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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (115)11/16/2011 7:56:21 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
   of 272
The LNKD follow-on offering has been priced at $71 per share:

LinkedIn Announces Pricing of Its Follow-On Offering

Press Release
Nove. 16, 2011, 6:49 p.m. EDT

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Nov 16, 2011 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) -- LinkedIn Corporation /quotes/zigman/5131883/quotes/nls/lnkd LNKD +0.69% today announced the pricing of 8,750,000 shares of its Class A common stock at $71.00 per share in a follow-on public offering. In addition, the underwriters have a 30-day option to purchase up to 1,312,500 additional shares of Class A common stock from LinkedIn to cover over-allotments, if any. LinkedIn will sell approximately 1,300,000 shares in the offering; the remaining shares will be sold by existing stockholders. As part of the underwriting procedures, all selling stockholders, as well as all officers and directors, have agreed to lock-up agreements for a period of 90 days following the offering.

The principal purposes of this offering are to raise capital for the company, facilitate an orderly distribution of shares and increase the company's public float. The proceeds of the primary portion of the offering will be used to provide additional working capital for LinkedIn, including further expansion of its product development and field sales organizations, for capital expenditures and potential strategic acquisitions or investments.

The bookrunning managers of the offering are Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC, BofA Merrill Lynch and J.P. Morgan Securities LLC. Allen & Company LLC and UBS Securities LLC are co-managers.

A registration statement relating to these securities was declared effective by the Securities and Exchange Commission on November 16, 2011. This offering is being made by the company and selling stockholders only by means of a written prospectus forming part of the effective registration statement. Copies of the final prospectus relating to the offering may be obtained from the offices of Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC, Attention: Prospectus Department, 180 Varick Street, 2nd Floor, New York, New York 10014, or by email at; BofA Merrill Lynch, 4 World Financial Center, New York, NY 10080, Attn: Prospectus Department, or email; or J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Attention: Broadridge Financial Solutions, 1155 Long Island Avenue, Edgewood, New York 11717, or by telephone at (866) 803-9204.

This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any state in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state.

This news release was distributed by GlobeNewswire,

SOURCE: LinkedIn

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From: Brasco One11/28/2011 3:38:35 PM
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lnkd pig collapsing here.

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From: Glenn Petersen12/13/2011 10:48:26 AM
   of 272
Some of the larger funds have built positions in LNKD:

Prudential acquires a 15.9% position:

T. Rowe Price acquires a 13.2% position:

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From: Glenn Petersen1/7/2012 10:23:51 PM
   of 272
Sifting the Professional From the Personal

New Yotk Times
January 7, 2012

AMONG online networking sites, LinkedIn stands out as the specialized one — it’s for professional connections only.

That distinction has given it staying power as Facebook’s predecessors have dropped away and as Facebook has grown to dwarf other sites. By keeping professional identity pristinely separate from the personal and the messy, LinkedIn, which is now publicly traded, has grown to more than 135 million members in 200 countries.

But challengers have arrived, in the form of apps. Rather than starting from scratch, independent software developers are trying to add a professional layer to Facebook — and are hoping that users will accept a less-than-complete separation of the professional and the personal.

“LinkedIn likes to say, ‘Facebook is for fun and LinkedIn is for professional purposes.’ What I like to argue is that’s no longer correct,” says Rick Marini, the chief executive of BranchOut, a start-up that offers a Facebook app for job-related networking.

“I get asked for introductions to my LinkedIn connections all the time.” Mr. Marini says. “The problem is, these are people I’ve met for five minutes at a conference and I don’t feel comfortable vouching for them. My Facebook friends are all my real friends.” (The gregarious Mr. Marini has an impressive number of “real friends”: 1,800 Facebook friends, he says.)

When users join BranchOut, the software pulls information from Facebook about their education, current employer and job title, leaving out everything else.

Excluding things like indiscreet photos, however, doesn’t necessarily make Facebook an excellent basis for a professional identity. BranchOut shows prospective employers a person’s network of Facebook friends. These aren’t likely to have been assembled the way they are at LinkedIn, with the idea that one’s connections will be reviewed by strangers checking on professional qualifications.

