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The Endgame for LinkedIn Is Coming (medium.com)
63 points by hgsyndrome 36 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 65 comments

I think the problem is that it's trying to become some sort of "pro facebook".

But I have no, zero, interest in actually visiting unless I'm a recruiter. I don't care that someone posts a motivational video or a colleague celebrates 10 years at Innotek. All I want to do as a non-recruiter is maintain a reasonably sized network for that time in 5 years when I do want to check my network. Until then, I don't ever want to log in.

So to me it it does proide value, but how much value do I provide? I suppose my aging profile does provide some material for recruiters so that the keep spending for pro recruiter features. But I don't think they'll ever be a facebook that can have significant ad-revenue from recurring visitors.

I would think, and I'm speculating here, that the idea is that the kind of ads they have, justify a high CPC, precisely because you only go there when you're looking to hop jobs. Fewer people clicking that ad out of curiousity, with no possibility of applying for the position posted. $5 CPC makes sense if it gets you a new employee, since (even if it's only 1% of those clicking who you hire) that is a small part of total cost of employee acquisition.

I have no idea if this is actually the strategy, or if this is actually working, I'm just floating it as a possibility. You only go there if you're a recruiter, or thinking about getting new work, or you have been asked by somebody else to endorse, and that would be a good thing, in this scenario, since it improves the signal-to-noise ratio.

To paraphrase the point in the context of the GP comment, you might only be checking it once every five years when you're looking for a new job, but this means that when you _are_ looking for a new job LinkedIn is the first to know.

Wow that is way better than the way I put it.

I don’t know a single manager or leading figure in management who isn’t utilizing LinkedIn. It’s used for recruitment, idea-sharing, networking, following and genuine discussion.

I fully understand how that can go unnoticed, because I didn’t notice for a long while. Before I was invited to help formulate national standards on enterprise architecture I rarely used LinkedIn. It’s not where developers network, not by a long shot. But I entered these multi-municipal networks, and through that work I was exposed to the greater sum of LinkedIn.

It’s not an understatement to say that it’s a platform you can’t ignore if you work with any sort of management, and project/change-management applies to this. Today it’s the only social network I have installed on my phone, precisely for this reason.

On my morning commute this morning I learned about a new AI project in our neighbouring municipality as an example of just how useful it is. I probably would have heard about it eventually at one of the yearly events the project owner and I both attend, but now I heard about it in time to enter the project with them.

This is anecdotal of course and maybe this is a Danish thing, maybe it’s even more profound in our public sector, but I think LinkedIn is rather valuable and increasingly so.

Absolutely true, casual users don't realize how valuable LinkedIn is for recruiting and sales in general. Once Microsoft is able to push a real CRM competitor to Salesforce and have it integrate with their other cloud offerings like LinkedIn...it's going to be quite something. I don't think anyone will be able to compete with it, if I'm being honest. The blog comically says this will lead to "monopoly" status, and I don't see how.

The blog post says all this integration is never going to happen, but I don't know if they have ever worked for a large corporation or not...but it takes a while to get the wheels spinning especially after an acquisition. Anyone that thinks LinkedIn was a dumb purchase by Microsoft does so at their own peril.

> Once Microsoft is able to push a real CRM competitor to Salesforce

Given how Salesforce is squeezing every last cent out of users (new or long-time) that day can't come soon enough.

I like Salesforce (the product) and enjoy working with it more than I ever enjoyed Dynamics CRM, but their price hikes are getting too much for customers to stomach.

That's all nice, but how does it translate into revenue?

Wow. It's the first time I see a professional chart that triggers such a strong optical illusion:


Is the zero axis horizontal?

According to KRuler, it is.

Linkedin will still remain valuable in the recruiting industry. I hate it, but I've decided to keep my profile because it'll raise a red flag to potential employers when they see I'm not in it.

