Infographic: American Companies That Failed in China
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American Companies That Failed in China

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American Companies That Failed in China

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American Companies That Failed in China

For decades, China has been a top priority for American companies looking to expand.

This is because the country’s middle class is simply enormous, growing from 3.1% to 50.8% of the country’s total population between the years 2000 and 2018. According to Brookings, there are now at least 700 million people in China’s middle class, and this group has never had more disposable income to spend on consumer goods and services.

Despite the size and potential of the market, China is not an easy place for foreign businesses to enter. As this infographic shows, many of America’s biggest names eventually admitted defeat.

Companies by Tenure

The following table lists the tenures of every company included in the graphic.

It’s worth noting that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, still maintains a physical presence in China. Google’s services were banned by the Chinese government in 2010.

CompanyEnter DateExit DateTenure in months
eBayJuly 2003December 200641
AmazonAugust 2004July 2019178
Yahoo!September 1999November 2021266
Best BuyMay 2006March 201158
The Home DepotDecember 2006September 201269
GoogleJanuary 2006March 201050
Forever 21 (1st attempt)June 2008June 200912
Forever 21 (2nd attempt)December 2011April 201988
Forever 21 (3rd attempt)August 2021OngoingOngoing
GrouponMarch 2011June 201215
UberJuly 2014August 201625
Macy'sAugust 2015December 201840
LinkedInFebruary 2014October 202192

Dates were gathered from various media reports and sources. There may be small deviations from when a company actually entered or exited.

The reasons for why these companies withdrew are surprisingly similar, and can be broken down into two broad categories.

Retailers Fail to Adapt

Failing to adapt to the cultural differences of Chinese consumers is a common mistake. Here’s how two American retailers learned this lesson the hard way.

Best Buy

Best Buy struggled because Chinese consumers were not willing to pay a premium for brand-name electronics. Local retailers could often source similar (or counterfeit) goods for much cheaper, and undercut Best Buy’s prices.

“Why buy a Sony DVD player or Nokia phone at Best Buy when you can pay less for the exact same product at a local store?”
– Shaun Rein, China Market Research Group

Best Buy also made the mistake of bringing over its large flagship stores, which were out of reach for most consumers. Due to severe traffic congestion, locals preferred smaller shops that were closer to home.

Home Depot

The Home Depot expanded into China around the same time as Best Buy, but unfortunately it was another cultural mismatch.

Home Depot failed to acknowledge that “do it yourself” repairs are not a strong cultural match for China. Labor costs are relatively low, so rather than do the work themselves, many homeowners prefer to rather hire someone else to do it. On the other side of the equation, the American brand failed to win over contractors doing the repairs and renovations.

The Home Depot’s product offerings were also left unchanged from America, making them a poor match for local tastes. As a point of comparison, IKEA has had a presence in China since 1998, and continues to open new stores to this day.

Tech Firms Clash with Regulators

Uber’s experiences in China make a good case study on how American tech firms struggle to succeed in Asia’s biggest economy.

For starters, breaking into the Chinese market was incredibly expensive. Uber spent billions on subsidies to attract customers and drivers, and losses were quickly piling up. To make matters worse, domestic rivals like DiDi were also handing out subsidies.

On the operational side, Uber ran into several hurdles. To avoid issues with China’s data localization laws, the company needed servers on Chinese soil. Its navigation provider, Google Maps, also had limited accuracy in the country. This left Uber with no choice but to partner with Baidu, a Chinese tech company.

The final straw, however, was likely a set of impending regulations which targeted the ride-hailing industry. Under these rules, Uber risked losing control of its data, and would need both provincial and national regulatory approvals for its activities. Even further, subsidies would also no longer be allowed.

Uber realized that doing business in China was unsustainable, but its exit wasn’t exactly a failure. In 2016, Uber sold its assets to rival DiDi and took an 18.8% stake in the company. Ironically, DiDi is now embroiled in a conflict with Chinese regulators over its listing on the NYSE.

The Tech Fallout Continues

Since Uber’s departure, the Chinese government has increased their grip over the tech industry. This has driven more American firms out of the country, including Yahoo and LinkedIn, which is now owned by Microsoft.

Both firms announced their withdrawals in 2021 and were rather clear about why they made the decision. Yahoo cited its commitment to a “free and open” internet, while LinkedIn says its decision was due to a “considerably more difficult operating environment and higher regulatory requirements”.

Given the geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China, companies that generate data (often seen as a national security concern) are likely to continue facing regulatory hurdles.

Outside of tech, China is still a massive opportunity for American businesses. By 2027, the country’s middle class is expected to reach 1.2 billion people, or one quarter of the global total.

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Technology

Ranked: The Top 50 Most Visited Websites in the World

In this visualization, we rank the top 50 websites that receive the most internet traffic, from Google to CNN.

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Ranked: The Top 50 Most Visited Websites in the World

Estimates vary, but there are upwards of two billion websites in existence in 2023.

If we were to rank all of these websites according to their traffic numbers, we would see a classic power law distribution. At the low end, the vast majority of these websites would be inactive, receiving little to no traffic. On the upper end of the ranking though, a handful of websites receive the lion’s share of internet traffic.

This visualization, using data from SimilarWeb, takes a look at the 50 websites that currently sit at the top of the ranking.

Which Websites Get the Most Traffic?

Topping the list of most-visited websites in the world is, of course, Google. With over 3.5 billion searches per day, Google has cemented its position as the go-to source for information on the internet. But Google’s dominance doesn’t stop there. The company also owns YouTube, the second-most popular website in the world. Together, Google and YouTube have more traffic than the next 48 websites combined.