“There are some people I’d prefer not to interact with in my professional career, but I’m still good friends with,” says Tom Chevalier, global product manager at Monster Worldwide. Mr. Chevalier oversees Monster’s BeKnown, a Facebook app that competes directly with BranchOut.

BeKnown pulls more information from Facebook than BranchOut does, but it lists friends specifically chosen by the user, and only if those friends consent to be included. BeKnown’s design suggests that users must be careful about what parts of their Facebook identities should be imported into their professional profile.

Why not invest the same amount of time building a profile over at LinkedIn? Mr. Chevalier points to the fact that the average Facebook user visits the Web site more than 30 times a month, and he contends that convenience is important. “By having this proximity to Facebook,” he says, “we can help users think about their career more frequently.”

Applicants, of course, want to go where the most prospective employers are found; and employers, where the most candidates are. In both cases, this works in LinkedIn’s favor.

LinkedIn’s single largest business is selling access to information about its members. They are treated as “passive” job candidates: they aren’t necessarily seeking a job but have signaled their receptivity to new professional possibilities by joining LinkedIn and providing details about work experiences and skills.

David Hahn, vice president for product management at LinkedIn, says his company’s business clients “do not have to put up a ‘Help Wanted’ sign in the window and see who comes in.” He adds: “They can instead proactively go after the right person by looking over the professional experiences and skills of our 135 million-plus members.”

The company says 75 of the Fortune 100 companies are clients.

LinkedIn receives an average of 95 million unique monthly visitors, according to comScore data for November 2011. The Facebook apps are lagging far behind. BranchOut, founded in July 2010, is drawing about one million unique monthly visitors, occupying 298th place last week on’s leader board for Facebook apps; BeKnown, introduced in July 2011, has only 170,000.

MR. MARINI concedes that LinkedIn has command of the professions, but he says that leaves ample opportunity for BranchOut to serve others. LinkedIn does a good job addressing the smaller part of the work force considered to be “white collar/managerial,” he says. The remainder, he adds, tends to be on Facebook — “blue-collar, hourly, temporary, cashiers, clerks, construction workers, returning military.”

Mr. Hahn of LinkedIn says his company “welcomes anyone who thinks in terms of a career instead of a job.” Using a broad definition of “professional” adopted by the International Labor Organization, LinkedIn says there are an estimated 640 million professionals out of a global work force of approximately 3.3 billion, leaving plenty of room for the site to grow.

Mr. Hahn notes that Facebook users clearly love games like CityVille and Texas HoldEm Poker, which draw millions of users. But the relatively minuscule use of the Facebook apps that venture into professional profiles or networking, he says, is “evidence that users clearly want to keep their professional lives separate.”

Randall Stross is an author based in Silicon Valley and a professor of business at San Jose State University. E-mail:

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To: stockman_scott who wrote (117)1/29/2012 1:56:10 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
1 Recommendation   of 272
The shares of LNKD have performed rather well, particularly when compared to those of GRPN and ZNGA. Not only is the company profitable (if marginally), it inhabits a market niche that is relatively free from competition. That could change:



When it comes to social networks with gravitas, though, LinkedIn, not Google+, is the network Facebook needs to beat.

Last year, a Performics survey of 2,997 active social networkers found that the majority of them (59%) said it is important to have a LinkedIn account, more than any other social network.

Not surprisingly LinkedIn Chairman Reid Hoffman seems to agree. He told the audience at San Francisco’s Web 2.0 Summit last year he isn’t worried about Facebook as a competitive threat. This is how the Los Angeles Times described the encounter:

Asked whether LinkedIn would be held back by its demographic –- the average user is in his or her early to mid 40s –- Hoffman retorted: “You mean, like someone who could give you a job?”

Facebook and the Labor Department announced their collaboration last year via a dedicated Facebook page. The page offers job listings and information about available training programs and educational opportunities. It’s a good start but not nearly enough to compete with LinkedIn in this respect.


Message 27913608

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To: stockman_scott who wrote (117)1/31/2012 4:25:28 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
1 Recommendation   of 272
Social Network Ads: LinkedIn Falls Behind Twitter; Facebook Biggest Of All
    By Ingrid Lunden
    Jan 31, 2012 12:33 PM ET

    It remains to be seen whether all social networks can be profitable on advertising alone—and crucially what formats will work best alongside people’s communications with each other—but for now we are at least seeing some big growth in the space.

