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31 August  2008 ~

Linkedin’s Future??? This is probably the $1 billion question that Linkedin is answering internally and boy do we wish we had a crystal ball to forecast this.  Let’s start our analysis for this by looking at a possible strategic direction the company may entertain and progress with our analysis down to the user level.

Clearly by raising capital, Linkedin is looking to grow and its investors are looking for a high priced exit that rewards them for their investment.  With that being said, there have been rumors that Microsoft is a natural fit to provide an exit solution.

Three interesting points to ponder:

  • In the future Microsoft wants to bump up against Google in paid search, and it needs to reach the right demographics.  Enter Linkedin with its millions of — mostly white-collar — professionals.
  • Microsoft is planning to battle Google in cloud computing to keep its Office applications suite relevant and , once again, it wouldn’t hurt to have 23 million networking adults on its side
  • And perhaps more important is for a defensive play.  If Linkedin fits so well under Microsoft, how great would it look under the Google umbrella?
    Business Development

Research & Development -LinkedIn is in the process of opening its site to outside software developers, something Facebook did to great fanfare.   Through our research, we understand that Linkedin has been focusing on a developer platform.  This holds great potential if developed out in line with Linkedin’s white-collar crowd.

Premium Memberships – Think about the “velvet rope”.  Back in the 1970’s everyone wanted to be on the inside of that at Studio 54 and immediately transformed them into “the place to be go and be seen”.  Linkedin can do something similar.  If traditional networking can be considered stale, Linkedin has an amazing opportunity to target those users that want status and want to connect with the business elite.  Linkedin can transform their Premium memberships from the bland to status symbols and cater to the business elite as well as the power user just like American Express has done with the Amex Black card.

Business Partnerships – Back in March 2008, Linkedin announced a partnership with Businessweek.com and Capital IQ to tie in their proprietary data with Linkedin’s Company Profiles.  This is just one of many data tie-ins that could greatly benefit business partners.  What if Linkedin partnered with some of the ERP vendors and provided any number of simple enterprise software features?

While we are not infrastructure experts, it would be interesting to imagine what kind of solutions that Linkedin could provide here and they do have a leg up on this as top business people from all of the fortune 500 are already members of Linkedin.

We welcome your thoughts and look forward to watch the development of Linkedin and see if it delivers on the promise it currently has to alter business communications.

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