2019, even though the service directed users in China to state media accounts on disputed topics like the Dalai Lama.

It remains unclear precisely what will happen to the millions of Chinese user accounts on LinkedIn. In the past, when foreign internet firms have stopped offering locally censored services, their sites have been quickly blocked by the government.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.