But as for everything else, most people are consumers. They consume content - whether it's cat photos, videos, news, etc. Linkedin offers none of that. People just go there when they need a job. So I don't see how they can increase engagement in a platform where 99% of people in the world just want to consume.

I've worked some jobs where "be active on a LinkedIn community" is part of the job. Some employers treat it like going to a conference.

> I've decided to keep my profile because it'll raise a red flag to potential employers when they see I'm not in it

Really? Do you think people base such impressions upon solid logic, or is it simply some sort of employer groupthink?

I like to think that potential employers will respect my decision to avoid the vacuous LinkedIn crazy town, rather than mark me down for it.

Depends who's hiring I guess. If I'm the one doing the hiring, then not being on LinkedIn certainly makes a positive impression upon me :-)

> If I'm the one doing the hiring, then not being on LinkedIn certainly makes a positive impression upon me :-)

Isn't it kind of the same sort of thing as "wearing pants to a job interview" now? Just part of the expected decorum for functioning as a professional? I understand it can be a bit of a crazy town, but there's a difference between "being on there" and "putting up inspirational quotes at 15 minute intervals".

You may well be right. That's a good point about not having to engage heavily with it. Most other people in this thread seem to be indicating that this is how it is (wearing pants is required), and that I'm a no-pants outlier.

If I ever get within a sniff of being near the breadline, then of course I shouldn't rule out re-joining LinkedIn, in order to protect myself from destitution, but things are okay for me right now.

I originally left because LinkedIn triggered my "3 strikes and you're out" policy on spam and sneaky dark pattern preferences UI. Have they improved their behaviour in that area?

Oh, they exposed my password to the internet and they also stole all my Google contacts in the early days (2009?) without my permission. Nasty stuff.

I'm also worried about exposing too much personal history in terms of identity theft. The less data out there, the better (?).

I mean, if you're having success as a no-pants outlier, you do you, live that dream. Yeah, they haven't been great (spam, passwords, contact hijacking), but I just see it as the cost of working.

> I just see it as the cost of working

I sincerely mean this without any snark or sarcasm: You've given me something to think about. Thanks!

Goes to look for pants...

I respect your optimisim

Bless you, sir!

Anecdotal sample of one: my last 5 positions came from real life networking (meetups, local dev communities & reputation) rather than via a LinkedIn account, which as you've no doubt surmised, I no longer have.

FWIW I have never had my lack of Linkedin affect job prospects in any way that I can see, except presumably in reduced recruiter spam (though I still get plenty of that via GitHub and Angellist).


Fall behind in search, spend billions on Bing.

Fall behind in mobile, spend billions on Nokia.

Fall behind in social media, spend billions on LinkedIn.

Hmm, so what was that definition of insanity again?

All true. Yet somehow, as of today, they're still relevant. Perhaps not insane but certainly somewhat of a surprise.

p.s. Given what happened with the iPod / iTunes being behind isn't always a bad thing.

> Given what happened with the iPod / iTunes being behind isn't always a bad thing.

I don't think that's a fair comparison. When the iPod and then iTunes entered the scene, the MP3 player market was very small and immature. The product they put forth was untouchable because it didn't address one or two gripes with MP3 players of the time, it addressed almost all of them. The failed Microsoft products all entered mature markets with very strong incumbents.

When the iPod arrived on the scene it was half the size of the Creative HDD based MP3 players that here hot shit at the time and wasn't trying to look like futuristic discman. It featured a high speed interface (Firewire) so it didn't take weeks to load your music. The interface actually helped you quickly browse your gigabytes of sound files unlike everyone else whose UIs were d-pad based nightmares that made browsing more than a few hundred MP3s a hassle. It had a rechargeable battery that lasted longer than any other player of which most were still using AA as power. The most compelling alternative to the iPod was probably the iRiver H1xx series and it didn't arrive until 2 years later and still had a horribly crippled UI but equally high price.

