股价下跌是多重负面因素叠加的结果。不可否认，当初人人进行IPO时，它自己的宣传同样有点过火。当你把“中国”和“Facebook”这两个词放在同一个句子中，用“的”连接起来，至少会吸引一部分投资者不问青红皂白便立即买入。毕竟，中国拥有全球数量最多的互联网用户，国内社交网站仍处于发展初期。根据美国互联网流量监测机构comScore Media Metrix的数据，中国只有38.4%的互联网用户使用社交网站，低于全球的69.8%和美国的81.4%。显然，中国社交网站存在巨大的发展空间。
FORTUNE -- Joseph Chen chuckles a bit when asked what the hype surrounding Facebook's announced plans for an initial public offering means for the company he founded and runs, Renren Inc., the so called "Facebook of China." He chuckles because the question is more complicated than it seems.
In the week prior to Facebook's confirmation that it was, in fact, going public later this year, Renren's (RENN) stock (its ADRs trade on the NYSE) leapt by more than 60%. That had to come as a relief to Chen, because ever since it went public last May -- when the stock hit a peak of $24 just after it's IPO -- it s been on an escalator ride straight down, hitting a 52-week low of just $3.20 last month.
The stock price plunge was the result of a perfect storm. There was, let's face it, a bit of hype surrounding its own IPO. When you put the words "Facebook" and "China" together in the same sentence, separated by the word "of," at least a percentage of the investing universe is going to buy first and ask questions later. After all, there are more Internet users in China than anywhere else, and social networking sites are still in their infancy. According to comScore Media Metrix, 38.4% of Internet users in China engage in social networking, compared to 69.8% globally and 81.4% in the United States. Clearly, there is huge room for growth here.
But small cap China stocks were savaged in U.S. markets last year, mainly because of growing concerns about the credibility of their public financial disclosures. Just days before Renren's IPO, Citron Research, whose work is widely read by short sellers, issued a report questioning the numbers of a company whose CFO was also serving on Renren's board as head of its audit committee. The executive, Derek Palaschuk, resigned from Renren's board, a move that several venture capitalist Renren investors welcomed.
Nonetheless, the intensifying focus among short sellers on Chinese small caps has basically led to a rout in the market for them, whether their numbers are legitimately questionable or not. They've been beaten down indiscriminately, Renren among them.
Still, there was more to the beat-down than just widespread nervousness over Chinese stocks. A misunderstanding of the Chinese Internet space in general, and social networking in particular, certainly played a part. Chen, 42, used the Facebook moment last week to try to explain his company and his business. The first thing outsiders need to understand, he and CFO Hui Huang stress, is that even though Facebook is famously blocked in China by the government, that doesn't mean the "Facebook of China" lacks competition.
It's quite the opposite, in fact. China's market for social networking sites is much more fragmented than it is in the United States, with any number of companies not normally identified as "Facebook clones" trying to ease into the space.
Sina.com (SINA), which runs China's pre-eminent micro-blogging site -- typically described as the "Twitter of China" -- is there. So too is Tencent, best known for its instant messaging service, QQ. It already operates a site called Qzone, which, it claims, has 481 million "active users" -- though analysts question what Tencent's definition of "active" is. Last fall, the company invested an undisclosed sum in another social networking site called Kaixin001, with which it intends to create a so-called "real name" site (which means, as with Renren, users are required to register using their real names, not some fake Internet handle). Kaixin's users, like Renren's, tend to be young, urban, and well educated. So when Chen says China's social networking market is "more competitive than the U.S.," he's right.