Friday, March 25, 2011

LinkedIn hits 100 million

Everyone focuses on Facebook’s march towards 1 billion users — last guess 600 million. But today LinkedIn is bragging that it’s hit 100 million users, in anticipation of its planned IPO.

The company sent out emails to stroke its early adopters. Apparently those with member numbers under 100,000 got a special e-mail today. I guess I’m in a slightly less elite group:

Dear Joel,

I want to personally thank you because you were one of LinkedIn's first million members (member number 156889 in fact!*). In any technology adoption lifecycle, there are the early adopters, those who help lead the way. That was you.

We hit a big milestone at LinkedIn this week when our 100 millionth member joined the site.

When we founded LinkedIn, our vision was to help the world's professionals be more successful and productive. Today, with your help, LinkedIn is changing the lives of millions of members by helping them connect with others, find jobs, get insights, start a business, and much more.

We are grateful for your support and look forward to helping you accomplish much more in the years to come. I hope that you are having a great year.


Reid Hoffman
Co-founder and Chairman
I had never heard of LinkedIn before moving to Silicon Valley, and didn’t join until 2004 when an open source business acquaintance and then a Stanford Ph.D. student (true early adopters) asked me to link to them.

I haven’t looked at the S-1 to see how they plan to monetize going forward. Like so much of the Internet, LinkedIn is one of those sites that I signed up for precisely because it was free. While I appreciate the free beer, and want them to continue provide it, I’m not likely to ever pay for the service.

Even though I have 302 connections, I think I’m much more selective in linking than most professional schmoozes (my previous job before becoming a college professor.) My guidelines for making a connection:
  • LinkedIn is for business associates — someone with whom I’d do lunch (or vice versa). Certainly I’ve done a one-on-one meeting (with or without food) with at least half of the existing list.
  • FaceBook is for closer friends — someone where I’ve been to their house or vice versa. (I’ve also included people who’ve hosted other members of my family.)
I don’t link to all my former students, usually only the top student or students in a given class (plus all of our honors students.) I encourage my students to be equally selective.

So congratulations to LinkedIn on its milestone. Good luck on that monetization thing — I hope you do better than the average Web 2.0 business and business model.

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