LinkedIn is a business and employment-oriented social networking service that operates via websites. Founded on December 28, 2002, and launched on May 5, 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking, including employers posting jobs and job seekers posting their CVs. As of 2015, most of the site's revenue came from selling access to information about its users to recruiters and sales professionals. As of September 2016, LinkedIn has more than 467 million accounts, out of which more than 106 million are active. LinkedIn allows users (workers and employers) to create profiles and "connections" to each other in an online social network which may represent real-world professional relationships. Users can invite anyone (whether a site user or not) to become a connection.
The site has an Alexa Internet ranking as the 20th most popular website (October 2016)
As of 2015, LinkedIn had more than 400 million members in over 200 countries and territories. It is significantly ahead of its competitors Viadeo (50 million as of 2013) and XING (11 million as of 2016). In 2011, its membership grew by approximately two new members every second.
User profile network
The basic functionality of LinkedIn allows users (workers and employers) to create profiles, which for employees typically consist of a curriculum vitae describing their work experience, education and training and a photo of them. Users can list their workplace skills on their profile. As well, the site enables users to make "connections" to each other in an online social network which may represent real-world professional relationships. Users can invite anyone (whether a site user or not) to become a connection. However, if the invitee selects "I don't know" or "Spam", this counts against the inviter. If the inviter gets too many of such responses, the user's account may be restricted or closed.
This list of connections can then be used in a number of ways:
- Obtaining introductions to the connections of connections (termed second-degree connections) and connections of second-degree connections (termed third-degree connections)
- Users can search for second-degree connections who work at a specific company they are interested in, and then ask a specific first-degree connection in common for an introduction
- Users can find jobs, people and business opportunities recommended by someone in one's contact network.
- Employers can list jobs and search for potential candidates.
- Job seekers can review the profile of hiring managers and discover which of their existing contacts can introduce them.
- Users can post their own photos and view photos of others to aid in identification.
- Users can follow different companies.
- Users can save (i.e. bookmark) jobs that they would like to apply for.
- Users can "like" and "congratulate" each other's updates and new employments.
- Users can wish each other a happy birthday.
- Users can see who has visited their profile page.
The "gated-access approach" (where contact with any professional requires either an existing relationship, or the intervention of a contact of theirs) is intended to build trust among the service's users. LinkedIn participated in the EU's International Safe Harbor Privacy Principles.
Embedded in profile
In October 2008, LinkedIn enabled an "applications platform" which allows external online services to be embedded within a member's profile page. Among the initial applications were an Amazon Reading List that allows LinkedIn members to display books they are reading, a connection to Tripit, and a Six Apart, WordPress and TypePad application that allows members to display their latest blog postings within their LinkedIn profile. In November 2010, LinkedIn allowed businesses to list products and services on company profile pages; it also permitted LinkedIn members to "recommend" products and services and write reviews. Shortly after, some of the external services were no longer supported, including Amazon's Reading List 
A mobile version of the site was launched in February 2008, which gives access to a reduced feature set over a mobile phone. The mobile service is available in six languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish. In January 2011, LinkedIn acquired CardMunch, a mobile app maker that scans business cards and converts into contacts. In June 2013, CardMunch was noted as an available LinkedIn app. In August 2011, LinkedIn revamped its mobile applications on the iPhone, Android and HTML5. At the time, mobile page views of the application were increasing roughly 400% year over year according to CEO Jeff Weiner. 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. This is accomplished by re-routing all emails from and to the iPhone through LinkedIn servers, which security firm Bishop Fox asserts has serious privacy implications, violates many organizations' security policies, and resembles a man-in-the-middle attack.
LinkedIn also supports the formation of interest groups, and as of March 29, 2012 there are 1,248,019 such groups whose membership varies from 1 to 744,662. The majority of the largest groups are employment related, although a very wide range of topics are covered mainly around professional and career issues, and there are currently[when?] 128,000 groups for both academic and corporate alumni. Groups support a limited form of discussion area, moderated by the group owners and managers. Since groups offer the functionality to reach a wide audience without so easily falling foul of anti-spam solutions, there is a constant stream of spam postings, and there now exist a range of firms who offer a spamming service for this very purpose. LinkedIn has devised a few mechanisms to reduce the volume of spam, but recently[when?]took the decision to remove the ability of group owners to inspect the email address of new members in order to determine if they were spammers. Groups also keep their members informed through emails with updates to the group, including most talked about discussions within your professional circles. Groups may be private, accessible to members only or may be open to Internet users in general to read, though they must join in order to post messages.
In December 2011, LinkedIn announced that they are rolling out polls to groups.In November 2013, LinkedIn announced the addition of Showcase Pages to the platform. In 2014, LinkedIn announced they were going to be removing Product and Services Pages paving the way for a greater focus on Showcase Pages.
