LinkednIn Down in Celebration of their Billion-Dollar Club Membership


Quite a celebration: just the day after their $53M investment round, valuing the company at $1B (that’s Billion with a B) was announced, LinkedIn is down:

Is there a new emerging trend here?   PR blitz, big announcement, site is dead.  Other examples just this week:

Firefox Download Day leads to dead site.

Technorati Monster shows to celebrate investment + new ad network.  ( But hey, new Sales Team here to help, instead of technologists)

Then there was twitter .. then .. then ….smile_angry


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LinkedIn: One Billion Dream Dollars

Yes, I like LinkedIN, and am one of the very early users, from the early days before social networks become trendy. Simply because, unlike some of the more fashionable networks, I actually found it useful for business.

But is it worth One Billion Dollars?  Apparently it is – if you ask Bain Capital Ventures, Sequoia Capital, Greylock Partners, and Bessemer Ventures, who just invested a whopping $53M  with the even more whopping $1B valuation.  $53 million is a decent exit for some startups – but LinkedIN has about $100M in annual revenues.  Still, I really wonder what kind of stratospheric exit (IPO) valuation the current investors expect.

Or perhaps Kara Swisher is right:

Why go public when you can just pretend?

Exactly. smile_omg

Update (6/18):  In celebration of entering the Billion-Dollar Club, LinkedIn is down.

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LinkedIn Outage

This may very well be the first LinkedIn outage I’ve caught, and it comes on the day Google’s Blogger was down, and the Technorati Monster popped up it ugly head again.  Oh, well, at least this one is cute.


Your Digital Friends: Less is More

It’s almost two years ago that I “cleaned house” at LinkedIn, dropping from 500+ connections to about 300.

I had no clue about Dunbar’s number ( the maximum number of people one can maintain active, stable social relationships with, estimated at 150 by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar), I simply felt I had been to open accepting invitations from unknown people, and as a result, I barely recognized names on my LinkedIn contact list. I thought the very idea of LinkedIn was that it should be an online reflection of my real-life relationships.

Fast-forward two years, now we have FaceBook, Plaxo Pulse, Twitter, and a zillion of other places, and get inundated by friends request from new and new “social networks” never heard of before. Perhaps the rules changed a bit – people do “befriend” each other in cyberspace, without having met first. I can accept that to a certain extent, but I still think Dunbar’s number has merit, even in today’s world. Of course it’s not fixed at 150, for some it may be 80, for the uber-social ones 3-4-500? JP Rangaswami, blogging at Confused of Calcutta, (also pioneering adopter of social software as former CIO at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein) thinks his digital Dunbar number is higher than 150:

I’ve sensed that I have a Dunbar number of around 300 in the digital world, and I’ve been delighted to find I know most of the steady ones. Over the years I’ve actually met most of the community of readers, usually at conferences. The face-to-face contact, in turn, leads to a deepening of the relationship, and we land up creating and developing links in FaceBook and Twitter.

JP is wondering if there’s a trend here, and asks his readers:

How many FaceBook friends do you have, how many regular readers of your blog, how many followers in Twitter, do you see a correlation between the three, if not why not, and so on. Do you tend to meet a core of this number on a face-to-face basis, if not why not?

I’m not a regular reader of JP’s blog – discovered this post via Anne Zelenka at Web Worker Daily, but even if I was a subscriber, I would not consider myself a “friend”. I might want to follow his ideas on Twitter (if I was twittering at all) but that’s still passive mode. I think this commenter to Anne is right:

I don’t think that “following” people on Twitter would be considered “stable social relationships”. A social relationship implies a two-way street, and in my book, one that I value with some significance. That’s not to say that online social tools can’t be part of real relationships, but you can’t just add up all the numbers and think it means anything.

Now, if I commented on JP’s blog several times, and he responded, we’d establish a form of conversation, which, over time would allow us to get an insight into each other’s mind – i.e. getting to know each other to some extent. Perhaps at that point it would be appropriate to “befriend” each other on FaceBook. (Not that I actively use FaceBook, which is increasingly becoming an advertising platform, and even before that I had found it somewhat of a time-waster.)

I still don’t think we’d be ready to become LinkedIn contacts, because that network is all about trust, and recommending / referencing “friends” in a business context. Call me old-fashioned, anti-social, but I think that level of trust requires more of a real-life relationship, so my LinkedIn numbers would be close to my Dunbar-number, the number of active social contacts I am able and willing to maintain.

Before they cracked down on them, LinkedIn got polluted by contact-hunters, so-called superconnectors who amassed thousands, in a famous case 16,000 contact records. Note the emphasis on records. It’s just that. Data records, not real relationships. FaceBook (possibly learning from LinkedIn) limits the number of contacts to 5,000, which some users, including Robert Scoble find inadequate:

I think it sucks because it isn’t scalable and falls apart at 5,000 contacts. It pisses me off more and more every day because of that scaling wall.

Robert is a celebrity, and the 5000 or so are in his fan-club. Just like the Twitter example above, he has followers, not active friends. Hyper-social or not, he also has a Dunbar-number. It may be in the higher hundreds, but not in the thousands. For the rest of us, non-celeb types, I still believe less is more, and our online networks should reflect our real-life one, instead of being an inflated collection of data records. (This line became Doc Searls’ Quote du joursmile_teeth).

Finally, somewhat off-topic, here’s an observation from JP’s post: he’s using to ClustrMaps to monitor and illustrate where his readers come from. I understand the concentration in Europe, and also in the US, but what I am amazed at is the picture inside the US: what is this magical East / West divide? How come his readership drops so significantly in the Western half of the US?

Update (5/29/08):  How Many Friends is Too Many? asks Josh Catone @ ReadWriteWeb .


