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Major leadership shakeup at LinkedIn: Nye leaves, Hoffman back at the helm

December 17, 2008 |  3:00 pm

Dan Nye and Reid HoffmanAfter a two-year stint in which he helped propel dramatic growth, LinkedIn Corp. Chief Executive Dan Nye is handing back the reins to company founder Reid Hoffman in a major leadership shakeup at one of Silicon Valley's hottest companies.

In another surprising twist, former Yahoo Inc. executive Jeff Weiner will join LinkedIn as interim president to oversee day-to-day operations. Weiner will remain in his current role as executive in residence at venture capital firms Accel Partners and Greylock Partners. The latter is an investor in LinkedIn.

The length of Weiner’s tenure has not been determined. Weiner, who will report to Hoffman, has been mentioned as a possible candidate to replace Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang. He has more than 14 years of consumer Web experience, holding key leadership roles at Yahoo. It is not clear whether he is being groomed for a permanent role at LinkedIn.

"I am here to help Reid make [his] vision a reality, execute it and scale it," Weiner said in a joint interview with Hoffman and Nye. ...

The LinkedIn shuffle was triggered by the high-profile hire earlier this month of Dipchand "Deep" Nishar, the Google Inc. executive behind the search giant’s mobile business and other products. Nishar is leading LinkedIn’s efforts to develop new products and services. That was a post held by Hoffman, who has shifted his focus to directing strategy and vision for LinkedIn.

Nye, a veteran software executive, said he will remain aboard until mid-January to ease the transition. He will also continue to advise the company. He said his departure, which he has discussed with Hoffman for the past few months, was right for him and right for LinkedIn.

"Reid is the right guy to take the company forward," Nye said.

Hoffman is a veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur credited with helping spur the Internet boom of the last several years. Read our profile of him here.

LinkedIn is a service that lets professionals create online profiles that help them more easily connect with other professionals to get advice, find jobs or business prospects and make key hires.

In the past two years, Hoffman and Nye teamed to grow the site from 8 million to 33 million members and turned it into one of the rare moneymakers to emerge from the burgeoning social networking space.

The profitable company now has five different revenue streams: Advertising, online subscriptions, job postings, corporate sales and surveys. It raised $53 million from venture capitalists at a $1 billion valuation in June and an additional $22.7 million from strategic partners, including SAP Ventures and Goldman Sachs Groups Inc., in October. And it’s coming off a record fourth quarter, Hoffman said. LinkedIn executives refused to discuss annual revenue, but the company is expected to hit about $100 million.

LinkedIn has not gone untouched in the sharp economic downturn that has roiled Silicon Valley and cost the regions tens of thousands of jobs. The company recently laid off 36 people, about 10% of its staff. But Hoffman said LinkedIn has not seen a dip in advertising, which accounts for about 20% of its revenue. Page views have skyrocketed as workers worry about their jobs or seek new ones. Job listings have flatlined but not declined, Hoffman said. LinkedIn commands some of the highest ad rates on the Web.

"We are poised to drive the company to the next level," Hoffman said.

That’s not to say that Hoffman isn’t keeping a worried eye on the tattered U.S. economy.

"Every rational person is nervous about what 2009 looks like," he said. "We are hopeful that 2009 is one of the years where we further demonstrate what a big company we can build. Thus far, we have no flagging indicators in any area of our business so we are very hopeful."

-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: LinkedIn Chairman Reid Hoffman, right, with CEO Dan Nye. Credit: Dave Getzschman / For The Times.

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