    In 2011, Twitter’s advertising revenues grew 233 percent, and LinkedIn’s sales were up 95 percent, and both are set to see more growth in the years ahead.

    Meanwhile, just days before an expected IPO, Facebook has solidified its lead in online display advertising not just in social networking, but over all online properties.

    According to figures out from eMarketer today, Twitter’s revenue from advertising was a mere $139.5 million in 2011, but that was actually up by 233 percent over 2010. The analysts believe that international growth will further push that number up to $259.9 million this year, a rise of 83 percent.

    Meanwhile, LinkedIn ( NYSE: LNKD) actually rounded off 2011 with more ad revenues than Twitter, with $154.6 million in sales. But it will see much more modest growth in the years ahead, with that figure only going up by 46 percent in 2012 to $226 million. At the moment, LinkedIn is proving to have the bigger international profile when it comes to advertising, with some 32 percent of its ad revenues expected to come from outside the U.S. in 2012, versus only 10 percent for Twitter. (Full tables with forecasts at the bottom of this post.)

    Today, Twitter has some 300 million users compared to 135 million for LinkedIn, and so some of Twitter’s gain on LinkedIn in ad revenues could be down to that simple fact. User numbers may, too, be the reason why Twitter will widen its lead in ad sales even further in the years ahead. By 2014, eMarketer predicts that Twitter will have annual ad revenues of $540 million compared to $405.6 million for LinkedIn.

    But even those 2014 figures are still less than 15 percent of what Facebook makes in advertising at the moment, mostly in the form of display ads.

    With revenues of $4.27 billion in 2011, $3.8 billion of that from advertising (eMarketer via WSJ) Facebook is the social network to beat. That’s true today but also in the future, as it only continues to enhance the services it offers to engage users and keep them on the site for longer.

    According to figures provided by comScore ( NSDQ: SCOR), in the U.S. Facebook has widened its lead in the display-advertising market in 2011. It now has 27.9 percent of that market, compared to 21 percent the year before. That puts Facebook significantly ahead of the next-closest competitor in display, Yahoo ( NSDQ: YHOO), which is at 11 percent. The full figures for 2011 and how they compare to 2010:

    In UK figures provided also by comScore, the leadership of Facebook is even stronger, with over 30 percent of the market for 2011 in terms of revenues.

    With Twitter and LinkedIn, it is too early to tell which social network’s ad formats prove to be the more engaging, and more attractive to media buyers.

    For now, it looks like LinkedIn is winning at least in the variety stakes, with ads to match particular user profiles and professions, as well as different areas for placement (Profile Page, Home Page, Inbox, Search Results Page and Groups) and formats. Twitter has, so far, concentrated on promoted tweets as the basis of their advertising. LinkedIn offers advertisers a self-serve platform for its services. Twitter launched its ad platform only in November 2011, and as eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Wiliamson puts it, the “verdict is still out” on whether it will gain traction.

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    To: stockman_scott who wrote (117)2/8/2012 8:32:19 AM
    From: Glenn Petersen
       of 272
    LNKD reports after the close on Thursday. A preview:

    LinkedIn's 4Q to provide more networking insights

    Investors look to LinkedIn's 4Q results to keep good vibes flowing for online networking

    Associated Press
    February 8, 2012

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- LinkedIn Corp.'s fourth-quarter earnings should provide some insights into how much employers have been relying on the online professional networking service to fill jobs as the pace of hiring has been accelerating in recent months.

    WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The results, due out after the stock market closes Thursday, come at a time of escalating investor excitement about Internet services that bring together people with common interests. Facebook Inc., the owner of the largest social network, triggered the latest outbreak of giddiness last week when it revealed details of its rapid earnings and revenue growth in documents filed for an initial public offering of stock.

    Now, it falls upon LinkedIn to keep the good vibes flowing. The economy seemed to be working in LinkedIn's favor during the final three months of the year.

    Government labor statistics already have showed companies have been expanding their payrolls, a trend that bodes well for LinkedIn because its website has emerged as a digital rolodex that headhunters peruse to find prospective job candidates.

