I’ve been wading through LinkedIn’s IPO registration document. It’s called an S-1 and can be found on the SEC site in the US. I used to spend time wading through these things when the main competitor in my photo business, Getty Images, were listing in the US. The language has got even drier and risk averse. Do have a read – but you will have to skip over a substantial part of the document that tells you why they might fail. Here’s a section I found particularly “entrepreneurial” … must have driven the “forward looking” execs mad…
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This prospectus, including the sections entitled “Prospectus Summary,” “Risk Factors,” “Use of Proceeds,” “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Business,” contains forward-looking statements. In some cases you can identify these statements by forward-looking words such as “believe,” “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “continue,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “could,” “would,” “project,” “plan,” “expect” or the negative or plural of these words or similar expressions. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning the following: …………
I had been chatting to a friend about how we use social networking. He’s not a fan of LinkedIn – the classic argument of “you only go there if you are looking to find a new job”. However, he did make a good point: “If LinkedIn closed down tomorrow – would you really miss it?”
It got me thinking. Then today, I was pointed in the direction of a post from 2009 by Lea Woodward entitled “What If Twitter Went Down & Never Came Back Up?” How dependent are we on social media?
Let’s take a look at LinkedIn’s S-1 filing. The two elements that I highlighted – in amongst the legal backside watching – were:-
We believe we are transforming the way people work by connecting talent with opportunity at massive scale. Our goal is to provide a global platform capable of mapping every professional’s experience, skills and other relevant professional data to his or her professional graph, including connections with colleagues and business contacts.
Business Model with Powerful Network Effects. The size and growth of our member base, the number of enterprises and professional organizations that use our platform, and the amount of rich and accurate information generated by our members increase the value we deliver to all participants in our network. A larger member base provides more opportunities to form professional connections for members, as well as increased opportunities to identify and attract talent for enterprises and professional organizations. At the same time, an increasing number of enterprises and professional organizations accessing our network enhances the relevance for members who stand to benefit from professional insights and opportunities. We believe the breadth and depth of our network would be difficult to replicate and represents a significant competitive advantage.
It seems to me that in the trade for free use of LinkedIn’s platform – they are benefiting from the network effect immensely. Personally, I find LinkedIn an interesting peripheral service that helps get a perspective on who I know – and keeps me in touch with what they are doing.
Are the key relationships in my Personal Network supported or “managed” through LinkedIn. Definitely NOT!
If the doom and gloom of the LinkedIn prospectus all came home to roost – would I REALLY miss it? I got over SixDegrees.com closing down during the .com fall out over 10 years ago – so I could get over LinkedIn closing its doors too.
I’d be interested in hearing about how critical LinkedIn is to how you carry out your work. What’s your opinion?
[Have now created a LinkedIn Poll. Please take the time to vote –
Interesting and thought provoking post that deserves a serious comment.
Short answer: more than LinkedIn itself, I would truly miss the idea of it.
I find very misleading to state that people joins LinkedIn because they are looking for a job, although that is likely to be its most common use at the moment.
LinkedIn allows professionals to connect freely. It’s not LinkedIn’s fault if such powerful option is not properly exploited by its members.
So, yes, the service should be missed greatly even if the networks that it currently produce may have little value.
Hopefully, people will evolve in the right direction and the networks will start producing value.
But that can only happen if LinkedIn stays so let’s hope that we won’t have to miss it.
Hi Antonio. Thanks for reading and commenting.
I agree with you that it’s “misleading” to state that folks joined LinkedIn who are looking for a job – but it’s a commonly expressed sentiment. It certainly has much more potential for all of us than that.
One thought occurs talking about network effect. The idea of “network effect” is often illustrated by the development of the first fax machines – and how they only “took off” when other people had them. Undoubtedly, LinkedIn has reached this status in the business world – although to continue the analogy, none of us use fax machines any more!!
If I woke up tomorrow morning and LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace were all gone (have I missed anyone?) I’d be surprised, but not dismayed. I do 99% of my communication with my online communities via my own blogs, and email. The exception for me would be Seth Godin’s Triiibes, which is not much like the sites I listed. I interact extensively at Triiibes and I’d miss it terribly were it to disappear. I’d lose a primary social connection and some very important business benefits.
Hi Joel. Thanks for that. I think as a Commonsense Entrepreneur you’d get by without any of this media. You’d find a way to connect to people somehow. How are your smoke signals!?
