Facebook is reportedly looking to set up a sales office in China even though access to the social media site remains blocked in the country.
The U.S. company plans to open the office within a year so it can work with local companies keen to advertise on a global platform, reported Bloomberg, which cited sources familiar with the issue. It added that Facebook was in discussions to rent office space in Fortune Financial Center, located in Beijing's central business district, but remained undecided on whether to hire full-time staff or contractors to support the sales office.
If true, it would put the social media giant for the first time in China, where its service remains censored--though that has not stopped local users from accessing the site via VPN.
In an interview with ZDNet last year, Facebook's Asia-Pacific vice president Dan Neary said the company already works with local resellers to help Chinese businesses advertise their wares to a global audience via the website. "Our mission is to connect the world, and you'll realize you can't do that without China's population of 1.3 billion. Strategically, China continues to be something we think about," said Neary, who then declined to speculate if there would be a China-only version of Facebook to cater to the Asian economic giant.
According to the Bloomberg report, Facebook currently supports its Chinese clients via an office in Hong Kong. Quoting vice president Vaughn Smith who said: "Because of the rapid growth these [Chinese] businesses are achieving by using Facebook, we are of course exploring ways that we can provide even more support locally and may consider having a sales office in China in the future." He declined to provide details on a timeframe or location of a China office.
The social media giant currently has 1.28 billion monthly active users, 1.01 billion of whom access the site via their mobile devices. About 81.2 percent of its daily active users reside outside the U.S. and Canada.
Last year, Asia accounted for over 340 million active monthly users and was the site's largest as well as fastest-growing region. In Singapore, Facebook had 3.1 million monthly and 2.1 million daily users, making up 60 percent and about 40 percent, respectively, of the country's population. Two of the site's largest markets were in Asia: India, its second-largest after the U.S.; and Indonesia which ranked fourth, behind Brazil.