    LinkedIn, which is based in Mountain View, Calif., gets more than two-thirds of its revenue from fees it charges companies, recruiting services and other people who want broader access to the profiles and other data on the company's website. The rest comes from advertising.

    The improving economy, coupled with the publicity that LinkedIn has attracted since it completed its own IPO last May, may be spurring more people to post their resumes on the professional networking service.

    LinkedIn ended September with 131 million members. Management didn't predict how many more would join LinkedIn during the fourth quarter. Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Herman Leung expects LinkedIn to report it ended the year with about 147 million members.

    WHY IT MATTERS: The company's performance will likely sway investors' opinions about young Internet companies trying to prove they have built solid business foundations. LinkedIn has passed the test so far by delivering steady revenue and member growth. It also has been making money with the exception of last year's third quarter when it spent more on new equipment and employees. The performance has kept LinkedIn's stock well above its IPO price of $45. The shares closed Tuesday at $77.77.

    WHAT'S EXPECTED: Analysts polled by FactSet expect LinkedIn to earn 6 cents per share, excluding certain items unrelated to the company's ongoing operations. Revenue is projected to be nearly $160 million.

    LAST YEAR'S QUARTER: LinkedIn earned $1.6 million, or 3 cents per share, on revenue of $81.7 million at the same time in 2010.

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    From: Glenn Petersen2/9/2012 4:17:53 PM
    1 Recommendation   of 272
    Good numbers for LNKD.

    The press release:

    LinkedIn Beats The Street, Q4 Revenue Up 105 Percent To $167.7M

    Leena Rao
    February 9, 2012

    Professional social network LinkedIn just reported stronger than expected fourth quarter 2011 earnings today. Earnings came in at $0.12 per share. Revenue for the fourth quarter was $167.7 million, an increase of 105% compared to $81.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. Net income for the fourth quarter was $6.9 million, compared to net income of $5.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. Analysts expected the company to earn $0.07 per share on revenues of $159.72 million.

    “Q4 once again exceeded our expectations for member engagement and business growth. It was a fitting end to a memorable year in which we reinforced our position as the pre-eminent professional network on the web,” said Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn. “We believe continued focus on our members and technology infrastructure positions us well for accelerated product innovation in 2012.”

    LinkedIn is past the excitement of the public offering and now coming into its own as a public company. As Weiner recently told TechCrunch, “The event itself was memorable, but for us it was really just a stepping stone.” The fourth quarter was relatively quiet with regard to new products compared to past quarters. The network debuted a new version of business card organizer CardMuch (which they acquired in early 2011), and updated Groups with new functionality.

    LinkedIn is now adding two new members every second, and has 150 million members in over 200 countries and territories.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean that LinkedIn is slowing down. We hear there’s much more in store for the company for 2012, especially in mobile. It will also be interesting to see how acquisitive LinkedIn is in the coming year. The company just picked up contact manager Rapportive for $15 million.

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    To: stockman_scott who wrote (117)3/5/2012 5:24:19 PM
    From: Glenn Petersen
    1 Recommendation   of 272
    Monster puts itself on the block:

    Monster soars as CEO mulls "strategic alternatives"

    By Scott Malone
    Thu Mar 1, 2012 3:33pm EST

    <SPAN class="articleLocation">(Reuters) - Monster Worldwide Inc Chief Executive Sal Iannuzzi told investors on Thursday that the operator of the job-search website was considering all "strategic alternatives," sending the company's shares up more than 17 percent.

    "Our shareholders deserve a better return," Iannuzzi told an investor conference. "The board and the management is also focused on pursuing all strategic alternatives to increase shareholder value."

    Iannuzzi did not specify what alternatives the company was considering. However, investors typically interpret discussions of "strategic alternatives" as an indication a company is considering selling all or part of itself.

    A Monster spokeswoman declined to elaborate on Iannuzzi's statements.

    Prior to Thursday's rally Monster shares had tumbled about 61 percent over the past year, a far steeper slide than the 21 percent fall of the Thomson Reuters United States Employment Services Index.

    One analyst cautioned that there were no signs that a deal for Monster was imminent.

    "We know of no buyer poised to scoop up MWW," James Janesky of Avondale Partners wrote in a note to clients. He said that the company could sell for $10 to $13 per share, but held steady his "market perform" rating and $8 target price on the stock.

