After LinkedIn Corporation (NYSE:LNKD) announced recent Q4 and year-end earnings, it’s hard to imagine anything raining on its parade right now. Shareholders, after enjoying a 25% jump in share prices since the Nov. 7 earnings news, are going to feel giddy for some time, too.
The recent announcement that there’s a new professional networking alternative in town won’t send LinkedIn aficionados running for the exits, nor should it. At the same time, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner is too good to ignore a potential threat simply because of its size, or newness to the market.
Who are these guys?
All three of LinkedIn’s business units — Talent Solutions, Marketing Solutions, and Premium Subscriptions — performed admirably in Q4. Weiner’s efforts to ensure LinkedIn has several viable revenue streams speaks to his leadership acumen and is a key reason LinkedIn’s share price has done as well as it has.
LinkedIn already faces competition from the likes of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and its relatively new jobs app, not to mention the potential of its billion active users. With that many active visitors, Facebook can take its desires to expand revenues in any number of directions, including getting serious about the professional networking market. Which is more a matter of if, not when, for the social media giant.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)‘s Google+ service is seen as more of a threat to Facebook than a viable competitor to LinkedIn. After all, Google+ began last year as a social-networking alternative, and according to a recent report, it already boasts more than 300 million active users. But like Facebook, its sheer size and track record of going big into new markets makes Google another threat to Weiner and the LinkedIn team.
Even with pressure coming from industry heavyweights like Facebook and Google, you can bet Weiner is doing his due diligence on the new professional networking service introduced today, called Relationship Science. Why? A couple of reasons. First, it’s always a good idea to keep an ear to ground as it relates to changes in the marketplace. That’s what good companies like LinkedIn — and good CEOs like Wiener — do.
Another reason LinkedIn should take note of privately held RelSci is where its $60 million in funding came from. Billionaires Kenneth Langone — one of the original co-founders of The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD) — and Henry Kravis of KKR fame are two of the big hitters. Capital IQ’s Neal Goldman (founder of RelSci) and Hearst are also intimately involved in the new LinkedIn alternative.