All the incumbent tech giants including Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, and Google entered the markets they dominate when those markets were very immature and relatively new. Their products had multiple advantages over the competition, if any, and quickly captured the market before anyone realized what happened.

Fair? Perhaps not line for line. But it's not important at that level of detail.

My point is, I think if you asked most people "Who invented the MP3 player?" they'd say Apple. That's just not the case. Refined it? Yes, obviously. But they certainly weren't first.

Long to short, execution matters. There a tons of ideas sitting in the idea gravy yard, not because they were bad ideas, but because they were executed badly.

The comparison is completely invalid. If Apple was entering a mature market with an incumbent MP3 player that was comparable to the iPod or even better, then Apple would have had an uphill battle. They didn't. They entered a market with clearly the best device by a fair margin and people flocked to it.

The Search, Social Network, and Mobile OS markets were very mature when Microsoft entered market and the products they offered weren't discernably better let alone substantially better.

For the record, it's because of Apple that you can say the MP3 player market was not yet mature.

Regardless, my point - which might be different than your point - is first isn't always best; and that Apple's reputation as a ground-breaker can be, at times, overstated.

That just makes it all the more clearer how valuable it was for Microsoft to have Windows and Office be ingrained into many organizations' workflows.

Fall behind on Cloud, launch Azure. Perhaps it's a sign that they are better at launching huge moonshots than aquiring?

Perhaps when no innovation is required.

They have a terrible record of leading the way into new territory, and a questionable one when the growth engine is acquisition.

Azure was another copycat product.

Well they aren't really famous for innovation for large products (but they do innovate quite well in the small e.g. languages/research).

The question here was about copying: when you are after in an area, do you aquire something or lauch a large project to catch up. That doesn't even make sense for non-copycat products.

Maybe they're practising for something instead?

Xbox worked out


I, and many people it seems, agree with several of the criticisms—LinkedIn ads are terrible, LI's core product is not enjoyable as a user, and the gaggle of branded apps are an absolute clusterfuck.

However, the piece gets sloppy when the author starts speculating that Office 365's growth will lead to antitrust suits.

To succeed, Microsoft needs to make LinkedIn the anti-Facebook in terms of content, usefulness and trust. So far, this does not seem to be the case. I see fake profiles, click bait, flamewars, and ever-present recruiter spam.

It isn't Microsoft's fault, per se. It's a hard problem.

It's amazing how bad the content has become. It feels the same as Facebook, if not worse. Sometimes I'll log on just to "people watch", but that's about the extent of my usage.

Yes, my naive assumption was that if people presented their real names and their jobs in the same place, the discussion would be more civil — aren’t we in the era where people lose their jobs for Twitter rants? - but the negative content persists to the point that people are making memes(!) to push the idea of making LinkedIn more civil. Strange times.

For high quality content, usefulness, and trust, you need curation. Full stop.

Unless they plan on doing that, they can't pretend like they either have it or will have it.

I agree, but curation is often considered censorship, which results in negative press.

What about the value of the data? For a B2B company like MS, seems to me that the goodwill would really be worth that much if it generates future intangibles (useful data). I still see almost every professional with a linkedin account, even if nobody uses it. Imagine what you can infer about what projects other companies are working on just by the social graph. To explain what this article was complaining about, that doesn't give much incentive to make LinkedIn better.

Another reason why we need more itemization on intangibles in public filings...

From pg. 75 of the Microsoft FY 2018 10K filing, which shows how their intangibles for LinkedIn acquisition were itemized. This is apart from the $16.8b booked as 'goodwill' from synergy.

(In millions) Amount Weighted Average Life

Customer-related $ 3,607 7 years Marketing-related (trade names) $2,148 20 years Technology-based $2,109 3 years Contract-based $23 5 years

Fair value of intangible assets acquired $7,887 9 years

The internet needs a single sign-on. Perhaps that's why Microsoft bought LinkedIn?

The Internet needs no such thing. The possibility to have different personas in different parts of the Internet is one of its best features.

