LinkedIn Corp., 2008
In June 2008, the online professional networking service LinkedIn became a $1 billion company. But CEO Dan Nye understood that LinkedIn faced several strategic dilemmas. Founded in 2002, LinkedIn by 2008 had become the world's leading professional networking service (PNS), with more than 23 million members. Aiming to "dominate the business of business networking," in Nye's words, LinkedIn allowed individual members to post a profile on the LinkedIn site and then to use the site's tools to search for job opportunities; to recruit job candidates; to find suppliers, partners, and customers; and to seek out expert advice. The company was also expanding into corporate services that would enable companies to build and manage their own online networks. With revenue sources that included advertising, premium subscriptions, job posting services, and business solutions, LinkedIn was on track to bring in revenues in 2008 of up to $100 million. A new funding round in mid-2008 yielded a $1 billion valuation for the company. Three key dilemmas confronted LinkedIn, however. First, at a time when the "walled garden" model of online community building was under siege, it had to decide how far it should open its platform to users. Second, in light of competition from highly popular social network services such as Facebook and MySpace, LinkedIn had to decide whether to incorporate social networking into its value proposition. Third, in an increasingly global business environment, it had to weigh the option of merging with its leading international competitor, XING.com.