WWN Financial News: LinkedIn Users Threaten ‘LinkedOut’!
Within minutes of news of LinkedIn’s plans for an IPO, users of the professional networking site launched a grass roots movement seeking participation in the future stock offering.
In little more than 24 hours, a LinkedIn group called “Connect Us To The IPO” had gained over 73,000 members and over 300,000 users had noted that they “Like” the group. The group’s charter is to “oppose any plans to allow a small group of VCs to enrich themselves at our expense.”
The scope and velocity of the public outcry has taken the company by surprise, and a special meeting has been set to consider the Company’s options. On Wall Street, top investment bankers were ashen-faced as they considered the potential fallout from the movement, both for the LinkedIn IPO and for future deals.
Tim Breyers, a prominent venture capitalist at Axcel Partners, who questioned the timing of the IPO, was heard to have said, “Given the business base they have, they would be better off getting registered and conducting the IPO online themselves. The technology exists – it’s just a matter of getting through the red tape.”
“Without us they have nothing,” blogged Kenneth North, a Racine, WI marketing consultant. “It’s time that social media ‘walk the talk’ and socialize the profits with its users. Exploiting the masses is so passé, and we now have the tools and power to demand our piece of the pie.”
William Sayers, a veteran of LinkedIn with 3,167 connections, added, “We have watched what happened with Facebook, Groupon and Demand Media. They have siphoned off billions on the backs of their end users. We won’t be left behind.”
Founded in 2002, LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) has become the leading networking portal for the business community, with over 90 million registered users. Analysts project a modest profit on revenues of $223 million in 2010. The service offers free individual listings and networking as well as enhanced, fee-based features such as messaging, advertising, and job hunting.
95% of members surveyed said they relied on LinkedIn for business and career leads, as well as staying in touch with colleagues at prior jobs. 2% of users said they used it to ‘track down’ people they had ‘spent time with’ at trade shows or conventions and 1% of of users were looking for old girlfriends and boyfriends and 1% were monkeys.
While dwarfed by Facebook’s 500 million+ users, the attractive demographics of LinkedIn’s professional user base, make it an eagerly anticipated IPO.
Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn’s co-founder, who plans to keep his IPO proceeds in his Paypal account, was taken aback by the broad scope of user grousing on the IPO plans. “If a tree falls in the woods – no one hears it, but we built the forest and empowered each and every tree. I’m not letting a minority of ‘tree huggers’ get in the way of our monetizing this asset – even if a few chain saws are required. Without us – they would have nothing – not the other way around.”
In an unrelated development, Trustees of the Art Linkletter estate have filed an injunction in Federal District Court in San Francisco, seeking an injunction on the use of the “LinkedIn” brand and logo as it impinges on the Estate’s copyrights. No further details were available at the time we had to hit the “publish” button.