By the standards of foreign internet companies in China, LinkedIn has been seen as a success. Under the guidance of Google veteran Derek Shen, LinkedIn China grew to 32 million registered users from four million in three years, on par with its biggest domestic rival Maimai. Mr. Shen led the launch of LinkedIn China’s mass-market mobile app, called Chitu. LinkedIn also appeared to have scored a victory in its dealings with the government when the company was allowed to continue storing users’ data outside China, even as tech firms such as Uber and Airbnb felt pressure to move data onshore.
But in the wake of Mr. Shen’s sudden departure at the end of June, his legacy is in doubt. Chitu hasn’t taken off, ranking 48th among business apps in China as of Thursday, according to App Annie. (In contrast, LinkedIn China’s flagship app ranked 21st, while local rival Maimai was fifth.) Meanwhile, the arrangement to maintain servers offshore appears uncertain following the adoption of a new cybersecurity law in China.