Lessons from China – Joe Chen – MIT Club of Northern California

Join us for an intimate evening with CEO Joe Chen of Renren (NYSE: RENN), the Chinese social networking site often dubbed “The Facebook of China.” Joe will discuss what it takes to be successful in China – an intensely competitive, highly fragmented social networking sector.

To diversify Renren’s social platform revenues and grow his base beyond 147 million active users, Joe and his team recently launched and/or acquired Chinese equivalents of Zynga, YouTube, Tumblr, and Groupon. Joe will discuss the successes and challenges with these efforts, why he is now heavily investing in the mobile space, and how hardware platforms impact social networking.

Joe will also share his thoughts on where the “power of social” is transforming businesses, and how the financial services sector is already being disrupted. His first U.S. investment is in SoFi, a San Francisco startup transforming the student loan industry by leveraging the power of technology, community, and alumni investment capital. SoFi’s pool-to-pool business model provides alumni investors with a double bottom line return – allowing alumni to earn a return on their capital while also doing good. Joe invested personally within 10 minutes of meeting SoFi’s co-founder, Mike Cagney.

About Joe Chen and Renren: A pioneer of China’s internet industry, Joe Chen is the founder of Renren, China’s leading real name social networking internet platform. Besides Renren.com, its platform includes an online games site, the social commerce website Nuomi.com, and the video-sharing website 56.com. Joe holds a B.S. in Physics from the University of Delaware, an M.S. in Engineering from MIT, and a MBA from Stanford University.

About Jeff Yang: Jeff Yang writes the Tao Jones column for the Wall Street Journal Online, covering the convergence of global cultures and its impact on media, entertainment and technology. He can be heard regularly on “The Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC, NPR’s flagship station in New York. An author of five books, Jeff is a Harvard College alumnus. Twitter: @originalspin

About Mike Cagney and SoFi*: Mike Cagney is the co-founder and CEO of SoFi, whose innovative Community Loan Program brings a new party to the broken $1 trillion student loan industry – alumni. SoFi empowers alumni to provide student loan funding through their IRAs while earning an attractive financial return and making a positive difference in their community. Mike also co-founded Cabezon Investment Group, a global macro hedge fund. He holds an M.S. in Management from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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