A Billion For LinkedIn?

Can LinkedIn (profile; site) really pull off a $1 billion funding round? As big as it is that’s the number being tossed around on tech and VC blogs.

Over at TechCrunch, Michael Arrington reports that investment banker Allen & Co. is shopping for more funding to add to the $27.5 million that LinkedIn has raised in previous rounds over its five year life. The billion dollar valuation presumably is based on LinkedIn’s estimate it will generate between $75 and $100 million this year.

Venture Beat says “good news” may be coming from the company that last fall was supposedly negotiating to be acquired by News Corp., which instead bought The Wall Street Journal. Writer Eric Eldon says sources have told him that LinkedIn has raised a new funding round, which he estimates at “many tens of millions of dollars.”

Arrington says Dave Wehner, managing director at the secretive Allen & Co. is handling the arrangements. He previously handled the sale of social networking site Bebo to AOL for $850 million. According to one account, Bebo had 2007 revenues of $20 million. That would certainly make LinkedIn worth at least the billion and very likely more, since it’s not only growing but has two years of profitability under its belt.

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What would an infusion of “tens of millions” do for LinkedIn? Accelerate its development schedule for one. LinkedIn is working on a research component that would enable companies and others to access data mined from the 22 million LinkedIn users. It could also fund ever more off-site tools to make LinkedIn more ubiquitous still, helping it compete with Facebook, its nearest competitor. Certainly more investment dollars could fuel the site’s growth overseas where it lags both Facebook and MySpace substantially.

Not that we have any special insight, but we have to wonder if an acquisition or two might be a possibility. Considering the demographics of LinkedIn users – late 30s to early 40s with an income around $100,000 – The Ladders might be a fit. That would presuppose it’s for sale, something we periodically hear rumored.

John Zappe is the editor of TLNT.com and a contributing editor of ERE.net. John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


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