LinkedIn /ˌlɪŋkt.ˈɪn/ is a business-oriented social networking service. Founded in December 2002 and launched on May 5, 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking. In 2006, LinkedIn increased to 20 million members. As of June 2013, LinkedIn reports more than 259 million acquired users in more than 200 countries and territories.
The site is available in 20 languages, including Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish,Danish, Romanian, Russian, Turkish, Japanese, Czech, Polish, Korean, Indonesian, Malay, and Tagalog. As of 2 July 2013,Quantcast reports LinkedIn has 65.6 million monthly unique U.S. visitors and 178.4 million globally, a number that as of 29 October 2013 has increased to 184 million. In June 2011, LinkedIn had 33.9 million unique visitors, up 63 percent from a year earlier and surpassing MySpace. LinkedIn filed for an initial public offering in January 2011 and traded its first shares on May 19, 2011, under the NYSE symbol “LNKD”.
LinkedIn’s CEO is Jeff Weiner, previously a Yahoo! Inc. executive. The company was founded by Reid Hoffman and founding team members from PayPal and Socialnet.com (Allen Blue, Eric Ly, Jean-Luc Vaillant, Lee Hower, Konstantin Guericke, Stephen Beitzel, David Eves, Ian McNish, Yan Pujante, and Chris Saccheri).
Founder Reid Hoffman, previously CEO of LinkedIn, is now Chairman of the Board. LinkedIn is headquartered in Mountain View, California, with offices in Omaha, Chicago, New York, London, and Dublin. It is funded by Sequoia Capital, Greylock, Bain Capital Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners and the European Founders Fund. LinkedIn reached profitability in March 2006. Through January 2011, the company had received a total of $103 million of investment.
In late 2003, Sequoia Capital led the Series A investment in the company. In June 2008, Sequoia Capital, Greylock Partners, and otherventure capital firms purchased a 5% stake in the company for $53 million, giving the company a post-money valuation of approximately $1 billion.
In 2010, LinkedIn opened an International Headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, received a $20 million investment from Tiger Global Management LLC at a valuation of approximately $2 billion, and announced its first acquisition, Mspoke, and improved its 1% premium subscription ratio. In October of that year Silicon Valley Insider ranked the company No. 10 on its Top 100 List of most valuable start ups. By December, the company was valued at $1.575 billion in private markets.
LinkedIn filed for an initial public offering in January 2011 and traded its first shares on May 19, 2011, under the NYSE symbol “LNKD”, price of IPO was $45 per share. Shares of LinkedIn, which rose as much as 171 percent in their first day of trade on the New York Stock Exchange, closed at $94.25, more than 109 percent above IPO price. Shortly after the IPO, the site’s underlying infrastructure was revised to allow accelerated revision-release cycles.
In 2011, LinkedIn earned $154.6 million in advertising revenue alone, surpassing Twitter, which earned $139.5 million. LinkedIn’s fourth-quarter 2011 earnings soared due to the company’s increase in success in the social media world.
In the spring 2012, LinkedIn leased 57,120 square feet on three floors of the One Montgomery Tower building in the Financial District of San Francisco, expanded to 135,000 square feet by 2014. In May 2012, LinkedIn announced its 2012 Q1 revenues were up 101% to $188.5 million compared to $93.9 million in Q1 2011, with net income increasing 140% over Q1 2011 to $5 million. Revenue for Q2 was estimated to be between $210 to $215 million.
In November 2012, LinkedIn released their third quarter earnings, reporting earnings-per-share of $0.22 on revenue of $252 million. As a result of these numbers, LinkedIn’s stock increased in value, trading at roughly $112 a share.
In July 2012, LinkedIn acquired 15 key Digg patents for $4 million including “click a button to vote up a story” patent.
|1||August 4, 2010||mspoke||Adaptive personalization of content||USA||$0.6 Million||LinkedIn Recommendations|||
|2||September 23, 2010||ChoiceVendor||Social B2B Reviews||USA||$3.9 Million||Rate and review B2B service providers|||
|3||January 26, 2011||CardMunch||Social Contacts||USA||$1.7 Million||Scan and import business cards|||
|4||October 5, 2011||Connected||Social CRM||USA||–||LinkedIn Connected|||
|5||October 11, 2011||IndexTank||Social search||USA||–||LinkedIn Search|||
|6||February 22, 2012||Rapportive||Social Contacts||USA||$15 Million ||–|||
|7||May 3, 2012||SlideShare||Social Content||USA||$119 Million||Give LinkedIn members a way to discover people through content|||
|8||April 11, 2013||Pulse||Web / Mobile newsreader||USA||$90 Million||Definitive professional publishing platform|||
|9||February 6, 2014||Bright||Job Matching||USA||$120 Million|||
|10||July 14, 2014||Newsle||Web application||USA||–||Allows users to follow real news about their Facebook friends, LinkedIn contacts, and public figures.|||
|11||July 22, 2014||Bizo||Web application||USA||$175 Million||Helps advertisers reach businesses and professionals|||
As of 2013, LinkedIn has more than 300 million members in over 200 countries and territories. It is significantly ahead of its competitors Viadeo (50 million) and XING(10 million). The membership grows by approximately two new members every second. With 20 million users, India has the fastest-growing network of users as of 2013.
|United States||93 million||29.90%|
|United Kingdom||14 million||22.41%|
User profile network
The basic functionality of LinkedIn allows users (workers and employers) to create profiles and “connections” to each other in an online social network which may represent real-world professional relationships. Users can invite anyone (whether a site user or not) to become a connection. However, if the invitee selects “I don’t know” or “Spam”, this counts against the inviter. If the inviter gets too many of such responses, the account may be restricted or closed.
