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Why Facebook Can't Go to China Alone

Stocks in this article: FB RENN WB TWTR

The other possibility is Renren (RENN), China's social network that looks remarkably like Facebook.

Renren, which means "Everyone" in Chinese, is essentially the same as Facebook, in that it "enables users to connect and communicate with each other, share information, create user generated content, play online games, watch videos and enjoy a wide range of other features and services." The company also predicates itself on having people use their real names, something Facebook prided itself on until recently, when it announced it would be embracing anonymous login for apps, though Facebook would still know what apps you were logging into.

As of Dec. 31, 2013, Renren had approximately 206 million activated users with over 80% of user time accessing our services through mobile. That's a pittance compared to the 1.28 billion MAUs Facebook has, but Renren has access to much more in terms of not only user based, but advertising dollars as well.

At the end of the first-quarter, Facebook had 390 million monthly MAUs from Asia, despite not being allowed in Asia. Those 390 million monthly MAUs helped Facebook generate $354 million in revenue from the region, with $333 million coming from advertising, and $21 million in payments and other fees revenue. Facebook totaled $2.5 billion in revenue for the quarter, with $2.265 billion coming from advertising.

Of the three major continents, Asia is still Facebook's least lucrative region, when compared to Europe and the U.S. & Canada. Asian average revenue per user (ARPU) was 93 cents in the first quarter, compared to $2.44 for Europe and $5.85 in U.S. and Canada. The segment known as the rest of the world was Facebook's least lucrative region, generating only 70 cents in ARPU.

It's clear that China provides an enormous opportunity for Facebook and the company is approaching this with caution. Now, it's up to the Chinese to play nice, and allow the world's largest social network access into the country, something investors will no doubt 'like.'

Also See: Facebook Makes the Biggest Change to Mobile Ever

Also See: Facebook Earnings Live Blog Recap

Also See: Weibo IPO Is a Test for Twitter, Alibaba

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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