Ever since its impressive IPO back in 2011, LinkedIn has gone from strength to strength. The social network for professionals has consistently surpassed the expectations of Wall Street analysts, sustaining steady growth across its recruitment, subscription and advertising revenue streams. Shares are currently worth $120, a price almost three times that of their opening day value.
LinkedIn has been acclaimed for its proactive approach to growth, particularly the way it looks outwards for external sources of revenue. The company acquired presentation hosting platform Slideshare last year for a whopping $11 million and shortly after hired Sara Clemens, a well-known M&A expert, as its new Vice President of Corporate Development.
According to Connie Loizos of private equity blog peHUB, LinkedIn may have to move further into the world of M&A in order to “keep the love coming from Wall Street” and continue its winning streak. “They’ve been public in nearly two years and will do just under a billion in revenue this year,” says Sam Hamadeh, founder of private research company PrivCo. “They have to start justifying that PE. The market isn’t stupid.” Three potential acquisition targets include:
- Viadeo, the world’s second largest professional network, has a strong presence in Latin America and China. If LinkedIn chooses to acquire Viadeo, it will result in a healthy boost to its professional networking market share.
- Quora, the question and answer site, might help LinkedIn foster greater engagement with its user base. However, there is doubt that LinkedIn would be willing to hand over the necessary amounts of cash – there’s a rumour floating around that Quora turned its nose up at a $1 billion acquisition offer in 2011.
- ChinaHR, the Chinese recruitment site, could provide “much more complex tools that Linkedin just doesn’t have”, says Sam Hamadeh. ChinaHR is a recent acquisition of Monster.com, although Monster may be willing to relinquish it as part of its long-term plans to focus on its core business. Monster has itself been cited as a potential candidate for acquisition by LinkedIn; Hamadeh believes that while its central business model is no longer setting the world on fire, it is still undervalued (making it a real steal if LinkedIn decides to invest in a recruitment site).