This list of connections can then be used in a number of ways:
- Obtaining introductions to the connections of connections (termed second-degree connections) and connections of second-degree connections (termed third-degree connections)
- Users can 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 follow different companies and can receive notifications about the new joining[clarification needed] and offers available.
- Users can save (i.e. bookmark) jobs that they would like to apply for.
- Users can “like” and “congratulate” each other’s updates and new employments.
- Users can see who has visited their profile page.
The “gated-access approach” (where contact with any professional requires either an existing relationship, or the intervention of a contact of theirs) is intended to build trust among the service’s users. LinkedIn participates in the EU’s International Safe Harbor Privacy Principles.
Security and technology
In June 2012, cryptographic hashes of approximately 6.4 million LinkedIn user passwords were stolen by hackers who then published the stolen hashes online. This action is known as the 2012 LinkedIn hack. In response to the incident, LinkedIn asked its users to change their passwords. Security experts criticized LinkedIn for not salting their password file, and instead using a single iteration of SHA-1.
On May 31, 2013 LinkedIn added two-factor authentication, an important security enhancement for preventing hackers from gaining access to accounts.
To handle the large volume of emails sent to its users every day with notifications for messages, profile views, important happenings in their network, and other things, LinkedIn uses the Momentum email platform from Message Systems.
In October 2008, LinkedIn enabled an “applications platform” that allows other online services to be embedded within a member’s profile page. 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.
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 January 2011, LinkedIn acquired CardMunch, a mobile app maker that scans business cards and converts into contacts. In June 2013, CardMunch was noted as an available LinkedIn app. In August 2011, LinkedIn revamped its mobile applications on the iPhone, Android and HTML5. Mobile page views of the application have increased roughly 400% year over year according to CEO Jeff Weiner.
In October 2013, LinkedIn announced a service for iPhone users called “Intro”, which inserts a thumbnail of a person’s LinkedIn profile in correspondence with that person when reading mail messages in the native iOS Mail program. This is accomplished by re-routing all emails from and to the iPhone through LinkedIn servers, which security firm Bishop Fox asserts has serious privacy implications, violates many organizations’ security policies, and resembles a man-in-the-middle attack.
LinkedIn also supports the formation of interest groups, and as of March 29, 2012 there are 1,248,019 such groups whose membership varies from 1 to 744,662. The majority of the largest groups are employment related, although a very wide range of topics are covered mainly around professional and career issues, and there are currently 128,000 groups for both academic and corporate alumni.
Groups support a limited form of discussion area, moderated by the group owners and managers. Since groups offer the ability to reach a wide audience without so easily falling foul of anti-spam solutions, there is a constant stream of spam postings, and there now exist a range of firms who offer a spamming service for this very purpose. LinkedIn has devised a few mechanisms to reduce the volume of spam, but recently took the decision to remove the ability of group owners to inspect the email address of new members in order to determine if they were spammers. Groups also keep their members informed through emails with updates to the group, including most talked about discussions within your professional circles.
Groups may be private, accessible to members only or may be open to Internet users in general to read, though they must join in order to post messages.
In December 2011, LinkedIn announced that they are rolling out polls to groups.
In November 2013, LinkedIn announced the addition of Showcase Pages to the platform. In 2014, LinkedIn announced they were going to be removing Product and Services Pages paving the way for a greater focus on Showcase Pages
LinkedIn 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.
In July 2011, LinkedIn launched a new feature allowing companies to include an “Apply with LinkedIn” button on job listing pages. The new plugin will allow potential employees to apply for positions using their LinkedIn profiles as resumes. All applications will also be saved under a “Saved Jobs” tab.
From September 2012, LinkedIn allows users to endorse each other’s skills. This feature also allows users to efficiently provide commentary on other users profiles – network building is reinforced. However there is no way of flagging anything other than positive content.
LinkedIn solicits endorsements based on algorithms that generate skills members might have. Members cannot opt out of such solicitations, with the result that it sometimes appears that a member is soliciting an endorsement for a non-existent skill.
The LinkedIn Influencers program launched in October 2012 and brings together 300+ of the world’s top thought leaders to share their professional insights with LinkedIn’s 259 million members. Influencer is an invite-only program that features notable leaders from a vast range of industries including Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Greg McKeown,Rahm Emanuel, Jamie Dimon, Martha Stewart, Deepak Chopra, Jack Welch, and Bill Gates.
