LinkedIn, the social networking site for professionals, expanded its service to include company profiles March 21, relying on the work histories of its individual members to build profiles of enterprises.
With additional data provided by BusinessWeek and its sister company, Capital IQ, corporate profiles have largely been culled from data supplied by LinkedIn's 20 million members, who are asked to list their employer, job title and work histories in their profiles. At its launch, LinkedIn corporate profiles numbered 160,000 businesses and philanthropic organizations of all sizes.
The service gives a succinct overview of a company's industry data as a composite of its employee data, something that is likely to be of use to job seekers and recruiters. Company profile pages include subsections that highlight both new employees and the movers and shakers within the organization-those who have very popular profiles or have recently been promoted.
Much of the real juice comes from LinkedIn's ability to connect individuals. By finding trends in the work history of a company's employees and identifying connections between companies, related company data gives a unique view of an organization. It may not come as a surprise that a lot of eBay employees have friends at Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, but they are also well-connected to Kijiji, a provider of free local classifieds worldwide.
The career paths of successful professionals may be especially helpful to job seekers, who might find it interesting to learn that a lot of Microsoft employees started at IBM, but moved onto Amazon after their stint at the Redmond giant.
Affront to Facebook
Long criticized by pundits for being both "boring" and "useless" by limiting itself to individual profiles, LinkedIn's move to links-and actually living up to its name-may improve its reputation, and perhaps its popularity.
Previously, member profiles were only connected to each other in a limited manner-those who had sought each other out and confirmed that they have or have had a professional relationship.
"The addition of company profile pages (which, dare I say, remind me of Facebook network pages) and the plans for more user generated content are good moves for LinkedIn, since the company needs to give users better reasons to return and use the site on a regular basis," Mark Hendrickson wrote on TechCrunch March 20.
Hendrickson isn't the only observer to see the Facebook connection, or competition, in LinkedIn's new feature.
"Aside from the addition of company data, these new pages are pretty much the same thing as network pages within Facebook. The only difference is that other people can view the pages without being members," wrote Nick O'Neill on the social networking blog socialtimes.com, where he argues that these features would be better leveraged on Facebook.
Not all agree, however. Founded in July 2007 and having raised $27.5 million to date, according to CrunchBase.com, LinkedIn is known to attract professionals who were primarily interested in networking and branding, and appreciated the pared-down tools that the site offered.
"...Facebook has its flaws. ...LinkedIn is seen as a professional tool without many of the bells, whistles and noise (e.g. Beacon, time-consuming applications) as Facebook. As someone said to me yesterday, 'LinkedIn is the only serious choice for networking,'" Mark Evans wrote on his tech blog.