LinkedIn History: The Road To 300+ Million Members

linkedin history

Watching the rise of social networks replicates a lot of the excitement that surrounded the dot com bubble but without the burst, at least not yet. It almost seems like to be a billion dollar company, you have to have started in your parent’s garage or basement and shacked up with a few other people just crazy enough to stand the marathon coding sessions. LinkedIn history definitely does not stray too far from this story.

Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, is at the center of the critical parts of LinkedIn history that were pivotal in defining the path to becoming a billion dollar company. Hailed as a business and tech genius, Hoffman has worn every hat along the corporate ladder and is a prominent angel investor for promising startups.

A Tour Through LinkedIn History (2002-Present)

2002

  • Reid Hoffman recruits a team of old colleagues from SocialNet and PayPal to work on a new idea. They setup office in Reid’s 1-bedroom apartment.
LinkedIn-design-at-launch
A look at LinkedIn history: LinkedIn’s website in 2002

2003

  • Six months after Reid assembles “the dream team”, LinkedIn officially launches on May 5, 2003. Growth starts out slow with as little as 20 new registered users on the worst days.
  • Reid Hoffman and his team manage to work out enough kinks to impress and attract a series A investment from Sequoia Capital
  • LinkedIn moves into a new office on the third floor of 1975 El Camino Real in Mountain View
  • Growth accelerates with the introduction of address book uploads in late 2003
  • LinkedIn introduces new features like Groups and partners with American Express to promote its offerings to small business owners

2004

  • LinkedIn moves into a new office on the third floor of 1975 El Camino Real in Mountain View
  • Growth accelerates with the introduction of address book uploads in late 2003
  • LinkedIn introduces new features like Groups and partners with American Express to promote its offerings to small business owners
LinkedIn celebrates reaching 500,000 members (Source: LinkedIn)
LinkedIn celebrates reaching 500,000 members (Source: LinkedIn)

2005

  • LinkedIn introduces its first premium services: Jobs and Subscriptions
  • The company moves into its fourth office in three years
LinkedIn’s first premium service (Source: LinkedIn)
LinkedIn’s first premium service (Source: LinkedIn)

2006

  • With the launch of public profiles, LinkedIn begins to stake its claim as the quintessential professional online profile
  • The company achieves profitability, and core features like Recommendations and People You May Know are introduced
LinkedIn reaches 5 million members (Source: LinkedIn)
LinkedIn reaches 5 million members (Source: LinkedIn)

 2007

  • After four years as CEO, Reid steps aside to run the products division and brings in Dan Nye to lead the company
  • LinkedIn moves to Stierlin Court and opens a Customer Service center in Omaha
  • LinkedIn Answers launches in January 2007
LinkedIn launches “Answers” (Source: LinkedIn)
LinkedIn launches “Answers” (Source: LinkedIn)

2008

  • Global LinkedIn history is made with the opening of its first international office in London
  • Spanish and French language versions of the site are launched
  • A mobile version of the site was launched in February 2008 that gave access to a reduced set of features
  • Sequoia Capital, Greylock Partners and other venture capital firms purchased a 5% stake in the company for $53 million, pushing their post-money valuation to approximately $1 billion
  • LinkedIn launches LinkedIn DirectAds as a form of sponsored advertising
  • Jeff Weiner joins LinkedIn first as President, then CEO, and brings focus and clarity to LinkedIn’s mission, values and strategic priorities
  • LinkedIn hits 50 million members milestone

2009

  • Jeff Weiner joins LinkedIn first as President, then CEO, and brings focus and clarity to LinkedIn’s mission, values and strategic priorities
  • LinkedIn hits 50 million members milestone
(Source: LinkedIn)
(Source: LinkedIn)

2010

  • LinkedIn’s growth begins to accelerate at unprecedented rates and reaches 90 million members with nearly 1,000 employees in 10 offices around the world
  • LinkedIn opens an International Headquarters office in Dublin, Ireland
  • LinkedIn receives a $20 million investment from Tiger Global Management LLC at a valuation of approximately $2 billion
  • Mspoke becomes LinkedIn’s first acquisition and improves its 1% premium subscription ratio
  • Silicon Valley Insider ranks the company No. 10 on its Top 100 List of most valuable start ups
  • In November 2010, LinkedIn begins allowing businesses to list products and services on company profile pages
  • LinkedIn filed for an initial public offering in January 2011 and traded its first shares on May 19, 2011, under the NYSE symbol “LNKD”, price of IPO was $45 per share.
  • Shares of LinkedIn rise as much as 171% in their first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange
  • LinkedIn earns $154.6 million in advertising revenue alone for 2011, surpassing Twitter
  • LinkedIn Polls are introduced to their one million groups
  • LinkedIn acquires CardMunch, a mobile app maker that scans business cards and converts into contacts
  • In July 2011, LinkedIn launched a new feature allowing companies to include an “Apply with LinkedIn” button on job listing pages

