By: Matt Kapko
Linked hasn’t slowed its momentum under the ownership of Microsoft. The professional social network surpassed 500 million registered users this week, up from 467 million members as of October 2016.
The company’s growth rate has remained steady during the past year, including a quiet period after Microsoft announced plans to acquire the business last June. The $26.2 billion deal closed in late December.
LinkedIn hit the 500 million mark during a remarkably busy stretch of updates including the site’s most significant redesign to date, improvements to its premium subscription plans, messaging and the introduction of a trending storylines feed. Much of the focus of late is on improving the user experience and creating mechanisms to increase engagement among users.
Job opportunities, content and connections are driving the bulk of user interactions. For example, the company says there are currently more than 10 million active jobs on the site, more than 9 million company profiles and at least 100,000 articles published each week.
How much will LinkedIn grow under Microsoft?
“Microsoft has a lot of work to do, but I think this 500 million mark is impressive,” says Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. While LinkedIn’s massive user base is a key component of its success, the company should also be providing some sort of activity metric to indicate how often its 500 million members are using the site, he says. “I think the important thing is people interacting, as opposed to adding more people.”
Absent active user numbers, there’s no indication that LinkedIn’s growing user base is translating to higher engagement, according to Jan Dawson, founder and chief analyst at Jackdaw. “There are of course some upper limits to the total number of people that can register accounts on LinkedIn, but the more important stats are the number of active users, and how active they are on the site, which we have no view into at this point,” he says. “There’s no reason to believe people will use LinkedIn less now that Microsoft owns it, and in fact given Microsoft is going to be adding value through integrations, it should actually do better.”
Based on its current trajectory and newfound resources under Microsoft, LinkedIn could double or triple its user base if it executes well and reaches its unmet potential, according to Moorhead. “I’ve felt this tactical improvement on the experience, which I did not necessarily expect, but strategically I just see so many things Microsoft can do with this,” he says. “Basically, it’s the Facebook for businesses.”
Job hunting and recruitment are among LinkedIn’s biggest successes today, but there’s even more value to be unlocked in dynamics, content and business-to-business opportunities, Moorhead says. “There’s something unique about this platform.”