LinkedIn valued at US$1 billion

Professional networking site's worth estimated

LinkedIn, the social-networking site for career advancement and professional interactions, closed a funding round that values it at US$1 billion (NZ$1.3 billion), something the company considers a validation to its particular approach to this market.

Unlike MySpace and Facebook, which focus on meeting and staying in touch with friends and sharing photos, videos and personal information, LinkedIn is designed for professional networking and job-related matters.

In that sense, LinkedIn has an "all business" feature set and look-and-feel that are drastically different from conventional social-networking sites, like MySpace, Facebook, Bebo and Hi5.

While often knocked by industry observers for being boring, LinkedIn has stayed true to its niche and currently has about 23 million members, a portion of which pay a fee for premium features. The site also sells advertising.

Dan Nye, LinkedIn's CEO, announced in a blog posting details of the funding round and valuation.

"LinkedIn has raised additional funding from our original investors and added another world-class investor to our team. Bain Capital Ventures joins our existing group of investors — Sequoia Capital, Greylock Partners, and Bessemer Ventures — and leads this round of investment at a total of US$53 million," Nye wrote.

LinkedIn, which had previously raised US$27 million and has been profitable since 2006, is now valued at "slightly over US$1 billion," according to Nye.

"This significant investment is indicative of the confidence shared by our investors in our business model and our long-term growth strategy," he wrote.

Social-networking companies have attracted much attention and investment in recent years. News Corp. acquired MySpace for more than half a billion US dollars in July 2005. Last year, Facebook's valuation was estimated at US$15 billion. And AOL acquired Bebo this year for US$850 million.

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