LinkedIn has always been a social networking service with a bit of a twist: instead of encouraging people to play games, amass as many “friends” as possible, and encourage outrageous online behavior, LinkedIn has targeted professionals and job-seekers, enabling folks to make connections with their professions and industries. And while Facebook is the dominant player in the social networking market, LinkedIn is still experiencing extraordinary growth: the site now claims to have more than 100 million users, more than half of whom are outside the United States.
“This isn’t just a big milestone for us—it’s also an important one for all of you, our members, who’ve helped build the LinkedIn network,” wrote LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner. “We’re most inspired that by connecting talent with opportunity at massive scale, we’re changing people’s lives in meaningful and sustainable ways. Each of our 100 million members has a unique story — from finding a job, to recruiting talent, to sourcing new deals, and even starting a business.”
LInkedIn notes that its service is used in more than 200 countries around the world, and that more than half LinkedIn’s members come from outside the United States. The company also notes that execs from all Fortune 500 companies are members of LinkedIn, and the service is showing very strong growth in Mexico and Brazil—Brazil’s membership growth was 428 percent in the last year. The site claims more than 1.3 billion connections have been made amongst its members, and education, facilities services, and ranching (of all things) are among the industries with the fastest year-on-year growth. And, lest one think LinkedIn is all button-down and business-like, there are 74 profiles that list “Elvis impersonator” as a position—and one who claims to be a “martini whisperer.”
Social networking services like Twitter, Facebook, and Groupon are hot in the investment community, and LinkedIn is currently seeking to raise about $175 million in an initial public offering. However, despite significant growth in subscriber numbers and its international representation, LinkedIn does face problems with “stickiness,” or how often its members use the service. In a regulatory filing in January, the company indicated a “substantial” majority of its users visit the side less than once a month. LinkedIn is hoping to combat that trend with new services aimed at job-seekers and recent grads, as well as news feeds tailored to users’ industries and interests.