The power of YouTube, in particular, is sometimes not fully understood. The video platform is the second largest search engine in the world after Google. As well, YouTube has the second highest duration-of-visit numbers in this top 50 ranking. (First place goes to the Chinese video sharing website, Bilibili.)

But Google and YouTube aren’t the only big players on the internet. Other websites in the top 50 ranking include social media giants Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. In particular, TikTok has seen a surge in popularity in recent years and is now one of the most popular social media platforms in the world.

Here’s the full top 50 ranking table form:

RankWebsiteMonthly TrafficCategoryCountry
#1google.com85.1BSearch Engines🇺🇸 U.S.
#2youtube.com33.0BStreaming & Online TV🇺🇸 U.S.
#3facebook.com17.8BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#4twitter.com6.8BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#5instagram.com6.1BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#6baidu.com5.0BSearch Engines🇨🇳 China
#7wikipedia.org4.8BDictionaries & Encyclopedias🇺🇸 U.S.
#8yandex.ru3.4BSearch Engines🇷🇺 Russia
#9yahoo.com3.3BNews & Media Publishers🇺🇸 U.S.
#10whatsapp.com2.9BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#11xvideo.com2.8BAdult🇨🇿 Czechia
#12amazon.com2.6BMarketplace🇺🇸 U.S.
#13pornhub.com2.5BAdult🇨🇦 Canada
#14xnxx.com2.3BAdult🇫🇷 France
#15live.com2.1BEmail🇺🇸 U.S.
#16yahoo.co.jp2.1BNews & Media Publishers🇯🇵 Japan
#17netflix.com2.0BStreaming & Online TV🇺🇸 U.S.
#18tiktok.com1.8BSocial Media Networks🇨🇳 China
#19docomo.ne.jp1.8BTelecommunications🇯🇵 Japan
#20reddit.com1.7BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#21office.com1.6BProg. & Developer Software🇺🇸 U.S.
#22linkedin.com1.6BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#23dzen.ru1.4BFaith & Beliefs🇷🇺 Russia
#24samsung.com1.4BConsumer Electronics🇰🇷 S. Korea
#25vk.com1.4BSocial Media Networks🇷🇺 Russia
#26xhamster.com1.3BAdult🇨🇾 Cyprus
#27turbopages.org1.3BNews & Media Publishers🇷🇺 Russia
#28mail.ru1.2BEmail🇷🇺 Russia
#29naver.com1.2BNews & Media Publishers🇰🇷 S. Korea
#30bing.com1.2BSearch Engines🇺🇸 U.S.
#31microsoftonline.com1.1BProg. & Developer Software🇺🇸 U.S.
#32discord.com1.1BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#33twitch.tv1.1BGaming & Accessories🇺🇸 U.S.
#34bilibili.com1.0BAnimations & Comics🇨🇳 China
#35pinterest.com1.0BSocial Media Networks🇺🇸 U.S.
#36zoom.us985.9MComputers Electronics & Tech🇺🇸 U.S.
#37weather.com985.7MWeather🇺🇸 U.S.
#38qq.com907.1MNews & Media Publishers🇨🇳 China
#39microsoft.com902.3MProg. & Developer Software🇺🇸 U.S.
#40msn.com870.8MNews & Media Publishers🇺🇸 U.S.
#41globo.com840.1MNews & Media Publishers🇧🇷 Brazil
#42duckduckgo.com839.0MSearch Engines🇺🇸 U.S.
#43roblox.com795.7MGaming & Accessories🇺🇸 U.S.
#44quora.com775.9MDictionaries & Encyclopedias🇺🇸 U.S.
#45news.yahoo.co.jp749.1MNews & Media Publishers🇯🇵 Japan
#46ebay.com728.0MMarketplace🇺🇸 U.S.
#47aajtak.in724.1MNews & Media Publishers🇮🇳 India
#48nytimes.com702.2MNews & Media Publishers🇺🇸 U.S.
#49realsrv.com688.0MAdult🇺🇸 U.S.
#50cnn.com684.9MNews & Media Publishers🇺🇸 U.S.

Notable companies that have fallen out of the top 50 since our last version of this visualization are Walmart and PayPal. Notable entrants into the top 50 are Samsung and the New York Times.

The Geography of the 50 Most-Visited Websites

The United States is still home base for many of the world’s biggest websites, taking up 30 spots on this ranking. Of these 30 websites, half are operated by Big Tech companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Alphabet, Meta, and Netflix.

Russia, China, Japan, and South Korea round out the top five.

Top 50 Websites by country
View static image

Things get interesting in the “other” category, which includes six websites. Two spots are taken up by Aaj Tak and Globo, which are large media publications in India and Brazil, respectively.

The remaining four websites—XVideos, PornHub, XHamster, and XNXX—specialize in adult content, and are located in a variety of countries. These are often referred to as “tube sites” since they are built on the YouTube model.

Realsrv, the only adult-oriented site in the top 50 located in the U.S., is interesting to delve into as well, since it’s far from a household name. The website essentially supports advertising efforts by redirecting users away from the content they were viewing over to another page (generally premium adult content). This is one of the key ways that adult websites earn revenue.

Where does this data come from?

Source: SimilarWeb

Notes: Websites listed include “all meaningful subdomains”, and categories in the graphic follow SimilarWeb’s categorization system. This is the third version of this graphic. As with previous versions, we aim to use data from November for the sake of consistency and to avoid seasonal fluctuations in traffic. One important detail to point out is that website traffic does not include app traffic, which is why popular platforms like WeChat don’t appear in this ranking.

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