Facebook Just Ain’t For Business, Get Over It (Business Needs Social Networking in Context)

I’ve stolen the first part of the title: Sam Huleatt’s best contribution to the New York Times article is giving it a new title that says it all. thumbs_up

The Facebook vs LinkedIn debate heated up again today, for the millionth time. The Facebook Fanclub’s recurring theme in comparing LinkedIn to Facebook is just how resume- and jobsearch-oriented LinkedIn is: go there, get what you want, then there’s nothing else to do there.

I’m sorry, but since when is this a complaint? Isn’t business all about having an objective and efficiently reaching it with minimum the time and effort? I suspect most of the LinkedIn “deserters” who switched to Facebook are independent types who have the time to hang around in Facebook, and are striving to enhance their personal brand.

Jeremiah’s Web Strategy Group is thriving which certainly helps boost his own brand. Robert Scoble wants to have more than 5,000 friends:

I think it sucks because it isn’t scalable and falls apart at 5,000 contacts. It pisses me off more and more every day because of that scaling wall.

Robert is a celebrity, and this is his fan-club. For the rest of us, I still believe less is more, (update: Doc Searls feels the same) and our online network should reflect our real-life one, instead of being an inflated collection of data records. We already saw the initial “link-mongering” on LinkedIn, but after a while things settled down, and the majority of LinkedIn users max out with 2-300 contacts, which is about the number of people you really, truly can know well. Now, somehow with Facebook all the netiquette is thrown away: I’m sure I’m not the only one flooded with invitations by people whose name does not even remotely sound familiar, and frankly, it’s frustrating.

I also fail to see the usefulness of seeing when my contacts watch a movie, pack for a trip, make coffee, or go to pee. This is a lot of noise with the sole purpose of gluing us to the screen (it works!), and made sense for on-campus dating, Facebook’s heritage, but let’s be real: how is this relevant to business? I’m not saying Facebook can’t be used for business at all – Jeff Nolan quotes a few examples:

Victoria Secret has a group for their Pink product line, 380k members and great interactivity, downloads, user generated content.

Ernst & Young is recruiting through Facebook and experiencing great results as a result of being connected with their candidates where they live.

So, yes, Facebook can be used for business, but these examples are all about external outreach, marketing, communication, recruiting. The point I’m making is, let’s not, while bringing everything Web 2.0 into the Enterprise 2.0 umbrella try to push Facebook to the corporate market – is has no value there. Let’s not equate Facebook to Social Networking, which is, and will be important for the Enterprise, but it needs context.

To illustrate my point, I’ll bring an example originally not “labeled” as Social Networking – oh, and the story has a Facebook-y twist, too.

ConnectBeam started their life as for business, but arguably they have developed into a business-focused social networking tool: in context, with purpose. Ironically, it was Facebook that drove ConnectBeam into this market in the first place.

Founder Puneet Gupta launched CourseCafe in 2005, with the intention of becoming for students’ academic life what Facebook has become for their social Life – in fact I called it “The Other Facebook” for a reason: We thought that while Facebook dominated 80% of students’ life, the fun part, there was room for CourseCafe to help organize the remaining 20%, their studies. They had a good product, received good reviews and started to get traction, spreading through several colleges. Ultimately Puneet became worried about potentially clashing with FaceBook, and at the same time he received interest from the corporate world, so he reinvented his business, this time focusing on the Enterprise.

The new business, ConnectBeam is social bookmarking for the Enterprise – but soon they took a new spin, expanding towards social networking. But doing it in the right way, in context. The context is finding co-workers who are likely engaged in similar activities to yours, or at least have similar interests, since they execute similar searches and are using the same tags you do. Their product is tightly integrated with Google’s Enterprise search, showing a combined result of what Google finds, what is tagged by how many people, and the list of users sharing that item or tag.

Tight integration to Google has become their “secret sauce” in terms of sales success, too: just about any large organization has already a Google (or Fast ..etc) appliance, a dedicated person with a mission and budget to spend on Enterprise Search – so in fact what they sell is “search enhancement”. ConnectBeam has only launched recently, but they already have Honeywell, CSC, Booz Allen Hamilton and other big names as paying customers.

They’ve come full circle: driven away from the college market by Facebook, now offering context-specific social networking, beating Facebook to the Enterprise. They will not get 40 million users, and Puneet will not become a billionaire, like Mark Zuckerberg (likely) will. They follow the good old-fashioned model: deliver value to businesses, who pay for it. That’s pretty good in my book. smile_wink

Update: Of course the “LinkedIn vs Facebook” and “Facebook Sucks” stories are all over TechMeme:

TechCrunch, All Facebook, Off the Top, CenterNetworks, Workbench,, Scripting News, /Message, WinExtra, Insider Chatter,, Thomas Hawk’s Digital …, even Mini-Microsoft (wow!), PDA/Guardian,

Update #2: The you-don’t-need-more-friends lobby by Robert Scoble. I still belive he does not have 5,000 “friends” but a 5,000 (or more) strong fan-club. When you have 5,000 contacts, it’s a Rolodex (a term Robert used, too), not “live” contacts. And I suggest you read the comments to my old less is more post – re. the same subject, even though it’s on LinkedIn.

Update #3: Pfizer teams with Sermo, the “doctors’ Facebook” – Nick Carr writes about another contextual social network.

Update (10/15): Getting (Anti-) Social, the Web 2.0 Way – @ Wired & TechCrunch.

Wow! I’ve became Doc Searls’ Quote du jour. I’m honored.

Update (10/26): Naughty “Business” on FaceBook

Update (10/28): Beginner’s 5 Step Guide to Using LinkedIn and Facebook

Facebook Isn’t A Social Network, LinkedIn Is

Aussies as Adults: an Enterprise Facebook Story

The Facebook Fad