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May 5, 2008

NEWS: What’s happening at LinkedIn? Is it getting bought?

Something’s up at business social network LinkedIn. The Mountain View, Calif. company’s board meeting last week went way over the scheduled time, and sources tell us there’s some “good” news coming. The details are still hazy, but worth noting because of the ongoing rumors swirling about the company’s long-term plans.

Last fall, reliable sources said that News Corp was negotiating to buy LinkedIn. The purpose of that acquisition, we heard then, would have been to integrate LinkedIn’s network with News Corp. newspapers like the Wall Street Journal. Hopefully, this would help New Corp to revive its declining print-media ad revenue through online initiatives.

However, we’re told that deal was dead of last week, because of News Corp.’s purchase of Newsday. Its stockholders would likely look down on yet another purchase. It’s possible, however, that that the deal has been resurrected.

Here’s why LinkedIn may be considered valuable to a suitor. Its user base doubled last year to more than 20 million active users worldwide, and it claims that 1.3 million new members are joining per month. The average user is 41 years old and makes around $110,000 — which the company says allows it to charge advertisers $75 per thousand impressions (which is exceptionally high).

In recent months, the company has rolled out a developer platform for integration with third-party applications and web sites, an expert research networkcompany profile pages, and other features that may help it make more money. It is already projecting total revenue of between $75 million and $100 million this year.

This past January, cofounder and board chairman Reid Hoffman (pictured) told the Sydney Morning Herald that the company will most likely file for an IPO before 2010 if “he isn’t first tempted to sell to one of the suitors that have inquired about buying LinkedIn. Hoffman wouldn’t identify the suitors.”

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