LinkedIn® announced its fourth and largest round of funding to date – $53 million which values the company at $1 billion, largely based on a rapid addition of users, expansion of their business lines and perceived future opportunities. You certainly can’t argue with their success in creating unparalleled market buzz and in the process attracting marquee investors such as Boston-based Bain Capital Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Greylock Partners.
LinkedIn’s current revenue sources include advertising, premium subscriptions, job listings and a corporate hiring service. They’ve also hinted at launching “new lines of businesses.”
What I continue to wonder is what’s next? What will be not just another incrementalism but true innovation? As a LinkedIn user, advocate, coach, mentor and commentator for the past several years, I applauded their unique business relationship focus early in the social networking trend. I raved their new friendlier, more intuitive user interface when it was released earlier this year. I even met with them to learn about their corporate solution – primarily targeted at corporate recruiting.
I’m just wondering, beyond the handshake of initial introductions, referrals and access to a broader “network”, and a decentralized knowledge management environment (with Questions and Answers), is there more to the promise of Web 2.0 with this perceived market leader?
Will we see opportunities for mass collaboration on this platform or will they continue to delegate me to build my group without being able to leverage it – heck, much less reach out to it for any kind of a meaningful, insightful dialogue. Will they keep my profile to “oh, so 90s brochure ware” or allow me to add interactive content, engage other thought leaders – without them having to be LinkedIn members, and truly lead the social networking evolution with the ability to “link” to other social networks – or will I continue to have to maintain my profiles on ZoomInfo, Spoke, Ryze, Plaxo and countless others?
Is there a reason I can’t hold a meeting on Second Life with my LinkedIn Group? Why can’t I leverage other contacts from the same company via Jigsaw into my LinkedIn network? Why can’t I integrate my NewsGator daily feed into my LinkedIn home page? Or post my articles or my favorite articles by others in my profile, so others can learn more about me – other than my title and job description?
And will I finally be able to get some qualitative analysis on my relationship bank™, integrate Enterprise Relationship Management (ERM) best practices of identifying Pivotal Contacts™ instrumental to my success and build my Reputation Capital® over some period of time – through performance, execution and results?
LinkedIn has a tremendous amount of potential in the market – I hope this new $53 million infusion will help the founders regain their market vision on what professional social networking really can deliver.