2011

  • LinkedIn filed for an initial public offering in January 2011 and traded its first shares on May 19, 2011, under the NYSE symbol “LNKD”, price of IPO was $45 per share.
  • Shares of LinkedIn rise as much as 171% in their first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange
  • LinkedIn earns $154.6 million in advertising revenue alone for 2011, surpassing Twitter
  • LinkedIn Polls are introduced to their one million groups
  • LinkedIn acquires CardMunch, a mobile app maker that scans business cards and converts into contacts
  • In July 2011, LinkedIn launched a new feature allowing companies to include an “Apply with LinkedIn” button on job listing pages
The LinkedIn team on the day of IPO (Source: LinkedIn)
The LinkedIn team on the day of IPO (Source: LinkedIn)

2012: The “New” LinkedIn

  • LinkedIn introduces a new look to profile pages, new features and updated versions of their mobile apps
  • In the spring of 2012, LinkedIn leased 57,120 square feet on three floors of the One Montgomery Tower building in the Financial District of San Francisco (expanded to 135,000 square feet by 2014)
  • The famous 2012 LinkedIn hack occurs, resulting in personal data being compromised for over 6 million users
  • In July 2012, LinkedIn acquired 15 key Digg patents for $4 million including “click a button to vote up a story” patent
  • From September 2012, LinkedIn began allowing users to endorse each other’s skills
  • The LinkedIn Influencers program launches in October 2012 and brings together more than 300 of the world’s top thought leaders including Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Deepak Chopra to share their professional insights with the LinkedIn community
Richard Branson’s LinkedIn Influencer page
Richard Branson’s LinkedIn Influencer page

2013

  • LinkedIn reaches 225 million members, growing at a rate of more than two new members per second
  • With 20 million users, India has the fastest-growing network of users as of 2013
  • As of January 31, 2013, the LinkedIn Answers feature is no longer supported
  • On July 23, 2013, LinkedIn announces their new advertising service: Sponsored Updates
  • In October 2013, LinkedIn announced a service for iPhone users called “Intro”, which inserts a thumbnail of a person’s LinkedIn profile in correspondence with that person when reading mail messages in the native iOS Mail program
  • Documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal that British GCHQ infiltrated the Belgacom network by luring employees to a false LinkedIn page
LinkedIn celebrates hitting 200 million users (Source: LinkedIn)
LinkedIn celebrates hitting 200 million users (Source: LinkedIn)

2014

  • LinkedIn celebrates its 11th anniversary
  • In January 2014, the countries with the most LinkedIn users were:
  1. United States (93 million)
  2. India (24 million)
  3. Brazil (16 million)
  4. United Kingdom (14 million)
  5. Canada (9 million)
  • LinkedIn acquires job matching service Bright In February for $120 million
  • In April 2014, LinkedIn announces their new lease for 222 Second Street, a 26-story building under construction in San Francisco’s SoMa district, to accommodate up to 2,500 of its employees
  • LinkedIn reaches market capitalization of $22.66 billion as of May 2014
  • LinkedIn hits 300 million users as of April 2014
The LinkedIn team at HQ in California celebrating 300 million users (Source: LinkedIn)
The LinkedIn team at HQ in California celebrating 300 million users (Source: LinkedIn)

LinkedIn History: 1 Bedroom Apartment To $22 Billion

If you’re a fan of Malcolm Gladwell, you probably are familiar with “The Tipping Point”, a bestselling book that analyzes the effect of critical mass and discusses which trends go viral. It’s amazing to see how LinkedIn started out like any other startup but held on and worked hard until they reached their tipping point.

It’s a truly inspiring success story for any entrepreneur out there and surprisingly practical. Reid Hoffman was always the kind of guy that had big ideas that others couldn’t relate to until he hit the jackpot with LinkedIn. This is a struggle many business owners go through because it takes guts to start a business and even more so in a brand new area. Reid saw the potential for LinkedIn in 2014 back in 1997 but the impressive part is that he had the courage to bet on it…and won.

Let me know which part of LinkedIn history impresses you the most as an entrepreneur in the comments below.

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