LinkedIn Reaches 200M Users, But Does It Matter?
LinkedIn may not be the most popular social network in the world, but miraculously, it's still growing. LinkedIn announced it has reached 200 million users worldwide. The number pales in comparison to the more than one billion users that Facebook has, but it's significant enough to make it one of the most important Web 2.0 companies.
LinkedIn announced its first 100 million users in March of 2011, which means that the rate of growth among users on the network has quickly accelerated. Since November 2012, the company has been able to add another 13 million members -- just to give you an idea of how quickly people are joining the network. LinkedIn estimates that users are joining at a rate of two per second.
"LinkedIn now counts over 200 million members as part of our network, with representation in more than 200 countries and territories. We serve our members in 19 languages around the world," wrote LinkedIn senior VP of products Deep Nishar.
The company created a gigantic infographic to celebrate the occasion and explain what demographics make up the 200 million LinkedIn members. The United States leads the way with 74 million accounts followed by India, which as only 18 million. The United Kingdom and Brazil are tied for third place with 11 million users. In fifth place is Canada, which has 7 million users. Of course, it's important to keep in mind that LinkedIn has been offered longer in certain countries. The fastest growing countries among LinkedIn membership growth, in order, are China, Brazil, Portugal, India and Italy.
The blog post from the company also highlighted some of its "key influencers," a recent feature that was added to LinkedIn a few months ago. The biggest influencers on LinkedIn were entrepreneur Richard Branson, President Barack Obama, spiritual guru Deepak Chopra, life coach Tony Robbins and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner.
The announcement highlights a string of revenue growth for the once teetering social network. "Its Q3 revenues were up 81 per cent year-over-year, and up 10 per cent sequentially on Q2 revenues," reports TechCrunch.
LinkedIn has had to overcome criticism and market obstacles in order to get to this point. When it became the first major American social media company to go public, the value of its stock was shrouded in speculation about its true value.
"The company had hired Morgan Stanley and Bank of America's Merrill Lynch division to manage the I.P.O. process. After gauging market demand - which is what they're paid to do - the investment bankers priced the shares at $45. The 7.84 million shares it sold raised $352 million for the company. For this, the bankers were paid 7 percent of the deal as their fee," wrote Joe Nocera of the New York Times in an op-ed column for the newspaper following the company's initial public offering.
"I have no doubt that most everyone at LinkedIn was thrilled to see the run-up; most executives at start-ups usually are. An I.P.O. is an important marker for any company. And, of course, the executives themselves are suddenly rich. But, in reality, LinkedIn was scammed by its bankers," he added.
In addition to the inflated price on the stock market, LinkedIn has been classified as relatively unimportant by users in a variety of studies. As Ted Samson of Infoworld reports, LinkedIn has been criticized by a number of avid social media users and technologists. Samsong aptly pointed to InfoWorld contributor and professional developer Peter Wayner, who had this to say about LinkedIn: "It's sure cool and it's fun to look at hierarchies, but I've never had much luck with using it for more than idle curiosity." Samson added that "Tech journalist Dan Tynan said that LinkedIn hasn't proved to be particularly useful. He said it can be an effective tool for doing background research, such as grabbing titles or job affiliations, although 'you can never really trust that someone has kept his/her profile up to date.'"
Whether investors, employers or those seeking employments are able to find a long-term value in the service remains to be seen. For now, LinkedIn has at least somewhat stabalized its revenues and has done enough to keep invetors, and presumably, its users interested. It's not the most popular social network, but it is still growing, and perhaps that's the only thing that matters.
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