    "Given that the company is engaged in layoffs of 7 percent of its work force and other restructuring, any kind of deal might be a ways off," Janesky wrote.


    Slow hiring as a result of the weak U.S. economy and rising competition from the social media sites including Facebook and LinkedIn Corp have taken a toll on Monster's traditional business model -- job ads on its website.

    When the company reported financial results in January, it warned investors that it expected first-quarter profit to be lower than analysts expected and that it planned to cut its staff by about 7 percent, or 400 jobs.

    Iannuzzi said his company regards itself as sharply undervalued compared with its peers, which also include Dice Holdings Inc, Manpower Group and, partly owned by Microsoft Corp.

    "The stock price is not where it should be," Iannuzzi said at a R.W. Baird conference. "If you compare us to our competition, any company in our space, our multiple is severely below them."

    Shares of LinkedIn have nearly doubled since the company's May initial public offering.

    He said Monster has no interest in pursuing takeovers of its own.

    "We have no acquisitions in mind," Iannuzzi said. "So if anyone's concerned about where our money is going to go, we don't have acquisitions. Any excess cash will be returned to the shareholders via stock purchase."

    The New York-based company has $250.3 million in cash and equivalents on its balance sheet and a market value of $828.4 million, according to Thomson Reuters Data.

    Options traders piled on Monster in the wake of the news, with volume surging 32 times higher than a typical day, according to options analytics firm Trade Alert.

    "The positive comments spurred a rush into Monster Worldwide options," said Interactive Brokers Group options analyst Caitlin Duffy.

    Shares of Monster were up $1.21, or 17.4 percent, at $8.15 in late trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

    (Reporting By Scott Malone in Boston, additional reporting by Doris Frankel in Chicago; editing by Andre Grenon and Mark Porter)

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    To: stockman_scott who wrote (62)3/17/2012 5:54:23 PM
    From: Glenn Petersen
    1 Recommendation   of 272
    Reid Hoffman, Mr LinkedIn

    By Richard Waters
    Financial Times Magazine
    March 17, 2012 1:42 am

    Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, on why the future belongs to the networkers

    Reid Hoffman hates cocktail parties. Coming from the man whom The New York Times recently dubbed Silicon Valley’s King of Connections, this might come as a surprise. After all, Hoffman has built a brand – and a fortune worth $1.8bn – on his role as a leading exponent of the art of social networking. But that doesn’t mean he has to fit the image of the arch schmoozer.

    “I’m a little unusual: I’m a six-person-or-less extrovert,” he says, using a characteristically precise, slightly tortuous formulation. Then, slipping into the language of the Silicon Valley technocrat, he adds: “I strongly optimise for less than six people, preferably one-on-one.”

    It is a recent morning at LinkedIn, the online professional networking site that he founded and took public last year, and Hoffman is working to his relentless schedule. The day is carved up for meetings that run from 8am till 9pm. From 15-minute to two-hour blocks, he and his assistant carefully subdivide his attention.

    The shorter interludes are there to grease the wheels of Hoffman’s personal network. He is connected to 2,600 people on LinkedIn, which he founded in 2002. He remains chairman, though he doubles up as a partner at venture capital firm Greylock and sits on three other boards. He has also become a guide and adviser to a new generation of 20-somethings in the internet world.

    How to refer to all his online connections is not easy. They are not “friends”, though that is one word he tries out. In the end, he settles on “alliances” – people who might do something for him, or who he is prepared to help out.
    “Referential information is hugely beneficial,” he says. “I almost never take a meeting without a reference, even a phone call.” Then, slipping back into technocrat-speak: “The reference gives me good signal-to-noise ratio” – a way to filter out the significant from the time-wasting. He boasts about how he has just given a reference for a former colleague he hasn’t even spoken to in 10 years.

    Such gestures are the currency of the world Hoffman inhabits. In Silicon Valley, where investors and entrepreneurs come together in loose alliances around the latest hot start-up ideas, being connected is everything. Hoffman himself is part of a group widely known as the PayPal Mafia, for the fact that its members all held senior positions at the online payment company before spinning off into an array of new internet concerns.

