LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner keeps Facebook away with keg stands
Two words help LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner sleep at night: keg stands.
"While many of us in college probably were at parties having a good time, doing things like keg stands, or being exposed to keg stands, I don't know that many of us would look forward to having a prospective employer have access to picture of those events," Weiner said during an onstage interview at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.
Or, as conference host John Battelle added helpfully, "bong hits."
His point: People want to keep their personal and professional identities separate. If Facebook is a place for your friends, LinkedIn is a place for your professional connections.
People have been speculating that LinkedIn is vulnerable to a Facebook take-down for years. So this is a question that Weiner fields a lot. But Weiner, a seasoned Silicon Valley executive, says he isn't too worried about anyone encroaching on his company's professional networking turf.
LinkedIn now has 85 million users, gets 60 million unique visitors a month and adds a new user every second. About half of all new accounts are overseas, the kind of rapid global growth that has caught the attention of investors. LinkedIn is estimated to be worth about $2 billion on the secondary market.
"People tend to lump us in with Facebook and Twitter," Weiner said. "But we're three very different things. Facebook is massive in scale and scope. Twitter is a public communication forum, but if I'm following you, you're not necessarily following me. LinkedIn is, simply, a professional network."
And in that space, Weiner doesn't see a lot of competition for his 7-year-old company.
"Critical mass matters in this business," he said. "To build [a competitor] from scratch today would be challenging. Other social ecosystems could be fertile ground for a new company that no one has heard of yet or that doesn't exist. ... Our focus on innovation makes that less likely."
Per usual, Weiner ducked the big question about the possibility of an IPO.
"You don't necessarily have to go public to get to the next level," he said.
-- Jessica Guynn
Photo: LinkedIn Chief Executive Jeff Weiner. Credit: TechCrunch