I can understand your comments about Triiibes – there’s definitely a different intensity of communication there (although recently I’ve been spending more time in the Twitter “sweet shop”)
I’ve create a LinkedIn Poll – would be great if you would take the time to vote and forward to any friends (LinkedIn lovers or haters!). http://linkd.in/f7ji22
If LinkedIn disappeared tomorrow, I wouldn’t even notice. That’s how invisible it is to me. I’m on it. But only because I feel I have to be.
If Facebook disappeared tomorrow, I would be rejoicing. I use it because I feel railroaded into doing so. Some folks in my network aren’t on any other social platform. The platform is inconsistent and chaotic. Unfortunately, it appears to be the marketing wave of the future with targeted advertising.
If Twitter disappeared tomorrow, I would be lost. It has put me in touch with so many incredible people, and even business, that I cannot imagine my business without it.
All of these will, inevitably, evolve into something else down the road. All of them will go the way of Prodigy, Compuserve, AOL (though it’s trying to reinvent), BBS… should I go on?
Thanks for being brave enough to ask.
Hi Heidi. Thanks for your comment. Twitter is definitely the place for me at the moment too. Although I’m always trying to fine tune (currently reducing the number of people I follow) – but off to follow you.
You’re right about the inevitable evolution – if you fancy some nostalgia about the Prodigy, Compuserves and AOL’s of this world there’s a very good 3-part podcast from the BBC. Interesting radio documentary…
Thanks again. I’ve never been called brave before 🙂
Heidi, don’t let yourself be railroaded into delaying your rejoicing. Publicly kill your Facebook profile, announce that you’ll only be active elsewhere (and share where that is) and then go.
Anyone who refuses to use anything but THEIR form of communication is going to abandon you eventually, probably when you need them most. Those who are worth staying connected with will be gracious enough to respect your needs.
Imagine the positive effect on your network if you weren’t feeling railroaded by people you probably want to stay connected with? Prune the frustration from your life. It’s not selfish or arrogant so set your own terms here, any more than it’s selfish or arrogant to decide whether you feel like answering the phone or the door right now.
Just a couple of comments that have come to me by email – but will remain anonymous (look at last sentence of second quote!!)…..
“Yep, I’d miss it. It’s generated business for me and backs up my marketing. Actually, it IS my marketing!”
Managing Director of large media company
“I go through fits and starts with LinkedIn. Sometimes I seem to be using it a lot then nothing for weeks. It is useful I find as a predictor of when people are about to change jobs as they suddenly start connecting to lots of people.“
Yes! Absolutely! As a Recruiter, I rely on Linkedin for outbound searches. It’s simple, I use Linkedin for professional networking and Facebook for friends and social networking.
Hi Cari. Thanks for the comment. You’re definitely with the majority – the LinkedIn Poll on this is currently standing at:
As a Technology Thought Leader for the firm I represent It would be much harder to communicate ideas and trends without “Linkedin” as a message delivery mechanism. But, I am also quite aware of the fact that many have “tuned” out listening to social media portals unless they are in the market for a job! Money Talks and everything else is ignored unless of course it is a new app for our smart phones I suppose!
Hi John. Thanks for commenting. I get the feeling that LinkedIn is used by a group that is most typically 30-45 year old – who are middle management in large firms or proprietors/senior manageres in small businesses. There is undoubtedly a rush to LI when a new job is being looked for – but I think the general interaction has increased in recent times. I certainly look at the Update/Home page a couple of times a day to see what people I know are up to. If you are on the move – the attraction of smart phone apps is understandable.
First, I would like to thank you for providing me the access to the LinkedIn prospectus. i was looking for it for a week !
I’m doing a study for the ESSEC business scholl about the Linkedin IPO.
In fect, I’m not believing a lot in the success of this IPO because all tech companies are launching their IPO in the same time and secondly because of new risks in China.
I would be interested in having your opinion about China risk.
Thanks for coming by – and taking the time to comment.
My view is that the LinkedIn IPO will be successful. They have timed their approach to the market with a raft of innovations (like InMaps, Today, etc) – which show that they can take more part in business people’s working lives (not just a Rolodex).
I suspect the news of China’s clampdown on social media (including LinkedIn) will not have an adverse effect on the IPO. As mentioned in the blog, when an IPO is going on companies have to highlight every possible risk – and this is all that I think LinkedIn have done in this case.
Good luck with your study.