    Close contacts like these are supplemented by an array of looser ties, distant connections to all sorts of acquaintances who fit into the wide orbit of Hoffman’s professional world. Passing on contacts, giving references, offering crumbs of advice and information are all part of the currency of the world he inhabits.

    0LinkedIn in numbers 2 per second: The rate at which the site is gaining new members (as of December 31 011)

    LinkedIn has more than 150 million members

    8 million-plus members in the UK

    More than 2 million companies have Company Pages on the site

    LinkedIn is ranked by Alexa as the 12th most popular site on the internet

    LinkedIn is ranked by Google as the 29th most visited site on the web

    LinkedIn’s 2011 revenues totalled $522m, a 115 per cent increase from 2010

    “We bi-directionally help each other, even if only to a light degree,” he says. Soon, he argues, this will be the world that all professionals will have to master. Only the truly connected will survive.
    . . .

    Hoffman, at 44, does not fit the usual image of the fast-talking young techno-nerd familiar from The Social Network – the film about Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. By comparison, the LinkedIn founder seems bulky and mild. Even by the loose dress code of Northern California, his dark trousers, maroon shirt and blue and yellow sneakers look carelessly off-hand. His deliberative, careful formulations are not the sort of expansive utterances you normally hear from internet visionaries out to change the world – people such as Peter Thiel, a close friend from college days and an early backer of Facebook.

    “Entrepreneurs are like visionaries,” Hoffman says, talking about the breed as though he was not one of them. “One of the ways they run forward is by viewing the thing they’re doing as something that’s going to be the whole world.”

    Right now, Silicon Valley is in the grip of social media mania. Thanks to the impending stock market listing of Facebook, widely expected to value the company at as much as $100bn, all new start-ups are built to thrive on a socially connected internet. Zuckerberg, suggests Hoffman, is a classic of the visionary entrepreneurial breed.

    “‘Everything’s social,’” he says, parodying the Facebook founder and the many entrepreneurs who now live in his shadow. “‘Going to the restroom is social.’ No, I don’t think so.” There is much more to come from the Facebook generation, he says, though he adds that to claim that “‘everything’s going to be social’ is simply a little silly”.

    Get Hoffman on to his own favourite topic, though, and he can hold forth with the best of them. As traditional jobs become less secure, he says, everyone’s working life will increasingly revolve around the sort of alliances of interest that underpin the tech industry in Northern California.

    “The way that we operate here in Silicon Valley is the way the trend needs to go broadly: all industries, all locations,” he says, as though none of the traditional institutions of business life will survive. Talking about the open business networks that thrive in the region, he adds: “Silicon Valley is a mindset, not a location. That’s part of what modern work for all industries is going to be like.”

    In this new business world, the people who operate the most effective personal networks will be the ones who come out on top. Hoffman holds his own networks up as a model. In The Start-up of You, a book he has co-written that dwells heavily on the art of networking, he relates personal stories of how his alliances have contributed to the huge wealth being amassed by Silicon Valley’s elite: how, for instance, he introduced Thiel to Zuckerberg when the Facebook founder was first looking for backing, leading his friend to take a stake in Facebook that is expected to be worth more than $2bn when the company goes public.

    Don’t anecdotes like this suggest that the networks of the powerful benefit a privileged few, and that only those smart or lucky enough to be an insider can reap the big rewards? Hoffman counters that this is the wrong conclusion to draw. All personal networks can be beneficial on their own terms, he says, even if they can’t draw on the sort of resources that are at his fingertips.

    Hoffman once dreamed of being a public intellectual – someone who could influence the direction of humanity by thinking deep thoughts and joining the public battle of ideas. That ambition took him to Oxford university, as a Marshall scholar, in the 1990s to study philosophy. However, the narrowness of academic life eventually put paid to those thoughts.

    In their place, the online world has become a giant Petri dish for his sociological interests. In the internet and software businesses, new ideas and ways of behaving take shape with remarkable alacrity. The internet acts like a lever, turning social experiments into vast online communities.

    Hoffman’s academic leanings are apparent as he conjures up an intellectual framework for the sort of networking that underpins companies such as LinkedIn and Facebook. He lassoes the work of a series of social scientists to explain and magnify the influence he claims for these new forums.