Advertising and for-pay research
In mid-2008, LinkedIn launched LinkedIn DirectAds as a form of sponsored advertising.
In October 2008, LinkedIn revealed plans to open its social network of 30 million professionals globally as a potential sample for business-to-business research. It is testing a potential social network revenue model – research that to some appears more promising than advertising.
On July 23, 2013 LinkedIn announced their Sponsored Updates ad service. Individuals and companies can now pay a fee to have LinkedIn sponsor their content and spread it to their user base. This is a common way for social media sites such as LinkedIn to generate revenue.
LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner stated in November 2012 that the company’s vision for the next decade is to construct an “economic graph”; the term plays off the idea of a social graph popularized by Facebook. The company describes the economic graph, in its finalized form, as a comprehensive digital map of the global economy and the connections within it. The economic graph will be built on the company’s current platform and data “nodes” comprising companies, jobs, skills, volunteer opportunities, educational institutions, and content. The goal of the economic graph is to make those nodes, and the connections within and among them, comprehensive and global, so that LinkedIn contains not only all the job listings in the world, but all the skills required to get those jobs, all the professionals who could fill them, and all the companies (nonprofit and for-profit) at which they work. According to Weiner, the initiative’s ultimate goal is to make the global economy (with a focus on the job market) more efficient through increased transparency.
In June 2014, the company announced launch of its “Galene” search architecture as a way of giving users access to the economic graph’s data. LinkedIn has stated that Galene will enable more thorough filtering of data, via user searches like “Engineers with Hadoop experience in Brazil.”
In late 2012, LinkedIn ceased allowing users to upload their resumes.
In January 2013, LinkedIn dropped support for LinkedIn Answers, and cited a new ‘focus on development of new and more engaging ways to share and discuss professional topics across LinkedIn’ as the reason for the retirement of the feature. The feature had been launched in 2007, and allowed users to post question to their network and allowed users to rank answers.
LinkedIn derives its revenues from three business divisions:
Talent Solutions: Recruiters and corporations pay for:
- Branded corporate page on LinkedIn, complete with careers section.
- Pay per click-through Job ads that are targeted to LinkedIn users who match the job profile.
- Access to the database of LinkedIn users and resumes.
- LinkedIn advertisers pay for pay per click-through targeted ads.
Premium Subscriptions: LinkedIn users pay for:
- LinkedIn Business for business users
- LinkedIn Talent for recruiters
- LinkedIn JobSeeker for unemployed LinkedIn users looking for a job
- LinkedIn Sales for Sales Professionals.
Some elements of the various subscription services are also on a pay per use basis like InMail.
LinkedIn has been described by online trade publication TechRepublic as having “become the de facto tool for professional networking”. LinkedIn has also been praised for its usefulness in fostering business relationships. “LinkedIn is, far and away, the most advantageous social networking tool available to job seekers and business professionals today,” according to Forbes.
LinkedIn has also received criticism, primarily regarding e-mail address mining and auto-update.
- The sign up process includes a step for entering your email password (there is an opt-out feature). LinkedIn will then offer to send out contact invitations to all members in your address book. When the member’s email address book is opened it is opened with all email addresses selected and the member is advised invitations will be sent to “selected” email addresses. LinkedIn was sued for sending out follow-up invitations from members to link to friends who had ignored the initial, authorized, invitation. In November 2014, LinkedIn lost a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, in a ruling that the invitations were advertisements not broadly protected by free speech rights that would otherwise permit use of people’s names and images without authorization.
- Changing the description below a member’s name is seen as a change in a job title, even if it is just a wording change or even a change to “unemployed”. Unless a member opts to “turn off activity updates”, an update is sent to all of that person’s contacts, telling them to congratulate the member on the “new job”.
- The feature that allows LinkedIn members to “endorse” each others’ skills and experience has been criticized as meaningless, since the endorsements are not necessarily accurate or given by people who have familiarity with the member’s skills.
In 2009, Syrian users reported that LinkedIn server stopped accepting connections originating from IP addresses assigned to Syria. The company’s customer support stated that services provided by them are subject to US export and re-export control laws and regulations and “As such, and as a matter of corporate policy, we do not allow member accounts or access to our site from Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, or Syria.”
In February 2011, it was reported that LinkedIn was being blocked in China after calls for a “Jasmine Revolution“. It was speculated to have been blocked because it is an easy way for dissidents to access Twitter, which had been blocked previously. After a day of being blocked, LinkedIn access was restored in China.
In February 2014, LinkedIn launched its Simplified Chinese language version named “领英” (pinyin: Lǐngyīng; literally: “leading elite”), officially extending their service in China. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner acknowledged in a blog post that they would have to censor some of the content that users post on its website in order to comply with Chinese rules, but he also said the benefits of providing its online service to people in China outweighed those concerns.
The Search, Network, and Analytics (SNA) team at LinkedIn has a web site that hosts the open source projects built by the group. Notable among these projects is Project Voldemort, a distributed key-value structured storage system with low-latency similar in purpose to Amazon.com’s Dynamo and Google‘s BigTable.
Surveillance and NSA Program
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