When I spoke at Facebook about In The Plex recently, rumors were swirling that the social networking giant was about to enter China, supposedly in a partnership with the search engine Baidu. So I made sure that my talk to a dining hall full of FB’ers included the cautionary tale of what happened when Google met China. (An excerpt of the saga as detailed in my book appeared in Fortune.)
Though similar in some ways — focus on engineering, full-on embrace of Internet values — Facebook and Google are quite different companies. Their China efforts will also undoubtedly vary. But some of the challenges that Facebook will encounter will be just as tricky as the ones Google faced. Those problems ultimately led to Google’s reconsideration of the enterprise.
So I suggest to Facebook that its leaders think hard before taking the leap.
Here’s some areas where Facebook must find good answers to tough questions before it makes that China leap.