LinkedIn Corporation (NYSE:LNKD) is the biggest professional social network; it has seen a rapid increase in its price since the beginning of the current year. It has gone up from USD 115.71 on January 2, 2013 to USD 185.39 on April 15, 2013, providing a rate of return of over 60% in just three and a half months time.
The company has experienced a growth in revenues of approximately 99% over the past three years. The company's fastest-growing sector has been the Talent Solutions, comprising around 53% of the company's total revenues according to the Q4 2012 results.
It is not only the monetary worth of the company that has seen growth over the past few years, but also the traffic experienced by the website has increased manifolds, as it can be seen by the figure below.
In terms of regional performance, although the company's major traffic comes from North America and Europe, the company is growing its presence in the Middle East & Africa, Latin America and the Asia Pacific regions. The graph below shows the growth of unique visitors to LinkedIn over a period of one year.
Ever since the company's end of a partnership with Twitter, it has launched several steps that suggested that the management is focusing toward sustaining the growth achieved by the company. The way the management is to do this is through engaging much of its users. The company has taken multiple steps to do so.
One of these is the aesthetic revamp of its recruiter homepage. The most prominent change in the interface is the increased emphasis on the search bar. Located on the top left hand corner of the page, it follows the users persistently. Apart from this, added features such as history of saved searches, auto suggested search and an increased focus on messaging are all aimed at increasing user engagement. The problem that LNKD faces is somewhat similar to that faced by other search engines, people visit the site for a certain purpose, and after having completed the purpose, they leave immediately. Thus adding such features would increase the chance of the company to improve the time spent by user per visit.
Another step taken by the company to increase engagement is the focus towards its content. LinkedIn has moved aggressively into content, aiming to be a sort of business news source with a special focus on the articles being read and shared by business colleagues with related interests. The goal is to make LinkedIn an everyday website for business people to visit, opposed to one which they only visit when searching for a job.
A Focus towards Content
Added features such as LinkedIn Today, Professional-User Groups, and an emphasis on sharing are all aimed at increasing the amount of content that flows through its network. According to LinkedIn's Head of Content Products Ryan Roslansky, "We think that content is one way that we can make users more productive and successful on LinkedIn."
LinkedIn would be adding an "Influencer" section on its website that will provide articles written by prominent leaders. Users would be able to follow favorite personalities that they are not connected to. Furthermore LNKD will give its users access to some more advanced blogging tools that will enable them to publish longer articles with pictures and videos. Although it would initially include only 150 individuals that the company deems as "thought leaders," the company would gradually make this service available for everyone.
The Acquisition of the professional content sharing platform Slide Share in May 2012 was another step in the same direction. The platform allows its users to share business documents, videos and presentations, thus allowing the company to keep professional focus but at the same time enabling greater content sharing.
LinkedIn's recent acquisition of Pulse, an e-reader with more than 30 million subscribers, would help the company in achieving its goal. The Pulse app is available on both Apple IOS and Android, giving the company a greater penetration into the mobile segment. Plus the platform is also available on web browsers, increasing the reach of the application. Pulse provides content from more than 175 leading content providers to its users according to their preferences. Adding and incorporating the application would certainly help the company in achieving its desire to become a leading professional publishing platform.
The biggest problem that the company would face, in its attempt to establish itself as a leading professional publishing platform, is the competition from interest specific platforms. However, I believe that with the recent developments, along with its user specific group, the company would be able to build a very strong niche in the market. Thus I would give a buy recommendation for LNKD.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.