This article makes a lot of good points about the acquisition of LinkedIn. Such as, the ultimate play of LinkedIn user integration into the Microsoft suite as the billion dollar idea for Micrsoft. However, near the end, the author points our a painfully obvious contradiction of his knowledge on Linkedin by saying, "there is no transparency as to how LinkedIn's revenue has grown..." While I understand the Facebook comparison, I believe it to be a little off base. LinkedIn has two distinct business lines, advertising (like Facebook) and a B2B recruiting software platform.

On the advertising front, I could not agree more with the article. Working in the B2B marketing space for a while, we completely cut LinkedIn ads due to poor reach of our defined target audience. Working in the fintech space, we targeted the appropriate persona, yet came away with hundreds of likes from irrelevant professions. Coupled with the price, we left almost immediately.

However, I believe that LinkedIn is expanding on a B2B play. Selling recruiting solutions. LinkedIn is calling them "Talent Solutions." In October, LinkedIn purchased Glint, based out of the bay area [1]. Glint focuses primarily on B2B HR solutions, using surveys and AI to comprehend employee engagement and satisfaction. With LinkedIn's talent solution + Glint's HR solution, LinkedIn, and Microsoft, is making a horizontal play onto the HR landscape.

[1] https://techcrunch.com/2018/10/08/linkedin-acquires-employee...

> Selling recruiting solutions

Sadly the "Jobs you might be interested in..." from linkedin are, despite knowing quite a bit about what my skills are.... almost always completely irrelevant.

ie. They have the data... they are mind blowingly incompetent at using it.

I can't see LinkedIn ever having the kind of engagement Facebook gets but it also seems harder to leave completely than Facebook. When I decided to stop using Facebook it was fairly easy and had little to no impact on my life. Though I don't really like the experience of using LinkedIn it's harder to avoid as I'm often asked to look at profile of job candidates there for work and I imagine if I'm ever looking for work in the future my profile will need to be updated as part of the job search.

I just don't get any social signals from LinkedIn's UI. Whenever I open the homepage I immediately look away from the news feed as it is utter garbage. The same goes for groups.

I think there is some potential to make LinkedIn work, but it has to start with a thoughtful redesign. Of course, the right way would be that users themselves communicate rather than having the design do it for you. But at this point the platform has dug itself in too deep of a ditch.

LinkedIn represents in spectacular fashion how the internet runs primarily on wide-eyed, childlike gullibility: anybody can claim to be whoever or whatever they choose to portray themselves as, and no one the wiser. During my time using LI a few years back I found it occasionally a venue for some halfway decent discussions, usually on topics having precious little to do with business, management, recruiting etc, but its focus on matters of business was laughable. The "INfluencers Program" was little more than a bully pulpit for self-important yuppies to work their personal brands, and the way some of these vacuous outbursts passing as articles by their so-called "INfluencers" would be boasting tens of thousands of views within hours of posting made it look like a conspicuous pay-to-play scam with authors paying for artificial read stats to elevate their own profiles. Meanwhile, I encountered so many scammers and spammers obviously hiding behind false identities as to make it a rival for twitter in terms of its lowlife untrustworthiness as a serious means to make contacts for serious purposes. Probably these comments here trumpeting its legitimacy as a corporate recruiting and networking tool are written by LI employees or on contract by ghostwriters, because you could stand on a street corner with a handmade sign saying "I Am Someone Important, Honest" and you'd be making a more credible representation of yourself than anyone with the sense God gave geese could possibly see LinkedIn as being useful for.

This is a historical analysis that’s a couple years out of date. Under Microsoft, LinkedIn revenues have re-accelerated growth to 33% Y/Y in the most recent quarter vs. LinkedIn decelerating substantially to ~20’s % Y/Y growth independently. We’re about at the point where Microsoft expected LinkedIn to become earnings accretive as well, though that’s more difficult to tease out from numbers.