    One is Mark Granovetter, a sociologist who demonstrated the importance of “weak ties” – loose connections with people on the fringes of daily working and personal life. By giving access to new networks beyond the familiar, these contacts open up many new opportunities that otherwise would never be encountered. Most professionals looking for new jobs, according to Granovetter’s research, find them through weak ties such as these.

    Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist, has also been drawn into Hoffman’s cosmology. His contribution was to estimate the maximum number of relationships that people are capable of maintaining at any one time, given the size of the human neocortex. The result, known as Dunbar’s Number: 150.

    While Hoffman says he thinks that is a fair estimate of the number of active relationships, he also believes that it underestimates the much bigger circle of looser connections that the well-organised, internet-connected person can now sustain. He once limited his own online network to people he had worked with directly, but these days he includes anyone for whom he would be willing to provide a personal introduction.

    The third strand that Hoffman weaves into his intellectual web is based on the “six degrees of separation” – the idea that all of humanity is connected in a giant personal network. This is based on the work of Stanley Milgram and, subsequently, Duncan Watts, who both uncovered surprisingly close, indirect connections between people from completely different backgrounds and parts of the world.

    Pursue the logic of the “friends of friends” networks far enough, and who knows what useful contacts you might uncover.

    In the professional world, argues Hoffman, it is three degrees of separation that really count: who is in your direct network, who those people know, and who those people, in turn, are connected to. By asking for personal references, it is possible to draw on these wider circles and know that all of the intermediaries will always know at least one of the people at the end of the chain. The mistake many professionals make, he says, is to fail to ask often enough for personal introductions like this, but to rely instead on cold calls. LinkedIn was founded on the belief that plumbing the networks for connections is the best way to find a new job, make contact with people who could further your ambitions, or disseminate useful business intelligence.

    But in practice, it has come to be known mainly as a place for job-hunters and recruiters. The site makes half its money from recruiters, who pay to research and contact potential hires, with the rest coming from advertising and members who pay for premium services. Equally, the most frequent experience many of its 150 million members have of the network comes from the unsolicited invitations they get from people looking to connect, usually to further their own business interests. It can feel very much like the sort of cold-calling behaviour that Hoffman disparages so much.

    “Some people use it that way,” he reluctantly admits. He says he has capped his company’s growth rather than let the contact-spamming run amok, for instance by requiring users to know other members’ email addresses before sending them invitations to connect. Yet there are loopholes: it is easy, for instance, to send out invitations simply by claiming to have done business with another member before. Like all online networks, LinkedIn relies on the willingness of members to follow its chosen social norms in order to thrive.

    . . .

    Despite his claim to being an extrovert on a small scale, Hoffman confesses to symptoms that, by his own admission, are the signs of a classic introvert. “I get energy from one-on-one conversations most often, and I lose energy from group conversations most often,” he says.

    As a child, he dipped into different social cliques for his friendships, preferring close relationships with a handful of people to the sort of group behaviour that normally characterises school life. “It wasn’t that I was a loner,” he insists.

    The group-hopping made him adept at adjusting his behaviour to the person at hand. That strong personal empathy remains his most obvious trait, and may account for the likeability on which people who know him often comment – a rare commodity in an industry where towering egos often prevail.

    Considerateness is also one of the keys to the type of personal networking that Hoffman believes will change working life. Like friendships, these relationships are based on mutual generosity. He contrasts that with the sort of image normally conjured up by the phrase “business networking” – what he calls the “sleazy” pursuit of self-interest. Explaining why many people shy away from trying to nurture a personal network of their own, he says: “Thinking about it makes it feel like they are treating people as objects.”

    Ultimately, fired by mutual respect and self-interest, Hoffman dreams of an interplay of ideas that will sustain a new type of working life. “I want to have this semantically important sharing,” he says, contrasting it with the deluge of personal minutiae unleashed on Facebook and Twitter.

    It may all sound like the sort of idealism that internet billionaires regularly spout. But if LinkedIn does eventually succeed in bringing more meaning to its members’ working lives, Hoffman will have the satisfaction of knowing that his ideas have prevailed.

    ‘The Start-up of You’, by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha, is published by Random House, £12.99. Richard Waters is the FT’s West Coast managing editor.

    Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2012

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