LinkedIn Actually Not So Hot: Falling Short of Expections

LinkedIn CEO Dan Nye recently said he would only sell the company for “a lot more” than $1 billion. This set off a furious wave of LinkedIn buzz, and suddenly LinkedIn was viewed as red-hot again.

So it’s worth pointing out that:

  • An offer at any price, let alone “a lot more” than $1 billion, does not appear to have emerged, despite all the world having been alerted to LinkedIn’s new status as single belle of ball.
  • LinkedIn’s expectations for its own growth have shrunk considerably over the past 12 months, as have its ambitions relative to companies that have blown past it. A year ago, LinkedIn was reportedly expecting $100 million in 2008 revenue and believed it was at “a tipping point.” Then-CEO Reid Hoffman went so far as to tell Business 2.0 that “if we can tip successfully, we are massively more valuable than Facebook.” New CEO Dan Nye’s expectations for 2008 are now more modest–$75 million to $100 million–and, thankfully, Dan is not hallucinating that the company is “massively more valuable than Facebook.”
  • Lesser known competitors have poached at least one senior LinkedIn employee easily: New York-based TheLadders recently grabbed LinkedIn’s head of corporate sales Brendon Cassidy–a move Brendon presumably wouldn’t have made had he seen huge upside for LinkedIn’s future as a job-recruiting platform and stock.

All of which isn’t to say that LinkedIn isn’t a good business.  Just that, in a sane world, “a lot more than $1 billion” might conceivably mean $1.1 billion or $1.5 billion–but certainly not $5 or $10 billion. And only if LinkedIn can figure out a truly powerful revenue model.

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