Friday, May 20, 2011

LinkedIn Went Public (yesterday)

LinkedIn hit the public market yesterday looking to raise $274 million. Seems like they did alright as the stock went from an opening of $45 up to $122.70 to end at $94.25. ) For the record NONE of Uncle Howie’s money was used) for what many people call an online rolodex that is not too bad. This gives LinkedIn a Profit to Earnings ratio of 554. Now compare that to the average ratios of say Apple which is 15. Yet I like where LinkedIn is standing as how they plan to make money. How much the stock is worth is another question.

So, what exactly is LinkedIn's business? Now that is a good question, that is aside from an online rolodex?

For me ( ) it is a B2B Social Media Marketing App that has given me some rather nice connections but I have not hit “gold” there yet, but there is “color” so I keep panning for gold on the site.

Last year it generated $243 million in revenue through the first nine months of the year from three categories: recruiting, advertising, and subscriptions. The bulk of the revenue comes from recruiting, or in LinkedIn's phrasing, "hiring solutions." If you have ever tried to post a job opening you have come across this asking for money feature. I guess it takes in more money than I might have thought, but then I can see lots of head hunters in my list of “friends” and in the groups I am in.

Basic Description: LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site intended for professionals. When users join, they create a profile that summarizes their professional expertise and accomplishments. LinkedIn was officially founded in May 2003 by Reid Hoffman and founding team members from PayPal and (Allen Blue, Eric Ly, Jean-Luc Vaillant, Lee Hower, Konstantin Guericke, Stephen Beitzel, David Eves, Ian McNish, Yan Pujante, and Chris Saccheri). Its current CEO is Jeff Weiner, was previously a Yahoo executive. According to its Web site, LinkedIn has over 80 million members in over 200 countries. The site is available in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Company Background: Founder Reid Hoffman, previously CEO of LinkedIn, is now Chairman of the Board. Dipchand Nishar is Vice President of Products. LinkedIn is headquartered in Mountain View, California, with offices in Omaha, Chicago, New York and London. It is funded by Greylock, Sequoia Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners and the European Founders Fund. LinkedIn reached profitability in March 2006.

On June 17, 2008, Sequoia Capital, Greylock Partners, and other venture capital firms purchased a 5% stake in the company for $53 million, giving the company a post-money valuation of approximately $1 billion.

In June 2010, LinkedIn announced it would be opening up a European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland.

On July 28, 2010, Tiger Global Management LLC purchased a 1% stake in the company at a valuation of approximately $2 billion.

On August 4, 2010, LinkedIn announced Mspoke acquisition. This is the company's first acquisition for an undisclosed amount. This acquisition aims to help LinkedIn users do more than just find a job, increase users' activity and improve its 1% premium subscription ratio.

Membership: With 80 million users, LinkedIn is ahead of its competitors Viadeo (;Fb%3Atopmenu%3BFe%3AL2%2Bdrop_see%3B just found it so just listed myself) (30 million) and XING ( but don’t work the site) (9 million). The membership on LinkedIn grows by a new member every second or so. About half of the members are in the United States and 11 million are from Europe. With 3 million users, India is the fastest-growing country as of 2009. The Netherlands has the highest adoption rate per capita outside the US at 30%. LinkedIn recently reached 4 million users in UK and 1 million in Spain.

Main Features: The purpose of the site is to allow registered users to maintain a list of contact details of people they know and trust in business. The people in the list are called Connections. Users can invite anyone (whether a site user or not) to become a connection.

This list of connections can then be used in a number of ways:

> A contact network is built up consisting of their direct connections, the connections of each of their connections (termed second-degree connections) and also the connections of second-degree connections (termed third-degree connections). This can be used to gain an introduction to someone a person wishes to know through a mutual, trusted contact.

It can then be used to find jobs, people and business opportunities recommended by someone in one's contact network.

> Employers can list jobs and search for potential candidates.

> Job seekers can review the profile of hiring managers and discover which of their existing contacts can introduce them.

> Users can post their own photos and view photos of others to aid in identification.

Users can now follow different companies and can get notification about the new joining and offers available.

> Users can save (i.e. bookmark) jobs which they would like to apply for.

> The "gated-access approach" (where contact with any professional requires either a preexisting relationship or the intervention of a contact of theirs) is intended to build trust among the service's users. LinkedIn participates in EU's International Safe Harbor Privacy Principles.

LinkedIn also allows users to research companies with which they may be interested in working. When typing the name of a given company in the search box, statistics about the company are provided. These may include the ratio of female to male employees, the percentage of the most common titles/positions held within the company, the location of the company's headquarters and offices, or a list of present and former employees.

The feature LinkedIn Answers, similar to Yahoo! Answers, allows users to ask questions for the community to answer. This feature is free and the main difference from the latter is that questions are potentially more business-oriented, and the identity of the people asking and answering questions is known.

The searchable LinkedIn Groups (my personal favorite feature) feature allows users to establish new business relationships by joining alumni, industry, or professional and other relevant groups. LinkedIn groups can be created in any subjects and by any member of LinkedIn. Some groups are specialized groups dealing with a narrow domain or industry whereas others are very broad and generic in nature.

Another LinkedIn feature is LinkedIn Polls. A mobile version of the site was launched in February 2008 which gives access to a reduced feature set over a mobile phone. The mobile service is available in six languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish.

In mid-2008, LinkedIn launched LinkedIn DirectAds as a form of sponsored advertising.

In October, 2008, LinkedIn revealed plans to opening its social network of 30 million professionals globally as a potential sample for business-to-business research. And, in doing so it's testing a potential social-network revenue model-research that to some appears more promising than advertising.

In October, 2008, LinkedIn enabled an "applications platform" that allows other online services to be embedded within a member's profile page. For example, among the initial applications were an Amazon Reading List that allows LinkedIn members to display books they are reading, a connection to Tripit, and a Six Apart, WordPress and TypePad application that allows members to display their latest blog postings within their LinkedIn profile.

In November, 2010, LinkedIn allowed businesses to list products and services on company profile pages; it also permitted LinkedIn members to "recommend" products and services and write reviews.

Larson Notes & Satire: Well that is the scoop on LinkedIn. So are you going to have 1 scoop or 2, or are you just on a diet? Did you / are you going to buy stock? As for me? You do what you want with your money but I am going to keep investing my company.

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Howard Larson
Larson & Associates
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