LinkedIn founder hand-picks ex-Yahoo exec Jeff Weiner as the new CEOBy Michael Liedtke, AP
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
LinkedIn connects with ex-Yahoo exec as new CEO
SAN FRANCISCO — After six months of grooming, LinkedIn Corp. founder Reid Hoffman has decided former Yahoo Inc. executive Jeff Weiner is ready to take over his job running the Internet’s largest site devoted to professional networking. The change in command announced Wednesday isn’t a surprise, given that Hoffman brought in Weiner as LinkedIn’s interim president to start the year. Weiner joined LinkedIn as Hoffman reclaimed his job as the Mountain View-based company’s chief executive from Dan Nye, whom he hired to run LinkedIn in early 2007.
“It became real clear to both of us that this was the next logical extension,” Weiner said of his working relationship with Hoffman.
Weiner, 39, hasn’t been a CEO previously, but he has experience overseeing an operation even larger than LinkedIn.
In his last position during a seven-year stint at Yahoo, Weiner oversaw Yahoo’s front page, e-mail, search engine and news. That Yahoo division generated about $3 billion in annual revenue and employed more than 3,000 people.
Privately held LinkedIn doesn’t disclose its revenue. It employs about 350 people.
Weiner left Yahoo a year ago, around the same time that the Sunnyvale-based company signed an Internet search advertising deal with rival Google Inc. that later unraveled under regulatory pressure.
Although he’s stepping down as CEO for the second time in a little over two years, Hoffman, 41, will remain one of LinkedIn’s guiding forces as the company’s executive chairman and largest individual shareholder.
But Weiner will assume the primary responsibility for keeping LinkedIn on a profitable path that could culminate in an initial public offering of stock.
In a joint interview, Hoffman and Weiner declined to set a timetable for an IPO. Without providing specific figures, Hoffman said LinkedIn has been profitable for the past two years and is on course to make money again this year.
LinkedIn already has built one of the Internet’s best-known franchises by connecting people interested in broadening their professional horizons. About 42 million people have set up profiles on LinkedIn’s site, turning it into a valuable resource for headhunters and prospective employers. LinkedIn remains far smaller than the Web’s biggest networking sites, Facebook and MySpace, which are more about having fun than work.
Some recruiters and businesses have been willing to pay LinkedIn a special fee for expanded access to users’ profiles. LinkedIn gets most of its remaining revenue from advertising sales.
The formula has worked well enough to secure LinkedIn a market value of about $1 billion, based on $80 million in investments made in the company last year. LinkedIn’s investors include Greylock Partners, where Weiner went to work an executive-in-residence after quitting Yahoo.
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