While Facebook fiddles with its Timeline algorithm while trying to make money, and Instagram tries to be more like Facebook, LinkedIn has a much grander vision. It’s one that could help make the the global workforce more efficient, and even have a hand in boosting the economy by making sure the right people get the right jobs and the right news. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner spoke at Business Insider’s IGNITION conference yesterday, outlining the company’s ambitious 10 year plan.
Taking a page from Facebook, Weiner’s plan revolves around what he calls an “economic graph” that “maps the global underpinnings of the global economy.” The network already boasts 187 million members and is adding 2 every second, according to its quarterly earnings report, with 63 percent of its userbase outside of the U.S. One of the site’s biggest benefits is the quality of its information. Users use their real names and real resumes. They’re an active bunch as well. Weiner says there are over 50 million endorsements made every week, a feature that allows members to give each other personal recommendations. With 3.3 billion professions around the world, the site has a lot of room to grow.
“The idea is to remove as much friction from that graph as possible,” Weiner said. By doing so, Weiner hopes his site can better facilitate the flow of human capital towards their most efficient opportunity. The goal is to have every company in the world using LinkedIn to not only hire but also to make sure their employees are equipped with the necessary skills by helping them develop “just-in-time curriculum to train the workforce for the jobs of tomorrow.” If the plan is successful, Weiner believes the company could ultimately have a positive impact on the economy by getting the right people to the right positions.
Beyond helping users get jobs, LinkedIn has quietly turned into a publishing behemoth. The site generates news for its users based on their industry and connections. “We want to get the right information in front of the right member at the right time,” Weiner said. “There’s over one million unique domain buttons on the Internet with LinkedIn share buttons.” The site’s executive editor Dan Roth oversees LinkedIn Today, which aggregates the world’s top business headlines. “The stories that have a tiny little bit of fire, we pour gasoline on them,” Roth told Business Insider. “When people start sharing your stories or commenting on stories, our algorithm starts noticing it.”
It’s working. Forbes contributor Haydn Shaughnessy wondered in April if LinkedIn Today was “the perfect morning newspaper.” “It’s taken me about 15 years to find a good news aggregator,” Shaughnessy wrote. “Going back over the years there have been a variety of them pushing junk into the inbox but I have found happiness with Linkedin Today.” The service’s success amongst users means traffic has grown 45 percent quarter on quarter, so much that BI calls Roth the “Matt Drudge of business news.”
And LinkedIn is killing it, blowing away third quarter expectations on revenues of $252 million, putting the company on pace to earn $944 million for the year. Unlike Facebook and a slew of other underperformers from the latest bubble like Zynga and Groupon, LinkedIn has long been a darling among Wall Street investors. Where Facebook IPO flamed out — although to be fair, Zuckerberg is doing much better these days — LinkedIn priced its IPO in at $45 and and immediately doubled in value its first day. While it means money was left on the table, the move went a long way in earning the trust of long-term, blue-chip investors. The firm is currently trading at $107, giving the social network a valuation of $11.57 billion.
But the competition is also moving in. Facebook is making big moves into the space, already boasting over a million jobs listings and Weibo, China’s Twitter, is experimenting with their own professional network aptly called ‘Wei Renmai,’ which roughly translates to ‘Weibo Connections.’ LinkedIn, however, has a huge headstart. According to an internal poll, 78 percent of people use LinkedIn for work and everything else for play.
The company is also financially well positioned, with an 85 percent gross profit margin, compared to Facebook’s 75 percent and Google’s 65 percent. That means the company’s day to day costs are relatively low. That the company only has a 2 percent profit margin means most of their earnings are being reinvested into making Weiner’s grand vision a reality.
Follow Alec on Twitter: @sfnuop