LinkedIn allows users to research companies, non-profit organizations, and governments they may be interested in working for. Typing the name of a company or organization in the search box causes pop-up data about the company or organization to appear. Such data may include the ratio of female to male employees, the percentage of the most common titles/positions held within the company, the location of the company's headquarters and offices, and a list of present and former employees. In July 2011, LinkedIn launched a new feature allowing companies to include an "Apply with LinkedIn" button on job listing pages. The new plugin allowed potential employees to apply for positions using their LinkedIn profiles as resumes.
Job recruiters, head hunters, and personnel HR are increasingly using LinkedIn as a source for finding potential candidates. By using the Advanced search tools, recruiters can find members matching their specific key words with a click of a button. They then can reach out to those members by sending a request to connect or by sending InMail about a specific job opportunity he or she may have. Recruiters also often join industry based groups on LinkedIn to create connections with professionals in that line of business.
Since September 2012, LinkedIn has enabled users to "endorse" each other's skills. This feature also allows users to efficiently provide commentary on other users' profiles – network building is reinforced. However, there is no way of flagging anything other than positive content. LinkedIn solicits endorsements using algorithms that generate skills members might have. Members cannot opt out of such solicitations, with the result that it sometimes appears that a member is soliciting an endorsement for a non-existent skill.
LinkedIn continues to add different services to its platform to expand the ways that people use it. On May 7, 2015, LinkedIn added an analytics tool to its publishing platform. The tool allows authors to better track traffic that their posts receive.
The LinkedIn Influencers program launched in October 2012 and features global thought leaders who share their professional insights with LinkedIn's members. As of May 2016, there are 750+ Influencers, approximately 74% of which are male. The program is invite-only and features leaders from a range of industries including Richard Branson, Narendra Modi, Arianna Huffington, Greg McKeown, Rahm Emanuel, Jamie Dimon, Martha Stewart, Deepak Chopra, Jack Welch, and Bill Gates.
Advertising and for-pay research
In mid-2008, LinkedIn launched LinkedIn DirectAds as a form of sponsored advertising. In October 2008, LinkedIn revealed plans to open its social network of 30 million professionals globally as a potential sample for business-to-business research. It is testing a potential social network revenue model - research that to some appears more promising than advertising. On July 23, 2013, LinkedIn announced their Sponsored Updates ad service. Individuals and companies can now pay a fee to have LinkedIn sponsor their content and spread it to their user base. This is a common way for social media sites such as LinkedIn to generate revenue.f
Inspired by Facebook's "social graph", LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner set a goal in 2012 to create an "economic graph" within a decade. The goal is to create a comprehensive digital map of the world economy and the connections within it. The economic graph was to be built on the company's current platform with data nodes including companies, jobs, skills, volunteer opportunities, educational institutions, and content. They have been hoping to include all the job listings in the world, all the skills required to get those jobs, all the professionals who could fill them, and all the companies (nonprofit and for-profit) at which they work. The ultimate goal is to make the world economy and job market more efficient through increased transparency. In June 2014, the company announced its "Galene" search architecture to give users access to the economic graph's data with more thorough filtering of data, via user searches like "Engineers with Hadoop experience in Brazil."
LinkedIn has used economic graph data to research several topics on the job market, including popular destination cities of recent college graduates, areas with high concentrations of technology skills, and common career transitions. LinkedIn provided the City of New York with data from economic graph showing "in-demand" tech skills for the city's "Tech Talent Pipeline" project.
New user interface in 2017
Soon after LinkedIn's acquisition by Microsoft, on January 19, 2017, LinkedIn's new desktop version was introduced. The new version was meant to make the user experience seamless across mobile and desktop. Some of the changes were made according to the feedback received from the previously launched mobile app. Features that were not heavily used were removed. For example, the contact tagging and filtering features are not supported any more.
Following the launch of the new interface, some users, such as blogger Zubair Abbas, complained about missing features which were there in the older version, slow speed and bugs in the UI. The issues were faced by both free and premium users, and with both the desktop version and the mobile version of the site.
LinkedIn derives its revenues from three business divisions:
- Talent Solutions, through which recruiters and corporations pay for branded corporation and career listing pages, pay-per-click targeted job ads, and access to the LinkedIn database of users and resumes.
- Marketing Solutions, which advertisers pay for pay per click-through targeted ads.
- Premium Subscriptions, through which LinkedIn users can pay for advanced services, such as LinkedIn Business, LinkedIn Talent (for recruiters), LinkedIn JobSeeker, and LinkedIn Sales for sales professions.
Some elements of the various subscription services are also on a pay per use basis like InMail.