The Professional Network
One year after its IPO, LinkedIn is changing the face of work.
During the time it takes to read this sentence, LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) will have added more than a half-dozen new members. That kind of warp-speed growth has netted the nine-year-old social network for professionals a reported 150 million members (and counting).
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CEO Jeff Weiner isn’t complaining, but he says that such rapid expansion brings its own set of challenges. “Managing a hyper-growth company is like sending a rocket into space,” says Weiner, 42. “If you’re off by a few inches at launch, you’re going to be off by miles in orbit. So you have to put a firm foundation in place. Sometimes that’s about focusing on the less glamorous stuff like infrastructure and process.”
While most social networks exist to let their members share their personal lives, LinkedIn is all about fostering professional connections. Members use LinkedIn to find jobs, recruit workers, consult experts, promote products and ferret out business opportunities. The site has become a true global phenomenon — about 60 percent of its members live outside the U.S., and it is currently available in 17 languages. LinkedIn counts executives from all 2011 Fortune 500 companies as members and says 82 of the Fortune 100 use LinkedIn to recruit workers.
The Buzz @ LinkedIn
For 2011, LinkedIn reported a 115 percent revenue increase over 2010, to $522.2 million from $243.1 million. In the process, it passed Myspace LLC to become the No. 2 social networking service in the U.S. as measured by membership, notes data consultancy ComScore Inc. “It’s astounding how fast LinkedIn is growing,” says Mark May,* equity research analyst at Barclays Capital, the investment banking arm of Barclays PLC (NYSE: BCS). “Their services targeted at the corporate recruiting space are unique and disruptive to the industry.”
LinkedIn’s Mountain View, Calif., campus, which has expanded to 3 1/2 large office buildings to accommodate a workforce that has more than tripled over the past two years, pulsates with a palpable buzz. Employees huddle over laptops in an outdoor courtyard, chatting about new initiatives. Lobby signs alert workers to on-site power yoga classes. A monitor in one building displays an image of the Earth, pinpointing the location of each new LinkedIn member as he or she signs up: a sales associate in Florida, a factory hand in Ghana, a postgraduate student in Scotland. A square of red tape on the floor outside one office marks an area that requires anyone who walks through to give a fellow employee a spirited high five.
Weiner’s energetic personality matches his company’s exuberance. Co-workers say Weiner tempers his natural enthusiasm with an intense focus on the company’s unrealized potential. The CEO says he’s managed to reduce his business philosophy to just two words: “Next Play.”
*Mark May is not an officer, director or member of an advisory committee at LinkedIn. He does not own positions in LinkedIn.