Linked in is a great network for recruiters, if you're recruiting other recruiters.

For people who actually do a real job, not so much.

LinkedIn's continuing existence is a good argument that decentralisation is harder than people think. To a large extent it's just competing with "job boards" and "CVs", but it adds just enough value as an intermediary that it's persisted.

"Every time this LinkedIn commercial pops up on YouTube I am reminded of how low the company has fallen to."

I recently thought the same when facebook started advertising (to me at least) on silly mobile game (the ads those games show)

Wait, they're advertising Facebook itself? Like "Sign up for this new social network...it's called Facebook!"

After the whole Cambridge Analytica thing I even saw physical facebook ads on the train, talking about how they weren't creepy and fake news is bad. It was strange to see.

These showed up in Chicago for months. It was a whole series, they said "Spam is not your friends", "Clickbait is not your friends", "Fake accounts are not your friends" and "Fake news is not your friends". It was funny to me, because it felt like they were reminding me of everything that made me hate (and subsequently abandon) Facebook in the first place. The whole ad campaign felt like a setup for the punch line "Facebook is not your friends.

I'm still seeing these on the underground.

They were all over the L in Chicago, but I haven't seen them for quite some time. Though I think Facebook and Zuckerberg in particular might have an even worse image over there than they do here.

Well why does McDonalds or Coca-Cola need to advertise? It's not necessarily about getting new customers or raising awareness that McDonalds exists (everyone knows of the brand already). It's about keeping them at the front of your mind. It's called the 'mere exposure' effect [1] where customers increase the intensity of their opinion of your brand just because they're constantly hearing about your brand. It doesn't even matter the content, they can double-dip: if they run an ad telling people to create a Facebook profile the hit both the market of people who don't yet use Facebook and also hit the market of people who do have an account but don't use it as much as Facebook wants you to.

Now unfortunately this does work both ways: if you hate Facebook, seeing a Facebook ad will make you more and more irritated with Facebook. But if you think Coca-Cola is good yet don't have strong preference Coke vs Pepsi, seeing Coke ads everywhere will make you think more highly of Coke rather than Pepsi. This is why Coke brands the most ridiculous things, like wall decor, decorative plates, toy trucks, even Christmas. People will gladly hang their ads on the wall and be constantly exposed to Coke advertising.

Facebook is banking on people who don't hate Facebook seeing the ads, knowing that people who do hate Facebook are a lost cause anyway... or are being targeted by a different ad campaign to win them back.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mere-exposure_effect

Coke is competing against Pepsi. Who are Facebook's competitors?

Facebook's biggest competitor is "not Facebook". There's tons of "not Facebook" that can hurt Facebook. Even other Facebook properties like Instagram and WhatsApp are "not Facebook" in the sense that they don't generate the same value of data that Facebook generates.

"Not Facebook" includes other social media like reddit and Twitter and Youtube and LinkedIn etc, but also news sources like New York Times and BBC and Washington Post etc, and other OpenID login providers like Google and Github etc, and other messaging services like iMessage and Slack etc, and other sources of business information like Yelp and TripAdvisor and Foursquare etc. Every time you visit one of these "not Facebook" sites, Facebook loses.

So Facebook reminds you that Facebook exists so you'll check Facebook first and might as well log into that site and app with Facebook and as long as you're here why not message your friends, oh by the way did you see this cool business near you and there's an event you just have to go to.

People’s time and attention

As these networks grow they start exhausting normal growth strategies and often have to resort for paying for users.

If your customer acquisition cost (CAC)is less than the lifetime value of the customer it's an obvious calculation.

If you pay $15 for a user but they make you $100 ... do it!

Yes, I’ve recently seen ads that say things along the line of “Create your Facebook account and connect with your friends.”

2.3 billion monthly active users later??? That is truly ridiculous.. too much cash to burn in their coffers perhaps?

I'm curious... can you post a link to these FB ads? Tks!

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