Well done, Linkedin Corporation (NYSE:LNKD). The career-minded social-networking website operator soared on Friday after posting blowout quarterly results. Revenue soared 81%. Adjusted earnings more than tripled.
You’re hired. When can you start?
However, if we’re to believe some people, LinkedIn won’t be on the market for long. CNBC’s Jim Cramer, for one, argues that Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) should buy LinkedIn, and a few analysts apparently agree with him.
Not me. Why should Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) overpay for LinkedIn when it can simply be the next LinkedIn? The notion isn’t as far-fetched as it may seem.
Graph Search is only the beginning
The problem with most Web 2.0 models that rely on user-generated content and the breadth of that content is that an even bigger website could pass them by.
Yelp Inc (NYSE:YELP) is attracting 86 million unique visitors a month? Great. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has more a billion active members. If it ever wanted to take on Yelp’s library of 36 million reviews, all it would need to do is open venue reviews as an option and hope that just four out of every hundred members would kick in with a single critique apiece.
LinkedIn has just surpassed 200 million users? Great. Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has five times as many users — and most Facebook members frequent the site on a regular basis.
If the power of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s reach doesn’t scare any company — LinkedIn included — last month’s introduction of Graph Search should be the equivalent of having the creepy little girl from The Ring drag her way into CEO Jeff Weiner’s living room. Graph Search allows users to scour their friends — and, perhaps even more importantly, their friends of friends — for member-submitted data.
This isn’t the iPhone’s Siri, which has proved to be more novelty than practical. Graph Search is a useful game changer. Let’s say that you’re single, and you’re looking. You can search through the list of your friends of friends for folks who aren’t in a relationship and share an interest of yours. It could be religion, politics, profession, or even just favorite cuisine. Asking the mutual friend for a connection seems like an easier path than online dating.
Now let’s target LinkedIn. How can Graph Search benefit someone looking for a job? Well, searching through friends and friends of friends for a certain company that you’re applying for is a good start. Making a connection with someone who works there or used to work there can be an invaluable source of information, if not a foot in the door. Using Graph Search to contact friends of friends in your field of work can open up opportunities.
LinkedIn is far more than a hub for those looking for work, so it’s not as if Facebook could just initiate a career-oriented layer to its site for those who need it — not to mention that LinkedIn’s success has come at the expense of previous Web-savvy leaders. Its stock soared Friday on good news, while Monster Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:MWW) saw its stock crash on Thursday on bad news.
Revenue from continuing operations slipped 10% at the parent company of Monster.com. Remember when Monster and its eventually acquired HotJobs.com were the places to go find work before LinkedIn made the process more seamless and ongoing? LinkedIn was the disruptor, but disruptors can be disrupted.
Calling in sick
Let’s say Facebook doesn’t think it can take on LinkedIn. Let’s say the easier path would be to simply gobble it up. Where’s the price point where LinkedIn accepts and the market doesn’t pummel Facebook for overpaying?
It’s a trick question. That price point doesn’t exist.