A worker at a Swedish insurance company was fired at the beginning of this year because she cried off sick but appeared online at Facebook. The story finally has its Chinese version. Deng Lei (not his real name), a team leader in an Internet Media company based in Xiamen, Fujian province, lost his job because he frequently logged in at Kaixin, the most popular Chinese SNS (Social Networking Service) website.
Deng had been working for the company for five years. At the beginning of this year, the director of the human resources department warned him that he was spotted spending time at www.kaixin001.com during work hours. After several warnings, he was fired.
Kaixin is said to be the Chinese Facebook. When Deng registered in the middle of last year, he discovered a game called "Trading Friends", in which you earned 500 yuan (in online points) for every person you referred to the site. In order to earn as much money as he could, he sent invitations to all his friends. Nearly all of them became members of the site and brought in their friends, too. Through this, and other games, Kaixin lured an army of members without spending a dime on advertising.
One week later, Deng found another game, "Fighting for Parking Lots", similar to "Parking War", in which members earned "money" for finding parking spaces.
"I checked every half an hour to move the car," says Deng, who reckoned that the more money he amassed, the more popular he would be among his friends. "I spoke to a colleague at work one day and asked her to share her parking lots with me. She was very surprised because we hadn't spoken to each other before. We've been friends ever since," he says.
Now Kaixin is the fastest-growing website in China. It has 20 million regular users and more than 700 million clicks per day. According to data released by Alexa, the Web information company, Kaixin has been the 12th most frequently visited website in China over the past few months, with visitors spending on average 37 minutes a day on it.
Alexa says 25 to 34-year-olds are greatly over-represented, especially college graduates who browse the site at work.
These facts have gradually given rise to a "Kaixin culture" in workplaces. Office workers like to swap stories about what they have achieved on the site and whenever they want a break, log in and cannot stop. Deng used to open his page every hour to check his parking lots.