LinkedIn Needs To Break the Chain

I received an e-mail from LinkedIn this morning saying that there were a whole slew of new applications waiting for me to use. Surprised, I went to their website to find that while the e-mail had promised me a slew of new ways to collaborate with my circle, the steak did not match the sizzle.

The nine applications that appear do little to whet my creativity or appetite to leverage LinkedIn further. Two of them are even functional duplicates. Compare the LinkedIn list to the number of add-ons available for Firefox. Firefox has seventeen categories of applications.

The main difference between the two applications is openness. LinkedIn has somewhere north of ten million users. Meanwhile, Firefox has somewhere north of 125 million users. That’s an order of magnitude greater number of users for an application that, normalized, had been in existence for 6 months more. Users can develop apps for Firefox, Facebook, MySpace, etc. They can also access and synthesize data from those applications, which they cannot do in LinkedIn. LinkedIn remains a “walled garden” and misses the opportunity to grow into something huge and ubiquitous as a result.

LinkedIn is missing a much greater opportunity for revenue growth. While topping $100 million in revenues in 2007 (and, no, we cannot claim that number, so they are doing a few things right, I admit), the potential for growth is enormous and missed. A year ago, a comment on a blog post hoping that 2008 would be the year of LinkedIn captured the blind spots:

“LinkedIn really needs to do something with this social network it has gathered. Right now it just feels like a glorified Rolodex and resume holder. They have huge potential to become the de facto business portal and they€™re squandering it on features of marginal concern to their existing user base like internationalization. Build some depth! Give me some reason to come back to LinkedIn beyond occasionally accepting some new FOAF as a contact. There€™s a whole world of features that could be incorporated: blogging, groups, industry pages, integration with business news feeds and job listings from other websites.

“People maintain separate personal and professional networks in real life, I don€™t see why LinkedIn couldn€™t adapt more of the rich features of Facebook tuned to professionals.”

It looks like round one of the feature growth missed the mark.

Opinion

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Jason Hull

Jason Hull manages business development and business processes for OpenSource Connections. A graduate of the United States Military Academy with an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business, Jason draws upon his extensive military and business experience to solve problems. As a tank platoon leader and a tank company executive officer during his two tours of duty in Bosnia, Jason served in multiple leadership positions in the Army. After graduate school, Jason served as a director of analysis for Capital One, managing call center forecasting, technology, and agent performance.

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